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Friday 23 June 2017
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Walt Disney World with a 1-Year-Old….Part One

Before I had kids, I enjoyed the carefree trips to WDW as an adult – drinking my way around Epcot’s World Showcase, getting there at opening, and staying until closing with no breaks, among other things. But then I had my daughter and instead of thinking I was going to miss those childless trips, I started counting down the days I could bring my princess to my favorite place in the world.

I had a plan – wait until she was at least one and was walking. I thought this would be the perfect age. I started her early on Disney Junior and she knew Mickey and Minnie were her pals, and I hoped it would help at the parks. I planned a trip for the slow season (end of January), my favorite time to go, so we wouldn’t get stuck on long lines with a baby. My daughter turned 15 months on her first trip to WDW and it was, perhaps, my most memorable vacation to Disney.

First things first – packing. I’m pretty sure I brought more stuff for my daughter than I did for myself. She definitely had more clothes and LOTS of diapers. We also had to consider feeding. She was still drinking formula when we went and had to pack that and several sets of bottles and sippy cups. All of this stuff takes up space, so pack accordingly. As an alternative, you can order from an online grocer (I prefer Garden Grocer) to have some of these items delivered to your room. I did have diapers, wipes, a case of water and baby food there for when we arrived. It made things much easier.

Next up – transportation. We had a two and a half hour flight into Orlando. I was fully prepared with a car seat, bottles, pacifiers, baby ear plugs (useless), extra clothes, portable DVD player – anything to make it more comfortable for her as this was her first flight ever. The trip to Orlando was no problem – she slept the entire flight, starting before takeoff. On our return trip home, not so lucky. The air pressure got to her and she got sick all over herself (and me) on takeoff. Fortunately, I had a change of clothes for both of us and was able to clean us up, and calm her down.

We took Disney’s Magical Express to our hotel and she had to sit on my lap, no car seats allowed. Same thing for the buses to and from the parks. Something to keep in mind. The buses ended up being a horrible experience each time. She did not want to be held and screamed most trips. In hindsight, we should have rented a car. We would have gotten to the parks faster and had a much happier baby.

Another form of transportation that is important is strollers. Will you need a stroller (definitely!) and will you bring your own or rent one? I chose to bring my own, which was helpful waiting in the airport and walking around the resort. If you chose to rent from Disney, keep in mind you will have to carry that tired, cranky baby with you at the end of the night while you wait for the bus as their strollers are only for the parks. Another option is to rent one from a company outside of Disney. Those companies will deliver the stroller to your room. The downside to bringing your own or renting from an outside vendor is carrying them on Disney buses. It can be cumbersome when it’s crowded. It’s also easy to lose your Disney rented stroller when it’s parked outside an attraction. Cast members will often rearrange strollers to accommodate everyone. We are always able to find ours right away since most people seemed to rent a Disney one and we had our own.

Lastly, for part one, the other important aspect of a Disney trip – the hotel. We were new DVC (Disney Vacation Club) owners for this trip and chose to stay in a studio at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village. We were two adults, a tween and the 15 month old. This worked well for us because DVC rooms have pack n’ plays and pull out sofas. Next trip, we will be staying in a one bedroom that has a full kitchen to save money on meals by cooking some of our own. We had the dining plan and some groceries delivered, but in a studio there is only a sink, mini fridge and microwave. It would have been nice to been able to make breakfast or lunch in the room and not have to pay for the dining plan. Depending on your family size, you’ll have to make the best choice with room size. All Disney resorts also have convenience stores in them so if I had needed anything, it was there, whether juice, snacks or medicine. A bit expensive, but the convenience of knowing it was there if I needed it was reassuring. Kidani Village had it’s pros and cons but the best part for a baby/toddler was the pool area. It was separate from the main pool area and just for kids. My daughter loved the baby pool and the fountains. Kidani Village had a really great water play area. The best thing about Kidani Village was the animals, naturally. She was pretty fascinated seeing the animals up close. Every resort has something for everyone.

In Part Two I’ll cover park experiences, meals and the baby care centers (and anything else I missed!) on taking a trip with a 1-year old.

~Danielle



  • laurie rill scardina

    This is all good advice for me. I’ll be taking my daughter to Disney for the first time this year. She will only be 6 months old. People say I’m crazy, and maybe I am. But my son is 10 and I feel like we won’t have a whole lot of years to enjoy this time with him before he grows out of family vacations! Plus we typically visit WDW in the fall, this will be our first time doing MVMCP and we are so excited! I plan to keep things slow paced and just relax and enjoy the time with my family:) Looking forward to part 2!

  • There are so many arguments about when to take your kids. I’m regularly “scolded” for taking less than a 8yo. Personally, take them as soon as you want. I love that you had a plan and stuck to it.

    We took our oldest son when he was just 10 months old. It was hard, and probably our least favorite trip – but we still enjoyed it. A little older would have been better. We took my second son when he was 7 months old (older brother was 2.5yo). This was actually a little easier. We were there for his 1st birthday and then many times throughout that next year.

    I’m not sure there’s a “too young” age – for us it was about experience. The first time was hard. We learned. Each trip got easier and easier. Learning to take our own car was our biggest lesson.

    It constantly amazes me how many people don’t even think about strollers and how they will impact them on their trip. We’re stroller crazy, so this was an important part for us. I even dedicated a multi-part blog series to the topic (http://www.mouseandmemos.com/blog/2012/08/27/the-perfect-disney-stroller-part-one-intro/).

    Great job giving some useful and practical tips to those taking a small child for the first time!

  • There are so many arguments about when to take your kids. I’m regularly “scolded” for taking less than a 8yo. Personally, take them as soon as you want. I love that you had a plan and stuck to it.

    We took our oldest son when he was just 10 months old. It was hard, and probably our least favorite trip – but we still enjoyed it. A little older would have been better. We took my second son when he was 7 months old (older brother was 2.5yo). This was actually a little easier. We were there for his 1st birthday and then many times throughout that next year.

    I’m not sure there’s a “too young” age – for us it was about experience. The first time was hard. We learned. Each trip got easier and easier. Learning to take our own car was our biggest lesson.

    It constantly amazes me how many people don’t even think about strollers and how they will impact them on their trip. We’re stroller crazy, so this was an important part for us. I even dedicated a multi-part blog series to the topic: http://www.mouseandmemos.com/blog/2012/08/27/the-perfect-disney-stroller-part-one-intro/

    Great job giving some useful and practical tips to those taking a small child for the first time!

  • Danielle

    Thanks! I completely agree with you Jonathan. It’s tough when they are little but still worth going! Great stroller article!

  • Amy

    Hi – I’m getting ready to take my 2 year old to WDW. We are considering Animal Kingdom Lodge or Contempary – is AK to far of a haul from MK with a little one for naps etc?

    Thanks in advance!

  • No – not too far. Just be prepared for your little one to possibly fall asleep earlier than usual, or on the bus! 😉 The bus ride between MK and AK is about 20 minutes, but you also may spend 15 minutes just waiting for a bus to take you back to your resort. I don’t know why it was… but my kids would get hungry and sleepy earlier than normal while we were at WDW. So, we learned to leave the parks 90 minute before actual nap time, and we kept extra snacks on hand (because they’d get CRANKY if they were hungry!)