walt disney world with toddlers. a list of tips.

I am no expert. But I have traversed the madness of Walt Disney World twice before with toddlers and babies. The first visit Letty was 14 months. The second visit Letty was 27 months and David was four months. This time Letty is three and a half and David is 21 months. These are my tips for a successful, less stressful Disney vacation. 

- Pack your own snacks and drinks. Self-contained in their own little pre-packaged goodness. Grab and go. Nothing that requires refrigeration. We normally have the meal plan but this still comes in handy. Kids need snacks. Nothing like a low blood sugar meltdown. 

- Glow sticks. Hit up the Dollar Store and stock up on these bad boys. Just pack them carefully because you don't want them to crack before you need them. These come in handy anywhere it's dark (!). Haunted Mansion. Pirates of the Caribbean. Fireworks. Bus ride back to resort. Etc. It makes them less scared and other kids will have them. Can't have your children being the only ones without a glow stick now can we?

- I have heard the suggestion to pack everything in a clear backpack to ease security check points. I have mixed feelings about this. I've done it both ways. The snacks and drinks we decided on keeping in clear bags that just required a quick glance by security. But our main bag had so much stuff it needed a further search. And all that stuff you require is much more organized in your regular diaper bag than in a clear plastic catch-all type bag. If I find a clear bag with many compartments I would go that route. 

- Rain cover for your stroller. In any way that works for you. In our case I bought many cheap ponchos from the Dollar Store and planned on using them if it rained. If you need a poncho believe me Disney sells them but they are right between ouch and boing on the cost scale. Rather have them and don't need them than the other way around. Trust me. 

- Only bring what you need in to the park each day. Don't bring your whole purse if you just need a credit card and driver's license. Narrow it down to the bare essentials. Keep all important things in one single bag that you'll never leave with the stroller. Camera, cell phones, money, all together. We had a bag that went everywhere with us and the snack and drinks bags were left with the stroller. 

- Mark your stroller. There are a finite amount of strollers made in the world and there will be others just like yours there. Mark yours. I hung a bright blue scarf on ours. Even if you park your stroller in one spot it might not be there when you come back for it. They have stroller parking attendants who organize the mayhem. 

- I have a feeling Letty will be doing the parks by foot this time but that doesn't mean I won't bring the double stroller. Do you have any idea how many miles you'll end up walking each day? It's a lot. Like averaging over ten a day. Girl is going to get tired. Make sure she has a spot to rest her dogs for awhile. 

- Most lists such as these recommend going back to the resort for a "rest" time. This is not one of those lists. I find that idea quite annoying. It's not easy getting the kids, the stroller, the bags on and off the buses. The whole process takes a lot of time and makes me sweat. So far my kids have been good taking stroller naps. Take them to a quieter area of the park or around something less interesting to them. Put your iPhone with a white noise app going near by. Even 20 minutes will be enough to take the edge off. But packing up and leaving the wonder of the parks for a nap? No thank you. 

- Figure out what is a must see for each park. Do those things first thing in any given day. If you have to see Tinkerbell be at the park when it opens and go straight there. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. 

- You're a mom (I'm making an assumption that's why you're still with me) so you know what to pack in your bag. Band-aids. Change of clothes. Diapers. Wipes. Sippy cups or bottles. Snacks. Medications if there are any. But if you forget? It's ok. Each park has everything you need. A baby station if you will. So it may cost as much as your first born but it's good to know you won't be without. 

- Plan outfits ahead of time and put each day's outfit in a ziploc bag. Makes for an easy morning. Socks and hair ties in each bag as well. If daddy dresses you then daddy knows just what bow goes with that outfit. Keep an extra outfit per kid in the bag you'll bring with you to the park. Just in case. Traversing back to the resort for a change of clothes would be such a pain. 

- I realize I'm more OCD than the average individual but I found it was much easier to repack the bag each night. I would put the kids to bed and then wash bottles and cups and refill snacks and diapers so that the next morning we could just breeze right on out the door. Because let's face it. We all are just really excited to get to the park. 

There are literally thousands of tips out there for handling WDW with young kids. What are your tips and tricks?