If you’re a new parent, it’s likely that the sirens of Walt Disney World will soon begin to sound. But you may be wondering: how soon is too soon for your baby’s first visit to the House of Mouse? Whether you’re dragging your youngest tot along for the ride with older siblings in tow, or you’ve decided that seeing your baby in Mickey ears mustn’t be delayed a moment longer, you may be looking for some reassurance that your trip won’t start (and end) miserably. Sure, naysayers will caution you away, but if you’re intent on heading to the Most Magical Place on Earth, you’ll be relieved to know that a Walt Disney World trip with your little one is feasible — and it may even be pleasurable (yes, you read that right).
Here are some hacks and insights to help you navigate the mean streets of Magic Kingdom and beyond.
1. Disney has done this before
You’re not the first person to come to Walt Disney World with a baby. In fact, the parks are inherently designed with even the youngest visitors in mind. For example, each park has a complimentary Baby Care Center: An air-conditioned, family-friendly sanctuary that features a private nursing room with rocking chairs; a diaper changing area; a dining room with high chairs; a kitchen complete with a microwave, oven, and sink; and a supply shop that's stocked with baby essentials. Additionally, every restroom in Walt Disney World is equipped with changing stations. It’s also worth noting that it’s perfectly acceptable to breastfeed your baby throughout the parks; perhaps you'll be able to squeeze in a few soothing nursing sessions as you wait in line for rides.
2. There are plenty of rides and attractions for babies
Most people are surprised to learn that there are actually tons of baby-friendly rides, especially in Magic Kingdom. Any ride that doesn’t have a minimum-height requirement welcomes your little one to tag along and experience the magic — all from the safety of your lap. These rides include classics like Dumbo the Flying Elephant, It’s a Small World, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, among others. Walt Disney World also offers loads of entertaining baby-friendly shows, parades, and character greetings.
3. You’ll save some serious cash
One of the biggest selling points for visiting Walt Disney World with your little one? The savings, of course. Walt Disney World offers free admission to all children under three, and many onsite restaurants offer free meals for them, too. If you’re looking to save even more, consider bringing your own food, beverages, and snacks to keep your baby's hangry cries at bay.
4. You’ll get to go when the school-age kids can’t
You may want to visit when all the school-age kids are back in their classrooms. During this time, the parks will be significantly less crowded, and you can actually spend time taking in all that Disney magic — without having to push and shove through crowds. Tip: Avoid holidays, school vacation periods, and the summer months. Additionally, you'll find that airfare and hotel rates are significantly cheaper.
5. You can (possibly) avoid the lines
If you plan ahead of time and strategize, you may be able to avoid waiting on lengthy lines with your fussy infant. Take advantage of Walt Disney World’s Rider Switch program, which allows for parents to take turns waiting in line while also caring for their little one. Here’s how it works: One parents swaps with the other (or vice-versa) to take care of baby, while the other parent takes the older children on the big-kid rides.
6. Consider booking a hotel on the outskirts of Disney property
Walt Disney World-owned properties will most likely cost you a small fortune. Instead, consider booking a room at one of the residential-style hotels located on the outskirts of the parks. This can save you a ton of money, while also providing you with more living space at a (more) affordable price (because, let's face it: babies require a lot of stuff). We recommend the 878-room Grove Resort Orlando, which, although is just three miles from the park entrance, feels like a whole new world (pun-intended). The 106-acre lakefront property offers one- to three- bedroom suites (starting at 975 square feet) complete with full kitchens, laundry, complimentary shuttles to and from the park, and plenty of included amenities. While you’re here, be sure to take advantage of the recently launched Surfari Water Park, the kid-friendly activity center, and the Flip Flop Family Fun Center. If you're able to, consider a visit to the spa for some much-needed R&R, because traveling with a baby is stressful. Rates from $159 per night, depending on the season.