Tips for Disney with Baby
Do not let anyone tell you that a child is too young to go to Disney. There are lots of opinions out there about the best age to experience Disney, but you really cannot go wrong at any age or stage. Any day at Disney is pretty much better than a day anywhere else, right?
Your trip will look different depending on whether you have a young baby or toddler, older kids and teenagers, or only adults. But there really is something (actually lots of things) for everyone, even babies and toddlers – that is what is so special about Disney. Sure, if you take a baby or young toddler on a Disney vacation they may not remember the trip first hand, but you will. You will treasure the memories you make, and the pictures you take, for decades to come.
Having a little one in tow on a Disney vacation brings an extra level of challenge. With a little planning and expectation setting, it can actually be a fun adventure. Read on for 10 tips for surviving (and enjoying) Disney World with the littlest of vacationers.
1. Use Baby Care Centers
Each of the theme parks has a space specifically set aside for the care of babies and young toddlers. Baby Care Centers are an indoor facility outfitted with nursing rooms, changing tables, high chairs, microwaves, child sized toilets, and a little room with chairs and a TV (with Disney Junior on repeat of course). There is also a store staffed with a cast member where you can purchase infant necessities that you may have forgotten or run out of during your day. We have used the Baby Care Center often as a place to take a little break from the heat and the hustle and bustle. Check park maps to find out where each Baby Care Center is located.
2. Consider Buffets for Meals
There are several benefits to buffet eating when it comes to babies and toddlers. You don’t pay for children under 3 years old to eat, but they can technically eat as much as they would like “from your plate,” which is endless. And most buffet meals have a big variety of foods with lots of kid friendly options. The other benefit is that many buffet meals are character meals – which can be a nice way to acclimate little kids to the idea and process of meeting characters without standing in long lines.
3. Free Until Three
Don’t forget that kids play for free until three. Three is the age that suddenly it costs a whole lot more to go on a Disney vacation. Until three, little ones can enter the parks without a ticket, and this includes hard ticketed events, such as the Halloween and Christmas parties in Magic Kingdom, and special tours.
4. Use Rider Swap
Utilize rider swap for the few rides with height requirements. Rider swap lets your party split and take turns riding (while someone is always staying with baby) without making you stand in line twice. Remember that most rides at Disney are family friendly and have no height requirements at all. Take your little one on a ride and keep them close in your lap. They will likely love the sights and sounds!
5. Baby’s First Haircut
Consider having “Baby’s First Haircut” at the Harmony Barber Shop. Located on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom, the professional barbers do a fabulous job turning a hair cut into a magical experience. There is a “first haircut” package where they will save a clipping for you in a little pouch and give you a set of mickey ears and certificate to commemorate the occasion. However, it doesn’t have to be your first haircut. They also have options for children and adults to get their hair cut, with a sprinkle of pixie dust, as well.
6. Take Breaks
Take afternoon breaks. Days in the Disney parks can be exhausting, especially during hot and crowded seasons. With little kids it is often a good tactic to plan to start your days early and spend mornings in the parks (before the crowds arrive), go back to your resort for an afternoon break, and then return to a park or resort for an evening activity. Keeping little ones on somewhat of a normal routine, including regular naptimes, will cut down on meltdowns caused by being overtired and overstimulated.
7. Avoid Bulky Strollers
Opt for lightweight and easy to fold stroller options or go the baby wearing route. Between those options, it is a matter of preference. Strollers can be nice because they save your shoulders and give a place to stow some stuff, but strollers do have to be folded on buses/boats which is less than ideal if baby is sleeping (or it is full of stuff). I have watched lots of people struggle to get a sleeping baby out of a stroller as they board a bus…and have been there myself. A comfortable and sturdy baby carrier may also be an appealing option, as it would allow for you to not have to move baby to get onto transportation and even lots of rides. Leave the mega stroller with all the compartments, bells, and whistles at home.
8. Consider Transportation Needs
Think about how you will get around. Will you have your own car with your own car seats? Are you renting a car and need to remember to request the addition of a car seat or bring your own? If using public/Disney transportation, you can hold your little one in your lap on buses, boats, and the monorail and not need a car seat at all. Just make sure you don’t end up in an unsafe situation. If you will be needing a taxi or car service during your trip, some taxis have car seats available. Schedule pickup ahead of time with the car seat request to be sure. Uber recently introduced the UberFamily service to Orlando which allows you to schedule an Uber ride with a guaranteed car seat available.
9. Pace Yourself
Don’t worry about checking off every attraction, restaurant, and character meeting. Even with a group of able bodied adults, it is impossible to do everything that Disney has to offer. You will enjoy yourself a lot more if you take the pressure of of trying to do it all and focus on the things that will be most enjoyable to your particular group at the age and stage they are at.
10. Stop and Smell the Roses
Take time to enjoy the little things. Let yourself experience Disney through the youngest of eyes. Allow them to lead some of the time. Let them chase bubbles the cast members are blowing, explore a play area, or ride the People Mover for the 15th time. There are plenty of years ahead to be running from thrill ride to thrill ride. Your babies will only be babies once.
What are your tips and tricks for “doing Disney” with a baby or toddler?