If you are traveling to Disney World with a toddler, trip reports are a great way to gain information on what to expect.
This review is from my family’s trip to Walt Disney World with our two year old daughter. We visited WDW during the month of December and were able to experience some of the Christmas decorations and activities.
My goal for this trip was to plan a Disney World vacation for as cheap as possible. As you read through the trip review below, you will see the different ways we saved money on our short family trip to WDW.
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Planning the Vacation
During my planning process, I really tried to incorporate a schedule that fit the needs of our toddler. This meant that we were going to be taking breaks during the day for her nap time.
We were also going to be missing out on some of our favorite rides due to height requirements. Disney World offers Rider Switch for parents in this situation, but we didn’t have a lot of time in the parks.
If you aren’t familiar with Rider Switch, it’s a really great way for parents to experience those attractions that their kids aren’t quite tall enough to ride.
Adult #1 stays with the child while Adult #2 rides the ride. Then they can swap places without the second adult having to start over at the beginning of the line.
Even though we didn’t use this feature, Rider Switch seems like such a great idea, especially for families with toddlers!
Our priority, though, was to just hit all of the toddler friendly attractions that our two year old would like.
Luckily we had purchased our adult Park Hopper tickets at a highly discounted price through my husband’s work, and our daughter was free since she was only two years old!
I did decide to spend money renting a stroller. I used Apple Stroller because they offered the best price for our short trip.
This was a really easy process. The stroller was waiting for us at bell services once we arrived at our resort.
I also called Apple Stroller on our last day at Disney to ask for an extension on our rental time. They answered the phone immediately and were really helpful with this.
*Please note that Disney has changed the process for stroller rentals from outside companies. You can find their new policy here.
We decided to stay in two separate resorts this trip due to availability. (I planned the trip kind of last minute.)
I knew my husband was going to be in Orlando for work, and we initially weren’t going to join him.
After finding really great deals on flights and getting discounted tickets through work, I just couldn’t pass up a trip to Disney.
I really wanted to stay at one of the Disney Deluxe Resort Hotels, but I also wanted to stick to my theme of saving money this trip.
Luckily I found David’s Vacation Club Rentals!
I did a ton of research on the company, and they had excellent reviews!
**Update: I have now used David’s Vacation Club Rentals three times to book deluxe villas, and we have been incredibly happy each time! In fact, I try to use them for every trip to Disney World, but their availability is sometimes limited for the dates I need.
Luckily, they had availability for our last two nights of this trip to Disney. I was able to get Disney’s Beach Club Villas for a crazy discounted rate.
I ended up booking these deluxe villas for the price of a moderate resort. This allowed us to stay at a nicer Disney hotel while saving a few hundred dollars on the regular price.
You can vist their website to view the cost calculator at David’s Vacation Club Rentals. (Affiliate Link)
This is by far the cheapest way to stay on a deluxe resort hotel at Walt Disney World, and I cannot recommend it enough!
Since the Beach Club Villas were not available for our first night, I booked a room at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside.
I used the Undercover Tourist website to book this room because the price was cheaper than booking through the official Disney World site.
Always compare the Undercover Tourist price with the Disney price though. Sometimes Disney is cheaper.
This section of my post is going to be about why you SHOULD use Disney’s Magical Express from Orlando International Airport, especially if you are traveling with little kids.
Besides our two hour delay, we had an uneventful flight. Our two year old watched The Wiggles and a couple other videos on her Kindle.
We were in Orlando by mid-afternoon and were full of excitement!
I can’t remember why, but for some reason I thought renting a car was a good idea for this trip; therefore, we did NOT use Disney’s Magical Express from the airport.
Instead, we arrived in Orlando early in the afternoon and had to grab our bags along with the rental car.
At baggage claim our checked bag came out fairly quickly, but we had to wait a while on the car seat.
Then I had to lug the car seat, checked bag, carry on bag, and toddler all to the rental car desk. Luckily we were shown to our vehicle right away.
However, after fiddling to get the car seat out of its travel bag and then installing it into the rental vehicle (all with a cranky toddler who had not taken her nap), I decided that we would be using the Disney Magical Express on all future trips.
It’s completely free to use, and it is so incredibly convenient!
Nonetheless, we finally managed to get on the road in our rental car.
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort- Riverside
I received a text from Port Orleans Riverside saying that our room was ready, so once we arrived we were able to go straight to it.
The cast members who greeted us at the main doors were super friendly and acted like they were thrilled to see us!
It was a really nice welcome after traveling all day. They gave my toddler stickers and were eager to answer any questions we had.
Since the resort didn’t have elevators, I was thankful that our room was on the bottom floor.
It would not have been fun to carry all of our things up the stairs. Upon entering the room, I realized right away that I really liked the decor, We also had plenty of space for the two of us.
I planned on giving us time to swim at both of our resorts. However, a check of the forecast before our trip made it clear that swimming wasn’t going to happen.
It was a lot warmer in Orlando than at home, but no where near swimming temperatures. We decided to stroll around Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter to check out the two resorts.
They both have beautiful grounds and utilize really great theming.
The ride only took about 15-20 minutes, and we really enjoyed it. Since we were there in early January, Disney Springs was still decorated for Christmas.
My little one was so excited to see Mickey and Donald (even in statue form) that she ran to give them hugs.
I’m pretty sure I noticed a sign afterwards saying not to touch the statues. Oops!
We ate dinner on the patio at Wolfgang Puck Express. This is a quick service service restaurant, so I ordered inside and our food was brought to our table.
Both of our meals were really good, and I would definitely eat there again. After dinner, we walked around Disney Springs to see all the Christmas decorations.
We used Disney giftcards from Christmas at Once Upon a Toy and The Lego Store.
It was getting close to bedtime so we caught the next boat back to Port Orleans- Riverside.
My little one was really good on the boat ride back to the resort even though it was getting pretty chilly outside. I remember feeling relieved that we had our jackets.
Disney’s Beach Club Villas
My toddler doesn’t sleep late, so we were up early the next morning at Port Orleans- Riverside.
We ate breakfast in the room since I had packed a few things in our bag to save money.
We then checked out and went to pick up my husband so that we could head to Disney’s Beach Club Resort.
It was around 9:00 in the morning when we arrived, but check in wasn’t supposed to be until 3:00.
I assumed our room wouldn’t be ready until much later, but the cast member behind the desk assured me they had one ready for us.
The computer ended up having a problem recognizing our Magic Bands for some reason.
The cast member apologized right away for the inconvenience and gave my daughter a bunch of Disney stickers to keep her occupied.
After a few more minutes of waiting on the computer to recognize us, two other cast members came out with a really nice plush Mickey doll.
They also gave us two extra FastPasses to use that afternoon at Magic Kingdom. I couldn’t believe they did all of that.
We had only waited for about fifteen minutes for them to fix the problem, and I hadn’t expected to have a room this early in the morning anyway!
Beaches and Cream
Our room was located near an elevator and was really easy to find. We instantly loved everything about it especially the balcony, which overlooked a portion of the lake.
I had made lunch reservations at Beaches and Cream, but we had time to explore the resort before lunch.
It’s such a pretty place and the pool is amazing!!! I was so bummed that the cold, rainy weather didn’t allow us to enjoy it.
Beaches and Cream has such a cute atmosphere, and all of the servers seemed so upbeat and happy.
Our food was amazing as well. It is definitely one of my all time favorite restaurants at Disney World!
After lunch we went back up to our room so that our toddler could nap. While she napped I read a book out on the balcony, and my husband worked out in the fitness center.
Once nap time was over, we walked out to the rental car and headed to the Magic Kingdom in the pouring rain.
Our drive to Disney’s Magic Kingdom completely solidified my plan to never rent a car at WDW again.
Traffic was a complete mess, and we sat at the gates to Magic Kingdom for probably half an hour.
As we sat there, I watched all the Disney shuttles driving by in a separate lane and decided (again) that the rental vehicle was not a great idea.
We finally made it past the gates and into the parking lot. Luckily a tram was waiting, so we were able to jump right on and head to the park.
It was at this point that I really fell in love with our rental stroller. I’m used to strollers taking a lot of effort to fold up.
I also usually have my husband deal with them because once they are collapsed, they are so bulky and awkward for me to carry. This rental stroller was amazingly compact and easy, though!
We were already running behind due to traffic, and it was raining. I was trying to be as quick and efficient as possible so that we could FINALLY get to the park.
So here we are with this tram full of people watching us, and for some reason I had the stroller. I’m dreading the slow, clumsy process of folding it up….with an audience.
I pull the strap on the stroller seat with one hand and it immediately folded up! It collapsed quickly AND compactly!
Not only that, but it was so easy for even ME to carry! Right when I boarded the tram, I told my husband I was going to buy one when I got home!
Now it’s the only stroller we use. You can see the City Mini Baby Jogger I have here! (Amazon Affiliate Link)
We boarded the tram and headed to the gates of Magic Kingdom. For those who are unaware, parking at Magic Kingdom is a bit of a process. The Disney shuttles are the only vehicles allowed to park at the gates.
If you drive to the park, you have to find a spot for your vehicle in the lot. Then you board the tram to the theme park.
Touring in the Rain
Even though it was pouring rain outside, we were so glad to finally be on our way to Magic Kingdom Park!
The cast member driving the tram told us that rainy days in the parks are often the best days because lines have super short wait times.
He turned out to be completely correct! I don’t think we waited longer than 10-15 minutes for anything. In fact, we didn’t really need the extra Fastpasses that the Beach Club had given us.
I am including our touring plan below. I had originally planned three attractions per hour, but it didn’t happen with our toddler.
She was often distracted by things around us like shrubbery in the shapes of characters, statues of characters, and ducks walking on the sidewalk.
As you can see, we didn’t get to experience a ton of attractions. We hadn’t spent much on tickets, though, and we all had a great time. So, this itinerary completely worked for us.
- 3:00-4:00 Dumbo/Fastpass for Journey of the Little Mermaid
- 4:00-5:00 Winnie the Pooh/Fastpass for Peter Pan’s Flight/It’s a Small World
- 5:00-6:00 Fastpass for Enchanted Tales with Belle/dinner at The Plaza
- 6:00-7:00 meet characters at Pete’s Silly Sideshow/Jungle Cruise
- 7:00 Magic Carpets of Aladdin
Also, note that we didn’t get to Magic Kingdom until the afternoon due to our toddler’s nap. You could obviously do a lot more (even with toddlers) if you wanted to spend a full day at this park.
A lot of people also suggest visiting Disney’s Magic Kingdom on more than one day of your trip. This is because there is soooo much to see and do st this park in particular.
It also has the most activities for toddlers compared to the other parks. Our problem is that my husband doesn’t love the Magic Kingdom.
He finds it super crowded and chaotic. Therefore, I don’t think I could ever talk him into visiting it twice in one trip!
I agree that it is the busiest park and not the most relaxing place to spend time. But, it’s also the most magical park, and I love it there!
Our two year old loved all of the attractions and rides listed on our itinerary.
However, she threw temper tantrums after each of the first few rides and attractions because she wanted to immediately do them again. She eventually realized that we were taking her to another fun activity after she completed one.
She did NOT appreciate the Jungle Cruise at all; but, my husband and I thought the tour guide was hilarious. I think our daughter thought the fake animals were scary.
We ate dinner at The Plaza and it was just ok. I don’t think we would eat there again. Neither the food nor the service was very spectacular. After dinner, it was getting close to bedtime, so we called it a night and headed back to the resort.
The next morning our little one was up bright and early, which is a good thing at Disney World.
We ate pre-packed items in the room again and got ready for our day at Animal Kingdom Park.
We decided to take the rental car again. I guess we didn’t learn our lesson after yesterday’s experience.
Luckily the drive to this park was much better than the last one!
Animal Kingdom wasn’t busy at all, so we were able to park and walk straight to the gate without needing to board a tram.
This was my first time visiting Animal Kingdom, and it was a much calmer experience than Magic Kingdom. I included our morning touring plan below.
- 9:30-10:30 Fastpass for Kilimanjaro Safaris/Festival of the Lion King
- 10:30-11:30 Fastpass for Meet Mickey & Minnie @ Adventurers Outpost/lunch @ Pizzafari
- 11:30-12:30 TriceraTop Spin/Boneyard/Meet Pluto & Goofy in Dinoland
- 12:30-1:30 Fastpass for Finding Nemo-The Musical
We really loved seeing all the animals at this park. My husband and I liked the atmosphere here a lot too.
It was nice to just stroll around and look at the scenery. You really feel like you’re in the jungle at times.
Our two year old was getting really sleepy after watching the Nemo show, so we drove back to the Beach Club and put her down for a nap.
When she woke up, we walked over to Epcot via the International Gateway. This back entrance into Epcot was only about a five minute walk from our resort.
Also, we were the only people at the gate so we got right in. I didn’t really have a touring plan for Epcot because most of the attractions there didn’t seem toddler friendly to me.
Our laid back approach turned out to be quite enjoyable though. We first headed to Future World for Turtle Talk with Crush and The Seas with Nemo and Friends.
The lines were not long for either of these, so we didn’t need Fastpasses. Both attractions were must do activities with a toddler, and they were really entertaining for us as well.
We didn’t think the Future World attractions would really interest our toddler. Instead we walked over to the World Showcase and bought her a snack in the France pavilion.
She ate in her stroller while we walked around touring the different countries and enjoying the live entertainment outside some of the pavilions.
We had reservations for dinner at the Rose & Crown Dining Room. Our waitress was from Scotland, and she had a really great personality.
I love that the cast members in each country are actually from that area of the world. Our food was delicious as well so we really enjoyed our experience there.
After dinner we walked back to the Beach Club to put our little one down for the night.
The next morning we took our time packing up since our flights weren’t until later that afternoon.
We checked out of our room at 11:00, and then walked down to Beaches and Cream to see if they could accommodate us for lunch without reservations.
Luckily they were able to fit us in after a short wait. We enjoyed it just as much this time as we had the first time.
After lunch we said goodbye to the beautiful Beach Club Villas and headed to the airport to catch our flight home.
After our time spent on this trip at Disney’s Beach Club Villas, the Beach Club/Yacht Club became our favorite resort hotel area at Walt Disney World.
I was really eager to return so that we could experience their amazing pool, Stormalong Bay!
Disney’s Beach Club and Yacht Club are located near the Walt Disney World Boardwalk. The Boardwalk is home to so many options for dining, entertainment, and activities!
Did you enjoy this Disney World trip review?
Let me know by commenting below!