How I Survived Walt Disney World with a Baby (and You Can Too)!

Okay, let me start off by saying that bringing a baby to Disney World for the first time is extremely intimidating. This was our second road trip with a baby and I was especially nervous for many valid reasons. The good news is that Disney EXPECTS you to bring young children to the parks and they have wonderful resources that will make the experience very pleasant. Crazy as it sounds, I would most definitely do it again and I recommend other consider it as well.

How I Survived Walt Disney World with a BabyI caught some serious grief for bringing Ben to Disney at six months old. Haters gonna hate. I want Ben to be a child (and eventually an adult) that travels well. The photo ops and memories we created were truly magical and unique. I did a little bit of research (okay, a lot!) and planning to make the trip as relaxing and enjoyable as possible. Seeing his little face light up on the different rides and during character meet and greets was totally worth the little bit of “hassle” it was to take him.

Baby Care Centers

This is the first and most important thing to know when traveling to Walt Disney World with a little one. Each park has its own Baby Care Center. These are clean, air conditioned areas within the park that allow you to care for your baby or young child. This is completely free to use and they cover all the basics.

Each center includes:

Nursing Facility – Complete with rocking chairs and dimming lights

Changing Tables – Multiple large and clean tables to change baby

Feeding Area – High chairs, microwave, sink, and an oven for your convenience

Common Room – With comfy seating and television for little ones to recoup and relax or just get out of the heat

Mini Baby Store – Ability to purchase baby items lost or forgotten ($$$)  

During our recent trip, I used three of the four centers and they were all very nice. Animal Kingdom has two private nursing rooms while Epcot and Magic Kingdom have a community nursing room where only nursing mothers are allowed. I was surprised by how friendly and inviting the centers were and the cast members were very helpful with any questions or concerns I had.

When to Stay

It’s best to avoid the crowds and high prices during peak seasons like Spring Break, Summer Vacation, and Christmas Break. You can also expect higher crowds during events like Disney Races and celebrations like Food and Wine Festival. I know sometimes you have to plan your vacation during a peak time but if you can try to avoid it (for financial and sanity reasons).

Where to Stay

I can’t imagine staying off Disney Property for a few different reasons.

  1. The Magical Express
  2. Disney Transportation – Makes it easy to park hop
  3. Close Proximity to the Park – Makes afternoon breaks doable
  4. Resort Pool and Activities
  5. Free Parking
  6. Disney Magic!

For Ben’s first trip we stayed at the Polynesian and it was great! We could park hop without wrestling with a car seat. The Resort Monorail and the Transporation Center Monorail were within walking distance and the bus stop was also easily accessible. If you want to stay off property, you can do it! It’s really just personal preference.

Stroller Life

If you have a small child, you need a stroller. They can be quite a pain to travel with depending on where and how you are traveling. You have a few different options when it comes to the baby stroller situation while visiting Walt Disney World.

Option 1: You can rent it from Disney

Pros:

Convenient

Cons:

Uncomfortable plastic

Costly

Limited Use: Only available inside Disney Parks/Disney Springs

Option 2: You can rent a stroller from a third party like kingdom strollers

Pros:

Options

Comfortable

Unlimited Use

Cons:

Costly

Option 3: You can purchase a stroller in Orlando

If you just use a simple umbrella stroller you can purchase a stroller in Orlando or have Amazon deliver it to the hotel. I’ve heard of people using the stroller during their stay and leaving it for another family instead of bringing it home.

Pros:

Convenient

Helping another family

Cheap

Cons:

Finding a suitable and affordable stroller could be a hassle

Limited Storage Space

Option 4: You can bring your stroller from home.

Whether you’re flying or driving it is possible to take your stroller with you. See your airline’s policies for more information on traveling with a stroller.

Pros:

Free

Comfortable and familiar

Cons:

Travel inconvenience

Anxiety about stroller theft

We opted for option 4 and brought our extremely large jogging stroller. It was bulky and took up a lot of valuable space in the rental car but I believe it was worth it. We were able to use the stroller on the monorail and around the resort. It had optimum storage and we were very familiar with the features. Ben finds it comfortable and easy to nap in (this is a high priority for us since we spend a majority of our time on the go inside the parks).

We left the stroller numerous times and no one bothered our cargo or the stroller and we didn’t lock it up. I’m not saying theft doesn’t happen, but it seems to be a rare occurrence. If we knew we were going to be away from the stroller for extended periods of time we took our items with us to eliminate the temptation.

Items to Bring to the Parks:

Here are a few baby items that will come in handy while you are in the parks.

  • Stroller
  • Stroller Fan – those strollers get hot!
  • Sunscreen – I’ve had to buy it in the parks before and it was $$$$$$
  • Diapers and wipes – obvious reasons
  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Toys that are good for travel
  • Sweater and blanket – depending on the time of year and the time of day it does get a bit chilly in Florida
  • Camera or phone – to catch those magical moments
  • Change of clothes (maybe even two sets, just in case)
  • Bibs/burb cloths
  • Autograph book
  • Rain cover – to keep the stroller dry
  • Baby food, formula, or other snacks

Additional Tips and Tricks

  1. If you are running out of cargo space consider purchasing items, such as groceries or diapers, when you get to your resort or have them delivered through Amazon.
  2. Pack outfits instead of individual pieces of clothing. If you plan out outfits for your vacation you tend to pack less and it’s easier to get dressed in the morning.
  3. Purchase Disney gift cards ahead of time. Not only can you save money by purchasing them through places like Target and Sam’s club, you can also better control your spending while in the parks.
  4. Remember you can get free cups of ice water while in the parks from quick service restaurants.
  5. Make your advance dining reservations or ADRs early – 180 days in advance is not too early!
  6. Do at least one character meal. This will allow your child to interact with some Disney characters without waiting in those long lines.
  7. Plan out which rides and attractions are a top priority. You won’t have time to see and do everything.
  8. Utilize the ride switcher option and fastpass+ selections to get the most out of your vacation.
  9. Bring a portable battery pack for your phone. You don’t want to miss any photo ops‍!
  10. Remember to utilize photo pass photographers! Even if you don’t have the memory maker you can still ask them to use your personal camera.
  11. Go with the flow! Try not to get bent out of shape if the day doesn’t go according to plan. Things can get hectic when traveling with little ones and sometimes you have to wing it.

After our first trip with Ben, I feel more confident in our ability to make future trips. Our family typically visits Walt Disney World at least once a year (and this year we are planning for twice)!

How old was your child the first time you took them to a Disney Theme Park?

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate or sponsor links. With these links Growing Up With Sam can receive a commission. These commissions help support the work and website at no additional cost to you.

A New Disney Autograph Book

A Disney Autograph Book Worth Buying

A child’s Walt Disney World vacation would not be complete without character interaction. This is something we saved for when we brought our children to the most magical place on Earth. I’m pretty excited to start collecting Disney character autographs and I’ve found the best way to do it.

The Best Disney Autograph Book

I’ve been looking at Disney autograph books for quite some time and I could never find what I envisioned. I toyed with the idea of creating my own from scratch but decided against it (for now at least). Luckily, I stumbled across a few posts on Pinterest about using a book instead – Particularly the Disney Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters.

Brilliant, simply brilliant.

What You’ll Need:

There are a couple of different versions of this book available. I purchased the latest version (2014) for less than $10. That’s much cheaper than a majority of the autograph books I was browsing. Each character has their own colorful page with a short description. There are fun facts, random bits of trivia, and quotes sprinkled throughout the book as well. The pages are thick and the book is hardcover (other versions of the book are also available in paperback). Not only can you use it to collect character autographs, but you can also use the book to tackle boredom while waiting in line or in the car. Yay for multipurpose! 

My plan is to use the book for multiple trips. When Ben is a little older we can use it to get excited for upcoming trips and mark which characters we want to see next. I plan on adding pictures and recording the character interactions as well. I do like the idea of giving the book a spiral binding and adding some extra pages and a pocket to hold extras like tickets and brochures. It’ll be more of a scrapbook that doubles as an autograph book.

Disney Autograph Book Idea

 

A book is just one of the many ways to record character interaction and memories. How do you collect character autographs?

Characters Included: 

  1. Abu
  2. Aladdin
  3. Alice
  4. Anastasia & Drizella
  5. Anna
  6. Ariel
  7. Art
  8. Atta
  9. Aurora
  10. Bagheera & Baloo
  11. Bambi
  12. Basil of Baker Street
  13. The Beast
  14. Belle
  15. Bernard & Bianca
  16. The Blue Fairy
  17. Boo
  18. Bullseye
  19. Buzz Lightyear
  20. Captain Hook
  21. Carl Fredricksen
  22. Chip & Dale
  23. Cinderella
  24. Colette
  25. Cruella De Vil
  26. Crush & Squirt
  27. Daisy Duck
  28. Donald Duck
  29. Dory
  30. Dug
  31. Dumbo
  32. Dusty
  33. Edna Mode
  34. Eeyore
  35. Elastigirl
  36. El Chupacabra
  37. Elsa
  38. Eric
  39. Eve
  40. The Fairy Godmother
  41. Finn McMissile
  42. Fix-it Felix, Jr.
  43. Flik
  44. Flora, Fauna, & Merryweather
  45. Flounder
  46. Flynn
  47. Gaston
  48. Genie
  49. Geppetto
  50. Goofy
  51. Harris, Hubert,& Hamish
  52. Hercules
  53. Holley Shiftwell
  54. Huey, Dewey, & Louie
  55. Jaq & Gus
  56. Jasmine
  57. Jessie
  58. Jiminy Cricket
  59. John Smith
  60. Kristoff
  61. Kuzco
  62. Lady & Tramp
  63. Lady Tremaine
  64. Lightning McQueen
  65. Lilo
  66. Linguini
  67. The Lost Boys
  68. The Mad Hatter
  69. Maid Marian
  70. Maleficent
  71. Marie, Berlioz, & Toulouse
  72. Marlin
  73. Mater
  74. Maximus
  75. Merida
  76. Mickey Mouse
  77. Mike Wazowski
  78. Minnie Mouse
  79. Mowgli
  80. Mr. Incredible
  81. Mrs. Potts & Chip
  82. Mufasa
  83. Mulan
  84. Mushu
  85. Nala
  86. Naveen
  87. Nemo
  88. Olaf
  89. Oliver
  90. Pascal
  91. Periwinkle
  92. Peter Pan
  93. Phillip
  94. Piglet
  95. Pinocchio
  96. Pluto
  97. Pocahontas
  98. Pongo & Perdita
  99. Prince Charming
  100. Quasimodo
  101. Randall
  102. Rapunzel
  103. Remy
  104. Rex
  105. Robin Hood
  106. Russell
  107. Sally
  108. Scar
  109. Scott “Squishy” Squibbles
  110. Scuttle
  111. Sebastian
  112. The Seven Dwarfs
  113. Simba
  114. Skipper
  115. Snow White
  116. Stitch
  117. Sulley
  118. Sven
  119. Syndrome
  120. Terri & Terry Perry
  121. Thumper
  122. Tiana
  123. Tigger
  124. Timon & Pumbaa
  125. Timothy Mouse
  126. Tinker Bell
  127. Ursula
  128. Vanellope
  129. Wall-E
  130. Wendy, John, & Michael Darling
  131. The White Rabbit
  132. The Wicked Queen
  133. Winnie the Pooh
  134. Woody
  135. Wreck-It Ralph
  136. Zarina
  137. Zazu
  138. Zurg

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate or sponsor links. With these links Growing Up With Sam can receive a commission. These commissions help support the work and website at no additional cost to you.