Is there anything cuter than a baby wearing Mickey ears? This is probably why so many parents are brave enough to go to Disney World with a baby.
If you are considering taking your bundle of joy on a Walt Disney World vacation, you probably have a lot of questions. As someone who has taken more than one baby to the Walt Disney World resort, I know it can be overwhelming. I get it. But it is possible for the baby and everyone else in the party, including adults and older kids, to have a great time together.
So, what should parents know before going to Disney World with a baby? I would say the most important thing is to plan the trip right. The Walt Disney Company has designed the parks with parents of young children in mind. But you’ve got to know the what, where, how, and when to truly enjoy a Disney vacation with little ones.
Keep reading if this will be the baby’s first trip to Disney World (or third). In this complete guide, I’m going to give you all the tips I WISH I knew before I took a baby to Disney World. I will help you become that dad or mom in the baby care center that other parents are envious of because you are so well prepared! Here’s my guide to bringing a baby on a Disney trip.
Pro Tip 1: Slow Down
Whether you’re in the Orlando area for 10 hours or 10 days, it’s important to give yourself enough time to truly enjoy the vacation if you’re going to Disney World with a baby.
If you overplan or overschedule your days and try to do too much, you’ll end up exhausted and needing a vacation from your vacation.
How much you pack into each day in the Disney World parks depends on how old the baby is and how long you’re traveling for.
But in general, I would say “less is more” when visiting Disney World with a baby or young child.
I suggest that you plan to do fewer things in a theme park and plan for a mid-day break. This will give the baby lots of time to rest and make it a fun and magical trip for everyone.
Consider keeping arrival and departure days free of activities. This will ensure you’re not so rushed that you forget essential baby supplies.
If you do make reservations, I recommend advanced dining reservations at a nice restaurant in WDW so you can enjoy a delicious, fun, and relaxed meal to kick off your vacation.
Pro Tip 2: Remember the Florida Sun
I’ve lived in Florida my whole life, so I know how hot it can get. I also know that thunderstorms can appear out of nowhere. If you’re visiting from out of state or overseas, you need to keep the Florida weather in mind while packing.
Like a wise person said… there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.
Bring a poncho for each person in your party (they’re available in the Disney World parks, but the prices can make your eyes water).
For the baby, make sure your stroller has a rain cover (if you’re bringing your own stroller). If you’re planning to get Disney rental strollers, pack extra ponchos to act as rain covers.
And don’t forget to bring sunscreen and a hat for your baby!
You’ll want to protect that precious soft skin from direct sunlight. When using sunscreen, don’t forget the arms and legs because they sometimes stick out of the stroller shade and can get roasted. Also, remember, you’ll need to reapply sunscreen throughout the day, so bring enough.
I like to bring a portable battery-operated or rechargeable fan that I can clip onto my baby’s stroller. It makes a huge difference in keeping the baby comfortable.
If your baby naps with a blanket, make sure it is a light and breathable material like cotton and not too heavy for the hot, sticky Florida weather.
Pro Tip 3: Bring Baby Food
Adults and older kids are spoiled in food choices at the Disney World parks.
But if you’re bringing a baby to Walt Disney World, I highly recommend bringing the food your baby is used to eating at home.
It’s just not worth the trouble of introducing new foods to the baby while you’re traveling. You could end up with a fussy baby who is impossible to console. And if there are long lines at the food counters, a hungry baby is not a pretty sight!
If you are flying into Orlando and cannot bring all the baby food, you’ll need with you on the airplane (don’t get me started about those airline baggage fees!), I find it convenient to get groceries delivered to my Walt Disney World Resort hotel.
Pro Tip 4: Pack Extra
When you’re packing for a Disney trip as adults, the rule of thumb is to pack your suitcase and then take out half your stuff.
I would say the opposite is true when you’re going to Disney World with a baby.
Let me tell you, you cannot have enough sippy cups and onesies (we’ve all seen what a diaper blowout looks like!). If you don’t take enough, you might be forced to buy extra clothes in the Disney parks or Disney Springs – not a cheap proposition, I can tell ya.
This is true for all your baby gear. While you can get pretty much everything in a Disney park, like baby food and diapers, it comes with a Disney price tag.
After you’ve paid for airfare, hotel, park tickets, transport, and food, a Disney vacation can start to look very, very expensive. So, anything that can help you save money when bringing a baby to Disney is welcome, right?
Pack extra and budget for unforeseen expenses.
Pro Tip 5: Use the Baby Care Centers
All the parks in Walt Disney World have a dedicated baby care center. What never fails to surprise me is that many parents who are in Disney World with a baby for their first trip don’t use them!
The baby care centers in Walt Disney World are awesome. They’re a private place to relax in air-conditioned comfort.
Some of the things you can enjoy at the Disney baby care centers:
- baby changing stations for diaper changes
- private nursing rooms with rocking chairs for breastfeeding infants
- high chairs for a toddler
- microwave for warming food
- a relaxation area with a TV playing Disney cartoons
- a shop that sells everything from baby formula to clothing, wipes, diapers, sunscreen, and OTC medications
I wrote a guide on bringing medications and other essentials to Disney here: Can You Bring Medicine Into Disney World?
But my tip really is to take advantage of the baby care centers! It’ll make a whole lot of difference.
Pro Tip 6: Disney has Stroller Rentals
Some parents like to bring their own stroller when they come to Disney World with a baby. But if you don’t want the hassle of bringing your own, you can rent one at the Disney World parks.
It just depends on how old your baby is and how much time they spend in a stroller.
There are also stroller rental services in Orlando that will deliver a stroller to your hotel so you can have the same one for the entire trip.
It’s one less thing to worry about when packing!
And I also find that bringing a baby carrier is very useful.
Baby carriers are great for a sleeping baby who needs a bit of cuddling or a fussy baby who just won’t fall asleep in a stroller. Plus, you can use your baby carrier when the stroller is folded away, for example, when you’re waiting in the standby line or using Disney transportation.
I would especially recommend bringing your stroller and carrier if your kiddo has any special needs or tends to get fussy in new surroundings. I know some parents who swear by an on-the-go pack-n-play which keeps the baby comfortable and relaxed in the hotel room. Bring a car seat only if you’re going to rent a car (Minnie Vans have car seats).
While strollers can go most places in Walt Disney World, they can’t go everywhere. A cast member will be happy to direct you to the nearest drop-off point.
Here’s a tip… There are a lot of very similar-looking strollers in a stroller stand at Walt Disney World. I find it useful to mark my baby’s stroller with a ribbon, balloon, or sign, so it’s easy to pick out. You don’t want to leave with the wrong stroller and discover (with horror) half an hour later that your kid has been drinking out of someone else’s sippy cup!
Pro Tip 7: Sign Up for Disney Genie+
You’re going to Disney World with your little one to make precious memories. If you are in Disney World with a baby, do yourself a favor and sign up for the Disney Genie+ service (this has replaced the FastPass line).
It will help maximize fun in the theme parks by giving you access to the Lightning Lanes.
If you truly want to take your Walt Disney World vacation to the next level, use the Individual Attraction Selections to minimize waiting in lines.
If mom and dad or the older children want to go on rides that are not suitable for the baby, use the Rider Switch or Child Swap option (don’t worry, it doesn’t mean switching your baby with someone else!).
This option allows one parent to go on the ride while the other waits with the baby. Then the parents switch, and the other parent gets to go on the ride without waiting in line again.
I think it’s a fantastic idea, and it’s excellent for rides with height restrictions, such as Space Mountain, or attractions like Haunted Mansion, which tend to have long lines.
Pro Tip 8: Plan for the Whole Family
Many families visit WDW as a multi-generational group. If you are in Disney World with a baby in your party, keep in mind that you’ll have to plan the trip, so the other children and adults have a great Disney experience too.
But because you have a baby in tow, you should not wait until the last minute to do things. While adults and older kiddos can always wing it, in my experience, planning makes life easier in Disney World with a baby or small children.
This means having things like park tickets, transportation, Disney Dining Plan, advanced dining reservations at popular restaurants, and character dining experiences all booked before you leave home.
Pro Tip 9: Stick to Baby’s Routine
While it might seem like a great idea to take the baby to the Disney World parks at rope drop, this plan can backfire.
Babies like routine. If your baby is a late riser and you force her to go to Magic Kingdom at 8 am, even the most magical place on earth will not keep the baby happy.
My advice is to do your best to stick to your baby’s regular routine in terms of nap time, meal times, and bedtimes.
Remember, your baby will have a sensory overload and many adventures throughout the day, so he might get more tired than usual. The completely different environment can also throw some babies off.
I know it’s easier said than done, but routine is definitely something to aim for.
So, if your baby likes to sleep in darkness, bring a blanket to create a dark space in the stroller. If your baby likes to eat every 2 hours, bring enough snacks. For babies who’re afraid of loud noises, WDW can be challenging – a white noise machine can help.
I’ve found that keeping to a routine keeps my baby happy and ensures I don’t end up with a headache at the end of the day.
Pro Tip 10: Consider Getting Park Hopper
This might sound counterintuitive to taking it easy when you’re visiting Disney World, but here’s the thing.
The Park Hopper option can help you get the most out of a Disney vacation if you’re staying only for 2-3 days. This will allow you to go to all the must-do attractions on your list and give you more flexibility on your Disney trip.
For example, let’s say you take the baby to meet some amazing animals at Animal Kingdom during the day. If you have Park Hopper, you can head to EPCOT in the evening, go on a ride or two, and then enjoy a relaxed meal at the World Showcase.
What NOT To Do At Disney World If You Have A Baby
I love helping you out and giving you tips on what you should do when you’re on a Disney property with your baby, but this wouldn’t be complete without the don’ts.
- Don’t assume your baby will be fascinated with meeting characters.
There’s a 50/50 chance your kid will be absolutely terrified and burst into tears upon seeing Mickey Mouse. This can be upsetting for parents who’ve waited in line at a character meet.
My advice is to proceed with caution and see how your baby reacts to characters before taking them to a character meet.
- Don’t expect the characters to hold your baby.
Yes, I know it would be a great photo if Mickey Mouse would just scoop your baby into his arms, but this is not allowed (for your baby’s safety). You can still get amazing shots, but you will need to be in the photo too.
- Don’t plan to zig-zag across the Disney World parks.
The average guest walks 13 miles at a Walt Disney World theme park in one day. With a baby in tow, 13 can start to feel like 30.
- Don’t forget to check out the latest Disney news and official Disney information before your trip.
Updates on park timings and showtimes can change. Just make sure you’re in with the latest information.
The good thing is they update their website regularly, so just check there last minute before your trip, so you’re in the loop.
- Don’t forget to plan for what to do if the family gets separated or a kid gets lost.
Yes, these things happen. Write mom or dad’s phone number on a slip of paper and keep it in a zippered pocket on young kids. Decide on a meeting point with older kiddos, for example, the First Aid Center or Guest Services at the park entrance.
Where to Stay at Disney World With A Baby
There are several perks to staying onsite at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel on your Disney trip with a baby.
It’s much easier to pop back to the Disney resort hotel for a nap and go back in the evening for fireworks, a show, and a leisurely meal. You also get Extra Magic Hours so you can plan the day based on your baby’s routine.
Plus, you’ll save on a rental car because you’ll have access to WDW transportation to get you to the theme parks.
With that said, Orlando has an incredible range of accommodation options for families.
If you don’t want to shell out the extra bucks for a Disney Resort hotel, you can save money by staying offsite, although it might take a little extra effort.
My advice is to choose one of the many “Good Neighbor” hotels that offer complimentary shuttle services. The shuttles must be booked in advance and usually drop off guests at the Disney Transportation and Ticketing Center, not the individual parks.
You then have to use the internal Disney transportation system to get to whichever theme park you’re headed to – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, or Hollywood Studios.
When To Go To Disney World With A Baby
In case you don’t know yet, summer is HOT in Orlando. I mean, really hot. On the other hand, January can get chilly.
If you don’t have older kids and are not constrained by school holidays, consider visiting Disney World with a baby in the shoulder season. For instance, November (before Thanksgiving) can be the ideal time in terms of both weather and crowds.
Best Rides for the Little One at Disney World
Here’s my pick of the best attractions for babies at Disney World. These are suitable for all ages and do not have a height restriction.
Best Rides for Babies at Magic Kingdom
- Jungle Cruise
- The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- It’s a Small World
- Prince Charming Regal Carousel
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Mad Tea Party
- Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Astro Orbiter
- Walt Disney World Railroad
- Festival of Fantasy Parade
Best Rides for Babies at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Wildlife Express Train
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- TriceraTop Spin
- Na’vi River Journey
- Festival of the Lion King
Best Rides for Babies Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Toy Story Mania
- Alien Swirling Saucers
Best Rides for Babies at EPCOT
- The Seas with Nemo and Friends
- Frozen: Ever After
Going to Disney World with a baby can be stressful if you don’t plan properly. But if you get the basics right and plan ahead, it can be a LOT of fun, and you can make some precious memories.
I hope my tips will help you enjoy Walt Disney World if you’ve got babies and toddlers in your group.
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve been to Disney World with a baby and how it worked out.