If you're a mom or dad planning a Disney Vacation with a toddler the normal knee jerk reaction is to head right to the Magic Kingdom...or maybe Animal Kingdom. But sometimes you just need a break from all the hustle and bustle of the theme parks.
Go on over to Downtown Disney!...yeah, I see many of you out there with puzzled looks on your faces. I'm serious. Downtown Disney is far more than a place for souvenir shopping. There is SO much to do there that will keep your toddler engaged and happy for hours (and when was the last time that happened?)
No special admission is required to visit Downtown Disney. Normally this area is less crowded during the daytime when everyone is visiting the parks. It can get crowded in the evenings, especially the dining and shopping venues here.
Check out our 10 toddler tips for Downtown Disney....
1. Characters In Flight - This is the world's largest tethered hot air balloon ride. There is a charge for this which is $18 for adults and $12 for kids but your family be treated to an amazing bird's eye view of all the parks. It's also a wonderful place to interact with characters from Peter Pan to Buzz lightyear. Rides are dependent on weather and wind conditions so be careful of making promises in advance if the skies are breezy or overcast.
2. The Marketplace Carousel - This beautiful merry go round which was hand crafted in Italy will certainly delight children of all ages and give parents the opportunity to sit down for a few minutes.
3. The Trex Cafe - Dinosaur lovers will appreciate the "dino -mite" dishes at this popular eatery. While waiting for your dinner, check out the sandbox in the adjacent gift shop. Here your toddlers can dig for fossils.
4. Boat Rides - From the marina you can take Disney Transportation and enjoy a little time on the water and maybe even sail on over to Dixie Landings at Port Orleans or Old Key West Resort. Parents can rent and take their little one out in Sea Raycer boats. There are even pontoon boats that can accommodate families up to 8 people.
5. Water Fountain - If your little ones want to beat the Florida heat, let them play in the water fountains in Downtown Disney. (Parents - come prepared for this inevitable activity)
6. Soda Fountain - When you're toddler is done running thru the water fountains, how about a visit to Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop. Here they can cool off in a different way with and ice cream treat or milkshake.
7. Special Events - Depending on when you'll be visiting, there are all types of special events scheduled throughout the year at Downtown Disney that your little ones may enjoy. Everything from classic car exhibits to children's DJ dance parties. Check in with guest services and ask what special events might be happening.
8. Once Upon A Toy Store - Parents can't miss this shrine to toys built out of Lincoln logs and TinkerToys. Kids will love the minature displays and interactive play areas like Mr. Potato head. Warning - hold onto your wallets parents!
9. The World of Disney - This store is 50,000 square feet of everything Disney. If you're little girl is too young for the Bibbidi Bobbide Boutique she can still satisfy her inner pricess with fashionista finds here. Little dudes may prefer the nearby Team Mickey Athletic Club.
10. The Lego Imagination Center - Your little ones will marvel at the jaw dropping and inspiring lego displays here. Outside of the shop there is a 3,000 square foot play zone complete with a car racing track. You may not be able to drag your toddler away from here kicking and screaming but hey...it's much better than finding yourself stepping on legos...right?