Disney World with children can be overwhelming, even more so with small children. Hopefully this post can calm your nerves and make you better prepared for your next trip.
Let’s start with the logistics of getting there. If you have to fly and it’s less than 3 or 4 hours, I suggest a non stop flight. Children 2 and under can travel on a parents lap for free. Most airlines will allow you to gate check your stroller and car seat with a lap infant. Once you’re child is 2, you’ll need to purchase a seat for them. I wish I had some magical advice that will ensure your child is an angel on the plane, but I don’t. Try you’re best to pack items you think will occupy them. I pack snacks, coloring books, crayons and my cheap kindle with a few movies on it. My 3 year old was pretty content with whatever I brought. My then, 14 month old just wanted to move.
In you are staying on property and exclusively using Disney transportation (you should), then you can leave your car seat at home. Some may find it hard to let go of that car seat, but I find it to be little a little vacation on my vacation to not have to buckle that thing 10 times a day. As Elsa says, Let it go!
Getting Around the Parks
I see a lot of people asking if they need to being a stroller for their child. If you’re child is 4 or under, A stroller is a MUST. You may even need it for your 5 and 6 year old. Heck, my 9 year old nephew was sitting in my daughters stroller for a break, when he could. The Walt Disney World Resort is made up of 30,000 acres. Each visitor will walk an average of 10 miles per day. Sometimes, I even want one of those scooters. You get the point, right? Luckily, you can always rent one from Disney if you need it. But for those of you with little ones, you’re going to depend on this stroller a lot, so you’ll want to put some thought into it. You can A. Bring your own, B. rent one from Disney, or C. rent one elsewhere.
Let’s start with the Disney stroller. These strollers are clean and readily available close to the main gates of each park. Disney offers single and double strollers. These strollers have a canopy and a small storage bag in the back. They are great and easy for older children; But I would not recommend them for infants and small toddlers. These stroller are a hard plastic and do not recline. So if your unsure your child will sleep in a stroller, you’re going to want a more comfortable stroller and one that will recline.
If you’re looking for a more comfortable stroller, there’s many places to rent strollers from. The most popular rental companies are Orlando Stroller Rental and Kingdom Strollers. Both companies offer high end strollers, deliver them right to your resort bell hop and are generally cheaper than renting from Disney. They offer single and double strollers in many great brands, like BOB, city mini and summit.
If you’re cheap like me, you’ll just bring your own stroller. It’s free, I know how to use it and if I break it…I already bought it.
Now that you have your stroller, let’s go over some things. Don’t be a road hog, watch out for peoples ankles and make your stroller sticks out. Yea, that’s right. Disney World has many places that strollers are not allowed. Ride lines, restaurants and other areas. Your going to have to park your stroller, a lot. Usually, there is a dedicated cast member constantly shuffling around strollers. So you’ll go back to where you thought you parked, and that bad boy is GONE. Don’t fret, it’s close by somewhere. Most people just have a giant tag that has their last name on it, some people tie balloons to them and of you’re like me, you put a silly bright orange flag on it. My co worker told me this little secret and its a great idea. Get creative!
Please note that strollers must be folded up on all buses and a few other forms of transportation. You’ll be able to roll right on to the monorail and some (but not all) boat transportation.
Those of you with small infants to 1.5 year old, I strongly suggest a baby carrier. As you can see above, their will be many places that you are unable to take your stroller in to and baby carriers are very helpful. I was never really a “babywearer” but when I was at Disney, my (then) 14 month old was in the baby carrier a great deal of time. She was in the carrier while in line for rides, while on some rides, while in transit somewhere, when it was just easier to walk without a stroller. My carrier was essential. There’s many carriers out there so definitely try them on and find one that suits your needs.
I highly recommend the Ergo carrier for children 6 months and older. It was comfortable, held other items, and it supports the child’s bottom; unlike some carriers that carry by the crotch (Ouch!). The ergo was able to be worn by both me AND my husband, who is much larger than me.
Breastfeeding & Care Centers
While on the subject of baby carriers, now would be a great time to talk about breastfeeding. You’re able to breastfeed using certain carriers, so you may want to try some out prior to traveling to ensure the carrier fits properly. I’ve seen mothers around Disney breastfeeding discretely on benches. I know a lot of woman swear by the Baby Centers around the Parks. These baby centers offer a quite room with rocking chairs, changing tables, high chairs, kitchenette, baby goods for purchase and more. There is one center at each park. Locations below;
Magic Kingdom – Main St USA area, behind Crystal Palace
Animal Kingdom – Discovery Island, behind Creature Comforts
EPCOT – In Odyssey Center
Hollywood Studios – Once you enter the park, to the left
Let’s Talk about Rides
A lot of people are unsure if infants can go any rides. Much to my surprise, there’s actually a lot of rides children of any size can go on.If there’s no height requirement, infants can ride. That pretty much means anything without a strap. My then 14 month rode on many rides; sometimes on my lap, sometimes next to me, sometimes she was still in the baby carrier. In addition, there’s tons of shows, parades and fireworks for them to watch.
People seem to be very divided on this topic. A lot of parents will build in a nap or rest time. They’ll go back to their resorts after lunch, relax at their resort and head back to the parks at night. I think this is a great idea if you’re staying at a Deluxe resort close to the park. If you’re traveling to a moderate or value resort; You’re going to have to factor in travel time, nap time and getting back to the parks. Your child may fall asleep while in route back to your resort and you better hope the transfer into the bed doesn’t wake them up.
I’m one of the crazy people who just goes hard at the parks all day (no regrets!). I attempted to head back to the resort and “relax” one day, but my then, 14 month old had very different plans. We tried to lay her down one afternoon after a busy day, but she was so excited and still on that “Disney High” that she would not sleep. From then on, I threw the “planned nap” out the window. She just slept when she couldn’t keep her eyes open anymore. She fell asleep on rides, in the stroller, on my shoulder, wherever. It just worked for us and we got optimum park time!
Why bring a infant or toddler
I was in the same camp of all the people who say its a complete waste of money and time to bring a child under 3 to Disney. Now that I have a child of my own, that is so far from the truth. Will they remember it? Probably not, but I certainly will remember our trip and pictures last a lifetime. I’ll never forget some of the looks on my daughters face when we’ve gone. Oddly enough, she wasn’t a total pain in the ass either. She’s been twice now; Once at 14 months and again shortly before she turned 3. With her being so stimulated by all of her surrounding and taking everything in, she was totally on cloud 9. Overall, It was so worth it! And best of all…It’s FREE! That’s right, you don’t need to purchase park admission for children under 3!
For more information about this Blog Post or about a Vacation perfect for you, please contact Jaclyn Noel at Jaclyn@castleconnectionstravel.com
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