Every Walt Disney World vacation is different and of course, every family has a slightly different set of needs. At Magical Treks, our passion is making your adventure a memory that will last a lifetime. So, I thought I’d pull together a list of tips which proved useful to us as we’ve traveled to Walt Disney World with our young son over the years.
#9 Bring your Car Seat and Buy a Car Seat Carrier
When our son was two (and three, and four, etc.), he was curious, antsy, and busy, busy, busy. We instinctively knew that having this child waiting in an airport and strapped into an airplane seat was recipe for melt downs (ours, not his). Thankfully, his car seat was FAA approved (you can check for this on the back of the seat). We elected to take it on the plane with us instead of checking it at the gate. Our son was accustomed to his car seat and therefore did not struggle or fuss during the plane ride as he knew exactly what was expected of him.
To make this process even easier, we purchased a Car Seat Carrier for the airport. This contraption essentially converted his car seat into rolling luggage and we were able to strap him in so that we weren’t struggling to keep up with a toddler in the airport! Genius!
#8 Ring Pop for the Plane
Giving your young child a ring pop or a sucker helps equalize their inner ear during while landing. Watch out for sticky fingers though.
#7 Choose the Right Seats on the Plane
Kids kick the seat in front of them. It just happens. More than likely, no one will say anything but it’s awful knowing you are making someone else’s flight uncomfortable. Our solution is pretty simple; one of us always sits in front of our son. When we fly Southwest, we make sure that we get an early enough boarding position to secure seats in both rows. Someone is still getting kicked, it’s just a parent instead of a stranger. We alternate who sits in front for each plane ride. Another advantage of this arrangement is you get even better video of your little one on their first takeoff and landing. We may have taken a little more video than was strictly necessary.
#6 Rent A Collapsing Stroller
Having a stroller at Walt Disney World seems like an obvious choice when you are travelling with a baby but what about slightly older children? Our son was two on our first trip and we’ve been several times since then. He was six the last time we went to Walt Disney world and we still rented a stroller. A good stroller provides shade, storage and a place to sit/sleep when the day is done. Walt Disney World is amazing, but the parks are also enormous. Each park is a world of it’s own encompassing several square miles. Expecting a child to be willing to walk miles and miles each day is a recipe for disaster as is hoping to carry them.
On our trips, we’ve always done business with Kingdom Strollers. They have a variety of models available. The stroller we use is the Mini GT Single and rents from Kingdom Strollers at around $65 a week (at the time of this writing). If you grab the handle in the middle of the seat, it collapses and you can carry it right onto the bus. I normally stand on the bus near the middle door where it is not in the way. It pops right back up and you’re back in business as soon as you are in the park. You don’t even have to remove your drinks!
Your travel agent can arrange this rental for you. Kingdom Strollers will deliver your rental to bell services at your resort (where you will return it at the conclusion of your vacation).
#5 Bring an Extra Buddy
Many young children carry with them a ‘buddy’ or a ‘lovey’, that one special stuffed animal that is cherished above all others. For our son, that animal is ‘Da’. Da is a 1998 Beanie Baby, ‘Scorch the Dragon’. He went everywhere with my son and is still a fixture at times, especially when he is sick. When we went to Walt Disney World, we knew we’d have to bring Da. However, we also knew that Da could be lost.
Enter the stunt double. Once we realized Da was “The One”, we went on Amazon and purchased about six of them. We’re currently on Da 4.0. Whenever we traveled when our son was younger, we always packed an extra Da just in case ours got lost. Dealing with a missing lovey at home would be hard, but in a strange place it could be devastating. I can’t count the number of Facebook posts I’ve seen pleading for a missing lovey to be returned to its heartbroken owner.
#4 First Haircut
Within the Magic Kingdom, there is an excellent barber shop that is a great place to get your little one’s first haircut! Harmony Barber Shop is located in the Town Square and begins taking reservations 180 days prior to travel. With the $25 “My First Haircut” package, you receive a lock of hair, a certificate, and commemorative Mickey ears. Be sure to ask your travel agent to setup a reservation before you go as reservations go fast. Also, your travel agent can organize your touring plan around a trip to the barber so you’re sure not to miss anything!
#3 Character Meets are Sometimes Scary
As with the first roller coaster, the first meet and greet can set the tone. Most kids have zero issues with the character meets and Walt Disney World cast members are excellent. Occasionally though, a child does react negatively. If you have a local business that frequently features costumed characters, you may do a trial run before traveling so see how your little ones react.
If they will be seeing their first ever larger than life character in the parks, you might consider allowing them to observe a character meet first before getting in line. Several characters meet randomly throughout the day in various areas of the parks so you might be able to find a spot near the line that allows your young children to observe without having to get too close.
#2 Be Watchful of Overheating
Central Florida in the summer can be extremely humid and hot. We are from Arkansas but the heat in Florida still came as a shock on occasion. Don’t fret, there are several strategies for dealing with this but the big thing is to stay aware. Kids get hot fast.
Walt Disney World provides fans in ride queues. Also, their dark rides are very well air conditioned. There’s nothing like Pirates of the Caribbean on a hot day in the Magic Kingdom. You can also duck into a gift shop. There are plenty of opportunities to get a drink of water or something else cool.
Having a stroller with a sun shade also helps tremendously (but those can also heat up when sitting out in the sun all day). We found that a cooling towel could provide some relief for young ones by wetting it and placing it against the back rest inside the stroller.
Regardless what you do, keep your little ones cool and very hydrated.
Downtime is our number one must do. Walt Disney World is an overstimulating environment even for the maturest of adults. Combine that with the heat, and most humans will benefit from a daily break. We typically tour from park opening until lunch time and then return to our resort for the afternoon. Our son no longer takes a nap at home and yet he still takes naps at Walt Disney World on occasion. If you don’t want to nap, grab some pool time or just chill out in your room prior to returning to the parks for the evening festivities.
I know the instinct is to get as much out of your vacation as you can. But remember, Walt Disney World vacations are a marathon, not a sprint. Getting plenty of rest is key to making your vacation truly a magical experience!
Hopefully these tips will help make your trip to Walt Disney World that much more magical. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to talk to your travel agent before you leave. I also need to note that I have nothing to declare regarding products or services featured in this article. I received no compensation but simply find these products to be invaluable when traveling to Walt Disney World with my son.
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