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Disney World: Tips for Traveling with a Baby or Toddler

traveling with family to Walt Disney World

We're roughly seven months out from Britton's first trip to Disney World, and I am already getting antsy. Can't we just go now?!

Sadly, we cannot, as there are no Christmas decorations, cool weather, or minimal crowds currently. (And we're going in early December specifically for all of those reasons!)

I. Must. Be. Patient.

In the meantime, I've been dreaming and scheming of ways to make this trip wonderful, memorable, and comfortable for all of us involved. As a veteran visitor of Disney, with 30+ trips under my belt, I feel like I know the parks inside and out.

However, I know that going with a toddler in tow will be a completely different experience. After lots of research online and talking with other parents who've taken little ones, I've compiled a list of tips I'll be using when traveling with my 18-month-old at Disney World later this year.

Build in rest time. 
I already know that this tip is going to be the hardest for me to follow. When I get to Disney World, I'm all go-go-go because, you know, it's DISNEY WORLD. And that means early mornings and late nights and wringing every drop of fun out of the experience.

Except this time, I have to remember that Britton needs time to rest or she will not have fun. A tired baby equals a miserable baby, after all!

I was talking to my mom a few days ago about this necessary addition to our schedule, and she said that she'd be happy to go back to the room with Britton each day. My mom eagerly acknowledges that she's going on this trip solely to hang out with the baby (since she hates riding the rides because she gets very easily sick), so Britton will get her afternoon nap courtesy of my mom while the rest of us keep rolling.

I can't let my mom do everything (because what kind of mom would I be then!?!) so I'll make sure to switch off with her and take Britton off to bed during the fireworks and late night parades.

Respect your child's fears and interests.
I'm the first to admit that I would love a cute picture of Britton interacting with Mickey and Minnie. However, I could see how they could be terrifying to a child, what with the giant heads and lack of speaking. 

Throughout the trip, I'll be checking to see how Britton's reacting to everything. I want her to experience everything, of course, but only at her own comfort level.

If she wants to meet the characters, then I'll wait in every line for all of the princesses, monsters, mice, and ducks that I can find. If she'd rather ride the rides, then we'll stick to that.

Hold off on the expensive meals. 
My daughter loves food. I don't know if this will continue into toddlerhood, but I'm happy as long as it lasts. Even if she's still a super foodie when we go to Disney, I'm not making any fancy reservations during this trip. 

Why? Because I think it's money wasted.

She won't eat that much, she won't be still long enough for the rest of us to eat that much, and I'm afraid that the entertainment with either terrify her (i.e. the characters) or memorize her so much that she won't eat anything (i.e. anything with music or dancing).

Plus, Britton's favorite activity right now is going to a restaurant and yelling ("Ah! Ah!") at all of the waiters. It's fine in some place loud and boisterous, but super embarrassing in a semi-nice place. I don't enjoy my meal because I spent the entire time wrangling her into her high chair and trying to keep her occupied and not abusing the waitstaff.

Landon and I may sneak off one day to grab some food at a full service restaurant, but that will be the exception rather than the rule for this trip.

We definitely plan to go back to Disney when Britton's a bit older, and I know we'll do the whole she-bang then, character meals and all. It's just not practical for us now.

Don't go crazy with the junk food.
Disney food is awesome: turkey legs, Mickey ice cream, Main Street popcorn, and churros are must-eat items whenever I go.

While Britton might get a few bites of these items, I still plan on sticking pretty close to her fruit-and-veggie-plus-a-bit-of-protein diet that she normally eats. Anyone of any age can get sick from eating too much junk food, and I don't want our vacation to be ruined by hurting tummies.

There will be treats, but I will insist that Britton not consume junk food for every snack and every meal.

What else have I forgotten? Share your favorite Disney-with-a-toddler tips below!