We visited Disneyworld recently with our 11 month old baby and 4 year old little girl. I’ll admit, I had reservations about travelling with our youngest. The long journey aside, I worried that we’d be really limited as to what we’d be able to do when we got there. I worried that we wouldn’t be able to go on any of the rides as a family, and that the whole thing might be just too overwhelming for Little W, and consequently, very stressful for the rest of us.
I’m happy (and relieved!) to say that I was completely wrong. If you’re contemplating taking a baby to Disneyworld, I’d say do it. And here are a few reasons why:
It’s free for babies!
I’m just going to leave that there.
So it’s free. But surely we’ll hardly be able to go on any rides?
On the contrary, babies can go on OODLEs of rides at Disneyworld. In fact, you can take them on almost any ride or attraction where there is no height restriction. Of course, do your research into what each ride entails and if you think your baby may be scared by sudden loud noises or a slight spray of water, avoid any rides or attractions where these are included. We found that all but one or two of the rides that our 4 year old wanted to go on were perfectly fine for our baby.
That’s great. But what about the adults?
Having a baby or young child in tow doesn’t mean that the adults in your group have to miss out on all the thrill rides. Remember that it’s your holiday too, so if you and your partner want to ride Tower of Terror but don’t think your 4 month old is up for it, you can always take advantage of Rider Switch. This means that you all queue up for a ride together. When it’s your turn, one of you goes on the ride while the other one looks after the baby. Once the ride is finished, the other person hands over the baby and gets straight onto the ride without having to queue up again. You can read more about Rider Switch and a list of rides and attractions offering the service here.
There’s no getting away from it. Queues for attractions in Disneyworld can be LONG and tiring for young children and babies, especially in the heat. This is where good planning comes in.
My advice would be to decide what you definitely want to ride and aim to get Fastpasses for those rides in advance where possible. Your Disneyworld ticket will allow you to book three Fastpasses per day in advance for certain rides (and extra Fastpasses on the day, once you have used these up). Having a Fastpass for a ride essentially means that your queue time is significantly shorter. For rides and attractions where Fastpasses are not available, do some research before you go and find out how to avoid the busiest queue times. We used the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disneyworld for this and found it invaluable.
Don’t let the thought of long queues put you off though. Surprisingly, we found our 11 month old to be much more patient that our 4 year old when waiting for rides! Take books and a couple of toys to entertain them during the wait, just in case.
But above all, if they’re over 6 months, take snacks.
Ok, but what about baby facilities?
Disneyworld is very well set up for families. You will always find a highchair in the restaurants, and we never came across a restroom without a changing table in either the women’s or men’s toilets. Disneyworld also has Baby Care Centres in every park where you can prepare food, feed your baby, change nappies, breastfeed, have a bit of a relax, or purchase any baby-related items you may have left at the hotel, including suntan cream, wipes, nappies and baby food.
There are also First Aid Centres which, as well as offering first aid, will keep cool any medicines you need during your visit. We only found this out when we needed anti-biotics for Little B during our trip and it was a lifesaver as the weather was unusually hot during our visit, and there was no way we could have kept her medicine cool all day.
But what’s the point of it all if they won’t even remember it?
Lots of people put off a holiday to Disneyworld until their children are older because as babies, they clearly won’t remember it. But the fact is, even though they may not remember it, you will. You will create lifelong memories. You will remember your baby smiling and giggling at all the character interactions, and you will never forget the look on their face when they stare, mesmerised, at all those creepy dolls on the It’s a Small World ride.
And if you really can’t get passed the fact that they won’t remember it, then plan to go a second time when they’re a bit older. It’s the perfect excuse!
The truth is, you will have a magical experience (but just don’t go looking for it)
The thing about Disneyworld is that you expect it to be magical. But remember, you’re going with the same family you’re with every day. Just because you’ve scanned your ticket and entered ‘the happiest place on earth’ your life won’t suddenly be perfect. Even though you’re at Disneyworld, the same things will get your back up, the heat will fray tempers at times, your baby will still poo or vomit at an inopportune moment, and you may even forget where you parked your car and be wandering around the biggest car park in the world with a hungry, crying baby at 6pm, thinking of all the ways to make your husband suffer for it, because HOW HARD IS IT TO REMEMBER ONE DISNEY CHARACTER AND ONE NUMBER??!
Go with the flow, keep your expectations realistic, and the rest will be brilliant.