Travelling with children (of any age and size) can be stressful and far from relaxing. We have gathered ten handy tips to make the whole experience of visiting Universal and Disney with children less hassle.
Where’s my buggy?
When you park your buggy to go on a ride the park officials continually move them around to make space. This makes it really hard to find your own – especially if it’s black as the majority of buggies are!. We tied a brightly coloured scarf onto ours which made it much easier to spot when it had been moved.
Our post on Buggies in the Parks has lots more handy tips for you.
Take a Towel
A baby or child sitting in a buggy, even when under the buggy hood or in the shade, will get sweaty in the hot Florida sun. We took a small white towel with and laid it over the buggy seat. This meant our daughter could sit comfortably on it and not get completely sweaty. It also was really useful at keeping the seat cool when we parked the buggy as you can’t always park it in the shade when going on a ride.
Snacks, snacks, snacks
Snacks in the parks are not cheap and are usually not the healthiest of choices. If you don’t want your kids to eat junk all day long or spend a fortune then the best thing is to take your own snacks with. Go to a supermarket on your first day and stock up on snacks. Every day we took some fruit, some mini bags of cookies and a small sandwich or bagel for the kids. This meant that a) we didn’t need to spend a fortune on snacks every day and b) we didn’t panic buy something when the kids invariably declared they couldn’t last another minute without being fed.
Queuing status apps
Although you clearly would have meticulously planned your days (as per our advice on our Fast Passes at Disney and Express Passes at Universal pages) you will have to queue for some rides. The Disney MDE app and the Universal Orlando App are invaluable. Both of these apps show waiting times for various rides which makes it so much easier to plan your day!
If you are going to the various water parks in Orlando you may want to invest in water shoes for your children. The floors of the pools are quite rough and your kids may cut or scrape their feet. If they wear water shoes their feet will be protected. In the heat of the summer the ground at water parks gets incredibly hot and there is a real risk your children could burn their feet without shoes. We found water shoes incredibly useful and meant the kids could go from walking safely on the paths and ground straight into the water.
As we mention above – just being in a buggy with the hood pulled over doesn’t mean your child or baby will be cool. We bought this clip on buggy fan which our little girl loved. It kept her cool and helped her nap while we were out.
For our eldest we bought a fan with a water bottle attached to it so he could spray himself with the water and have the fan on when he got hot. This was really effective at cooling him down. We got ours from Walmart but you can get them anywhere. Beware though – the ones in the parks are way more expensive than the ones in supermarkets.
This may seem a really odd tip and perhaps overly engineered but it helped us immensely when we went to Orlando when our daughter was newly toilet trained. As with any newly potty trained child we couldn’t always predict when she would need to go to the toilet. We tried to get her to go just before we got into a queue or into a show but often she wouldn’t go or wanted to go again as soon as we got to the front. We resolved this by carrying pull ups with us and putting one on her when she needed the toilet and we couldn’t get to one in time.
Rider Switch / Child Swap
We have explained the Rider Switch system in Disney and Universal have a similar system called Child Swap. These are invaluable when going to the parks with young children if, like us, you don’t want to miss out on height restricted rides just because you have a child. Take full advantage of the system and make sure you plan your Fast Passes carefully bearing it in mind.
Careful bag packing
As we showed in our Clever Packing for the Parks with Kids post you can save time and tantrums if you have a carefully packed bag (or two) when you go to the parks. We made sure we had everything we would need in our bags for the queues or shows so we could easily distract the children if they got antsy. There was always a drink, some snacks and some kind of entertainment in our bags so they wouldn’t be bored or hungry while waiting for a ride or show to start. We also packed a spare change of clothes for each child in case of accidents or if a water ride got the best of us!
Measure your child!!
When you are pre booking your Fast Passes you need to know how tall your children are so that they can go on that certain ride. Remember their height when you get to the parks as if you are going on a ride which you haven’t pre booked you may not be aware of its height restriction. This saves tantrums and tears when you get to a ride and find out your child is too small to go on!