Since my Disney World trip is in only 8 days (yay!), I thought I'd spend the next few posts until then blogging about how I prepare for my WDW trips! I'm hoping this will be helpful to first-time WDW visitors, and this will also be a nice way for me to extend my excitement for our trip!
I know many people travelling to the happiest place on earth with young children are very overwhelmed by what to bring to help their children enjoy this highly stimulating experience, but yet cope with an incredibly different environment and routine than what they're used to. Because of this, I thought I'd dedicate this post to sharing tips for travelling to, and experiencing the Studios (or any other of the Disney Parks) with babies and toddlers. This should come as no surprise - I'm sure you've noticed the common thread in my posts by now: how to conquer the Studios with young kids!
As good mommies and daddies, I'm sure you all already know what to bring for your young child, so I will just touch on some key items that have really helped for me!
Firstly, I know packing can be daunting! A good start is to allow yourself ample time to pack for the whole family. I like to give myself a good week to get all the laundry done for the clothes we plan to wear, and to pack a little bit here and there during naptimes and after the kids' bedtimes. Having a little extra time to pack will do wonders for packing-induced anxiety!
Because of the baggage fees that airlines charge now, something you may want to consider is buying some of the items you will need for your trip in Orlando. Believe me, baby food jars weigh a lot in a suitcase and diapers take up a lot of space! Whether it means driving over to the grocery store and picking up these types of essentials pre-trip, or having it delivered to your resort, it has been worth it for us to avoid packing items like baby food, diapers, wipes, shampoo, conditioner, baby body wash, and some breakfast foods. Not only does this avoid some baggage fees, but it definitely cuts down on the (above-mentioned) packing-induced stress from remembering to pack everything!
This leads me to my next point. Buying some breakfast foods to keep in your resort (as long as you have a fridge) is beneficial. Why? Well the answer is three-fold: a) because it allows you to have a quick breakfast at the resort and make it to the Parks for rope drop, b) because of the cost savings of not having to buy breakfast in the parks and c) because it is one less meal where you will have to worry about how your kids will react at a restaurant!
If you have a baby who is eating cereal or jarred food, it has made sense to us to bring the tossable bowls and spoons. Firstly, I try to time my babies' feedings for when we are back at the resort to avoid bringing cereal and jars to the parks. However, if it can't be helped, here's how it goes down: If we are heading to the Studios, for example, I measure out the amount of cereal my baby will eat and pour it into the disposable bowl with lid on. I put this, a disposable spoon and the unopened jar in our backpack. When it's time to eat, I will add some water from a water bottle or restaurant into the bowl. Baby eats and I put the bowl, lid, and spoon in a recycling bin! No need for carrying around a dirty bowl and spoon back to the resort. If the baby doesn't eat the whole jar of veggies or fruit or meat and you want to save the rest, this obviously should be refridgerated by putting it in a cooler (darn!).
Another tip for bottle-fed babies. Disposable liners and powdered formula are your friends! Take this example. We are heading to the Studios in the morning and I know my baby will drink two bottles before we head to the resort again. I fill up 2 liners with the right amount of water I need for the formula and insert those into the bottles. Make sure to bring lids. I then measure out enough formula for two feedings and put this in two separate sections in a travel formula container. All this goes in the family backpack. Doing it this way means no refridgeration is needed (read: no cooler!). When it's time for baby to eat, I pour out the pre-measured formula into the pre-measured water in the bottle. If you can find the types of lids that push the nipple down so no fluid can leak, this works wonders. I snap the lid in place, shake, and voila: baby's bottle is ready! Doing it this way also avoids the need for warming the bottle up. The water is already at room (or Florida-heat!) temperature.
Especially for babies who are nursing, please take advantage of the baby care center in each of the Disney Parks. At the Studios, it can be found in the Guest Services building inside the Main Entrance to the park. The baby care centers are free to use and offer changing stations, nursing booths, a TV, microwave, and a sink. If you need some baby essentials, you can buy them at the Movieland gift shop, next to Guest Relations. If you don't feel like heading to the Guest Relations building, do what I've done, and choose one of the Studios' longer, and more docile rides to nurse on. The Great Movie Ride works perfectly for this! The Backlot Tour works well, too, but just finish up before the canyon scene!
Of course, you'll want to bring your stroller, but don't underestimate the usefulness of a baby carrier! It is so much easier to hop on and off rides with baby in the carrier - and baby is usually happier being held anyway! Win-win!
Lastly, I just want to touch on the weather. Orlando definitely has some intense sun, and so you may want to think about bringing an extra sunshade for your child's stroller. I'm sure you will find that the built-in sun canopy that the stroller is equipped with will not provide enough coverage. You can either get a parasol-type shade that attaches to the stroller or an extra shade fabric that ties onto your stroller and extends your stroller's original canopy. Orlando also has a lot of thunderstorms! Make sure to have a plan to shield your children from sudden downpours. Some strollers come with rain attachments, or you can buy these in any store's baby section separately. You can simply have your child wear a poncho. I've even heard of some parents using shower curtains for double strollers!
I hope these tips have been useful - or at least amusing to read for those who don't have kids! Oh, those were the days.... ;)
My Walt Disney World vacation will begin on May 14 and I plan to live-tweet as much as I can! Follow me at @DreaminOfAKV.