Top Five Walt Disney World Play Areas for Young Kids

Walt Disney World can be an overwhelming place with activities for all ages. Due to its popularity, you are likely to spend some of your time waiting in line to experience these sights, however. For young children, sometimes they just need an opportunity to run around and have play time. Thankfully, Disney has included some playground areas within their theme parks, although they aren't always obvious. Here are five playgrounds for young kids (generally ages 3-12) that you may not know about.

Laughing Place Play Area
​Splash Mountain in the Magic Kingdom is a popular attraction for all ages, but some younger children may not meet its height requirement. For children who don't want to or are unable to ride, there is a small, shaded play area near the exit for the train station in Frontierland, near the Splash Mountain area, called the Laughing Place Play Area. The play facility is designed for younger kids, with a small house to explore and a toddler-friendly slide.

Dumbo Queue Play Area
​Also in the Magic Kingdom, in the building that houses some of the Dumbo the Flying Elephant queue area, is a circus-themed play area. The original concept was that guests would receive a pager while waiting for their ride to come up and that kids could play while waiting, but the play area is open even when there is no wait for the ride. Even if you do not opt to ride Dumbo, this big-top-themed play area is fun for young children, with places to climb and to interact with a variety of sound-effect-causing displays. Best of all, there's seating for parents and the area is air conditioned.

Space Base Indoor Play Area
During Epcot's International Flower and Garden festival, there are outdoor play areas for children to enjoy, but at other times of year, finding play areas can be more challenging. Hidden in the Mission Space pavilion, near the exit for the Mission Space ride, but accessible by going through the gift shop into the post-show area, is the Space Base indoor play area. Much of this play area consists of tunnels and ladders to climb, eventually winding up through three levels to an observation area. For older kids, the Mission Space post-show area also has other games and interactive activities.

ImageWorks: The What If Labs
In the 1980s, the upstairs ImageWorks area of Epcot's Imagination pavilion was a favorite play area with astounding interactive features. Over time, the pavilion has been reworked, and the Image Works play area is now on the first floor at the exit to the Journey into Imagination with Figment ride. Some of the interactive features from upstairs area here, including stepping stones that make sound effects when you run on them and interactive Figment the dragon graphics that play musical instruments as you wave your hand. Unfortunately, the iconic rainbow tunnel did not make the move downstairs, but younger children will still find things to do. Outside, the jumping fountains provides a great place for kids to run around and burn off steam as well.

The Boneyard
The Boneyard at Disney's Animal Kingdom is the quintessential Disney theme park play area. Located near the entrance to Dinoland USA, the Boneyard has something for everyone. There's a variety of slides, caves to explore, ropes courses to traverse and a giant "sand" pit dig site (actually filled with fine gravel, making it easier to brush off kids). Buckets and shovels are provided for kids to help unearth a giant buried dinosaur skeleton.

Julia Mascardo is a freelance writer living the dream of being a neighbor to Walt Disney World. She is a frequent contributor to and has written several travel and tourism books.