Are you thinking about taking your baby to Disney World for her birthday? Enjoying Disney World with a 1 year old can absolutely be a reality.
After having been Disney Pass Holders while my first two children were itty bitty, I knew the joys of Disney World with a baby. I wanted to share that same experience with Little E on her birthday. Although I’m not a Pass Holder currently, I was determined to have one amazing day, but I was also totally prepared for it to be baby led.
Keep reading for some of my best tips to have an amazing birthday celebration at Disney World with a 1 year old.
Baby’s First Haircut at Disney World
When it comes to going to Disney World With a 1 Year Old it has become synonymous with their first haircut experience. I had it in my mind, from I don’t know where, some superstition that I needed to wait until my children were one for their first haircut. So, with my eldest daughter’s birthday, a tradition was born.
I took her to Disney World to have her first haircut at the Harmony Barber Shop. I did this for my son a couple of years later.
It has become a tradition in our family to brave Disney World with a 1 year old, so when our youngest was turning one I held out on cutting her scraggly bangs for that special trip to WDW.
My advice is to arrive at the barbershop as early as possible before the waiting list fills up. And there will be a wait if you do get an appointment.
The first haircut package includes a haircut from an experienced child cosmetologist, a lock of your child’s hair in a keepsake bag, a first haircut certificate, and a set of Mickey Mouse Ears with “First Haircut” embroidered on it.
Pro-tip: You can make an online reservation for the Harmony Barber Shop so you don’t risk missing out. And you get an appointment for the perfect time. I think in the morning before the pictures and lunch is the best.
Baby Pictures at Walt Disney World With a 1 Year Old
Getting pictures of my baby was priority number one for her amazing birthday celebration at Disney World. If you have children then you understand how quickly they grow. You simply can’t get enough pictures of your child before they change in a blink-of-an-eye.
So a day in Disney World with a 1 year old is a photographic opportunity you shouldn’t pass up. But there are a few things to keep in mind as you go through your day.
First, get your most important pictures at the beginning of the day. This is when your baby will be in her best mood and before she gets sweaty from the heat, or dirty from snacking. Also, keep in mind that you can get fast passes for some Disney character meet and greets. This is best if you are focused on pictures vs. rides for your day at Disney World with a one year old.
I also recommend getting Memory Maker for your special day. Hopefully, you will be attending Walt Disney World for more than one day to get the best value out of your Memory Maker. But I have to say having the pictures from the Disney photographers is awesome.
You can tell your photographers that you have Memory Maker and ask them to go to town, and often they will take extra pictures for you. At the end of your meet and greet, scan your magic band and voila you will have great pictures linked to your My Disney Experience account within a few hours.
If you bring your own camera or phone that’s fine too. You can even ask a cast member to take a picture of you with your child using your phone. But in the end the quality of your phone pictures cannot beat the professional cameras.
Rides at Disney World With a 1 Year Old
Parents are often concerned about bringing their baby or toddler to Disney World before they are “old enough to remember it.” This is a total disservice to yourself. I have some of my most joyous memories of my children at Walt Disney World as toddlers.
Everything is so magical through the eyes of a small child and you will enjoy the amusement park in an entirely different way. It becomes less about racing off to fit in as many of the big rides and more about the experience.
Magic Kingdom is the best park to experience Disney World with a 1 year old since it has the most rides available for all ages.
In Adventureland there are Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, and The Magic Carpets of Alladin (which is a Dumbo style flying ride).
In Liberty Square there is the Haunted Mansion, but I do caution taking sensitive children on this ride. We enjoyed this ride with my oldest daughter when she was one without a problem, but when we rode again at age two she was upset. You know your child best, so use your judgment.
In Fantasyland there are some great rides including It’s a Small World, Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Prince Charming Regal Carousel, Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid, and the Mad Tea Party ride. If you want to ride the Peter Pan’s Flight I highly recommend getting a Fast Pass as the standby line can easly reach over 2 hours on busy days. On the other hand Peter Pan’s Flight is a ride you may want to avoid if your child is particularly squirmy or afraid of the dark.
Another ride that may be too much for a child is The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh since it is quite bouncy, like Tigger, and also has a psychedelic, bad dream scenario.
In Tomorrowland there are a few more rides that your little one may be able to ride, but you will once again need to use your best judgment.
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, is a loud arcade style ride. You can operate your vehicle to spin left or right while you are trying to shoot the targets. As you are holding onto your little this ride becomes a lot less about winning and more about preventing her from falling out of your lap.
Another ride is Astro Orbiter, which is similar to the Dumbo ride, but it is much higher and seems more intense. Just looking at it with the idea of taking my daughter up there terrified me and I still haven’t been on it with any of my children to this day.
The Tomorrowland Speedway is for children to ride with a parent at 32″. Chances are your 1 year old will not reach that height requirement, but it was certainly a right of passage for my oldest daughter when she was finally able to ride.
I highly recommend going on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover. It is a nice ride that doesn’t bump, spin, or go too fast. I personally enjoy the people watching and it has elements of excitement as you travel behind the scenes of Space Mountain (there are several moments in the dar).
Walt Disney World Railroad
And last but certainly not least is the Walt Disney World Railroad train ride. This working train makes a complete circle around the park with stations at Storybook Circus and Main Street USA. All of my children have enjoyed riding the train.
Disney Character Meet and Greets With Baby
Like I said earlier this particular Disney World trip was all about pictures of my precious baby girl celebrating her birthday. So, a big part of that was Disney character meet and greets with baby. My suggestion, like any other Disney experience that is important to you, be sure to see the characters that are important to you early in the day.
Meet Mickey Mouse at Disney World
I always recommend getting a Fast Pass to meet Mickey Mouse. This year is Mickey & Minnie’s Surprise Celebration, and this take Minnie out of the back of the park to be with her main squeeze. They are wearing special celebration attire and party hats which is is perfect for a birthday picture at Disney World with a 1 year old.
The only sad thing is they are not using the Mickey that blinks and talks with your child. It was an amazing advancement in characters, so I hope they will bring it back.
Meet Tinker Bell in Magic Kingdom
After meeting Mickey Mouse, head on over to Meet Tinker Bell at Town Square Theater. You may also get a fast pass for this meet and greet. It is honestly one of my favorite meets because of the immersive environment.
Through the magic of pixie dust you are shrunk down to Tinker Bell’s size. The immersive environment solidifies the illusion. Your child can stand next to crayons bigger than she is and raspberries bigger than her head.
Other Classic Disney Characters
If you are looking to get as many character pictures as possible then check out Pete’s Silly Side Show. It is located at the back, right corner of the park. Pluto (replaces Minnie), Daisy, Goofy, and Donald may be found here in one stop. But there is no fast pass for this meet and greet, but I have never had to wait more than twenty minutes.
This is a good mid or end of the day character visit since it is part of the Storybook Circus area in Fantasyland near Dumbo. There is a “circus train car” that quirts water and is an awesome attraction for little people that are hot and tired of running around the park. Bring water shoes and a change of clothes.
Disney Princesses and Friends at Disney World
You can find Cinderella, Eleana of Avalor, Rapunzel, and Tiana in Fantasyland at Princess Fairytale Hall. If you have an extra Fast Pass you should use one for meeting Cinderellas and Eleana—especially earlier in the day. Be careful not to miss Merida down the path behind the castle in the Fairytale Garden. She is a wonderful newer addition to Disney World.
Also in Fantasyland you can see Winnie the Pooh and Tigger too (insert cheesy smile here).
Gaston can sometimes be found near his tavern, but just around the bend is Ariel’s Gratto, which is a cool theme as you go into a cave. You may want to get a Fast Pass for this Disney character meet and greet. My youngest daughter did not care for this character experience, but my oldest never had a problem so keep in mind that it may be difficult for some children.
Other Characters to Find
There are several characters that popup in different places, so be sure to keep an eye on your My Disney Experience app these may include but are not exclusive to Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Alice, Mary Poppins, Chip and Dale, Peter Pan, and Wendy. And you are likely to catch Fairy Godmother and the Ugly Stepsisters in the courtyard across from the princesses at Princess Fairytale Hall.
The most elusive, at least for our family, has been Jasmine and Aladdin. They are only available during certain times before she heads off to Cinderella’s Royal Table. I can’t say how many times we’ve missed her or walked up to find the line just closed. And there was definitely one very pregnant episode with tears over not being able to get my then 2 year old to see her yet AGAIN.
In the end, I recommend picking your top couple of Disney characters you wish to meet. It’s when you add on too many expectations that you set yourself up for disappointment. That way if you manage to meet any extra characters it is a bonus for your trip.
Things to Bring to Disney World With a 1 Year Old
I could give you a long list of items to bring to Disney World with a 1 year old, but I want to keep it down to a few really important tips.
Snacks, Snacks, and More Snacks
The first tip is to bring your own snacks. You can bring in a cooler as long as it doesn’t have wheels. The cooler will need to be looked through at bag check, but you are totally allowed to bring in your own food. We always pack a nice fabric cooler that shoves into the stroller under storage.
Items you may want to pack are dry cereals, nuts, raisins, applesauce squeezes, melts, and granola or trail mix. You will want to bring your own waters, but you can get free water at any quick service station, which is wonderful, if you bring refillable water bottles.
Comfort Items for Baby
Be sure to bring plenty of diapers or Pullups and a couple of changes of clothes for your little. If pictures are important to you then fresh clothes are a must, between sweat, snacks, and other various messes. I usually bring 4 changes just in case and for fun pictures with various oufits.
Pro-tip: Save significant money by purchasing snacks and comfort items before going to the parks. This can include small souvenirs for your child to receive while you’re in the park.
What to Do If You Forget Something at Disney World
If you do forget something at Disney don’t worry there are lots of souvenirs for sale to replace it. There are all kinds of essential items you can find at the Disney Baby Care Center including diapers, formula, menstrual pads, and medicine. To find out more check out my article on 7 Surprising Disney Baby Care Center Tips You Must Know.
What to Do If Your Child is Sick at Disney World
Little children mean lots of germs and not the best hygiene habits. My oldest daughter has been sick at Disney on more than one occasion. If you go to the Disney First Aid Station a nurse can take your child’s temperature and offer Tylonal, a bandaid, or cough medicine.
During one particular trip, my daughter went downhill fast. She was a total mess. The nurse offered us a cot to have her rest. An hour of sleep in a quiet dark room made all the difference in her health and our day.
There is a First Aid Station at every Disney park and it is totally worth the stop—free of charge.
Have an Amazing Birthday Celebration at Disney World
I hope this post will help you have a magical trip to Disney World with a 1 year old you love. I have loved seeing Disney through the eyes of my children.
My biggest piece of advice is to not sweat the small stuff. Don’t over plan and expect the unexpected. Being flexible will make your trip more enjoyable for you and your child.
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