When my mom and sister told me that they wanted to spend the day at Downtown Disney during their Spring Break visit, my first thought was “Yes! I can show off my newly discovered favorites!” My next was “What the heck will we do with Harper?”
Harper is my adorable, perfect, curly-haired, 2-year-old niece. Since I don’t have kids of my own, I’ve never had to think about how to entertain a toddler during a Downtown Disney afternoon. Luckily, I didn’t have to work too hard to figure it out. Turns out, there is plenty to keep little ones entertained here.
Below, in no particular order, were a few of Harper’s favorites:
The Marketplace Train Ride – My mom tells stories about how much my sister and I loved train rides as kids; it must run in the family. Even though I was a little bigger than the other passengers, I was happy to oblige when Harper asked to ride with “Auntie.” (Tip: Adults riding with small children get to accompany them for free. Score!)
The Marketplace Carousel – Her smile says it all, but Harper loved picking out her favorite horse and climbing aboard. I loved watching her, taking photos and waving from the sidelines. She enjoyed it so much, she had to ride twice – the spinning teacup was just too enticing to pass up.
Browsing at World of Disney – Since she’s only 2, Harper is still too young for a makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, but she’s the perfect age to find her favorite friend (this week it’s Minnie!) and pick out a new princess nightgown (she’s a huge “The Little Mermaid” fan at the moment). Lucky for her, I’m the perfect age to pay for everything.
Building Masterpieces at LEGO Imagination Center – This was, by far, the best 30 minutes of Harper’s day. I think she would have stayed and played all day if we let her. She has LEGO toys at home, but this was a treasure trove of unlimited bricks. I adore the look of intense concentration on her face!
Other highlights included a free chocolate sample at Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop, getting a Mickey sticker from a nice Cast Member and watching the Characters in Flight balloon go up and down. The lesson? If you’re worried about bringing a small kid to Downtown Disney, don’t be. There are lots of fun to be had, no matter your age.
Do you have a favorite Disney vacation memory or tip on traveling with toddlers? Please share in the comments below. (Harper will be back this summer and I can use all the suggestions you’ve got!)
Want more from Downtown Disney? Follow us on Twitter at @WDWDowntown.
My family loves to look at all of the lego figures that are created outside of the building. My son loved spotting the figure in the water and pointing it out to the rest of the family. I am not going to say what was out there but I know they switch them out and I would hate to spoil the surprise for those that may be going next time.
Check them out. My son tells me he can’t wait to see what is going to be there next time but he has no problem guessing.
Great list! My kids love all these things, too.
Thanks, Holly! So glad to hear your kids have fun at Downtown Disney, too. (Not that I’m at all surprised!)
My son loves to build and drag race the cars on the “track” that is set up outside the LEGO store! It is very difficult to get him to leave! 🙂
The LEGO store seemed like the most popular spot in all of Downtown Disney – a definite winner with kids (and their parents!). Zoom, zoom!!!
While we were at Downtown Disney our toddlers enjoyed riding the transportation boats back and forth from West Side back to the Marketplace. Anytime we were on the boat they were smiling and watching everything going on.
Disney transportation is like another attraction! Love that your kids love the boats; Harper was obsessed with the monorail!
First, your niece is beautiful, with those perfect little ringlets!!
My daughters are 6 and 3 and eating at TRex is a must every trip! Its my older daughter’s favourite restaurant of all time. Grandparents usually indulge them in a trip on the carousel, having ice cream, or for mommy a chocolate milk shake, at Ghirardellli (best. milkshakes. ever!!). Going to see a movie at the AMC Fork and Screen theatres (saw Wreck it Ralph there last fall). Unlimited popcorn and drinks delivered right to your seat! But also lots of wiggle room for a little one who might not always be interested in the movie. Playing in the water spouting fountains near the bus stops, especially in the Florida summer heat. So much to do with kids of any age! Enjoy!
Claire, thanks for the nice compliment (I’m obsessed with her curls!). You’re the second parent to mention T-REX, so that is definitely going on our agenda next visit! Same for the fountain — it was a little too chilly the day they visited me, but it’s SUCH a great outlet for kids to run, play and cool down. Thanks for sharing!
We are at the T-Rex restaurant and discovered a big ol’ sandbox for the kids to search for fossils in while we were waiting. Next time, we’ll probably get there a little earlier to give them a bit more time to search in the sand.
Michael, a friend of mine told me about the fossil dig at T-REX – her kids loved it as much as yours did! I’m adding that to my ‘next time’ list, for sure!
My kids absolutely loved going to Once Upon a Toy and playing with the Mr. Potato Head parts. Then we would go to the Christmas Shoppe and they would sit in front of the tv and watch for a bit. We would then make our way over to the Candy shop and watch them make the chocolate covered marshmallows, pretzel sticks, etc.
Scott, sounds like your kids had a great time, too, and with all different experiences! (Now the big question … did they get to EAT the chocolate covered treats or just look at them?!?)