My 4-Year-Old’s Favorite Tips for a Disney Vacation

Disney World is an enchanting place full of magic. For a 4-year-old that loves magic, princesses, fairies, and mermaids, a Disney Vacation is a must. I have wanted to go to Disney World since I was a little girl. This year I had the opportunity to make my dream come true and go to Disney World with my family.

Even though this was my dream vacation, as a parent, it was amazing to see my daughter’s face light up watching the firework show at Epcot. She still talks about this trip and asks if we can go back to Disney World. She plays with her dolls and pretends to take them to Disney World. When we ask her where she takes her babies, she looks at us and says, “We went to the mermaid hotel and swam at the pool.”

We could have just flown to Disney World and stayed at the resort our whole vacation. Oh well! All jokes aside, there are things that Disneyland does not have that Disney World does that she loved, and staples that cannot be missed even if you are like us regulars at Disneyland.

With all due anticipation, here are Paloma’s favorite tips for a Disney Vacation:

The Hotel

As I mentioned, the hotel was Paloma’s most memorable part of the trip. We stayed at Disney’s The Art of Animation Resort because it is dog friendly, has good reviews, and is economical. What got my attention is that the rooms are themed. I thought this would be great for my mermaid-loving 4-year-old.

I highly recommend the resort. It has three themed pools and four themed suites The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and Cars.

We chose The Little Mermaid, and although my daughter loved it, I don’t think we will do that again. The room was too far from everything. It added nearly a half mile to a walk to the bus or the Skyliner transportation. After a long day at the park, adding the extra steps could be frustrating. Walking the extra half mile became exhausting. Especially If you decide to forgo the stroller, and carry a sleeping toddler from the Skyliner to your room.

I recommend staying at The Lion King or Finding Nemo to avoid the extra steps. These rooms are much closer to all the amenities. If you ask Paloma, her top choice is The Little Mermaid. However, she was also being pushed in her stroller or carried by her butler, Daddy, as if she were a princess.

Places to Eat

For our Disney vacation, I included some sit-down dining in our budget to make our Disney vacation memorable.

Paloma loved the following dining experiences:

  • T-Rex Café– Although it is not a character experience, Paloma loved it and still talks about it today.
  • Chef Mickey’s– This was an excellent way to get to see Mickey and his friends. Paloma took lots of pictures and loved meeting Minnie Mouse, and even had her autograph book ready to collect autographs.
  • Be Our Guest– This is Paloma’s top choice if you have a princess. She loved going inside Beauty and the Beast castle, painting her teacup and eating it, and meeting the Beast.

Paloma’s Favorites at the Parks

Hollywood Studios

The first park we visited was Hollywood Studios because it offered After Hours that day. I was glad we did the After Hours and highly recommend it. I know it seems wild to do it with a young child. However, If you leave in the middle of the day for a nap you can stay up to do it. Just make sure you have a rest day the next day or a late start.

After Hours at Hollywood Studios made it so easy to see the Star Wars: Galaxy Edge.  Even though they have it at Disneyland, Rise of the Resistance is so popular that even with Genie+, we have never been able to go in. It was terrific, and I see why it is so popular. Other rides we enjoyed with After HOURS were Run Away Railroad and Paloma’s favorite ride, Toy Story Mania.

Paloma’s favorite thing aside from riding Toy Story Mania was meeting Disney Junior Characters, Disney Junior Dance Party, and Fantasmic! Which is a must-see.


First, I must admit that we should have seen more of EPCOT. First, we woke up late since I underestimated how much there is to see at EPCOT. Second, you need two days to see it; we only saw it in one day. I recommend having a rest day between Hollywood Studios and EPCOT to see everything and enjoy the park. My husband and I were in awe of this park and decided to spend more time here next time. Also, for those who have visited Disneyland, this is the park you must visit because EPCOT is unique. With that said, here are Paloma’s favorite picks.

  • Frozen Ever After- this is a fantastic ride, Paloma got scared with the drop, but it’s not bad. It reminded me a little of the drop in Pirates of The Caribbean. It is a must if you have a Frozen fan.
  • Turtle Talk- is excellent for all kids; even my husband loved it.
  • Soar’- This one is in California Adventure. However, it takes you around the world at EPCOT.
  • The Seas with Finding Nemo- this was one of Paloma’s favorites.
  • Kidcot Fun Stops- This is not a ride, but she loved getting the stamps and the cards. She did not make it to all the stops but had fun anyway.
  • Firework show- I honestly spend some time just in awe watching Paloma’s face looking at the show. It was a beautiful firework show.

Animal Kingdom

Paloma enjoyed at the Animal Kingdom, doing the Wilderness Explorers, and learning about animals and nature in each land. She also enjoyed watching the show Festival of the Lion King. She loved it because they had audience participation, and she was part of the parade, which made her day. As a family, it was not our favorite park. We should have spent more time seeing animals to have had a better experience.

Paloma’s favorites  were:

  • Kilimanjaro Safari
  • Triceratops spin
  • Fossil Fun Games
  • Wildlife Express Train

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom is a lot like Disneyland. I must admit that Magic Kingdom does a good job entertaining its guests while waiting in line for an attraction. Magic Kingdom also has a restaurant in Cinderella’s Castle and Beauty and the Beast Castle. One of the rides that Magic Kingdom has that is not at Disneyland is the Seven Dwarf Mine Train ride. We did not ride it, because it was not appropriate for a 4-year-old, but we heard it is fantastic.

On the other hand, Disneyland’s The Pirates of the Caribbean Ride is longer. The beginning is missing and has two drops. Disneyland has a Mickey’s Toontown, which we did not see in Disney World. I will not deny that I may be biased because I am from the West Coast. The fact that Disneyland is the original has a soft spot in my heart, regardless.

No matter which park, Magic Kingdom or Disneyland, the following rides are a must on a Disney vacation:

  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Mad Tea Party
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Under the Sea- Journey of The Little Mermaid

Aside from the rides, Paloma loves watching the parade, the fireworks show, and meeting princesses.


Now that you know our favorites, you probably wonder how we scheduled it with a 4-year-old. Packaging everything that Disney World offers in one vacation can be exhausting and overwhelming. That is why we only saw some things, so I had to pick and choose wisely. I did my research, and you should too.

What worked for us might not work for your family and vice versa. You may not have a princess but a prince, a fairy, or a pirate. Your daughter might like fast rides, while mine gets scared by tiny drops.

One thing is for sure I did put the importance of taking a break from the park and resting. As I said before, I might not be an expert on all things Disney World. I have been to Disneyland enough that I know that you need to rest to enjoy a theme park.

10-Day Disney Vacation Schedule

We planned our nine-day Disney vacation; I recommend a 10-day one now that I have done it.

1st Day- Arrive at Resort

  • go to Disney Springs to eat at T-Rex Cafe

2nd Day- Hollywood Studios

(if available, get After Dark Hours).

  • It would be best if you planned to arrive at the park when it opens.
  • Go to the Disney Junior Dance Party
  • Meet characters
  • Do anything with a short wait time first.
  • Have lunch and plan to leave the park between 1 pm – 5 pm. (This is the hottest time of the day. You want to return to your hotel, rest and save energy.
  • Take a nap and go back to the park until it closes.
  • See Fantasmic!
  • if you are doing After Hours this is the time to go to Galaxy Edge
  • Rise of the Resistance
  • Run Away Railroad
  • Toy Story Mania

3rd Day- Character Dining

  • Relax and I recommend Chef Mickey’s.
  • Sleeping in
  • Going to the pool
  • Playing in the arcade
  • Visiting other resorts
  • Disney Springs

4th Day- Day time Epcot

  • Go when the park opens
  • Meet with the princesses
  • Do half of the park
  •  Leave early
  • Have dinner.

5th Day- Nighttime Epcot

  • Do the second half of the park (recommend having lunch at the fish and chips in London )
  • I would do a late start
  • Do the nighttime park.

6th Day- Rest Day

Relax and stay in the resort and/or go to Disney Springs. Recommended activities:

  • Play in the pool
  • Play in the arcade
  • Go to Disney Springs
  • Relax

7th Day- Animal Kingdom

  • I recommend arriving when it opens since the park closes early so you can see as much as possible.

8th Day- Magic Kingdom

  • I would also arrive when the park opens and do the most popular rides in the morning,
  • Meet with princesses,
  • Make a reservation for lunch at Be Our Guest or at Cinderella’s Castle
  • Lave the park after the parade, and
  • Come back in time to see the firework show. I recommend getting After Hours for this park as well.

9th Day- Resort Day

  • Relax if you are flying, having a rest day and doing the following activities is a must:
  • Enjoying the pool
  • Packing (You should think about doing your laundry on your last day. Especially with young children, because this way, you just put all the clothes away when you unpack.)

10th Day- Return Home

Tips for Transportation and Reservations

Take the bus outside the resort to travel to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Disney Springs.

To travel to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, you can take the Disney skyline, which is practical and quick.

If you plan on making in-park reservations, make breakfast reservations before 11 am or dinner reservations after 7 pm.


This is a list of items that are super useful for a Disney vacation:

Add-ons to Disney Vacation Experience

  • Disney Genie+- I highly recommend using it to help wait in line because preschoolers cannot wait for hours. It is excellent for lightning lanes, having your pictures taken, and having great memories. It is an extra cost, but it has made our lives at Disneyland and Disney World much easier.
  • Magicband+- These make it easy to use their lightning lane. They also have each person’s tickets, including little ones. If you stay at the resort, you can open your room with it. They are amazing.

Highly Recommended

  • Portable Charger– you need to have one at Disney World to ensure your phone battery is always charged. Especially if you use Disney Genie+ and take pictures with your phone.
  • Backpack- makes it easy to carry everything you need and is more practical than a purse. I like to use their Disney backpacks from the Loungefly collection as my daily purses.
  • Stroller is a must; it is too much walking for a little kid, and you will tire of carrying them around.


  • A handheld fan: I have had this fan for a while, and I love it.
  • Apple tag bracelet Minnie Mouse for kids. It gave me peace of mind knowing that it would allow me to find my daughter immediately if we were to be separated by a large crowd.
  • Silicon bags to put a change of clothes, keys, etc., to organize your backpack, and make it easy to take out at security check.
  • Autograph book you want to have autographs and a place to put pictures for your child. It will make a great souvenir.
  • Elsa,  Belle, and Ariel princess dresses. My daughter loves dressing up, and getting the costumes at Disney is costly, so I like to buy them and bring them along, and she loves wearing them in the park.

Remember, something else may work better for you. We hope you find our tips and suggestions helpful and that you have an enchanting Disney vacation with your princes, princesses, pirates, mermaids, or fairies.


If you like more traveling advice, read my post on camping by clicking here.

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