Let’s face it … life is interesting enough as a new parent without adding in a family vacation. When we were planning our trip to Disney I reached out to family, friends, and Tweeps on Twitter to get their best tips for surviving the most magical place on Earth with an infant. Some of their tips are included here … others are ones that we learned on our own. Either way, here are my favorite tips for going to Disney with a baby.
1. Get to the park EARLY
We were there before the park opened every day. It allowed us to get to the areas we wanted to see/do before the crowds came and the lines formed. This was essential for keeping our 8-month old entertained and happy.
2. Utilize the Rider Swap Pass
Disney does this awesome thing where they will give you a “rider swap” card. One parent waits in line for the ride while the other stays with the baby. When the first parent is done, the second can take the pass and access the ride via “Fast Pass” so they don’t have to wait in the line again. This is how we managed to ride ALL the big people rides without wasting a TON of time in lines.
3. Know where the baby care centers are.
Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios all have a baby care center available in a central location. These centers are AH-MAZING! There is a private room for breastfeeind mamas, a kitchenette available for preparing food, nice changing tables, and high chairs. Plus, they are nice and air conditioned making it a welcomed escape from the perpetual heat of Florida. These centers were a lifesaver when it was time for me to nurse Emmie. I could go in there, sit in a rocking chair, do our thing, and get on with the day. You can look up the Baby Care Centers HERE.
4. Know which rides your baby can go on too.
This thought was completely foreign to me but babies can go on a lot of the rides at Disney. As long as there isn’t a seat belt or restraining safety device they are good to go. Emmie rode Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story Mania (even though there is a lap bar babies can ride), Jungle River Cruise, and Pirates of the Caribbean. They are plenty of other rides that babies are allowed on as well. She LOVED participating with us and seeing all the fun things.
5. Bring a reusable grocery bag.
These bags are awesome for so many reasons but in the case of Disney they are pretty neat. Since they fold flat they are easy to bring along with you. Since you have to fold up your stroller to get on/off buses they are awesome for throwing the loose times you inevitably gather quickly into a carrying container.
6. Bring your own snacks/water.
We brought enough water to last us throughout the day. Water is SO expensive in the park and we didn’t have a single problem bringing it in with us to save $$. We also packed all of Emmie’s meals for the day as well as snacks for us. Planning ahead and thinking smart can save you money in the long run and allow you to make healthier choices.
7. Bring your own stroller.
Yes, you can rent a stroller but if nothing is quite as easy as your own. Not to mention it saves you TONS of $$. For one day a single-stroller costs $15. If you are renting multiple days the cost drops to $13. Way better to bring your own … plus I guarantee yours is nicer.
8. Go with the flow.
Not everything is going to go perfectly … and that’s ok. Try to be flexible and just go with it. We left the park early some days because Emmie was done. We lasted longer other days than planned because she was a rockstar. We followed her cues and it worked well for us.
9. Make dining reservations early.
If you are wanting to eat a sit-down restaurants make your reservations EARLY … IE: MONTHS before you go. We were lucky to get reservations a week out. If your child is under 3 they should be able to eat from your plate without cost at many of the restaurants. Look up the policy of each place so you know ahead of time what to expect. We got charged for Emmie at a restaurant when we shouldn’t have. (Edited to add: It’s now 2014 and we are planning our next trip to Disney with two kids …. the Princess dinners were reserved by June for our September trip!)
10. HAVE FUN AND TAKE PICTURES
These memories will last a lifetime so soak it up. Even though Emmie won’t remember this trip, I will. And I have the photos to prove that we took her. I honestly got teary when we walked into the Magic Kingdom with her. Disney is a place that I honestly love and bringing my own child for the first time was kind of emotional. Call me crazy 😉
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Do you have any tips for theme parks with babies?