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You’ve spent the last hour cleaning out the car, rounding up toys, packing snacks, diapers, etc…all for a big day at the park. Of course, by “park” we’re talking about the neighborhood park a few miles from your house. With all the effort it takes to do even the most routine of outings, I’m sure the thought has crossed your mind – “How are we going to survive our next trip to Disney World with a baby in the mix?”
Know the Must Knows
It’s not only possible to survive, but actually….pause….enjoy Disney World with a baby. In fact, you could make the argument that no destination better caters to families with babies. That’s not to say you couldn’t use a few tips along the way. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of Top Must Knows –the most mentioned Must Knows in the twenty expert articles sourced for this post.
One note – when we say baby, we’re really talking about a 1-3 year old. We’re not big on taking a child less than 1 year old, with no immune system to speak of, to a heavy-crowd place like Disney World.
Top Must Knows
1. You’re getting quite a bargain on your baby’s park ticket.
Family Vacation Critic – Why visit Disney with an infant in tow? Children ages 3 and younger are admitted free to all Disney theme parks. While little ones won’t remember the trip, the free incentive helps families traveling with older children, or new families who still want to visit.
With a 5-day park hopper child ticket costing around $550, this is a pretty big deal. Speaking from experience, take advantage of the free ticket while you can.
2. In-park Baby Care Centers are a must use.
WDW Prep School – Baby Care Centers are locations within the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks that provide almost anything you could need for young children. There is no charge to use the facility and they are a great option for cooling off and taking care of your little one’s needs.
Thumbs up for the Baby Care Centers. They are a clean, welcome respite for both you and your baby from the typical Florida theme park heat and crowds.
3. Your best stroller option is your own.
Touring Plans – Your baby will likely be more comfortable in your own stroller The Disney rental strollers are hard plastic with no padding or support. Additionally, the Disney strollers must stay in the theme parks…for a smaller child, you’ll want something softer that reclines.
Bring the best stroller you can get your hands on. I promise it’s not something you want to cheap out on.
4. Staying at a Disney Resort is worth the convenience alone.
WDW Made Easy – I often suggest staying in a Disney Hotel. This is especially true if you’re visiting with an infant or a toddler…[doing so] puts you close to all that Disney has to offer…will cut down on stress and allow you to spend quality time with your children.
Use the money you’re saving from your baby’s free ticket to invest in a Disney resort stay for your family. If you’ve ever needed a extra reason to stay on-site, you have a particularly good one for this trip.
5. Rider switch is a huge plus for attractions with height requirements.
WDW Radio – You and your family can take advantage of the rider switch option where one adult (and child if tall enough) can ride an attraction. They then stay with the infant or toddler while the second adult goes through the Fastpass line to ride the attraction (and is allowed to take the child again!).
Rider switch means you can get a little creative with your Fastpass selections. WDW Prep School explains.
6. Planning a low-key schedule + planned nap times is a necessity.
WDW By Age – If you keep things relaxed in your touring plans, your baby will probably have a wonderful time…we recommend checking out a park in the morning, and lounging around the hotel in the afternoons and letting your Disney Baby nap…don’t overdo it!
I know you’re spending a lot on tickets to be in the parks, but less really is more with a baby. If you don’t want to leave the parks, there are plenty of pleasant places for you and your baby to land for a break – including the aforementioned Baby Care Centers. Take it slow. Go with the flow. You’ll be glad you did by days end.
7. Disney World has plenty of attractions you and your baby can enjoy together.
Traveling Mom – My number one reason [for going to WDW with a baby] is that there is a LOT that babies can enjoy at Disney World. The most ideal Park is the one where your baby can enjoy the most attractions and rides – that would be Magic Kingdom…
More so than any other theme parks in existence (we know, we’ve looked), the Disney parks are simply eaten up with attractions to enjoy with your baby. Check out Touring Plan’s solid breakdown of the best attractions for babies.
8. Meet-n-Greets can be a dicey proposition – proceed with caution.
Parents.com – Some toddlers do freak out when they see Disney characters up close. Just think about how gigantic they must seem to tiny tots! If your baby seems shy…try the afternoon parade. Kids will feel more secure if they can wave or call out to their favorites from a distance.
Hit the meet-n-greets that offer Fastpasses (prioritizing Mickey of course). Standing in a slow-moving line for your baby to meet a character that are most likely not familiar with, or worse yet, terrified of, is not our definition of fun.
9. You need to get the day started early.
Babble – My little kids aren’t always up for staying up to watch the fireworks…so we have to find magic earlier in the day. Fun options like the “Move It, Shake It Parade” (which has multiple show times), Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire with fireworks, and the Festival of Fantasy Parade offer kids a chance to celebrate during the day.
You don’t need to have a baby with you for this Must Know to apply. Get out of bed and get to the parks. It’s why you traveled to this destination. Get in…then get out around the time the heat and the crowds start picking up.
10. Don’t stress out about photos.
Spit up is the New Black – Accept that not everyone in your party will be awake during photo ops…Be prepared for imperfect photos and shots at inopportune times. Not everything can go as planned.
Have you ever returned home from a vacation and said “boy, we just took too many pictures?” I didn’t think so. While you don’t want to stress out on the getting the pics, you also want to capture this special time with your baby. We say plan on going candid most of time and worry less about getting the boilerplate family pics.
11. Take the time to explore your Disney resort.
Traveling Mom – Many of the Disney World resorts feature amazing interactive pools, playgrounds, walking paths and themed restaurants. Explore your resort with baby by taking him out for a walk in the stroller or allowing him to toddle freely.
We tend to get so caught up in the parks that we arrive at the end of vacation and regret not spending more time at our resort. Don’t let that happen to you. You might pick a night where you come back a little early and explore the resort with your little one. Riverside is a particularly happening and beautiful resort at night.
12. Pack ‘n Play’s are available on request at your Disney resort.
Cherish 365 – Don’t worry about lugging your pack n’ play along for the trip. Ask your Walt Disney World Resort for a complimentary pack n’ play…We opted for the pack n’ play since our baby was sitting up. It worked perfect for her to sleep in after a long day of fun.
We always borrow a pack n’ play from the resort to use. There’s really no reason not to unless your worried about it getting a little tight in one of the value resort rooms…which it will. In this case, Pop Century is your best bet with the hide-away bed freeing up some additional room space.
13. Bring your baby carrier along for the trip.
WDW Radio – To help your back and arm muscles, make sure to bring a baby carrier to use while in lines or on the attractions. Especially in Fantasyland, you will park your stroller and walk around to different attractions without moving your stroller, so you will be carrying your infant for awhile,
We haven’t really bothered with the baby carriers in the past. Of course none of our kids really liked to be confined in one. Plus, the heat and all. They may be nice to have in attraction lines, but you’ll most likely have to pull the baby out and store the carrier once you get to the ride vehicle…so 6 of 1 half dozen of another as they say.
14. Seek out the various play areas for little ones in the parks.
Get Away Today – If you’re at Disney World with toddlers and babies, they’re going to get the wiggles at some point. Luckily, Disney World has some great areas for them to run around and play to their heart’s content.
Just keeping it real, I don’t think this is the best advice in the world. We’re just not that crazy about letting the kiddos rub all over play surfaces that thousands of other kids have touched…especially when on vacation. If you’re good with this sort of thing, you may want to see Must Know #20.
15. Take advantage of the bring-your-own-snacks policy.
Family Vacation Critic – Disney allows families to bring in backpacks with food and snacks, so you can feel free to enter any theme park with the items needed to accommodate babies, toddlers and even big kids.
Don’t load up a pull-behind cooler, but also don’t be shy about taking an insulated back-pack into the parks with you. It’s a must with a baby in tow.
16. Consider not park hopping.
Spoonful of Flavor – A full day at the parks is exhausting for adults and even more for children. Choosing one park ensures that you can focus on enjoying all that the park has to offer without exhausting yourself and your child.
17. Avoid the hotter months.
Have Baby Will Travel – Summer in Orlando is HOT. Really, really HOT. January can be quite chilly but the parks are very quiet. November, before American Thanksgiving, is an ideal time to go. It’s not too hot, not too crowded.
Here’s where the Central Florida heat gets you…opening the car door of your rental car that’s been sitting on a black asphalt all morning long. Good times. Really though….heat + baby is a lousy combo. Plan your first baby trip for fall or spring if at all possible.
18. Go delivery for groceries and supplies.
Disney By Age – Babies need lots of stuff…your Disney resort will accept packages up to ten days ahead of your arrival.You can ship formula, diapers, wipes, baby food, shampoo, you name it.
Check out WDW Prep School’s breakdown of Disney resort grocery delivery options. We typically use Amazon’s Prime Now and have been pretty happy with the results so far.
19. Scope out some breastfeeding location options ahead of time.
Touring Plans – Florida law allows breastfeeding anywhere in public. However, if you’re looking for a quiet or private place to nurse, you can use the Baby Care Centers. Other good spots are longer or show-type attractions
Indoor shows are your best bet here with the Baby Care Centers a next best option if near one.
20. Scope out Urgent Care locations pre-trip.
WDW Radio – After a quick check online for local med-check’s I discovered that there is a group of pediatric urgent care centers in Orlando called Nite Light Pediatrics Urgent Care. The staff was wonderful and the visit was super quick.
If the situation arises, you don’t want to end up at some dumpy Urgent Care with your baby. Do the research ahead and time and make sure you know where you’re going and what you can expect. You might start your search by checking out WDW Radio’s recommendation – Night Lite Pediatrics.
Leftover Must Knows
These Must Knows didn’t make the cut for Top Must Knows, but we think are worth mentioning regardless…
Do you think traveling to Disney world with a baby is worth it? Let us know in the poll below. Also, tell us about a favorite experience you’ve had with your baby at Disney World in the comments section.