Help Needed - WDW Veterans BUT First Trip with Baby!

mrsclark

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 16, 2013
DH and I are big Disney people - and have many trips under are belts, BUT with the exception of one trip when we went with extended family (at the time our niece was 11, one nephew 5 and the other nephew 3) we haven't done trips with children! We had a baby last October and I am getting the itch to plan our first trip as a family. We are thinking either September or October of this year (he would be 11 months-1 year) or January/February of next year (15-16 months).

1. I had heard good things about the splash area at Riviera, but we are wide open on hotel choice (thinking something on the monorail might be best)?
2. What are some great touring plans and strategies and tips for going with baby?
3. If given the choice, would you opt for the fall or winter?
4. How do you handle the logistics of getting all the baby stuff to the resort - diapers, etc.?
 

MickeyWaffles

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 28, 2010
My daughter turned one on her first trip and my son was 13 months on his first. They are now 5 & 3.5 and have been to WDW 5 & 4 times. My 1 year old nephew was with us on our most recent trip in Jan/Feb. My input ...

1. We LOVE being able to walk to a park. So Contemporary or Bay Lake Tower to walk to MK, Boardwalk, Beach Club or Yacht Club to walk to Epcot & HS. It is SO nice to not have to take any transportation to get somewhere. After something walkable, we love the monorail resorts with the kids.

2. Be flexible. Follow the baby’s lead. Don’t overplan. I learned that both of my kids were much better stroller nappers at WDW than hotel nappers. We book a few key ADRs and add more last minute on the fly. Easier for us to not commit to too many dining times ahead of time - I like to be able to just eat meals when the kids are hungry. Our advance ADRs are always booked for breakfast or lunch, to avoid committing to an overtired dinner.

3. We enjoy winter. This year we went 1/31-2/6 and it was great. My daughter’s first trip was early January. We do not spend much time at the pool, mostly at the parks so we don’t mind if the weather is cooler. It’s always still warmer than where we’re coming from.

4. We have always just checked a separate small suitcase that is just baby supplies. Diapers, bottles, cups, wipes, etc.

Have a great time!
 
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jacobzking

Mouseketeer
Joined
Sep 15, 2015
Also, I have had amazon prime deliver diapers, etc to the hotel. I'm firmly against checking bags, lol, we only use carry ons.
Weather might be better for baby in late fall.
Monorail resort would be ideal. Monorails are bad enough, but getting on those damn buses with a 1 year old is a freakin nightmare (done it many times).
Use parent switch on rides.
Lower expectations as far as number of rides, etc.
You'd be surprised what he might or might not like at 11 months. He may love Haunted Mansion (mine did) but hate Small World.
 
  • btosh

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Sep 11, 2013
    Definitely following this thread. We're heading down in late September for DD's first trip (she'll be 18 months old). Fortunately, mother and grandfather in laws are coming with us, so we're thinking that we'll have good support.
     

    Rory607

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 10, 2016
    Our DS was 1 on his first trip. We went in January and I really enjoyed the weather. It was much less stressful to not have to worry about the baby overheating or getting burned. We still used sunscreen, but it wasn’t a constant concern. You might have to deal with refurbs, but it’s still a good time to go.

    I packed some diapers in the suitcases(opened the package and split them among two bags). Then, I used Amazon to send extra diapers to the resort, along with some puffs and baby snacks. He was also still on formula, so I packed that in the suitcase, along with bottles and dish soap.
     

    Lumpy1106

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 2, 2010
    Assume you are flying? Regardless, we found that being able to get on and off transportation quickly was really important. We bought a McClaren stroller for the 3'rd kid (learned the hard way after 1 and 2). Yes, it costs more but it is compact, travels easy, comes with its own bag - it just does it all. Carry everything in backpacks until you get into the park, then load up the underside of the stroller. the McClaren has its own rain tent but we never used it. Just take two ponchos and drape those over the stroller when you leave it in parking if it looks like rain. That got us through more than one downpour.

    Also, really important; All of the bathrooms have changing stations, but your life will change forever once you use the Disney Baby Care Center. There is one in each park. Just REALLY amazing and most people don't even know they exist.
     

    jacobzking

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 15, 2015
    As far as strollers, we just rent them in park so we don't have to worry about ours getting damaged or stollen (rare, but it can happen)
     
  • LindsayHD

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 8, 2011
    That is a big difference in ages that you may not realize. I would focus more on the ages and less on seasons. We took our son both at 11 months and at 16 months. 11 months was WAY easier because he couldn't walk. I would just wear him the whole time, and didn't even bother with a stroller. When he could walk, he didn't want to stand in lines and he was not as easy on the airplane. We only did rides that we could get a fastpass+ for. But he was way more fun at character meals and riding on Frozen and whatnot at 16 months. He by far enjoyed the parks more when he was 16 months, but WE enjoyed our vacation more at 11 months.
    I then would prioritize the parks you are most interested in going to. That stroller is a huge deal. So if you want to go to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, I would stay at BC or Boardwalk or on the Skyliner. If you would rather go to MK, then stay on the monorail because it is a HUGE deal not to have to break down that stroller.
    I also would recommend bringing your stroller from home or renting one exactly like it. Your child will be comfortable napping in your stroller. They may not be able to adjust to napping in a new stroller.
    Also, especially with cheap flights these days, we realized it was only $200 more to book first class. That was the same price as seats and suitcases and with United first class, you get 2 free bags each, up to 75 pounds. We had a 9 day trip and were able to bring food, diapers, everything, since we had 4 suitcases.
    Baby Change centers are everything. Factor your whole day around going to them. Know where it is in every park, you will love it.
    If you go at 11 months, invest in a pair of baby headphones. We let our son sleep in the stroller while we stayed late for fireworks and shows.
     
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    mrsclark

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 16, 2013
    Assume you are flying? Regardless, we found that being able to get on and off transportation quickly was really important. We bought a McClaren stroller for the 3'rd kid (learned the hard way after 1 and 2). Yes, it costs more but it is compact, travels easy, comes with its own bag - it just does it all. Carry everything in backpacks until you get into the park, then load up the underside of the stroller. the McClaren has its own rain tent but we never used it. Just take two ponchos and drape those over the stroller when you leave it in parking if it looks like rain. That got us through more than one downpour.

    Also, really important; All of the bathrooms have changing stations, but your life will change forever once you use the Disney Baby Care Center. There is one in each park. Just REALLY amazing and most people don't even know they exist.
    Actually, we aren't sure whether or not we are going to fly or drive. In the past, we have always driven, but the drive from our house to WDW is about 14 hours plus stops - the past couple of trips we have stopped two nights overnight on the way down (saw stuff on the way) and once on the way back. However, this seems like it might be an insane idea with a baby. I am trying to weigh being able to stop when and where we want for breaks and pack what we want to take (I am a heavy packer) against spending that much time in the car when we can fly down in about two and a half hours (plus time in the airport).
     

    mrsclark

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 16, 2013
    That is a big difference in ages that you may not realize. I would focus more on the ages and less on seasons. We took our son both at 11 months and at 16 months. 11 months was WAY easier because he couldn't walk. I would just wear him the whole time, and didn't even bother with a stroller. When he could walk, he didn't want to stand in lines and he was not as easy on the airplane. We only did rides that we could get a fastpass+ for. But he was way more fun at character meals and riding on Frozen and whatnot at 16 months. He by far enjoyed the parks more when he was 16 months, but WE enjoyed our vacation more at 11 months.
    I then would prioritize the parks you are most interested in going to. That stroller is a huge deal. So if you want to go to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, I would stay at BC or Boardwalk or on the Skyliner. If you would rather go to MK, then stay on the monorail because it is a HUGE deal not to have to break down that stroller.
    I also would recommend bringing your stroller from home or renting one exactly like it. Your child will be comfortable napping in your stroller. They may not be able to adjust to napping in a new stroller.
    Also, especially with cheap flights these days, we realized it was only $200 more to book first class. That was the same price as seats and suitcases and with United first class, you get 2 free bags each, up to 75 pounds. We had a 9 day trip and were able to bring food, diapers, everything, since we had 4 suitcases.
    Baby Change centers are everything. Factor your whole day around going to them. Know where it is in every park, you will love it.
    If you go at 11 months, invest in a pair of baby headphones. We let our son sleep in the stroller while we stayed late for fireworks and shows.
    Thanks for the thoughts - as a first time mom, I wasn't really thinking about how different he will be between September and February although considering how much he changes week to week, that should have occurred to me. I was still thinking in adult terms - I will be basically the same person with the same skills and abilities in September of this year as I will be five months later. So this has given me a lot to think about. Our son is not too crazy about being in a baby carrier, so I am not sure that is a strategy I can use regardless of whether or not he is walking, but I see how big of a difference it could be if he is able to run around while waiting in line rather than one of us holding him.
     

    mrsclark

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 16, 2013
    Thanks for everyone's thoughts! I am still mulling over the hotel choice - I think staying on the monorail would be the best, BUT on the other hand it would be great to stay at a DVC in a one-bedroom suite so my husband and I could hang out after our son goes to bed - I am just not sure how much availability there will be at GF, Poly or Bay Lake unless we would commit 11 months in advance. We generally don't have vacation dates selected in time for that.
     
  • mrsclark

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 16, 2013
    Also what about renting a crib? I don't think our son would sleep well at all in a Pack and Play. Does anyone have experience renting a crib?
     

    Rory607

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 10, 2016
    Actually, we aren't sure whether or not we are going to fly or drive. In the past, we have always driven, but the drive from our house to WDW is about 14 hours plus stops - the past couple of trips we have stopped two nights overnight on the way down (saw stuff on the way) and once on the way back. However, this seems like it might be an insane idea with a baby. I am trying to weigh being able to stop when and where we want for breaks and pack what we want to take (I am a heavy packer) against spending that much time in the car when we can fly down in about two and a half hours (plus time in the airport).
    We generally prefer driving, except to WDW! We do 14+ drives fairly regularly with our kids and have since they were babies. However, with Disney we are so busy once we get there I don’t want to do to the long drive. I’d rather get there as fast as possible.

    I am also a heavy packer, but I’ve just made it work for Disney. When our kids were babies I would do laundry halfway through the week. We usually stay at POR, which has laundry facilities. I’m not sure every resort has this? But that definitely helped since you never know how fast babies will go through clothes.
     

    MyGoofy26

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 12, 2004
    We’re taking our daughter in September. Original plan was early May but that’s clearly out the window.

    She would’ve been 16 months, so now we’re looking at 20 months. And she’s super mobile. Took her first steps at 7 1/2 months, fully walking on her own a month later, and hasn’t stopped. We broke down and became “those” people. Yep, we got a leash. She’s just too fast and LOVES to run as fast as her little legs will go. It was fairly inexpensive: under $20 on Amazon and Mickey themed. Something I hadn’t considered before someone made a point of it in reviews for it, since it’s flat and not backpack style with a cute plush animal it’s thinner so it’s cooler AND you can just unhook and toss baby in a stroller without wrangling in and out of it every time. With the backpack style they can’t sit back so it has to come off.

    I also ordered this hip pack thing. Kinda looks like a fanny pack, but it’s actually a little seat to prop kids on your hip to take some of the weight and pressure and redistribute it. Haven’t tried it out yet. We got it then COVID reared. She loves to be held so I’m anticipating her wanting to be carried a good bit too.

    I’ve debated ordering supplies but unless baggage weight becomes an issue I’ll probably just pack wipes and diapers. We always pack to leave room for souvenirs, so we’ll have the space going down.

    We’re staying at AKL. We love that resort, and even though it’s a haul for transportation it’s so relaxing. And she’s already and animal lover so she’ll love it there on our downtime.

    We’re also taking our own stroller. It folds in a snap and we know it so well that as long as we have any bags unloaded before the bus shows up, we’ll only need like 3 seconds to fold it up. I don’t want to learn a new stroller with crowds standing behind me. 😂

    I also ordered little nozzles for water bottles to essentially turn them into sippy cups. I figure we’ll carry a cup or two with us for meals, but this may be handier for keeping her hydrated while walking around.
     

    Specter

    This is the way
    Joined
    Oct 6, 2011
    DW, DD, and I got home just before the parks were closed for the pandemic. DD actually turned 10 months on the trip. This was our first time with a child that age that we were responsible for. We had previously gone when our niece was 11 months but that was a much more scatter and converge trip so we weren't as aware of the changes. But this time we definitely learned.

    I can't speak to the Riviera but transportation is huge, and the less time you spend on it the easier life is. We got a summer 3dlite stroller for the trip and because it does collapse quickly it was definitely worth it. DD, thankfully, is pretty easy going and will nap just about anywhere, anytime if that's what she wants/needs. We did take her on a few outings in it first, though, just to make sure that it was familiar for her. Whenever possible on buses, DW and I tried to sit in a section with 2 seats next to where an ECV could be placed because then we could use that narrow space between the end of the seats that flip up and our own to put her stroller so that it wasn't in the aisle of the bus hitting people or blocking them from moving by.

    As far as touring plans, this really comes down to how you want to do things, while knowing that there is nothing you can do about the pacing because the little one will dictate a lot of that. Our recent trip was an extended family trip. At first that was great because that meant that nobody was riding alone during rider swap on the rides that DD couldn't go on. But after a few days DW and I decided that as much as we wanted to ride the roller coasters, we'd rather spend the time with DD and so we bowed out of the thrill rides and focused on things that DD could ride. That helped us to slow things down a little bit. She was perfectly content in her stroller and her carrier when in lines. DW and I are also foodies, so we really enjoy planning our ADRs and experiencing the meals. I have read that some kids don't have the patience for sit down meals and I get that, though thankfully we have set certain norms at home that translated fairly well to vacation, relatively speaking.

    For us one of the great things about the ADRs was that it was a guaranteed time to get out of the sun, sit down in one place for a while, and let everyone cool off. I should add that DW and I are not warm weather people. We had previously gone over spring break, DW is a teacher, and it was much cooler. We have taken more trips in the winter and will probably go back to that because this year was so warm for early March. We did also take a midday break most days, though on our HS day we had fast passes and our boarding group for Rise of the Resistance prevented that from happening, so instead we left the park for the day a bit earlier.

    As for getting stuff to the resorts, that was a multi-stage plan as others have mentioned. DW and I opted to buy DD her own seat on the plane, and since we were flying southwest that meant that she got her own bag. We did take enough diapers to cover probably half of the trip and had more delivered via instacart. We also took some of her preferred snacks since we weren't sure they'd be available via instacart, a small drying rack with dish soap, extra wipes, etc. We also brought her formula and, even though the cost is higher, we opted for the single serve packets of her preferred enfamil. We ordered water bottles with the instacart order as well as fresh fruit and a few other things. We would fill her bottles with water in the room and then drop a few of the formula sticks into the backpack so we could just mix it up whenever we were ready. These were so convenient, and so much easier than packing a big can. We didn't bother with warming the bottles in the baby care centers and DD was perfectly fine with that. We also had the resort send up a pack and play, but DD was used to sleeping in one at home. She was still sleeping in her pack and play in our room at night, and napping in her crib during the day, though she's transitioned to just her crib in her room post vacation.

    Good luck and enjoy the trip whenever it happens.
     

    LindsayHD

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 8, 2011
    Also what about renting a crib? I don't think our son would sleep well at all in a Pack and Play. Does anyone have experience renting a crib?
    Most hotels have cribs available, all you have to do is request it. We stayed at the Poly and at GFV and both had cribs. They are available first come, first serve
     

    disneygolfer1985

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 4, 2013
    We went over thanksgiving with my daughter who was 18 months. We have been many times before but first with a kid. My parents came along, so that helped. Basically, we could do about 4-5 attractions in the morning before she had sensory overload and passed out. We did learn she could sleep in the stroller. I will say you need to be flexible. We planned lots of our sit down meals as breakfast or lunches. We did a bunch of character meals and that was good.

    I will say the baby care centers are a godsend when it comes to having nice space to change diapers. We always tried to utilize those to do diapers changes in the park.

    Be prepared to allow the little one to wonder. My daughter loved walking around the GF to tire herself out. A monorail resort is helpful when trying to return with a sleeping toddler.
     

    btosh

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Sep 11, 2013
    We’re taking our daughter in September. Original plan was early May but that’s clearly out the window.

    She would’ve been 16 months, so now we’re looking at 20 months. And she’s super mobile. Took her first steps at 7 1/2 months, fully walking on her own a month later, and hasn’t stopped. We broke down and became “those” people. Yep, we got a leash. She’s just too fast and LOVES to run as fast as her little legs will go. It was fairly inexpensive: under $20 on Amazon and Mickey themed. Something I hadn’t considered before someone made a point of it in reviews for it, since it’s flat and not backpack style with a cute plush animal it’s thinner so it’s cooler AND you can just unhook and toss baby in a stroller without wrangling in and out of it every time. With the backpack style they can’t sit back so it has to come off.

    I also ordered this hip pack thing. Kinda looks like a fanny pack, but it’s actually a little seat to prop kids on your hip to take some of the weight and pressure and redistribute it. Haven’t tried it out yet. We got it then COVID reared. She loves to be held so I’m anticipating her wanting to be carried a good bit too.

    I’ve debated ordering supplies but unless baggage weight becomes an issue I’ll probably just pack wipes and diapers. We always pack to leave room for souvenirs, so we’ll have the space going down.

    We’re staying at AKL. We love that resort, and even though it’s a haul for transportation it’s so relaxing. And she’s already and animal lover so she’ll love it there on our downtime.

    We’re also taking our own stroller. It folds in a snap and we know it so well that as long as we have any bags unloaded before the bus shows up, we’ll only need like 3 seconds to fold it up. I don’t want to learn a new stroller with crowds standing behind me. 😂

    I also ordered little nozzles for water bottles to essentially turn them into sippy cups. I figure we’ll carry a cup or two with us for meals, but this may be handier for keeping her hydrated while walking around.
    Hey no worries; we're going in September as well and DD will be 18 months at the time of the trip. She's walking as well and pretty quick, so we got a leash just in case. My parents got one just in case for our first trip back in the 90s since my younger brother who was 3 at the time tended to wonder. Fortunately, MIL and grandfather in law are coming with us since it's DD's first trip, so we'll have extra hands just in case.

    Are you talking about a Tushbaby when you say hip pack thing? We use this quite a bit for everything from Target runs to going to Sesame Place (we're less than 10 minutes from there and season pass members) and DD LOVES it because she can be up (she LOVES to see what's going on and people) and held. MIL likes it too because the waist band and lumbar supporter really help her back, and the Wife and I have enjoyed it whenever we've used it.

    Supply wise, we're either getting some things delivered or using our bags (checked and carry on) across the party to get diapers, wipes, snacks and whatnot down there. The Wife did an excellent job of lining our suitcases and backpacks with snacks for our last trip, so we're hoping to use the same method this time around.

    Definitely go with the light stroller! We have a Summer Infant one that we use all the time after seeing a few parents use in and rave about it when the Wife and I went on our honeymoon in 2018. Obviously it's not as warm up here as it is in Disney, but being able to quickly pack up a light weight stroller after a day at Sesame, the park, wherever is quite nice. I can't tell you how many parents struggled with bigger strollers (jogging or regular) on our last trip, and most of the dads recommended getting something smaller if possible. Always felt bad for those guys as they tried to find room on the bus before having to stand the whole ride home while visibly drained.

    The nozzles are great, and DD seems to like them. Super easy to pack when we're at Sesame (they sell them there) and relatively cheap. These aren't the exact ones, but WalMart, eBay, Amazon, and so on sell them. We're likely going to do the same thing as you though: bring a sippy cup for meals and whatnot and have the nozzles on hand for water and whatnot just in case.
     

    Gingerfun1

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jun 29, 2018
    Taking little ones is so magical, seeing their eyes light up is the best!

    For both of my kids, we bought Zoe strollers to bring with us. Super easy to collapse with snack holders (but remove them if you gate check them) but we wanted them before the trip so they could get used to them beforehand. They love to nap in them and having them already accustomed to them was huge for us.

    Between the ages you mention, be sure to bring lots of snacks/food your little one enjoys. Disney has lots of options but when they are overwhelmed and maybe picky at that age, having something they know and like handy was a lifesaver for us. Plus, then you aren't running around the park looking for something small kiddo friendly. Food packs especially were great and give some extra fluids (we're from the northeast, dealing with the heat with little ones was new to us).

    But above all, be flexible. Your little one might tap out halfway through the day and it is so much better to roll with it and not stress if you miss fast passes. Select a few "must do" items and mentally prepare to be OK skipping others if the little one is DONE with the day.

    Get the memory maker - so worth it to get full family shots (IMO).

    Have fun!!
     

    Heavens2Betsy

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Apr 5, 2020
    Lots of great tips here. We discovered hallway through our trip with our 1 yo that the princesses will sit down and play with your baby on the floor which makes much cuter pictures. They can't hold your baby for obvious reasons so I was in all the pictures with my baby. Then Tiana suggested we sit and we got a picture of baby sitting on her dress. So. Precious. We did that with the rest. They seemed to know exactly what to do.
     



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