Here’s our pick of the best attractions for pre-schoolers at Walt Disney World. While the majority of the best rides for this age group are located in Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland, we’ve tried to choose a selection from all four parks for this list.
1 – Dumbo the Flying Elephant – A classic Fantasyland attraction, it’s popularity for little ones proven by the length of the queues from mid-morning onwards. Hop onboard a two-person elephant for a short ride under the watchful gaze of Timothy Mouse! Riders control the up and down movement of Dumbo so you can fly as high or low as you wish! As the ride is slow loading and doesn’t have much capacity, lines can build, so take kids there first thing. Capacity will be doubled as part of the Fantasyland expansion, when a second Dumbo ride is added next to the current one (which is being moved to a new location). If the queues are already too long, try the Magic Carpets of Aladdin in Adventureland, a similar type of ride.
2 – Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage! – A show starring favorite characters from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny, Little Einsteins and My Friends Tigger and Pooh – what more could any child want?! Made specially for this age group it follows a basic story that ties all four shows together, complete with special effects, which include bubbles, breezes and falling leaves. Seating is on the floor, with shows at set times during the day, so check the park times guide and plan to arrive 10-20 minutes before the show starts, earlier if you want to get seated near the front of the stage.
3 – it’s a small world - You either love it or hate it, but most pre-schoolers are in the first category! If you can handle the world of dolls and the incesant tune as you sail from country to country your toddlers will probably thank you for taking them on this ride. Voyage from nation to nation to see a host of small animatronic dolls, each dressed in national costume, sing the well known theme song, it’s a small world after all. Although the boat ride is slow moving, each boat holds up to 20 guests, making it relatively quick to load, so there’s not usually a long line here.
4 – Turtle Talk – With Crush! -An interactive 3D show starring Crush the turtle from Finding Nemo and a human host, who ask questions and joke around with the audience. Kids will find the show a lot of fun, but it’s very popular and the theater is very small making wait times very long. Try to visit first thing in the morning if you want to avoid a long wait.
5 – The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh - one of the newer favorites featuring the popular Hundred Acre Wood characters, Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet. Kids just love taking a bouncy ride in giant “hunny” pots following Pooh and the gang on a blustery day. Another slow loading attraction that’s very popular, so either visit early in the morning, or grab a Fastpass (even these can run out later in the day).
6 – Kilimanjaro Safaris – Most young children like animals and will therefore love going on safari to see which animals are out that day. They may see lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras and rhinos, depending on the time of day. Queues can get long here, so plan to visit early on, late in the day or grab a Fastpass to reduce wait time.
7 – Mickey’s Philharmagic – An amazing 3D film with special multi-sensory effects that will have pre-schoolers captivated. Best viewed with the 3D glasses that are provided, it’s also watchable without if the child doesn’t want to wear the glasses. Featuring well known characters including Donald Duck, Ariel, Simba and Aladdin, plus favorite Disney tunes, it’s a truly memorable experience. The 12-minute shows are held approximately 20 minutes apart, so if you don’t get into one there isn’t too long to wait.
8 – The Seas with Nemo & Friends ride – Once in your “clam-mobile” you’ll journey along with Mr Ray and his class on a field trip. The attraction features technology that magically enables the stars of Finding Nemo to swim amid the marine life in the pavilion’s 5.7-million-gallon saltwater environment, which is home to more than 65 species of marine life. The pavilion also houses interactive exhibits including an interactive play area and mini aquariums, where children can have fun finding Nemo. The line moves quickly, so you shouldn’t have too long to wait, particularly later in the day when a lot of guests have moved onto World Showcase.
9 – Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – Kids of all ages will love this ride which takes guests to infinity and beyond! Aboard a Space Cruiser, Space Rangers aim their laser guns at Z shaped targets, scoring points for every one they shoot at. The line is fast-moving and Fastpass is available, making it a good option apart from during peak times when waits can build during the day.
10 – Festival of the Lion King – A spectacular Broadway-style production which will enthrall children, young and old alike. With well known songs from the movie, acrobatics, dancers and stilt walkers, it’s a must-see when you visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Children are encouraged to get up and join in, parading round the stage during the performance. For the best seats right at the front, plan to arrive 30 minutes before one of the several daily showtimes, although seats can usually still be had right up until it starts.
Other shows which are good for pre-schoolers include Voyage of The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo – The Musical, Peter Pan’s Flight, Country Bear Jamboree , Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage, Journey Into Imagination with Figment.