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When I started planning our trip to Walt Disney World, Blake was one week old. I was planning it four months out, and while at that time I had a pretty chill baby, I had no idea how he would react to a trip to Disney World in four months but I was planning it anyway. We’d went the year before just before Beckett turned 3 and had a great time, but it was a much shorter, spur of the moment trip. This time I wanted to immerse ourselves into the whole “Disney bubble” experience staying at an on-site resort, park hopping, relying on the Disney transportation system… I wanted it to be a fun, elaborate trip for Beckett, and while Blake obviously wouldn’t remember it, I still wanted him to be comfortable since he’d be along for the ride.
I know people will say don’t take them when they won’t remember it, but if you plan to go more than once in your lifetime, I say take your kids whenever you want to! The only time I feel that the “don’t take them because they won’t remember it” rule applies is if you only ever plan to go once, and then I would agree to wait until they are a little older and can appreciate the trip more!
We ended up having a fabulous trip, and here are some of my top tips from our trip!
1. Stay on site (preferably on the monorail) if possible
I can not tell you how much I loved staying at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. The entire vibe of the resort, the beautiful view we had to look out to each morning, and the wonderful restaurants available right in our resort would be enough to sell me on it with or without children of any age, but where it becomes my top tip for babies & toddlers at Disney World is 100% because of the monorail access.
If you’re taking babies or toddlers to Disney World, Magic Kingdom is likely your top priority, if not your only priority. Hopping on the monorail right from our resort made for effortless trips to & from Magic Kingdom for naps & rest. They did the security check right at our resort which was always much quicker than the check at Magic Kingdom! When we went to the other parks, the process wasn’t as easy, but still convenient. To visit Epcot, we’d hop on our resort monorail & take it to the Ticket & Transportation Center, switch monorails to the Epcot monorail, & arrive at Epcot! For Hollywood Studios & Animal Kingdom, we walked down to the bus stop at our resort & rode the bus to our destination, and did the same leaving the park to return. The downfall to the bus was having to break down the stroller and waiting an unknown amount of time for the bus to arrive. However, it was still very easy & eliminated the need to rent a car if you fly to WDW as you can rely entirely on the transportation provided by Disney.
2. Rent or Bring a Stroller and a Baby Carrier
While planning our trip for a four-month old and a three-year old, I was considering packing our nice single stroller for the baby who would spend most of his time in the stroller and our inexpensive umbrella stroller for our three-year old who is Mr. Independent lately and would probably prefer to walk most of the time anyway. However, as we got closer to our trip, I started to think about other options and we ended up renting a double stroller for both boys to ride together from an Orlando Stroller Rental company called Magic Strollers. They made it a no brainer for us. They would deliver directly to our resort at 7 AM the day we arrived and would pick the stroller up from the hotel at 4 PM the day we checked out. We just had to pick up from Bell Services when we arrived & drop it off to Bell Services when we left. Having one stroller to worry about pushing through the parks & having more room to pack in our car without two strollers in it (or if you’re flying, having less things to worry about in the air port) made this a no brainer for us. I would do that again instantly! The other part of this is a baby carrier – and yes I’m saying you’ll want BOTH. Blake rode in the stroller while we made our way around the parks, and then when we’d go park our stroller to go on a ride, go to eat, or break it down to get on a bus, I could easily put him in the Tula & be on our way. Some of those lines take HOURS, you guys… HOURS! I think the longest line we stood in was only an hour for Toy Story Mania (I tried to book fast passes for this one, but they were unavailable as they work on things to prepare for Toy Story Land to open this summer!), and if I hadn’t had my Tula, I don’t know if we would’ve made it on the ride! I also often wore Blake while I ate because most table service restaurants do not allow you to bring your stroller in and he can’t sit unassisted yet, so that meant he was held for all of those meals… The carrier helped me be able to eat with both hands free!
3. Book your FastPasses+
I’m always surprised by how many people don’t know how to do FastPass+ or don’t understand how they work. My parents were convinced I had paid for a special service to get to use them… No! They’re FREE to everyone visiting the parks! If you’re staying at a Disney resort, you get to book them 60 days in advance and 30 days in advance if you’re staying off site. Everyone gets 3 for each day, and then once you’ve used your 3, you can book more one at a time. Your 3 have to all be booked for the same park, so you can’t do 1 for Seven Dwarves Mine Train at Magic Kingdom, one for Frozen Ever After at Epcot, and one for Na’Vi River Journey at Animal Kingdom, but once your first 3 are used, the singles can be booked for different parks! We only did one ride without FastPass+ (Toy Story Mania I mentioned above) and this is because it makes visiting the parks with little ones who don’t want to stand and do nothing for a long time much more bearable. With our FastPasses, we never stood in a line for more than 5 minutes – including rides that had standby lines of 70+ minutes! I booked our FastPasses at the 60 day mark since we were staying at a Disney Resort so I had no trouble booking every ride we wanted! However, as my next tip will tell you, I had to remember that Disney with kids this young may lead to some unexpected delays, so I needed to be prepared to swap these at the last minute which did end up happening, but luckily we were always able to book something fun that everyone would enjoy and wouldn’t have us standing in long lines all day!
4. Keep your plans flexible
Traveling with babies & toddlers isn’t always a piece of cake. Sometimes things do go wrong! You can’t just go go go like you might do without a baby or toddler. You have to go at their pace. In our case, several things went wrong. Both boys ended up being sick while we were there with colds. Beckett was on an antibiotic and ended up having a severe allergic reaction to it on the second night of our trip. We ended up having to leave dinner at Hollywood Studios early & missing the Star Wars Galactic Dessert Party I had already prepaid for (and of course – non-refundable!) We ended up hanging at the Urgent Care for 3.5 hours, doing breathing treatments, getting steroids & medication to stop the allergic reaction, getting 4 new prescriptions that my husband was out until 3 am picking up from different pharmacies… Talk about a wrench in our plans! We ended up taking it easy the next morning and I had to reschedule all of our plans for the next few days including several FastPasses I had booked at the 60 day mark which we could no longer do. I was able to explain what happened to people at Disney who rescheduled our dessert party at no cost and we reworked our schedule. It was stressful at the moment, but Beckett got better quickly and we were able to go back to our plans! Our plans were a little different than we’d originally planned, but it was still a great trip despite the hiccups!
5. Plan for any weather condition
Florida is known for being so beautiful and sunny, but it isn’t always beautiful & sunny! Our first day at Magic Kingdom left us pretty soaked after several rain showers! Our stroller rental didn’t come with a rain cover (one of the things I would change for sure), and while we were meeting Belle at the Enchanted Tales with Belle attraction, it started down pouring and we came outside to a soaked stroller. I carried Blake the entire day (left the Tula in the hotel that day…. #regrets), we covered the stroller with one of our rain ponchos every time we went in anywhere for the rest of the day, and had to dry the stroller out when we got back to the hotel. We did have the rain ponchos at least, which was my next tip! You’ll want to have those packed in case a random downpour strikes your trip too! You can grab these inexpensively before you get to the parks and they don’t take up too much space in your bag – worth it! The heat is no joke & my best tip for dealing with the Florida heat for your babies & toddlers in strollers: fans! We went the clip on fan route using this fan to clip directly onto our stroller. Made with thin foam blades, Blake could put his hands & toes into the blades & not get injured, yet they still kept both boys cool despite temps soaring into the high 80s. If you plan to wear your baby, a cooling pad like a Frogg Togg would be useful to stay cool! Sunscreen & hats were a must for my boys too because when the rain went away and that sun came out, you needed all of the sun protection you could get! My husband and I neglected to apply sunscreen and both had sunburns at one point. At night, it would dip into the 60s and both boys would get a little chilly. Light jackets or light blankets at night were another must!
6. Utilize grocery/necessities delivery services
We used Amazon Prime & Amazon Prime Now to deliver necessities to our hotel. We were on the dining plan and didn’t find a need for grocery delivery, but I know many do so I’m adding that tip! If next time we don’t use the dining plan, I could see myself using grocery delivery as well! I used Amazon Prime Now to get medicine & Pedialyte for Beckett & a screwdriver I forgot to pack to change the batteries in our stroller fans, but they also deliver things like diapers, food, etc., and you can have them in as little as 2 hours! In our case, I woke up and immediately ordered and the items were delivered to Bell Services within a couple of hours. Bell services then delivered the order directly to our room! I also used Amazon Prime to order noise cancelling headphones for Blake for firework time, and they were delivered and sent right to Bell Services where my husband picked up our order! If you’re flying, you’d want to consider doing this for diapers/wipes/formula/food/etc. We drove so we brought diapers & wipes with us, along with a few snacks for the trip & the room.
7. Plan rest days into your trip
This is something I didn’t do, and now know better so it is a tip I’m sharing so you don’t make the mistake I did! For our trip, we booked 6 nights at the Polynesian, bought a 5 day park hopper, and arrived for our first night around 3 PM that day. Our first day, we checked in, went to our room and got settled in, went to dinner at ‘Ohana in our hotel, and watched the fireworks from the beach of the Polynesian. We started in on parks Monday morning, did parks every day through Friday, and went home Saturday. We had something to do (reservations booked, FastPasses booked, etc.) each day we were there and didn’t add an extra day of our vacation to stay at the hotel and enjoy the pool, to explore Disney Springs, or just to sleep in and order room service and hang out. That’s my biggest regret of the trip! We all could’ve used a little break in between our park days to just relax, but instead we came home from vacation kind of needing a vacation! We still took it slow overall as far as our park days went, but I know an extra rest day (or two) would’ve been appreciated! Next time I am going to plan on booking 2 extra nights than we’re doing park days – one in the middle and one on the end of the trip!
8. Take all of the pictures
Especially at this age, if you’re considering bringing your baby or toddler to Disney World, at least one person will ask you why you’re taking your child when they won’t remember it at this age. The biggest reason for me to take my kids right now is probably for me. It might sound selfish, but at this age it is for their childhood but also for your own memories. Will my 3 year old remember hopping around with Mickey and telling him he loves him? Does he remember kissing Pluto over & over last year? Does my 4 month old know he was so entranced by It’s A Small World? The answer to all of these questions are no or will be no eventually, but *I* can remember these things, and I get to experience these things with my boys. I get to watch their faces light up & the excitement that overcomes them. For me, that is absolutely worth it. Beckett may not remember this trip, or his last trip even in a few years, but because of my excessive photo taking, he will be able to look back on these trips & see what happened! Photos are mandatory for these trips! I also utilize the Memory Maker which I’ve found to be beyond worth the money, but others may not feel that way & that’s fine – just make sure to take tons of photos on your own! Those photos will be the gateway to your children looking back on these memories that they may not otherwise remember!