When you hear parents talk about Disney Cruises, often times you'll hear them brag about how amazing the children's programs are on board. And they are. They're fabulous, and most of the time, the kids don't want to leave to come to dinner with you. Why would you when you're having a sleepover with Goofy?
However, the children's programs on board start at age 3. Therefore, if you're traveling with a baby or toddler, you won't be able to take advantage of these amazing programs.
So what do you do with a toddler on board Disney Cruise Line?
Pools and Splash Zones
One of the biggest bummers for us was the pool area. Though I understand the need for the rule, if your toddler or baby is in a diaper, they are not allowed in the pools. However, that doesn't mean there isn't fun to be had on the pool deck.
On the Disney Magic, we spent a ton of time in the brand new toddler splash zone. In this area the kids were able to roam around and play in their swim diapers.
Toddler Play Areas
We were thrilled on our first day on the ship to come across a toddler play area. On the Magic, this area was an enclosed area right off the side of one of the bars. This was our saving grace all week. Whenever the kids were getting antsy in the room and needed to run around, we brought them here for supervised play.
In this area all week we met other families with toddlers in similar ages. We even had the ability to play trivia games along with the people in the bar next door as the kids played.
There was nothing revolutionary about this area; however, it was the perfect location to truly let them let loose without fear of injury or going overboard. :)
Character Meet and Greets
My son Ryan loves the characters, so whenever we had the opportunity to meet a character we took him. Often these experiences are less stressful than the ones in the theme parks: air conditioned, controlled and well managed.
On our first sea day we did a character breakfast. During this breakfast we met a lot of the Disney Junior characters (along with Mickey Mouse) so my son was super familiar with all of the characters he met.
On the ship, you may also find that you have really unique character experiences that would be impossible on land. For instance, with our ticket for the Frozen character experience, we walked in to no line and all three characters played with my son and posed with him.
Open Play Hours
While they couldn't take advantage of the amazing children's programming, that didn't mean they couldn't take advantage of the amazing children's spaces. For an hour each day, both children's areas were made available for supervised parental play. We took advantage of this almost every day of our trip and our boys loved every moment.
We made flubber during science time, played in Andy's room, and even got our certificates for honorary Mouseketeers. We played goose, goose, duck (you read that right) with Donald and did exercise with Daisy and Minnie.
What I was most impressed with during this time was that the programs went on as usual. What I was expecting was to have full reign of the areas, but no coordination. In fact, many parents of older kids enjoyed this time as well because the Cast Members who have been leading their kids all week were around for a little adult play time too.
Toddler Tips for Castaway Cay
Castaway Cay is a truly breathtaking location, and we had a blast with our toddlers on the island. My best tip for Castaway is to get off early with your kids. By getting off early, we took advantage of all the free items Disney has to make our lives easier. For example, when we got off the tram at the family beach, there were strollers, sand wheel chairs and wagons waiting for guests to use. I was shocked that this was a free amenity.
While they are available, they did not last all day, so be sure to get off early to take advantage of this. The same can be said for kids life vests. These items were a lifesaver on a beach day.
The splash zone at Castaway Cay was a huge crowd pleaser as well. When the kids are extremely sandy and starting to get grouchy, take a short walk over from the family beach to this amazing splash zone for a little play time.
This will not only keep the kids occupied, but it will also do the job of washing off 1000 pounds of sand away that would otherwise go in your stateroom bath tub.
Adult Time & The Nursery
While all of this supervised play time is wonderful, you may need a break here or there. I mean, the food at Palo isn't going to eat itself! We brought the kids twice to the It's a Small World Nursery, and I cannot say enough about the amazing staff and experience they had there.
For a very small fee ($9 per hour per child), you can get a few hours of peace and quiet. Thanks to the ship board phones, the nursery staff can reach you at any time for any reason...or you can reach them to check in.
There are slides, games and snacks. The Cast Members were phenomenal and even let us hang out while the kids settled in.
Traveling on Disney Cruise Line with Toddlers
Our trip on the Disney Magic with 2 year old Ryan will go down as one of my all time favorite vacations. Everything was perfect, but I cannot imagine traveling on a different cruise line because Disney truly thinks of everything!
Do not hesitate - take that Disney cruise and have a great time!
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Green | Tips for Your Disney Cruise Loop:
- 1st Stop - The Delightful Life | So... what's NOT included on a Disney Cruise?
- 2nd Stop - What's the Point? | Disney Cruising with Kids Under 3: Tips and Tricks
- 3rd Stop - Post 50 Rx | Top 5 Tips for Running the Castaway Cay 5K
- 4th Stop - Adventures in Familyhood | Everything You Need to Know About Fish Extenders
- 5th Stop - Disney in Your Day | Decorating Your Stateroom Door on a Disney Cruise