Gillian asks on the Theme Park Mom Facebook Page: Thinking of bringing our three sons next June … 12, 11 and 22 months next June! Would it be a disaster with baby?
No trip to Walt Disney World should be a disaster, Gillian, and it certainly doesn’t have to be with a toddler, but you will want to take the diversity of ages of the children visiting into account. Here are some tips I have for you:
Bring another adult. You didn’t mention whether or not you have a spouse traveling with you. If you don’t, I would urge you to recruit someone – a grandmother, aunt, friend, etc. – to come along. Your toddler will need more resting time than your older boys, and won’t be able to ride some of rides and such, and you will find it very advantageous to be able to split up at times and have one adult take the toddler while the other takes the boys.
Use the Rider Switch passes available at some of the more popular rides. This pass allows everyone in the party to ride the ride in two “shifts” while someone stays behind with the toddler – without waiting in line again. When you enter the ride queue, ask the cast member at the beginning if the ride offers “rider switch.” They will give you a card if it does. Then one family member can stay behind with your toddler with the rest ride the ride, when the rest of your party is done, you can swap out and the family member who stayed behind the first time can ride the ride without waiting in the line again. Here’s a list of Walt Disney World rides offering Rider Switch.
Use the Baby Care Centers in the parks. Walt Disney World has air-conditioned, out of the fray, Baby Care Centers in each park. They offer private areas to nurse and change your son, as well as a kitchen with a microwave and sink should you need to prepare any baby food, etc. The park maps you will be given when you enter will show you where they are, and there’s also more info on Walt Disney World Baby Care Centers online here.
Include afternoon breaks in your vacation planning. Walt Disney World will be crowded – and hot – in June. I assume that your toddler will still be napping in the afternoons, and I would definitely work an afternoon break at your hotel or resort into your planning. Heading back for a nap and to get out of the sun will make a big difference in how the rest of your evening goes – not just for your toddler, but for your older sons and the adults, too. I can always use a nap after walking around Disney. There will be at least one person in your party who will NOT want to go back to the hotel when it’s time to go. I urge you to insist on it.
Water and sunscreen: Use way more of both than you think you need. I don’t sunburn easily, and yet, I seem to get burned or almost burned every time I go to a theme park. It is way too easy to do. I use the time spent waiting in attraction lines to reapply sunscreen every other hour. Really. In addition, you can dehydrated in minutes out in the sun in Florida in June. Pump water into everyone every chance you get. The water can get expensive, but there are water fountains all over the place if you look for them. Refill your water bottles there. If your kids won’t drink water (and some of the water from the water fountains can have a “tinny” taste), carry the drops made by Dasani, Mio or Crystal Light (like these) to flavor it. When your kids are cranky and melting down, the first thing you should think is “water.” In my experience, dehydration is the biggest culprit.