Disney World is a truly amazing and wonderful place to visit. However, it’s also vast and can be hard to navigate, especially with a baby (it’s not so much the baby but all of the stuff that you need to bring with you to the parks). We hope these tips will help you to prepare for a trip to Disney and will save you time and effort when navigating the parks.
We took Theo to Disney world when he was nearly 6 months old and every time we visited a park, it felt like we were taking a weeks worth of luggage with us! Jamain and I both had backpacks (with nappy changing stuff, muslins, spare clothes etc), we had a cool bag with Theo’s food and the pushchair. Carrying all of this stuff and Theo meant we needed to find ways to make navigating the parks easier.
Below we cover our top 4 tips for navigating the parks and saving yourself time.
Tip 1- think carefully about how you travel to the parks
If at all possible, I would recommend not driving to the Parks. Not only is parking very expensive (approximately £21 for standard parking) but the car parks are located quite a distance from the park entrance.
We drove to Magic Kingdom and were told that the car park was at least a mile and a half from the park entrance! We had to get a tram from the car park to a security point and then once through security, we had to get either a monorail or boat to the park entrance. While the Disney transport system is very slick and well managed, it takes a while to get from your car to the park entrance and it’s a bit of a pain to lug all of the stuff you need for your baby on and off these different modes of transport. We also had to take Theo out of his buggy and fold it to board the tram. So carrying the baby, the buggy and our bags was a bit difficult.
So what should you do? I would check, if you’re staying in a hotel, whether your hotel has a shuttle service to the Disney parks. We found that not only do all of the official Disney hotels have shuttle services, many of the hotels that are located close to the parks provide a shuttle service too. We stayed at the Hilton Bonnet Creek, which had an excellent and reliable shuttle service (which we found out after a few days of driving to the parks, we actually dropped our car back early to the car rental company and cancelled our booking).
If your hotel does not have a shuttle or you are staying in a villa, you may consider taking a taxi, like Uber. Uber is relatively inexpensive if you’re staying near the parks but it would be worth finding out how much it would cost if you’re staying further away.
One of the big benefits of getting a hotel shuttle or a taxi/Uber is they can drop you off much closer to the park entrance! This will save you time and means you can get into the parks more quickly and easily.
You may be wondering about a car seat for your child. The laws in Florida state that you don’t need a car seat for a child or infant if they are travelling in a taxi or shuttle. However, you may still want a car seat for your child. Manu Uber’s in Orlando have car seats, but you can’t guarantee it so if you really want to make sure you have a car seat, I would consider buying one or taking your one from home.
We purchased a car seat for Theo for approximately £60 in Walmart, which we used in our rental car and when we travelled by Uber. Purchasing our own car seat was also more cost effective than hiring one from the car rental company.
Tip 2- Get to the parks early
It’s obvious that getting to the parks early means you’ll get into the parks when it’s less busy, which will enable you to get on some rides before the queues get very long (especially the more popular rides) or to walk around and see more.
Another reason to get there early is that you have to go through security before you enter the parks. It’s very much like airport security and can take a while. Disney recommends that you give yourself an hour and half to get into the parks (for example if you have a dining reservation). Going through security is far easier when it’s more quiet! Especially if you have a number of bags and a buggy/stroller- all of which needs to be checked!
It is worth checking if your hotel allows you to make use of the extra magic hours at the parks. One park is open an hour earlier every day for guests staying at a Disney hotel or another affiliated hotel. I would definitely recommend making use of this benefit if offered by your hotel! We stayed at the Hilton Bonnet Creek, which offered extra magic hours. Theo, like lots of babies I’m sure, gets up early and so it was great to be able to start our day early and then leave the parks before they got too busy and it got too hot!
The only thing to be aware of when in the parks before they officially open is that not everything is open. This includes the baby care centres and many of the eateries. Not all of the rides are open either, it’s usually the bigger/more popular rides that are open. So my advice would be to make sure you have some snacks with you and to use the restrooms if you need to change your baby as they do have changing facilities (they’re just not as nice as those in the baby care centres).
Tip 3- make good use of fast passes
Disney World has a fast pass system, which allows you to book a time slot to go on a ride without having to join the normal queue. This is great as you can get on the ride in less than 10 mins usually. It’s a service that’s included in your ticket price so it’s well worth making the most of! Who wants to wait in a queue with a baby? Definitely not me!
It’s really easy to make use of the fast passes and they can be booked up to 30 days in advance (60 days in advance if you are staying in a Disney Hotel). All you need to do is to have purchased your park ticket and have either the Disney app or access to the Disney world website. Once you have your physical ticket, you need to create a profile online or in the app, add your ticket numbers and then 30 (or 60 days) in advance of your trip you can book fast passes. You can book 3 fast passes at one park for each day. On the day, once you’ve used all 3 of your fast passes, you can book more one at a time.
I would book your fast passes for the morning so you give yourself the best chance of being able to book more (e.g. if you’ve booked a fast pass for 5-6pm, you won’t be able to book any more until you’ve used that one.
One advantage of having the app is you can manage your fast passes on the go while you’re at the parks. You can cancel them easily and book others. We used this feature a lot, there were occasions where we weren’t going to make it to the park in time for our time slot and so cancelled and booked another one for a bit later.
Tip 4- plan what rides and shows you want to experience in advance
There is nothing wrong with winging it on the day but the parks are so big and there’s so much to do that you may get more out of your days if you plan. 4- know what rides/ shows you want to experience in advance.
– get fast passes for these
– My list of all rides and shows that don’t have height restrictions. Magic kingdom has the most rides and Hollywood studios has the fewest rides.
– Even rides that you may think babies can’t go on, you may be surprised e.g the frozen ride in Epcot and pirates of the Caribbean in magic kingdom have drops but babies can go on them.
– Theo loved the Winnie the Pooh ride in MK, finding Nemo show and the safari ride in AK, the frozen and imagination with Figment rides in Epcot.