So I’ve been to Disney a few different times with my child now. The first time I took her she was 13 months old and therefore considered a toddler, but because she wasn’t quite walking yet I still considering her a baby. Taking a baby to Disney and taking a toddler to Disney were two very different experiences. You have to prepare about the same, but I definitely saw differences that I saw and figured it would be good to share.
Now when we took Cameron as a baby, as I said she wasn’t walking, so whenever we were in a line for anything she had to be carried. Luckily we did have multiple people with us so we could all take turns holding her, because even though she wasn’t walking she was also at the stage where she didn’t really want to be held because she wanted to be down and moving. But you can’t really have a crawling child trying to get in and around people’s feet while in a ride line. So it was a little difficult to wait in line because she was restless and did not want to be carried.
The last couple times we’ve taken her she is now up and walking and running. Which is great because she can stand in the line, except she’s at the age where because she can walk and run she doesn’t want to stay in one place. So she tries to barrel into the people in front of us in line, so you have to hope they are good sports and know she’s not doing it on purpose.
So my advice for this, is holding them, or letting them walk, most definitely opt for only going on rides with short waits or that you have a fast pass for. Cameron won’t wait very long anyway so this works well for us because we also have the luxury to go back to Disney fairly often.
She is free in the parks until 3, as well as eats free until 3 so that’s a plus on both ends. When she was a baby and we went, we made sure to bring loads of snacks, and hadn’t really figured out meals, she was eating full on solids, but I for some reason thought ordering a full kids meal each meal would work. It didn’t, it was a waste of money because she would rather pick off our plates, or eat barely any of her plate.
Now that she’s toddler age, she is a bit more picky in what she eats. We still make sure to bring snacks, but I’ve learned my lesson to not order anything for her and let her pick off and share food from our plates when we have a meal.
When she was a baby, we were changing her a lot more often, and she was also a bit more messy so we brought her diaper bag packed to the brim of diapers, wipes, extra clothes, and the like.
Now, depending on how long we will be in the park, and the weather forecast, we have chosen a smaller bag, throw some wipes, a couple diapers, a shirt and we are good to go. If we were to do a full day trip I do believe we would bring the whole diaper bag, but would still make sure we weren’t overpacking, because who wants to lug a heavy bag around the park when you’re walking upwards of 5 miles a day.
Safety is another big thing to think about. When they are a baby, and sort of confined to the stroller, it’s easier to keep tabs on them. Even though you should keep tabs on your child at all times, but knowing they are strapped in is nice. Although sometimes I wish you could bring strollers into the ride lines to help with waiting.
When you have a toddler who wants to roam free, or enjoy their freedom of walking and running through the park, you are very aware of your surroundings and how many people are actually around you. We bought Cameron a Minnie Mouse backpack/leash so that if/when we decide to forego the stroller just for a little bit we still have her contained. Because depending on your ride plans, it doesn’t make sense to keep putting her in the stroller and taking her out. She hates that anyway. So this way, she feels independent but I still have her tied to me.
Interactions are a bit different too. When she was a baby, you could tell she was excited to see things, like the lights and colors and sounds of the rides, but that she wasn’t fully grasping things. Now she’s a bit older, she’s seen Disney movies, so now she’s recognizing characters, she’s recognizing rides that we’ve been on before, she gets excited when we are riding something. So it’s nice to see that progression.
The more I take her to Disney, the more I’m learning that is for sure.