What can you do at Disney with a baby? Turns out – minus a few thrill rides – you can do almost everything you want as long as you plan for it. We traveled to Walt Disney World with our 11 month old baby daughter and 4 year old son and made memories to last a lifetime. Planning ahead helped us make the most of our days while accommodating our baby’s schedule. Finding the right resort and navigating the Disney transport will be a big part of making a successful trip to Disney with a baby.
Is it a waste to bring a baby to Disney? There will be a long list of excuses and even reasonable explanations to justify waiting until the little ones are out of diapers to make the first trip. But bringing a baby to Disney is not a bad idea, even for a novice traveler.
Having spent four days park hopping in Walt Disney World with my 11 month old daughter, I can tell you that it was a very different experience from when I had visited last year before she was born.
It is worthwhile to stop and think about what it is store when you decide to spend hours on your feet, standing in line and interacting with people in costumes (albeit scary at times) with a little baby in tow.
With a little planning you can make the most of your Disney vacation with a baby. Here are a few tips on how we navigated our Walt Disney World vacation with a baby.
1. Make a list of must dos for each park
Having traveled extensively with both my kids, my mantra is to be flexible and not over-schedule. This was my saving grace during our four days at the parks. Before our visit, we discussed and made a list of what we didn’t want to miss. This also helped to set the expectations for our four year old, who would have chosen to ride Winnie the Pooh’s Honey Pot 10 times straight if he could.
Having a list helped us navigate the parks and split up into groups as needed. Meeting the Inside Out characters, which involved more than an hour long wait, was a high priority for my son. We decided to do this mid- afternoon when we wanted to be in shade. The down time while we were standing in line time gave us an opportunity to feed the baby.
We also used the list as a guide whenever we felt overwhelmed with what to do next. This experience opened our eyes as to how much we could do with a baby. There were many sit down, slow rides (Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, It’s a Small World, Jungle Cruise at Magic Kingdom; The Seas with Nemo and Friends at Epcot; The Great Movie Ride at Hollywood Studios) that were a visual treat even for babies. Be mindful if your little ones is scared of the dark as we did hear crying babies on occasion. Except for the thrill rides, there wasn’t much that I had to give up for having a baby with us on the visit.
2. Decide on the best option for lodging
When traveling with a baby, deciding on the most convenient and comfortable option for lodging is key. If you’re looking to enhance your Disney experience further by staying in property, a mid-range or luxury property would be ideal. The parks will be easily accessible by Disney transportation with minimum travel time. You will have access to themed restaurants that include special features such as character breakfasts and pools with water slides on property.
Depending on the ambiance of you resort, you may want to take a break from the parks and relax with the baby. One of my favorite things to do is explore the resort premises and look for hidden Mickey details. Spending a little more to upgrade to a resort with amenities was certainly worth it for us.
Orlando offers great lodging options whether you decide on stay on or off Disney property. If you’re looking to get a home-like feel with hotel style amenities, check out Vacatia, which offers a great listing of resort condominium properties.
3. Know how to get around
It is best to do a little research on getting around Disney before the trip. Having a baby in tow, you will be looking to get somewhere fast and maximize your time at the attractions before she gets fussy.
Typically there is more than one option for traveling to and from your resort (if you’re staying on Disney property) and within the different parks. We preferred the monorail and water taxi to riding the bus, which was always more crowded during peak times.
Knowing the back up options will certainly come in handy whenever there is an issue with your first choice. We were faced with two sudden monorail closings during our stay and it was helpful that we had made notes about the water taxi as a backup.
4. Focus on food
There is so much good food at Disney and it is easy to find even if you’re not a foodie. Having a baby with us helped us slow down and explore the food scene at the parks. Sampling food at different locations was a great way to keep our baby moving while treating our taste buds.
Strawberry macaroons from the French Pavilion, school bread from the Norway bakery, and waffles from Sleepy Hollow at Magic Kingdom were just a few of our favorites. Since we visited during the Annual Flower and Garden Festival, we tasted our way through the outdoor kitchens which served bite-sized portions.
Finding spots to relax with a baby also led us to finding great cafes and restaurants at Disney resorts located close to parks. We popped into Kona Café at the Polynesian Resort, which was only a monorail stop away from Magic Kingdom, when we needed to catch a break before fireworks show at 9 p.m.
5.Make memories for you & baby
Even though the little one will not remember this trip, it will be a special memory for you. You will always remember the first time your little one came to Disney. I will never forget how my daughter cried at every character meeting. I’m glad that I have photos to show it to her when she becomes a sassy teenager
Though it is challenging to capture all the little moments, I did my best with the use of my new Panasonic Lumix ZS60, which my fellow photography enthusiast TravelingMoms recommend as the best point and shoot camera. It even helped me make a 4k video for the first time with the press of a button.
Unlike at other attractions, I love how the Disney cast members will offer to take photos with your own camera as well as giving you the option to purchase profession ones through Disney’s Memory Maker photo package.
The TravelingMom Disney site is a great resource for planning your next Disney vacation with input from moms who have been there. Where you’re traveling with a baby, toddler, teen, grandparents or solo, we have it done it all.