INSIDE: Roam the Gnome’s Guide to the Best Playgrounds & Play Areas at Disney World with Toddlers in Tow.
Want a comprehensive list of ALL the playground areas INSIDE the four theme parks at Disney World?
I wish someone had handed me this list before our vacation at Disney World.
As a solo mama travelling with two boisterous boys aged 6 and almost 2, PLAYGROUNDS are my “knight in shining armour”.
But a DISNEY PLAYGROUND is a happy time out for EVERYONE.
These are some of the best Disney World attractions for toddlers!
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- 1 Visiting Disney World with Toddlers?
- 2 Tips for Disney World with Toddlers and the Under 5’s
- 3 MAGIC KINGDOM
- 4 Stop 25. The Laughing Place
- 5 Stop 14. Swiss Family Treehouse
- 6 Stop 26. Tom Sawyer Island.
- 7 Interactive queues at Disney World for toddlers
- 8 Stop 53. The interactive queue at Dumbo the Flying Elephant in Storybook Circus
- 9 Stop 48. The interactive queue at the Winnie the Pooh ride
- 10 EPCOT
- 11 Stop 23. The Seas with Nemo and Friends Shark Play Area.
- 12 Stop 3. Mission: Space “Space Base”
- 13 Stop 28 -ish. A hodge podge of fun.
- 14 DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
- 15 Don’t miss TOY STORY MANIA ride.
- 16 DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM
- 17 Stop 42. The Boneyard Playground.
- 18 Stop 42 – Over The Bridge
- 19 Frequently Asked Questions:
- 20 Toadstool Rating for Disney World for Toddlers
- 21 Disneyworld for toddlers? Share your finds!
- 22 Looking for more Disney Tips and Tricks?
Visiting Disney World with Toddlers?
So, from one mama to another, here’s a list of what you really need to know about when taking kids to Disney World.
Find the hot tips on where you and they can take a little time-out break to avoid the massive meltdowns, the sugar highs, the fits of rage from being over-stimulated or needing a nap, and sore feet.
Plus the best Disney World parks for toddlers.
Tips for Disney World with Toddlers and the Under 5’s
Pull out your park map and take note of the stops at each park to take time out from the crowds, to ensure you really do have the best time at the “Happiest Place on Earth”.
Correct at time of publication. Please check with venue for updates. We apologise in advance if there have been any changes we are unaware of. All prices in US dollars, unless otherwise stated.
Stop 25. The Laughing Place
Just underneath the Walt Disney World Railroad, there is a small soft-floored playground called “The Laughing Place”.
The enchanted forest-like play area is designed for littlies up to about aged 4, but my 7 year old thought it was pretty cool too.
We stopped there during a massive rainstorm and weather ‘event’ that closed all the outdoor rides so it was packed with kids, who decided it was just the right place for a game of hide-and-seek.
This play area at Disney has:
- tunnels to run through
- large open ‘windows’
- hidey holes
- a small slide, and
- a small area out the front in which to run around.
There’s no specific ‘seating’ there for parents but we all made do, perching on the short wall-like fence that separates the playground from the main traffic heading under the bridge.
It’s right near Splash Mountain too, so if you have one parent waiting for the rider switch, this is a good spot to hang.
Stop 14. Swiss Family Treehouse
Good for a contained ‘run’ up the tree and back.
The path is all in one direction with no chance for them to slip out unawares.
If there’s two of you, position one of you at the exit then let the kids go, with one adult free to follow along if you feel like it.
The ‘tunnel’-like walk is completely contained with rope-mesh borders.
The kids aren’t going anywhere but following the path.
It is quite a rigorous climb AND the perfect antidote to queuing, and there’s plenty of kid-friendly intrigue and stuff to see along the way.
Stop 26. Tom Sawyer Island.
Who doesn’t want to visit Tom Sawyer Island when they go to Disneyland?
It’s been on my ‘must do’ bucket list ever since I was a kid and I have to say, if you have little kids, it’s even better!
(I loved Tom Sawyer island too. It totally met all my hopeful expectations!)
First of all, you have to take the raft across the Rivers of America – this takes like 2 minutes tops.
(Too late, I heard a rumour that Ned could have had a go at helming the steer or ringing the bell. Pays to ask.)
When you disembark, go left to head towards the mystery tunnels that wind in and out and all around in semi-darkness.
My boys thought this was a hoot. Just be sure to keep up!
A bit further down, we came across an ‘abandoned’ miner’s camp, “Fort Langhorn”.
If you are looking to run off a bit of energy, then the hundreds of stairs including spiral staircases and mystery trapdoor exits here will suit your purpose.
Word of ‘warning’
If you are a mum/mom who does not want to encourage ‘gun play’, stay away from the hideouts on the top floor of the log buildings.
My explorers found these, and of course wanted to spend time ‘shooting’ the passengers (invaders) on the Liberty Belle, alongside a few burly men who seemed to be reliving their childhood cowboy duels with KAPOW Boom! sound effects galore!
Run back across the rope bridge to the other side of the island to find the Tom Sawyer Scavage Fort play area too.
There’s plenty more to discover on this side too.
Whether you have girls or boys, don’t miss it.
Interactive queues at Disney World for toddlers
There’s also two other spots to mention in the quest for playground time-outs: interactive queues at both Dumbo and Winnie the Pooh rides.
This is Disney’s best invention EVER.
Stop 53. The interactive queue at Dumbo the Flying Elephant in Storybook Circus
This must be one of Disney’s best inventions yet.
First up, the kids are invited into a circus-themed tent where they can climb high up and wind through rope mesh corridors on an adventure quest, slide down tunnels, and push their way through obstacles.
Mums and dads can sit on the bleacher seating in the tent post to Instagram while keeping half an eye on the older kids.
Toddlers and super young children have their own little area with:
- a button-pressing fire truck
- a mini slide and
- an oversized puzzle.
This Disney World playground in Magic Kingdom for toddlers sits inside a round enclosure complete with bench seating, so parents can stay close.
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Queue by pager!
Parents are given a beeping pager upon entry and when it’s your turn to fly with Dumbo, it will beep and flash to call you in and let you know it’s your party’s turn to fly with DUMBO.
BONUS – the time in the waiting area is included in the wait time posted in front of the attraction.
The Dumbo ride at Disney World is a triple win!
- A win for happy kids
- A win for tired parents, AND
- A win for a chance to update your social media!
The famous DISNEY ingenuity is another reason why it’s so easy to visit Disney with toddlers compared to other theme parks too.
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Stop 48. The interactive queue at the Winnie the Pooh ride
Hopefully, you have a fast pass for this Winne the Pooh ride in Fantasyland, in which case you will have no need for this intervention.
However, if you must stand in line, this has to be the best Disney World queue when you have kids in tow.
There’s a bunch of kid-friendly interactive activity stations where the kids can play.
We loved watching the gooey honey wall where families could ‘draw’ on the screen to make sticky pictures.
- ball games
- a life-sized version of one of those bead maze toys from yesteryear- where you push each ball along a colourful bendy wire
- flowerpot flowers to spin, and
- pumpkin and watermelon ‘drums’ to play.
Keeps ’em out of trouble!
Stop 23. The Seas with Nemo and Friends Shark Play Area.
To the right of the entrance, there’s three noisy seagulls and if you catch them just at the right moment, you’ll hear their squabbles!
“Me, me, me”
The ride itself is cute, taking a clam shell through the underwater environment of the coral sea (technology is cool too!), but the highlight is when you come out, surrounded by sea life in the aquarium of the Coral Reef.
It’s here where you’ll also find Bruce’s Sub House, a small playground spot with a submerged ship where kids can climb INTO Bruce the Shark’s mouth and wander through a mini maze.
It is very easy to lose kids in this area so keep a sharp eye on toddlers!
But it’s fun, especially for Nemo fans.
(Maybe not so much if they haven’t seen the movie)
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Stop 3. Mission: Space “Space Base”
This was a highlight of our morning.
Even though Epcot is actually filled with quite a few hands-on interactive things for kids to do, sometimes they just want (and need) to roam free, and this was the perfect solution.
Enter by the Gift Shop to the Mission: SPACE ride and it’s on your right about 20 metres in, inside the Advanced Training Lab.
Our tip: stand by the entrance zone and let the kids roam free.
- buttons to push
- hand grips to swirl, and
- sounds to activate.
The playground tunnels and nets span from floor to ceiling and it can take them quite a while to work their way through.
You can’t see the kids at all during the process, except for a momentary glance should they make it to the bubble up top where they might wave at you.
The Best Epcot playground for toddlers & kids
I let Jack go in alone, to follow Ned who was quite a way in front.
About 5 minutes in, I started to have a few panic moments when I saw Ned but not Jack.
(He was just being a social being, chatting to all the other kids who were congregated up top!)
But rest assured.
So long as you don’t leave the entrance zone, they can’t get out without passing right by you.
Side note: I don’t know if I’d have been super keen to go in after him.
It looks pretty squeezy in there. Perfect for little bodies but not so forgiving to bigger ones.
So it pays to know if your toddler is the kind who might freak out inside at the top.
If yes, limit them to the bottom level toddler-friendly playground only.
Stop 28 -ish. A hodge podge of fun.
We found random and unexpected playgrounds in the area behind Captain EO along the path to Canada (Stop 70).
There were two small climbing frame playgrounds in this area, manned by Disney staff.
I asked if these were permanent but they said, no, just seasonal- during the Flower and Garden Festival. I’ve heard that they utilise this spot again during the Epcot Food and Wine festival too.
That’s exactly why Disney with toddlers is so good. They really cater for kids.
Pays to keep a look out as you pass by on your way to the restrooms here, just in case.
You never know if you will get extra lucky with a quick time-out opportunity.
DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
Don’t miss TOY STORY MANIA ride.
Don’t miss the Toy Story Mania ride.
Ride this interactive and hilarious Disney World ride with toddlers and you will be certain to have a glorious time at one of the Happiest Places on earth.
Book a Fastpass now.
Toy Story Mania is our favourite ride of all four Disney World parks!
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DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM
Stop 42. The Boneyard Playground.
The Animal Kingdom Boneyard Playground is manned with Disney staff to keep an eye on things and again, if you stay close to the entrance, the kids can’t get past you.
The only exception to this rule is if they take off up and over the bridge into the Boneyard digging pit so watch out for wayward wanderers…
Disney World Animal Kingdom playground
It’s a HUGE area filled with big twirly spiral slides, a rustic jeep to clamber over, twin slides for toddlers, hide-and-seek tunnels, and dinosaur skeleton replicas housed in what looks like a building site.
You know, LOTS of wire mesh, exposed beams, steel poles, and scaffolding.
My boys thought this was cool as!
Note: We discovered when it started pouring down that they close the slide area when it rains, so if a stormy sky is looming, head there quick smart so you don’t miss out!
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Stop 42 – Over The Bridge
The Boneyard digging pit on the other hand stays open even when it rains, so there is always something to do and somewhere to play should the kids need a bit of a stretch and breathe out.
Both my boys LOVED this place.
Ned gave it FIVE Toadstools. Our highest Roam the Gnome rating.
It’s a giant pit filled with that rubber ‘sand’, a big heap of green buckets and yellow spades and digging tools (enough to make sure EVERYONE has one! Yay, Disney!) and a hidden dinosaur skeleton to exhume.
Around the edges, there’s plenty of rock crevasse seats for weary mom-bums (and dad bums too).
Frequently Asked Questions:
What’s the three top Disney World with Toddlers tips?
- Hire a stroller, or bring your own.
- Tie a Disney Balloon onto your stroller so you can locate it quickly after a ride
- Ensure they are carrying identification – check this list for ideas (You can also stick an office name sticker on their back, with their name, and your cell phone number. This way, they can’t rip it off!)
Where to stay at Disney World with toddlers?
- We love the Value Resorts – All Star Movies, All Star Music and Disney All Star Resort. There’s no point wasting money on fancy resorts and extras you can’t utilise. The Value Disney hotels are geared for young kids, and there’s plenty of them there. It makes the atmosphere SO MUCH FUN!
How to do Disney World with toddlers?
- Don’t over plan your day. Leave time to go with the flow. Catch the shows if you can but don’t stress about it. There’s always another time!
- We like to start the first day in the afternoon after a nap, and smash out some of the kids rides (over and over and over again with little wait time) after 5pm. Most other families with toddlers have left, so you can have double the fun exploring all the Disney World rides for toddlers without queues or long wait times.
- Accept that you will need to find play areas every now and then. Use this time to enjoy a coffee, or post a few pics to Facebook. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to go too.
- Wear matching clothes, or at the very least, put your kids in matching clothes.
- Want a tip on how to spot your kids easily? Make them wear red shoes. They stand out from the crowd like a sore thumb. This is one of the most practical and useful tips I’ve ever learned!
Is Disney World for toddlers?
ABSOLUTELY. It’s the most magical place on earth.
Are there any rides for toddlers at Walt Disney World?
Yes, so many. Come back soon for a big list.
Toadstool Rating for Disney World for Toddlers
Do you know of any more “secret squirrel” play spots for kids at any of the four Disney parks inside Disney World?
Share your secret tip in the comments!
Looking for more Disney Tips and Tricks?
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