We just got back last week from taking our son to Disney World. We live in Miami, so fortunately it’s just a quick 3-hour drive. The first time we took our little one to Disney, he was just 11 months-old (see pics here). It was so amazing to see the difference in how much more alert he was this time. Anytime he would spot Mickey at the park, he would yell “Mickey, Mickey!” and his eyes would light up. We also went with my sister-in-law and my 3-year-old niece, who had a blast.
It was so hot in Orlando, I mean really, really, hot. I felt like I was melting. I decided to keep my outfits very easy, breezy so went with these white shorts for Paige and striped shirt from Old Navy. For me, anytime I head to Disney, comfortable shoes are the most important thing. My sister-in-law and I both wore our Ocean Minded Crochet Espadrilla shoes from Crocs. I wore them both days we were at the parks and they were the best thing ever---so comfy!
Here are a few tips and tricks I also wanted to share with you in case you are planning your own trip to Disney with a toddler or baby.
Tip #1: Fast Passes. Fast passes are lifesavers. They made such a difference in making our trip a breeze with a toddler, especially since we went in the summer (peak season). Can you imagine a toddler waiting in line for 70 minutes—eeek! Thankfully the hubby is such a planner. Using Disney’s website or the My Disney Experience app you can book your FastPass+ reservations ahead of time. If you’re staying at a Disney Resort Hotel, you can make FastPass+ reservations up to 60 days before your trip. If you’re not staying at a Disney Resort Hotel, you can make them 7 days in advance. You’re limited to 3 pre-planned FastPass+ uses per day, per person (and in a single park per day). Once we used up our 3 pre-planned fast passes, we used the FastPass+ Kiosks that were found throughout the park to book additional fast passes. You can book one at a time from the kiosks. We looked for rides that we knew get filled up pretty quickly — for example, the Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh ride in Magic Kingdom. If you’re going to Hollywood Studios, the Toy Story ride is another one that gets filled up quickly.
Tip #2: Arrive Early. To make the most of your day, try to get there as soon as the park opens, especially if you’re going during peak seasons. You’ll be able to go on more rides without waiting in line. Be sure to go on the most popular rides first, and pick up a daily schedule at the entrance so you can plan out your day.
Tip #3: Visit Disney Junior Live on Stage: On our second day in Orlando, we decided to get a park hopper pass and visited Hollywood Studios and Epcot. The Disney Junior Live on stage show at Hollywood Studios was by far one of my son’s favorite. He got to see all of his favorite Disney Junior characters such as Jake from the Neverland Pirates. He also got so excited when he heard the Hot Dog song from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
Tip #4: Stay at a Disney Resort. If you can, try to stay at a Disney Resort. We found a really good deal for just 80 bucks a night at the Disney Pop Century Resort. The resort has free bus shuttle rides that take you to the parks, so you don’t have to worry about paying for parking, and it comes by every 20 minutes or so. It’s so worth it. When our son was 11 months-old we also stayed at another Disney Resort and it was so convenient for bringing him back for naps. On that note, if you’re traveling with a baby to Disney, consider going back to the hotel for the baby’s nap. He’ll be less fussy throughout the day. Since our son is now 19 months, we didn’t have to do that this time around since he slept in his stroller (make sure you bring a stroller with a large canopy to shield them from the sun).
Extra Tip: If you’re staying at a Disney Resort and decide to buy something at the park, you can have it sent back to your hotel room. While we were at Magic Kingdom, we bought our son a Mickey Mouse plush toy, but since we were already carrying several other things, we simply had it sent back to the hotel room. We filled out a quick form and the next morning it was waiting for us at the hotel.
Tip #5: Check Out the Baby Care Centers: I had a mom come up to me at one of the parks asking if I had baby formula. I immediately directed her to the Baby Care Center, which she had no idea existed. These are AWESOME. In case you aren’t familiar with them already, Disney World has Baby Care Centers in all four parks. It has a kitchen with a microwave in case you need to warm up food, a private nursing area with rocking chairs, and five changing tables. Plus if you need to purchase baby care items, they also have baby formula, Huggies diapers and wipes, bottles, nipples, sunscreen and jarred foods and juices. It’s the best!
Tip #6: Stay Hydrated and Bring Tons of Snacks: If you’re going during the summer, it’s so important to keep the little ones hydrated. I can’t tell you how scorching hot it was. We made sure to pack tons of water, sunscreen, and we also bought one of those spray bottles that have a battery-operated fan attached. Also, be sure to bring tons of snacks. We brought along several fruit and yogurt pouches which were really easy to feed while we waited in line.
Tip# 7: If you're taking a road trip to Disney, be sure to pack tons of entertainment and if you can rent a car with tons of space. Between strollers, luggages, you can easily run out of room quickly. The folks at Chevy were nice enough to loan us this Chevrolet Suburban for our road trip and we couldn't have been any happier. The Suburban has tons of space and it also came equipped with TV's which kept my son and niece entertained the entire trip. Hmmmm...perhaps once baby #2 arrives we might have to look into this one.