Epcot’s World Showcase for Toddlers

Ecpot's World Showcase for Toddlers - by disneyunder3Throughout my work on this site, Disney Under 3,  I’ve talked to a lot of families planning their Disney vacations. Many families note that they plan to skip the World Showcase at Disney’s Epcot, because they feel that it is simply full of drunks or that their young children will be bored. I covered Epcot Attractions for Infants and Toddlers in a previous post, but let’s look only at the World Showcase at Disney’s Epcot. I highly recommend visiting the World Showcase early in the day. You will find low crowds shortly after the World Showcase opens (usually 11am) and typically people are well behaved early in the day.

Mexico: Mariachi Cobre – An upbeat mariachi band. The music is big and bright and toddler friendly. Toddlers will appreciate getting out of their stroller and dancing around.

Norway: No street performers or shows.

China: Jeweled Dragon acrobats – A traditional team of Chinese acrobats. Toddlers will love people flying, flipping, and jumping all over. This show usually draws a large crowd, so be sure to arrive early so that your toddlers will have a good view of the show.

Germany: No street performers or shows.

Ecpot's World Showcase for Toddlers - by disneyunder3Italy: Sbandieratori Di Sansepolcro – This new show features flag throwing to live horn, trumpet, and drum music. My toddlers loved the brightly colored flags waving and being thrown in the air. A second show in Italy features Sergio – An Italian mime and juggler that engages the audience throughout the show. This is a toddler favorite in our family. Children are welcome to sit on the ground during the show, and often get picked to participate.

American Adventure: Voices of Liberty – A group of a capella singers. This show is fantastic and their voices are wonderful, but it may not hold the attention of a toddler for long.

Japan: Matsuriza - (Traditional Taiko Drummers). This show consists of synchronized drumming on huge Japanese drums. From my experience, my toddlers will watch it for a few minutes, then be ready to move on.

Morocco: B’net Al Houwariyate – This new show features a Moroccan folk music band with several dancers. Toddlers (and adults!) are welcome to jump in and dance around. This is another great place to take a break from the stroller!

France: Serveur Amusant – This show is a comical balancing act. Toddlers will love watching the performers balance in different stunts. This show also draws a large crowd, so plan to arrive a few minutes early.

United Kingdom: There are two different musical acts in the United Kingdom. British Revolution – A British rock band. This show gives toddlers a good reason to jump around and be loud while dancing. Paul McKenna Band – This new show offers a traditional Scottish Folk Music band. It consists of 4 people with traditional instruments and singing. It held our toddler’s attention for quite a while and the girls loved “dancing to Brave music”.

Canada: Canadian Lumberjacks – Another new show, this one features axe throwing, chopping, sawing, and more. I love the idea of this show and we thought it would be action packed for our kids, but we were disappointed. The show moves slow, and it difficult to see due to the arrangement of the stage and accompanying barrier. Without holding your toddler, they won’t be able to see a thing. (Even with a clear view, the performers have their backs turned or safety equipment blocks the view at several parts.)

Spending an afternoon watching shows at Epcot is a great way to have a restful day in the parks with toddlers. No reservations or Fastpasses are needed for any of the shows. There are enough shows to fill most of an afternoon “line-free”. Remember: The times for shows vary weekly, so you’ll want to pick up a Times Guide to find the times for each show on the day of your visit.

Kidcot: If you need something to do for a few minutes between shows, consider stopping into a Kidcot station in any of the countries. Kidcot provides a free puppet on a stick that children can color. (Current puppets are Olaf and Perry from Frozen and Phineas and Ferb.) Feel free to stop into Kidcot just a pick up a puppet. It’s a fun thing for a toddler to hold onto for the day.

Photos: Top photo is Sergio, the Mime in Italy. Bottom photo is Sbandieratori Di Sansepolcro, the flag throwing group also in Italy.

Soy Milk at Disney World – Where to Find It (and WDW Gluten Free Guide)

Soy Milk at Disney WorldAfter a few non-infant and non-toddler related posts (like my new obsession with Disnify.com or our new Mickey Mouse waffle maker), and after a lot of research for this post, I’m here to share everything I’ve learned about soy milk at Disney World.

We recently discovered that our youngest daughter is lactose intolerant (age 1). A few days later, we headed to Disney World and we were pleased to find soy milk readily available at many locations, including select quick service locations, most table service locations, and resort food courts. Soy milk at Disney World is Silk Soymilk brand and is available in single serve packages, often in several flavors. Pricing on Silk Soymilk is the same as regular milk (around $2.49 each).

The Food and Beverage folks at Disney World were kind enough to pass on their Gluten Free Dietary Guide, which lists all theme park and resort locations and what items are available from each. The list was helpful for us to find where to buy Silk Soymilk and Rice Dream ice cream. You can view it here in PDF format. To save it, simply right click the document and save to your device (18 pages).

WDW Gluten Free Guide

Additionally, I was told while at Disney World that if Silk Soymilk is not listed on the menu at a table service restaurant, ask for it, it may be available.

Since Silk Soymilk does not have to be refrigerated until it is opened, it is great for traveling. Consider buying single serve packages for the airport or car ride to Disney World. If individually packaged soy milk is expensive at your local store, look into Silk Soymilk on Amazon.com.

Disney’s Magic Bands and Your Infant or Toddler: Do They Have to Wear Them?

Disney's Magic Bands and Your Infant or Toddler

My blog post today is in response to a client for whom I am planning a vacation for her, her husband, and 3 children to Walt Disney World. This family received their Magic Bands in the mail today for their upcoming vacation, and a band was included for her child under age 3. Her question to me was, “Does my child have to leave this band on their arm for our whole vacation? What if he hates it?” My answer: No! Your child under age 3 does not have to wear the Magic Band that Disney has sent for them. In fact, the band is likely to only open the door of your Walt Disney World Resort room and do nothing else. Disney sends a Magic Band for every person that is registered in your vacation party, no matter their age.

Tip: Don’t leave the Magic Band for your child under 3 at home! My 2 year old loves wearing hers when we visit the parks, and likes to pretend to scan it along with everyone else when we use our Fast Pass Plus reservations!

If you don’t know what a Magic Band is, here is a quick summary:

  • Magic Bands are Disney’s new technology that replaces the old Key to the World cards. Magic Bands are RF (radio frequency) enabled cards that are inside a colorful wrist band.
  • Magic Bands are made from a hypoallergenic material.
  • Magic Bands open the door to your resort room if you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort.
  • You can add room charging privileges to your Magic Band and pay for things at the resorts and in the theme parks.
  • Fast Pass Plus reservations for attractions are stored on your Magic Bands.
  • Magic Bands are complimentary if you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort.
  • Magic Bands can be purchased in the theme parks if you are not staying at a Walt Disney World Resort.
  • Magic Bands are one size fits all and can be adjusted to fit smaller children by tearing away the outer plastic edge.
  • Accessories are now available at the theme parks to spice up your Magic Band, like covers and charms.
  • RF cards are available to those that do not wish to use Magic Bands, or are not staying at a Walt Disney World Resort.

Happy travels and memory making!

Playgrounds and Play Spaces Inside the Walt Disney World Theme Parks

Playgrounds and Play Spaces Inside the Disney ParksAll that riding in a stroller and waiting in lines leaves my young kids ready to burst with energy! To keep our park days running smoothly, I like to let them run, jump, and explore. While they are playing, I find it is a great time to use my phone to check my email or Facebook. Here’s a list of the playgrounds at each of the Walt Disney World theme parks:

Disney’s Magic Kingdom

  • Toddler play area under Splash Mountain: A small, soft floored playhouse, perfect for toddlers. To find it, walk towards the train station in Frontierland.
  • Interactive queue at Dumbo the Flying Elephant: An indoor play area located in the queue for Dumbo the Flying Elephant. You receive a restaurant style pager to let you know when it is your turn to experience the ride: Has different areas for different age groups and bleacher seating for parents. Located in Storybook Circus.
  • Small interactive queue at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Great while waiting in line; there are toddler friendly interactive stations. Located in Fantasyland.
  • Tom Sawyer Scavage Fort located on Tom Sawyer Island, Frontierland: A playspace designed for children ages 2 to 12. You must take the raft to get to Tom Sawyer Island.

Disney’s Epcot

  • Toddler play area inside The Seas with Nemo and Friends: A small, carpeted playspace, but it is inside and air conditioned. To enter, go through the double doors on the far left side of the building.
  • Indoor tunnel play area inside Mission: Space: A small carpeted playspace, but it is inside and air conditioned. To enter, go through the exit area of Mission: Space.
  • If the Flower & Garden Festival or the Food & Wine Festival is going on, there is a seasonal playground set up near the entrance to the World Showcase. The setup differs slightly each year, and the ground is covered in artificial turf.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure: A soft floored, playspace with larger than life props. Features nets, slides, and tunnels.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

  • The Boneyard: An extra large (about a half an acre) play area with tunnels, slides, and nets. Be sure to also visiting the digging area (large sandbox style area filled with “Texas grit”, a small pebble), where children can excavate “bones”.

Remember, if your child will be playing at any of the playgrounds or play areas, they will need to wear shoes. View my post about Disney’s shoe policy. Watch for my next post highlighting which Disney Resorts offer playgrounds.

Photo above was taken at the toddler play area under Splash Mountain at Disney’s Magic Kingdom.

Lost Kids at Disney World

Lost Kids at DisneyHonestly, I hate writing this post, but let’s face it: There are thousands of people at Disney on any given day, and kids do get separated from their parents. In the event that you lose your child, immediately notify the nearest Cast Member, they will be able to quickly get in contact with the Disney Security Team. To write this blog post, I interviewed a Disney Security Cast Member for her tips on preventing loosing your child.

Here’s what Disney does in the event of a lost, then found child:

1) A Disney Cast Member will stay with your child in the location that the child is found.

2) The Disney Security Team will be contacted and will meet the Cast Member wherever the child is. The Security Cast Member will look around the area that the child has been found for the parent.

3) If the parent cannot be located, the child will be taken to the Baby Care Center. The Baby Care Center Cast Members will entertain your child until you are located. (In locations where there is no Baby Care Center, lost children will be taken to First Aid.)

Tips to quickly reunite with your child in the event they are lost: 

1) Take a daily photo. Disney World Security Cast Members recommend taking a photo of your child each morning either before you arrive at the parks, or immediately upon entering. Make sure the photo shows your child from head to toe. In the event that you get separated from your child, you will be able to show Disney Cast Members a current photo, and the clothing the child is wearing. (If you change your child’s clothes, don’t forget to retake the photo.)

2) Attach identification to your child. There are several products on the market to help identify children. When choosing a product, remember that Disney Cast Members will not look inside clothing or shoes for identification. Instead, consider single use ID bracelets or shoe ID’s, to help identify your child. Alternatively, you could write their first name and your phone number on their arm in an easy to spot location or order customized safety tattoos.

3) Magic Bands. If you have received Disney’s Magic Bands as part of your trip, and your child will be wearing one all the time, consider use a Sharpie marker to write their first name and your cell phone number on the outside of the band.

4) Dress multiple children alike. If you have to keep track of several children, consider dressing them in similar clothing. It will help you keep track of them in the crowds.

5) While your toddler won’t be able to find their own help, once your child is old enough, talk to them and teach them to find anyone wearing a Disney name tag if they get lost.

What do you do to help identify your child at Disney? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Breastfeeding or Pumping at Disney World

Question: Where can you breastfeed at Disney World?
Answer: Anywhere you want.

Nursing on Your Disney VacationLegally, anywhere that you can bottle feed a baby, you can also breastfeed.

1) Baby Care Centers: Each of the Disney theme parks (not water parks) offer Baby Care Centers free of charge. These are great places to feed an infant or toddler, change diapers, and take a break. Learn more about the location of each center here.

2) Benches: There are no shortage of benches around the theme parks. Take a break and enjoy the people watching!

3) On-the-go: Consider investing in a sling, wrap, or baby carrier. It takes a little practice, but you can discretely feed your infant or toddler hands free.

4) Dark rides and shows. Chances are that most people won’t even notice what you are doing, especially if you use a blanket or nursing cover. Here’s a list of my top picks for each park, along with the length of the attraction. I chose each attraction for the gentleness of the attraction, comfort of the seats, and the popularity of the attraction.

  • Magic Kingdom 
    • Carousel of Progress (20 minutes): Plush theater seats, air conditioned, dark.
    • Hall of Presidents (22 minutes): Plush theater seats, air conditioned, dark.
    • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover (10 minutes): Nice people watching on a gentle tour of Tomorrowland. Outdoors, although the track is raised and others can’t see into the cars.
  • Epcot
    • American Adventure (28 minutes): Plush theater seats, air conditioned, dark.
    • Ellen’s Energy Adventure (45 minutes): Moving ride vehicle, air conditioned, dark.
    • Impressions de France (18 minutes): Plush theater seats, air conditioned, dark.
  • Hollywood Studios
    • Walt Disney – One Man’s Dream (15 minutes): Walk through exhibit with the end being a movie. Plush theater seats, air conditioned, dark.
  • Animal Kingdom: Animal Kingdom has the least amount of non-crowded attractions that make discreet breastfeeding easy. In a pinch, either show below will work, but there are likely to be many other people viewing the show.
    • Festival of the Lion King (30 minutes)
    • Finding Nemo – The Musical (30 minutes)

If you are using a breastpump during your Disney vacation, you don’t have to carry it around the parks all day with you. It is considered medical equipment and the first aid station will store it while you are at the park during the day. The first aid stations are located next to the Baby Care Centers at the theme parks.

Photo above was taken inside a private nursing area in the Baby Care Center at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Baby Care Centers at Disney Parks

Disney Baby Care CentersBaby Care Centers are places to change, feed, or take a break with your infant or toddler. They are located at each of Disney’s theme parks, and are free to use. All Baby Care Centers are staffed with Disney Cast Members, and dads and siblings are welcome inside. If your child is ever lost for an extended period of time, they will be taken to the Baby Care Center, and entertained until you arrive.

Baby Care Center Amenities:

-Kitchen area with oven, microwave, and sink

-Feeding area with highchairs

-Nursing area with rocking chairs

-Sitting area with small chairs, a television, and couches

-Changing area with padded changing tables

-Unisex bathrooms, often with toddler sized potties without automatic flush

-Area to purchase baby supplies such as diapers, wipes, formula, pacifiers (Note: These items are expensive.)

Baby Care Center Locations and notes:

Magic Kingdom: Located near the Crystal Palace Restaurant, a short walk from Main Street, USA. The nursing room is shared between mothers. Strollers must be parked outside.

Epcot: Located between Test Track and Mexico. The nursing room is shared between mothers. Strollers must be parked outside.

Hollywood Studios: Located near the main entrance of the park. There is no area to purchase baby supplies inside, you’ll need to visit the nearby gift shop, which carries baby products. The nursing areas are semi-private with a curtain separating mom from the main room. Strollers are welcome inside, however it is a small space.

Animal Kingdom: Located near Creature Comforts gift shop. The nursing areas are small private rooms. Strollers are welcome inside.

Photo above was taken inside the Baby Care Center at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Disney World’s Shoe Policy for Infants and Toddlers

Disney's Shoe PolicyA few months ago, at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, I was entering the queue to the Haunted Mansion with my husband, mother, and children. My youngest hadn’t quite arrived yet, my two year old was holding her grandma’s hand, and my non-walking 11 month old was being carried by her dad. We were stopped at the entrance of the queue by a Cast Member stating that we had to have shoes for our 11 month old to experience the attraction. I quickly explained we had experienced nearly every attraction at Disney with our non-walking kids not wearing shoes. When she still wouldn’t let us into the queue, I asked to speak with her leader.

A few minutes later, I was able to clarify Disney’s shoe policy: All guests who whose feet will touch the ground need to be wearing shoes at all times. This includes crawling babies who will be exploring play areas. Unfortunately, the Cast Member that stopped us made a mistake, our non-walking child did not need shoes, if they were carried the entire time. The leader quickly apologized and offered our group Fastpasses to the Haunted Mansion.

What’s the moral of this story? It is probably easier to just toss a simple pair of shoes into the bottom of your stroller or diaper bag for all children during your Disney vacation. In the long run, it’s not worth the hassle, and no one wants to waste valuable vacation time trying to straighten out misunderstandings.

Photo credit: Handpainted Disney shoes made to order by Tickled Toes on etsy.

Best Attractions at Disney’s Epcot during Pregnancy

Epcot AttractionsIn Part 2 of our recommended attractions while pregnant, we head to Disney’s Epcot. Don’t forget to read Part 1: Best Attractions at Disney’s Magic Kingdom during Pregnancy. A quick reminder that this isn’t medical advice, just my observations from having visited Epcot many, many times while pregnant. Please consult your doctor before your trip. Below, I’ve listed each attraction, as well as a few helpful hints.

Highly recommended attractions during pregnancy:

  • Spaceship Earth
  • Turtle Talk with Crush
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends
  • Living with the Land
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment
  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros
  • Ellen’s Energy Adventure
  • Captain EO
  • Maelstrom Closed.
  • The American Adventure
  • Innoventions East and West
  • The Circle of Life
  • O Canada!
  • Impressions de France 
  • Reflections of China
  • Character Meet and Greets
  • Street performers in the World Showcase
  • Illuminations

Sometimes recommended attractions during pregnancy:

  • Soarin’: While Disney does officially recommend pregnant women don’t ride Soarin’, I’ve been on it several times in early stages of pregnancy. It is a hang glider simulation, with a lap belt across your belly. If you are prone to nausea, skip it.

Never recommended attractions during pregnancy: The following attractions are a concern during pregnancy because of the rapid starts and stops, jarring forces, and pressures against the body.

  • Test Track
  • Mission: SPACE

Don’t forget to view my other posts on pregnancy, or continue on to the next post in this series, where we visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Best Attractions at Disney’s Epcot for Infants and Toddlers

Epcot AttractionsIn Part 2 of our recommended attractions for children under age 3, we journey to Disney’s Epcot. Don’t forget to read Part 1: Best Attractions at Disney’s Magic Kingdom for Kids Under Age 3. Below, I’ve listed each attraction, as well as a few helpful hints.

 

 

 

Highly recommended attractions for children under age 3:

  • Spaceship Earth
  • Turtle Talk with Crush
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends
  • Living with the Land
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment
  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros
  • Character Meet and Greets
  • Street performers in the World Showcase
  • Illuminations

Sometimes recommended attractions for children under age 3:

  • Ellen’s Energy Adventure: This attraction is a moving show with dark periods and dinosaurs, lasting 45 minutes. Once you board the attraction, you cannot get off until the end of the attraction. It is a great place to get out of the heat or rain.
  • Maelstrom: A boat ride through a mythical Norweigan land. There is a moderate drop in the middle of the attraction, similar to Pirates of the Caribbean, and periods of darkness. Closed.
  • The American Adventure: A stage show featuring animatronic figures depicting parts of America’s history. The show lasts 30 minutes, and is another favorite to escape the heat or rain.
  • Innoventions East and West: Two attractions featuring several interactive exhibits. While the exhibits themselves may not hold the attention of a toddler at all, Innoventions is often not crowded and is a great place to allow young children some time to walk around rather than be confined in a stroller.
  • The Circle of Life, O Canada!, Impressions de France, and Reflections of China: These attractions are all movie presentations. While they may not hold the attention of a toddler long, your infant may appreciate the break from the weather, or constant noise.

Never recommended attractions for children under age 3:

  • Test Track: 40″ minimum height requirement
  • Soarin’: 40″ minimum height requirement
  • Mission: SPACE: 44″ minimum height requirement
  • Captain EO: There is no height requirement for this attraction, however it is dark and extremely loud. If your young child is weary of noises, I’d recommend skipping this 3D show with an enhanced theater.

If there are attractions listed above that you and other members of your party would like to experience, be sure to view my post on Disney’s Rider Switch Service. Next time, we are heading to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.