By Angie Roberts Harris
There is not a definitive answer on the debate of whether or not to take your baby on a Disney vacation. Consider the circumstances of your family and ask yourself the following questions before making a final decision:
1. What is the child/adult ratio? This is an important factor for me as we took all of the family crew on our Disney vacation which included six children, ages thirteen, eight, two four-year-olds, two, and one. Whew! The two oldest grandchildren didn’t need much assistance but the four smallest needed our constant attention. Taking care of the little ones was easy because we had nine adults to share the load. While waiting in line for a ride one day, we visited with a family that had children ages six, four, and two-year-old twins. The parents were by themselves and it was evident that they were outnumbered. I must admit, I do not think I would be brave enough for that child/adult ratio.
Through experience, my comfort level is one adult per child under the age of five plus an extra adult. For example, three children under the age of five requires four adults. Do not count older children as an adult; although they can be helpful, they are distracted by the magical sights and sounds of Disney and may need more guidance than they normally would at home.
2. What are your expectations? If you are expecting pixie dust to change your child’s need level, you will be disappointed. Whatever situations occur with your children at home are also likely to happen on vacation, so set realistic goals. Even though your little ones are at the happiest place on earth, they will not be happy every minute during their stay. There is good news, however! Disney caters to special little guests and provides many amenities for their comfort and enjoyment:
Under three are free - There is no charge for admission to the Disney resorts for children under three and if your vacation includes a Disney dining plan, you do not need to purchase a plan for children under three. We took our own baby food and snacks and the babies usually ate from the adult plates. Overall, the little ones were inexpensive.
Restrooms – Every restroom throughout the parks has a changing station.
Baby Care Centers – An excellent baby care center can be found in every park. The centers are equipped with private nursing rooms with rocking chairs, changing rooms with tables and unisex bathrooms, feeding areas with high chairs, kitchens with microwaves, ovens and sinks, main rooms with televisions, tables, chairs and sofas, and shops to purchase formula, baby food, juice, diapers, wipes, sunscreen, over the counter medicines, and clothing
Rider Switch - Many rides in the Disney World properties offer the Rider Switch option. One adult waits in a designated area with the non-riders while the rest of the party enjoys the ride. The other adult is then allowed to ride without having to wait in the regular line again. Two guests are allowed per Rider Switch Pass.
Restaurants – High chairs and booster seats are offered at all the Disney restaurants as well as special cups, lids, and menu items for the little ones. Disney buffets or family style restaurants in the parks allow children under three to have their own plates at no charge while food courts and quick service locations allow the little ones to share adult plates if you do not wish to purchase their own meals.
Strollers – Single or double strollers are available to rent or umbrella strollers can be purchased. Strollers are lifesavers; they keep the children from getting completely worn out, provide a place for naps, and carry all the extras!
Attractions: There are over 80 attractions for pre- schoolers in the Disney parks. Dumbo, Aladdin, and It’s a Small World are just three of the attractions that all ages are welcome to ride.
Resort Rooms - Upon request, Disney will provide a pack n’ play or bed rails for your room.
Benefits of traveling with children:
Vary routines – Breaking regular routines helps alleviate bad habits, fosters flexibility, and helps discover joy in new and different experiences.
Bonding time -The most important element of our Disney vacation was the bonding time. Cousins became true friends and aunts and uncles became care givers as they helped one another. Every member of the family experienced their own stories and memories that they will share during family gatherings for decades to come.
Comfort Zones - Exploring new places expounds boundaries. Traveling is a great way to instill courage, interest, and self-confidence in children as they are taken out of their normal comfort zones.
Memories - Babies will probably not remember the happiest place on earth. However, they will be very interested and proud at a later age when you show them pictures and tell stories about your vacation.
So should you take your baby to Disney? Consider your family circumstances before deciding whether to take your little ones on a Disney vacation and do what is best for your family. Don’t’ let the ‘shamers’ make you feel bad one way or the other. I am thankful that our crew had plenty of adults and we had a most wonderful and magical time with all the children!
Tip: Stay at a Disney resort and go to your room every afternoon to cool off and rest. If you need to relax and watch cartoons for a while, then do so! The magical moments will always be waiting when you get back to the park with your little ones.
If you are a fellow Disney lover and/ or planning to travel to Orlando soon, please join our Going Out The Door Disney facebook group. Thank you!
Angie Roberts Harris has been Going Out The Door to Disney since 1974 when she was 11 years old. Today she travels to the ‘happiest place on earth’ with her husband and their crew of 5 children and their families.