Millions of guests visit Walt Disney World each year. Although the Central Florida theme park was built with families in mind, many parents still debate whether they should take this type of vacation with babies and/or toddlers. Even fans who have visited dozens of times question if it is right to go with young kids.
I am a huge Disney fan living in the Orlando area and have taken my two children to the parks from the time they were newborns, up through potty-training age. Disney World is one of the most baby- and toddler-friendly vacation destinations I have ever encountered. If you are considering a trip with your little ones, there are some tips that help reassure you your stay can go smoothly.
Go at your child's pace
It's easy to get wrapped up in the feeling of wanting to do everything. But, if you are trying to ride every ride, see every show, experience every night time spectacular and meet every character, your entire family can get burnt out very quickly. Pay attention to your child. If they are getting overwhelmed, go some place quiet and take a break. If they get tired, go back to your hotel and take a nap. If they are hungry or thirsty, stop and get a snack. It may seem like obvious advice, but when you are on vacation, it is easy to get sidetracked. Do not forget to take the same considerations with the adults in your group. Your child may have endless energy when you do not.
Do your research
If you are not totally familiar with the parks, do some research; buy a travel guide like The Unofficial Guide to Walk Disney World and visit websites like TouringPlans.com and AllEars.net. Find out which attractions may not be appropriate for young children, which rides have height restrictions or even which attractions will be closed during your trip. Check out youtube.com and watch "ride-through videos" to see if you think your child will be scared or if they will enjoy the attraction and share the video with them as well to see what they think.
Bring a stroller
A Disney World vacation always includes a lot of walking. With a very young child, you will need a stroller. Many guests rent strollers at the park. However, those strollers are made of hard plastic, do not recline, have very little storage space for baby gear and are expensive. You can't remove those strollers from the park, so you won't have them for the trip back to the hotel.
There are off-site companies that provide stroller rentals that they will deliver to your hotel (such as Baby Wheels Orlando), that can be a great option as well. Personally, I prefer to bring my own. I have found that my children are usually more comfortable in the stroller they are already familiar with. Plus, I don't have to worry about getting a rental that is difficult to steer, in bad shape or that does not have the features I want.
Baby Care Centers
Each of the four parks at Disney World has a Baby Care Center. These centers have changing tables, nursing rooms, bottle warmers, high chairs and just about anything else you may need to take care of your baby or toddler during the day. They also usually have an area for older children to wait and relax with books, toys and a television showing Disney cartoons.
These are great places to go to change diapers, have a feeding or even just relax in the air conditioning and quiet. The centers also sell anything you may have forgotten or run out of, such as diapers, baby wipes, diaper rash cream, formula, bottles, baby food, extra clothes, over-the-counter medication and much more.
A trip to Disney World with very young children is definitely possible. They may be too young to really remember the experience, but you will have great pictures and memories, and you can have a vacation with the peace of mind that does not come with trips to destinations that are not so family-friendly.