Where to stay...
We went to Disney with a total of six adults and 3 children, so we were all about renting a house. We went through the Windsor Hills Resort in Kissimmee, located only 10 minutes from the Magic Kingdom parking lot. We LOVED it. For those who want to stay at a monorail-friendly Disney hotel, I've stayed at the Contemporary Resort five separate times and it's fabulous. Very kid-friendly and I recommend trying to book a "character" dinner at Chef Mickey's if you want a great meal and more importantly, if you want you kid(s) to meet Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Donald, Goofy and Pluto without having to wait in line :)
1. Schedule character "meet and greets" ahead of time (see above). Pay the extra money and BOOK IN ADVANCE for a character dinner or breakfast. The characters will come to your table while you eat ... it's definitely worth the money. If you book the character meet and greets at the park ahead of time using your Fast Passes, you should be all set too!
2. Invest in a good, "easy to use" stroller. We used the BABYZEN YOYO+ and it was amazing! It's so easy to unfold and fold (you can do it with one hand) and also fits in the airplane's overhead bin. It comes with a shoulder strap so you can carry it just like a purse, and weighs just 15 lbs. I also love that while it's super compact, it has a great storage area underneath. Oh, and did I mention it comes with a rain cover?! It's basically the perfect travel stroller, and you can check it out here.
3. Schedule in nap time. We wanted to make sure that Lolo still got her naps so we purposely didn't schedule anything from 12-2:30pm. Actually, we rented a house just a few miles from Disney, so we would leave the park and do lunch/nap at the house. It worked out really well for a few reasons...1. We never had to deal with any toddler meltdowns because she got her normal rest time, and 2. We skipped the hottest part of the day! She did fall asleep one day in her stroller before we could make it to the car so we just walked around with her for an hour or so, and she was fine :)
4. Bring a backpack as your diaper bag. Trust me on this one, you need all hands on deck not to mention a million snacks, sunscreen, water, your phone, wallet, etc., so you'll need lots of compartments! We love our Skip Hop Chelsea bag, and Skip Hop also makes a pretty awesome backpack for under $60! I also love this one from CoolBell too because it's super functional and has an insulated front pocket to keep a bottle or snacks cool!
5. Plan Fast Passes in advance. Have a plan of which rides you want to hit and do your fast passes online in advance so you don't have to waste time trying to figure it out at the park. We made the mistake of waiting to figure out the fast passes once we got to the park and by the time we did, a lot of the rides we wanted to hit were booked up and the wait was insane. The second and third days we planned the night before and it was MUCH smoother.
6. Bring snacks/lots of fluids. One thing I appreciate, is that Disney allows you to bring your own snacks AND water into the park. (Also, if you pay the extra for preferred parking, they'll give you cold bottles of water before you park the car, which is nice to know!) I brought lots of options for Lo in separate snack bags like grapes, goldfish, harvest snap peas, yogurt bites, apple sauce pouches, and raisins.
7. Utilize the Baby Care Center. If you need a break from the heat, a sink, microwave, or a clean place to change your baby the Baby Care Center is a great resource! You can also find snacks, diapers, sunscreen, rockers and more! (There are locations in all 4 theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios)
General Park -Touring Tips + a few of Lo's favorite rides/shows...
If you're planning a 3-day Disney trip, I recommend two full days at Magic Kingdom and one at the Animal Kingdom. If you've got 4 days, go with 2 full MK, 1 day at AK, and 1 day at Hollywood Studios. If you're going for a toddler-based trip, I'd choose Hollywood Studios because they have SO many amazing rides and shows for kids (Beauty and the Beast, Frozen, Toy Story, etc.) We didn't get a chance to go, but definitely will on our next trip!
Magic Kingdom: It's a Small World, Peter Pan, Under the Sea; Country Bear Jamboree, Swiss Family Robinson Tree House, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise; There are also shows running every few hours or so on the stage in front of the castle. We caught one in the afternoon which included Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, and the Frozen characters!
Animal Kingdom: Kilimanjaro Safari, Festival of the Lion King, The Boneyard, Pangani Forest Exploration Trail (walking trail)
Epcot: Meet + Greet with Anna and Elsa, Finding Nemo, Spaceship Earth (it's dark so could be scary for some kids, but Lo loved it), Frozen (it was broken when we were there, but I'm assuming it would have been a fave ;)