Heather's Above The Din | Bringing Your Baby to a Theme Park
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Bringing Your Baby to a Theme Park

Bringing Your Baby to a Theme Park

My husband and I love to vacation and go to theme parks (who doesn’t, right?). Before we had our daughter, we had annual passes to both Universal Studios and Disney World. Because we only live about two hours away, we would go at least once a month to one of the parks. Going to the theme parks is like a mini getaway for us. I don’t mean to sound cheesy, but there is a certain feeling that we get from visiting Disney. The second we check into our hotel or walk into one of the parks our stress melts away and we experience a feeling of nostalgia mixed with pure joy. We’re both kind of addicted to this feeling.

Fast forward to having Hadleigh and we still try to go to theme parks at least once a month. Even though having Hadleigh hasn’t stopped us from going, it has made it a lot harder. I’m not going to sugarcoat it; bringing a baby to a theme park is hard and it takes a lot more planning and packing. We have learned through trial and error over the past 8 months, and I want to share some of our successes and complete failures with you.

As I’m writing this, we are on our way to Universal and a one-night stay in a nearby hotel. Even though we’re only staying one night, our car is packed to the brim because, as many of you know, traveling with a baby requires a lot of stuff.
If you’re planning on bringing your baby to a theme park, remember to pack:

Your stroller, a baby carrier, baby bag, changing pad, diapers, wipes, bottles, breast milk/formula, bottled water for formula fed babies, food containers, bibs, spoons, change of clothes, sunscreen, bathing suit, hat, toys, pacifier and spare, extra plastic bags for dirty laundry, dish soap to wash bottles, snacks, extra shoes/sandals, Pack N Play (if you’re staying overnight) and all of the things you would normally bring for yourself.

That may seem like a lot of stuff, but I know from experience that if you leave any one of these items at home you will end up needing it. Depending on where you are, most of these things are available in the park, but they will cost you double (maybe triple) when you buy them on site.

What you bring with you also depends on the park you go to. Unfortunately, not all parks are created equal. Brad and I really love Universal for the Harry Potter theme parks and the roller coasters. But, Disney is way more family friendly. We brought Hadleigh to Disney for the first time when she was only 5 weeks old. I wore her in the Maya wrap ring sling onto the slow rides (Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, It’s a Small World, Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid, Peter Pan’s Flight, the Magic Kingdom train, the Haunted Mansion, and Jungle Cruise). She slept through almost everything, but it was so nice to experience being a little family for the first time at Disney World. Not only does Disney have family rides, each park has a baby center complete with private rooms to nurse, change, and feed your baby. On hot days, it was so nice to relax in the cool dark rooms away from the crowds and nurse Hadleigh. Another perk is the convenient stroller parking just outside each ride. I was never worried about leaving our stroller because Disney has a type of stroller valet service where an attendant will often park your stroller for you and supervise the lot. One thing that both parks do well is the baby swap service. If you and your partner want to go on a ride without your little one, it is very easy to do a baby swap; you will just need to be ok with riding next to strangers instead of your partner.

Here are my tips for bringing your little one to a theme park

Remember where you park! Nothing is worse than searching for your car in a HUGE parking lot with your screaming baby while it’s pouring. Believe me… I’ve been there. A great way to avoid this problem would be to text your partner your parking row or number once you arrive.
Try to be flexible. Going to a park with a baby can be stressful if you try to structure and plan everything. One way to help with this would be to download the Disney Park app and use the Fast Pass feature to plan your rides and reschedule them if necessary.

Eat lunch before the crowds. We try to eat around 11 so we can actually move around and have breathing room. The restaurants also make a great place to recharge your batteries, literally and figuratively. Let your little one nap in the air conditioning while you use an outlet to charge your phone.

Bring water and snacks. It gets brutally hot for much of the year in central Florida, but both Universal and Disney allow you to bring bottled water (as long as it is unopened) into the parks, along with most sealed snacks and fruits/vegetables.

If you’re planning on going to Disney Springs, try to go in the morning as opposed the evening. We would always go to Disney Springs (Downtown Disney) at night when the crowd levels are highest. Navigating a stroller through shoulder-to-shoulder traffic is almost impossible and super stressful. We recently went around 9 am for breakfast and it was so peaceful. We could actually go into the Lego store and see the walls. Some of the stores don’t open until 10am but restaurants are open prior.

Ditch the stroller when you can. Having the stroller can turn into such a hassle when you have to fold it up to ride the tram, park it, and walk through a crowd of people. It’s so much easier to just baby wear Haddie and pack some essentials in a small backpack so we don’t have to lug around her stuff.

Make sure to pack a lot of extra outfits for your baby. When we go on vacation, I always pack multiple outfits for her (even if it’s just for one night). Some of the filthiest diapers I have changed have been on vacation. It’s kind of our tradition to ruin at least one outfit within the first few hours.

Going to Disney is the best during December. Not only is it cooler outside, but there is something seriously magical about Disney during Christmas. The decorations and winter themed shows really drive home the spirit of the holidays.

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