I don’t want to sugar coat it. There are definitely some logistics required to have a successful and fun day in the Disney Parks with babies.
But it’s totally doable. Totally.
In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that it can be easy. Here’s how.
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Making Your Park Plans
Infants don’t need park tickets or FastPasses, even if they’ll be riding some of the rides with you. They do, however, need to be included on any dining reservations you make, even if you won’t need a highchair or seat for them.
If you’re staying on property, they’ll get their own MagicBand. But don’t stress – they really don’t need it and aren’t expected to wear it. It can be a cute accessory for photo ops, but they won’t need to scan it for rides, tickets, or reservations. It’s just included in your room reservation!
It All Starts With the Diaper Bag
The success of your park day begins with a well stocked bag! No, this does not mean that you should pack up your baby’s entire nursery and carry it around Disney with you.
Rather, figure out exactly what you need, what bag will contain it, and bring only that. Don’t overcomplicate this part with gizmos and gadgets a’plenty. Leave your who’s-its and what’s-its galore in the room too.
Picking the Right Bag(s)
At home, I rotate between two fairly large, leather designer bags. Don’t do that at Disney. Find a reasonable diaper bag that you feel comfortable leaving behind in the stroller and bring that.
Think about something that will hold all of baby’s essentials, while not bogging you down and taking up a ton of space. I liked the cross-body strap for carrying it on and off buses too.
For my family, that’s the LeSportsac Ryan Diaper Bag in the Mickey Loves Minnie print (I seriously love this diaper bag for the parks).
And yes, I did say “leave behind in the stroller” up there. We leave our big diaper bag attached to our stroller while we’re in attractions and restaurants. I also carry a small backpack (the LeSportsac Small Edie in the same Mickey Loves Minnie print) for our phones, wallets, and other valuables. This small bag comes with us for attractions and restaurants instead!
Packing Your Diaper Bag
Like I said, figure out what your essentials are and bring only that. Think about how long you’ll be in the park, what the weather will be like, and what you plan to do.
I like to park the diaper bag the night before, so I’m not rushing or stressed while I’m doing it.
For a normal all-day park day, here’s what went in my diaper bag:
- Six bottles, prefilled with water (Make sure you bring the lids. Security will do a thorough bag search. Their hands touch lots and lots of stuff every day and you don’t want them coming in contact with bottle nipples!)
- Formula, in single serving packets when she was only taking 4 oz at a time, and then in the small cans when she was taking 6-8 oz at a time (You may have noticed that I didn’t use the formula dispensers. Here’s why: They take up more room and hold less than a small formula can. Formula powder isn’t heavy, obviously, so I’d rather use the same amount or less of space and have extra on hand!)
- Two pacifiers, with leashes, if you use them
- 6-8 diapers, with rash cream if necessary
- Entire pack of baby wipes (We use these for more than wiping bottoms, so we always make sure to have plenty!)
- An outfit change, including socks and shoes
- Muslin blanket (This pulls triple duty for us, as a blanket if it gets cold, an extra sunshade over the stroller for naps, and a breastfeeding cover when she nursed!)
- Stroller fan (This would obviously be attached to the stroller after getting off the bus!)
- Poncho (We use this as our stroller cover in case of rain. Yes, they make fancy rain covers for your stroller, but they’re much bulkier than a poncho and more expensive too. We like that we can ball it up in a ziplock to use again and throw it away at the end of the day.)
- When she started eating solids, I also included a couple of wipe-down bibs, snack cup to prevent spills on the move, some easy snacks, and a sippy cup for water.
Here’s what went in my personal backpack:
- Wallets (ID, insurance cards, one credit card, small bills)
- Cell phones
- Portable phone charger
- Zip-up bag with personal items (pen, tampon/pad, chapstick, compact mirror, hand sanitizer, and ibuprofen)
That’s it. It’s tempting to also throw in some baby medicine, thermometer, nail clippers, and everything else under the sun, but read on! There’s a Baby Care Center for that!
Keeping It All Organized
I’m a ziplock bag junkie. Everything goes in ziplocks, from packing suitcases to keeping the diaper bag organized. I can’t do Disney without them. Things get sorted into individual ziplocks as follows:
- diaper related items (so we can grab it and run, if needed)
- bottles and pacifiers (formula can stays separate, just because it doesn’t fit well)
- outfit change and blanket
- feeding related items, when she started solids
- And a spare, for soiled clothes or rain situations.
- The poncho and sunscreen go in the side pocket of the diaper bag.
The ziplock strategy works well for two reasons. One, I can easily pull things out without having to unpack the whole bag in the middle of the park. And two, it really speeds up going through security, when they can also easily see what’s in your bag, without having to pull things out (and set them on the table that a million other hands and bags have touched) and repack them.
What You Can and Can’t Bring
Familiarize yourself with the Park Rules and Regulations here. Most of these things are pretty common sense, but there’s a few rules to keep in mind, specifically for parents.
You’ll read more about this in my stroller post, but your stroller cannot exceed 36″ by 52″. Most strollers, even most multiples strollers, don’t exceed those dimensions. Wagons and pulled bags/coolers are restricted too – you should be pushing your stroller and carrying/stowing your bags. Your bags (including coolers) can’t exceed 24″ x 15″ x 18″. Again, that’s a pretty big bag and you’ll likely not exceed those dimensions, but keep it in mind!
Strollers Are Your Friend
I have a whole post about the ins and outs of strollers at Disney World here.
In summary, you’ll want a stroller in almost every instance. You can rent one, bring one, buy one there. It doesn’t matter. But bring a stroller.
All About Baby Care Centers
Each park has a Baby Care Center that’s free to use whenever you need it!
About the Facilities
These centers are Disney-staffed, air-conditioned spaces designed to accommodate families with small children. There are nursing rooms (with outlets for breast pumps to be plugged in), changing tables, restrooms, kitchens (with sinks, highchairs, microwaves, and ice), and TV areas.
Remember when I told you to streamline your diaper bag? And you possibly rolled your eyes at the idea? This is why I feel totally comfortable packing only what I need for the parks.
The Baby Care Centers have well-stocked shops, with everything you could possibly need available for purchases. Clothes, bibs, bottles, formula, baby food, diapers, wipes, OTC medicine, and so on!
Each of the four main parks have a Baby Care Center, located adjacent to their First Aid Center. The only exceptions are the water parks, but you’ll still find changing tables inside the restrooms there (as with all restrooms at Disney).
- Magic Kingdom’s center is located by the Crystal Palace and Casey’s Corner, just off Main Street to the left.
- Epcot’s center is located in the back, left side of Future World, in the Odyssey building, just before you’d enter Mexico and the World Showcase.
- Hollywood Studios’ center is located in the very front of the park to the left, in the same building as Guest Services.
- Animal Kingdom’s center is located on the left side of Discovery Island, by Pizzafari and Creature Comforts, just before the bridge to Africa.
Attractions & Entertainment for Baby
Disney does a great job of making the park fun for all ages. My youngest daughter has been riding rides with us at Disney since she was 8 weeks old! Baby can join you on most attractions without a height requirement. For those with a height requirement, don’t forget about Rider Switch, which allows your party to take turns riding attractions not suitable for little ones!
Although they can come along for most rides and shows, here’s my list of our favorite things to do with baby!
- Casey Jr. Splash ‘N Soak Station – This splash pad is great for cooling off. Just be aware that you’ll all be wet by the time you’re finished!
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant – It’s a Disney classic! It makes a great first ride experience and has a fun play area while you “wait” in line.
- It’s a Small World – Another classic ride that you can’t miss!
- Jungle Cruise – This classic, adventurous boat tour is fun for everyone. It’s a great chance to get off your feet and even nurse while you ride!
- Mad Tea Party – If you don’t spin your teacup yourself, the spinning action isn’t too much for a little one to enjoy.
- The Magic Carpets of Aladdin – Much like Dumbo, this flying attraction is a lot of fun!
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – I think this is one of the most underrated rides at Disney World. Our girls love this one!
- Peter Pan’s Flight – Hold on tight and enjoy this flying ride through Peter Pan!
- Prince Charming Regal Carousel – The carousel features benches that you can sit with your little one, if you’re not comfortable putting them on a horse!
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover – This slow ride has a few spots where the ride vehicle jerks around, but it’s a great ride to take a break. It’s also another spot where I nurse.
- Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid – The neon lights and familiar characters make this a can’t-miss-ride for little ones!
- Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room – Music, birds, flowers, and colors will excite little ones!
- Frozen Ever After – This ride is a lot of fun, but be aware of the small drop. It caught us off guard and may startle your little one, if they’re not daredevils like mine.
- Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros – We love this ride, especially because Donald Duck isn’t heavily featured in many attractions!
- Living With the Land – This long boat tour is a great chance for the whole family to cool off. It’s also one of my favorite attractions to hop on when the baby needs to nap or nurse!
- O Canada! – This 360 CircleVision movie experience will amaze little minds as you travel through Canada!
- Reflections of China – Another 360 CircleVision movie experience through China!
- Sea Life in Future World – There are so many amazing sea creatures to see!
- The Seas with Nemo and Friends – Familiar characters and lots to look at makes this a great choice for little ones!
- Spaceship Earth – I love riding this with my girls, because it’s a giant dose of nostalgia for me, even though they’ve updated it since I was a kid!
- Beauty and the Beast Live Stage Show – This show is so gorgeous. My girls are delighted to see these characters come to life!
- Disney Junior Live on Stage! – This puppet show will make your little one go wild, with lots of singing, dancing, and excitment.
- For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration – If your little one has caught the Frozen bug, you can’t miss this show. It’s jam packed with humor for the grown ups and lots of Frozen fun for the little ones!
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid – This stage show is a mixture of live acting, puppets, and videos. It even rains on the front of the stage!
- Animals – Your little one will enjoy checking out all of the animals throughout the park.
- The Boneyard – This gigantic play area is a great pit stop for little ones. It’ll give them time out of the stroller to crawl or toddle around and explore!
- Discovery Island Carnivale – My little one loves all the loud music and dancing that happens during this street show!
- Festival of the Lion King – This show will blow your mind – and your little ones’ too!
- Kilimanjaro Safaris – This ride is a little bumpy, but still suitable for babies. Our daughters especially love the Safari rides!
- Rafiki’s Planet Watch and the Wildlife Express Train – After riding the train to Rafiki’s, there’s tons to explore, including a petting zoo and lots of educational opportunities for the rest of the party.
- Rivers of Light – This nighttime spectacular is really moving to watch, if your little one can hang that late!
- Triceratops Spin – We love this ride. It’s very similar to Dumbo, but with a fun dino twist.
Other general advice for visiting the disney parks with babies
Disney is a magical place, but it doesn’t transform babies into something they aren’t. If they’re not early risers, don’t try to force them into it for breakfast reservations at 8am. Likewise, if they’re early to bed, don’t try to force them to stay up for fireworks. Plan for their schedules, making time for feeding and diaper changes.
You may not cover as much ground as you would without a baby, but that’s part of the fun of it. Having a baby along forces you to slow down and enjoy the things you might otherwise miss out on. Assume you’re going to miss some FastPasses or might not make it to the fireworks at the end of the night.
Any other advice you’d give families heading to disney parks with babies? leave us a comment and share your wisdom!