There are many debates about the best age to bring a child to Disney World. Personally, I don’t believe there is a “best” age because each is special for different reasons.
But I will admit, I did NOT intend to bring my daughter before she turned one. However, an opportunity for a Walt Disney World trip presented itself to me when she was 8 months old, and I couldn’t turn it down.
Whether you’re excited to bring your baby to Disney World, or if it just happens to work out that way, here are a few tips I learned from my experience at Disney with an 8-month-old.
1. Bring a stroller AND a baby carrier.
It’s obviously convenient for a small child to have a stroller with you in the parks (we brought our own from home so we could also use it in the airport, but there are options for renting them from Disney or through a third-party service like Kingdom Strollers. A Magical Vacation Planner can assist you with that).
However, what many new parents don’t realize is that you have to park your stroller at the entrance to every ride, and the distance between stroller parking and the start of the ride can often be pretty long. If you have a baby carrier with you as well, you can carry your child/baby while you stand in line. Plus, it can also help calm your child or get them to nap while in the busy parks.
2. Use the Baby Care Centers.
All four Walt Disney World theme parks have a Baby Care Center located near the First Aid offices, and they are a hidden gem for parents of young children.
Each Baby Care Center is equipped with multiple changing stations, a mothers/nursing room, a shop for any baby items you may have forgotten, and a place for little ones to get away from crowds and the sun. Plus, they are air-conditioned, making it quite the magical oasis during hot summer months.
On our trip, we used these centers in all four parks, which was a much easier spot for diaper changes and for taking a quiet moment to calm down (both for her and for me).
3. Request a crib/pack-n-play in advance from your Disney Resort Hotel (but bring your own crib sheet).
You can request a crib/pack-n-play from your resort hotel at check-in, or better yet, ask your Magical Vacation Planner to leave a note on your reservation requesting one in advance. This way, you don’t need to bring your own from home, saving precious luggage space.
But do be sure to pack a fitted crib sheet!
4. Use Rider Switch.
If you are traveling with other adults or older children who want to ride more thrilling rides, you can take advantage of Rider Switch! This allows your party to ride a ride while you stay back with the baby, and then as soon as they return, you can ride the ride without needing to stand in line again.
To use this feature, have your entire party check in with the Cast Member at the end of the line and let them know you want to do Rider Switch. They will talk you through the process (and if you’re nice, sometimes they will actually allow your older children to ride a second time).
5. Take them on rides!
Babies love dark/light contrasts, shiny objects, and music. So, many of the rides at Disney World are perfect for them! Most of the slow rides are great, but here are a few that my 8-month-old loved:
Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid (Magic Kingdom)
Haunted Mansion (Magic Kingdom)
Surprisingly, this may have been my daughter’s favorite. She was captivated the entire time.
- “it’s a small world” (Magic Kingdom)
- Peter Pan’s Flight (Magic Kingdom)
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Magic Kingdom)
- Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros (Epcot)
- Spaceship Earth (Epcot)
- Kilimanjaro Safaris (Animal Kingdom)
- Na’vi River Journey (Animal Kingdom)
Note: We also took our daughter on Pirates of the Caribbean, but be warned that there is a small drop on this ride. She was not bothered by it, but it might frighten some new parents who aren’t expecting it. I also would not recommend Frozen Ever After with a baby, due to the drop on that ride, though they are allowed to ride.
6. Do a character meal or experience.
Disney characters are SO GOOD with small children. The interactions are so precious, and the memories you make from any character meal or meet and greet will be priceless.
Sure, the baby will not remember meeting Mickey or Pooh, but I guarantee that you all will cherish any photos or videos you capture from the experience.
7. Don’t forget to ask for a First Visit button.
No matter how old your child is on their first visit, be sure to get a complimentary First Visit button as a reminder of their first Disney trip.
You can request them at the front desk of your Walt Disney World Resort hotel or at any Guest Relations building in the parks.
8. Take it easy.
We all know doing ANYTHING with a new baby is 10 times harder than it used to be. Give yourself some slack, and don’t feel like you need to do it all.
If you need to return to your room at midday for a nap, do it (in fact, I actually recommend this for most families, regardless of their kids’ ages. Disney can be a LONG day, and a midday rest ensures everyone can make it until fireworks without a meltdown).
If you notice your child is getting overstimulated or approaching a meltdown, it’s okay to leave the line, restaurant, or park completely for a while.
I know that for many families, a Disney trip is a once-in-a-lifetime trip. But the hope is that you WILL be able to come back some day when they are bigger, and it will all still be there when you come back. Plus, always remember that some things are easier to do before your kids are mobile!
So, while visiting Disney with a baby may require some extra planning and different logistics, it certainly can still be magical.
This is one of those cases in which the knowledge and expertise of a Magical Vacation Planner can add immeasurable value to your experience, making sure the extra planning needed is stress-free and allows you to have a memorable trip.