My Disney Survival Guide for Parents with Babies
I know lots of parents worry about bringing their baby to Disney, thinking of it as an amusement parks for young children, but Disney does a great job catering to the smallest guests, making it a trip the whole family can enjoy.
Disney is full of fun rides and many of them do not have any height restrictions so there are plenty of activities for infants and babies.
I definitely recommend starting with The Magic Kingdom and Fantasyland, where you’ll find both have many baby-friendly activities. “Dumbo the Flying Elephant” and “It’s a Small World” are two rides that are fairly infant friendly. The Dumbo ride does have a lot of spinning, it’s slow not likely to bother anyone but if your baby spooks easily it might be something to avoid. “It’s a Small World” is an age-old classic with lots to look at and music that wasn’t too loud, it’s probably the best ride for babies and there’s no chance of it frightening anyone. Definitely a ride the entire family can enjoy together. I also recommend “Walt Disney World Railroad” and “Jungle Cruise”. Both were great, although on the Jungle Cruise the “wild animals” get a little close to the boat so it’s something to watch out for. Obviously we avoided rides where there is a lot of loud noises, strobe lighting and explosions. You can find a list of Disney attractions sortable by age and height on their website.
When to Visit the Park
Picking the right time to visit can make a trip to park more enjoyable for both infant and parents. I chose to wait until after summer to avoid the busiest time at the parks. The summer heat was also a big concern, with long lines and the hot sun can make a baby pretty uncomfortable. Our visit in the fall was wonderful, but I’m sure winter or spring would be nice too since there are a lot fewer visitors during these times of the year – just be sure to avoid school holiday weeks. Also, plan to get to the park early. The lines for rides are not as long during earlier in the day, at least there’s one bonus to not being able to sleep in.
Take Advantage of the Child Switch Pass
We used the switch pass whenever my wife or I wanted to ride a ride that this not appropriate for infants. You just ask the ride operator for a child switch pass which allows one parent to ride a ride while the other stays with the baby. When it is the other parent’s turn, the pass allows that parent to jump to the head of the line so you don’t need to wait in line again.
I was really impressed with all the facilities Disney provides for parents and babies. All Disney Parks have Baby Care Centers. These stations have waiting room, kitchen, changing room and nursing room. If anything like formula, changing supplies, juice or bottles is needed, they can be purchased from the kitchen. The Baby Care Center also has a small assortment of children’s over-the-counter medications.
If you can’t make it to a baby care center, all the public restrooms are equipped with wall mounted baby changing stations. And Disney’s standards for cleanliness are truly second to none.
Staying at Disney Resorts
We stayed at a Disney resort, and it does cost a little more than off resort lodging options, but for visitors with small children it’s definitely worth it if you can afford it. The resorts offer really quick transportation to and from the park, making much easier to he’d back to the room for a midday rest. It also let us take advantage of magic hours, allowing us into the parks early, an advantage for people with babies. My favorite feature was the access to in-room babysitting services, the sitters are CPR certified and background checked. If you want to survive Disney, you need a few moments to yourself.
Strollers: Bring your own or Rent?
I found the strollers at Disney to be pretty disappointing and not up to the caliber of service that is expected and usually delivered by the park. The strollers are hard plastic, uncomfortable and very expensive. Single’s rent for $15/day and doubles for $31, so I definitely recommend bringing your own if you can. Airlines will let you gate check your stroller, so you can roll it right to the gate and pick it up just outside the plane after you land. There’s no worry about checking it and have the airline smash it to pieces. Getting around the park with a stroller is pretty easy although when the buses going back to the resort are full it can be a bit tight if you’ve got a car sized stroller.
Another option is an offsite rental. Most sites offer delivery right to your hotel and they have a great selection of strollers. The rates are also pretty high but at least the strollers are high quality and comfortable so you won’t hear complaints from the kids all day. If you can’t bring your own, this is probably a better option and what I will be doing on my next Disney trip.
Taking a trip to a Disney theme park is something that many families look forward to doing. I know many parents may hesitate about taking their infants to Disney, but the parks really are designed to make it as comfortable and fun as possible, regardless of ages.
About The Author: Patrick Wilson is a regular contributor to the blog at BabyStations an online store selling diaper changing stations and helping companies make their facilities more family friendly.
Photo Credits: Flickr cc: #1 vgm838, #2 Joe Shlabotnik