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Navigating Walt Disney World with a baby

by Meghann on May 17, 2016

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.

Magic Kingdom with a baby

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.

Stroller on the monorail at Magic Kingdom

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.

Tula at Magic Kingdom

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.

Uncle Josh babywearing at Animal Kingdom

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.

Navigating Walt Disney World with a baby

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.

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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.

Meeting TinkerBell at Magic Kingdom

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!

Baby Friendly Ride at Magic Kingdom

 

Check out my list of pregnancy-safe rides, the same list holds true for babies.

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.

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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.

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(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.

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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.

Meeting Ariel at Magic Kingdom

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.

 

 

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Erin I May 17, 2016 at 7:42 pm

Tula question for you!….I noticed you have a canvas one as well….do you think the mesh is as supportive as the canvas. I am thinking about getting a Tula, but I have to choose just one! Thanks!

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2 Meghann May 19, 2016 at 10:54 am

They both feel about the same.

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3 Jess May 17, 2016 at 8:10 pm

hi! Just fyi some of those rides wouldn’t let me keep my daughter in her carrier when I was there in feb! Weird!

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4 Natalie May 18, 2016 at 5:25 am

I kind of feel bad for Annalynn. It can’t be much fun to be stuck in a carrier all day, in the hot sun, around loud rides and music. Why not just have a chill weekend at home where you can balance spending time with her, and get things done around the house? You were just blogging recently about never having any time. If I were you, I would nix the full-day trips to Disney, at least until I started feeling a bit more in control of things / caught up.

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5 Meghann May 18, 2016 at 9:46 am

We don’t spend every weekend at Disney. We’ve probably been once a month since December. It’s actually a good meeting place to see my family, since we’re on the west coast, my family is on the east coast, and Disney is right in the middle. I can assure you that Annalynn loves the carrier. Our last trip I brought a portable fan to wear in case she did get warm, but we didn’t need it. The mesh Tula actually worked just fine and neither of us ever got sweaty. Derek and I both stayed home last weekend and were able to get a lot of stuff done. We also have a free weekend this weekend to continue to play catch-up. We have big plans this weekend of landscaping the front yard! 🙂

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6 Alice May 18, 2016 at 10:16 am

I hope that includes putting a fence around the pool!!! Also, what sort of sunscreen are you using for Annalyn?

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7 Meghann May 18, 2016 at 10:22 am

Yes, the fence around the pool is very high on our list. We’re currently getting quotes for installation and hope to have one installed this summer. We use the Babyganics sunscreen for Annalynn.

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8 Riley May 18, 2016 at 9:19 am

What kind of sunscreen do you use for Annalynn? I have the badger brand and while I like that it’s organic and natural it’s soooo thick.

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9 Meghann May 18, 2016 at 9:39 am

We use Babyganics. It’s also pretty thick.

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10 J May 18, 2016 at 11:59 am

I am bookmarking this for when I (hopefully) have a wee one someday! I think it’s great you can get together with your family so often and it’s all the better that Disney is in a central location for you all. I get the sense that people can be pretty polarized when it comes to Disney, whether there is an infant involved or not. My boyfriend absolutely hates Disney and I…well…I considered whether that aspect of his personality was grounds for breaking up with him for awhile 😉

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11 Krista May 18, 2016 at 1:30 pm

Thank you for posting this! We’re taking our baby in September for her 1 year birthday! I plan to wear her too and I was wondering if they let you wear her on the rides so thanks! You totally answered my question!

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12 Melissa May 18, 2016 at 4:29 pm

I’m the same way with Disneyland over here in California. We took Ellie for the first time on her 1st birthday, also the day we got annual passes again. I can’t wait to watch her grow up in Disney!
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13 Johanna May 18, 2016 at 10:46 pm

I remember you mentioning the baby centers in another post and even though my daughter was 17 months for her first trip I kept that in mind and it was such a great place to change her and get her in some a/c for a little bit as she was getting a little red from the heat. She will be just shy of her second birthday for her second trip. It really is exciting as they get older!

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14 Angie May 19, 2016 at 8:21 am

Since he’s a little older how does your nephew do with naps at Disney? My twins will be 13 months when we go, and they don’t nap on the go very well. I do t know if we’ll take a break to the car, or if they’ll just nap anyway when they are tired.

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15 Meghann May 19, 2016 at 10:58 am

He’s usually a kid that hates to nap in the stroller, but has managed to take decent stroller naps every time we’ve gone to the park. When he’s on the verge of being overtired, we usually put him in the stroller and do a big lap of the park and he passes right out. I have an adorable photo of him and Annalynn sleeping side-by-side in their strollers.

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16 Lily May 19, 2016 at 11:07 am

I’m so impressed with you for taking her to Disney! I’m a FTM to an almost-5-month-old, and have probably been…more rigid than is necessary for naps 🙂 “napping on the go” ? What’s that? haha I was militant about getting her home for naps since she was an infant, and now it’s stuck…which means she is a great sleeper (*knocks on wood*) but can also be very limiting. I think it’s awesome that Annalynn rolls with the Disney days and nurses, naps, wherever!

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17 Liz May 19, 2016 at 1:59 pm

I think it’s so great that you are getting out there and making great Disney memories with Annalynn already! I live in Orange County, CA, so I’m close to D-land, but haven’t taken my 14-month-old yet because (like the commenter above) I was soooooo rigid with my daughter’s nap schedule in the early months. She does sleep really well now, but honestly, I think that has more to do with her personality than anything I did, and I definitely kept myself trapped in the house more than I needed to. I think that’s actually one negative thing about being a SAHM….since I am always the one “in charge” of my baby I felt like I had to do everything “right” when she was a newborn/young infant. My working mom friends seem to have an easier time letting go of the rigid schedule and just having fun with their babies since they are trying to take full advantage of the limited time they have with them each week. It took me the better part of a year to realize my daughter wasn’t going to just stop sleeping if I messed up her schedule every once in a while to do something fun! Anyway, this was a great post and I will definitely reference it when I do finally take my little one to D-land, as I’m sure most of the things you described are similar here in CA.

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18 Deva May 19, 2016 at 3:49 pm

How did you figure out nursing while baby wearing? My son is almost five months old and I still struggle with that! Kudos to you 🙂

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19 Meghann May 19, 2016 at 3:52 pm

I watched YouTube videos! It was really helpful to watch and see how they made adjustments to bring the baby where they needed to be to nurse.

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20 Nicole May 23, 2016 at 11:40 am

What did you do when Annalynn was younger and couldn’t wear sunscreen? I heard they can’t wear sunscreen until 6 mos? I want to take my 3 mos old but I”m afraid she’ll either get dehydrated or sunburned. How did you tackle those problems?

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21 Meghann June 7, 2016 at 8:51 am

We actually spoke with our pediatrician and got the go ahead to put sunscreen on when she was itty bitty. She just recommended baby specific sunscreens (like Babyganics) and to not cover their hands. We also had SPF swimshirts she wore and SPF hats.

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22 Nicole June 7, 2016 at 8:54 am

Thanks for the tips! 🙂

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23 [email protected] May 26, 2016 at 8:20 am

My little guy will be 11 months on our first Disney trip with him. I cannot wait!!! I had no idea there were baby centers-Id never paid attention. That is awesome!

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24 [email protected] May 26, 2016 at 8:50 am

Have you done Hollywood Studios with the baby? How was that?
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25 Meghann June 7, 2016 at 8:50 am

That’s the only park we haven’t dedicated a lot of time too. We went once when she was 9 weeks old, but that was only to see the Osborne Lights and she slept the whole time. I’d love to go back now and do some of the Disney Junior stuff, since she loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse so much.

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