Baby on Board: Walt Disney World With a Diaper Bag

Written by Jessica Ma'ilo. Posted in Disney, Disney Parks, Park Wise, Walt Disney World

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

parkwise

Published on April 17, 2014 at 3:00 am with 28 Comments

If you’ve read past the title, let’s assume you’ve decided to brave the parks with your mini-mouseketeer.  There are definitely some pros and cons to weigh when deciding whether or not to take a baby to Disney, but this week’s article is all about what to do after you’ve voted YES!

Be Flexible

If you can’t get on board with this tip, do not pass go, do not collect $200.  And do not book that trip.  You will be miserable, your baby will be miserable, your family will be miserable and anyone within a one mile radius will be miserable when you all hit your wall.  Traveling with an infant is like traveling with a tiny dictator.  He needs to eat NOW!  She needs to nap NOW!  He’ll spit up those strained peas just before you get to the front of the line for Mickey.  You can see why flexibility is key, and if you can roll with it, you can absolutely have a wonderful time and make lifelong memories with your littlest Disney fan in tow.

Travel During Cooler Months

If you have flexibility in vacation time, avoid the summer.  Not only will you face less crowds, but the weather will be more pleasant for Junior.  Summers are brutal in Florida, and that does not a happy baby make.  As an added bonus, prices are lower, as are wait times (save major holidays, of course)

pic1

Stay on Property

Nothing is more convenient than being a quick bus, monorail or boat ride from your hotel room.  When you need to take a break, being on property is a lifesaver!  If it’s in your budget, I suggest staying in a Magic Kingdom area resort.  Chances are if you have little ones, you’ll be spending a lot of time in the flagship park, and it’s possible to get from the front gates to your resort room in about fifteen minutes if the timing is right.

pic3

Get Park Wise: If you’re staying on the monorail line, strollers do NOT have to be folded when boarding the monorail.  This is invaluable if you have a sleeping baby.  If you opt to take one of the smaller boats, strollers do have to be folded.

Be Stroller Savvy

Speaking of folding up your stroller, know how to do it quickly before your trip.  No one wants to stand behind you while you fumble to unload and fold it when the tram or boat or bus arrives.  And if you can’t do it quickly, start before the vehicle is in sight so you can board without trouble.

Make sure your stroller stands out in a crowd.  There are tons of prams wheeling about the parks on any given day, and if you’re heading into an attraction that requires you leave the stroller behind, make sure you have some way to tell it apart from the sea of strollers surrounding it.  Tie a balloon to it or wrap some bright fabric around the handle. I pimped my little mouseketeer’s ride by strategically placing pirate duct tape where it would stand out.  You’ll be glad you did when you emerge from Philharmagic and discover your stroller has been re-parked.

4

I miss having a stroller at Disney for the fact that it was my perfect pack mule.  We’d throw a cold pack with water and snacks, the day bag and any purchases we didn’t send back to the resort room in the basket or on the handles and roll.  That said, don’t leave anything valuable in the stroller when parking it.  Disney may be magical, but not-so-magical people are trolling the parks, too.  Another thing to note when loading up the carriage, make sure it won’t tip when the baby is out of it (well, make sure it doesn’t tip when he’s in it, too).

pic2

Get Park Wise: With so many stroller rollers around, please, please, PLEASE be careful!  Pay attention to your surroundings to avoid rolling over ankles or small children when walking or smashing hands when near a parade route. That can be a very difficult responsibility on busy days.

Attractions

Here’s another tidbit I get asked about a lot. If there isn’t a height requirement, your little one can ride it!  My eight year-old cousin has been visiting the parks since she was six months old and has been whirling around the Mad Tea Party and sailing with the Pirates of the Caribbean on both coasts since that first trip.  If there is a height requirement, inquire with the cast members about the rider switch option that allows one parent to wait with the babe then switch and ride with little wait.

pic5

Baby Care Centers

Located in each of the parks, these little respites are an oasis from the hustle, bustle and heat of the parks.  Offering quiet rooms for nursing, changing tables, food prep areas and highchairs, the centers have just about everything you need to take care of little ones all in an air-conditioned building.  Run out of diapers?  Baby Care Centers have infant essentials for purchase, as well as some baby-focused gifts.

What are your favorite tips for taking the littlest fans to the parks?

About Jessica Ma'ilo

Jessica is a special education teacher by day and blogger and Fairy Godmother Travel agent by evening. When not supervising play dates or sleepovers, she can be found creating, sewing or singing. She loves hitting the Disney Parks, and she and her family escape to the World and Land as often as they can. She can be contacted at [email protected], and you can also check out her family blog, Magic, Memories, Mayhem.

Browse Archived Articles by

28 Comments

Comments for Baby on Board: Walt Disney World With a Diaper Bag are now closed.

  1. Oh Jessica,,,I remember the stroller days.
    LOVE/HATE,
    The pack mule in motion is wonderful to transport small humans and all their support equipment. But the stroller becomes a beast of burden when I had to carry it and all its cargo.
    On one occasion, we got back to the room and discovered silverware tucked away in the folds of the cushion. Our little princess had kept a spoon from breakfast at Akershus.
    We never came out of an attraction to find any baby stuff stolen, we just did not leave anything expensive in it.
    Yes…balloons and pinwheels help locate your stroller after the cast member shuffle.
    On a side note…I wanted to invent a balloon and flare release on our Suburban (car with closet space) for easy locating in the parking lot after a long day in the park.
    The stroller was retired from service many moons ago, but I’ll bet I could go out to the storeroom right now, look in the saddle bags and find WDW napkins and park maps.
    Lets talk about potty training in the parks next…good times and fun stories.

    • I loved them at all times! Haha! It was my glorified shopping cart with a bonus of having a kid or two in/on it, as well. It’s been years since our P3 has been to WDW, and I’m just now getting the courage to get rid of it.

  2. I have no problem with seeing very small children in strollers at the parks, however…I keep seeing much older children, (5, 6, 7) being wheeled around. These kids don’t even fit in a stroller anymore! My little one out grew his over 30 years ago. Are new parents raising a new generation of non walkers? Shouldn’t there be some sort of cut off point?

    • To each their own. It doesn’t affect me, so I’m a live and let live kinda gal.

      • Not to be a grump, but it certainly does affect everyone in the park. The more people that are in strollers, the more crowded the park feels and the more likely I am to be run into by a stroller.

  3. The best tip is not to use strollers as battering rams, and if you happen to recognize me in front of you, stop continually smashing the stroller into the back of my legs when it gets crowded(I won’t/can’t move any faster).

    • Amen! An honest mistake I can forgive. It’s crowded, and one can easily bump someone else, but when it seems parents are intentionally using the stroller to “make way,” that’s so not cool. On the flip side, walkers should also try to avoid stepping in front of strollers. I’ve seen that happen a lot, too.

  4. Great article and great information! We always went to the parks during the off season with our little ones. It’s a lot easier to get around with the stroller when lines are short so you don’t have to stay until 1am to see everything. Strollers were also great for nap times, so we didn’t have to leave the park.
    My kids had a stroller until my youngest was 4. We took our stroller to Disneyland Paris last year, and because there were no lines, we didn’t even need it. Some kids get tired easily from walking and sometimes it’s easier to just push them around than deal with their behavior. We always have plenty of their favorite snacks available between meals which keeps them happy.

    • Yes, we were able to stay in the parks longer several times because the kiddos would nap in the stroller. That’s the entire reason I went with the P3. It has a full recline and huuuge sunshade. Perfect for a mid-afternoon power nap! Wish I had one some days. ;)

  5. But above all, remember, baby will not remember either the magic or the experience, so leaving baby with granny or other family is the most economical option that will allow everyone the most pleasant experience.

    • Yeah the child probably won’t remember, but the parents will! And their will be all the pictures for them to look at.

    • Above all, do NOT take this advice to heart, new parents! It’s rare that I just flat out disagree with a comment, but this is one of those times. Just because an infant may not recall those early Disney days doesn’t mean he should be left at home. If that were the case, why do anything prior to conscious memory?
      And I don’t know about you, but I don’t do anything purely for memories. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a picture and video freak, and I love reminiscing, but being present in the moment and reveling in the experience as its happening is wonderful! And even an infant can enjoy that, and I know grown-ups do, too.

      • Hear Hear Jessica! It drives me crazy when people say, “oh, we’re gonna wait until our kids are older so they will remember it; otherwise it’s a waste of money.” My first Disney trip was when I was 12 (my parents waited) and all I remember was I had fun and couldn’t wait to go back, but other than that I don’t remember a thing! I talked my sister into bringing her family, and she was hesitant because even though her son was 7 at the time, she was gonna wait until he was about 12 because his little sister was 2 at the time. Anyway, my little niece had a great time by all accounts. Sure, she had a couple of meltdowns, but it’s better than ten years later showing her pictures of a trip to Disney World and having her be envious that she didn’t get to go. She still plays with the light spinner we bought her on that trip; she’s 5 now.

        A side note on strollers: when you go to retrieve it after a ride or show, there’s a 99% chance it’s not gonna be in the exact same space that you parked it originally. Don’t freak out! It’s frustrating to look for it, but if you follow Jessica’s advice you’ll have no problem finding it easier.

        And remember, babies enter the parks for FREE! …at least for now, anyway ;-)

      • I have to agree with you on this one, Jessica, and I speak from experience. My parents to us to WDW 3 times in the ’80s, and at the oldest, I was 8. They recently asked my sister and I what did we remember from our trips, and I had to tell them that I remember 3 things around the first couple of trips- a grey sky with palm trees in it, the Ramada Inn we stayed in, and sitting with my sister in the same chair (that would so never happen these days!) and sharing Chicken-in-a-Biscuit crackers. The things dreams are made of, right? Except, I told my parents, that even though that’s all I have physical memories of, in every one of them I remember being content and happy. (I still feel comforted on cloudy days- they’ve never meant gloom in my head.)
        Parents, take your kids whenever you like. Hearing my parents’ stories about those trips and the fun they had makes it just as good for us to know that we were there.

    • Having my babies with me is “the most pleasant experience”

  6. We just returned from a weeklong spring break vacation with 3 days at Disneyland/CA and 1 day at Legoland with an 8 year old and 4 month old. While not an easy vacation, there are definitely some great memories and no grandparent wanted the baby as he’s still not sleeping through the night! While I wouldn’t repeat the trip, the memories us older ones, even my older son are priceless.

  7. “baby will not remember either the magic or the experience”
    i agree x1,000

  8. I think there are two camps here — those who argue the “baby won’t remember” and those who say “the parents will.” I’ve long been amused by the sight of 3, 4 and 5 year old children (or older) who are fascinated by trash cans, water fountains, gutters and dirt from planters, but whose parents have spent thousands of dollars for the experience of taking them to a theme park.

    I fall into the “don’t take them” camp. It’s less stressful for everyone that way — the child, the parents AND fellow guests. I’ve been with families who take very small children to WDW, and the kid could care less where he/she is. Yes, it matters to the parents, but ….even better for the parents is waiting until the child is 6 or 7 years old, able to process the experience, and then watching the joy in his/her face when everything is new and exciting. Do you really want your kid being ho-hum about Cinderella Castle or Space Mountain because it’s already so familiar?

    There are many, many experiences in life to be had before a Disney theme park trip. As Bob Sehlinger’s awesome Unofficial Guides say (and I’m paraphrasing), who is the trip really for? The kid or the parent?

  9. I’m in the don’t take kids camp as well.

  10. If you have the means, take the kids AND a couple of grandparents. Then after a few days, send the kids and grandparents home and stay in the World for a few more days as a couple (or better yet, with another couple of friends). It’ll be like having 2 vacations in one.

    I have a friend who did this plan except opposite: They had their “couple” time for a weekend first, and then their kids flew in with Grandma on day 4. They all had a tremendous time.

    • not THAT is smart parenting!!! Best of all worlds :)

    • My wife’s family has been going at least once a year since my wife was little. My family however waited until I was 10, and before meeting my wife that was the only trip I took to WDW. Since meeting my wife I’ve been a few times with them (actually had our wedding at one of the resorts) and I love Disney now! I’m fully in the “bring the whole family” camp as we are bringing our new edition next week AND in the winter. I heard from everyone (especially love the unsolicited advice) “well he won’t remember any of it”. He won’t remember it, but my wife and I will along with her parents and aunts who are coming with us. I cannot wait to get there and have my children grow up being able to look forward to the annual trip to Disney! To those who are so against babies going, was your experience REALLY ruined by one? I am sorry to hear that if so, as it is the happiest place on earth.

  11. [...] Baby on Board: Walt Disney World With a Diaper BagMiceChatIf you’ve read past the title, let’s assume you’ve decided to brave the parks with your mini-mouseketeer. There are definitely some pros and cons to weigh when deciding whether or not to take a baby to Disney, but this week’s article is all about what … [...]

  12. I started going to Disneyland when I was probably 3, when my parents brought me. I’ve been a crazy Disney fan all my life. Grew up on Disneyland, have been to WDW a dozen times, Hong Kong Disneyland, and am already planning a trip for the opening of Shanghai Disneyland. Our son is 5 now, so he will be a great age when we go there hopefully next year or beginning of 2016.

    However, I decided from the time he was born no trips to Disneyland until he could walk on his own. I stuck by that. He has a blast, and I don’t feel like either of us missed out on anything. We went other places for great memories. Also, he hasn’t been to WDW yet because I wanted him old enough to get the most out of it. I’ve also set his first Disney Cruise age at about 10. We go as often as possible now, but lugging a baby around wasn’t my idea of a “magical experience”.

  13. Being in theme parks is all about spending time with the whole family, not just pieces of the family. Yeah, they may not remember their experience when they are really young, but it’s all about spending time with all your kids. There are plenty of things to do especially at the Disney parks for all ages. The cool thing about bringing kids is that they’re free until age 3, so why not bring them?

  14. [...] Get Park Wise: With so many stroller rollers around, please, please, PLEASE be careful! Pay attention to your surroundings to avoid rolling over ankles or small children when walking or smashing hands when near a parade route. That can be a very difficult responsibility on busy days. Attractions Heres another tidbit I get asked about a lot. If there isnt a height requirement, your little one can ride it! My eight year-old cousin has been visiting the parks since she was six months old and has been whirling around the Mad Tea Party and sailing with the Pirates of the Caribbean on both coasts since that first trip. If there is a height requirement, inquire with the cast members about the rider switch option that allows one parent to wait with the babe then switch and ride with little wait. For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit Baby on Board: Doing Walt Disney World With a Diaper Bag [...]

  15. [...] That can be a very difficult responsibility on busy days. Attractions Heres another tidbit I get asked about a lot. If there isnt a height requirement, your little one can ride it! My eight year-old cousin has been visiting the parks since she was six months old and has been whirling around the Mad Tea Party and sailing with the Pirates of the Caribbean on both coasts since that first trip. If there is a height requirement, inquire with the cast members about the rider switch option that allows one parent to wait with the babe then switch and ride with little wait. Baby Care Centers Located in each of the parks, these little respites are an oasis from the hustle, bustle and heat of the parks. Offering quiet rooms for nursing, changing tables, food prep areas and highchairs, the centers have just about everything you need to take care of little ones all in an air-conditioned building. Run out of diapers? Baby Care Centers have infant essentials for purchase, as well as some baby-focused gifts. What are your favorite tips for taking the littlest fans to the parks? About Jessica Ma’ilo Jessica is a special education teacher by day and blogger and Fairy Godmother Travel agent by evening. When not supervising play dates or sleepovers, she can be found creating, sewing or singing. For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit Baby on Board: Doing Walt Disney World With a Diaper Bag [...]