We've had a long weekend trip planned to Florida for several months now. So I spent many hours pouring over blogs, reading about the experiences of other moms who took a toddler to Disney World. All this because so many people had told us that The Little One (TLO) was too little for Disney and she wouldn't get anything out of it. I read up on the ideal places to help a child get a nap during the day, things to take to the park, which park was best for a child her age, etc. And here's my conclusion after all my research : there is no right answer for anything! :) Since every child is so different, there is no right or wrong way to plan for your trip. So here's my breakdown of how we did it in the hopes it will help someone else. Since we've traveled quite a bit with TLO I've had a few friends ask me for tips, so I'm going to include those along the way. Hope they help just a little!
Britax Travel Bag because of it's size, straps and wheels. We prefer to gate check the car seat so there isn't a question of getting to our destination without a proper seat for TLO and to prevent any damage to her seat if it was checked (have you seen the way luggage is handled???) so the backpack straps and wheels were both major pluses for us. And I even felt like if I was traveling alone with TLO I could still handle the bag plus push her in the stroller. Here's the great thing about a carseat bag, it's like free storage space! I strapped a bag of diapers, blanket and sheet for TLO, her stuffed animals for bedtime and daddy's dress shoes all into the carseat. There's was plenty of room for more, but I would caution to make sure anything you put into a carseat bag is somehow attached to the carseat inside just in case a zipper comes open (or I guess you could fasten the zippers together too, but I didn't want to mess with that.)
|Sometimes carrying your princess is great...sometimes it's not!|
Graco IPO Stroller upon a recommendation from a friend. So glad we did! It's much more compact than our travel system stroller but still handles great, reclines and has a storage basket. I did purchase an add-on cup holder and stroller organizer. Whether you take your own stroller, arrange one from a rental service or rent one from the park, I highly recommend you do something to it to make it stand out from the mass of strollers. At each ride, restaurant, etc all strollers are left in a holding area and it's much easier if you can spot it easily and not have to go through all the rows. For us, the cup holder helped and we also left one of her blankets wrapped around a bar. Some people had ribbons, name tags, or other identifying features. I was amazed throughout the day that people don't try to "upgrade" and take someone else's stroller or take things out of other strollers, but as my husband pointed out, if you're going to pay the heft ticket price to get in, you can surely afford to not ruin someone else's day!
My best tips for going to Disney with a toddler? Take disposable bibs, leak-proof cup, cup leash to strap to stroller, small camera (I left my precious DSLR at home to avoid the extra weight/hassle), Tylenol, blankets, a couple of ziplock bags for those "just-in-case" disasters, and change of clothes for your little one. We only visited the baby care center once since the rest of the diaper changes happened in bathrooms, but that place was nice! If you just need a quiet place for your little one to move around on their own, there was a small play area with less stimulation than the rest of the park, a room with high chairs to feeding time, a breast-feeding room, and my favorite the awesome padded changing tables. Go find the baby care center! We also went to the park with no expectations and no set plans. We arrived around 10:00am and left around 5:00pm. That was really the perfect amount of time. TLO was still able to get through dinner without being too weary and crashed hard at bedtime. The key is to leave BEFORE the child is over-tired. Believe me, there were many others on our train out of the park who probably hadn't napped and were way past their limit. Know your child's limits and just make it work. It is not worth ruining a fun day just to get in that one extra ride!
What would I do differently on another trip? That's tough, because we had a GREAT day at Magic Kingdom, but I wish we had gone to Downtown Disney the night before or the night after we went to the park. I also had thought so much about books/toys to keep TLO busy on the plane and make sure she had stuffed animals to sleeps with but totally forgot about things to keep her busy in our condo! Thankfully our condo had a stocked kitchen, which means we had cookie sheets and a cake pan plus some wooden spoons to play with. :) Other than that, the only thing I would change would be my stress level. I was constantly checking to make sure I had everything we needed and it took away a little of my enjoyment. Funny enough though, once we were at the park all my stress went away!
Thank You God for our safe travels. Thank You for the blessing of time as a family away from our normal activities. Thank You for blessing our lives with joy and laughter and relieving my stress when I needed it most! But most of all Lord, thank You for my family! Amen.