As a Florida resident for the better part of thirty years, I spent a fair amount of time visiting Disney World. However, most of those visits were as a child or a single person. Any parent can tell you the world with babies and toddlers is a very different place, and Disney parks are no exception.
The first time I took children to Disney World was in July (first mistake), and by the end of the day, my then-four-year-old declared, "I hate Disney." Not exactly how I thought things would go at the happiest place on earth.
So if you want a different experience, learn from my mistakes and make your next Disney trip (or any theme park trip!) easier. The following tips could be the difference between a magical day full of memories and "Can we go home yet?”
Getting from Here to There
By the end of the day, trekking all over a theme park, even the comfiest shoes result in sore feet. This is especially true for those little ones who have to take multiple steps for every one of ours. Even if you think your child has progressed past strollers, consider utilizing one at the park. Strollers can be bulky and tricky to navigate, but oh-so-worth-it to avoid the whining and feet-dragging of a tired child. You may even want to consider babywearing for even more mobility for babies and toddlers.
- Bring or rent a stroller.
- Consider babywearing.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Bring a change of socks in case a pair gets wet.
Beat the Heat
The warm climates of Disney World Florida and Disney Land California help keep the parks open year-round, but they can also be stifling. Overheating can be uncomfortable and dangerous, especially for babies and small children. Prepare for your day in the sun by checking the weather and preparing accordingly.
- Maximize time at air-conditioned attractions.
- Bring a handheld fan/spray bottle.
- Wear hats and sunscreen.
- Bring water bottles and frequently stop for refills.
Sponsored By: Huggies
Take it Slow
With rising ticket prices, it's natural to want to get the most bang for your buck. This can lead to a mad rush, trying to squeeze in as much as possible during your visit, which may have the opposite of your intended effect. No one will be having any fun if they're rushed and worn out. Babies and small children will require more breaks and pit stops than older children or adults, so plan accordingly.
- Take advantage of Baby Care Centers stationed around the park.
- Download the My Disney Experience App to strategize your course.
- Plan frequent snacks and meal stops.
- Take advantage of bathrooms for potty breaks whenever you see them.
Planning for every possible event is impossible, but you can plan for the unexpected. Assume you will most likely need more diapers, snacks, and water than you anticipated. You will probably make some purchases you didn't initially plan to as people get hungry, thirsty, or have an emergency need for a new outfit, so set aside some room in your budget for those expenses. And remember that even all the Disney magic in the world can't ease the pain of a whining or crying child, so as you're waiting in those long lines, give yourself permission to distract restless kids with some screen time on your phone.
- Pack a few more diapers/pull-ups than usual.
- Baby wipes and hand sanitizer will be your best friend.
- Be prepared to splurge on some purchases as needed.
- Bring a power bank for recharging phones, just in case.
Sponsored By: Aeroflow
Don't Forget to Have Fun!
Part of the joy we find in taking little ones to Disney is seeing their faces light up and all the pleasure the trip brings. In reality though, it will be a few years before your child will remember any of the memories you make together, so the truth is that a trip to Disney with babies/toddlers is primarily for your benefit! If this trip is for you, remember to do things you will actually enjoy!
- Skip rides or character meets you don't want to go on.
- Take advantage of ride-share to swap who has the child(ren) so you can actually ride some rides.
- Plan to play through naptime, see shows you want to see while your child sleeps in the stroller or baby carrier, or even back at the hotel with another trusted adult.
- Splurge on some treats or souvenirs just for you.
For many, a trip to Disney is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As parents, we are so often the memory-makers; remind yourself that you deserve to make memories and have some fun of your own! No vacation, even a magical one, is perfect, so take the pressure off yourself and enjoy those hidden-mickey moments. You deserve it!