3. You’ll get to know the security team
If you’re used to zipping through Disney security, you might be in for an awakening trying to visit with a baby…
It’s not really rocket science that if you carry more things into the park, you’re more likely to be stopped by security. There’s a reason Disney started diverting families with strollers into a separate line. While it is possible to pass through security with a stroller or small diaper bag and avoid a full security search, it isn’t likely. In my case, I knew the chance was basically zero.
Fortunately, my visit to security was surprisingly painless, for one specific reason—we keep our diaper bag pretty organized. Prior to having a baby, my stops at security took longer because my little messenger bag generally just had a lot of stuff tossed in it. We tried that approach with baby’s diaper bag early in our parenting days and realized it was a recipe for stress trying to find anything we needed on the go.
We tried a few methods for organizing the bag but finally settled on using packing cubes to contain the stuff that couldn’t fit in sub-pouches (in our case, one cube holds feeding tools like bottles, powdered formula, and cleaning supplies while the other holds diapers, spare clothes, and odds and ends). We also have a cooler pouch that attaches to our diaper bag with a reusable ice pack inside to keep breastmilk, pre-mixed formula, and medications cold. One item I’ve heard recommended frequently on Facebook groups for moms with strict pumping regiments is the Ceres Chill, a cleverly designed cooler created to keep milk cold an extended time while maximizing convenience for security stops at airports and places like Disney. I’ve not had a chance to test it myself, but the base premise looks promising.
When passing through security, a polite attitude is key. I made it a point to work with security, explaining how to access each pouch of my bag and what they should expect to find in each section as they went along. In my case, the security team got quite a kick out of our diaper ruck. Things to stay cognizant of are making sure your stroller stays within Disney’s size guidelines, as well as ensuring your diaper bag doesn’t contain any banned items.
4. The Baby Care Centers are amazing
I’ve got to give it to Disney—they know how to take care of us mamas.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve passed Disney’s Baby Care Centers and never given them a second thought. I only became conscious of them after I became pregnant, and I must say they proved a very pleasant surprise on Baby Bug’s first visit to Walt Disney World.
So far, I’ve had the opportunity to visit the Baby Care Centers at both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and both are fantastic. Magic Kingdom unsurprisingly has the largest set-up of the parks, but all four centers are stocked with just about everything a traveling parent might need including changing tables, lounge and rocking chairs, couches, TV’s with cartoons, nursing rooms, as well as feeding supplies and spare clothes for purchase if you forgot something. Oh, and don’t forget a kitchen stocked with a bottle warmer, temperature control water dispenser, and—most importantly—a sink, which can feel like an oasis for moms who pump or want to wash bottles for re-use.
I spent the most time at the Baby Care Center at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and I think my favorite feature was the changing tables. As a new mom, I’ve quickly come to dislike the changing stations in most public bathrooms. 99% of businesses I’ve encountered don’t keep liners on hand, and those aren’t easy to find for purchase. Yes, you can use a portable changing pad, but I find myself still nervous about germs left on the table.
Disney has a genius system for their changing tables—giant sheets of thick paper. You can rest assured baby is being changed on a clean surface because the entire table surface is one big disposable liner. This made changing Baby Bug’s diaper very, very easy.
As a mom who has had to overcome a lot of challenges fighting for baby girl and me to be able to nurse, I really appreciated the private nursing area. I’m a pretty modest person, so while I don’t mind nursing out and about with a cover, we’re still learning how to do that. There’s a lot of moving parts involved in our little girl’s feeding journey, and it was such a relief having a quiet, private space where we could do our thing without feeling like I was risking judgment from others who didn’t understand our situation. I’m also glad I had that option as at least a couple dads had to use the Baby Care Center too (something for moms to be aware of).
These rooms aren’t always available as it’s not uncommon for some babies to take 30-45 minutes to eat, if not longer. Be aware some of the Baby Care Centers utilize shared nursing rooms designed for multiple moms to use at once. I’m still elated there’s at least some sort of semi-private space.
One minor challenge to be aware of regarding the Baby Care Centers—while they do provide a quieter environment than the parks, they are also a refuge for parents whose kids have had it. I heard quite a few babies and toddlers having a less-than-magical-time during my session in the nursing closet, so this is something you may want to be cognizant of if your baby has trouble hearing other kids cry. A small white noise generator (we use this one) is a good investment to keep on hand just in case.
5. The revenge of Stroller Derby!
Yes, the stroller is finally on the other foot… or at least I hope it wasn’t on someone’s foot.
Stroller shenanigans have long been a subject of simultaneous frustration and amusement for me over the years. I think most Disney regulars have had at least one encounter with that one stroller-parent who’s lost their last marble and decides to go full Fury Road on their fellow parkgoers. I recall one incident as a kid where a woman straight-up shoved me out of the monorail with her stroller (with the kid in the seat, mind you). The first time I wrote about the topic, once again I took a bit too much of a one-sided approach and reaped a whirlwind of unhappy comments from parents of small children. One mom even inferred I was lucky she didn’t install metal spikes on her stroller for all the grief she experienced trying to navigate the parks.
This is another area where I’ve softened quite a bit over the years, and I have learned it’s a two-sided problem. Driving a stroller in a busy theme park is no joke, and it can be extremely challenging for parents to avoid bumping a few hips and ankles in the tumult, especially when people make sudden stops right in front of your baby. While there certainly are some bad actors who fling courtesy to the wind and decide to turn their prams into battering rams, the vast majority of parents driving strollers at Disney parks just want to get from A to B without any confrontations or dinged shins.
Both Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot had moderate attendance on the day I visited, but it didn’t take long for me to encounter the challenges of trying to drive a stroller through the parks. I’m used to moving at a pretty brisk pace at Walt Disney World, varying my speed and weaving through the crowd to keep from getting stuck. While I was able to move reasonably well with my light travel stroller, I definitely did not have the maneuverability I was used to, and I had to stay very cognizant of people around and in front of me.
While I didn’t run into any issues with other guests, I definitely got some perspective on why some stroller-parents get a little intense. I felt like I had to stay hyper-aware of guests around me for fear someone might bump into the stroller. The potential for conflict isn’t heightened so much by the awkwardness of the vehicle as it is by the instinct to protect your child. I wasn’t sure how I would react if someone callously plowed into my beloved baby. I could certainly see my Mama Bear side coming out quickly if a situation couldn’t be deescalated or if I feared baby might get hurt. This hyper-awareness only reinforced for me that its a good idea for parents visiting Disney with a baby to leave a lot of flexibility in your schedule, both for getting places and for stepping aside to reclaim your calm if need be.
One more important thing about strollers—I definitely found myself nervous about leaving the stroller anywhere. My research confirmed that despite popular etiquette, both accidental and purposeful stroller theft is a possibility at Walt Disney World. If you will be bringing a stroller, some good practices include finding ways to make your stroller stand out, making sure it is well-labeled, and never leave anything in a parked stroller you would miss if it disappeared. Some smart anti-theft measures include using wheel locks (or just removing a wheel whenever you park the stroller and carrying it with you), refraining from using Disney ponchos as covers (which makes most strollers look the same), and maybe installing an AirTag / Samsung Tag in a hidden place so you can track it if it goes missing. Do be aware Disney Cast Members frequently have to move strollers around to make space in parking areas, so don’t panic too much if yours ups and moves a short distance away.