Let's be real, navigating through the nuances of a Disney park day is challenging in general, then add a baby with a unique sleep/feeding/changing schedule (whose schedule is likely thrown off a bit by being in a new place) and you have a daunting experience on your hands... or so it feels.
I'm here to encourage you, as a mom who felt all the feelings before and during our park day (everything from utter excitement to nagging mom guilt), it's totally doable, and it's actually pretty amazing. Plus, although your little love won't likely remember the day, you will, and it's worth venturing out for the moments you're about to experience. That being said, there are a lot of tips and tricks we've learned the hard way and I'm excited to share our top learnings with you to help make your Disney day with a baby as stress-free and magic-filled as possible :)
5. Pace Yourself - This is one of my biggest Disney tips in general that is cornerstone to having a great park day, but it’s especially true with a baby. Since every baby has a unique schedule, a theme park day is going to rock that at least a little. We like to really pace ourselves at the park. And this may sound contrary to popular belief, but you don't have to be there at park open to enjoy your day. You'll get there when you and the baby are ready to get there :) It's worth giving yourself grace on timing, because if you were a pre-baby park open to park close type of guest, your baby likely will change that, but it's okay to roll with their pace. You may find you enjoy the smaller moments more than you ever realized you could, I know I feel that way.
TIP - To make it a great day for everyone, I recommend asking each member of your travel party before you enter the park what their number one thing to do/see/enjoy is for the day is and do your best to hit that one thing for everyone. Then the rest is gravy. One thing is WAY more manageable than a laundry list of requirements.
TIP - Utilizing the rider swap system for rides that the baby can’t join you on is a great way to still enjoy the more exciting rides Disney has to offer as an adult. To do this, both parents go to the Cast Member at the ride’s entrance, say you’d like to do the riders swap and TIP within a TIP - when they ask who will be swapping, give them not only the second parent's ticket but also any of your older kids/park companions so you’re not riding alone. Plus you’ll score parent points letting your big kids ride twice in a row.
4. If your baby is nursing - find creative places to nurse (and don’t bank on the Baby Care Center having availability) - Depending on your comfortability, I recommend finding quiet and pretty places to nurse so you aren't holed up in the Baby Care Center or bathroom all day. Plus with indoor distancing guidelines, it’s hard to land spots in the nursing areas of the Baby Care Centers within the parks. For instance, Magic Kingdom had only 3 chairs for moms to nurse in at the Baby Care Center... three.. for the whole park! That's literally the only specified area for private nursing in the park. So pack your patience if you use that area (which I'm not going to lie, is very quiet and comfortable with AC so there are definite pluses to using the free service). For me, and I understand everyone is different, I love bringing my Milk Snob cover and finding a quiet and shaded area, preferably near an attraction that Tallulah and Michael can enjoy while I nurse the baby.
TIP - Shows and air conditioned restaurants are great spaces to nurse while still being with the rest of you party.
TIP - When finding an area to nurse at, I always look for a nice area to rest my back that’s far from crowds and quiet so my distracted eater has the least amount of distractions possible.
Some of the best Magic Kingdom nursing areas are…
- Covered area between the Cheshire Cat Café and Mad Tea Party
- Area between Little Mermaid’s Grotto and Storybook Circus Entrance
- Benches by Space Mountain bathrooms TIP - just don’t sit where the TTA riders could look down. I like to pick the benches with their back to the tree line.
- When Tomorrowland Terrace is closed, their seating area is perfect. It‘s covered, pretty calm and you can still take in a solid castle view.
- If you can land the rocking chairs on the porch near Hall of Presidents, you’ve officially made it as a nursing Disney mom!! I haven’t been over there when the seats are available during one of her feeds yet, but I’m pumped for the day. It’s literally a rocking chair with a raised view of the parade route with a façade behind. Win, Win, Win!!
- Tortuga Tavern when it’s open for quick service and when it’s just a seating area provides great tucked away spots to still enjoy the ambiance of the park while feeding your sweetie.
- The bench area right before the bathroom walkway next to Diamond Horseshoe is a convenient and quite little alcove.
There are so many more spots! If you follow me on Instagram at @bibbidibobbidibatts you can see the hidden gem nursing spots we find during our Disney days.
3. Don’t forget a fan - this happened to me and I felt like a terrible mom on a hot fall day in Orlando.
TIP - March - November is hot in Orlando so I totally recommend prepping for summer conditions if you’re visiting during those 9 months.
A fan is a must for a baby in a pram/stroller and I recommend using one with more power than the kinds you find at gift shops in the park for babies (those don't really do much in my experience). Here’s a link to my Disney Day Baby Must Haves Amazon List.
2. Baby wear on rides - Even though a ride may be approved for guests of “all ages”, it doesn‘t mean it won’t whip you and your baby around more than you may feel comfortable. (Can we say Toy Story Mania and Kilimanjaro Safari…buckle up) I love using my Wild Bird ring sling and pop Vivian in it before hopping in line. These carriers I’ve used since Tallulah was a baby and I stand by them. So easy to use and compact to store which is so important on a park day with limited stroller space. Plus the linen fabric option is for sure the most breathable but sturdy for downright hot summer days.
TIP - When I'm on the ride with the baby strapped to me, I recommend using one hand to provide extra neck support for peace of mind. Then you'll have your other hand free to hold your toddler tight or wave it in the air while living your best life.
1. You‘ll use a baby changing mat for more than just diaper changes - I don‘t know about you, but if I have the stroller positioned to keep the baby private and I have a sanitary changing mat, a bench can easily transform into a changing table vs having to schlep everything into a bathroom. We love using the Ava & Oliver vegan leather mats because they don’t take up much space and they’re very easy to wipe down. I like to use mats like this for some picnic playtime at the hub or anywhere the baby does tummy or back time during one of our stopping points as well.
TIP - You may want to consider Genie+ to prevent waiting in long lines. You can use the time you would have been waiting in lines to feed/change/nurse the baby in uninterrupted areas instead of managing baby needs while in long lines. I’ll be sharing our honest Genie+ experience on the blog soon, so keep an eye out and subscribe to be the first to know about new postings :)
Finally, BONUS TIP, don’t neglect taking care of yourself. Staying hydrated, rested and fed ourselves as moms is so easy to lose track of when you’re taking care of everyone else. But if you're not setting yourself up for success, you're not going to be able to enjoy your day with your baby to the extent you'd want, and I don't want you to miss out on that joy!
All in all, bringing a baby to the park is totally doable and if you come with flexibility in mind, you’re going to make some amazing memories. Your Disney day is a day to spend celebrating all you’ve accomplished as a parent by getting to this point and taking a big step in immersing your baby in a new experience. Get that treat you want, watch the shows you want, ride what you want… because soon when that sweetie becomes a toddler, someone else will be calling the shots at the park 😂 …I’m only (partially) kidding.
Enjoy your park day with your sweet little baby!! You deserve it!!