Which Disney Park Is Best for Small Children?
People often ask me questions about the parks that force me to evaluate them in new ways.
For example, a friend of a friend just emailed to ask how she should spend four park days.
I have a standard reply to this question, but her vacation differs dramatically from mine. She has multiple children under the age of five.
So, how should vacationers rank Walt Disney’s four theme parks when they have small kids?
4) Hollywood Studios
Let’s start by acknowledging the obvious. Parents will find plenty to do at every Walt Disney World theme park.
Disney has added enough children’s rides to keep your family entertained for hours.
So, these rankings are more about where you’re likely to have the most fun.
In addition, I had some help in evaluating the parks since I wanted an outside opinion.
We vigorously debated third and fourth place, as both parks have certain advantages.
Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios will delight your children.
Kids get giddy when they realize they are shrinking down to the size of toys.
While one of the attractions here, Alien Swirling Saucers, does have a modest height requirement of 32 inches, the average three-year-old can ride it.
So, it’s terrific for small kids.
Meanwhile, Toy Story Mania! is available for everyone. The drawback with this themed land is that it’s outdoors with very little cover.
Parents are likely to get hot while pushing around strollers.
There’s an argument to be made that Star Wars Land, one of the other locations at Hollywood Studios, is better for bigger kids than small ones.
Young children cannot ride anything, and the theming isn’t as kid-friendly.
On the plus side, Hollywood Studios hosts character greetings with Sulley, Olaf, and Minnie Mouse.
Kids will love all three, even those who don’t love Sulley, since he’s a giant, fuzzy, huggable character.
Finally, the shows here will help parents recuperate, which is important since Hollywood Studios can sometimes be overwhelming.
EPCOT works as the antithesis of Hollywood Studios.
The latter park is smaller and substantially more crowded, causing tighter spaces and some claustrophobia.
When you’re pushing a stroller, you’ll regret some of the narrow paths in sections like Toy Story Land.
EPCOT is much larger and skews more adult.
For this reason, you won’t engage in as many stroller wars; however, you will walk significantly more.
While many EPCOT attractions are more suited for adults, two of them specifically target children.
The Seas with Nemo and Friends and Journey Into Imagination with Figment sit a few steps apart from each other in the same area of the park.
These two attractions are in the conversation for most child-friendly at Walt Disney World.
Even better, their accompanying pavilions provide ample entertainment for kids.
The Imagination Pavilion includes two character greetings. One usually features Joy from Inside Out, while the other is Vanellope from the Wreck-It Ralph franchise.
Your kids don’t even need to have seen these movies to fall in love with these characters visually.
Meanwhile, the Seas pavilion hosts aquatic edu-tainment that captivates some small children.
Elsewhere at EPCOT, various movies and attractions provide a combination of entertainment for kids and respites for you.
For example, Spaceship Earth and Living with the Land are long, slow-moving attractions.
Your children may find them a little boring, but you will love being off your feet for 15 minutes.
Also, at the back of EPCOT, several World Showcase pavilions host Disney princesses.
For example, you’ll sometimes find Mulan at the China pavilion and Belle at the France pavilion.
Finally, small kids should also enjoy some of the World Showcase attractions. We’ve raised an entire generation of Anna and Elsa fans who will adore Frozen Ever After.
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is a mind-blowing experience as well.
You shouldn’t sleep on Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros, either.
It’s basically the Mexico pavilion’s answer to It’s a Small Word, but it also stars Donald Duck.
2) Disney’s Animal Kingdom
The appeal of this park speaks for itself. Your kids are visiting a Disney theme park full of animals. And I mean real ones, not the imaginary kind.
While all Disney attractions cause children to suspend disbelief and accept the impossible at Disney, Animal Kingdom somehow proves different.
This place combines child-friendly attractions like It’s Tough to Be a Bug! And TriceraTop Spin with zoo experiences like Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail.
Meanwhile, Conservation Station includes a petting zoo and other interactive exhibits that your kids will adore.
The lone downside of Animal Kingdom is its size. It’s far and away the most expansive theme park at Walt Disney World.
You will burn plenty of calories by pushing a stroller around this park. Also, despite its size, it does include a few narrow corridors that could lead to some bumping into others.
I liken Animal Kingdom to driving in Paris in that people tend to ignore general traffic rules. They just head straight toward the place they want to go.
That strategy doesn’t work well at the Arc de Triomphe, and it’s not great at Animal Kingdom, either.
1) Magic Kingdom
Choosing the best Walt Disney World theme park for small children is easy. I suspect that most people would say it’s Magic Kingdom.
This park combines all the positives we’ve listed for other locations in a single place.
You’ll find a Mickey Mouse character greeting the instant you enter Magic Kingdom.
If you keep walking by Cinderella Castle, you’ll have your choice of Disney Princesses. Some visit Princess Fairytale Hall, while Merida does her own thing on the other side.
When you want your kid to ride stuff, you’ll find many child-friendly experiences like It’s a Small World, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Dumbo the Flying Elephant.
Then, you can entertain them with other magical attractions like Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Country Bear Jamboree, and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.
Frankly, you’ll find so much for your kids to enjoy at Magic Kingdom that one day won’t be enough! There’s just too much happening here!
Magic Kingdom has remained the most popular theme park in the world for several straight years.
That doesn’t happen by accident. It’s the best family-friend tourist destination on the planet.
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Feature Photo: Disney