A vacation to Walt Disney World takes a lot of planning, organization, and patience! Don’t fret. We’re here to help!
We’re going to dive into a 5-day Disney World plan to help prioritize your must-do attractions, your core memory opportunities, and some pretty epic meals, all while experiencing the magic through the eyes of your kindergartener.
There’s a lot to cover at each of the four Disney World parks. But we’re going to go through each park to give you an idea of the best restaurants, attractions, and events that you might consider checking out with your tykes. While you may not get to everything on each itinerary, it will definitely help get your plans in motion!
And we’ll preface this by saying that you know your kid best. We might recommend some typically kid-friendly attractions, but if you know your child is deathly afraid of bears — then the Country Bear Jamboree is probably best skipped. You know what we mean.
And similarly with your kid’s specific schedule. You’ll want to keep them as close to their home routine as you can in terms of meal times, naps, and bedtime to keep them at their peak happiness levels and avoid some potential meltdowns. This might get tricky with time zone changes and that added excitement of being in Disney World, but plan ahead and just do your best — and give your kid (and yourself!) some grace! So, manage those expectations of what you think you can get done in a day, and don’t push little ones (or yourself) too far, thinking you can get in one more attraction before the nap, because, trust us, that doesn’t end well.
Remember your kid’s taste palate. Disney is filled with restaurants with amazing food. But sometimes kids prefer the familiar, and would rather eat some standard chicken nuggets (we love those, too!) than try Mr. Kamal’s Seasoned Fries (more for you, though!), so be prepared to scope out those menus in advance to make sure there are options for your kiddo.
Finally, be aware of your child’s exact height measurements so you can know in advance which rides he or she can or cannot ride. Though height varies wides, the typical 5 year is about 43 inches tall. Make sure you know their height in their standard tennis shoes (the ones they’ll be wearing on vacation). And avoid layering socks, fluffing hair, or other sneaky ways to alter your child’s height. Keep in mind that these restrictions are for the safety of your child and in their best interest, and it’s better to be prepared in advance for which rides may not be an option for your kiddo than to experience tears of disappointment from being turned away, or even worse, an injured kiddo!
But never fear, your friends here at AE have put together a list of your attractions with height restrictions for you, so you can plan ahead and manage those expectations!
- Barnstormer: 35 inch minimum
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: 40 inch minimum
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: 38 inch minimum
- Space Mountain: 44 inch minimum
- Splash Mountain: 40 inch minimum
- Tomorrowland Speedway: 32 in minimum
- Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind: 42 inch minimum
- Mission: Space Orange: 44 inch minimum
- Mission: Space Green: 40 inch minimum
- Soarin’ Around the World: 40 inch minimum
- Test Track: 40 inch minimum
- Alien Swirling Saucers: 32 inch minimum
- Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run: 38 inch minimum
- Rise of the Resistance: 40 inch minimum
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster: 48 inch minimum
- Slinky Dog Dash: 38 inch minimum
- Star Tours: 40 inch minimum
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror: 40 inch minimum
- Avatar Flight of Passage: 44 inch minimum
- Dinosaur: 40 inch minimum
- Expedition Everest: 44 inch minimum
- Kali River Rapids: 38 inch minimum
Basic Disney Planning Tips
There are some decisions you’ll need to make before you skip down Main Street, U.S.A., like whether or not you plan to use Disney’s Genie+ planning tool or are willing to purchase Individual Lightning Lanes for those high-demand attractions. Your budget and your priorities will be the ultimate deciding factor in whether or not this tool will work for you. The two parks we think you can get the most value out of the Genie+, and Individual Lightning Lane options are in Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, which are both heavy hitters in terms of attractions.
Though, you can still get a lot accomplished without it, if your goal is complete as much as each park has to offer, you’ll want to take advantage of Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Hours if you can.
If you’re traveling with little ones who might not meet some of the height requirements for some attractions, you’ll also want to take advantage of Disney’s Rider Swap, so no one has to miss out on their favorite attractions while someone stays behind with the tyke or folks who just might not some of those thrilling rides.
You’ll also want to pre-plan any table service meals you plan to enjoy during your Disney World vacation. Advanced Dining Reservations for Disney World table service restaurants open up 60 days prior to your vacation, and the most popular dining locations books up quickly!!
So, that means not only do you want to figure out which spot you want to eat as early as you can, but you may also want to set an alarm on your calendar to book those reservations as early as 6AM (EST) on that 60-day mark!
The Magic Kingdom is where you’ll find classic Disney attractions, iconic snacks, and loads of Disney characters.
For many guests, this is the most magical theme park at Disney World! This park has the most attractions, so if you only have one day to spend here, it might be worthwhile to splurge on getting Genie+ to make the most of your time here. And you’ll also want to make sure you get here as early as you can!
Here are some of our favorite must-do’s at Magic Kingdom.
Now, we’re not going to list every, single attraction in Magic Kingdom, though we certainly love them all for different reasons. Here’s a quick overview of the ones we think you should prioritize, and of course, your mileage may vary based on your family’s interests and potential restrictions.
The most popular are the more “thrilling” rides, which are also the ones that will often have the longest lines. If you’re planning to utilize Rider Swap so the adults can experience these more thrilling rides, then you’ll still want to plan to hit those up, first.
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Splash Mountain
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Space Mountain
- TRON: Lightcyle Run (opening in 2023)
Another option is to split up! Dad can take Junior over to ride the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, while Mom gets her thrill on at Space Mountain. Just make sure you have a plan and a place to meet up once you’re done. Once you’ve mastered those big hitters, then you’ll want to fit in some of those classic Disney rides:
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Haunted Mansion
- Jungle Cruise
- Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- “it’s a small world”
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid
- Mad Tea Party
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
If you’re going to opt into the Genie+, then these attractions are the ones you’ll want to plan for. If this is gonna be your kiddo’s first experience on any kind of attraction, we’d recommend checking out some ride videos on YouTube (we have several), so your little one has a bit of an idea of what to expect. And again, be aware of their sensitivities. If they’re super afraid of the dark, then Haunted Mansion probably isn’t their jam.
Once you’ve marked all of these iconic rides off your list, there are other “filler” attractions that you can work into your day. In our opinion, the PeopleMover is a MUST.
If it’s a hot day, you may especially want to plan for a show or two, so you can get some much-needed air conditioning and time off your feet. We highly recommend Mickey’s Philharmagic and Carousel of Progress!
- Enchanted Tiki Room
- Hall of Presidents
- Mickey’s Philharmagic
- Country Bear Jamboree
- Carousel of Progress
- Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor
The hits with younger kiddos are Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor and Mickey’s Philharmagic. Sometimes the loud thunder in Enchanted Tiki Room can frighten little ones, and may not be old enough to fully appreciate the nuances of the Hall of Presidents. However, if you can hit Hall of Presidents or Carousel of Progress around nap time, you might be able to entice a drowsy toddler to sleep in those comfy, air-conditioned shows.
And while you’re in this magical kingdom, you may want to make time to meet some of your favorite Disney pals!
- Meet Ariel at Ariel’s Grotto
- Meet Belle at Enchanted Tales with Belle
- Meet Merida at Fairytale Garden
- Meet an assortment of Princesses (usually Rapunzel, Elena of Avalor, Cinderella, and Tiana) at Princess Fairytale Hall
- Meet Mickey & Minnie at Town Square Theater
You can sometimes find other characters roaming the park, like spotting Peter Pan near his attraction, Pooh & Tigger near The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Aladdin & Jasmine in Adventureland, so keep your eyes out or check My Disney Experience App for who you might see!
If you don’t want to wait in line, you can always wave at characters as they pass by in cavalcades or the Festival of Fantasy Parade.
Now that we’ve addressed all of the attractions you need to prioritize and some of the characters you might want to see and where to find them let’s talk about FOOD!
Magic Kingdom is home to some of the most popular restaurants, too. If you’re dying to eat inside a castle, then you’ll want to make sure you earmark your 60-day window to book reservations at either Be Our Guest (dining in the Beast’s Castle) or Cinderella’s Royal Table (inside THE Cinderella Castle)! Just be aware that in addition to being super popular, they are also pretty pricey and can eat up some serious park time, so plan wisely!
Some other table service restaurants we enjoy (dare we say even more!) are Crystal Palace for a buffet with Winnie the Pooh and friends, or Liberty Tree Tavern, if you’re craving some homestyle cookin’.
If you don’t want to spend your precious park hours sitting at a table service and are looking more for a meal on the go, there are some great quick service options that keep us coming back time after time! We love having a cinnamon roll for breakfast at Gaston’s Tavern, corn dog nuggets over at Casey’s Corner, or the scrumptious Nutella Fruit Waffle from Sleepy Hollow Refreshments.
But some other quality eats can be found at Columbia Harbour House, if you’re looking for a nice salad or some fish and chips options. Pecos Bill delivers if you want something to fill that Tex-Mex craving, Cosmic Ray’s has those theme staples of burgers, fries, and chicken nuggets.
Also keep in mind that you can exit the park and take the monorail to a resort to eat. If your kiddo needs a break from the park, heading to a resort for lunch or dinner could be a great option. Check out these posts for more info on monorail resort dining options:
- What to Eat at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- What to Eat at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
- Why You Should Leave Magic Kingdom to Eat (And Where You Should Go)
Can you imagine any other way to end the day in Magic Kingdom than with an epic firework show? Disney Enchantment is currently dazzling the Magic Kingdom sky, but we recently learned that a reimagined Happily Ever After will soon be returning!
The fireworks are magical and amazing, but they’re also loud. If your tyke is sensitive to loud noises, you may want to plan to view the show from further back, closer to the Train Station, and maybe even plan to bring some headphones or earmuffs to help shield those sensitive ears.
Soared on Dumbo — Check! Sang along to “it’s a small world” — Check! Hugged or high-fived some Disney friends — Check!? That wraps up our perfect day in Magic Kingdom, and now time to prepare for our next perfect day in EPCOT!
It also has World Showcase, the best place at Walt Disney World for food and drinks. This park is large and very spread out. Even though it might have literally been years since your kindergartener was in a stroller, you’ll want one for your Disney trip, because those parks are big, and there’s a lot of walking, and those little legs will wear out quickly. So be sure to have your stroller A-game ready, because you’re gonna need it!
There is a lot to see and do in EPCOT, but not a ton of attractions. So though you can definitely use Genie+ here to skip some of those longer lines at the most popular attractions, you probably don’t need it to check off everything on your list.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Soarin’ Around the World, Mission: Space, and Test Track all provide some decent thrills and have height requirements, so if these are on the list of must-dos for adults in your party, be sure to take advantage of Rider Switch or plan for where to meet up afterward.
Disney World’s newest attraction opened here in Spring 2022, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, a groovy indoor coaster with an even groovier soundtrack. It’s currently using the Virtual Queue or Boarding Pass system, so you won’t be able to just hop in line here, you’ll have to study up and have quick fingers on your phone to secure a spot in the Virtual Queue at either 7AM or 1PM. Your other option is to come out of pocket and pay for an Individual Lightning Lane.
The most popular rides you should prioritize are:
After you’ve completed these must-dos, there are some other classic EPCOT attractions you should make time for:
- Living with the Land
- Spaceship Earth
- Soarin’ Around the World
- Gran Fiesta Tour with the Three Caballeros
- The Seas with Nemo and Friends
- Mission: Space
- Journey into Imagination with Figment
If you need an escape from the heat or maybe a spot to sit down and enjoy a show, resting your weary tootsies, there are some beautiful shows that capture the education, culture, and creativity EPCOT was built on:
- Awesome Planet
- Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival
- American Adventure
- Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along
- Turtle Talk with Crush
Each show tends to run about 20 minutes long, so you won’t have time to do them all in one day plus all of the rides and pavilions you’ll want to be sure to check out. But these are nice and entertaining respites from the walking and the heat and might help give you some time for digesting in between snacks around World Showcase. Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival and Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along are probably the most kid-friendly shows. And we definitely recommend Turtle Talk with Crush, which is part show, part character meet, and completely fun for everyone!
After you’ve found Nemo on The Seas with Nemo & Friends, and learned how to speak Turtle with Crush, exploring SeaBase Alpha is another great experience for kids. Plenty of “controlled” space for them to wander at their own pace and explore the aquariums, and explore this underwater wonderland! And you can grab a free Finding Dory Scavenger Hunt and explore the aquarium finding new fishy friends (and bonus: it comes with STICKERS!).
There are also plenty of other interactive experiences you can see throughout EPCOT, so keep your eyes open and scroll through the My Disney Experience App in case something appeals to you and your family. And there’s more coming soon, like Journey of Water and the Play! Pavilion!
And, of course, you’ll also find various entertainment around World Showcase like the Mariachi Cobre in the Mexico Pavilion and Sergi in the Italy Pavilion. These entertainers don’t just add some zip to their pavilions but are amazingly talented and worth stopping to appreciate. Each World Showcase pavilion has a Kidcot Station for kiddos to learn a bit about that country’s culture and do a fun little activity. So your tyke might really enjoy visiting each one!
EPCOT is also home to some of our favorite Disney Pals. Check your My Disney Experience App to see who’s out and about and where you can find them!
- EPCOT Entrance: Goofy and Pluto rotate shifts in Future World
- Imagination Pavilion: Joy from Inside Out and Vanellope von Schweets from Wreck It Ralph
- Morocco Pavilion: Princess Jasmine from Aladdin
- Norway Pavilion in Royal Sommerhus: Anna & Elsa from Frozen
- United Kingdom Pavilion: Alice and Mary Poppins
- France Pavilion: Belle and Princess Aurora
- Mexico Pavilion: Donald all decked out in his Mexican attire
- World Showcase Gazebo: Minnie Mouse
- China Pavilion: Mulan
- Germany Pavilion: Snow White
If you’d rather avoid standing in line to meet characters, you can always book a Character Meal. Garden Grill has Mickey, Pluto, Chip, and Dale in their farmer’s outfits greeting their guests. And Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is host to a number of rotating Disney princesses where you can usually find Ariel, Snow White, Aurora, Belle, and Jasmine.
You might find some characters wandering the grassy knoll outside the Imagination Pavilion, near the International Gateway in between the UK Pavilion and France, or on the outskirts of the American Adventure Pavilion. So keep your eyes open!
There is no shortage of dining options in EPCOT, whether you’re looking for luxury table service meals or quick snacks, you can find a wide variety during your day at EPCOT. And luckily, there’s such a wide variety, that your kiddo will find something to enjoy, too!
Since EPCOT is host to some of the most popular dining experiences, this is another situation where you’ll want to mark your 60-day calendar to book those reservations. For those must-do table service meals, we recommend Space 220 (if you have a budding astronaut on your hands), Via Napoli (because pizza is always a crowd-pleaser), Biergarten (for an all-you-care-to-enjoy Oktoberfest celebration), and we’ll always sing the praises of Garden Grill for its food and its character interactions!
If you want something a bit quicker, Regal Eagle Smokehouse in the American Pavilion delivers some tasty BBQ; Les Halles in France is a great spot for a sandwich, quiche, or pastry; Yorkshire County Fish Shop in the UK offers classic fish n’ chips; and Connections Cafe & Eatery has a very broad menu!
If you do visit EPCOT during one of its four festivals, explore the menus to find some tapas-size snacks. You can make a meal out of just snacking around the world. It’s also a manageable way to introduce your kiddos to some new foods without spending a fortune or potentially wasting uneaten food, since the portions are snack-sized. EPCOT is home to some of our favorite snacks as well, like the School Bread at Kringla Bakeri Og in Norway or the caramel popcorn from Karamell Kuche in Germany.
Now that you squeezed in all of those must-do attractions, enjoyed some classic shows, and filled your tummies with international delicacies, what better way to end the night than with a celebration of cultures, music, and fireworks!
And it’s not just fireworks. This show includes pyrotechnics, lasers, LED screens, lights, and moving fountains. It’s all choreographed to classic Disney songs sung and accompanied by artists from more than a dozen different countries and cultures from around the world.
The show is put on in the center of World Showcase Lagoon, so there are plenty of spots to get a view, And we’ll reiterate that if your kiddos have noise sensitivity, you may want to venture away from the lagoon or bring those headphones to soften the fireworks. Or you can skip the fireworks altogether and just enjoy the Beacon of Magic show that lights up Spaceship Earth.
Your family has met some characters, expanded their palates with some international flavors, and ridden some fun rides! That wraps up our perfect day in EPCOT, and now time to prepare for our next perfect day in Hollywood Studios!
Welcome to the Hollywood that never was and always will be, as the idealized version of Hollywood in the 30s and 40s. At Hollywood Studios, your family can travel alongside your favorite movie heroes through an immersive adventure!
This park contains some of Disney World’s most popular rides, like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Tower of Terror, and Slinky Dog Dash, and is the other park that we’d recommend you consider getting Genie+ for if you want to fill in all of the attractions. But it’s an option you can skip if you’re focusing exclusively on toddler-friends attractions. We’ve listed some of the must-do experiences you’ll want to prioritize for your day in this park.
The big hitters in this park are:
- Rise of the Resistance
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
- Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Of these popular attractions, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is the only one without a height restriction and is fully family-friendly. The others can utilize Rider Swap if the adults want to experience some thrills while someone hangs out with the tykes.
Once you’ve secured your plan for fitting these into your day, there are some other attractions you’ll want to add in:
- Star Tours – The Adventure Continues
- Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
- Toy Story Mania
- Alien Swirling Saucers
All of these have height requirements as well, except for Toy Story Mania. So measure your little one and prepare your expectations for what they can and can’t do. And it couldn’t hurt to prepare them as well, so you can try to avoid a meltdown for not being able to ride Tower of Terror or Alien Swirling Saucers.
Even if your kid does meet the height requirement, you might want to review the ride for other potentially intense moments. Tower of Terror not only has a big drop (and keeps dropping you over and over) but it’s got a spooky theme, so active imaginations might be extra scared at the thought of ghosts and creepy music. Rise of the Resistance has stormtrooper firing blaster guns all around you, and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is fast, dark, and goes upside down (even some adults may not enjoy that)!
And since this is Hollywood and all about “on with the show,” then, of course, there are some amazing shows to consider, and lucky for you — no height requirement for shows, so everyone can enjoy them all. Or parents can take the kiddo to enjoy the Lightning McQueen Racing Academy while the other adults take on Rock N Roller Coaster.
- MuppetVision 3D
- Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy
- Frozen Sing Along Celebration
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
- Mickey Vacation Shorts
- Beauty & the Beast Live On Stage
Once again, these shows can run from 20 to 40 minutes, so they offer a nice break from the heat and hustle of park touring, but also take up a huge chunk of time. Our universal recommendation is MuppetVision 3D. Even though the 3D effects are a bit dated, the Muppets are classic, and we never pass an opportunity to visit!
While visiting Hollywood, it just makes sense to run into some celebrities!
- Red Carpet Dreams: Meet Mickey & Minnie
- Celebrity Spotlight: Meet Olaf from Frozen
- Star Wars: Launch Bay: Meet BB-8, Darth Vader, and Chewbacca
- Toy Story Land: Meet Bo Peep, Jessie, Woody, and Buzz Lightyear
- Disney Junior Dance Party!: Meet Doc McStuffins, Vampira, and Fancy Nancy
- Walt Disney Presents: Meet Mike & Sully from Monster’s Inc
And though you won’t necessarily get time for a photo and autograph, you can several Star Wars characters in Galaxy’s Edge, like Kylo Ren, Rey, Stormtroopers, and Chewbacca. You may also spot some classic Disney characters like Pluto, Goofy, or Chip and Dale around Echo Lake.
Hollywood and Vine offers a buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with character meetings, if you prefer to dine with celebrities. Breakfast hosts characters from Disney Junior, so perfect for pre-schoolers and the little tykes. Lunch and dinner switch up for Minnie and friends in seasonal outfits.
Hollywood Studios may currently hold the title on Disney thrill rides, but it is not known for providing thrilling food. There are some noteworthy snacks that we keep coming back to, and some fun restaurants where we honestly enjoy the experience more than the food.
For those fun dining experiences and pretty good food, there’s 50’s Prime Time Cafe, where you dine on down-home cookin’ with your “relatives;” Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, where you eat classic diner food in a stylized drive-in theater show quirky film clips; and, as we mentioned above, Hollywood & Vine for a character buffet perfect for young kids who want to meet their favorite Disney Junior character for breakfast or the Fab Five for lunch and dinner..
For quick bites, the selection here is pretty standard, nothing super noteworthy. Woody’s Lunchbox has some tasty sandwiches, but limited seating, so be prepared for that. The Ronto Wrap in Galaxy’s Edge is really good (we like the breakfast version, too!). If you like hot dogs, Fairfax Fare has you covered. And for snacks, we gravitate toward the Carrot Cake Cookie at Trolley Car Cafe, Wookiee Cookie at Backlot Express, and Lunchbox Tarts over at Woody’s Lunchbox.
You can find some good food here, but it doesn’t really compare with the selection available at EPCOT or Disney Springs.
Fantasmic! has a huge fan following, and your kids will love seeing all of the Disney characters, but may be scared when some of the Disney villains join the show.
This epic nighttime spectacular returned after a long hiatus with some new music and new scenes! This packs in the action with Disney characters, water projections, laser shows, and good triumphing over evil.
The action for this show is kinda far away and little attention spans go wandering. Still, there is a great scene near the finale with dozens of Disney characters waving to the audience from a riverboat. It’s cute, and tykes will like that part, but that one scene might not be worth trying to wrestle your wiggly or exhausted kiddo for 20 minutes or so.
You caught the shows, the fun, and met the unique Disney characters, so that means you’ve had a COMPLETE day at Hollywood Studios for tykes. That wraps up our perfect day in Hollywood Studios, and now time to prepare for our next perfect day in Animal Kingdom!
It might actually be a toss-up between which park kids prefer, Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom. Magic Kingdom is colorful, has some fun rides, and has friendly characters. But Animal Kingdom has amazing animals, beautiful landscapes and trails, and space that allow kids a bit more freedom to explore and exercise some independence.
Animal Kingdom isn’t overflowing with rides, but there’s plenty to see and do. Similar to EPCOT, if you keep your eyes open and let yourself wander, you never know what hidden treasure you might stumble across.
The main attractions here are… well, the animals (hence the name, we suppose), but there are some you’ll want to hit up bright and early to avoid some long lines.
Only Flight of Passage has a height requirement from this list, so you can easily Rider Swap this one or plan to split and reconnect if adults want to SIVAKO! Tykes will enjoy the Na’vi River Journey, which is a boated dark ride (think “it’s a small world,” Pirates of the Caribbean, or Gran Fiesta Tour) gliding through the rainforest of the Mo’ara Valley. Colorful and pretty, but dark.
Some other attractions might sporadically have long lines, but usually, they’re pretty moderate:
Triceratops Spin is the only one free of height requirements, it’s essentially a Triceratops-themed Dumbo ride.
If adults can’t pass up an opportunity to challenge the Yeti on Expedition Everest, there is Rider Swap or a Single Rider line to….er….expedite your expedition.
Take time to explore the Discovery Island Trails, Gorilla Falls Exploration Trails, or Maharajah Jungle Trek to see all of the unique animals, creative theming, and storytelling and chat with a Cast Member in the area to learn about these amazing animals. This is where your tyke can stretch their legs and spend some time exploring the habitats.
And for a full range freedom experience, take them over to The Boneyard, where kids under 10 can climb prehistoric theme jungle gyms, slides, or dig up “bones” in the sandbox, while parents can watch and sit at shaded picnic tables.
Then finally, the shows!! Animal Kingdom shows rival those over at Hollywood Studios (and we might even like Festival of the Lion King better than anything because — TUMBLE MONKEYS!)! Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond! are both Broadway-style musicals with beautiful costumes, impressive puppetry skills, and fun, toe-tapping tunes.
The two other shows in Animal Kingdom, It’s Tough to be a Bug and Up! A Great Bird Adventure immerses guests in the worlds of these fascinating and talented animals. Up! A Great Bird Adventure is thoroughly charming, but It’s Tough to be a Bug deals with creepy-crawlies in a dark theater. Unless your kiddo absolutely LOVES bugs, you prolly wanna skip this one to avoid a lot of tears!
For those animal lovers out there, take the train from Harambe Village up to Rafiki’s Planet Watch where families can wander along trails, learn about animals and how the Disney vets take care of them, and even get to pet some of the cutest little goats and pigs at the Affection Section.
Not to worry, parents, there are plenty of handwashing and hand santization stations so your kiddo doesn’t smell like their new goat best friend all day.
We all know that the animals are the big stars of the show here, and though you can’t hug a tiger here, you can still spot your favorite Mouse for a hug, high-five, or quick howdy.
- Adventurers Outpost: Mickey and Minnie in their safari outfits.
- Donald’s Dino-Bash: Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Chip, and Dale make regular appearances
- Discovery Island: Kevin, that precocious bird from Up, wanders around regularly.
You’ll also be able to wave at characters as they cruise around the Animal Kingdom waterways on flotillas. We’ve classic and unique characters on these festive barges like: Mickey, Minnie, Chip and Dale, Pocahontas and Meeko, Russell and Dug, and Baloo and King Louie.
Though not a traditional meet-and-greet, it’s fun to see some Disney friends sometimes when you least expect it!
Animal Kingdom has a strong game when it comes to unique dining options and experiences! The table service options might be a little too unique for young palates, unless you visit Rainforest Cafe. Not bagging on Rainforest Cafe, but since you can find them in so many cities nowadays, it’s not exactly a Disney-exclusive experience.
Yak & Yeti offers a huge menu of Asian-fusion inspired dishes. If you’re looking for something a bit unique, you can find it here, but for those pickier eaters, there are also some more familiar eats. Tusker House is the character meal with Donald and the gang greeting diners in their safari outfits. As a buffet, this is also a good spot for picky eaters to wander through and get those familiar foods, while also having the opportunity to try some African-inspired dishes. Tusker House (as a character meal) is super popular, so make sure you secure that dining reservation right at that 60 day mark.
For quick service, picky eaters can find their bliss at Restaurantosaurus (for burgers, sandwiches, and fries) and Flame Tree BBQ has some tasty smoke BBQ that you can literally smell all around Discovery Island. Or if you’re looking for something a bit more unique, Satu’li Canteen (for those delicious cheeseburger pods and protein bowls!) or Yak & Yeti Local Local Foods Cafe has some familiar Asian-inspired meals (like fried rice and sweet & sour shrimp). And so many snacks!! Eight Spoons Cafe has baked mac and cheese we can’t get enough of! Isle of Java has a Tiger Tail pastry for sweet tooth cravings, Mr. Kamal’s has some seasoned fries that are shareable (but you won’t wanna share), Pongu Pongu has a Pongu Lumpia sweet pineapple cheesecake style eggroll that is different but delicious. Or for other pineappley cravings, Tamu Tamu is the spot for those Dole Whip lovers.
Are you hungry, yet? See? We told you, Animal Kingdom packs in the flavor!
Night Time Show
Because of the animals at Animal Kingdom, you won’t find any fireworks here. This might work well for toddlers as well for a mellower (but still beautiful) way to end the day.
But we do recommend staying after sunset to watch the Beacon of Light projection show on the Tree of Life. The park icon lights up, and a projection show tells the story of some animal friends as they come to live from the tree and interact together. It’s a peaceful, magical show that is the perfect way to wind down after your day exploring nature and appreciating all of these amazing creatures.
You’ve toured through Mo’ara Valley in Pandora, and coasted down the Na’vi River, flew high on the back of a Triceratops, and seen some amazing animals on the safari and trails, so you’ve had a COMPLETE day at Animal Kingdom. That wraps up our perfect day in Animal Kingdom, and now time to prepare for our next perfect day in Disney Springs & the Resorts!
Sometimes considered a fifth park for all it has to offer, Disney Springs won’t require any Genie+ access, though you may still want to have your phone handy for Mobile Order at some of the dining locations.
But just because you won’t find classic dark rides or thrilling coasters, doesn’t mean that there aren’t some fun attractions here. let’s take a look at how you can spend some of your day at Disney Springs!
There are actually a few “rides” in Disney Springs, but you will have to pay to ride these options:
If you looking to cruise the Sassagoula waterway in a unique way, head over to The BOATHOUSE and snag a ticket to ride in one of the zippy Amphicars. Or if floating through the air is more your style, the Aerophile balloon will lift you up 300 feet in the air for sweeping views of the Disney World property. Will your 5-year-old enjoy these? Well, the Amphicar, probably, but as much as warrants the cost? Prolly not. They’d probably get just as much of a thrill on the free boat transportation from Disney Springs to Port Orleans.
If you prefer to keep your feet on solid ground, Disney Springs has some great shows for you, as well. There is the AMC Dine-In Theater to take in a flick, or Cirque du Soleil: Drawn to Life, which is probably a bit much for young ones.
If you don’t want to set aside several hours for these shows, you can also catch live music all throughout Disney Springs in the evenings. Or, if you’re up for a bit of friendly competition, check out Splitsville, which not only has an extensive menu but is also a bowling alley!
And there are a lot of shopping and dining opportunities in Disney Springs with some one-of-a-kind shops and the world’s largest Disney Store!
There’s no shortage of restaurants at Disney Springs! The only limit is the size of your stomach (and the depth of your wallet). Some restaurants in Disney Springs that you and your kiddo might enjoy are
T-Rex Cafe is much like Rainforest Cafe, but with dinosaurs (mindblowing, right?), but be aware that during your meal, as the threat of extinction looms near, a meteor shower thunders through the restaurant, which can be loud and scary for little ones. But it’s a fun and vibrant experience for kids with familiar meals that are super approachable for kiddos.
But there’s so much to see and do, maybe you just want a quick but quality meal? Well, buckle up because Disney Springs brings their A-Game with quick service options like:
To satisfy your sweet tooth, Disney Springs has everything from over-the-top donuts, to cookies so good they require a virtual queue, and Dole Whip flights.
If you crave it, Disney Springs has it!
If you’re spending the money to stay at a Disney Resort Hotel, you may as well make some time to enjoy some of the amenities that you’re paying for, right?
Some come with an extra charge (like carriage rides or horseback riding), but other things you can do for free! Let’s see what some of the resorts have to offer!
Each Disney Resort Hotel has a different theme and story, and some of those amenities are uniquely themed to fit into those environments. All the resorts have pools, gift shops, fun-themed lobbies, dining areas, movies under the stars, and expansive (and immaculate) grounds and jogging trails. Depending on your resort level, you could also have access to fitness centers, lounges or bars, coffee shops, meeting areas, outdoor firepits, and live entertainment.
When you’re dining with young kids, you’re probably looking for a meal that 1) they’ll eat, and 2) they’ll sit still for while you eat. Cue the character meals and engaging dining experiences at the Disney resorts!
The Disney Resorts have some of the best dining experiences (yeah, we just said that about Disney Springs… and EPCOT… and Animal Kingdom… and we mean it every time)!
If you have some big eaters and need an all-you-care-to-enjoy experience, check out Trails End (at Fort Wilderness), Whispering Canyon (at Wilderness Lodge), Boma (at Animal Kingdom Lodge), and ‘Ohana (at the Polynesian).
For more casual quick service options, some of our go-to’s are:
- Mara at Animal Kingdom Lodge
- BoardWalk Deli at the BoardWalk Inn
- Contempo Cafe at the Contemporary
- Primo Piatto at the Riviera
- Gasparilla Island Grill at the Grand Floridian
- Capt Cook’s at the Polynesian
- Sassagoula Floatworks at Port Orleans French Quarter
- Geyser Point at Wilderness Lodge
- Roaring Fork at Wilderness Lodge
So whether you’re staying at one of these resorts, or just passing through, don’t pass up the opportunity to grab an epic meal at one of these locations!
PHEW! That’s four perfect park days, plus a bonus day at the Disney Resorts and Disney Springs. These are our top picks for how to construct the perfect Disney World trip for you and your 5 year old. We’ve given you all of the pieces, and now you can put it all together in a day that works for you and your family!!
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What is your 5-year-old’s favorite thing to do in the Disney Parks? Let us know in the comments below!