Are you ready to embark on an enchanting journey filled with unforgettable moments and cherished memories? Look no further than the enchanting wonderland of Disney World with a baby or toddler! Nestled in the heart of Orlando, Florida, Disney World is a dream destination for travelers of all ages.
Disney World isn’t just a theme park; it’s a realm of enchantment and wonder that transports you to a world where dreams come true. With its four captivating theme parks, including the iconic Magic Kingdom, the imaginative Epcot, the wild adventures of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the Hollywood-inspired thrills of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
When we booked our Disney World holiday, my husband said that it would be a once-in-a-lifetime trip, so I booked 3 weeks and crammed as many things in as possible to make the most of our holiday. We spent 2 Weeks at Disney World, and 2 Days at Universal Studios, Busch Gardens & Seaworld. My parents also joined us for the last week!
We went to Disney World with a toddler who was 14 months old and had just started walking a few weeks before we went. We booked a year before we went, using that year to save and research going to Disney with a baby. These are the main questions I had before we went and what I learned from our experience there.
What You’ll Find in This Article in Disney World with a Baby or Toddler:
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Getting To Disney World
We had a 9-hour flight from London to Orlando. This was our first flight with a baby. Amber did better than I thought, she made friends with one of the flight attendants! We didn’t pay for a separate seat for her, we had her on our lap for the majority of the flight or in a the airplane bassinet provided by the airline for us (this is where she slept).
Airport with a Toddler
We actually got through quickly, we checked our bags in for the hold straight away.
We paid £5 each (Amber was free) to go through the priority security queue, which we walked straight through. They had to hand-check all my medical bags as they couldn’t go through their scanners. They also checked Amber’s milk and baby food pouches.
Flying with a Toddler
Amber fell asleep before take-off and slept for an hour. She woke up for food and a bit of a walk up and down the aisle and then fell asleep again for the final 3hrs of the flight! We joined her!
I took a handful of toddler airplane travel toys but she was honestly more interested in the people around us. We also took milk for her to drink on take-off and landing to help with her ears.
Transfer to the Hotel
Getting from the airport to the hotel, we booked mears transportation and they were brilliant, they even had a child seat for us to use.
Where to Stay At Disney With A Baby or Toddler
On-site at a Disney World Hotel
For the first 10 days, we stayed on-site at Disney’s All-Star music resort, this was brilliant for a little family and nice and clean. We did request a cot however Amber, ended up sleeping in our bed which was fine as there was plenty of space.
We found staying on site was really handy as there was complimentary bus transportation to each of the parks, pools, and a good choice of food.
We had originally thought that we would buy our own food from a grocery store to take into the parks, but price-wise it worked out similar to the cost of just buying food there, and who doesn’t want Mickey waffles every morning?
Off-site Family Villa
For our last 10 days, my parents joined us, so we moved off-site and joined them in one of the 4-bed villas at Champions Gate. The Villa was massive, we had plenty of space, our own pool & kitchen area.
The benefits of staying off-site at Disney are that it’s cheaper, you get more space and a kitchen to prepare your own food. The downside to staying off-site is that you need to commute to the parks, you need to pay for parking, and you don’t get access to the Disney Package offers.
Getting Around Disney With A Baby or Toddler
While on-site we used the buses, or if we had early morning breakfast reservations we used the Minnie Van as it was the only transportation option with a baby seat. The drivers were always super friendly and helpful and it was only the price tag that we didn’t like!
While off-site my Dad hired a car so we could get around. But on days we were going to different places we would often use Uber or Lyft if we didn’t have Amber with us, as they don’t have car seats.
Please Note: Lyft and Uber don’t have to accept the first job that pops up. We ended up waiting well over an hour before we eventually canceled and got my Dad to pick us up. We had deliberately skipped the fireworks thinking if we left earlier we wouldn’t have to wait. After the fireworks had finished and still no one had accepted our request we got fed up. Apparently, this is normal, they accept jobs closer to the site so they can come back and do more (and earn more money), so please beware of this when staying off-site too.
Read more: Uber with a baby
Taking A One-Year-Old To Disney
Due to jet lag (as we are from the UK), we were able to rope drop the parks, i.e. get there before the official park opening, especially that first week.
Here’s an example of a first-day itinerary for Disney World with a Baby
- 08:00 AM – Got to park, went to Guest Services for DAS pass
- 08:30 AM – Photos at the Castle
- 09:00 AM – Dumbo (5min wait)
- 09:30 AM – Gaston’s Tavern – Grey Stuff
- 10:00 AM – Under the Sea (5min wait),
- Peter Pan (DAS 10:14)
- 10:30 AM – Sword in the Stone Photos, Small World (DAS 10:35)
- 11:00 AM – Pooh (DAS 11:10),
- Meet Ariel (DAS 11:35)
- 12:30 PM – Skipper Canteen Lunch
- 1:30 PM – Jungle Cruise (DAS 1:45)
- 2:00 PM – Left Park
- 3:00 PM – Back to Hotel for Rest
- 5:30 PM – Pizza
- 6:30 PM – Early Bed
How To Meet The Characters At Disney
I know for some children, it can be scary meeting the characters, so when we introduced Amber to the characters we started off with Ariel and Belle but we didn’t need to worry as she absolutely loved all of the characters. Including ones in full costume, Stitch and Sulley were both favorites!
Top 8 Places to Eat at Disney World with a Baby or Toddler
I was going to do the top 5 but as I was writing there were just too many not to include them! (For all these places Amber either ate free or had some of the food off our plates as she was under 3).
- Trattoria Al Forna (Boardwalk) – This was the best breakfast we had all holiday, I would 100% recommend it and they were brilliant with Amber, the staff was so friendly. We had the first time slot so were the only family there at the beginning which was actually quite nice. They did give us kids’ activity sheets and crayons but she was a bit young for them.
- Skipper Canteen (MK) – This was our lunch stop the first day, we ended up comparing everywhere to here this as the food was amazing! Unfortunately Amber slept through this lunch but they let us take some of our leftovers in a box for her to eat later!
- Docking Bay 7 (HS) – This was my favorite quick service meal, so much so that it was the only one we went back to! They did have highchairs but if it’s busy you may struggle to get one. We just ended up sitting her on our lap and she was really well-behaved for us while we ate.
- Ale & Compass (Yacht Club) – This was my favorite sit-down meal, and also the healthiest meal we ate all holiday! If you are Vegetarian or Vegan I would recommend the Protein Bowl it was really filling and tasty. They also had a high chair and kid’s activity sheet for Amber, which actually managed to keep her occupied while we ate!
- Toledo (Contemporary) – Beautiful setting and views. The staff were lovely, every time they went past our table they would interact with Amber and make her laugh which we thought was really sweet. The dessert was the highlight here for us, we had the almond cheesecake. This is not like any cheesecake you’ve had before, honestly, it was amazing. My only regret is not getting one dessert each!
- Yak and Yeti (AK) – We got a selection of foods to share. Amber loved the food here and kept pointing for more.
- Sanna (AL) – Just being able to look out the windows and see the animals around made this one of our favorites. Amber loved the animals and the curries are good too!
- Morimoto street food (DS) – We did the walk-up window. It didn’t look like much food but this was so filling. Amber was asleep again here!
- Gaston’s Tavern (MK) – You really have to try the cinnamon bun, it’s massive and so easy to share. It’s just delicious.
My husband also wanted me to mention that the Turkey leg and Giant Pretzels at the stall opposite Ariel’s Grotto were really good. I didn’t mention anywhere at Epcot as we went during the flower and garden festival, so we ate from a lot of their pop-up booths which won’t always be there.
We also enjoyed some character breakfasts such as Akerhaus, Crystal Palace, and Ohana. While the character interactions are great and definitely highlight for us, seeing Amber’s face light up when she saw Tigger and Stitch are now some of my core memories from the trip.
I feel like the food is just OK, and generally the same as you can get from your resort hotel just with a price increase for the privilege of meeting the characters. For us, the price increase was worth it to see Amber interact with them but not worth it if you’re only going for the food.
Note: If you’re little one only likes certain foods don’t worry about asking for them, the staff is very accommodating. Amber was going through a phase of only eating blueberries, so I asked for more blueberries. They brought her a whole bowl full and didn’t charge us any extra for it!
If you’re not doing sit-down meals using mobile order is a must, it’s faster and convenient, especially with a little one. We took advantage of this numerous times while queuing for rides or walking to the next area so it was ready when we got there.
Disney Travel Tip: You can get free ice water anywhere that serves food, you can skip the queues if you only want water. Amber loved dunking her hands into the water and pouring it on her head when she was especially hot.
The Rides At Disney World With A Baby or Toddler
There are so many rides suitable for babies and toddlers. I rated the following out of 10 based on how much Amber giggled or pointed whilst on the ride!
- Pirates of the Caribbean – 9/10 this surprised me but she wasn’t at all scared of the dark!
- Winnie the Pooh – 10/10 her favorite by far.
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railroad – 9/10.
- Dumbo – 5/10 she didn’t dislike it, this was her first ride so maybe she just needed to warm up to it.
- Small World – 6/10 she liked it until it stopped for too long and then she got bored.
- Jungle Cruise – 7/10
- Peter Pan’s Flight – 7/10
- Under the Sea – 9/10
- Frozen Ever After – 7/10
- Living with the Land – 1/10
- Remy – 9/10
- The Seas with Nemo – 8/10 This broke down while we were on it, otherwise I think she would have enjoyed this more.
- Spaceship Earth – 5/10
- Turtle Talk with Crush – 3/10
- Toy Story Mania – 5/10
Amber wasn’t a fan of the shows and having to sit still for 15-30 mins. She wanted to be up and wandering around! The Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along was the worst, I actually had to leave because she started screaming.
I think the timing was bad as she was tired, I had thought I’d be able to give her her milk and she’d fall asleep while we were in the show, but I was wrong. This will obviously depend on your little one’s attention span, if she’d been younger or older I think she would have been fine.
Disney Travel Tip: The best thing we found if you as the adults want to ride the bigger rides is to take advantage of ‘Rider Switch’, which allows one of you to stay with your baby while the other rides. To set this up just go to the cast members outside the ride who will set this up for you so the second person riding doesn’t have to queue again!
Toddler Travel Tip: We didn’t rush, we went at the pace of what we thought Amber could cope with. We still got loads done. Don’t worry if you can’t do everything in one trip, we had 3 weeks and there was still more we could have seen or done!
The Parades And Fireworks At Disney
Amber wasn’t a huge fan of the parades (the whole staying still thing!). This is why we found character meets better for her but every child is different.
Amber ended up sleeping through each fireworks show because they were so late. We didn’t mind as it meant we could enjoy the display ourselves. We took noise-cancelling baby headphones to help block out the noise while she slept. If you think your little one will be asleep I would highly recommend taking headphones (maybe for other noisy rides or shows if they’re asleep during the day too).
Disney Water Parks with a Baby or Toddler
Typhoon Lagoon was the only Disney Water Park open when we went. There are areas specifically for little ones and if your child is a water baby like ours, then they will love the water parks and the hotel pools.
They are perfect to help cool down on hot days and have more of a relaxing time, rather than rushing from ride to ride. We spent a couple of hours there in the morning and left around lunchtime as the crowds started coming in. We could’ve spent more time but that was just right for us.
Other Non-Disney Parks
The only other park we took her to was Seaworld, Amber loved the dolphins and could have quite happily watched them all day!
On the days we went to Universal Studios and Busch Gardens, my parents looked after Amber. While all these places were suitable for babies and toddlers we wanted to do the big rollercoasters and not have to worry about keeping to nap times etc.
Our takeaway from all these parks was – you could tell you weren’t at Disney, other guests and even staff weren’t as friendly or helpful and the food was nowhere near as good as at Disney. We are glad we went, if you have older children as well who will enjoy the rides then go for it, however, if your budget is tight I would skip these parks with a baby or toddler
What to Wear To Disney
We did take spare outfits for Amber in case of accidents (we never used them though). All I would say is make sure you have clothes that are breathable, since it’s hot! We lived in shorts (or dresses for us girls) the entire trip. Shoes that are comfortable for walking in are a must, we did an average of 20,000 steps a day.
I bought a few Disney-bounding outfits (where you dress in the style of a character) for all 3 of us before we went as I knew it would be massively cheaper! Some of my favorites were from the following:
- Etsy – Jewellery and Ears
- eBay – Character Tops
- AliExpress – Ears, Character Outfits for all 3 of us
- Shein – Disneybound Outfits
- Amazon – Baby Character Outfits
- My mum made her Cinderella dress
What to Pack for Disney World with a Baby or Toddler
Here is my packing list for Disney World with a baby. If you do forget anything there are baby care centers at each park where you can buy most things.
- Milk (bottles, formula, nursing cover, etc.)
- Snacks (although she did eat a lot of what we ate too)
- Water bottles to refill for all of us
- Sunscreen- We used Child’s Farm it was amazing, applied twice a day and we never burnt! We used a Blender Sponge to apply, one of the best tips we received!
- Baby headphones – so helpful for fireworks
- Travel change mat – helpful for changing your baby in the public toilets.
- Fan – such a life-saver in the heat
- Hat & Sunglasses
- Buggy Clips – to carry bags etc
- Rain cover for the stroller, and ponchos for the adults – when it rains you will get wet!
You’ll also want to check out our list of baby travel packing list.
We decided not to take a baby carrier since she was now walking and will quite happily sleep in her stroller. We also thought we would get too hot with the carrier and her attached to us (she’s also rather heavy now). If she wasn’t walking or was smaller our decision may have been different.
How Much Does it Cost to Go to Disney World
Now the biggest question, everything sounds amazing but how much is this all going to cost?
When I booked we had access to a ticket offer of 14 days for the price of 7. We also received dining and merchandise credit worth $488 and a memory maker (for all photos) as part of our hotel package.
TOTAL FOR OUR TRIP – 2 ADULTS $6140 (Under 3’s are free!) Below is what was included in that total:
- Disney All-Star Music Resort 10 Nights
- Champions Gate 4 bed Villa 10 Nights (the cost of the villa was split with my parents)
- 14 Day Disney Tickets,
- Seaworld & Busch Gardens Tickets including All Day Dining
- Universal Studios 2 Park 2 Day Ticket
- AND Flights
We also spent around $150 per day for food. Our spending each day was very similar, we didn’t always have sit-down meals and we often had Quick Service lunch and dinner each day. We were so full from lunch the first day we just had snacks in the evening.
Final Thoughts on Disney World with a Baby or Toddler
100% I would definitely recommend taking your baby or toddler! The parks are well set up with highchairs, and bottle warmers in the restaurants. You’ll find Baby Care Centres and changing tables in all restrooms.
Many people said, “Why don’t you wait until your child is old enough to remember?”
We love traveling with Amber, I think it helps to make her more adaptable. We will remember her smiles and laughs! PLUS we have 100’s of photos to share with her as she gets older.
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