Disney World in Diapers (a mom’s survival guide)

Pluto FoF

It’s the age old argument – is a child in diapers too young to experience Disney World? If you would have asked me before I had a child, I probably would have said yes, but taking a child to Disney World THREE times before potty training, it was actually a really easy experience! It also brings up the questions “how young is too young for Disney?” and “what’s the point if they won’t remember it?” That’s another conversation for another day, but back to diapers.

So why did I like taking my child under 3/in diapers to Disney? Because it was EASY! No asking “do you have to go potty” before we got into every queue/line. No worrying about accidents in line or trying to keep up with potty training while exploring the parks.

Every single bathroom we encountered (both mens and ladies) had a diaper changing area in them (the mens line was always shorter and I’m very appreciative my husband was up for regular diaper duty and investigation when he didn’t have our girl with him). You also have the baby care center which is located inside each of the parks as well.

The only “bad” part about a kiddo in diapers is the additional supplies you need to bring with you to the parks – extra diapers, wipes, and an extra change of clothes (or two). That also means a bag of some sort to bring with you. For us, it didn’t take up that much extra space and we had a bag with us anyways – backpack mama here, but for those that are used to touring without a backpack, it may be cumbersome! In general, most families that have a child in diapers will also have a stroller, so plenty of storage with a stroller.

In the hot months, hydration is important so being able to keep your child well hydrated without worrying about running to a bathroom after every attraction you experience is also helpful!

A little bit of a look into the question of “what’s the point, my young child won’t remember the experience”. Yes, this may be true. My kiddo remembered the experience from her first to her second trip and after our third adventure, she talks about visiting her “friends” at Mickey’s house. I don’t know that she’ll remember those specific experiences forever but SOME of the trip is honestly for us as well! For me, making the memories with my family is the best art of bringing a young child to Disney parks. It’s pure magic and brings tears to my eyes! Since we know that trip is also for the adults, rider switch is also a helpful piece of taking a child in diapers to Disney. Rider switch is used for attractions with height restrictions. This allows adults (and older siblings) to experience these attractions while avoiding the wait time! For a full rundown on Rider switch, visit my Mom’s guide!

So you’re on board with bringing your little one to Disney. The other great benefit is that children under three are FREE! And

My girl with her main man...I mean mouse!

My girl with her main man…I mean mouse!

in an era where almost nothing is free without any strings being attached to it, this is a wonderful benefit. Children who arrive before their third birthday do not have to pay for park admission, don’t count toward room maximum occupancy, and can share from an adult plate at no additional cost at any dining location. If the dining location is served family or buffet style, children under 3 may have their own plate of food at no cost to the parents! That’s an amazing benefit for me and why we went THREE times before my daughter turned 3.

So how do you get your diapers and supplies to Disney? You have a few different options!

  • Pack them and bring them with. If you are driving, that’s easy! If you are flying, you can pack them in a carry on bag, or pack them with your luggage. We often fly Southwest because we get 2 free checked bags. One bag is often filled with diapers, wipes, snacks, and other supplies to keep kids and adults happy while touring the parks. Some carriers charge for checked AND carry on bags, so know your options and any additional cost before you pack.
  • Ship them to your resort. You can ship them from Amazon or other online retailers directly to your resort without paying a premium for the supplies themselves. You will need to property address them to ensure they go directly to your resort and not a receiving and distribution center before making its way to your resort. Shipments should arrive no earlier than 7 days from your arrival date.
  • Order them from a local delivery – GardenGrocer.com is a great option. You can also get some other basic food options including fresh fruit, milk, juice, or maybe even some breakfast items.
  • Purchasing them from your Disney resort. This is a really expensive option, but in a pinch, it’s a viable option.
  • Don’t forget the swim diapers too!
A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2016 or 2017 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

 

Disney World With toddlers and babies: Do I need a car seat?

 

For first timers or traveling for the first time with kids, I get this question a lot: Do I need a car seat? Generally the answer is NO and here’s why…

If you are taking Disney transportation around all of the theme parks, car seats are not allowed. Not allowed on Magical Express and you’ll be asked to stow it under the bus where the luggage is. Your little ones can sit on your lap or in a seat next to you. There are seat belts available inside Magical Express buses although I don’t know that I’ve ever seen them used.

Disney theme park buses. These are more like city buses – hard plastic seats and no seat belts available. Again, you can keep your little ones on your lap or in the seat next to you. During peak travel (as parks are opening and closing), you’ll find that buses are often crowded. Most guests will get up and allow a parent with a small child to have a seat during the quick ride home. If you are concerned or unsure if the kindness of strangers will prevail, you always have the opportunity to wait for the next bus and allow others to go.

Situations where you would need a car seat – If you are renting a car to go off Disney property – beach day? Sea World? Visiting family? This is better than renting a car seat from a rental agency. From what I’ve been told they are less than ideal! Instead of renting a car, consider a car service. While it may be a bit more, there’s no chance you’ll ruin a car seat in transit on the airplane or worry about the extra piece of “luggage” to drag with you through the airport and getting your resort. The good private car locations have built in booster seats and/or car seats!

In general, just leave the car seat at home. Let Disney do the driving – sit back and relax! Let the kids stand up and look out the window and take in all of the magic of Disney World. For the very little ones, wear those babies! This may be a good reason to bring that baby carrier – if he or she is too little to sit in a regular stroller, it’s one of the few appropriate cases! Its also a nice way to cool both you and baby off because as a baby wearing mom, I know it can get warm!

Any questions moms and dads? I’d love to hear from you! I know bringing a really little one to Disney might be scary, so I’m here to calm your fears!

Planning a trip to Disney World with children under 5

disneyunder5

I’ve done a lot of research in planning Disney vacations over the years. It seems like I’m currently writing the book on planning a trip to Disney World. This one is a little extra special to me as I finish up the final plans fin taking my daughter on her first trip. It’s a completely different vantage point than all of my other trips which were go, go, go! While I’m not following all of these rules for my trip, following several of them will help make your vacation a success.

  1. Stay in close proximity to one of the parks. Magic Kingdom has the most kid friendly attractions so that’s my first choice for anyone with kids. Although many of the resorts on the monorail are more costly, it’s invaluable to be able to walk or take a quick ride for nap time (instead of waiting for a bus and then riding it back to your resort). A good alternative is Wilderness Lodge. While it’s not on the monorail line, it’s close enough to give you good access to Magic Kingdom with a shortened travel time. Another great resort option would be the hotels near the rear entrance of Epcot. This offers a short walk to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios. If you want to save your feet, take the Friendship boats which drop you off just steps away from entrances of each park.
  2. Take a break in the middle of the day. This advice isn’t just for those with kids, it’s good for everyone! I think that many people try and go, go, go their first day and get worn out. Take a break when park crowds get heavy (or when the sun gets too hot). Go swim in your hotel pool, have lunch at a nearby restaurant (in or out of the park), explore a nearby resort, or take a little cat nap. Return late in the afternoon and then stay until park close (or post fireworks show). With FastPass+, you have the benefit of using your evening park time for big attractions without the wait!
  3. Take an off day. When staying 5+ nights at Disney, it’s nice to have a down day with no parks. Enjoy a pool day, explore another resort, head to Downtown Disney to shop and sleep in! There are so many exciting things to do at all the Disney resorts outside of the park like movies at your resort (or another – check out ones that have them on the beach), a marshmallow roast, Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach of one of the monorail resorts, animal watching at Animal Kingdom Lodge are just a few of my favorites. Plus these are all free! What a great way to save a little money.
  4. Decide if park hoppers are for you. There are pros and cons to park hopping at any age. For short trips, I suggest that guests add on park hoppers. I also suggest them for adults and seasoned vets regardless of how long the trip. You get to see more in less time with Park Hoppers and it kind of forces you to take a little break during the day (see #2).You also can use the FastPass+ system to your advantage. Schedule those FastPasses in the second park of the day and enjoy shorter lines for major attractions.  I wouldn’t say don’t park hop with younger kids and longer vacations by any means! If you have it in your budget and you want to park hop, do it! Just know that it adds more travel time and a little bit more planning up front.
  5. Bring snacks. Did you know that Disney allows you to bring snacks and drinks from the outside into the park? Yep! As long as bottles are not glass or alcoholic beverages, you are free to bring in what you choose.  Little snacks are great to have while waiting in line or to take a small break. Plus it saves you money for other things!
  6. Don’t try to do too much. Take it slow and don’t rush around with little legs trying to catch up. The vacation is for all of you. Enjoy some of the magic as they see things for the very first time.
  7. Plan your dining. If you want to see characters while in Disney, dining is a great way to accomplish it. Check out what characters are available and where they dine and make your reservation early! Cinderella’s Royal Table (for dinner) and Chef Mickey’s (any meal) fill up fast. Remember, if you book your trip 6 months out, you can take advantage of the 180+10 rule which allows you to book dining for your entire trip before others! If you are doing a character meal, book it in the middle or later in your trip. This gives you ample time to cancel if your little one doesn’t do well with characters!
  8. Know height restrictions. Some Disney rides have a minimum height restriction. Many of the major ones are 42 inches or under, but there are some that are taller (Space Mountain is 44 inches). You don’t want disappointment on arrival, so measure before you go and plan accordingly.
  9. Find characters for Meet & Greet. Plan ahead and know where you can find each character. For example, Rapunzel is ONLY in Magic Kingdom. The best place to meet princesses outside of dining experiences is in World Showcase in Epcot. Mickey is almost everywhere, but the shortest lines tend to be in Animal Kingdom. You can also have an air conditioned character meet in Epcot. Pick up the a schedule at the park on your way in for more details.  Little bonus tip. If you see a photopass photographer in a random location (often shaded), it usually means a character is coming soon. Feel free to ask the cast member for details and wait around for a few minutes. It could be your shortest way for a character meet in your time at Disney!
  10. Set a budget for souvenirs. Like anyone, kids want to take home something from their vacation, especially from the House of Mouse! There are several ways to combat excessive spending during their trip. You can give each kid a gift card for spending money, bring little gifts with you each day and distribute when you return from the parks (as Tinkerbell’s Pixie Dust), or set a special time aside to shop in Downtown Disney which has the most to choose from. It will help combat questions every day in the parks. If you do allow them to shop in the parks, you can have your items delivered to your resort at no charge (then you don’t have to carry things around every day!)

Enjoy the time with your little ones and capture every moment. To make things even easier, add Memory Maker on to your reservation to enjoy as many photos as you’d like! What’s Memory Maker? AWESOME. Check out the details and what it’s all about.

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2015 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

Planning a Disney World vacation with Toddlers

 

It’s a brave adventure for parents, taking a toddler to Disney World. While it makes perfect financial sense due to Disney’s “free until 3 policy”, the change in routine can be nerve wracking! If this is your first Disney World vacation EVER the new experience will be exciting for your entire family. If you’ve been to Disney World without kids, you’ll definitely notice a difference in pace and touring style. Please use this guide to help you master Disney World with a little one!

Choosing AccommodationsArt-Of-Animation2

There are two schools of thought when booking your accommodations: convenience and price. Convenience would be within close proximity to Magic Kingdom. Keeping cost in mind, your best bet is Wilderness Lodge, although I could make an argument to upgrade to one of the resorts along the monorail to just “roll on” to the monorail allowing you to get to both Magic Kingdom and Epcot without worrying about taking your prince or princess out, folding the stroller up and repeating multiple times each day as you would to get on and off the buses. The resorts nearest to Epcot: Beach Club, Yacht Club, and Boardwalk Inn are also 3 great choices as you can walk or take a boat to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios. (The walk to Hollywood Studios is long – I suggest the boat unless you literally just missed it).

In between the convenience and price category is Art of Animation. The family suites provide the best character presence in all of Disney World and it’s perfect for kids of all ages! A bonus of the family suites is that adults have a separate bedroom from the living space allowing your little one to get a full night’s sleep without you in sight! It will also avoid “lights out” earlier than you’d like or hiding under the covers watching a movie on the iPad! Another little bonus is that the family suites have a microwave!

Middle of the road money wise in the moderate category, I think Coronado Springs is the best. There are sliding doors between the bathroom area and the sleeping quarters that could block off light and noise while your toddler gets her beauty sleep (assuming a pack and play is still in the cards). Coronado Springs also has the best moderate resort pool experience.

If you’re really looking to save money, your best priced resort as well as winner for best use of characters in Disney resort is All Star Movies. Buyer beware though – you don’t get anything for free. This resort is rather large, so it’s worth upgrading to the preferred location rooms. During off peak travel hours, this resort shares bus service with the other two All Star resorts and Movies is the LAST stop. Not ideal with a toddler in tow.

All Disney World resorts have a mini fridge and you can request a pack n play or crib (based on availability) at no cost. The mini fridge is large enough to fit a half gallon of milk and some other cold snacks. Think the size of a college dorm fridge. For moms like me that are still doing whole milk for their growing babies, each resort has their own “general store” that you can buy milk, juice, and other supplies at Disney inflated prices. It’s better than buying cartons of milk one by one!

How many nights to stay?

This is your decision! If you’re taking a plane ride, I think 5 nights is your minimum. If you’re changing time zones whether flying or driving, you need at least that amount of time as well. An ideal Disney vacation (especially for a first time) is 7 days, 6 nights (or more) with a break every 2-3 nights to enjoy the other things your resort has to offer or to go exploring.

Park tickets

Theme park tickets, the most expensive part of any Disney vacation. First timers will definitely have some sticker shock at the overall cost of their vacation package when park tickets get added to the mix. Starting with “how many days”. My preference with or without kids is at least 5. There’s a big price break at 4, so the upgrade to that 5th day is really minimal. This gives you 2 Magic Kingdom days, 1 Epcot Day, 1 Hollywood Studios day, and 1 Animal Kingdom day.

If you’re on a shorter trip or a tight budget, use this guide to choose your parks. I understand you want to see it all but for the age of your little ones, Magic Kingdom just makes the most sense. There are well over 30 attractions plus live shows to enjoy. While some of them are for “big kids”, it’s important to know what each park has to offer.

3 Days: 2 Magic Kingdom, 1 park of your choice

4 Days: 2 Magic Kingdom, 2 parks of your choice (or 1 in each park, but you may feel like you’re missing out on Magic Kingdom!)

Choosing your “other” park, is based on what you and your child/children like. Hollywood Studios has a heavy Disney Junior presence, Epcot has lots of princesses, and Animal Kingdom has some great dining, a few lesser seen Disney characters and it’s great for little ones who enjoy the zoo back home!

Don’t be afraid to skip a park. You can always return to Disney another time to enjoy more when the kids get bigger!

What about park hoppers? Is that too much for young kids? My argument for park hoppers is that you’re little one is taking it all the sights and sounds of Disney. They won’t notice a difference of going to Magic Kingdom in the morning and heading to Epcot after nap time. Lights and noise are lights and noise!

Big Kids Can Have Fun Too!

For many of the attractions that have height requirements, the rider switch option is available. Alert a cast member that you’d like to take advantage of this service and they will walk you through the process. This allows one guest to ride while the other one waits with your too small or too scared rider and the “switch” with the other adult. If you have an older child who can ride, he or she can ride twice (once with each adult).

Characters

I’m sure traveling with little ones bring the thought of character meets to mind. If your kids do recognize some Disney characters (which I think happens around age 2), you can one or more of your FastPass+ allotments to meet their favorite characters or use the standby lines to do so.

Taking a break

Whether you choose base tickets or park hoppers, you can leave a park and return later in the day. Try and keep nap time consistent each day. If your little one is a good stroller napper, feel free to roll around the parks while she takes a snooze. If you need a quiet space, head back to your hotel BEFORE nap time to get some time to wind down and to prevent a complete meltdown.

Each of Disney’s 4 theme parks have a baby center. It’s an air conditioned area with rocking chairs, changing tables, bottle warmers, high chairs, and more. It’s also a great escape from the noise of Disney parks. Check the park maps for locations!

FastPass+

The addition of FastPass+ is the biggest asset to parents of young children. This allows you to schedule those top 3 choice attractions prior to your arrival. Avoiding being in line during nap time/when you’d like to leave the park for the morning.

Best FastPass+ attractions for each theme park for the toddler population:

Magic Kingdom

  • Jungle CruiseDisney-World-First-Visit-Button
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • Dumbo
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
  • Haunted Mansion (+/- on the “scare” factor)
  • Meet Anna & Elsa
  • Meet Mickey at Town Square
  • Meet Tinkerbell at Town Square
  • Meet Ariel in her Grotto
  • Meet Cinderella & Rapunzel

There are many more attractions and live shows available in Magic Kingdom to bring enjoyment to your toddler!

Epcot

  • Seas with Nemo and Friends
  • Turtle Talk with Crush
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment
  • Epcot Character Spot
  • Maelstrom
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Living with the Land

The two headlining attractions in Epcot: Test Track and Soarin’ both have 40” height minimums. Adults will have fun with these. Check out details of Rider Switch.

Hollywood Studios

  • Toy Story Mania
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid (live show)
  • Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage (live show)
  • Disney Junior – Live on Stage (live show)
  • Studio Backlot Tour
  • Great Movie Ride (+/- for a few small scare factors)
  • Muppet Vision 3D
  • Lights, Motors, Action (live show)
  • Indiana Jones Stunt Show (live show)

Enjoy some adventure time at Honey I Shrunk the Audience play area!

Animal Kingdom

  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Festival of the Lion King (live show)
  • Finding Nemo the Musical (live show)
  • Triceratops Spin
  • DINOSAUR (height requirement and decent scare factor involved – beware before you choose this option)
  • Meet Disney Pals

Play in the Boneyard! If you have time, enjoy some of the trails and treks – Flights of Wonder, Wild Africa Trek, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, etc. They’re worth the time exploring if you have a full day to dedicate to Animal Kingdom.

Dining

If you’re planning a character meal, book it later in your trip to see how your little one reacts to characters earlier in the trip. Stop by one of the character meet and greets and try face characters (those that can speak) vs. non-face characters like Mickey and friends who don’t speak. They may be a bit scarier at first. If you do make your reservation earlier in your trip, you can always wave characters past your table if the scare factor is too high! Remember, Disney allows cancellation at no cost 24+ hours from time of reservation so you can always do something else.

Don’t worry about a few tears or whiny moments, kids are everywhere in Disney and most parents feel your pain and are hoping their kid doesn’t do the same thing until AFTER they leave!

Non-character dining options that have great ambiance for kids and good food for adults:

  • Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater (Hollywood Studios)
  • 50s Prime Time Café (Hollywood Studios)
  • Beaches & Cream (Beach Club)
  • Whispering Canyon Café (Wilderness Lodge)
  • ‘Ohana Dinner (Polynesian)
  • T-REX (Downtown Disney)
  • Coral Reef (Epcot)
  • San Angel Inn (Epcot
  • Rainforest Café (Downtown Disney or Animal Kingdom)
  • Live theater shows are sometimes a good option depending on your child’s attention span – Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ are my top choices.

Dining Plan or No Dining Plan?

Can you get your little one to sit down each night for a meal? Is he a wiggle worm and makes everyone’s dinner more difficult when he’s “all done”? Perhaps plus dining is not for you! If he wants food on the table NOW and you do want dining, select mostly buffet locations. The added benefit being that he can have his own plate of food at each buffet location without any additional cost. At other sit down restaurants, he can share with mom, dad, or big sister at no additional cost.

If you’re beyond meltdowns or have a toddler who will patiently sit and eat (I’m jealous), enjoy and explore all of your options. You still may want to stay away from signature dining as that can be a long meal!

Adults only time

Looking for some time away from your little one for a romantic dinner or outing? Disney has thought of EVERYTHING! Kids nite out offers 1:1 babysitting services in your hotel room. This must be set up in advance, but it’s a great way for adults to escape for a little bit. If you’re little ones are over age 3, you have the opportunity to enjoy some of the kids activity centers around Disney World deluxe resorts while you enjoy a meal as well!

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2015 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!