Here’s all the best tips and tricks for having a magical experience at Disney World with a baby.
So you’re headed to Disney World? Or maybe you’re thinking about planning a trip? Last Fall we took the most magical trip to Disney World…with a baby! I know, shocker! Of course, there was quite the hesitation when we were planning this trip with our baby but it went better than we could have even imagined and today I’m excited to share with you all that we learned.
Now, let me preface this by saying it wasn’t just us. We went with my mom, her husband, and my sister, so plenty of people to help entertain or distract a baby in lines but honestly, it didn’t even matter. There always seemed to be one person who didn’t want to do a ride or someone who wanted to grab a bite to eat so on our 6 day adventure we got a good mix of fun for the baby but also fun for mommy and daddy. Here’s how you can do it too!
Plan. Plan. Plan. Then forget it!
1. If you don’t remember anything else I write, my number one and most important tip is to read and plan the weeks and months leading up to your trip, but as soon as you step foot in the airport or shut the door to your car on the way to Disney World, throw all your expectations out the window.
If something was important enough for you to remember it, then you’ll make time to do it. If you don’t, then that means you were too busy making other amazing memories. Looking back, there were so many things we didn’t do that was on my to do list, but the days we spent there were jam packed and had the perfect balance of hanging out and thrill-seeking roller coasters.
Yes, we forgot to take the baby on her first Dumbo ride. In my head that was number one of importance for the baby to experience. BUT she went on teacups and LOVED it!
Yes, we didn’t get a picture with Minnie. BUT we got the cutest pictures with Pooh and Tigger. Totally worth the ten minute wait in line!
Yes, we didn’t swim in the resort pool. BUT we got soaked enough on Splash Mountain that it was practically the same thing.
2. If you’re going to be in Disney World for more than 2 days, I definitely recommend you get a park hopper pass. This makes it so you can switch between parks throughout the day and be more flexible with your schedule.
3. Stay at the resort. This was the best decision we made all trip! This made it easy if someone needed to go back to the resort or sleep in and meet us at the park later. One night towards the end of our trip Clara was getting pretty worn out, so my husband volunteered to take her back to the resort around 8 so the rest of us could do rides until the park closed.
4. Stock up on Disney clothes before you go. I bought this 5 pack Disney Minnie onesies for Clara before we went, plus this cute Minnie outfit. Disney, of course, has outrageous prices on their clothes and souveniors, so if you know you might want something as a keepsake, think about buying it ahead of time. Plus, I had fun dressing Clara up in her little Minnie outfit each day and it made for cute pictures.
5. If you have an eater, bring food pouches. We do baby led weaning but even with her eating table food starting at 6 months old, those pouches saved us. They were also an absolute lifesaver when we were taking off and landing on the plane. She loves those pouches and they distracted her from the loud noises of the plane to keep swallowing to make her ears pop.
6. If you have a binky lover in your family, buy a binky clip or find a way to attach it to them or their carseat/stroller. Clara was definitely in the throw-everything-overboard stage and I wish we would have had something to keep the binky attached.
7. Bring 2-3 magical toys that are your baby’s absolute favorite and leave the rest at home. There is so much stimulation at Disney World that you certainly don’t need to bring any toys while you’re in the park. Having a few toys hidden that I knew would always bring a smile to her face if I was in a desperate place on the plane or in the airport was always great though. This Baby Einstein’s Musical Toy was pure magic on our trip!
8. There are many options for taking your baby around the park. Let me just give you my two bits real quick. All the articles and blog posts I read before our trip said to go back to your hotel in the afternoon so your baby could get a decent nap. That was my plan….up until we got there. Like I said earlier, throw those expectations out the window.
She was doing so great that first day and since we were staying at a resort on property, their transportation would take anywhere from 30-60 minutes just to get us back to the resort, that we just stayed at the park all day. If we would have gone back to the resort, that would have meant 3-4 hours away from the park.
We chose a second option that no one had mentioned. Just wing it.
9. We brought our own stroller, her carseat that she is comfortable in that clips into the stroller, and also our Ergo baby carrier. Throughout our six day trip she went in all three. Sometimes she wanted to be carried and other times she would take a solid nap in her carseat. If you have an older child, having your own stroller that lays flat is also way better since the rental strollers are hard and the backs do not lay flat.
Just remember, you don’t have to go back to your resort for naptime like so many people suggest. If your baby is doing fine and able to catch catnaps here and there or is able to sleep on you in a baby carrier fine, then do that and save your time from going back and forth between your resort and the park.
10. If you plan on bringing your own stroller, just a heads up that they have stroller parking around the park. Usually there is a cast member rearranging strollers constantly as they make room for more, so if it isn’t exactly where it was when you left it, don’t be alarmed. This also means don’t plan on putting a lock on it while you’re on a ride.
11. Bring a fan that can clip on to your carseat or stroller. We didn’t think of this ahead of time so bought one while we were there after watching her sweat so much during her nap in the carseat. We are from Oregon and are not used to the heat and high humidity. That fan saved us! She was able to cool down enough to catch cat naps in her carseat throughout the day.
In the Park
12. The baby care center is your absolute best friend! I swear half the time us moms make the baby eat longer just because the peace and quiet is so refreshing.
For those that don’t know what a baby care center is, it’s a building or secluded rooms, usually near the entrance of each park that has a private room with rocking chairs for nursing (and pumping) moms, a room with high chairs to feed babies, another room full of changing tables, and a kitchen. There is always a cast member that runs the baby care center who can help with anything you might need. They sell snacks, diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, nipples….anything baby-related you can think of that you might have forgot or lost, they most likely have it.
Here’s what I learned:
- The one in Animal Kingdom is the best. It’s newer and not as busy.
- Epcot has carpet and is a great place to go for an hour in the afternoon/evening to let a crawler wander a little bit and relax.
- Magic Kingdom‘s baby care center is old and has tile floors so it’s not as comfy as the other’s.
- The baby care center at Hollywood Studios is practically non-existent. It’s so tiny tucked right at the entrance and was definitely low on my list.
My suggestion to anyone taking a baby to Disney World is plan to go to Epcot in the afternoon when it’s warmer and baby could use a break to hang out. One afternoon my husband took our 10 month old to the baby care center while my sister and I waited in line for a ride. They had a Disney movie playing, books to read, and toys. It was a great break for her and daddy. Epcot also has a lot more grassy areas for a baby to crawl around and get out her wiggles.
13. The baby care center’s also have the best place to fill up your water bottles! I know this seems silly but as a nursing mom, I always feel dehydrated. I know my family all appreciated cold water too. At all dining locations you can ask for a cup of water for free, but it’s never enough to fill your whole water bottle, plus you don’t have to stand in line. The baby centers have cold, fresh water and we always would make a stop to fill up all our water bottle’s.
14. Say hi to the characters. You might be surprised and your little one might love them!! Don’t worry about standing in long lines though. You’re sure to come across some with no line or a very short line so don’t waste time standing in line when your little one doesn’t even care.
We happen to come across character flash mob in the middle of Magic Kingdom one afternoon. Our Clarabel got to meet Clarabelle the Cow. So fun!!
15. Is your little one old enough to enjoy some of the rides? Here are the rides Clara (at 10 months old) went on and loved!
- Pirates of the Carribbean
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Jungle Cruise
- Spaceship Earth
- Kilimanjaro Safari
There are many more rides that she could have gone on, however, since we had family with us on our trip it was easy for someone to stay out of the lines and find some shade with her while the rest of us did the more adventurous rides.
16. Even the best kids can get overwhelmed and overstimulated though. These are the best rides to go on when you all just need a little break but don’t want to miss out on rides.
- Tomorrowland People Mover
- Pirates of the Carribbean
- It’s a Small World
- Jungle Cruise
- Liberty Square Riverboat
- Spaceship Earth
- Living with the Land
- Kilimanjaro Safari
- The Great Movie Ride
17. Are you a thrill seeker? Disney wants to make sure everyone has a magical experience, so of course, they have a way for mommy and daddy to go on all the fun rides. It’s called rider switch. Here’s how Disney describes it:
If a child does not meet the height requirement or a Guest does not wish to board a particular attraction, no problem! With Rider Switch, one adult can wait with the non-rider (or riders) while the rest of the party enjoys the attraction. When the other adult returns, they can supervise the non-riding Guests, and the waiting adult can board the attraction without having to wait in the regular line again! – Disney World
The trick here, is that you can actually get double the amount of FastPass+! #winning
Here’s an example of how you do it.
Step 1: Person A signs up for a FastPass+ for Space Mountain.
Step 2: At the scheduled time, the whole family (person A, person B, and baby) goes to the entrance of the ride and requests a rider switch. The cast member will let you know if Person B goes through the line and waits when you get to the front with baby or waits outside the ride until Person A comes back. Person A goes on the ride.
Step 3: When Person A gets done with the ride, Person B can go on that ride right then or if they were given a little pass, they can go any time in the next day.
If you have a family or friend with you, another person gets to go with Person B on the ride a second time so potentially they could go on the ride twice even though they only had one FastPass+.
Person B can then sign up for a FastPass+ and do the rider switch with Person A. This means you could potentially use 6 fast passes in a day instead of just 3.
18. If you buy your park pass ahead of time, make sure and fill up your fast pass for these rides right away. The popular rides can book up months in advance. These were our favorite rides:
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster in Hollywood Studios
- Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios
- Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Magic Kingdom
- Space Mountain in Magic Kingdom
- Star Tours in Hollywood Studios
See all the rides that offer rider switch service here.
19. First off, I highly recommend you opt for the Memory Maker photo pass. Totally worth it to have the professionals help document your trip and then you will be able to get pictures with everyone in the shot. The photos show up almost instantly on their photo app. You can download them immediately and post them for all your friends to see.
*Take note that everyone in your party can register under one photo pass, however, only one person is able to download the photos without their watermark so make sure the person who signs up is actively on their phone and will send the photos out to everyone at the end of each day or at the end of your trip.
20. Your baby will not be awake for every photo op and that’s okay. There will be plenty of opportunities for cute pictures so don’t worry if baby is napping through some of them.
21. I love taking pictures and we lugged our DSLR all the way across the country, but didn’t pull it out once. Smart phones for the win! Between the photo pass professional photos and the phone pictures we had more than enough to have a full scrapbook of memories.
22. With that in mind, make sure and capture the candid moments. Those are the memories you are really going to cherish 20 years down the road! And even though your baby won’t remember this trip, it will be fun to look back with your baby years down the road.
We had such a magical experience at Disney World and I hope you do to. Have you been to Disney World before with a little one?
What Disney World with a baby tips would you add to this list?
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