“You’re taking an 8-month old to Disney?? You are very brave… good luck!”
It doesn’t take bravery… just faith, trust, and pixie dust!
The argument that your baby will not remember the experience may be true, but my husband and I created family memories that will last a lifetime. We cherished every moment we spent on our first family vacation, and we cannot imagine spending this time with our baby anywhere else. Disney World offers an endless amount of excitement for children of all ages. Jack had the opportunity to engage all of his senses in completely new ways, we felt that he grew and learned so much during our visit!
Jack’s first vacation to Walt Disney World was planned before he was born. We simply couldn’t wait to take our bundle of joy to the happiest place on earth.
Leading up to our trip, we paid extra attention to Jack’s current routine and schedule. We agreed that we would keep our plans open and follow our little guy’s cues at every moment. Jack learned to crawl a few weeks before we departed, and we knew he would want opportunities to release his energy. Too much time in the stroller leads to a cranky crawler, so we found some sweet sanctuaries for the whole family to enjoy.
Here is how we kept it magical!
1. Polynesian Village Resort
After a long morning of excitement at the Magic Kingdom, I always enjoy exploring nearby resorts by taking a ride on the monorail. I find the Polynesian Village Resort to be the most relaxing stop.
Polynesian Village offers a section of turf grass between the lobby and pool area. Jack loved his chance to stretch out and play with some new toys while us grown-ups sipped on a Mai Tai!
2. The Seas with Nemo and Friends
The Seas with Nemo and Friends in Epcot is home to a 5.7 million gallon coral reef aquarium with an adorable baby-friendly ride featuring Nemo and friends! Vibrant colors and changing scenes help keep baby’s attention. The attraction’s song, “Big Blue World” (also the opening number for Finding Nemo: The Musical in Animal Kingdom), is one of Jack’s favorite melodies. The fun has only begun once you exit the ride, directly on the main floor of the two-story aquarium!
Jack could watch the fishes swim around all day, and Mommy and Daddy can rest their weary feet. Little ones can lean up against the glass of the tanks, giving the cruiser-crowd a perfect place to stretch their legs. Be sure to stay close, foot traffic can be heavy.
3. Caribbean Beach Resort
Caribbean Beach Resort features Pirate Rooms, swashbuckling storyrooms for buccaneers and their crew! Captain Jack was captivated by the pirate ship beds!
The large pool is very fun with a baby. He enjoyed splashing in the zero-entry area and reaching for the water falls spewing from canons. The splash pad has a fun shipwreck theme, although it will be more enjoyable for toddlers.
At the center of Caribbean Beach Resort’s lake is Caribbean Cay, an island dedicated to a large playground and serene “hideaways” for relaxing moments to watch the water. Jack was able to stretch his legs on the soft ground in the playground area, but most of the playground features are more suited for toddlers.
Jack loved exploring the soft, sandy beach! Just make sure your crawler is over the “eating everything and anything” phase… or you will be rinsing out a mouthful of sand!
4. World Showcase
Any parent that wishes to enjoy Epcot’s amazing festivals should be familiar with some of the “secret spots” to enjoy that delicious plate of food you just purchased on your MagicBand! One of my favorites is in the back of the United Kingdom Pavilion, where a beautiful garden is home to a stage for an occasional British Invasion cover band. Between showtimes, this area can be relatively crowd-free! The pictures below were taken on a Saturday during the Food and Wine Festival, which draws some of the heaviest crowds of the year.
It is also the perfect location for one grown-up to make runs to the Rose and Crown for a couple of pints!
If you veer off the main path, you will come across other spots like this throughout World Showcase. The Italy Pavilion has a beautiful patio on the water, and you must watch the toy train make its rounds in the Germany Pavilion!
Entertainment is abundant throughout the World Showcase. Jack loved this Oom Pah band playing outside of the Germany Pavilion.
We are big fans of Biergarten Restaurant in Germany! A teething Jack loved munching on the soft pretzels. The music and ambiance are perfect for keeping your little one entertained!
Norway offers the new Frozen attraction, but the line can get impossibly long. You absolutely must try the Mexico ride with little ones, which loads quickly making for a short wait! Every youngster I have travelled around World Showcase with has been obsessed with the Gran Fiesta Tour, or “The Donald Duck Ride” as my nephew calls it. This adorable, slow-moving boat tour follows the Three Caballeros through Mexico as they search for Donald. Muy divertido!
5. The Boardwalk
It is vital to take a break in the middle of every Disney day when little guests are involved! Epcot offers so much to discover, and a lot of walking is involved to see it all. Once you have explored Future World, begin your journey around the World Showcase by making a right turn towards Canada. Between the United Kingdom and France Pavilions, there is a park entrance/exit called the International Gateway that leads to Disney’s Boardwalk! Here you will find a break from the crowds with plenty of great restaurants, shops, and entertainment. Our haven is the grassy area adjacent to The Boardwalk Inn’s lobby!
Jack loved crawling all over the shady grass! We were able to sit and relax while enjoying a refreshing Margarita from Joe’s Margarita Stand. All three of us were rested and ready to take on the rest of the “World” after a little down time!
Older children were running races and practicing cartwheels nearby. This spot is a gem for releasing energy and preventing Epcot meltdowns!
6. Disney Jr. Live on Stage
This is the must-do attraction for younglings in Hollywood Studios! Jack has always been drawn to the vibrant colors and catchy songs in Disney Jr. shows, especially Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Both of these shows are currently featured, along with Sofia the First and Doc McStuffins, in Disney Jr. Live on Stage!
The excitement on every child’s face while screaming “Meeska, Mooska, Mickey Mouse” to make the Clubhouse ACTUALLY appear is absolutely joyous. Jack was completely entranced. When Captain Hook popped up he sang out like never before!
The best part about this show? Seating is only available on the floor, and kids are not prevented from dancing it out! It was so fun to let Jack get his wiggle on.
When you visit Hollywood Studios, matching Star Wars tees with Dad are a must!
7. Cape May Cafe
Mickey Mouse may not be in attendance, but this is my favorite place for baby’s first character breakfast! The tables are spread out and the vibe is much more relaxed than other character breakfast choices like Chef Mickeys. The food selection is excellent for kids and adults alike. Jack got to try his first Mickey Waffles while I enjoyed a made-to-order omelet!
The character interactions are outstanding. Donald Duck is the first character Jack met. Donald allowed Jack to adjust to his presence gently, without intimidation.
Jack started to doze towards the end of our meal, but mommy and daddy were still enjoying pastries! I assumed we wouldn’t be allowed to bring his stroller into the restaurant, but our server offered to bring it to our table. What a nice surprise, and a break for us! The characters continued their hilarity, “dimming the lights” and shushing nearby guests to make it peaceful for the sleeping baby!
8. Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar
As a lifelong lover of Dr. Jones, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar in Disney Springs is my dream location to spend a relaxing afternoon! I can’t get enough of the details in the decor and the references in the menu. The outdoor seating on the water across from The Boathouse is lovely on a sunny day! While we enjoyed food and beverage, Jack loved bouncing on the bench seating and watching the Amphicars “drive” on the water!
Since Jack is not a big fan of shopping, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar is our choice for a perfect afternoon at Disney Springs!
9. Port Orleans- Riverside
To check-in for our stay at Port Orleans Resort- Riverside, we hopped on the ferry boat from Disney Springs and took a beautiful and relaxing journey down the river. Jack was enchanted by the ride, and the scenery is beautiful.
There is so much to enjoy at this gorgeous resort. Jack loved hanging out in the iconic gazebo in Magnolia Bend (even once at 3 am when we were both having some trouble falling back to sleep!)
Jack loves music and live entertainment, and Yehaa Bob Jackson’s show at the River Roost Lounge provides the best old-fashioned fun! Bob Jackson’s show is a must-see experience only available at Port Orleans- Riverside.
Other evening activities include a bonfire with complimentary marshmallows to roast and carriage rides. Spending an evening enjoying this elegant resort’s offerings is the perfect way to take a break from the chaos at the parks!
10. Morning Extra Magic Hours at the Magic Kingdom
This is more of a tip than a place… At 8-months, Jack had us up and at ‘em at 5:00 am each morning. We elect to follow the “sleep when the baby sleeps” rule, so early bedtimes and afternoon naps make an early start manageable, and even exciting! We hopped on the 6:30 am bus for the Magic Kingdom for the 7:00 Extra Magic Hours opening, a special hour dedicated to Disney resort guests only.
We were able to enjoy the daily opening ceremony and get our favorite Starbucks beverage on Main Street, then walked on every ride in Fantasyland.
Seeing the pure joy on our son’s face as our pirate ship took off for Neverland, as we bounced with Tigger in a Pooh-sized honey pot, as we danced with Ariel and her fishy friends under the sea, and as we sailed on It’s A Small World… these are the magical moments that make Disney World so special.
Crowds were just starting to build at 10:00 am in the Magic Kingdom when we had already seen enough. Perfect timing to have Jack’s ears personalized on Main Street, USA and hop on the monorail for a break at Polynesian Village Resort!
Please get in touch with me for more tips on creating magical memories for your family!
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