In my first blog last week, I wrote about our experiences traveling to and staying at a Walt Disney World Resort. This week I wanted to focus on our experiences taking Walt to the parks! We were most excited to take Walt to the Magic Kingdom for obvious reasons, but we knew that he would love looking at all of the new sights at any of the parks. I want to touch on a few important aspects of being at the parks and then give some helpful hints for families with infants.
First, I would like to quickly just give some items to think about bringing to the parks each day, besides the normal diapers and wipes:
- Extra towel from the resort – Trust me, you never know what you will need it for.
- Wet/Dirty bag or plastic bag. – In case you have a nasty diaper that ends up all over baby’s Mickey Mouse onesie!
- Baby Sunglasses – Walt didn’t mind his at all, and it helped knowing we didn’t need to keep his eyes shaded.
- Sunscreen. – Our pediatrician recommended also having a stick of sunscreen for Walt’s face as it is thicker and less likely to sweat off.
- Some small toys – Some that you might be able to strap to the stroller, so they won’t fall.
- Paci wipes – You can use these to quickly wipe off dropped toys or pacifiers.
While this sounds like lots of stuff to bring into the parks, it all fit into a backpack, and there was lots of room left for my personal items as well.
One other quick option I want to mention is outfits for your infant. Have fun dressing them up as certain characters or making fun shirts for them to wear! As you will see in some of the pictures, we made Walt a Baymax onesie and also one with a Cast Member badge on it with his name and our city!
I was pleasantly surprised at how many attractions infants can ride while being held! Our favorite attractions are Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion, which both allow infants to ride. I didn’t know if the small drop in Pirates would remove this attraction from our to-do list, but a quick check online confirmed that he would be okay. There was never a time during any of the attractions where Walt got scared or started crying (and only jumped when someone next to us screamed at the beginning of the Mansion pre-show), so I assume he was okay during most of them.
What we loved most was seeing his face during each of the rides. If the Imagineers were there to observe him riding, they would have been very upset because Walt managed to always be looking where they didn’t want him to look. He managed to always look to the side or find the lighting rigs on each of the rides and absolutely loved them! In the picture attached, you will notice Walt by the “8th Wonder of the World…..the Backside of Water” and doesn’t he look thrilled?
- To help your back and arm muscles (trust me they are going to get tired), make sure to bring a baby carrier to use while in lines or on the attractions. Especially in Fantasyland ,you will park your stroller and walk around to different attractions without moving your stroller, so you will be carrying your infant for awhile. We were able to carry Walt facing forward so he could see around us, but if he got tired, we could turn him around to fall asleep.
- You and your family can take advantage of the rider swap option where one adult (and child if tall enough) can ride an attraction. Then they stay with the infant or toddler while the second adult goes through the Fastpass line to ride the attraction (and is allowed to take the child again!). Brandon and I did not use this option as my in-laws, who were with us one day, stayed with Walt while we rode some adult attractions.
Baby Care Centers:
I was excited to take advantage of the Baby Care Centers in each of the parks, but like any good plan, Walt only needed his diaper changed once when we were anywhere close to one! Luckily we were able to visit the Baby Care Center at the Magic Kingdom and were impressed with all it offered! The Baby Care Center in the Magic Kingdom is located next to the First Aid Center, so make sure you keep to the right (it kind of looks like you are going to end up backstage).
Walking into the Baby Care Center, you will notice they staff lots of Cast Members, which I believe they do in case there is only one adult accompanying several children. I have heard that a Cast Member can sit and color with your children or watch a Disney movie in one of the rooms at the center. Besides a room for kids to sit and relax, the small building also has a room for feeding (one with highchairs), a room specifically for changing diapers (Side note, they provide paper covers for the changing beds, so you do not need your changing pad!), a kitchen with microwaves and bottle warmers, and finally, a room specifically for nursing mothers with rocking chairs and calming lights. This room is kept closed for privacy, and there seemed to be a Cast Member making sure no one disturbed the mothers inside.
- Most of the bathrooms in the parks do not have hot water (I know, how are you supposed to wash your hands) for bottles, so you will have to ask at a counter service location if you have a picky baby who wants a warm bottle!
During our many previous trips, Brandon and I often watched parents struggling to fold strollers quickly to get on the parking tram or bus. While this can be amusing at times, it was a great learning tool into the world of strollers and what features were most important to us. At 5 months old, Walt was just old enough to sit in his stroller and allow us to leave the carseat adaptor at home (you know the contraption I am referring to). We did not want to lug around the entire infant carrier in the parks.
Besides the umbrella strollers, jogging strollers are usually the quickest to fold and the most compact. After visiting our local baby store, we decided on the Baby Jogger® City Mini® stroller (and are huge fans of this model). During our trip with Walt we were so happy to have this stroller and found it was very easy to steer, fold, and carry (plus finally having cup holders is fantastic).
If you already have a stroller, but are worried about taking it on the plane or won’t have room in your vehicle, you can easily rent a stroller for your vacation. In July 2014, when we traveled to Orlando with my sister and nephew, we rented this same stroller from Orlando Stroller Rental, and we were very happy with the overall rental process. The price was reasonable for a week’s rental, right in the $60-$75 range. It was very clean, and they deliver and pick up the stroller from any resort in the general Orlando area! When you think about this cost compared to the in-park stroller rentals, it is quite reasonable, and you have the stroller available during your entire vacation.
Here is a really funny, and embarrassing, story from Main Street, U.S.A. I was pushing the stroller, and we were attempting to cross over and head towards Tomorrowland. One moment I was walking down the little access ramp to the street and the next the stroller was laying on it’s back with Walt upside down strapped in! I cannot tell you the number of cast members and guests that immediately stopped and rushed to help. I was so embarrassed about having my baby upside down and my stuff laying on the ground. Thankfully, Walt was just fine and found it really funny that he had been for a little ride.
- If you didn’t purchase a rain cover for your specific stroller, bring an extra poncho to cover it if the weather doesn’t look good and you will be leaving it unattended.
- Feel comfortable leaving your personal items in the stroller while riding an attraction. We often left our backpack sitting in the stroller and never found any items missing. There are often Cast Members walking around moving and monitoring strollers and belongings.
Even as an infant, try introducing your child to some characters, especially the fully covered ones to get them used to the huge size and look. We were lucky enough to wait in line and meet Baymax and Hiro at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and I was worried about Walt’s reaction to Baymax. When it was our turn, I just started talking to Walt and pointing out Baymax with an excited voice. He just stared at the big white character in front of him and did not want to look away. The Cast Members did a wonderful job trying to get his attention for some of the pictures, but Walt was really just wanting to look at who was next to him.
One other experience we took part in was eating at The Crystal Palace for breakfast with Pooh and Friends. We had returned from our cruise, where we had run into Captain Mickey and Walt was a little more relaxed. The breakfast was wonderful because Walt sat in the highchair and watched the four characters walking around. When they approached our table Walt went right for the face and wanted to give kisses. The best interaction was when Eeyore was with us and Walt laid his head down on his shoulder!
This was one topic I did not expect to be writing about, but one that we had to face during our vacation. As I mentioned in my previous post, unbeknownst to us, Walt was developing a double ear infection (apparently his early symptoms are projectile vomiting and diarrhea) at the beginning of our vacation. After a few days of Pedialyte, his tummy was better, but something else was wrong. Like any new parents, we just assumed that Walt had discovered his ears and wanted to keep feeling them. The day before we were leaving on the Disney Dream, we knew that he really wasn’t himself and was running a fever. I decided to be safe and take him to a med-check just to see if they could find anything wrong before we boarded our cruise ship.
After a quick check online for local med-check’s I discovered that there is a group of pediatric urgent care centers in Orlando called Nite Light Pediatrics Urgent Care. I checked with local resident and mom, Suzannah Mitchell, to see if she had any opinions of this practice. Thankfully Suzannah had used them a couple of times and that made me comfortable in my decision. The staff was wonderful and the visit was super quick. They even helped me get to the nearest pharmacy to get Walt’s antibiotic filled.
That is it for our trip report on visiting the Walt Disney World theme parks with an infant and some issues we faced while there. This being our first visit with an infant we felt like it went really well, besides the illness factor! I have one more part to this blog series and will be focusing on our cruise. It started out with a really rough couple of days due to Walt being sick, but we did have some really fun moments and experiences. Look for the final part next week and please let me know if you have any questions!
(Photos from the author’s personal collection.)
Alyssa Wiseman (also known as ajwiseman09 in the box), her husband Brandon, and newborn son, Walt, reside in central Indiana (too far from Disney). Alyssa and Brandon enjoy traveling to Disney several times a year to see what is new and enjoy classic Disney. While traveling, and at home, Alyssa is frequently shopping for Disney products and making a list of items to buy while in the parks. Please follow Alyssa on twitter @ajwiseman09.