The Pirate's League With Toddlers and Preschoolers

by Kylie Chamberlin, contributing writer

As Halloween approaches, many families with toddlers and preschoolers wonder what options are appropriate for their children at the Walt Disney World Resort. Halloween is one of my favorite times to visit the park, and it is one of the most magical times to bring young children. The parks are decorated for fall and Halloween in a way that is not spooky, even for the timid toddler. I encourage guests with children to consider Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. Autumn is often a time when families consider dressing-up even more so than other times of the year.

While there are many venues for dressing-up for children at the parks, The Pirate's League is a hidden gem for toddlers and preschoolers, even ones who might not want to be a pirate. It's available year-round for guests age 3 and older, so very young toddlers will not be able to participate, but older toddlers will delight in the experience. You should make reservations well in advance, but you can give them a call on shorter notice too. Sometimes they have unexpected openings, so it is worth a shot.

Pirate's League is located in the Magic Kingdom in Adventureland next to Pirates of the Caribbean and across from Tortuga Tavern. Magic Kingdom theme park admission is required to get to the Pirate's League, so that is an important consideration when planning the day, especially if you do not use the Park Hopper option.

It is an experience where guests can be transformed into a pirate (including a zombie pirate), Captain Hook, ghost pirate, Blackbeard, black-eye Jack Pirate, a mermaid, an empress, or a a pirate princess. Depending on the package selected your preschooler or older toddler will get a lot of loot for a reasonable price. While some costumes and packages can break the bank, Pirate's League is one of the most affordable options. The lowest price package is just under $50 and the most expensive is just less than $100.

Little pirates will receive a new pirate name, a pirate necklace, a reversible pirate bandanna, a sword, a sheath, a clip-on pirate earring, an eye patch, a small bag, a temporary tattoo, and a key; take a pirate oath; and get access to a super secret pirate area. "Captain Hook" pirates also receive a hook, of course, and a Captain Hook costume.

Empresses receive all of the items pirates do, as well as more vibrant make-up (sparkly), lip gloss, nail polish, and a face gem. Costumes for pirates are available at the Pirate's League, as well, for an additional cost.

Little mermaids can choose the deluxe package to get a costume. All mermaids, however, receive mermaid make-up and make-up pallet, mermaid hairstyle and color-changing hair clip, nail polish, mermaid sash, mermaid bracelet, and a mermaid necklace.

I've visited the Pirates League on two occasions before Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Parties. I loved both experiences, as did the young guest with whom I was traveling. The pirates are all swash-buckle-ing-ly authentic. The transformation takes place by charming and non-threatening pirates, who have a great amount of patience with little ones. The second occasion I visited, there was a very shy little mermaid who wasn't sure about letting anyone turn her into a mermaid. However, they took the time and patience to help her have a magical time, and even switched pirates so she could have someone she connected with more easily.

My young travel companion did not want anyone to put makeup near her eyes, and the pirates were all to happy to comply with her request.

It was an amazing experience, with a lot more than just sitting in a makeup chair. It is active and engaging enough to hold the span of preschoolers and toddlers, and the attention they will get throughout the day will inspire a lot of magical memories.

It is often overlooked, but the Pirate's League is the perfect gem for families and preschoolers and toddlers. Also, unlike other options, there isn't an age limit on the Pirate's League, so parents and grandparents can join the pirate or mermaid fun as well, and have amazing family costumes!

Note: An 18-year-old parent or guardian must accompany young guests. They recommend you arrive 15 minutes early and this is key to make sure you are checked in, in time for your appointment. Hair must be combed and head must be free of scalp conditions at least 30 days prior to the visit.