WDW with my 5-year-old daughter


New Member
Original Poster
We're bringing our daughter for her first Disney trip in May. She's 5 now, and due to geography and price, it will likely be at least 3 years before we go again. I want to make this trip as magical as possible for her, but I'm looking for some advice. I've been going to WDW since I was 2 years old and know a lot, but it will be MY first time traveling with a child.

1. Should I limit table service restaurants? She tends to get antsy in restaurants and is generally a high energy kid, but at the same time she might be in need of a longer break.
2. We currently have 5 park days (non-park hopper tickets). I'm trying to decide whether to add a 6th or stay back at our house and go to the pool (we're renting offsite).

What are some other tips that you have found helpful?


Premium Member
IMHO adding a day may be a good idea because for the price difference even if you decide you need a break you won't mind leaving early
Character meals are very kid friendly and most Disney restaurants meals are paced to move quickly, the exception would be signatures
Make sure your kid has 2 pairs of very comfy broken in footwear.
Bring ponchos and sunscreen
A refillable water bottle


Well-Known Member
Just a quick reminder, you have almost 3 months to help train your daughter in restaurant situations. I would be more concerned with ride queues myself with a 5 year old since you will be doing more of that than eating at sit down restaurants. I don't know your parenting style but I strongly recommend that you don't give your child an iphone or ipad in restaurant situations now or ever. You're better off discussing what you've done so far for the day, what you plan to do for the rest of the day, ask her about her school, teacher, friends, favorite shows or her dreams in life (which may change hourly!). Bring a coloring book or drawing pad and some crayons (in a plastic food storge or pencil box) and have her draw pictures of her experiences including your family. Have her practice writing her name. Look for hidden mickeys. Sing songs or tell each other stories.

Suggestions here are easy to come by, but it helps to know what she is interested in. Does she like gentle rides, thrill rides, parades, meeting characters, fireworks, princesses, super heroes or star wars? Is she a picky eater or does she enjoy trying new foods? Is she (and are you) morning people or night owls, or both? Can she handle long walks, and does she still take naps in the car on a busy shopping day for example?

Here are some very generic tips you probably already knew about:
Right now, advanced dining reservations (ADRs) are 60 days out. You can book them for your entire trip on the day which is 60 days before your trip is scheduled to begin.

Make sure to have reasonable expectations about what rides you will be able to fit in your trip, and prioritize those for a rope drop or genie+/ILL reservation if necessary. Nobody wants to pay extra on an expensive trip but if you're already dropping decent money here and don't get to do your must-do attractions it will be a much more negative experience.

If you drive yourself, parking at the magic kingdom is the worst of the 4 parks because you need to park, walk to the transporation center, get on the monorail and then walk some more just to get to the front gates. Taking breaks in the middle of the day from the other parks and going back to your hotel for a nap or pool break is good, but leaving and coming back to the MK adds a lot more time.

One general dining suggestion many here might agree with - the Be Our Guest restaurant in MK is quick service for lunch but table service for dinner. For lunch it's reasonably priced (as much as anything at Disney) and is a great way to beat the heat and have a sitting break. For dinner it may not have food she (or you) really like and it's considerably more expensive and for my family it just took too long.

Bringing a larger sling bag or sackpack (search on amazon if you don't know) with a change of clothes in a gallon ziplock or "space bag" might be a good idea along with the stuff Figgy1 mentioned. In May, a 5 year old girl's complete change of summer clothes doesn't take up much room but leaving resorts due to unexpected rains, or a food/bathroom accident is going to be quite inconvenient. Also purchase an external battery charger for your own phone and keep it in your bag, you will need it for ordering quick service food, looking for bathrooms, checking ride queues, and if you choose to purchase genie+ or individual lightning lanes for attractions. For genie+, people have been recommending getting them only for the days you're in the MK and DHS parks, but if you haven't been recently you should look up how they work because it's very different than the old fastpass system.

Master Yoda

Pro Star Wars geek.
Premium Member
1. I would opt for quick service meals. It will save you a ton of cash and you can come and go as you please. The only exception would be character dining if your kid is into it. My girls loved it, but I know plenty of kids that absolutely hate the characters.
2. I would have a pool day possibly mid-week. My kids had complete access to everything that WDW had to offer and I can not tell you how many times they just wanted to stay at the resort and swim.
3. Probably the best piece of advice I can give you is to remember that you are on your child's schedule, not yours. If you try to go full tilt commando mode your kid is much more likely to have a melt down. Take things at her pace and you will have a much better time.

Club Cooloholic

Well-Known Member
I agree with the others on meals. Over the years I found character meals or more specifically character meals with buffets, to be the best. I know some will poo poo it but at five, bring or rent a good stroller. They will get tired and will appreciate a place to nap and you can enjoy the scenery walking or sitting on a bench.


Well-Known Member
1 - If your child gets antsy in restaurants, you might want to plan for more QS than TS places. You can always take your time at quick service places if she needs more breaks. The food will be cheaper and a lot of the TS restaurants are very loud and chaotic anyway.

2 - For a 5 year old, I would choose a down day vs. 6 park days in a row. That's tiring for anyone much less a younger kid.


Well-Known Member
Only advice is remember that your daughter will have NO IDEA what she missed if you don't do absolutely everything. No need to push to get it all done.

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