So you’ve got a new member of the family, and you’re planning a dream vacation to Orlando? Congratulations, on both your new bundle and your bravery! Traveling to the Sunshine State with kids under the age of 3 can be done, and we’ve got a few tips and tricks to make things flow smoothly:
One of the first things you learn as a parent is that timing is everything. You become the master of perfectly timing play dates around nap times, you’ve learned to recognize periods of silence and know the difference between safe quiet and “he’s up to something” quiet. You’ve learned quickly that sticking to their schedule is one of the best things you can do to ensure a stress-free day. Traveling to the theme parks is all about timing.
There are some award winning restaurants in many of Orlando’s theme parks, and you’d really be missing out if you skipped them. The lines and the crowd can be a deterrent, but again, it’s about timing. If you’re checking out Sharks Underwater Grill at Sea World, head over during one of the major shows of the day. The 5,000 people who will be watching the show won’t be at lunch, and will give you a great opportunity to eat an upscale lunch with an unbeatable view of great white sharks and other sea life right by your table. Many of the best theme park restaurants will allow you to make reservations months in advance, so take advantage of the opportunity to cut your wait time by calling ahead. Take into consideration the parades, fireworks and shows that you want to see, and plan your dining on where you’ll be in the parks at a certain time. There’s nothing more stressful than realizing you have 10 minutes to get all the way across the park, and dealing with lost sippy cups or temper tantrums or potty mishaps.
Other great ways to save time include taking advantage of Express Passes, Fast Passes, and any other “passes” that allow you to bypass the long lines that you’re bound to run into at any of the parks. Speaking of lines, take advantage of “child swap” an option that (no, it doesn’t allow you to switch your kid for someone else’s) allows you and your adult companions to ride the ride without leaving the kids behind or having to wait in line twice.
Getting to the parks early is another simple way to beat the long lines and save time, and you’d be surprised at how many people don’t utilize this option. By getting to the gate early, you can head right to the most popular rides and avoid the lines. Before you get to the gate, take a picture of your parking spot. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending all day at the theme park and then having to lug sleeping kids and all of their new toys around the parking lot, in the dark, looking for your car. Save yourself the stress by having a picture in your phone as reference.
One last helpful, baby friendly tip: When you arrive at Disney, locate the Baby Care Centers on the park map. These welcoming centers throughout the park give you a place to rest, feed, and change your baby without having to maneuver through the crowded public restrooms. Most of the Baby Care Centers have private rooms with rocking chairs for nursing, kitchens with microwaves and sinks, and an onsite store to purchase more diapers, wipes or baby sunscreen if you happen to run out. These Baby Care Centers can be a lifesaver for parents with little ones, and saves families from having to navigate the cramped, germy quarters of the public restrooms.
Taking this guide into consideration before you arrive at any of the Orlando area theme parks will help to make one of your first family vacations with your kiddo a fun and memorable trip for the whole family.