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!
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)
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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?