Taking a baby or toddler on a family outing like the zoo can be very challenging and rewarding at the same time, but taking them to Disney World is a fun family excursion on a grand scale! It is so amazing watching their little faces light up when they experience the magic of Disney World for the first time. But the face that is all smiles one minute can quickly turn to tears and tantrums even at the “happiest place on earth.” I have been taking my boys to Disney World since my oldest son was three years old and my youngest son was just six months old. Here are some of the tips and tricks that I have learned along the way!
- Disney World is a huge place so when you are planning your trip, keep your expectations realistic. Don’t expect that you and your kids can do 15 attractions in a single day or everything in one trip. This will only lead to stress and frustration. Do your research and choose the top things your family wants to see, then try to visit about 6 attractions per day. If you see more great and if you don’t, you and your family won’t be disappointed.
- Start small with attractions and work your way up. I have a friend who took her young daughter on Pirates of the Caribbean and she ended up being scared to death of the skeletons, pirates and dark. After that, her little girl didn’t want to ride anything inside a building for the rest of the trip! Think about your child’s temperament and check out ride ratings to pick out attractions that you think your kids would enjoy. A great one to start with is It’s a Small World.
- If you have your baby or toddler on a schedule at home, try to keep to it as much as possible on vacation. No one can enjoy themselves if you have a little one that is cranky, because they are tired or hungry. You may have to make some minor adjustments to the schedule depending on your kids. Even though my boys would nap at home, they were way too excited to go back to the hotel room and take a nap in the afternoon. So we changed things up a little bit. We would get to the parks as soon as they opened and stay until about 3:30pm. Then we would leave, have an early dinner, give them their baths and have them in bed by 7pm. They just made up for missing naps by having extra sleep at night.
- If you have a child under one, bring your own stroller. The Disney World strollers are made of hard plastic and only have a lap belt (no 5-point harness) that is easily unhooked by a child. If you have more than one adult in your party to help you push, consider bringing or renting individual strollers for each of your kids. The rentable double strollers are not that large and are pretty close quarters to expect two tired kids to share without fighting. We often rented a single stroller for one of my sons and then a double stroller for my other son and all of our stuff like jackets and backpack. This was really helpful! Also, it rains a lot in Florida, so be sure to bring a stroller rain cover or purchase a large rain poncho to put over it. You don’t want your little one to have to sit in a soggy stroller all day. Lastly about strollers, don’t leave snacks open and out on your stroller tray. Those Disney squirrels and birds are very resourceful!
- Bring your own kid-friendly snacks to the parks. While Disney World has what seems to be endless dining options, sometimes there just isn’t a quick, convenient kid’s snack available. It was so much easier having five or six non-perishable snacks (goldfish crackers, Cheerios, etc.) in little baggies that I could grab and have them munch on while waiting in line.
- Bring a backpack to the park with everything you would need for an entire day. Be sure to pack extra diapers, wipes, bottles, snacks, clothes and empty gallon size zip lock bags. You just never know what will happen. On more than one occasion my boys have gotten sick at Disney World and I’ve needed those zip lock bags, that change of clothes and lots of extra wipes. I always put a luggage tag on my backpack and made sure I never put anything of value in it; just kid’s supplies. That way I felt comfortable leaving it in my stroller and if something happened to it, it wasn’t the end of the world. In all of the years I’ve been visiting there, I have never had anything taken from my stroller.
- There are Baby Care Centers in each of the four theme parks. While you can feed your baby anywhere and change them in any restroom, these specially designed centers are very nice and there is no charge to use them. They include a place for nursing moms, changing tables, high chairs, a place to prep food and they have baby items available for purchase. Click here for more details.
- If your toddler has started potty training, remember that most of the toilets in the parks have automatic flushers. My kids hated those, so you can bring post-it notes with you and just cover the sensor while they are going, that way the toilet doesn’t flush on them and scare them.
- Wearing your baby in a front carrier at the parks is a great way for them to have a wonderful view of everything and for you to have your hands free to help your other little ones or to carry things.
- Consider renting a car instead of using Disney transportation. The plus side to having your own car is that you are on your own schedule, you don’t have to wait in line for transportation, there is no pressure to get your stroller folded up and onto the crowded bus, you can stop at a store for baby supplies and your kids might nap a little on the car rides. The downside, you will need to bring and install car seats. We did this for years and always felt like it was worth it in the long run.
- If you have a toddler that no longer sleeps in a portable crib, be sure to request bedrails from housekeeping for your hotel room bed.
- Bring simple childproofing stuff with you for your hotel room. I have always brought outlet covers with me, but then on one trip my youngest son locked the hotel bathroom door and pulled it closed with no one inside while the tub was filling! After an urgent call to maintenance, we found out that the stirrer in the coffee packet supplied with the maker can work as the emergency bathroom key. But to avoid that problem in the future, I always bring one of those foam things that keeps the door from being closed.
- Bring a nightlight to use in your hotel room. With the room darkening curtains, the rooms can get very dark.
- If your child has a treasured stuffed animal that they want to bring on the trip, consider buying a new one that is similar to it, but that is smaller in size. My boys both love Snoopy and have pretty good-sized ones that they always wanted to bring with us. I was able to find mini Snoopys that I purchased and gave them to take on trips. “Travel Snoopy” went on lots of vacations and we knew if he got lost, it wouldn’t be as devastating as losing the beloved big Snoopy that we left at home.
I hope these tips and tricks for visiting Disney World with a baby or toddler help you to have a magical and less stressful vacation with your family!
How about you? Have you visited Disney World with a baby or toddler? Do you have any helpful hints? Please leave a comment!