So, at 10 months we took our daughter to WDW for the first time. We were apprehensive, but knowing her personality we thought she would enjoy herself, and she did! She loved the colors, the sounds, meeting characters, and the attractions. She took her usual nap, ate meals at her scheduled times (for the most part), and overall had a great time. The best part for us was watching her experience Disney for the first time.
Since then she has been numerous times over the years (she’s now 12). Every time it’s like watching her experience Disney in a new and different way. It’s great watching her grow out of some rides and attractions and grow into others. The first time she said, “I want to go on Star Tours!” I looked at her like she had grown a second head. That came out of nowhere, but now it is one of her favorite rides.
As a self-proclaimed Disney “expert” I wanted to give you some tips on how to enjoy your Disney experience with young children.
Be flexible– A rigid schedule can easily derail with a late bus, a temper tantrum, slow meals, a longer than usual nap, long lines, etc. It’s ok to have an idea of what you want to do, but being flexible will eliminate numerous headaches.
Stay hydrated– I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but many people forget to bring water bottles and drink water throughout the day. Not drinking water can lead to headaches, crankiness, low energy, and a host of other issues. Even if you buy one bottle and keep filling it up, it’s better than not drinking water at all.
Sunscreen– Even on cloudy days it’s a good idea to sunscreen at least twice in a day. I suggest the first time before you leave the hotel room and the second time right after lunch.
Utilize the Baby Care Centers– Every Disney park has a Baby Care Center which you can find on a map. They have diapers, changing tables, formula, many other baby products, filtered water, and air conditioning! Even now I use them to fill up my water bottle a couple times per day. This is also a great place to have some quiet time during the day and get away from the crowds and noise for a bit.
Watch for overstimulation– If you start to notice your child getting agitated and overwhelmed, find a nice quiet spot to chill for a few minutes. Every park has a few areas where you can find some shade, not a lot of people, and great scenery.
If your child takes a daily nap, make sure you find time to let him or her sleep a bit during the day. Again, find a nice quiet spot for a 30-60 minute nap. It’s also a good time for you to unwind and have some quiet time.
Find healthy food options when you can. Sure, it’s great to indulge in all the sweet treats, but make sure you balance that with some healthier options. Most meal plans include snacks. My favorite snack is grapes. Keep two or three packets in your backpack for a quick snack throughout your day. Also make sure you get some protein in your meal selections. You’ll need this to keep your energy up for multiple day trips to WDW.
Be cautious of big breakfast meals. Sure, the breakfast lasagna at the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom is to die for! But a huge breakfast meal with lots of carbs means a sugar crash in about 3 hours. This can be a total energy drain and a lower fuse in dealing with your child.
On warmer days, dress in light colored clothing. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen kids (and adults) in dark colors on hot days, and they are miserable. White shirts are best. Sure, they might get messy, but hey, it’s Disney!
Big one here! Close your stroller BEFORE you get to the front of the line for the busses or rides. You don’t want to be one of “those” parents who struggle with the stroller at the bus entrance and block other people from getting on.
Last, but not least… you can’t do everything in one trip, so don’t make the attempt. And most likely you will be back. If you’re visiting Orlando for more than 4 days, take a day to be at the hotel pool and go to Disney Springs for dinner. For trips less than 4 days, my suggestion is to enjoy one park at a time. We used to park hop to see as much as we could in a day and we ended up exhausted. Especially with kids, enjoy a leisurely day at the park of your choice instead of frantically going from one to another.
Hopefully these tips will be helpful for you. Disney truly is a magical place and every time I go with my family I see it through different eyes. Enjoy the journey and the memories. They will last lifetimes, yours and your child’s.