If you've never traveled with your child before, I have two pieces of advice and one general tip.
Firstly, hope for the best but be plan for the worst. In other words...
Pack more than you think you need, expect mishaps, and just be prepared
for any and every scenario. Because that one time you're SURE your baby
won't have a blow out while you're out and about enjoying your vacay? I
assure you that they will.
Secondly, try to be as go-with-the-flow as you possibly can. Routines
will be broken. Blankies will get lost. Stroller napping will have to
suffice. It's vacation and rules are meant to be broken/bent... You'll
be glad you did in the end. If you're running yourself frantic the whole
time trying to stick to your schedule, no one is going to enjoy
And the best thing I can tell you is this: Vacation with kids? Well,
it's not really a vacation. Sure, there will be moments of relaxation,
quiet periods, memorable experiences, etc... But for the most part,
you're doing what you do at home in a different place: feeding them,
changing diapers, putting them to bed, filling sippies, washing bottles,
etc. I am not trying to be a Debbie Downer, just saying not to have any
expectations of long days of sitting in a pool lounger reading your
Kindle for 4+ hours... Or catching up on People Magazine while you sip a
coke on your flight.... Sorry, sister, those days are over ;)
With that said, when researching things to do in Disney with little
ones, I have to say that options were slim. I feel like most people wait
until their kids are older to enjoy Disney and going into this, we knew
they were pretty young and definitely plan on taking them back when
they are a bit older to understand/remember everything. However, they
still had a great time and even Ariana enjoyed herself in many of the
activities and attractions we did.
With that said, here are a few things I learned on our trip that I would pass on to a novice doing Disney with babies...
1. Bring a stroller. I don't care how old your kid is, if they can still
fit in one, bring it! Disney is CRAZY and there are kids everywhere,
and even if you only have one kid who can walk, you still want to be
able to let them rest/sleep and yes, strap them down when it gets busy. Also, side note: please don't be one of those people that uses a leash.
We rented a stroller for the week from Babies 'R' Us and it was the BEST decision I
made. I didn't want to schlep my huge double stroller through the
airports and on the plane but knew I'd need a stroller down there. I Googled stroller rentals in Orlando and for
$60, I got the City-Mini double in pristine condition, and not only
that? They dropped it off at our resort and picked it up when we left.
Ah-maz-ing. (Another tip: I brought my mommy hook from home.)
2. Fast Pass. You can't bring strollers into ride lines and I don't know
any toddler that will gladly stand or even be held for 20 - 45 minutes in a
slow-moving line, especially when they can't even understand what for.
Fast Pass saved our life and I picked it up for all the rides I knew I
wanted to take Ky on. This way, we could walk around the park, have
lunch, etc... and then when time came to go on the ride, we didn't have
to wait at all. Also? It's free. Which brings me to my next point...
3. Be aware which rides are suitable for your age group. Ky is so young, but I was so excited and wanted to take him on EVERYTHING even though I knew some rides would be way over his head. He went on Dumbo, Pooh's Honeypot and Small World... all of which had moments of "ummm, MOM WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?!" but in the end he was fine and never cried, even when I could tell he was scared. He liked Small World the most (figures) and was even clapping along at the end. And... we did that toward the evening so I didn't have that damn song stuck in my head all day.
4. Baby Care Centers. USE THEM. Disney is MADE for kiddos of all ages, and they do a fantastic job of catering to families. The Baby Care Centers have anything and everything you could possibly need, including coolers, bottles of water, wipes, changing tables, high chairs... you name it.
5. Photo Pass. Even though I am a total Mamarazzi, we took advantage of Disney's Photo Pass feature which is amazing and I wish I had thought of it because I would be a ga-zillionaire. Basically, when you walk into the park, they give you a card and every time you get your picture taken by one of the god knows how many photogs throughout the park, they scan your card and all your pictures are then uploaded AUTOMATICALLY to an account online where you can sign in using the code on the back of the card. Genius, right? This helped us get group pics and family pics without having to ask a stranger to take our picture and I can still access the photos weeks later. I mean, they charge you an arm and a leg... but that's a diff story.
6. Take break days in between parks. Truth be told, we only took the kids to Magic Kingdom and since my parents were there, we were able to hit up Universal Studios a couple days without the kiddos to go on some REAL thrill rides. But even we needed downtime in between, because walking around those huge parks for 8 straight hours is exhausting. In between park days we would go shopping, lounge by the pool, etc. It was much needed for everyone.
7. Stay on Disney Property. We didn't even follow this tip this time, but there is NO CHANCE I'm ever doing that again. My parents have a timeshare so we stayed in a resort about 15 minutes away from the parks, and since we only went to one Disney park (and the kids are so young), it really didn't make that much of a difference. HOWEVER... when we plan to go back, we are definitely staying on property. In some hotels you can pick up the Monorail from basically outside your hotel room... which would make it so much easier to go back for naps, food, etc.
8. Explore outside the parks. We decided to take the kids orange picking one day and I think Ky had almost as much fun there as he did at Disney. We went to Showcase of Citrus in Clermont which was about 20 - 30 minutes away and it was a blast. Not only did he get to run amuck through huge orange groves, but they had a sandbox with trucks, a safari ride, a petting zoo, and all the fresh squeezed orange juice you could ask for. It was a fun day and I'm so glad we did it.
And as for traveling with small babes, here are the top things I took on this trip that turned out to be lifesavers!
1. Snack pods of all kinds. I loaded 'em up on the plane and everyday while we were there. You can never have enough snacks!
2. J&J Hand and Face wipes. Self-explanatory. Also, I'm a germaphob so I went through like 18 packs but I'm sure that's not normal.
3. Take & Toss utensils with travel caddy. These were SO useful that I didn't even toss 'em. I am keeping them in my diaper bag ALWAYS because Ky can't use adult utensils yet and it made eating out so much easier.
4. SugarBooger Pouches. Saved so much time when a quick clothing change was needed and to pack socks/hair accessories/random items that tend to get lost.
5. Brilliantly Blue Sticker book and one of those $3 Magnentic Drawing boards. My two guardian angels that gave Ky endless hours of entertainment on the plane and at the resort.
6. Diapers and Wipes Pod / Paci Pod. When you are traveling, your diaper bag always carries more than your usual day-to-day so this diapers and wipes pod was great when I just needed to pop into the bathroom to change a baby... didn't have to lug my huge bag with me every time. Also, both my kids are hooked on pacifiers so I needed a way to grab one at any second as quickly as possible... Paci Pod to the rescue!
7. Plum Organics Dispensing Spoon (by Boon). Another million-dollar idea I wish I had thought of. Typically, I make all of Ariana's baby food but I knew that wasn't happening on vacay. I stocked up at Babies 'R' Us a few days before the trip on some Plum Organics (12 for $15!) and this little spoon and it's carrying case were my best friend. I could feed her at a moments notice, in any location, clean the spoon with a wipe when I'm done and voila! No fuss, no muss.
Hope all these tips and tricks help you out and ease some anxiety when you travel with your little ones! It can definitely be stressful... but don't let it be! The more you relax and go-with the flow, the more memories you'll make :)
*I was not compensated for any of these reviews!