Doing Disney With KidsBy Lucy | July 6th, 2018
Doing Disney World (and long-haul) with Kids
So, for many years, we had countless trips to Disney World but always as 3 or 4 adults (whoever said Disney is for kids is so wrong!). When we were pregnant with Ada, we booked her first trip straight after our twenty-week scan. We knew that trip was going to be unlike any trip we had taken before and that our plans would look very different than our normal itinerary (oh yes, I always have an itinerary!). Her first trip was when she was five and a half months old and her second quickly followed at 10 months old. We have just completed her third trip at 18 months so I am here to tell you my top tips on doing Disney with babies and kids and some general ‘How to survive a long-haul flight with a baby’ advice.
- Zip-Lock Bags
Don’t judge me. Yes, I am slightly OCD with packing and I do pack well in advance but this was a top Pinterest tip that I have done on all three trips. I purchased zip-lock bags prior to packing and in each bag I placed an outfit of Ada’s. In that bag went, coordinating hair bow and socks etc. First trip, I even went as far to write which park or occasion that outfit bag would be suitable for. This was amazing for a number of reasons. Firstly, if you have a husband like mine that always asks what they should dress your child in, this frees up so much time in a morning. Someone else can dress them and you know your children won’t look like they’ve been dressed in the dark. Secondly, they are great for spare outfits. Grab a bag, stuff it in your rucksack and there’s precious park time saved trying to put together another new outfit. You also have a handy, sealable bag for any stained or wet clothes if you need it.
- Post Security Baby Milk and food
Airport security checks are probably the one thing that scares and stresses mamas and daddies most when travelling with babies and young children who still need milk and baby food. Ada was weaned for all three trips, but all three trips were different. My biggest tip for travelling with babies is to order your milk and food pouches into the airside Boots. I took a bottle of milk and cup of water to the airport and emptied these before security. The rest I collected in store on airside. This saves on luggage allowance (no massive weight allowance donated to formula, food or milk) and it made security a breeze. If you take milk and pouches through security, each item has to go in a separate tray and get swabbed…just taking all that out of your bag (and repacking it all) at the security area is a stress in itself. If you have babies on cow’s milk, you can buy cow’s milk from the airside Boots too, however I did revert back to follow on milk (powder) for Ada’s latest trip as the thought of trying to keep cow’s milk cold for a long-haul flight was something I was concerned about. I would also say to over-order what you would normally need. I see many parents on Florida Facebook groups putting pleas out for people to fly over extra formula as they have run out. Once in Orlando, there are delivery companies who deliver your grocery order to your resort for you or you can take taxis and Ubers to the nearest target and purchase what you need from there. We did this on all three trips for nappies and other essentials (again freeing up that precious weight allowance)
- Plan…and then unplan
We always stay in a Disney resort. We love the Disney bubble but moreover, it provides certain perks. You can plan dining reservations for the first 10 days of your trip 180 days before you arrive and book fast passes 60 days before (and trust me, some of the most desirable rides and dining spots go that quickly!). Plus you get early entry and late hours at the parks. This is compared to offsite guests who book dining a day at a time and can only book fastpasses 30 days before. We plan out our dining reservations at the 180 day mark and book fastpasses that will save us the most time in queues. This can make it quite a military operation. However, you know that things don’t always go to plan with kiddies so be prepared to cancel reservations and skip or modify fastpasses. Be prepared for pool afternoons when the weather gets too warm and to head back into the parks in the cooler evening hours. Do what works for you. That way your holiday will be a lot more laid back and you will enjoy it much more.
- Photopass Photographers and Memory Maker
As a photographer, its rare that I ever feature on photos as I always have the camera in my hand. Dotted around the Disney parks are trained “Photopass” photographers who are located at great photo spots. UK guests tend to receive Memory Maker as a freebie when booking a Disney Resort stay (another perk). This basically means, any official photo you get taken in the parks (on rides, in front of top spots like the castle, character photos) are all included and FREE. They also upload super quickly to you ‘My Disney Experience’ app so you can view them quick and easily. The photographer in the family will finally get a chance to be featured!
- Take your own buggy
There are some great rental companies that you can hire your buggies from and they will deliver and collect them straight from your resort’s bell services. You can also rent buggies from Disney park entrances too. However, here is why I think taking your own buggy is most advisable. Rental companies are great and offer a choice in buggies however you only pick it up at your resort, any long airport waits, either in the UK or on state side, you will be left carrying your tired and fed up babies. Disney rentals can be costly, $15 per day for a single and $31 per day for a double. You get a slight discount if you pay up front for the number of days you require but still you can quickly see how this can mount up. Plus, you collect and return your Disney stroller at the front gates, any further journey, to car parks, bus stops, resorts, ferry boats or monorails you will be without a stroller. Finally, Disney strollers are not appropriate for your youngest, they are hard plastic ‘carts’ that have no recline feature etc. We ensured our stroller had a recline feature for those naptimes, a good hood and plenty basket space underneath. We also purchased a ‘gate check’ bag for our last trip after returning with damaged prams the first two trips thanks to those careful baggage handlers.
- Book a flight cot
Our first two flights were far easier than we ever anticipated. Both return flights Ada slept from before boarding till around half an hour before landing. Apart from the first trip outbound flight (major airline cockup) we had a flight cot each time. This meant we had the freedom to move around, watch in-flight entertainment and generally relax whilst they sleep. Plus, Ada was so much more comfortable lay flat in a cot bed rather than on our lap. Now, our latest trip was with an airline we hadn’t used before and they didn’t offer flight cots, plus Ada was probably a little too big for one by then. You have the option of booking an extra seat but of course this comes at an extra cost. It depends how comfortable you are with a sleeping child on your lap for a long duration.
- Have a Mary Poppins bag
For the weeks leading up to this latest trip, I bought and stashed dozens of ‘bits.’ Magazines, toys, stickers, treats etc. basically my thinking was that if I had a bag of tricks that I could keep pulling something new out every 15, 20, 30 minutes or so, I could keep an 18-month-old occupied for the duration of the long-haul flight. The best purchase by far was a Crayola No-Mess pack, basically, the felt-tips don’t mark anything other than the pages in the colouring book. Ada loved it and we kept super clean. And if all else fails be prepared to walk to Florida and accompany those little legs up and down the aisles.
- Try and keep routine
Our return flights have always been night flights. We have always got Ada ‘ready for bed.’ Even though she certainly wasn’t going to bed we kept the routine of PJs and bottle and this proved effective on all three flights. We flew home last trip opposite a family who had a baby similar age to Ada who didn’t settle for most of the flight. However, an hour before landing she still had one shoe on, shorts and t-shirt and a bobble in her hair. I couldn’t help but feel that their little one would’ve felt so much more settled if ready for bed and cosy.
- Roller Ball Sunscreen
I have read so much about checking that your suncream has both a high factor (always 50+ for us) and also has a 5 star UVA rating (some top end, pricey brands don’t so have a read and double check). But the biggest revelation was a roller ball application. I have picked some up from Asda and Superdrug and they are so easy to apply to inpatient, wriggly limbs. Beating sprays and traditional bottles, hands-down.
- Character Dining
There is a great variety of character dining opportunities in both the parks and the Disney resorts. These are also included in your Disney Dining Plan packages and for me are a great way of meeting a good number of characters without the queue. Characters come to you and have time to interact and sign autographs before moving on to the next party.
- Use the baby centres
Each Disney Park has a baby centre (Hollywood studios’ leaves a little to be desired compared to the others). These are great centres that have roomy changing areas (more comfortable than the changing tables in the restrooms), TVs and seating for little ones, emergency baby supplies (food, nappies, medical supplies, bibs – basically all those things you usually forget in a rush!), and more importantly AIR CON. We didn’t visit the baby centre once during our last trip, but when Ada was under one we lived in there. They have microwaves and hot water for feeds too. It’s ideal and a lovely cool place to recoup.
- Pack for the cold and rain
Now if you are travelling to Florida in Summer season you are probably thinking HOT, HOT, HOT and you would be right. But, all buildings and restaurants are air conditioned and it can become quite chilly. I always packed a cardigan or sweater for Ada in my backpack just in case she felt the cold whilst we were dining or queuing in doors. It can be cold in the mornings and evenings too depending on the time of year you travel. You can use Disney’s locker rental service to store those bulky layers during the hours you don’t need them, to save time returning to your resort getting changed.
And now for the rain. Don’t go to Florida and not expect it to rain. It will rain at any time during the year so don’t think just because you book August for example you will dodge the downpour. You can purchase Disney Ponchos but they are costly (Wallmart do their own Disney themed ones) but they can also become sticky and uncomfortable in the humidity. They also don’t come in toddler sizes so pack raincoats and a rain hood for your prams. Consider packing an umbrella too. But, don’t fear, they tend to blow over quickly and there is plenty to do indoors so you can skip the showers and stay dry.
Follow us on Instagram @ada_and_us for more trip photos and DM if you have any more questions.