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Baby on Board: Planning a WDW Hotel Stay with a Baby

by Linda Bishop

So now that you’ve decided to take your baby on a trip to Walt Disney World the real fun begins! It’s time to start planning. Your first step is to decide where to stay. There’s a lot to consider when staying in a hotel for the first time with a baby. While in your carefree single days you may have just needed a bed to crash in with a baby there are always more complications. Luckily, on a Disney vacation there are many options for all budgets and needs.

The first decision is whether to stay on or off property. Both have advantages and disadvantages that can be debated endlessly. My personal preference is staying at a Disney resort. Staying on property offers many perks that will help your trip with a baby. For instance, Disney resort guests have access to Extra Magic Hours which means that you can get into the park early (when you are probably up anyway) and get a lot done before the crowds hit and the heat rises. Whether you are using Disney transportation or renting a car you are closer to your hotel and therefore only a short ride away should your little tyke be suffering a meltdown or just need his afternoon nap. While I’ll be focusing on Walt Disney World resorts, there are also many wonderful off-property accommodations ranging from regular hotel rooms to private homes. Most of the advice in this article can be applied to any hotel on or off property.

Now it’s time to think about the room. The most economical choice is to reserve a standard hotel room. While you may be a bit cramped, with a little creativity you can create a space for your baby to sleep in peace. I have heard stories of parents who have made sleep nooks with sheets or even created bedrooms out of the bathroom or a large closet! If you are blessed with a sound sleeper or plan to go to bed at the same time as your baby you may not need to make any special arrangements in your room for sleeping. At my house we creep around like cat burglars as the slightest noise seems to wake our baby up. If your baby is like mine you may find it difficult in a standard hotel room to have some adult time to unwind after your little one goes to bed. A white noise machine is great way to block out sound from moving around the hotel room or from the TV. The deluxe Walt Disney World resorts have balconies, which is another great way to enjoy your resort while your little one is sleeping.

Before you go you should also consider what your little one will sleep in. All Disney Hotels offer pack’n’play style cribs at no cost. On our trips this was a huge cause for concern for my husband and I as our little one has never, ever slept in a pack’n’play. Why does he hate it? I don’t know, perhaps even at his tender age he prefers a hard mattress? Our pack’n’play serves mostly as a receptacle for toys and dust. We knew that if we relied on it no one would be sleeping which does not make for a great vacation.

Luckily, we found that we had other options. There are a limited number of metal cribs at each Disney resort. We were fortunate enough to use one once and it was in great condition. You can request a metal crib when you make your reservation but there is no guarantee that one will be available at the time of your stay. So, if having a guaranteed actual crib is a priority to you renting a crib may be your best bet. There are a number of companies that provide this service and will deliver the crib directly to your hotel. I know what you are thinking – won’t that be a nightmare to set up? I have tried it and believe it or not it was easy to assemble. If you travel with your baby often you might consider buying a portable crib (there are many varieties online). This will allow you to have a crib for all of your future travel needs.

Another issue with standard hotels rooms is that they typically do not come with some of the extras that are useful for caring for a baby. There are bottles to clean, baby food to heat, messy clothes to wash – the list goes on and on. It really helps to have access to a refrigerator, laundry, and microwave. If your room does not have any of these amenities, fear not, once again you have options.

All Disney resorts have coin-operated laundry facilities so you are covered in the event of spit up, throw up or other baby related mess catastrophes. At the value Disney resorts you can rent a mini-fridge for an additional fee. Refrigerators are complimentary at moderate or deluxe resorts. Microwaves are not available in standard hotel rooms. However, there are several reputable companies that rent both refrigerators and microwaves at reasonable cost. Like with the crib rental they will deliver the appliances direct to your hotel. While you can always clean bottles in the bathroom sink I have found that not all hotels have truly hot water. To deal with this issue I purchased a portable bottle sterilizer (they have both electric and microwaveable types). Though it is bulky and a pain to travel with I felt better knowing my son’s bottles were nice and clean.

If your budget allows it a suite with kitchen facilities is a real luxury with a baby. Your life will be easier with the comforts of home along with a little extra room to relax. On property these villa accommodations are offered at the Disney Vacation Club resorts. Villas have three room sizes: studio, one and two bedrooms. The studios have kitchenettes with sink, microwave, refrigerators, and other kitchen utensils. The one and two bedroom villas have full kitchens complete with ovens and kitchen tables. There is even room for a high chair (available on request). The one or two bedroom villas have closing doors to the bedrooms, which is a real treat. When your little one is ready for bed you can have a separate room to talk to your spouse or just decompress in front of the TV.

With a little advance planning any hotel room can be made baby friendly. Up next: the gear!

What are your tips for staying in a hotel with a baby? What creative ways have you set up a hotel room when traveling with a tot?  Please post your thoughts in the comments section below!