Magic Kingdom with a Toddler and Preschooler

Our first day at Disney World could only have been Magic Kingdom of course, and we squeezed as much into the day as possible, but had to come back during our second week (when we were staying at Universal) to mop up a few of the things we missed. 

As a group, we cover most of the things anyone would want to explore in a Disney Park. Steven and I love a thrill ride, and the kids love character meets (and I probably teared up at every single one too!), and then we all really enjoyed popping into the shows to cool off. 

This was my first-ever trip to Florida, and Steven’s first trip since he was a surly teenage with Justin Bieber hair. The rest of our party (his parents, sister, her husband and their 4 kids ranging from 19-9) last went 6 years ago, just days after Steven and I got married, so they were much more savvy in general. However, I had spent the past year watching every video about how Genie+ plus works, and so I was the resident fast pass expert. This is self-appointed title meant that every morning I was awake at 6am terrified I was going to miss the slots to book things!

So yes, Steven and I booked Genie+ a few of the days – both times we did Magic Kingdom and in Hollywood studio. We didn’t do it in Epcot as there were not enough rides to make it feel worth it and we didn’t miss it then, but otherwise, I would absolutely say, if you only have a day or two in each park and a list of stuff you’re dying to do, then it is worth the extra cost (around $25 each for us). 

It’s not the easiest system and there were some rides that we couldn’t use it on, which was annoying. We also had some issues on the first day where a few of the rides we booked our Genie+ ended up going down and I couldn’t work out how to re-redeem them, so that was frustrating. 

If you want to know more about Genie+, let me know in the comments below and I’d be more than happy to do a full post about how we found it and how we made the most of it. But otherwise, here is what we managed to do in Magic Kingdom. 

Side note: I chatted about the transport from the hotel to the parks as well as the double stroller we ordered on this post. 

Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin

Poor Indie got Mike Wazowski’d by the blaster haha!

This is really similar to the Disneyland Paris version, and a family favourite as all 4 of us could go on it. We booked it as our first Genie+ ride of the day and walked straight on. This is a really fun ride where you are in little spaceships (all 4 of us got into one) and there are 2 blasters and one skinny-thing (not the official space-term I imagine). You have to blast the targets and you get points. It’s not scary, nor fast and the spinning is self-controlled so even my spin-adverse husband died’t get too dizzy. 

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Just a cool dude, rocking out in the queue line

The theming and interactivity of this queue line was so beautiful and I wish every queue was this wonderful! There were little musical bits for the kids to play with, and fun little bumble bees that they could help fly. We queued for about 25 minutes I think as we didn’t use Genie+, but it wasn’t a chore at all as it was such a gorgeous queue. The ride itself was sweet – you sit inside a honeypot and both boys were enthralled. What I will say is that about half way through, it got v weird. Pooh is asleep and I think it’s supposed to be the start of a dream sequence, as he’s laying down, and his soul(?!) sort of rises up out of him and the next section is a weird neon nightmare. However, the way his soul leaves his body, I was worried that poor Pooh bear had died! The boys absolutely loved it though and every morning Indie asked if we were going to go on another “Willie the Pooh” (lol) ride. 

Tigger and Winnie the Pooh meet and greet

At this point, we hadn’t spoken much about meet and greets as I wasn’t sure how the boys would be with them. However, while we were queuing for the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Indie spotted the bear himself and T-I-double G-er and asked if he could cuddle them. Obviously the answer was yes. The whole time we were queuing, he kept shouting over “I come a cuddle you pooh bear!”. It was v sweet. The queue didn’t look huge but Pooh and Tigger had to keep popping off to find Eeyore’s tail/help Owl arrange his library, so it did take a while, but again, it wasn’t too bad – just v hot! The meeting itself was magical and I sobbed. Indie kissed Tigger’s nose (although the photographer missed it which was such a shame), and cuddled Pooh. They were just so lovely and the boys were so happy and excited. It was one of my favourite moments of the day/the trip/my life. 

I will say at this point, that we got the PhotoPass included in our trip and I’m so glad because we got some many gorgeous photos. If we came again and it wasn’t included, I would pay for it because it was so lovely to get all the memories without worrying about one person standing back to take the pictures. 

At this point we met up with the rest of the crew (they had had a more chilled-out morning because they didn’t have me in their room nagging them to hurry and get ready!). They very kindly agreed to watch the boys for a few minutes while Steven and I hopped on a ride. We had hoped to get on single rider for Space mountain but apparently that doesn’t exist! So we headed to Big Thunder Railroad and had to wait in the queue which was about 25 minutes. 

Big Thunder Railroad

This is a great, fast, classic coaster. Nothing groundbreaking but a whole lot of fun and I love the theming. Our kids were too small for this, and I think even if your little ones reach the height requirement, it’s a little faster and wilder than the average family attraction, so it might be one you want to test yourself before you let them try. 


Featuring the Great Goofini! We used our Genie+ pass for this, and myself, 4 year old Ruben and our niece (19 and a big kid at heart) came on it. I thought this area, with the Storybook Circus was really lovely and this was a fun beginner coaster for little ones. The ride vehicle is a 1920’s stunt plane, and it’s a really short ride, like a minute and a half which is good because Ruben wasn’t a huge fan, bless him. We got off and he looked shell shocked. I asked if he enjoyed it and he said “Erm… yes, but I don’t ever want to go on it again” which made me laugh. 

Mad Tea Party

My husband hates spinny rides, but I love them so of course I went on this one with Ruben. You get to control the speed of the spin and so I span us as fast as I could but they’re hardly the Waltzers – perfect for little ones (or Daddy’s with queasy tummies). It’s a really short ride and we didn’t queue for long at all so I wouldn’t bother using a Genie+ reservation on this. 

It’s a Small World

Our whole party (all 12 of us!) queued up for this one as it is a family-favourite. You can use Genie+ on this one, but the other half of our party didn’t have it, and we wanted to be on a boat together so we didn’t use it. It was a realllllly long line, and my poor fibro-ridden body was hating it, but it was nice to all be together. It’s such a wholesome ride, and my little ones were in awe of all the different characters. 14 minutes felt muchhh longer, but it really is a must-do, especially as it’s the only ride across the 2 weeks that we all went on together.

Speaking of Genie+ – we tried to use it several times in the day, for rides that were then closed for technical issues when it came to our time – Space Mountain and Jungle Cruise for example. I couldn’t work out if we got the Genie+ reservation back that we used and if so, how to use it, which was annoying. We also managed to get a Tron reservation by logging on at exactly 6:59:59 however Tron was down for several hours and our boarding time was pushed further and further back. Eventually we ended up getting a notification that said we weren’t going to be able to get on Tron that day and were absolutely gutted. So we decided to head back to the hotel for a rest and some pool fun, but no sooner did we get back to the hotel, did we get a notification telling us it was our boarding time. I was so cross and disappointed – we couldn’t go back to the park and so we just had to miss out. So sad! 

California Grill

Finally, for dinner, we headed to California Grill, at the top of the Contemporary. This was somewhere that was recommended to us by some friends (who are WDW experts!), as a unique way to see the fireworks, as well as have a delicious meal. I will admit, there was a little part of me that was worried – what if it wasn’t as good as seeing the full show, and we won’t get a chance to see it again this trip?!

So the Cali Grill was by far the fanciest meal we had for the whole trip. It weird because, obviously you’re in Disney, so there are kids everywhere, even in really nice restaurants like this but we are idiots and forgot to bring their restaurant bags with us so the boys were a little bored. Thankfully Steven is the best at improvising fun and they were still really well-behaved. 

Kids aged 9 and under were $39 for 3 courses, and adults were $89 for 3 courses, with drinks on top, so we paid $300.33 all together, but I will say it was worth it.

Allergy wise, they were fantastic. Our server was so attentive and patient with my little allergy baby, and worked things out with the chef so that he ended up with some stuff that wasn’t necessarily on the menu but meant he didn’t get left out. Both boys had fruit as an appetiser, and Indiana was made a special pasta, with roast potatoes and green beans. Ruben had Mac and Cheese with the same and both of them loved the bread service, with Indie dipping into the hummus and oils so much it made the server laugh. 

Steven and I both had an incredible season salad, and some gnocchi with edible flowers and pine nuts. It was as tasty as it was beautiful, and we both finished it off with a peanut torte, while Ruben had an ice cream Sundae and Indie shared some of mine. 

Yes, the food was delicious, but it was the views that really made it. You can see across the parks, from Magic Kingdom over to Epcot, through panoramic windows, but when it’s time for the fireworks they open the doors to the balconies and we were able to stand out there and see the show from the castle. They play the music from the speakers and I was surprised how few people were out there! A lot of people stayed in their seats to watch the show at their tables, which worked really well for those with the prime seats by the windows, but it really felt magical being able to stand outside. 

You can’t see the projections, so you do sacrifice a little bit of that, but when you have little ones like we do, it felt worth it. Having stood for the fireworks in DLP in the past, I know that it can be a real squash (& a squeeze) and having to wait for ages to save your space is tricky, both for the kids and also for my own fibro-ridden body. Wrestling a double buggy through the crowds sounds like an actual nightmare. Depending on where you are standing, it can sometimes be a bit hard for the kids to see the projections, and we knew we would likely be stood for a long time holding the boys. We were also worried that they might not like it (We know Ruben can be anxious around the loud bangs of fireworks), and if they were scared it would feel hard to get them out, whereas here, we could stay sat down until it was time to start, and if we needed to go back inside, it was easy enough. 

Holding the boys and looking at the fireworks going off at the castle was really magical. We had plenty of space and a great view, and then we were able to go back inside and have our dessert. What a treat! 

I will say that I would love to experience the fireworks down in the crowds too, and at $300 for the evening it’s not something I could see us doing every time(!) but I really would recommend that, if it’s accessible for you, you do it as a one-off, just to experience the show in a really unique way. If you are turned off by the idea of the crowds, or you want a special evening to celebrate with delicious food, it’s such a great restaurant. 

Later in the trip, when we had moved to our hotel in Universal, we had one day that wasn’t accounted for, which we used to do a bit of a mop-up visit for Magic Kingdom. I knew there was more I wanted to do (in every park if I’m honest!) so we got up early to grab Genie+ passes (and by we, I mean me) and headed over to the park. Here’s what we got up to on our last Magic Kingdom day (which just so happened to be the day they started to put the pumpkin decorations out for Halloween!). 

Under the Sea, Journey of the Little Mermaid

We all absolutely loved this ride. You go through the whole story of the little mermaid and see colourful, animated scenes with full musical numbers. I was really impressed with the quality of the animatronics because we’ve all been on rides where they’re a little Uncanny Valley and dated, but these really are works of art. The queue line is really interactive too, and we barely waited 10 minutes before jumping aboard a clam. It’s a really chilled, gentle ride that the 2 year old and the 4 year old could both enjoy and because the baby sat on my knee, we could all fit inside one clam. Absolutely worth a ride. 


The ride mechanism for Dumbo is like so many other attractions – you’re flying (in this case, on an elephant – or maybe in an elephant? Hard to tell. Maybe you are the elephant. I guess the lore doesn’t matter too much) and you can control whether you go higher or lower. I won’t lie, I appear to be an idiot and it took me far longer than I would like to admit to get the hang of controlling the stick but it was cute enough. There is also a hidden playground inside the tent where you queue up which my husband and Ruben went to play in for a while when the baby was asleep so that’s a great one to do, especially if you have older children on wilder rides for example. Annoyingly, I didn’t realise until we’ve been home for several months that you can get a little pager (that looks like a circus ticket!) That will basically save your space in the queue while you play and wait for it to buzz! What a great idea – I wish more rides did this! 

Storybook Circus

While Roo was playing in the Dumbo play area, I needed something to do with Indie to get out of the rain. (Which wasn’t the cute, Florida rain we had experienced up to this point. It was horrible, non-stop, v wet rain!). I asked a cast member who pointed me towards the yellow tent of Storybook Circus which is a real hidden gem! I could take the pushchair inside, there was plenty of room (there were only a few other people in there!), and there were loads of really comfy seats. I was able to keep dry and get cozy and decompress while the baby slept and just as he woke up who should arrive but Chip and Dale! It was so special – they stayed in the tent for ages, interacting and playing with the children who were there and I couldn’t believe our luck. 

The Parade

There’s something about Disney parades that makes me cry and I’m not even sorry. But getting to watch them, in person, after months of watching them on Youtube, with my happy babies? I was a mess!

Best vegan food in Walt Disney World

We found such a great spot to watch the parade, right near Casey’s Corner (where we had some incredible vegan hot dogs – one of the best things we ate the whole time we were there!) In a little roped-off area, facing down towards the castle. It did mean we were there way earlier than we needed to be, but it meant we could stand comfortably and eat our lunch before the floats came. We didn’t have to fight for our spot – it was such a great view that I was expecting someone to come and move us away because I didn’t understand how it wasn’t just overrun with people! We treated the boys to the light-up bubble wands (shout out to my wonderful husband Steven who let me be the fun one and surprise them with them!) which are still going strong now after a lot of use! 

Space Mountain

In Disneyland Paris, this was one of my favourite rides. I loved how fast it was, the light effects, the whole experience – but I have to say that in Florida, I think it was my least favourite ride. It was rough, I genuinely didn’t feel comfortable or safe and I just didn’t enjoy it. At all. 

Peter Pan’s Flight

This is one of the rides that always has SUCH a long wait and although I enjoyed it (As did the children) I can’t say I fully understand the wait. It’s a good dark ride, and unique in that you are in ships that “fly” above the scenes. The magic way they close the lap bar is also pretty great. But there are a few moments where I felt really aware that I was in a big warehouse-type building which did take me out of the immersion a little. For example, seeing the rail that all the other boats are hanging on, and the Exit signs, as well as some slightly clunky animatronics, it felt a little bit “meh” compared to the polish of The Little Mermaid. But it was cute, so if you can get either a Genie+ reservation or a short-ish wait, it is worth a visit. 

Walt Disney World Railroad

In the Wright family, we love trains. Well, Steven and the boys love trains, and I love my family so I enjoy a train by a sort of proxy. Anyway! While it was chucking it down with rain (still!), we hopped aboard the Railroad and had a bit of a tour around the park. It was a lovely way to see things from a different perspective and get from one side of the park to the other while resting your blistered feet!  

Mickey’s Philharmagic

Me and Ruben (4) loved this! It’s similar in technology to the Muppets 3D show in that you wear glasses and there are loads of 4D effects. I will say that Indie (2) got scared at some points (weirdly, he didn’t even bat an eyelid at It’s Tough to be a Bug in Epcot which terrified me!). I would massively recommend this as something that the whole family can do together as a way to take a breather and get out of the rain/heat. I will say, don’t rush to get in, thinking you’ll bag a fantastic seat, as you have to all file in to the end (which makes sense logistically really), so you might end up right on the far side of the screen. 

Prince Charming Regal Carousel

This was so wholesome. We popped on this as there was only a 5 minute wait and it was ideal when we were waiting for other members of the party to head back from wherever they were at the time. Again, this was something we were all able to get on. 

As it was raining, we bumped into the Dapper Dans entertaining the crowd in a random gift shop and it just felt really magical. They had gotten a member of the audience up with them to sing to his wife and (of course!) it made me cry. 

Monsters Inc. Laughter Floor

I almost didn’t go to this, as it was just on our “maybe” list, but we ended up needing to fill some time when it was just me and the boys (it’s currently December that I’m writing this, and for the life of us, Steven and I cannot remember what on earth he would have been doing without us all!)  and so I decided to give it a go and I cannot tell you how glad I am that we did! I was expecting it to be similar to the Mickey Philharmagic show, but oh my goodness no! It was such an interactive show and I don’t even know how they did it, cutting to the audience at the perfect time and I cried laughing. It’s different each time as they pick out people in the audience to riff on and I’d definitely want to go back again. 


Finally! Soaked to the bone, exhausted and desperate to just get on the bloody thing to see if it was worth the hype, it was finally our time. As we had the kids with us, we had to do rider swap, which meant that our lucky niece ended up getting to go on twice! I’ll be honest, I think I watched the film a million years ago with an ex-boyfriend and I don’t actually remember anything about it at all – thankfully the plot didn’t seem overly relevant. One of the cool things about this ride, is that the track goes above the heads of people walking around and you can see just how fast it goes. As this is the only part of the track visible outside of the ride, you have no idea what to expect and  I was utterly blown away. You sit astride (lol) a motorbike-type thing and you’re whizzed around the most incredible neon track – I can’t tell you much about it, but it’s really bloody cool, albeit a little shorter than I’d have liked. It really did live up to the hype and was one of my favourite rides of the whole trip! 

So that’s it – 5 months later I’ve finally managed to write up a grand total of one park we visited! Reading back on some of this, I can’t believe how much of it I’d almost forgotten and I’m already itching to book another trip! 

Watch this space for more Florida posts! 

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