How to do Disney with a Baby

In the past, Believe Vacations has written articles giving you suggestions for what different ages may enjoy.  We’ve also zeroed in on what it’s like to travel when expecting and also visiting with small children.  But what about visiting with a baby less than 12 months old?  Glad you asked and glad we have 2 teammates who have done this recently.  

Welcome to Believe Vacations’ Weekly Post where today, we’ll tell you How to Do Disney with a Baby.  You’ve met Savannah Sharp from her camping article earlier this month but now meet Christie Pownall.

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Since joining us over a year ago, Christie brings a ton of love and passion for kids, mainly getting it from her teaching career and being a cheerleader coach.  Both of these wonderful agents got together recently to share their own stories of traveling with a baby and were nice enough to share those thoughts with us:

So we have to start with the obvious: What age was your baby when you visited?

Savannah: We visited Disneyland when my son was 7 months for 4 days during Pixar Fest, and he turned 8 months in WDW on a 5 day trip during Halloween/Fall.

Christie: We did a 3 day weekend with my 6 month old in Walt Disney World in October.

Isn’t that too young?

Savannah: It had crossed my mind but I don’t agree—the  parks are perfectly for kids of all ages babies included. 

Christie: I was a bit nervous considering we just got our little one on a strict daily schedule, but we were very open minded about following our little ones lead. 

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But did you fly or drive? 

Savannah: We flew to both because Danny had already flown twice so we knew it would be fine. Also, he hates his car seat for long periods of time.

Christie: Flew. Not that we even considered driving, but our doctor has suggested not having baby in the car seat for longer than 2-3 hours at a time. We have also flown with her twice before.

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Makes sense but what about strollers?

Savannah: At Disneyland we rented from City Stroller Rental, and Kingdom Strollers at WDW. Both were delivered to the front desk and dropped off there when we were done.

Christie: We brought our own stroller/car seat. It was very easy to travel with and I felt better using a stroller I was already comfortable with. Having our own car seat was also nice when we used Lyft transportation. 

When packing, besides the obvious clothes and diapers, etc., what would you advise mothers to pack that they may not be thinking about?

Savannah: We actually didn’t pack diapers to either location—they take up a lot of space, so I highly recommend having diapers shipped to your hotel! If your baby is on snacks/solids pack all of the snacks! They’re great distractions while waiting in line for stuff. A good carrier/ring sling/baby wearing gear is a must especially for late nights. A portable fan for the hot months and a good muslin blanket to drape over stroller/carrier for shade. In the cold months, layers—so many cute Disney baby jackets, hats and blankets. Bring extra outfits and bibs, but know you’ll probably be buying some.

Christie: Here are my top 3:

  1. DEFINITELY bring a portable, rechargeable fan! We hooked this on the stroller and the carrier and it was a lifesaver in that Florida heat!
  2. As Savannah said, a good carrier is also a must. You have to park your stroller at every ride/show, so it was better for us to have a sleeping baby in the carrier–that way we didn’t have to wake her up to get her out of the stroller every time we wanted to do something.
  3. Lastly,HEADPHONES!! Good headphones can allow your baby to sleep through ANYTHING: rides, shows, parades, fireworks, etc! I can guarantee that if we didn’t bring these with us, we would never have been able to stay for the Halloween party. She would not have been able to sleep through all the noise and excitement. I cannot stress how wonderful having these were!  

Now for my most uncomfortable question, did you bring your own formula/nutrients or did you order them locally?  

Savannah: I think I can speak for both of us, because we both breastfeed our babies. So instead of bringing formula, we nursed instead. My little one however was starting solids during our trips so we ordered stuff off Amazon which was delivered directly to our room (WDW charged $5 a package for deliveries from PRIME).

Christie: Like Savannah said, my little one was still exclusively nursing. For this reason I brought my Minnie Mouse Milk Snob cover (HA!) and utilized the private nursing rooms in the Baby Care Centers which are AMAZING!!

I keep wanting to get to the actual parks but you guys are bringing up awesome info that I’m sure eases the minds of Moms wanting to bring their babies.  Tell us more about the nursing stations around the parks and what were your impressions?

Savannah: I used them in each park. Magic Kingdom (comfiest recliners!) and Animal Kingdom (newest and most updated) were by far the best.  

Christie: I only used the nursing room at MK. It was very nice. The room was cool, the lights were dim, and it was quiet. Overall a very peaceful environment perfect for nursing or taking a quick snooze!  Outside of the nursing rooms are areas where daddies are welcome too! There is a large baby changing room, a store with anything you could possibly need for you or your baby, a kitchen, and a main room where you can just relax.  I also knew about the Baby Care Centers before traveling, so I was confident I could provide my little one with everything she may need while we were at the park.

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Okay, you’ve got us ready to go and let’s just jump right into the money question: Was there a certain part of the trip you know your young one loved?  

Savannah: Dang, there is so much we loved. The parts that stand out include Danny winning the Jack Jack’s Diaper Dash (a crawling race in MK’s Tomorrowland part of the Incredible Summer event). Also, Danny meeting Cinderella (my favorite princess). He took to her so fast, just crawled right into her lap and wouldn’t stop staring at her. My husband says it’s because she looks like me but I think Danny just likes a pretty face. We also did the Harmony Barber shop for my husband, but even though Danny didn’t participate, the little old ladies that work in the shop were sooooo in love with him—it was like he adopted 3 new grandmas.

Christie: I know she loved interacting with all the characters and riding the slow, colorful rides like Journey of the Little Mermaid. She loved looking around at all the animatronics and listening to the familiar music. One morning, we ate at O’Hana for breakfast, which was great because we didn’t have to wait in a line to meet the characters. They came to us (in the comfort of the air condition!) and took time to play games like peekaboo with my little princess. I think she really enjoyed that.

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Speaking of characters, were they frightened with these gigantic costumed critters all in their faces?

Savannah: He did wonderfully with the characters especially the not fully costumed ones—princesses, princes, parade dancers, world showcase characters, etc. Donald was his favorite because we believe he recognized him from his books and toys at home. We introduced him to each character slowly and let him decided how much he wanted to be close to/held by.  Cast Members love seeing Disney babies and are amazingly helpful, characters are gentle and slow with babies who are a bit cautious and the baby care centers are designed exactly for the traveling mom and her pack.

Christie: She absolutely LOVED them! She didn’t even think about being scared. She smiled at them, pet them, and even gave Daisy a kiss on the beak! It was the sweetest thing!

I mean, I’m man-crying right now reading this but what did it mean for you, the mom, to have your young one experience a place you love?

Savannah: One of the things I love about Disney is that they make everyone feel important and they make sure every trip is special. Traveling with a baby can be stressful and take the magic out of it, but they make sure to keep the magic alive and cater to your specific family. Disney’s cast members were so accepting of my crazy child, he was able to crawl up to Mickey and friends when he didn’t want to be held anymore, he kissed BB-8 and no one freaked out, Cast Members in restaurants smiled and laughed as Danny tried and failed to eat fries, dropping tons on the floor while I’m already cleaning up.  I think magic is one thing you kind of need in your life as a new mom, and the kindness and acceptance during the trip is the exact magic new moms need.

Christie: Oh my goodness. My heart was EXPLODING the entire trip watching my sweet girl take in the place that I hold so near and dear to my heart. I could not stop smiling and just staring at her. She may be young, but she understands what she is seeing and what makes her smile. I will never ever forget those moments. I am also so glad that I purchased the Memory Maker so I didn’t have to worry about having my camera out to capture the moments. I could just experience meeting the characters with her. Disney’s PhotoPass is amazing at capturing those sweet, candid memories.

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Christie, tell us a little specifically about having a little one during the Halloween activities.  

It was a lot of fun to get dressed up as a family and trick or treat around the park! HOWEVER, after an afternoon nap, we got there around 5 pm. That meant that we only had about two hours before the little princess was out for the night. This is where the headphones came in handy! We stood right in front of the castle for the nighttime show and the parade! She didn’t wake up once! We had the best of both worlds; we got to enjoy some time with our baby AND got to enjoy some mommy and daddy time without worrying if it would be too loud for our little one.

Any final stories and advice?

If you ever feel like you need to go back for a nap, do it! However, we only had to do this once-the afternoon before going back to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Because she was still so young, she had absolutely NO issue sleeping in the stroller or carrier.  So do not think you HAVE to go back because the baby is tired.  There are plenty of ways for the baby to sleep and you to still enjoy and maximize your time in the park.  

Savannah, any final bits of advice or stories that may help other Moms see that bringing a baby to Disney is a great idea.

Christie mentioned Mommy and Daddy time and that is all about the Rider Switch Service.  Book Fastpasses to the big attractions for you and your husband and take turns riding while the other watches the baby!

To re-emphasize the care my child received, we were at Disneyland and Danny got into a fight with a sidewalk after being pushed over by a toddler—he got a gushing blood gash on the corner of his eye to the side of his nose that looked pretty serious. I brought him to the baby care center to try to rock and calm him/clean the cut the best I could but all the little old ladies working the care center were, in their grandma fashion, very nervous and worried about him and got us an escort to the nurse/doctor at the nurses station. The specific NP we saw was pediatric specific and was able to disinfect, glue shut and cater to my very wiggly baby with ease and replaced the fast pass we missed in the mean time. After getting back to my room at the Disneyland Resort hotel, I had a message from the staff checking on him to make sure he hadn’t reopen the wound.

My final advice is to be flexible. If you’re serious to sticking to a plan and doing everything no matter what, then a trip with a young child will not go well. But going in with an attitude of we’ll do what we can with how they are acting then its way easier.

Man, that was a ton of fun and thank you both for showing us all how to be awesome Disney moms!

What did you think of Christie and Savannah’s advice?  Did they convince you to take a trip with your little one?  Thanks for reading and remember there’s a great, big, beautiful tomorrow!

Brian Pavlick
brianp@believevacations.com

Brian Pavlick is a husband and father residing in Maylene, AL. His love of Disney goes back to his early memories of watching the New Disney Channel on cable, occasional vacations to Orlando Florida and attending Disney Institute Management Training classes. He keeps up with Disney news and updates by reading numerous websites, experiencing attractions by watching YouTube videos and introducing his family to classic and timeless Disney movies, attractions and songs.

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