We were very fortunate to have a great Mom of twins to give us some insight into her recent trip. I am breaking these out into five segments so you can enjoy them at your leisure. And let’s face it those little faces light up everyone’s day!
Walt Disney World with Twins: How we managed a Disney vacation with two toddlers and lived to tell about it - Part 1
I grew up visiting Walt Disney World, and I introduced my husband to that magical place in 2012. Everyone who knows me knows I love Disney. I wear Disney, talk Disney, sing Disney… you get the idea. For years, I dreamed of taking our future children to Walt Disney World and making all sorts of family memories. We found out we were expecting in January 2019, and then life’s curveballs began!
Early in my pregnancy, I had the opportunity to attend an event for travel agents put on by Disney. I was so excited to get a photo with Mickey and Minnie as a pregnancy announcement!
“There’s two!” the ultrasound tech said, “you’re having twins!” Wow, that was a phrase I never expected to hear. Though there was a lot of fear and uncertainty, I also knew there was going to be a lot of fun ahead! Our girls were born in July 2019. After waiting as long as I could stand it, we finally booked our first trip to Walt Disney World as a family- something I had been looking forward to for longer than I could remember. We were scheduled to go in March 2020, when the girls were almost 9 months old. People thought we were crazy, and sometimes I thought I was too, but I didn’t care. The girls would ride in their stroller, see Mickey, sit in our laps for the baby-friendly rides, they weren’t quite mobile yet and loved to people-watch. it was going to be great!
I don’t have to explain what happened next- everyone knows what happened in March 2020. Two weeks before our departure, Covid-19 hit the US hard, and Walt Disney World closed its gates, the first time in history that the parks have been closed for an extended amount of time. With our “first” vacation cancelled, we started looking forward to our next one and crossed our fingers that it would happen. We were scheduled to visit Walt Disney World in October for the Coasters & Castles Travel annual meeting. Because I was going to be in training/meetings for several days and we also wanted a family vacation, we planned an extra long visit- we would be away from home for 12 days. With 2 toddlers. In a hotel room.
Though I’m definitely not an expert in parenting, traveling with toddlers, or keeping my patience in a Disney park when my kids are losing their minds, I definitely learned a ton during this trip, and I can’t wait to share it with you. Want to know more? Stick around! This post is just my intro/overview! There’s more to come about each specific park!
Overview and Must-Have Items
Though Orlando is only a 1.5 hour flight from where we live in East Tennessee, driving was our best option. We had to take a double stroller, 2 pack-n-plays, portable high-chairs… the list goes on! Yes, you can rent those items locally once you arrive, but the little bit of germaphobe in me just wanted to bring our own. Plus driving is more affordable, and we really like having our car there. If you look on the GPS or Google, its an 8.5 hour drive. Realistically, as 2 adults with no kids, we usually made it in about 10 hours. Since this was our first big road trip with the babies (15.5 months at time of travel), we decided to break the driving into 2 days. I am so glad we made that decision, as the girls were absolutely done with being in the car by the time we got to our hotel in Valdosta, GA. We were all able to get some decent sleep and tackled the second leg of our drive the next morning.
The girls were rested up and ready for their grand arrival at Walt Disney World later that day.
We arrived at Disney’s Pop Century Resort that afternoon. Our room wasn’t quite ready, so we found a secluded grassy area and let the girls play. They were so excited just to be in a new place and explore! We watched the Skyliner gondolas overhead and just walked around. After some play time, we hopped on the Skyliner and rode it to Disney’s newest resort, Disney's Riviera Resort, for a quick dinner. I’ll talk more about the Skyliner in another post, but for now, I’ll just say its fabulous!
Stretching our legs and getting some energy out while we wait for our room to be ready.
Pack the things you need for that one night in a separate bag. You don’t want to haul a week’s worth of stuff into a hotel for one night.
When packing your car, put the pack-n-plays, overnight bag, and anything else you’ll need that first night towards the back where its easily accessible. The last thing you want to do after driving all day is totally unpacking and repacking your car in a hotel parking lot get to the things you need.
Our girls’ car seats are still rear-facing. Our car has a DVD player, but the girls wouldn’t be able to see it. For about $15 on Amazon, I was able to purchase a tablet mount that attached to the metal poles of the headrests and would hold the tablet between the two bucket seats where both girls could see it. Our girls are not big TV watchers. The only things they like are musical shows where its basically little animals dancing and singing. Their favorite is "Dave & Ava" on YouTube, so I found similar things on Amazon Prime that I could download to the Kindle. "Little Baby Bum" and "Super Simple Songs" seemed to be the winners. These ran in 20-30 minute episodes, which were perfect for the girls. After one episode, they were either asleep or ready for another toy.
About a week before we left, I packed some of the girls’ favorite (yet portable) toys and grabbed a few new things at the dollar store. This helped tremendously with the drive- new things to discover plus favorites they hadn’t played with in a while. We put them in a plastic tote and placed it where the passenger-riding parent could easily hand the girls a new toy when needed.
Have low expectations and give yourself plenty of time. The second day of our trip was about 3.5 hours worth of driving, but it took us almost 6! Those car seats aren’t the greatest for toddlers who recently found their mobility and just want to run around. Give them plenty of breaks. Find a park to stop at and let them get some energy out. Their schedule is all messed up too, so have patience and give them grace. Even though we were only 3.5 hours away, I didn’t make any plans for that afternoon. They had been in the car most of 2 days- I wanted them to just be able to play!
General tips for the duration of the trip
Make sure to bring some sort of baby-wearing carrier, preferable one you wear on your front. You’ll see several photos of this throughout my posts. We personally use the Lillebaby All Seasons Complete, but there are many brands out there. We like these because the girls can forward-face and see everything. Not all brands can forward-face, so make sure to know what you’re getting! Strollers are not allowed in the ride queues, shows, or even some buildings (The Land in Epcot, for example), and your arms will get very tired carrying a toddler that whole time. Plus, for us at least, they were more content in the carrier. If we held them, they just wanted down to play. They liked being in the carrier where we could still use our hands to play with them/clap/dance etc. Because we wore them on our fronts instead of backs, they could stay in the carriers for the rides! It was much easier to get on and off a moving ride vehicle with full use of our arms and the baby secured to us. If you have the baby in a back carrier, you will have to take them off before boarding the ride.
Portable booster seats are lifesavers. We have these (pictured below) from Amazon called “Hiccapop Omniboost” but other brands have a similar concept. They fold up like a camping chair and have a detachable tray. I leave these in my car at home and use them multiple times a week. They were great for the trip because we could stop for lunch at a park, feed them in the hotel room, and I’ve even set them up in the back of the van. We used them every morning of the trip to feed the girls breakfast. Serious lifesavers!
Portable booster seats saved us so much time and frustration by allowing us to feed the girls right in the hotel room.
Each Disney park has a Baby Care Center. You can find its location on the park map. These areas were great- they have a room with multiple changing tables, private spaces for nursing, access to bottle warmers, microwaves, a sink, highchairs and small tables, and a restroom. Each center has an attendant who can also help you purchase needed items you may have forgotten like diapers, wipes, baby food, etc.
Our kids go to sleep on their own each night. We put them in their bed and shut the door, they talk or play in their beds a few minutes and then go right to sleep. If they see us, they won’t settle down. This presented an issue since we were in a hotel room all together. We tried the first night to just turn the lights off, but knowing we were there, they just cried. We decided to try putting them down and then going into the bathroom where they couldn’t see us. This worked like a charm! After that first night, they were asleep within 10 minutes and we could sneak back into the room to go to bed. Just make sure you have everything ready before hand because you don’t want to wake them up looking for your pajamas or medicine or whatever.
Like I said, this is just the beginning! Stay tuned for info about each park, the rides/attractions the girls could do, foods they enjoyed, and more!
Kara Brown is a Vacation Specialist with Coasters & Castles Travel and a mom to twin toddlers. She loves traveling with her family and making priceless memories. Kara specializes in Disney destinations, Universal Parks & Resorts, and Royal Caribbean cruises. You can contact her at KBrown@travelcnc.com.