6 Tips to Know Before Taking an Infant to Walt Disney World
A a new mother and avid Disney fan/traveler, I knew I wanted to take my baby to Walt Disney World to start the magic early for her and also to prove to myself that I could do it! The trip was a success and highly enjoyable albeit different from previous trips. I did make a few mistakes along the way, and therefore, have a few tips to new moms who are planning a trip with a baby.
1. One bedroom villas are wonderful
As a party of 2, I never needed much space in a hotel room. I thought that with the addition of a baby, a regular room would still be fine, particularly because the baby would sleep in a pack ‘n play provided by the hotel. When my husband and I arrived for the first time with our infant, we took a look at the room, decided where to set up our “baby station” and congratulated ourselves on making it thus far on our trip without any major issues! We were rocking it! Then, reality set in. As our baby goes to bed at 7pm in a quiet, dark setting, we came to the realization that we, too, would be going to bed at 7pm. We couldn’t have the pack ‘n play in the middle of the room with all of the lights on and the television blaring! She wouldn’t sleep. If you have an infant who doesn’t mind the distractions, you are lucky! Our sweetheart likes her quiet, dark bedroom at home and is easily distracted; we did not have the luxury of letting her ‘just sleep through it.’ We did find a better location to put the pack ‘n play so the television would not bother her, but it was a bit rough on all of us at first. Disney offers one-bedroom villas that have a living area separate from the master bedroom. Since they only sleep four people, I never could justify the extra expense for these villas. You are hardly ever in your room, right? Not necessarily! Traveling with an infant made me come to appreciate the one-bedroom villa option and understand why this room could be a saving grace. The extra space and privacy could make for a much more enjoyable trip for everyone if you are traveling with an infant.
2. Remember to bring the baby’s birth certificate to the airport
My husband and I made a list of things to pack. We checked the list multiple times. Somewhere along the way we both completely forgot that we needed to bring our baby’s birth certificate to the airport. If it was not on our list, we certainly did not pack it. We arrived to the airport excited and energetic in anticipation of our trip, but that excitement quickly turned into panic when the attendant checking us in asked us for our baby’s birth certificate, and we both stared blankly at each other knowing we had completely forgotten it. Fortunately, we had a helpful cat-sitter who went to our house and took a picture that she texted to my phone so we could board the plane (a win for technology and for us). You do not want to start your vacation this way. Be sure to add to your list: “pack your infant’s birth certificate” (you may want to check with your airline/airport to see if copies are accepted).
3. Plan your schedule to account for feeding times/naps/bedtime
If you have any flexibility with your FastPass and/or other reservations, you might want to plan around the times when your baby typically eats, naps, etc. Of course, we are not always able to choose the exact times of our FastPasses, so going with what is available is to be expected, but if there are options, choose wisely to minimize feeling rushed. If baby’s bedtime is 8:00pm, you probably do not want to make a dinner reservation at 7:50pm. Try to keep with your baby’s regular schedule as much as possible to keep your little one happy! If your child is not on a schedule or is not negatively impacted by being off his/her schedule, then this tip does not apply to you. This brings me to the next topic which is strollers . . .
4. You cannot take your stroller everywhere
I have a baby who favors the stroller over a wearable carrier. In fact, my baby screams in the wearable carrier. While there are advantages and disadvantages of wearable carriers vs. strollers, the only option I had was using a stroller. If you find yourself in a similar situation, know that for both quick service and table service restaurants as well as most Disney transportation options (with a few exceptions like the monorail), you have to park your stroller outside. The same is true for ride queues; you cannot bring the stroller inside the attraction or have it while you are in line (this includes the Future World pavilions in Epcot). If baby is napping in the stroller and wakes up if you remove him/her from the stroller, you might want to plan your reservations accordingly.
5. Baby Care Centers are available in every park
The Baby Care Centers in each of the theme parks are incredible. They have everything you could possibly need to care for your infant. Amenities include a private nursing room with rocking chairs, a changing room with tables and a unisex bathroom, a feeding area with highchairs, a kitchen with a microwave, oven and sink, and finally, a main room with a television, table, chairs and sofa for the rest of the family to enjoy while you are caring for your baby. There are also items for sale which include formula, baby food, juice, diapers, wipes, sunscreen, over-the-counter medications and clothing. Be sure to note the locations on the park maps; there is one Baby Care Center in each Disney theme park.
6. Take pictures
Baby moments are special moments that you will want to capture as they are fleeting. Previous trips I spent most of my time enjoying the attractions. This trip, I took advantage of my downtime by using Disney’s PhotoPass photographers to take a plethora of pictures for our baby book! This was the first time that I used Memory Maker, and it was worth it! I did not have to worry about taking pictures with my phone; the PhotoPass photographers scanned my Magic Band and the photos showed up in “My Disney Experience” account. Be sure to ask for “magic shots.”
Some people shy away from taking a baby to Walt Disney World. Their reasoning is that their child will not remember the experience. However, it will be memorable for you. Watching my baby laugh at Piglet and stare at Tigger in complete wonder (what IS this thing?) was one of the highlights of my trip. There were precious moments that will be cherished for a lifetime. The trip does not need to be cumbersome if you plan accordingly, remain flexible, and manage your expectations of what you will be able to accomplish. One of the greatest things about Walt Disney World is that it is a place for the entire family to enjoy. As Walt Disney said, “The important thing is the family. If you can keep the family together- and that’s the backbone of our whole business, catering to families- that’s what we hope to do.”