Taking an infant to Disney World is very difficult.
Now, I know that a lot of you are going to comment and say that you took a young child and it went just fine and to you I say “Bravo, my friend.” But for the rest of us, it can be a lot of work. But it’s also not impossible, not if you plan well and lower your expectations just a little bit. With just a few adjustments to your usual vacation strategy, you can make traveling with an infant a lot easier.
Sleeping arrangements are probably the most important decision you’ll make when traveling with an infant. Ideally, you’ll get as much space you can afford. Even babies who normally sleep through the night may change their sleep patterns in an unfamiliar place. If its just you and your partner, it’s not that big of an issue; you’re probably not getting much sleep anyway. But if there are other children in the room or if you’re travelling with extended family, you’re going to want some space so that those who aren’t getting up at night with the baby can actually sleep. I usually prefer to stay on site, but you pay a premium for extra space on Disney property. Consider getting two connecting value rooms or stay in a Disney Vacation Club property. If that’s outside of your budget, now is the time to try an off site rental home or condo.
By the time your baby was just a few weeks old, you probably discovered that babies don’t travel light: You need diapers, wipes, food, and an extra change of clothes just to drive to the grocery store. Babies simply don’t vacation without a lot of ”stuff.” The great thing about Orlando is that its super kid friendly, so you’ll find everything you need fairly easily, if not cheaply. Most hotels provide cribs free of charge. Disney provides Pack N Plays at all resorts. They also have a limited number of cribs at some resorts. Both Pack N Plays and cribs at Disney resorts are sturdy and in good condition. Most rental homes will have a crib and a highchair for you to use, although it’s a good idea to check in advance, particularly if you’re renting from an individual owner rather than a rental agency. You can rent baby equipment, including strollers, cribs, and highchairs, from several companies in Orlando; most will deliver right to your resort and set up for you.
As for getting around on property try renting a stroller. Companies like Kingdom Stroller Rentals have really nice single and dual seat strollers that they will bring right to the resort for you. On our last trip we were lucky to have one of these to use when we were at Walt Disney World. If you looked at the picture above you can see how comfortable they are. Lets be honest the plastic ones WDW rents are not the most comfortable in the world. So do yourself a favor contact Kingdom and rent one today. Be sure to mention Chip sent ya!
Probably one of the most difficult problems you’ll encounter is getting on and off buses and trams. You’ll need to remove your child from her stroller and fold the stroller to use the trams, buses and the resort launches. Disney drivers will wait for you to do this, but it’s a good idea to have a system down so you don’t hold up your fellow passengers too much. You can keep your baby in the stroller on the ferry, the monorail, and Friend Ships between Epcot and Hollywood studios. Having your own car can alleviate some of the stress you might encounter trying to drag a stroller on buses, but it’s not necessary by any means. If you’re really worried about getting around, consider staying at a monorail resort which gives you easy access to the Magic Kingdom or at one of the Epcot resorts, which will allow you to use the Friend Ships or walk to Epcot. Be forewarned: These resorts are pricey.
Practicalities aside, how do you tour a Disney park with an infant? Well, it’s different. Forget the complete commando Disney experience: You’ll only frustrate yourself trying to keep the pace you normally would. Slowing down a bit can have it’s advantages as you’ll see and experience things you might normally miss. This may be trip where you find a quiet spot and perfect the art of people watching, a thoroughly enjoyable activity in the World.
Obviously, infants are limited as to what they can enjoy in the parks. Even attractions that don’t have a height restriction can be inappropriate for infants, such as the Haunted Mansion. None the less, all parks have several attractions most babies will find enjoyable.
- In the Magic Kingdom, Winnie the Pooh and It’s a Small World are huge hits.
- In Epcot, there are several slow rides that infants tend to enjoy, including the ever popular Living Seas with Nemo.
- In Hollywood Studios has great shows and I’ve seen many infants strapped into a baby carrier or sling on Toy Story Midway Mania.
- In the Animal Kingdom Finding Nemo or The Lion King might dazzle little ones with their sights and sounds.
Keep in mind that strollers are not allowed in line without at Guest Assistance Card (for children and adults with disabilities) so you’ll need to park it in one of the many stroller parking areas you see around the parks.
You may want to avoid especially loud shows like Mickey’s Philharmagic. While there’s nothing scary in this attraction, it’s loud and can alarm even older children. On the other hand, some rides that normally frighten toddlers are just amusing to babies who haven’t yet figured out that the scary old witch glaring at them is supposed to frighten them. Let your baby’s personality be your guide in iffy situations like this. Some seemingly innocuous rides are actually quite frightening for young children (i.e., Stitch’s Great Escape) so if you’re in doubt, ask a Cast Member. Don’t forget that you can trade-off baby watching duties with members of your party and still ride the attractions you’re interested in by using the “baby swap,” which essentially allows guests of switch off parenting duties while the other rides without having to wait in line twice.
What to pack for a day at the parks? Well, first of all, if you forget everything (which you won’t), you can buy supplies at the Babycare Centers located in each park. You’ll pay slightly more than you’d pay outside the park and the selection is more limited (diaper sizes in particular), but should you forget some indispensible item, you can usually find it there. If you’re not nursing, bring formula, a few bottles and some bottled water (although the water from the drinking fountains is just fine) and, if your baby is at that stage, food. Sunblock for older babies is a must, as is several changes of clothing, diapers and lots and lots of wipes. Even if you normally don’t use a stroller, consider using one in the parks. I prefer not to carry a diaper bag in the parks. It just gets in the way. Instead, I store the bulk of what I bring in the basket under the stroller. Remember not to leave valuables in your stroller and if you’re worried about stroller theft (exceedingly rare, but it happens), invest in a stroller lock.
It can be difficult to find quiet places for baby to nap and nurse in the parks. In the Magic Kingdom, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority and Carousel of Progress are practically famous among nursing mothers as quiet, discreet places for baby to nurse. Animal Kingdom has some lovely, quiet areas. And Epcot, which is so large that it rarely seems crowded, has lots of benches around the World Showcase Lagoon where you can sit and relax. On our last trip, my twins slept on the Friendship Boat from Epcot to Hollywood Studios. Finally, there’s no denying that the monorail between Epcot and the Magic Kingdom is a great place for a quick nap.
One final thing. You’re going to love the babycare centers. They’re clean, comfortable and quiet and the Cast Members are great. You can change your baby, allow them to safely crawl around and stretch their legs, nurse, and eat.
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