This is Part II of my ongoing series of navigating Walt Disney World with a baby. Part I covered surviving Walt Disney World while pregnant, part II will cover navigating Walt Disney World with a younger infant (newborn – 6 months).
Walt Disney World has always been special to me, but there’s something extra special getting to share one of my favorite places with my baby girl. At 7 months old, Annalynn and I already have more than a handful of trips under our belt (including two stays at Disney resorts). We’re still learning as we go, but here are a few tips and tricks we’ve picked up thus far.
Ditch the Tram
The first time I went to Walt Disney World with Annalynn, I was on my own and meeting my family in the World Showcase of Epcot. Annalynn was only 9 weeks old at the time and still needed the infant car seat for the stroller. Trying to juggle the baby, stroller, infant car seat, diaper bag, etc on the parking lot tram did not seem appealing to me. So instead of trying to figure out how to take the tram to the entrance, I just walked.
The parking lots at Walt Disney World are large and sprawling, but are definitely still walkable. When I returned with Annalynn a month later, I swear I was in the last parking area for Magic Kingdom. It wasn’t a short walk to the entrance, but it was still walkable and definitely worth it to not mess with getting everything on the tram.
If you’re parking at the park, I would recommend skipping the tram with a baby and walking to the entrance. Trust me, the tram is not worth it with an infant.
If you’re heading to the Magic Kingdom, once you get to the Ticket & Transportation center, the Monorail and Ferry are both stroller friendly. No need to fold-up, they can roll right on.
Wear All The Babies
I’m a huge fan of babywearing for every occasion, but I’m especially a big fan when we’re at the parks.
I recently purchased a mesh Tula and LOVE it. The mesh allows for a little airflow so Annalynn and I stay a little cooler when I’m wearing her. If you’re traveling to Disney, I would highly recommend a performance carrier or something with a mesh/breathable element to it. I’ve heard great things about Ergobaby Cool Air Mesh, Lillebaby Complete Airflow, and Baby K’tan Active as great carrier options for wearing at Disney.
But Don’t Forget The Stroller
Now, I love to babywear, but I also love having the stroller to put Annalynn down when we both need a rest. I’m not advocating ditching the stroller altogether, I’m just saying a carrier will come in handy throughout the day.
Disney is pretty famous for their “stroller parking lots.” As a general rule, strollers are not allowed in any of the queues for rides, therefore you must park your stroller before entering the queue. Stroller parking is generally well marked and there’s usually an attendant on duty to keep the stroller parking area organized and neat. If you leave your stroller in one spot of the parking area, don’t be surprised if it’s been moved slightly when you’ve returned. The attendants are constantly moving one stroller over, as another one leaves to ensure the stroller area stays nice and compact.
Take Everything With You
When leaving your stroller make sure to take all of your personal belongings with you. You’ll see strollers stuffed full of bags, toys, and other crazy things you can’t believe people are happily leaving behind unsupervised. Don’t for one second believe your stuff is safe because you see everyone is leaving their stuff. Huge mistake. My sister had her diaper bag taken from the bottom of her stroller in Tomorrowland while we were on the People Mover about a year ago. Who ever took the bag realized there was nothing valuable in it and ditched it in a nearby bathroom. Luckily security located the bag and it was returned to us within the hour (just enough time to completely freak out).
To keep things simple, I leave the diaper bag at home when I’m at the parks, and instead pack everything we need for the day in a giant back pack. It actually works out pretty well since I can wear Annalynn on the front and carry the giant back pack on my back. Before leaving the stroller I make sure EVERYTHING is in the back pack. I don’t even leave a water bottle behind. I’m sure you can get away with a smaller back pack or a sling bag, but I’m still the new mom who must have ALLTHETHINGS when spending a day out with my baby.
Now here’s where babywearing really saves you – in the queue. Even with a FastPass you can still expect up to a 10 minute wait for a ride, and that includes navigating the twists and turns of the queue itself. Being able to wear Annalynn makes waiting in line so much easier. My arms are free, her weight is evenly distributed on my body, and if it’s a long wait, she’ll usually take a nap while we wait.
If she does fall asleep in the carrier, it’s not problem. The majority of rides that allow infants, will also allow you to babywear. Annalynn has peacefully slept in the carrier while riding Little Mermaid, Winnie the Pooh, Haunted Mansion, and even meeting Tinkerbell.
Enjoy the Rides!
So I guess this brings me to my next point: yes, babies can go on (some) rides. As long as the ride doesn’t have a height restriction (which holds true for a lot of rides in the Magic Kingdom) then anyone can ride it (including infants). Annalynn went on her first ride at 9 weeks old!
We’ve been gravitating to Magic Kingdom a lot lately, since that park has the majority of baby-friendly rides. However, we were at Animal Kingdom the other week and I would also recommend that as another baby-friendly park. Annalynn loved the safari, the exploration trail, and the Finding Nemo musical.
If you’d like to go on a ride that isn’t baby friendly, Walt Disney World offers a baby swap option. Just inform the cast member at the entrance that you’d like to do a baby swap and they’ll hand you a special fast pass that’s good for the ride. The other members of your party can enjoy the ride, while you (and anyone else) stays behind with the baby. When they’re done you can hand off the baby, then use the pass to enter the fast pass portion of the queue. The baby swap pass is good for up to three people so you don’t have to worry about riding solo when it’s your turn.
Take Advantage of the Baby Caare Centers
Every Walt Disney World park has a dedicated Baby Center towards the entrance of the park. The Baby Care Center is a great air-conditioned escape for parents with small babies and children. They have an extensive changing area, private nursing rooms, high chairs for feeding infants and toddlers, microwaves for warming baby food, bottle warmers, and a little play room to entertain older kids while the younger ones are being taken care of. There’s also a little baby-centric shop in case you forgot anything at home. They sell diapers, wipes, baby food, baby clothes, bottles, medicines, and more.
I’ve only been to the Baby Care Center in Magic Kingdom and highly recommend the super comfy recliners for a quiet spot to nurse.
Nurse Where You’re Comfortable
On top of the Baby Center, I’m a fan of nursing Annalynn during shows and on dark rides. She ate like a champ while I enjoyed Philharmagic and Finding Nemo the other week. I’ve also nursed her on Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion.
I would also highly recommend mastering nursing while babywearing. This has saved us when Annalynn decided she was starving while waiting in a long queue, or when walking the exploration trail at Animal Kingdom. I was able to nurse without needing to find a seat and a fed girl is a happy girl.
(Discreetly nursing in the carrier at Animal Kingdom)
Cherish Every Moment
Yes, there’s a part of me who can’t wait until Annalynn is old enough to really interact with the characters, enjoy the rides, or truly comprehend the magic that is Walt Disney World. But I know I’ll really miss bringing her at this age when she’s older. Younger babies are just so easy at Disney. She’s still really good at napping on the go, she doesn’t have any sense of fear when it comes to meeting the characters (my 20 month old nephew on the other hand was not going anywhere near Mickey), and if she ever does get upset I can usually cure it by putting a boob in her mouth.
We’re extremely lucky that we live less than two hours from Walt Disney World and are annual passholders. It takes all of the pressure off of each visit and allows us to simply enjoy the parks without having to see and do everything to make the most of the trip. I know not everyone is as lucky and bringing a young baby to Walt Disney World seems like this crazy thing, but it’s not. Like I said, this is the fun, easy age. The real craziness comes later.
So I’m cherishing every moment now, since I know she won’t be this tiny forever. I’m also excited/nervous for the future. I practically grew up at Walt Disney World, and I can’t wait to watch Annalynn do the same.