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Oh, Baby! Taking Your Little One to Disney

by Kathleen M. Reilly
DIS Contributing Columnist

The first thing new parents do when they meet their beautiful new baby is count all the impossibly tiny fingers and toes…and then plan a trip to Disney, of course.

Well, maybe that isn't exactly how it goes, but chances are at some point as a parent, the urge hits to take your kids to a Disney park and watch them experience the magic for the first time. The question becomes: When? How young is too young?

Disney fans fall on both sides of the fence. On the one hand, some argue, it's pointless to take a very young child. They'll be over stimulated, irritable, and won't remember anything anyway. Others say, "Bring 'em along; there's plenty of magic just for them!" This camp feels that while babies probably won't have specific memories, it's the experience and exposure to different sights and sounds that will spark those developing little brain neurons. And watching a toddler's face as she stares up at the castle for the first time is…well, priceless.

Both sides can agree on this: If you do decide to take your little one on a Disney vacation, the key to success is proper planning and the right attitude. And consider the age of your child – a touring strategy that works with a five-year old is probably not going to fly with a toddler, who needs a little more planning. Here's a cheat sheet to get you started:


Forget the strollers and baby carriers—the easiest way to transport your baby around the parks is when you're still pregnant. There are some things to keep in mind, though, if you're an expectant mom at the Disney parks. Each trimester will have its own issues—morning sickness early on, and carrying a baby at eight months can be tiring, for example—but we've got some general tips to keep in mind:

Health first. As an expectant mom, you know the best thing you can do for your growing baby is to take care of yourself. But when you're caught up in a Disney vacation, sometimes it's easy to overlook your body's warning signs and just keep on truckin'.

Pit stop! Whatever stage you're at in your pregnancy adventure, don't push it. It's so easy to get caught up in the energy at Disney and keep going on just one more ride, or hopping in line for just one more attraction. But go easy on yourself and your little one. After all, you want both of you to be healthy enough to return some day, right?


For infants, a visit to Disney is really just another day with Mom and Dad, but with different sounds around. As long as her basic needs are still being met, she's fairly content.

Health issues. Ask your child's pediatrician about any special considerations for taking a very young child to such a popular destination for travelers from all over the world. If you get the ped's thumbs-up, take the same common-sense precautions you'd take if you were going out and around your home town:

Attractions. While there's a lot for even the youngest visitors to see and hear, let's face it: This vacation really is time for you to have some fun, too. Fortunately, Disney's made it easy to enjoy your time while tending to your baby, too. Portability. The big question all parents of young kids face: Do we bring a stroller? And if so, which one? Here's the winning answer: It's entirely up to you.

Sound like we're taking the easy way out? Maybe. But the truth is, everyone has a personal style when it comes to the Great Stroller Debate. Some things to consider:

TOTS TAKE DISNEY: 2-3 year olds

Toddlers. They're mobile, opinionated, and utterly open to Disney magic. As traveling companions, they'll open your eyes to the little treasures you were rushing past ("Look at the sparkles in the pavement!"), challenge you to slow down ("I wanna walk!"), and give you a Disney experience unlike any other. Sure, they've been labeled with the "terrible two" and "tantrum threes," but that's only natural—the little dudes and dudettes are figuring out their place in the world. While you can't eliminate the emotional rollercoaster, you can control some aspects of the trip to make the road a little smoother:

PRESCHOOLERS: 4-5 year olds

Doing Disney with a preschooler can be one of the most magical experiences for a parent. Kids this age are eager to please, usually toilet trained, and really into the whole experience. There are still things to keep in mind when traveling with this age group:

Thank you for the info: I took my son to wdw when he was 3, before that we took him just to Busch gardens and Sea world. I noticed that in the couple of trips that we made, Busch gardens was the most tiresome, but otherwise, he enjoyed everything about Disney and Seaworld. Yes, it can be tiring, but like others agree, it is worth it, to see your little one's eyes light up seeing his favorite characters up close. This year we are planning to go this Dec, just before Christmas, and we are taking our 1 yr old daughter and our 5yr old son with us. It didn't seem fair to our son to have to wait till his sister is 2 or 3...great ideas here, and I am glad i came upon this blog.

"I think anyone who takes a child under 5 years old to Disneyworld ought to have their head examined!" Wow is all I have to say. Parents, like myself, come to this article looking for planning tips on traveling to WDW with tiny tots and "TravelAgt"Kelly insults all of us. Forget Kelly... it's all about building wonderful family memories anyway right, with or without some two-bit travel agent's advice. Although I do have a piece of advice for Kelly... good thing I'm not your boss!

TravelAgtKelly has quite the nerve saying you should never take a child under 5 to a Disney Park. My first trip to Disney World was when I was 3 years old and now being 22 I still remember the trip in great detail. It was one of the best expereinces of my life and I will never forget it. Now I'm grown and married and have a 2 year old daughter. I would love to take her to Disney World and expereince the magic for herself, plus she is big into Mickey Mouse Clubhouse of Disney Channel. I'm just trying to figure out when the right time is to take her. She can get very wound up and not listen so that is a big concern of mine. My whole family goes to Florida every summer so I guess we'll see how her temperment is at the time (she will be 2 1/2). I would really like to take her to Magic Kingdom first since they have a lot of rides that cater to all ages.

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Valentina will be 10mo the day we leave Disney next September, after a two week vacation. It is an incredible experience every minute with her. Being part of her world discovery adventure is a parenthood dream coming true. She will discover Disney as she does with her toys and videos and sounds in our living room and we just can't wait for it!

I'm out of laeuge here. Too much brain power on display!

I am planing a trip for April next year I cant wait!! My son will be almost 6 so I think he will be the perfect age old enough to remember yet young enough to enjoy all the magic He is also tall enough to enjoy most of the rides I cant wait!!! Its our first big vacation

I took my 2.5 yr. old and 3 mo. to MK Disney and my mother in law to watch the infant while my husband and I did Disney. We were going to go for a couple of days and just do Magic Kingdom......my mil was supposed to stay back in the hotel to watch the 3 month old but she insisted that she wanted to see my son experience his first trip.....what a disaster.,,, Every child is different but for my high strung boy it was too much. We decided to call it a day after a very long day and didn't go back for the 2nd day.... First of all, unless you are staying on resort to shuttle in from the hotels is a pain with two young kids and two strollers especially if one is in an infant carrier travel stroller. It is a long way into the entrance of MK and you have to take the boat in after the shuttle...by the time we got there I was exhausted from lugging everything. It was a lot of walking and just too much of an ordeal for us to think about making it out of the park over the boat to catch a shuttle for a nap and then think to come back in so we just stayed there most of the day and the kids crashed on the boat ride back. The 3 month old slept through most of it but did enjoy the sites and Its a Small World was a nice respite from the heat and she loved that. It was too hot in May, and my 2 yr. old was not able to wait in any line for more than 10 minutes.... Thankfully we used the express ticket time thing for a couple of rides and if you want to see a character forget about it....you need to wait in line just to see them for over 45 minutes to over an hour and the characters if outside need to take 15 min or more breaks...so the best way to see a character up close is to pay for a character breakfast which we did and my son still to this day talks about Goofy and Pluto which were the ones at the breakfast. He is 4.5 now and I think he would love it but my little one is just 2 so I want to wait until she is at least 3 of 4 before we go; I just hope at 6.5 my son will still have a magical experience because at almost 5 I know he would love to go this year...she will be 4 when he is 6.5 so I know that will be the perfect age for her with the princesses and my son should be tall enough to go off with daddy to other rides while my daughter and I can do some princess things. This year at 2 and 4.5 we are going to go to SeaWorld instead.

I enjoyed reading this blog! Our first family trip to disney world was when my first son was 2 and his brother was 8 months old. They had a wonderful time. We have gone back at least once a year since. We took our daughter for the first time when she was 6 months old. She loved chip and dale, still does. She is now 3 and just woke up this morning asking if Prince Charming was awake yet, and can't wait until she can see him again. We had dinner at 1900 Park Fare last week, and she loved it. I think people who wait until their kids are older miss out on the magic of the toddler preschool years that only a disney vacation can bring out. You have to know your family and what you want out of a disney vacation. We are planning a trip for the Fall, our 4th child will be 2 months old. I can't wait!

TravelagtKelly, I think you should rethink your stand. Meltdowns are not limited to toddlers or even children. The toddler set is easier to deal with than a six year old because they are contained in carriers or strollers. Little kids believe in magic and stamina is required of all ages. Honestly, you sound too set in your way. A good agent knows what's good for one family is not for another. I would never ever discourage anyone from going to Disney, even sick or handicapped people can have a magical time.

Response to Paula, I am just saying that the number of people who are being rude and pushy has gotten out of hand and sounds like you are one of them. If I SEE someone pushing a stroller I will always do my best to give them the right of way and get out of their way, but I cannot tell you the number of people who run into me with strollers when I am ahead of them and can't see them or am standing watching a parade and fireworks, then dont even appologize, and glare at you and yell obsenities . nice. This is just to advise people if you are going to bring infants in strollers, dont expect everyone to get out of YOUR way. There are going to be challenges and having a stroller is not like having a HAndicapp Accessable card either.

My first baby is due in July, hooray! We have been to Disney 10x since 2005 and even got married at the Polynesian resort. That said, i cant wait to go to Disney wth our baby. However, i am well aware of the challenges of the parks and buses. I decided to do a cruise as our first vacation at 21 months, and the following year do Disney at 34 months. That seems SO far off in time.. i dont know how i can go that long without my disney vacation but i dont want to go too early. I could NEVER wait til they are five... that would be nearly 6 years away! We'll just go again then too. Atleast the magic kingdom fantasy land expansion will be completed by the time my baby is 34 weeks. Can't wait to take our baby there! Off season of course!

Loryl Haggard
Oh TravelAgtKelly - you really have much to learn about traveling to Disney with children!! My just turned 5 year old has spent 3-4 weeks a year at Disney World since he was one and he is the world's best disney planner for little ones. He is so insightful to his friends and what they would like while they are there and he can tell the parents what they can and can't miss :) My younger son just turned two and has spent over 100 days at Disney since he was three months old (his 1st trip). We don't live in FL - in fact, we are about 14 hours away by car. I think it is about what you make of the trip - for us, it is about QUALITY family time - all together having fun doing something we all love! My parents installed this belief with me at Disneyland growing up and I have done the same with my boys - luckily, my DH had a love of Disney as well. The absolutely best part of my trip - when they say to me - Can't we just stay here for 80 something more days? ;) Oh, and my sons excitement about finally seeing Disneyland this summer while we are there for my 20 year HS reunion :) My 5 year old already knows that he has to see the World of Color at DCA :) We love Disney, we love our friends learning about Disney (especially at those early years), and we hope everyone has a chance to experience the love of Disney!!

I am appalled with TravelAgtKelly's posts. I feel bad for her children, what a miserable time they must have with their mother at Disney! I went often as a young child and teen and still go now that I am a mom and have even more fun watching my children experience the greatness that is Disney. My oldest was 3 1/2 her first trip and was able to go on just about everything at just barely 42". She had a blast and still remembers it. My middle child was 18mos when she first went and she also had a terrific time even though she couldn't go on all the rides. My youngest is now 3mos old and gearing up for his first trip to Disney with the family in May. I suspect he will enjoy it too. As a parent it is your job to create the magic with your children. Have fun! I will continue to take my children and have the times of our lives and create memories that last us a lifetime, with hopes we don't accidentally run in to the likes of TravelAgtKelly. Bottom line is don't be afraid to take your children at any age just be committed to making it a good time and take in everything you possibly can or its a waste of money and energy.

My husband and I took our then 15 month old daughter to disney and she loved it. we went in november so all the christmas lights were up. We even ate in the sit down dining restaurants but we chose the ones with more a theme for her like Whispering Canyon and Garden Grill (character dinner) She loved the characters!!!! We all had a great time but it does require more planning. I had 2 bags one bag fit under the stroller (which was a very nice jogging stroller) and one bag I carried on my back. The bag under the stroller had her afternoon stuff (food and diapers clothes jacket etc)and the bag on my back had morning stuff. In the afternoon I would just switch the bags Also to any parent taking children needing diapers I took along antibacterial wet wipes (travel ones) to wipe down changing tables before changing her. They worked great. We are going back to Disney this October so she can do Mickeys' not so scary halloween party and go trick or treating in the parks. She'll be alittle over 2. The only thing that bothers me is the potty trainging issue. Diapers are easy but potty training especially on vacation?? any suggestion. She'll just be learning. Is it ok to just use pullups and reconviene the potty training when we got home?? she'll only be 26 months

I have taken my child at the age of 1, 2, and we are going again in April and she will be 3. WDW is not just for her anyway, it's fun for the parents as well. She does remember things, and ask about them from time to time. Most importantly are the expressions that she makes that she will never make when she is older. It's worth the money and the extra effort to take her. When kids get older they lose a certain charm and don't see WDW the same way anymore. I think taking a child at the age of 2/3 is perfect. And to the comment about the strollers being in the way, did you want to attack wheelchairs too? They are more in the way than strollers and you should get out of the way of stroller parents, they've had to push a child all day. Please it's called being polite.

We are new taking little ones to Disney. We took our first trip with our 2 grandsons (2yrs and 8months) almost 2 years ago. We had a great time. We geared it to the kids and just spent mornings in the parks. Wonderful memories! Last year we were back with 3 grandkids, (grandsons, 3yrs, 1 1/2yrs and granddaughter 3 months) We loved Chip and Dale's campfire and our oldest grandson still talks about Philharmagic, Peter Pan, the Lion King Show etc. DD loved the baby centers where she could go and nurse and cool down with the baby. We're headed down again this year. As DVC members we don't feel the need to do everything every trip so it is a much more laid back kind of trip. Our middle grandson(2 1/2) is going on his 5th trip next week. His mom and dad bought DVC after they got married. I also think as DVC members we have great accomodations, with a washer and dryer and that makes it easier taking little ones. We love all our trips whether we have the little guys in tow, or our older niece and nephews, or just us.

To travelagtkelly...very poor information! Disney World was created for kids of ALL ages, not age 5 and up. Strollers are a part of Disney, as are the infants and toddlers. My children have grown up on Disney. My daughter was 8 months old when we took her for the first time. Nope, she won't remember it, but we will,along with our hundreds of pics and videos. Her second trip she was 18 months old. She was SO excited to see the characters. The Playhouse Disney Show at Hollywood Studios IS for kids her age...she danced and sang along with the characters. Would not trade those memories for anything!And guess what? She remembers it and tells everyone she has been to Mickey Mouses House!!! Its ok to share a poor experience, but don't advise people not to do it. As long as you know your child and their needs...its well worth it...DO IT!

We just got home from Disneyworld and we have a 3 1/2 yr old and a 1 1/2 year old...I dont care if either one of them doesnt remember it their expressions on their face were well worth the entire trip!!! It was a blast!! and we cant wait to go back again!

I think it is truly wonderful for all you parents who have taken kids under 5 to Disneyworld and had a great time. More power to you! I have 2 children both grown up now, but waited until my youngest was 6 to take them both to Disneyworld and I am glad I did. I don't ever discourage people from going to Disneyworld, but try to explain the effort and stamina it requires. However, the number of people who return and are unhappy with me saying "Why didnt you tell us?" has increased dramatically in the last 10 years. I am not trying to make anyone mad I just think that if you are going to spend all that money to go, you might want to wait until everyone can have fun and remeber it, Parents and kids included.

We're taking our almost 3 year old for the second time next week. We took her at 19 mos and had a blast. We stuck to her schedule as much as possible and didn't have any issues. She napped in her stroller when she was tired, and walked when she was awake. She HATED the characters, so we just avoided them. IMO, I've seen many more rude adults than melting down kids in all my trips!!

seriously travelagtkelly? Do you have kids? I am taking my 2 and 3 year old in Sept and they will not be running into you or other guests and budding in line and doing all these "horrible" things that you say kids under 5 do. Kids under 5 would be too young to be cutting in line anyways. And I am pretty sure that are plenty of adults that run into other guests as well. I hope you are not a travel agent and telling your clients not to go to Disney until their kids are all over 5. Disney was created for all ages!

Response to Disfan. I am glad you have had success with your visits. There will always be the exceptions. I just don't think alot of people realize how big the place is, how much stamina it takes to get to/around/and back from the parks, and how much fun it is for the rest of us to listen to screaming babies and tired rude kids on Airplanes, and in Que lines. I read countless reviews of the Disney resorts and parks and people complain about how far everything is to walk and how horrible it was to try and get strollers on/off the busses and around the parks. What did they expect? BTW I have looked around and alot of people are having fun but I also see alot of parents and kids doing inconsiderate/stupid things, like changing their babies diapers on a food court table, kids running, shoving other guests and budding in line. Just think long and hard about taking a kid that young and know the challenges.

I went to WDW for the first time when I was three years old. Yes, I remember some parts of that trip. I became a lifelong fan, a Disney bride and I will definitely take my baby to Disney World. The thing to remember about traveling with little ones is that their needs (food, rest, time to read, play, the normal every day things) should come first. You can't wake them up two hours earlier and send them to bed three hours later and expect perfection. My flower girl was 3 and she has asked me a few times if we can get married again so she can go back! So, yes, toddlers can and DO remember! There is no such thing as too young or too old for Disney World if you have someone willing and able to take care of them and modify the trip according to their needs.

This is in response to TravelAgtKelly. If you really go every year, stop and take a look around you. I hope you are not telling people this if you're a real travel agent. I've taken a 2 yr old, a 4 yr old and my friends have also taken the toddler set. It was a wonderful, magical experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Yes, you have to plan differently- we couldn't be our usual commandoes. It was soooo worth it! Besides, some families have a mixture of ages and nowhere to leave the little siblings. Should they not go to Disney?

I will be there in June bringing my neice who will be just under 3 and her sister who is 7. It is tradition in my family that I bring the kids to Disney for there first trip. I brought my daughter when she was 6, my nephew when he was 5 and the older neice when she was 2. Each of them reacted differently but I wouldnt change a single moment. At 2 my neice was so intuned to all of the sights and sounds that after 17 trips we just walk by so it was a magical trip. I cant wait for June to get here so that I can see Disney World through the eyes of a 3 year old.

I think anyone who takes a child under 5 years old to Disneyworld ought to have their head examined! You are much better off waiting until ALL your children are over the age of 5. I go evey year and I am amazed at how many people I see pushing strollers with sleeping babies and holding screaming crying kids 2-4 years old who have no idea where they are. How fun is that? The the people with strollers cause traffic jams, run into you and act like you are in their way when you are simply standing trying to watch the fireworks or a parade. Your kids shoudl be a VERY mature 5 years old to be able to understand, enjoy and keep up with this kind of a vacation. Just my 2 cents.

This is wonderful information! I am taking my daughter in October and she will be 16 months old. Thank you for posting this.

I have to admit, I was a skeptic about taking my 9-month-old to Disney World. But, when Disney came out with an offer so good, we couldn't refuse the pricing, we had to go. The baby loved it. She'll never remember a single bit of it, but we will. I remember her little face lighting up at the music, fireworks, rides, etc. We even took her the following year at age 22 months when a great military ticket deal came out - same scenario. She won't remember a bit of it, but we do and she had a blast on that trip. Took her again just last month at just under 3 years of age - it was a trip we will never forget. She is so into Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and had no fear of the characters, even showed them how she does the hot dog dance. I never thought I would take a vacation with her until she was about 5, but we've taken about 8 trips with her since that initial trip to Disney at 9 months of age. I'm so glad we did it, because we would all be missing out on wonderful family time and new experiences. She is a wonderful travel companion.

bringing my 10 month old in sept. brining my mother in law to. she doesn't like rides so child swaps a non issue. can take rests while were on rides and with the discounts from earlier and travel rewards only costing about $600 for 2 weeks.

Carrie Dickerson
Love all the suggestions! Mine is to dress your child in a tshirt that has a large plastic decal on it...like Buzz Lightyear. I know it doesn't breathe well, but it's water and yuk proof! Very easy to wipe off!

Thanks for the great info. We are coming to WDW in Sept. for my 3 year old granddaughter's first trip. There are 7 adults coming to watch her reaction. I am always looking for great ideas to make our trip more enjoyable for all of us.

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