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WDW Trip With Kids Planning Guide
Visiting the resort with your children
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Brian Bennett

Traveling With Kids - More Wisdom

In addition to the information I learned, several folks have provided additional information that should be useful as you plan a trip with kids (infants, toddlers, pre-school, or elementary-aged).  Here is a dump of some valuable information you'd be wise to read through:

Mary Gough (JGough2480@aol.com) sent me the following comments.  I include them here with her permission:

We have made several trips as a family, staying on-site. The last two times I toured pregnant and the best thing we brought with us was our Combi double stroller. Ours is 5 years old and travels in a hockey bag wrapped w/deflated water toys (kickboards, water wings, etc.). The front seat can recline all the way to make a bed and it is very light. We never lock ours and have had no problems, of course we personalize it by covering it with stickers which CMs hand out and tying on a balloon helps Dad :) and the boys keep track of Mom.

I think the happy camper portable crib was recalled.

Also we thought the trundle bed at Port Orleans Riverside was very uncomfortable for a child over 50 lbs and a smaller child that regularly sleeps at home in a bed with rails may not sleep well in this bed.

Beth Schamber-Waterman (easw@aol.com) sent me a comment about taking an infant to WDW. I include it here with her permission:

I want to tell you, as a longtime Florida resident and fan of Disney World your website is a great 'insider's' guide! I do want to make an observation regarding the practice of bringing an infant to Disney. I absolutely agree that bringing the whole family, regardless of age, is not only possible, but very rewarding. However, as an occasional visitor to the parks during the summer months, I cannot reiterate enough the danger that the heat and humidity can pose to babies. I have witnessed many harried, flushed-face parents with even more flushed-face babies. Most of the babies are also irritable and/or lethargic, and as a pediatric RN, visions of heat stroke (or heat exhaustion) always run through my mind. If possible, parents should try to take their babies to Disney during the milder winter months. If this is not possible, they should definitely heed your advice about taking frequent breaks during the day to cool off, make sure the infant gets adequate fluids, stay out of the sun as much as possible, and just to 'go with the flow'. I don't remember if you mentioned this somewhere in your site, but I also brought along a spray bottle of water that I would frequently spritz on my son when he was little.

Carol Koster (ckoster@neosoft.com) posted a lot of useful information on the rec.arts.disney.parks newsgroup on the same topic. Carol's forward and then her response to Susan Clark's question (indented) follows...

Yoo Hoo, Disney Vacationing Family!

I posted this as a response to people asking about taking babies to Walt Disney World. It's not definitive, but it's a start to answer the questions and calm the concerns of new parents who want to make that rite of passage (taking their young child to a Disney theme park). They were the concerns and questions _we_ had. We've been to WDW numerous times, but as adults without a child and previously had not paid much attention to babies or toddlers. Once Michael came along, it was a whole new unfamiliar experience for us. The advice offered here is what we learned for ourselves and frankly by observing how other new parents handled taking their babies to the Happiest Place on Earth. This is incomplete advice, but it might help others start thinking how to plan for such a trip.

There are other online and published sources of information about generally traveling with infants and toddlers (misc.kids and misc.kids.travel, for instance, and books available at mass market bookstores and libraries, also many magazines about kids/families/parenting that would have articles about travel, just use the Readers Guide at the public library to look these up :-)). A good published source are the books "What to Expect The First Year" and "What to Expect The Toddler Years" so please browse these in your local bookstore or library via their indexes about traveling with babies and toddlers. Excellent traveling advice to WDW or Disneyland for parents can be found in a specific chapter of Bob Sehlinger's "Unofficial Guide" annual books about these two theme parks. Sehlinger takes a very realistic look at how parents and kids really are at Disney, and it's not always Pixie Dust. If you know this ahead of time, you can plan for it and minimize it, even if your child is only months or a year or two old.

You might also try pediatric nurses and local parenting centers where traveling with kids' seminars might be offered or you can network with other parents or parenting experts on the general topic. It is NOT my intention to duplicate any of this otherwise available general advice.

Rather, this is a guide that is meant to be Disney theme park specific. I welcome any additions to this text otherwise not mentioned here. Your guideline: How would any additions answer the questions a new parent might have, enhance a family trip, save a family some time or money or their child some fussiness, how would advice make a baby's time at Disney more fun and give their parents a joyful memory to cherish for a lifetime? Please also make this Disney theme park specific, or about a substantially Disney vacation.

I hope this helps! Please let me know if it does or how this file can be edited or added to in order to improve or update it. I will incorporate your advice into the document already started and have Brian keep it updated for others to find. Thanks, and may your Disney dreams for your baby or toddler all come true, as mine did for Michael!

--Carol Koster

February 17, 1997

ckoster@neosoft.com or rkoster@calweb.com

Yoo Hoo, Susan!

On 25 Sep 1996, Susan E Clark wrote:

We're *maybe* going to Disneyworld May 1997 and I was just wondering if anyone has brought an infant along (2 months old).

We just got back, took our (at the time) 8 month old son along. He is partially breastfed, partially supplemented with formula, partially eating solid food from baby food jars ("stage 2" type foods) and had just started to be able to snack on Cheerios.

It's a long story of why we would even think about bringing such a young child to Disney (we had to cancel our June trip due to my dad's heart attack). Has anyone had any experience with this? Can you request a crib to have in the room? We're hoping to stay at the Polynesian.

We stayed at the Contemporary Resort. A crib was provided for us free. It's a metal crib, we thought the mattress was a little too soft, but the crib comes with sheets and Disney Babies crib bumpers and two extra washcloths. The room at the Contemporary was very spacious so there was room for the crib between one of the beds and the window. We also got a high chair for feeding our baby for free too, of course for a two month old that won't be necessary for a little while. ;-) If you need to refrigerate formula or expressed breast milk, go ahead and request a refrigerator, it costs $5 per day rental but we found it was well worth it because we could put our soft drinks or other food items for us in the 'fridge too. The rooms at the Polynesian are the same size as the rooms at the Contemporary, so you should have no problem :-).

We brought our Graco "Jr Glider" stroller with us along with a bicycle lock to keep it safe, and after awhile we'd leave it parked outside of attractions and it and whatever (not too valuable) personal items left in its lower basket were safe without using the bicycle lock all the time.

A hint we got from a nurse at First Aid in Magic Kingdom: Babies can get hot in the strollers that have side panels of any kind, such as when the strollers are in flat position and the baby is lying flat, because there is no side air circulation to keep them cool and also because they are so close to the heat coming up from the hot asphalt below them at ground level. If you can bring an umbrella stroller or another type of stroller with air circulation that would be best for the Florida heat. Even better is to keep them up around shoulder level into the air and farther from the ground. Maybe a Snuggli or sling might help. A (thankfully!) concluded topic thread on this newsgroup had to do with stroller courtesy, be careful in crowds about accidentally nicking someone's ankles with your stroller. You can rent strollers from Disney at each park's entrance. If you return the stroller at the end of the day you get a Disney Dollar back from that days rental of $5. The $5 is good for one day at any park, so if you park hop just show your receipt for another stroller. If your rental stroller takes off for some reason (someone else takes your stroller) show your rental receipt for a replacement. Take valuables and purses and purchases with you when you leave a stroller at an attraction or restaurant, but leave something inexpensive and personal attached to or in the basket of the stroller to identify it as "yours" vs. "theirs". Our type of stroller is a very common design, for example, but we left our small ice chest in the basket of it to identify it as "ours". I saw one stroller with a rolled up pair of dirty socks in its basket, identifying it as "their" stroller.

Our baby got a very bad case of eczema when he was four months old, and we have been a little careful about bringing him out into extreme heat and humidity ever since. Michael did pretty well in early September at the age of 8 months. Still, you'll want to try to keep your baby cool and out of the sun. At two months old I don't think pediatricians want babies to be wearing sun block (consult with yours). Get a floppy baby hat for him/her, some baby sunglasses, and dress baby cooly ("onesies" are pretty good). Stay in air conditioned places and shady places as much as you can. If you and your pediatrician approve of it, allow baby to have some extra water on a hot day. If your baby is prone to eczema or heat rash consult with your pediatrician on what to do, medicines to bring, prevention tips.

Do bring the name of your baby's pediatrician, any prescriptions your baby is on, and your health insurance card, and locate the name of a pediatrician in Orlando and a hospital in Orlando that your insurance plan works with. Accidents and illnesses can and do happen: My husband had a little mishap that required getting stitches, and luckily the health provider we were referred to was a preferred one on my husband's health plan.

You'll want to find the Carnation Baby Care Centers in each major theme park. We weren't able to make it to Epcot or Disney-MGM Studios, but at Magic Kingdom the Baby Center is off of Main Street USA. As you face the castle go right in front of Coke Corner and it's off a courtyard/fountain near some restrooms and the First Aid station. There is a cast member attendant there. You can buy Carnation formula and other products, baby supplies such as extra diapers, pacifiers, baby toys, I think they sell baby food too. There is a softly lit room just for nursing or bottle-feeding mothers and their babies (four rocking chairs in a quaint Victorian parlor-type setting), a very deluxe changing table room (BIG, *PADDED* changing tables, more than one of them, with fresh paper spread on the tables to keep them clean at all times), and a feeding room with chairs, high chairs, a toddler's table and a TV tuned to the Disney Channel. They have their own restroom in there. They have bottled water. They have a microwave and a stove for heating formula or baby foods prior to feeding. There is no charge to use this center's facilities. You get to meet a lot of other parents of babies too, it is very nice in there. And the air conditioning is "on"! Men can't come into the nursing room unless the woman/baby they want to come see are alone, otherwise if there are other nursing women men have to wait outside in the vestibule. Men are allowed in the other parts of the center. If you are a breastfeeding mother and need to use a breast pump the Baby Centers would probably be the most comfortable place outside your resort room to do that.

If you are bringing formula or bottles of expressed breastmilk with you invest in something better than The First Years small four bottle type cooler which has an insert that you can freeze and put with the bottles. The insert stays frozen for only half a day. "Blue ice" which are blue canisters of coolant which stay frozen for many hours and does a better job than ice are preferable. You find this sort of thing in camping stores. We have a small soft vinyl cooler, and with the blue ice it worked out great.

Mom, if you are breastfeeding be sure to eat well and drink a lot of fluids.

If you are hot and tired by midday, go back to the resort and rest, nap, swim, cool off and refresh. See how the baby is doing, sometimes they can just snooze in their strollers, or you can try to keep to his/her schedule at home and bring him/her back to the resort for naps and bedtimes.

With an 8 month old we tried to keep our park visiting to short lines and short rides. The really lovely rite of passage for us as new parents was our baby riding Dumbo. We rode twice each Dumbo, Small World, WDW Railroad (our baby didn't like it at night), the Monorail (more than twice) and the Carrousel, once each Peter Pan, Snow White, Sky Buckets, and Mike Fink Keelboats (Hi, Ken Nabbe!!!), Country Bear Jamboree and the Teacups. We also got to be Grand Marshals of the Mickey Mania Parade. We were attending the Disneyana convention on site. We knew it would not be possible to go rushing about the parks as we used to pre-baby. Go see what you think the baby might enjoy: Happy music, colors, twinkley lights.

If you suspect a feeding, a diaper changing or a nap might be coming along then hakuna matata, it is time consuming and requires patience. There will be times in the future you will be able to see and do much more, just enjoy the time you are spending and enjoy it through the baby's eyes.

You can also do something called "the baby swap", that will enable your whole family to both care for the baby and allow all who are able to to ride the thrill rides. Tell the cast member at boarding you are doing a baby swap. One person stays behind with the baby, the others ride. When the others get back, the person who stayed with the baby rides, while the others stay behind and watch the baby. It's even possible to ride with others in your party so you don't ride alone (means someone in your party will get to ride twice!). If you have time, do at least one thrill ride per person this way so the adults and older child will have fun too and not be sentenced to a total life of very tame rides because of the baby. ;-)

Character greetings are FUN! The walk-arounds are very good with babies. Some will hold your baby and cuddle or put him/her over their shoulders very gently. At Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort the character Dale went and exceeded my Disney expectations by not only being friendly to Michael, but babysitting with him while I ate my dinner in peace. Dale sat on the floor cross-legged and had Michael in his lap and would play with and tickle Michael, and Michael thought that was the finest thing he'd ever experienced, he cooed, squealed in delight and chuckled and did true belly laughs and tried to "talk" to Dale. I think Dale likes babies. ;-) Bring LOTS of film for the character meet and greets. At Mickey's Toon Town Fair there is an opportunity to have your picture taken with Mickey in a certain setting and good lighting, bring your camera, the cast member will take a family portrait for you, just cross your fingers baby is awake and in a good mood for it. ;-) Michael wasn't :-(, but luckily we found Mickey again at Chef Mickey's and were able to get a better picture. At Magic Kingdom a schedule brochure is available telling places and times throughout that park of where characters will be, or you can ask a cast member to find out for you when a favorite character will appear and where.

There will be 6 adults (plus an 8 year old) so caring for the baby will not be a problem. We will have 2 adjoining rooms. The baby will not have to fly because they already live in Florida. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks in advance!!

Bring plenty of diapers! Ask your pediatrician's advice on traveling and being in and out of doors with a two month old, diaper rashes, fluids, etc. I've heard very young babies are very easy to travel with. Someone in our Disneyana local club brought their two month old baby and had lots of relatives to help care for him, and they did just fine, they mostly left their baby with relatives in the room while others did the parks (the weather in Orlando in early September this year seemed particularly hot). There is also very good general advice for traveling by car and air with babies in the book "What to Expect The First Year" in the chapter called "A Baby for All Seasons". I also asked around at my local parenting center and the patient outreach services of one of the local hospitals did a presentation by one of their pediatric nurses about traveling with babies.

About eating at WDW with a baby: We brought Dixie cups and plastic spoons. We'd empty partial jars of baby food into the Dixie cups and then feed the baby with the picnic spoons. If the baby wanted more we could pour more out of the jar into the cup, and if he wasn't hungry anymore we could just stow the remainder of the jar in our vinyl picnic cooler with the blue ice in it to use another time without wasting any. WDW restaurants all have high chairs with straps, just be aware they are _backless_ high chairs, so your baby needs to be able to sit upright very well. I understand from "Barb/gardenia" of r.a.d.parks that there are infant high chairs you can request in restaurants. I have no experience with these, only with the backless high chairs. The resorts will lend you a high chair (backless) in your room as well at no charge. We only ate at the Contemporary, in our room, Liberty Tree Tavern and at one of the fast food places in Fantasyland (Pinocchio?) and everything worked out well. Our baby wasn't much into finger foods back then like he is now. I would think a buffeteria would be best for the baby on finger foods, just strew out a variety of bits in front of him from your plate. BTW, the backless high chairs do not come with trays-just belly your baby up to your table and have him/her eat off the table top. Leave a bit of an extra tip in case of a lot of mess on the table and the floor. If there is anything else I can help with let me know. Most restaurants on WDW property are extremely baby-friendly and accommodating. I would not bring a baby to Victoria and Albert's or California Grill because those are gourmet/adult/sophisticated type places, most of the rest of them should be fine for babies. Again, if there is anything else I can help with, let me know. :-)

Sorry this was long. Hope this helps! Have fun with your young 'un at the Happiest Place on Earth!

--Carol Koster

Edward Craft (e.j.craft@bham.ac.uk) posted the following information, included here with his permission:

  • DO IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Our youngest was 18mo when we last took them ('95 - hopefully going again in '98). She LOVED IT ! We had the opportunity to leave her with my parents and it would have been an enormous mistake if we had ! When we all talk about the holiday now she still chips in with things we never though she'd remember. Mickey reaching down into her stroller to kiss her hand will stay in our memories forever.

  • The CMs were as wonderful with kids of her age as they are with kids of my age so don't worry about it.

  • Some suggestions :

  • On rides like Star Tours, My wife would go on with Kate our older daughter (3yrs at the time) whilst I waited with the younger, Beth. The CMs let us then swap over so my wife looked after Beth and I went on with Kate without us having to queue up again. Kate went on twice ! (HINT : If your partner sits at the front/left you can watch them on the CM's monitor during their turn on the ride.)

  • Accept that there are rides that you probably won't go on *this time*. We missed out TOT as neither daughter would have liked it/been allowed and it would have been selfish to have them wait for nothing.

  • Pick the time to go. We went in early May and it was perfect - queues were never more than half an hour and the weather was hot without being too hot.

  • We did a fortnight in a villa in Kissimmee and only visited parks on eight of the days. The rest of the time was shopping, hanging around the pool etc. This prevented the kids from 'burning out' with non-stop parks.

  • Take bottled water and baby wipes. We also took out own stroller (all the way from the UK!). Not just to save a few bucks but she was comfortable in it and it had a good sun-shade. (HINT : If you can, leave a *small* bottle of water in a freezer overnight before you go to a park. It will be a solid lump of ice that will melt slowly over the day keeping other things cool and providing iced water as it melts.)

  • Take a favorite toy, especially a Disney one, and tie it to the stroller. They can play with it in queues. (Tie it on - we almost had a disaster with losing one !)

  • Buy a Disney autograph book in-park. S/he'll not know what it's for but will be delighted when all the characters start writing in it.

  • Get the number for Fairy Godmothers - any hotel/motel/phonebook will have it. Just a couple of evenings totally away from the kids to do 'grown-up things' is worth the expense.

  • RELAX !! In all situations (flying etc.) if you're happy, s/he'll be happy.

I hope these help. We had a wonderful time and are only sad we can't get back there this year. Have a wonderful time and take hundreds of photos.

 

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