May 21, 2015

All the Toddler Play Areas at Walt Disney World

Yes, Younger Kids can have fun at Walt Disney World 

While I've always loved going to Disney's parks as a child and an adult, going as a parent and sharing the experience with my children is on a whole other level of fun. I'm actually at a loss on how to describe the euphoria of it. It's also a bit surreal that I'm now the parent in the scenario, lol.

Just look at the joy on my kids' faces in these photos, that is exactly how my soul felt seeing them so happy and spending this carefree time with them.

I know most parents say they'd rather wait until their kids get older before they take them to Walt Disney World or Disneyland for the first time, that way they remember it. But why wait? Especially since children age 2 and under are FREE at all of the parks and yes, there is plenty for them to do at each park and the photos alone are so precious.

Toddler Play Areas at Walt Disney World in Orlando

Let your little ones burn off their excess energy at fun playgrounds designed with them in mind. Each Walt Disney World theme park has play zones that are perfect for toddlers to run around in, in fact, my twin 2.5-year-old boys liked these areas as much as the rides themselves, see below for a full list.

Magic Kingdom Play Areas 

  • Waiting area at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: In the line for this ride, there is a fun play area that kids can enjoy. We'll do this before and after riding, which they enjoy as much as the ride itself.

    Walt Disney World Toddler Play AreasWalt Disney World Toddler Play Areas

  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant's Play Before You Ride Area - Like the Winnie the Pooh area, this ride can be found in the very back of the park and has a pre-ride play area that's fun for kids to explore. This circus-themed play area keeps the little ones having fun before taking flight. Upon arrival, you’ll receive a pager that “virtually” holds your place in line. Step inside the big-top tent and enjoy an air-conditioned playground complete with slides, climbing net, and even a toddler section. Bonus, parents can relax here with ample seating. However, if you’re using Disney FastPass+ service, you’ll bypass this area and go straight to the FastPass+ entrance. So, you might want to save your FastPass option for a different ride like Peter Pan, which always has a line. You can also head into this back area without going on the ride altogether or go back and play after you ride, we did!

  • Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station is a water-based, open play area located inside Fantasyland near the train station in Storybook Circus in Magic Kingdom park at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. It's actually based on the friendly circus locomotive from Walt Disney’s Dumbo and is next to the ride. It's perfect for hot summer days to cool off overheated kids and parents. There are also bathrooms right next to it. 
  • Recommended Toddler Rides: It's a Small World (my boys loved being on the boat and of course all the colorful moving animitronics and the fun, upbeat song), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan's Flight, Dumbo, The Magic Carpets of Aladdin and Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid. Plus, the Tomorowland PeopleMover and/or the Train that travels around the park, which is also a great way to relax while keeping toddlers occupied. Oh, and doing a Meet with Mickey Mouse is a must, which you can thankfully reserve ahead of time via Fast Pass+ on the free My Disney Experience app or website. If you don't have a Fast Pass to meet Mickey, a good time to go is during parades when the lines are less. 

Epcot Play Areas

  • SeaBase Aquarium:  After going on the The Seas with Nemo & Friends ride, my toddler twins enjoy simply running around the 5.7-million-gallon saltwater aquarium with coral reefs, sharks, dolphins, turtles, manatees and more to point and look at. Catch the fish feedings at 10:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Best of all, it's inside so protected from the heat or rain. 
  • Advanced Training Lab: Little astronauts can participate in space-themed activities and even create space-age postcard in this interactive play area
  • Innoventions: While not exactly for toddlers, little kids can still hang in the air conditioned building as they play with computers and press buttons. Colortoipa is a fun new exhibit there too.
  • Cars Cactus Road Rally is a fun desert-themed mini park that is easy to miss as it's set back a bit, but one you'll want to look out for near the popular Test Track ride. Just look for the giant Lightning McQueen and Mater topiaries. A sun canopy covers the play area and there is seating for parents too. Unfortunately, it's only open in the Spring to early Summer during the annual Flower and Garden Festival.
    cars catus road rally play area at epcotEpcot Cars playground

  • Music Garden Melodies play area: During the annual Flower and Garden Festival each Spring, there is also a temporary play structure for children ages 2 to 5 with slides, bridges, tunnels and games along with an older kids structure next to it for children ages 5 to 10. It's located along the Imagination Walkway between the Butterfly Garden and World Showcase near Canada. This playground is a chance for kids to play and explore and parents to relax. In 2015, the theme was Monsters University, but for 2016 it's more general with topiaries of Disney's "Fab Five"and a play area that incorporates musical sounds and instrumental equipment to play with. I only wish this shaded play space was available all year! :(

    Play areas for kids at Epcot

Hollywood Studios

  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure: We let them run free in this 11,000-square-foot, enclosed play area with slides, caves and rope paths to climb and explore. We went here twice during our trip. At first, I was trying to follow them, but soon found myself in little crawlspaces, so I then decided to just hang back by the exit and see them dart back and forth. UPDATE: This area is currently CLOSED due to the building of Star Wars and Toy Story lands, but hopefully these new areas will incorporate play areas. I've been told that Toy Story land will have a large arcade at least. 
  • where can younger kids play at Magic Kingdom?
    Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area at Hollywood Studios

Animal Kingdom:

Who knew this would be our boys favorite park? They got to see animals up-close on the Kilimanjaro Safari Ride and ran wild in The Boneyard.

  • The Boneyard: dig site for kids in the Dinoland area of the park is a great play space for toddlers and preschoolers. There are slides, climbing structures, a big sand box (cross the bridge to get to it), water zones and much more. On hot days the overhead canopies and fans were very much appreciated. Cast members are also watching the entrance and exit. My boys could honestly spend the whole day there and be happy.

    playground at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom
    Animal Kingdom play area The Boneyard 

Disney World Resort Hotel Playgrounds:

It used to be said that playgrounds could be found at all Disney World hotels, however, that is unfortunately not true. For instance, Disney's Yacht & Beach Club resort does not have a playground, but it does have an impressive water slide and pool area.

Walt Disney World Resort playgrounds can be found at the following locations for kids ages 2-12: 
  • All-Star Movies Resort 
  • All-Star Music Resort 
  • All-Star Sports Resort 
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge 
  • Art of Animation Resort 
  • BoardWalk Inn 
  • Caribbean Beach Resort 
  • Coronado Springs Resort 
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground 
  • Old Key West Resort 
  • Pop Century Resort
  • Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter 
  • Port Orleans Resort – Riverside 
  • Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa 
  • Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel

More Disney World tips:

 Animal Kingdom Secrets

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