I have five kids who I have taken to Disney on Ice since they were little. My 12-year-old daughter started going when she was 2 years old and it became a birthday tradition for her until she was about 5 because Disney on Ice is always in town around her birthday. That being said, I’m now a veteran of many Disney on Ice performances and have some survival tips to share. Want a successful,
meltdown-free less dramatic outing to Disney on Ice? Open your note-taking app, then keep reading (and don’t forget to download the free cheat sheet!).
This post was originally published in 2014 and was updated in 2023 after receiving complimentary tickets for review. This post contains affiliate links that (at no cost to you) allow me a small commission if your purchase anything.
One of my biggest tips for attending Disney on Ice — especially Disney on Ice for ages 2 and under — is when you go. Consider when your child typically goes to sleep for nap or bedtime. Are they OK if naps are pushed a bit or are naps at a certain time non-negotiable but pushing bedtime later would be OK? If your child normally goes to sleep at 6 or 7 p.m. then evening tickets for Disney on Ice might be pushing it. My younger kids (ages 1, 4, and 5) were really tired by intermission when we went for a Thursday night viewing of Disney on Ice so a daytime weekend performance would have been much better for their age.
Want the 411 on the Disney on Ice bag policy? It depends on the venue. If you’re in an area with several venue options around you, look over each carefully. Which venue has the best location? Which venue allows diaper bags and water bottles? Are any of the venues easier to get to? Is there a venue with better parking that you’re more familiar with? I went to a new-to-me venue for Disney on Ice this year so I searched for parking and bag policies on their website then clarified any conflicting or confusing information in local parent groups. This allowed me to attend Disney on Ice prepared for venue policies that prohibited bags/purses, water bottles, and cash use. I carried my credit cards in an RDIF blocking card sleeve (affiliate) and kept them in a zipped jacket pocket, and saved myself a huge headache by feeding the kids dinner and having water in the car for the ride to and from the event since I couldn’t bring water bottles in. There were a lot of families who had to go back to their cars to drop off their purses and other items after being turned away by the venue, which isn’t something you want to do when your kids are ready to go see the show.
Show up early
When the Disney on Ice information says to arrive at your venue 30 minutes to an hour early, listen. Plan to arrive at least 45 minutes before showtime to find a decent parking spot — especially if parking is in a parking garage and you don’t want to wait for all four floors of cars to leave before you can exit after the show. Bring a dinner, some snacks, and a little activity for everyone to tailgate at the car and get ready for the big show so you’re not just waiting around.
Dress for success
You read that correctly. There isn’t an official Disney on Ice dress code but if you know that your child is going to complain later on about how itchy her princess dress is when she’s wearing it in a seated position for a long length of time, you’ll want to plan ahead. Offer other Disney outfits that may work instead of a princess dress or bring a spare outfit in your bag (if the venue allows for one). Also, wear layers. The Disney on Ice temperature isn’t that cold, but how cool or hot really depends on each person’s internal temp (bring a jacket just in case).
Bring “set up” souvenirs
Similar to Disneyland, you may need to bring some Disney character items purchased on Amazon —like this light-up snowflake wand (affiliate)— to prevent a meltdown emergency. I am not saying to give your child a gift so that they don’t flip, but the kids leaving Disney on Ice see everything related to it and want it all so that they can take the experience home with them. Cue the tantrum because they’re up too late and overstimulated. This is where the surprise gift comes in and you make it to the car without having to de-glue the kiddo from the stranger selling Cars pennants or Tinker Bell flower hats. These little backup souvenirs work great as positive rewards.
Pre-game your food
No, I don’t mean drink an alcoholic beverage. You have kids now, so pre-gaming is all about the food — eat lunch or dinner before you go so everyone is full and happy. Also, be sure to pack a kids water and some snacks in your purse for the pre-intermission thirst that comes on right when it would be impossible to get out of the seat (and to save some money).
Choose one big expense
What do they sell at Disney on Ice? Everything from programs to cotton candy, nachos, and light-up wands. The particular items sold at Disney on Ice intermission depends on the venue and performance but there are also street vendors who sell Disney-related stuffed animals and toys before and after the event. It’s fun to get at least one thing at Disney on Ice, but what it is will be up to you — nachos or a cotton candy stick with a Cars hat. No matter which one you choose, keep in mind that it might cost $18 or more.
Skip the end or be prepared to wait
Leave just before the goodbye song at the end of the show to get ahead of the giant mob of families who begin filing to the stairs once the show ends. If you don’t want to leave so soon, enjoy sitting and hanging out in the parking lot while the big line of cars leave (usually because some cars aren’t following the rule of letting one in ahead).
Divert their attention
What’s the worst thing you could say immediately after Disney on Ice has ended? Well, there are a lot of them, but one is “OK, Em, let’s go home and get ready for bed now.” Everyone knows she’s going to sleep when she gets home (though she’ll probably fall asleep in the car first), but you don’t throw in her face that she’s leaving the world of fantasy and fun for brushing her teeth and going to bed. No, no, no. Instead, this is when you just say you need to go find your car and possibly bring out the surprise so you can divert from the fact that you’re walking away from the show and it’s cold and dark outside.
If you use these tips, please tag @navigatingparenthood on social media to tell us how it went! Have some tips to add? Share them in the comments below!