What to Know When Taking Your Baby to Disney
Taking the tiniest Disney fan to the Happiest Place on Earth may seem like a daunting task. Many people will say you shouldn’t take very young children or babies to the parks. They won’t remember it. They will be too cranky. It’s just too hard to travel with little ones. Disney is a big place and those little legs will tire out quickly after all. But taking children of any age to Disney means lasting memories, funny stories, and wonderful momentos. Although it may not be easy taking a child under 3 to Disney, there are plenty of benefits, too!
A Disney vacation is not usually cheap by any stretch of the imagination. Traveling with children under 3 does have some cost reducing benefits. First, children under 3 have free admission to all Disney theme parks. No FastPass+ or MaxPass needed either. Most young children don’t eat full sized meals. When eating at a buffet, children under 3 eat for free! Similarly, when eating on the Disney Dining Program children get their own plate at a family style or traditional buffet. At quick or table service meals children can eat from parent’s plates for free.
Having small children with you doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy rides. In fact you can enjoy every ride in Disney if you have a plan. Rides with no height restriction such as Dumbo, it’s a small world, and Winnie the Pooh can accommodate parents and children of any age. Children under the age of 3 do not need FastPasses. This means that you can take young children through the FastPass line without needing an additional reservation. It’s also a great opportunity to use Rider Switch. All of your party approaches the FastPass or stand by line. A Cast Member will scan your Magic Band or app. Part of your party can now; proceed to the ride though the appropriate line. After the ride the rest of the party (up to 3 people) can proceed directly to the front of the ride (like a FastPass even if you originally waited in stand by). This means you can still enjoy thrilling rides such as Space Mountain or Big Thunder with a mini human in tow.
There are also some special experiences during a 1st trip for little Mouseketeers at WDW. Harmony Barber Shop does baby’s first haircuts for $25. First come first serve, you will receive a certification of bravery, special Mickey ears embroidered with “Baby’s 1st Haircut,” and a mesh bag with a bit of baby’s hair. Unfortunately there is no equivalent at Disneyland. At both parks you can get a “First Trip Button” from guest services. (I made my husband wear one on his first trip.) The button will let Cast Members know it is baby’s first trip - you never know what kind of magic could happen. Another first in the park may be baby’s first pickle, pretzel, or blue milk! Disney is a great place for everyone to try new foods. By the end of your trip you could have a mini foodie on your hands!
Baby’s first meeting with Mickey Mouse will definitely be instagram worthy. Don’t forget that character meals are a great way for little kids to get up close and personal with multiple characters and save time (and money is baby is eating off your place or getting their own!). It will also be a great option for kids to see characters and get comfortable with them before you stand in line for a character only for your little one to shrink due to shyness.
If you can’t decide whether to bring your stroller or if it doesn’t fit the restrictions for strollers (no wagons) in the park, Disney rents single and double strollers with canopies. Kingdom Strollers in Orlando is another great place to rent park approved strollers - 1-3 days for $45. The stroller will be delivered to your hotel and you do not need to be present for delivery or pick-up. Summer vacations will be cooler with some clip on foam bladed fans for the strollers as well.
The baby care center is a great resource for families and is available in each park marked on the map. Food, medicine, formula/drinks are available for sale at the baby center so if you need something in the park - even just a place to rest - the baby center is a perfect place for families.
General travel points for planning your trip with little ones: choose a relaxed pace. Arrive early and leave early. You’ll get those Fantasyland rides in before the crowds and the wait lines get too long. Enjoy shows and parades. Give little ones time to walk around and explore kid’s areas to work off some steam and get ready for a Disney nap. Stay on schedule for THEIR day - let your baby or toddler nap when they usually would at home. Consider going back to your hotel for less noise, a/c during the summer heat, and a family nap. Don’t be afraid to schedule a table service meal with a baby as part of your party - ensure you count them in your party though to avoid a delay in seating. Lastly, have a plan: must sees or must dos, plenty of time to explore, and emergency/back-up plans (for example dark rides can also be great opportunities for rest breaks and cooler temperatures).
Kids under 5 may not remember the fun but there will be plenty of pictures and stories from family members to remember the trip by! By taking little ones to Disney early you are also starting a tradition that may become a life long passion. We have planned my daughter’s first trip for before her 3rd birthday. Daddy and Mommy (mostly Mommy) wanted one more Disney trip for just adults. In the meantime we are introducing her to plenty of Disney music, the Fab 5, and eventually the movies so she will be familiar with the character.