Friday, 22 January 2016

Disney & Universal Tips (With a baby & without)

Before we went to Florida, I had been looking for tips on how to make your theme park visits with a baby as easy and enjoyable as possible.  So I thought that it might be helpful to share what I had learnt.

1.  Strollers - I bought a fancy umbrella stroller for the trip.  This was partially because it's significantly smaller than our regular stroller and we had limited room in the vehicles.  The stroller had a small area underneath it to carry things which I found very helpful.  I liked having the smaller stroller in the parks for maneuvering around, but it didn't recline all the way back, so I found that Parker wouldn't really fall asleep in it.  I had to put him in our Ergo carrier when he was getting tired and then he would fall right asleep. 

I would definitely recommend bringing your own stroller ahead of renting one from Disney or Universal as they are hard and don't recline at all.  

You can't bring strollers in the line ups so that's where the carrier comes in handy so that you don't have to hold your baby the entire time you are waiting.  The strollers are left in stroller parking.  Our stroller was always there when we returned to it, I just never left anything valuable in it.

2. Feed when you can and where you can - At Universal we had really long waits.  I fed Parker his breakfast in line and I nursed him in line.  I just put him sideways in the Ergo so that it provided a bit of support and put on the nursing cover and we were good to go.  

At Disney, I found nursing Parker during shows worked well.  Well it worked when he was hungry enough to not be distracted by the show!  I nursed him in the Country Bear Jamboree (he was very distracted by the bears!), in the Carousel of Progress and in the Enchanted Tiki Hut.  While waiting during a rider switch is also a great time to feed, whether it be nursing or real food.  See below for more rider switch details!

3. Take time for meals - When I wasn't feeding Parker in line, we did take time for real meals and sat down at a table.  This gave me time to feed Parker properly.  I did bring some baby food to feed him, but also shared whatever meals we got.  A perk of having a baby is that you can order kids meals and save some money!

4. Bring a bag or cover for stroller - Luckily it didn't rain, but if it did I had brought a stroller rain cover.  I figured Parker would be very unhappy if he got soaking wet.  (Most line ups are indoors or covered so that would help.)  At the very least, bring a garbage bag so that you can cover your stroller while it's in stroller parking if you think it's going to rain.

5. Fastpass - At Disney you get 3 fastpasses that you book ahead of time.  We booked ours all as early in the day as we could.  So we booked the first one for 8:55 and got to Disney at 8.  First thing we did was rush to the back of the park and go on the roller coasters that we didn't have fastpass for.  There was no wait for them at this point.  Then at 8:55 we could go on Space Mountain.  We used our next two fastpasses before noon.  

Once you have used all of your fastpasses you can book them one at a time.  So we continued to book fastpass for whatever was the earliest available ride.  Doing it this way we never waited in line for a ride.  It might seem silly to use a fastpass for It's a Small World, but do you really want to wait in line for an hour and a half for it? Definitely not!

6. Rider Switch - But how do you all go on the rides when you have a baby, you ask?  Easy peasy.  It's called Rider Switch/Swap.  At Universal, you all have to wait in line for the ride.  Once you are at the front, you just tell them that you want to do a rider switch and they send you to a little waiting room.  When the first group gets off the ride, you can get on it.  Since we had 7 adults, two of us would wait and then we didn't have to ride alone afterwards.

At Disney, there were only a few rides that Parker couldn't go on, and the only ride that we used Rider Switch for was Space Mountain, which we had Fastpass for.  When the first group went through I just got a rider switch pass which allows 3 people to use the Fastpass line at any point in the day.  I waited alone while they went on the ride.  (At Disney you don't wait in the line up, so if we hadn't of had Fastpass I could of found another ride for me and Parker to go on.)  Then when everyone was done, I went on Space Mountain and two other people got to ride a second time!

In hindsight, I didn't need a Fastpass for Space Mountain and could of used my first Fastpass on something else because of the Rider Switch.

7. Get to the park early - If you can get to the park early, it's a huge help.  As I said before, we rushed to the back of the park while everyone else was gawking over Main Street USA and we didn't wait in line for the rides.  We also beat the crowds and had no traffic coming in and we could see that the parking lot was getting really backed up once we got in.  So we saved the huge rush at the gates and on the monorail.  We weren't quite as lucky with Universal and we got there too late so everything was already very crowded.  We had bought all of our tickets ahead of time and had our fast passes set up.  This is key so that there is no extra waits when you get to the park.

8. Use the Baby Care Centres if available - Each park has one baby care centre.  We were never close to it at Universal so I didn't use it.  At Disney we were close the one time I had to feed Parker.  They have high chairs, a whole room of change tables and a nursing room.  They also sell baby items if there was anything that you forgot.

9. Enjoy - Don't forget to enjoy yourself and just take everything in!  We really didn't rush around the parks too much.  We stopped and watched parades, had leisurely lunches and enjoyed what the parks had to offer.  I would say that obviously Disney is much more geared towards children.  If you have a two year old, they would enjoy Disney much more.  Parker was just happy to have rides in his stroller so he was pretty content at Universal, but there were very few rides that small children could go on there.


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