While the big-kid world waits lightyears for this summer’s August 29 opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, your little kids don’t really care, they just want to see Toy Story! This spring and summer is prime time for visiting Toy Story Land; the up-sized world of Andy’s backyard, located right next door to Star Wars (massive crowds will begin clogging Hollywood Studios not long after Toy Story Land’s one-year birthday in June). Make plans now, and let’s take a look.
Disney is all about creating experiences (think Pandora — The World of Avatar), and they don’t really pour it on for little kids. Toy Story Land will seem giant to tots: it covers 11 solid acres and, unlike Andy’s room where the toys are lifeless when humans are near, this land buzzes with activity, literally. Buzz, Woody and Jessie provide character greetings, and cinematic touches help you sense the movie all around you: giant toy blocks; jumbo puzzle pieces; Tinkertoy lamp posts; Lincoln Logs for benches; and a giant Thermos holding up a lunch-box diner.
The rides are cute. Slinky Dog Dash (height requirement 38” and taller) is a fun and brisk roller coaster even you will enjoy; Toy Story Mania! (wildly popular) is a 3D indoor attraction sprinkled with fun elements; and Alien Swirling Saucers have those three-eyed creatures at the wheel of your rocket ship. Toy Story Land is a must for the preschool set; don’t even dream of skipping it.
Try not to be negative in front of your kids about the cost of a Disney trip; it’s a rich investment in a child’s happy vault of memories. Maybe the grandparents would like to help pay; maybe it will take a little saving up? No matter what, if you choose to do it — do it.
Yes, Disney will cost you, and because it can be overwhelming to plan, consider an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner such as the locally based Fairy Trip Mother Travel. These all-things-Disney experts can help you in all aspects of planning your dream trip and advise you on cost-cutting, too.
Staying onsite at a Disney resort with young kids is the way to go. Guests who stay in resorts get to lock-in FastPass ride reservations up to 60 days in advance and receive MagicBands in the mail to help you get your family excitement underway. You will use a “My Disney Experience” account to customize your FastPass selections, dining options and more, which will all be loaded up on your MagicBands for quick entry into your resort, park of choice and more.
Be aware of height requirements for rides before you reserve your FastPass slots.
Bring your own strollers (renting one costs $15 for a single per day; $31 for a double) because it’s all about the walking and riding and your little ones will be snoozing as you push. Be aware of Disney's new stroller policy.
Pack plenty of quick snacks and sippy cup drinks in a lightweight tote along with other needs — sunscreen, hats and close-toed shoes. Be flexible and try not to overdo.
My advice going in? Start bright and early at the Magic Kingdom so you can catch the welcoming show on Main Street. After your fun there, take the monorail to Hollywood Studios.
No, don’t think about going to Avatar Flight of Passage in the Animal Kingdom first thing in the morning; everybody else does that. Avoid that crazy stampede and even crazier long line and wait until mid-morning for the line to thin out.
As for eats? You can spend an entire afternoon researching dining options for your family at the different Disney World parks, and you should because you DO want to splurge on a Character Meal for your littles to enjoy. Do your research, study the Disney Meal plan tips and tricks and know that healthy toddler and preschool-sized meals are available at every restaurant.
Best Disney website to start with? Disney.com, naturally!
AMUSEMENTS FOR PRESCHOOLERS
Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdon and Epcot are super fun for kids.
MY FAVES FOR LITTLES: Slinky Dog Dash; Voyage of the Little Mermaid; Toy Story Mania!
MORE: Kilimangaro Safaris; Beauty and the Beast — Live; Disney Junior — Live; Lights, Motors, Action!; Extreme Stunt Show; Muppet Vision 3D; Alien Saucers
MY FAVES FOR LITTLES: Under the Sea — Journey of the Little Mermaid; Dumbo the Flying Elephant; Enchanted Tales with Belle; Peter Pan’s Flight; It’s a Small World
MORE: Princess Fairytale Hall; The Barnstormer; Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station; Mickey’s PhilharMagic; Mad Tea Party; The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh; The Magic Carpets of Aladdin; Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin; Prince Charming Regal Carrousel.
MY FAVES FOR LITTLES: Finding Nemo – The Musical.
MORE: Kilimangaro Safaris; TriceraTop Spin; Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail; Maharaja Jungle Trek; Rafiki’s Planet Watch; Wilderness Explorers
MY FAVE FOR LITTLES: Turtle Talk with Crush
MORE: Under the Sea with Nemo and Friends; Journey Into Imagination; Kidcot Fun Stops; Gran Fiesta Tour; The Circle of Life; Innoventions
IT'S A FORCE
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens Thursday, Aug. 29 at Walt Disney World Resort’s Hollywood Studios. Guest demand is massive for the event; follow along at disneyparks.disney.go.com/star-wars-galaxys-edge. No FastPasses will work for the opening.