Editor’s Note: Lou’s email inbox is often full to overflowing with questions from listeners. As such, he has enlisted the WDW Radio Blog writers to assist him in answering some of your questions.
“Hello Lou! I am visiting ‘The World’ mid-February with my wife. This will be the first time visiting the parks with our grandson. We want to get this trip started off in the right direction… which attraction should we visit first if we are taking a two year old? God Save the Queen. Bexley St. Leonard”
Bexley, thank you for your question, and special thanks go out to all of our listeners in the UK for faithfully supporting WDW Radio! My name is Kendall Foreman, and I am an editor and contributing writer for the WDW Radio Blog.
It is my great pleasure and privilege to respond to your question by offering some suggestions for making your grandson’s “first” Walt Disney World (WDW) attraction experience a joyous and memorable one for him as well as for your wife and you. I am happy to offer you whatever assistance I can; although, I must confess that my eagerness to narrow the list of options is not altogether altruistic. You see, my husband and I are planning to take our young son to WDW for the first time next year. Like your wife and you, we want so very much to make the perfect choice for that once-in-a-lifetime experience.
To that end, I have already spent a great deal of time reviewing the suitable options for little ones. It is my hope that my narrowed list will aid you in your efforts to choose just the right attraction to share with your grandson. I am confident that a well-chosen attraction, a little bit of luck, and a whole lot of love will make for a magical memory the three of you will cherish always. What follows is a well-thought-out list of attractions for your consideration.
Magic Kingdom (MK)
For a toddler, Magic Kingdom Park is the best candidate for a memorable inaugural park visit. A simple walk down Main Street, U.S.A., is likely to captivate a wide-eyed little one. But once you reach the hub, the question arises as to where to head first.
“it’s a small world”
Being as little ones all seem to love music and bright colors, “it’s a small world” is an obvious top choice. Far from jarring or hectic, the smooth and slow-moving boat ride around the globe is a classic that many guests view as iconically Disney and a must-do tradition. Not only will most toddlers enjoy the winding voyage set to the Sherman Brothers’ catchy song, they will be captivated by hundreds of cheerful audio-animatronic child-size dolls as well as larger than life animals. (Note: This ride is almost sure to have a relatively short wait time due to the continuous running of boats that can carry at least 20 passengers. That is a bit of good news for those waiting with young ones.)
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Whether or not the toddler in your party has been introduced to the bear of very little brain, A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, they will enjoy bouncing along with you through the Hundred Acre Wood in a great big honey pot. Before entering the amusing dark ride featuring Pooh Bear, his friends, classic songs and storybook scenes, guests have the opportunity to enjoy the ride’s jolly queue. It is a playful interactive wonderland that includes Rabbit’s Garden play area, touch-sensitive honey screens, instruments and more. The queue is absolutely delightful, so skip the Fastpass+ for this attraction, and enjoy the entire experience.
Peter Pan’s Flight
Beloved by park guests of all ages, Peter Pan’s Flight is considered by many to be one of WDW‘s greatest dark rides. The Imagineering feat that allows your pirate ship to take flight is so convincing that children are certain to believe Tinkerbell’s pixie dust has worked its magic. While Captain Hook makes several appearances throughout the attraction, his menacing presence is on the lighter side. (Personal side note: I visited Walt Disney World for the first time at five years of age. Peter Pan’s Flight is the most vivid memory I have of that visit.)
The Seas with Nemo and Friends
Most little ones are familiar with the feature films Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, and that is why they are sure to be thrilled when they see their favorite characters throughout this slow-moving dark ride. This simulated “underwater” adventure has guests boarding Clamobiles on a quest to help find Nemo again. Disney Imagineers expertly positioned special effects glass upon which to project the beloved animated characters, and then surrounded them with incredibly realistic coral, plant life and more to create familiar scenes from the movie. Of course, your grandson will be oblivious to all of that. He will be too busy pretending to swim alongside Nemo and his friends to the song “The Big Blue World.” The ride climaxes with all of them joining real-live sea creatures in a 5.7 million gallon aquarium.
The wonder of interacting with Nemo and his friends does not end when the ride is exited. The entire pavilion is filled with tanks featuring tropical fish, sharks, sea turtles, dolphins, manatees and more. Then, chatty toddlers can make their way to Turtle Talk with Crush where they have the opportunity to actually speak and have questions answered by the 150 year old turtle. Seeing your tiny traveling companion converse with Pixar pals is sure to make for wonderful memories. As an added bonus, the dark ride leading into the pavilion is almost always a walk-on with little to no wait.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS)
Disney Junior Live on Stage
One of perhaps 2 or 3 attractions that appeal to toddlers at DHS, this live stage show is sure to be a hit with any little one who enjoys TV shows found on Disney Junior. Children are encouraged to sing, dance and play along with characters from Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Be sure to have the camera/phone ready to capture all the fun. (Note: This production is presented at set times throughout the day. For that reason, if the hope is to make this the first attraction experience at DHS, I recommend checking the show schedule so that you can plan accordingly.)
Disney’s Animal Kingdom (DAK)
Most small children are overjoyed and awestruck when they first see the wild animals living in the local zoo. Just imagine the reaction there will be on a Kilimanjaro Safaris expedition into the Harambe Wildlife Reserve at DAK. If you make it the first attraction you visit in WDW, it may also be your little one’s earliest glimpses of real-live African animals such as black rhinos, elephants, lions, gazelles, warthogs and many more all living in a variety of natural habitats. To add to the excitement, some of the animals have been known to come within a few feet of the open-air safari vehicles. So, have your camera/phone at the ready because magical moments are practically guaranteed on this awe-inspiring excursion! Fair warning, long lines form quickly on this attraction, so be sure to set this as one of your FastPass+ selections. (Note: The safari covers rough terrain; consequently, health warnings are posted for those with back problems, neck injuries, etc. Please inquire before losing valuable park time waiting to take a tour that may not be safe for someone in your party.)
Bexley, I hope this helps you narrow the list of attractions to consider visiting first with your two year old grandson. Whether you select one I have recommended or you go with another, I am confident your first together will be more memorable than you can imagine!
WDW Radio parents and grandparents, what was the attraction you chose to take your little traveler on first? Let us know in the comments section!
For more helpful information on visiting Walt Disney World with a toddler or baby, see the posts and podcast below:
Kendall is an editor and contributing writer for WDW Radio. She began visiting Walt Disney World in 1991 with her family and has continued to visit the resort with her husband. Her home-away-from-home is Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and she believes a perfect day at WDW includes a dip in the Lava Pool, a ride on Splash Mountain and a Pineapple Dole Whip. Follow her on Twitter @kl_foreman.