Experiencing the enchantment and wonder of Disney World with our preschooler (he was nearly 4 at the time of our visit) was nothing short of marvelous. The love he had for the rides, the characters (especially Chewbacca!), and everything around him constantly brought tears to my eyes. Disney with your preschooler can be INCREDIBLE! Still, it’s important to be prepared. Many friends told us we’d need to go back to our resort for a nap but we didn’t find that necessary, thanks to a kiddo who can rack out in a stroller (we rented a double through Kingdom Strollers). And halfway through our trip, we had down what the park day bare necessities were.
What to Pack for Disney with a Preschooler
Something to Play With
I always have Hot Wheels in my bag because cars are a surefire, simple way to occupy Caius, if necessary. We also let him pick out a couple of inexpensive new toys. Surprising no one, he chose a Disney Parks edition Kylo Ren Disney Racer, and a set of Walt Disney World buses. Even if you avoid the shops, your preschooler is going to see Disney merchandise everywhere. If you don’t want to spend money inside the parks, consider bringing along a surprise for your kiddo. And if you bring a toy your little one loves, be sure it’s not irreplaceable! (We had Caius leave his lovey in our room.)
Even if you select a Disney Dining Plan, I still suggest packing a few extra snacks. We had Pirate’s Booty, Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars, an assortment of Jack Link’s Beef Tender Bites, and Stretch Island Organic Fruit Bites. If you do have to wait in any long lines, or you have a schedule to stick to, these can tide over tiny tummies or distract them from the wait!
Waterproof Pouch or Wet Bag
For wet clothes! Tim’s backpack has a waterproof pocket. Lightweight rain jackets are perfect for water rides like Kali River Rapids. After the rides we simply rolled up the jackets and put them in the backpack! We love kids’ rain jackets from L.L.Bean – they’re durable, lightweight, and some designs are packable.
We filled up a Camelbak reservoir with ice water every day, stored it in Tim’s backpack, and refilled at water fountains. You can also ask for a cup of ice water (free of charge) at any quick service location.
In case of spills, getting soaked, or who-knows-what-else, always have a change of clothes with you. Don’t forget fresh socks and underwear! Pack the outfit in a Ziploc or wet bag so you can seal dirty clothes in, if necessary.
Sunglasses & Sunscreen
As Coloradoans, we already take sun protection seriously! The Florida sun can be equally punishing, and there are few things less fun than an uncomfortable, sunburned preschooler.
SO MANY GERMS. We are more of a soap-and-water kind of family, but hand sanitizer definitely has its place at Disney World.
Finally, whatever self-calming or zen parenting techniques you have at your disposal, bring those, too. Remember, EVERYTHING is new and exciting and wonderful to your preschooler! Your 3 or 4 year-old won’t know if you miss your FastPass window, or that a ride you wanted to take them on broke down. Something Tim and I say often is, “If you’re relaxed, they’ll be relaxed.” Take a deep breath, make memories together, and absorb the magic of it all.
Dumbo The Flying Elephant image credit: Ryaphotos