Updated for 2016!
I have a good friend who struggled for years to have a baby, and when she finally got pregnant, my first question was, “When are you going to Disney World?” She said she and her husband had discussed it, and they decided when the baby turned five, that was a good time. I think I gasped. I seem to recall my mouth fell open. I thought she was joking, until she said that considering what the vacation would cost, they knew they wouldn’t have any fun at Disney with a baby.
When you talk about Disney World being an expensive vacation, that would be a valid point. Given the cost added to babysitting duty, can you really have any fun with a baby in tow at Disney World?
Babies are work, man, lots and lots of work. I believe you can have fun, although it may not be the most relaxing vacation you ever take. Is life ever easy with a baby? I’ve seen parents struggling at WDW with wailing infants that looked four days old, all the way up to those babies reaching up to touch Goofy in Chef Mickey’s. There are a lot of babies hanging out at Disney World, probably more than you would expect.
Why Take a Baby To Disney?
1) No school to miss. Babies have all the time in the world, and there are no tests or home work to make up. And baby is learning anyway, all about colors, shapes, and songs, and he’s picking up language while you talk to him.
2) Food is practically free for babies. Breast feeding a baby is free. If you are bringing formula and baby food from home, that is a normal every day expense for you. It is also nowhere near the cost of a childs’ meal. So food is not really an additional expense, because you had to feed her anyway.
3) Tickets are free. There is no Disney admission charge for children up until they reach the age of three. A one day ticket for a three-year-old child starts at $97 (2016 one-day ticket price increase,) so think of the money you are saving by not buying tickets for that precious baby.
4) They take up very little space in a hotel room. If you didn’t bring your own Pack ‘n’ Play, you can borrow these at the resorts. Check for availability when you make your reservation. My babies have slept in laundry baskets before; they can’t roll out of it, and we packed up the hotel room with the basket when we left. Multi-functioning bed at its finest.
5) You can still ride roller coasters. Rider Switch, which is sometimes called “Child Swap,” is a pass system that allows people with small children to take turns riding the “tall people” rides while the other person/people wait with the child. Now you won’t have to miss the ride because someone has to watch the baby in line. With your entire group present, tell the Cast Member that you would like to use Rider Switch. The “waiters” receive a Rider Switch pass, similar to a FastPass, and the “riders” proceed on through the line. When they finish, you will swap. This will also work if a child is tall enough but doesn’t want to ride.
6) You Love Disney. Here is the part where I am talking about you having fun. In reality, this vacation isn’t really about the baby, who wot remember the vacation anyway, it’s about YOU! You love Disney, you love spending time with your child, so overcome your fears and combine your two loves.
Anyone who has spent time around a baby knows that life can be stressful, especially if you have ventured out of your comfort zone and onto a monorail with a stroller. Here is a list of things that I believe can make your time with a baby at Disney a little easier.
Things You Need
Number one on my list is a nap. You need one and baby needs one, and I suggest you go back to your hotel room to take it. Everybody wakes up refreshed and happy. That said, my babies took naps on the Peoplemover, the monorail, and occasionally in a stroller. I know some Disney moms worry about schedules, but altering regular plans slightly for a few days won’t cause permanent damage. You should definitely get that nap in though. Power nap = happy momma.
There are babies and toddlers asleep all over Disney parks. Babies can and do nap on shoulders, in strollers, on slow-moving rides like the train, and in movies like The Muppets 3D Adventure, etc. They can nap most anywhere. While baby is asleep, have some fun pushing the stroller through a gift shop.
For those babies old enough to eat solids, snacks can make waiting in line a little easier. So can distracting toys and the occasional song sung softly in a little ear. If baby gets fussy in line, it’s not the end of vacation if you step out and take a break. You can hop on a ride later. While you walk baby around, have some fun just looking at the Disney architecture and the other people on vacations.
You’ll need the essentials. Making a run to a store can be time-consuming and will be more costly than bringing these supplies from home.
Here’s a good generic baby packing list.
- clothes, pajamas
- bottles/extra nipples, formula, possibly a breast pump
- diapers, wipes
- medicines, hand sanitizer
- gallon size storage bags for emergencies
- shampoos, soaps, and lotions
- car seat
- baby monitor
- Pack ‘n’ Play, if you think you need your own.
What if you forget to take these items into the parks? Can you buy them there? Sure, most of it.
All the theme parks, the water parks, and Disney Springs carry baby supplies like diapers, diaper pins, formula, and sunburn treatment. If you don’t see it, you can ask for it. You will pay a lot more for these items at Disney than at home, but you are paying for convenience and ultimately paying a high price for poor planning.
There are also baby care centers with supplies available in small quantities, which we will discuss further on.
I know there are rules and regulations on sunscreen use with babies of a certain age, but their little skin can get easily burned out in the sun, so cover them up or bend the sunscreen rules. Sunburn is a great way to ruin a baby’s day and thus yours as well. I know people are having a stroke to get to the parks early.
I’m thinking if you make an early day of it, go back to the room for a nap and/or a swim, and then head back to the park between four and six when the sun is going down.
What if Baby Gets Sick?
Many of the reasons we suggest babies go on vacations won’t make new moms feel any better. You’re not in your comfort zone on vacation, away from your home and a regular schedule, and things can go wrong.
If baby gets sick at the park, where do you go?
That would be every parents’ fear, that a baby would get sick or hurt on vacation. Colds can come on fast, little arms can get cut or scraped. Every park has a First Aid Center, and here is a list of where to find them:
- Magic Kingdom- at the end of Main Street, turn left. It’s located between Casey’s Corner restaurant and the Crystal Palace.
- Epcot – It’s located on the World Showcase side of Odyssey Center.
- Hollywood Studios – You’ll find it in the Guest Relations Building inside the main Entrance.
- Animal Kingdom- It’s located in Discovery Island, on the left side before you cross the bridge to Africa. It’s basically behind Creature Comforts.
The beauty is that in all four Disney parks, the First Aid Center is located next to the Baby Care Center. You can take a baby into any of the First Aid Centers, and they can handle anything from minor cuts and scrapes to allergic reactions.
Speaking of Baby Care Centers, what can they do for adults?
At a Baby Care Center, you can do the following:
- change diapers
- prepare formula
- warm bottles and baby food
- purchase supplies
- rock in rocking chairs
- nurse infants in special chairs
Dads are welcome at all the Baby Care Centers, and they can use most of the services. Many men’s restrooms now offer diaper changing tables, so the burden won’t all fall on mom’s shoulders.
So are you ready to make those reservations and bring that baby to Disney? Summer is probably not the best recommended time to go with a newborn, but you can still have a good time, even if you sweat a lot. See my above plan for taking a nap mid-day when the heat is the worst.
When it comes right down to it, taking a Disney vacation with a baby isn’t really about the baby at all. It’s about you, and you want to go to Disney World, and baby will be happy just hangin’ out with you.
You may feel stressed and overwhelmed, but you can feel stressed going to Wal-mart on a particularly rough baby day. You’ll forget to pack things, baby will cry, and you’ll have a few moments where you question your sanity. But then you’ll remember I said to take a deep breath, stop for a second, and remember how much you love being at Disney World. Then you’ll be just fine.
For every bad moment, hopefully you’ll have 12 good ones, plus you’ll have some fabulous pictures to show at baby’s high school graduation party years later.
So start planning that vacation.
Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll probably see you in a Magic Kingdom restroom as you search for the diaper changing table. I’ll be the one green with envy, as my babies are all tall enough now to ride Splash Mountain without me. I sure do miss a baby asleep on my shoulder on the WDW train…
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