There are several great reasons to take a baby to Disney, but the best might be: because children under 3 are free. There can be, however, some extra planning involved. Here are some helpful hints:
Disney’s Baby Care Centers
I discovered these mere moments after changing my baby in the restroom. It. Was. Perfect! Changing tables galore, nursing rooms, rockers, a play area for older siblings to wait, and a full kitchen in which to prepare, rinse, and heat. Had I forgotten anything I could have purchased a wide array of baby products. It was, quite simply, heaven for a Traveling Mom. Before you go familiarize yourself with the locations of these baby sanctuaries!
Disney rents strollers but they must stay in their originating park. So if you have a park hopper pass you will have to rent a stroller at each park and carry baby in between. Bring a stroller if at all possible. It will save you time, money and headaches. We brought my favorite stroller ever, Maclaren Easy Traveler, which I just wrote about on TMOM.
Be sure to clearly mark your stroller with an identifier and put a luggage tag with your name and cell on it. There are numerous areas of Disney where you must park your strollers and leave them to go on rides. Many strollers look alike so it is importand to “make it your own.” Raincovers are also a must pack as there are certain times of year when it rains on a daily basis, like clockwork.
If bringing a stroller is going to be difficult, consider renting one once you arrive in Orlando.
There are three ways to go when baby gear is needed on a trip. You can haul it (and potentially damage something that you’ll need at home later or pay astronomical fees to get it there), you can rent it (sometimes pricey but a solid option), or one of my favorites–you can purchase it and donate it.
There are numerous outlets in Orlando that rent strollers. They will drop the stroller off at your hotel and pick it up when your vacation is done. Consider purchasing the insurance for the stroller to save on unexpected “oopsies”. Magic Strollers is significantly cheaper than the parks and offers both single and double jogging style strollers. A Baby’s Best Friend offers strollers for flat rates depending on your number of nights and also rents every other imaginable baby item.
If there is something that you know your baby loves and you are going to be away for more than a few days, you can either buy a new one or look in resale shops in the area you are visiting. Then, when your vacation is done you can donate the item to a shelter or church in the area.
Our daughter loves her vibrating chair. For $40 we were able to purchase a new one on a long weekend away. The rental cost would have been roughly the same and we were able to donate it to the area that we had just spent time enjoying. If you go the bring it with you route check out this product which turns a standard infant car seat into a vibrating swing! (Note: If you are staying in a WDW hotel there is a Pack ‘n’ Play in the closet of each room so pack a fitted sheet and utilize this freebie!)
A grandparent or friend
If you can bring a willing grandparent,do it! I am lucky enough to have a father-in-law who lives 45 minutes from Disney and dotes on his adorable grandaughter. He was more than happy to come to the parks with us and watch her while my husband and I went on some of the big kid rides.
If you do not have a willing or able third party you can take advantage of Disney’s RiderSwap program. This program is available at select attractions in the four theme parks. Basically, one adult stays with the baby or child who is too young to ride while the other parent goes through the standby line and asks the attendant for a RiderSwap ticket. After finsihing the ride, the parents hand off the baby and the second parent uses the RiderSwap ticket to acces the Fastpass Lane. It’s a great way to see attractions without waiting twice!
Pack a few extra cloth grocery bags to make the buses easier to manage on jaunts between parks. Strollers have to be collapsed to board the buses. We always seem to accumulate extra loose items that make a quick stroller transition difficult. Keeping an extra bag around allowed us to toss in the odds and ends amd impress the crowds as we easily pulled out our bag, collapsed our stroller and hopped on board.
Babies are allowed on Disney rides that do not require restraints (seatbelts, pull down bars). Consider bringing a front carrier along for these rides, especially if your baby is a fiesty escape artist like mine!
Comfortable shoes and clothes
This one really should be self-explanatory but if you’re going to keep up with Junior you’re going to need to be comfortable. Disney is a walking vacation. Both days that I spent in the parks my pedometer ended at over 8 miles of walking. Layers also help if you’re going inside and outside and can help camoflauge baby spit up should your bundle of joy decide to “decorate” you.
You thought an angry tired baby was bad? How about your own personal cranky crispy lobster? Coat your baby in sunscreen before heading out to the parks, put a big floppy hat on her (bring one with you–they are remarkably hard to find on site) and make sure your stroller has an adequate sun hood. Reapply the sunscreen liberally. I love Neutrogena’s sunblock stick. It is easy to put on and not as gooey as liquids and if you forget to take it out of the diaper bag before you go thru security, it’s not a liquid!
Take Some Time for Yourselves
One of the beautiful things about Disney? They are great with kids! If you and your partner want to carve out an evening for yourselves on an otherwise wholesome family vacation you can arrange for in-room babysitting. Kids Nite Out is the resorts’ exclusive childcare provider and will come to your room. The charge is $16/hr for 1 child with a $2/hr differential if the services begin after 8:59pm (children must be at least 6 weeks old). There is also a 4-hour minimum and $10 transportation fee. All sitters are thoroughly screened and trained. The service itself is certified and insured.
Stay in a Walt Disney World Hotel
There is a time for off-property stay, like when you have four teenage boys who require a kitchenette so you don’t go broke feeding them in the parks. Your first time at Disney with a baby should be an on-property stay at a Disney hotel. Not only will you enjoy free transportation to and from the airport, busing and monorails to the parks, early admission hours and access to babysitting and kids clubs, but travel times will be shorter and efficiency will be at peak. The less stress for you, the less stress for your baby!
So off you go onto your Disney getaway with your infant in tow. Don’t fret, you’ll have an amazing and magical time. Your baby will surprise you with how much they notice. My little one could not get enough of her new surroundings and mysteriously slept through the fireworks. What was your experience like with your baby in tow at Disney? Any hints I missed? Success stories? Please feel free to comment!
Note: I was hosted by Disney during my visit. The magic and wonder of Disney conveyed in this piece are all my own!