The best laid plans… We took a family trip to Walt Disney World this spring and brought our then fifteen-month old son. He still naps (thankfully) and he’s not the type of kid who can skip some shut-eye during the day unless we want to deal with some cranky meltdowns. And we don’t.
Before our trip, I tried to prepare him for sleeping in the Pack N Play and although it worked at night, he would have none of it during the day. So, with a hope and a prayer, sleeping in the stroller while we toured became our Plan B. He was so comfortable in our stroller from Kingdom Strollersthat many days it worked – but not all. Sometimes the heat, sunshine (even with a great canopy), and sensory stimulation was a bit too much for him to drift off. I needed to improvise and find some attractions that would lull him to sleep. I could then put him in his stroller and he would continue to nap while we toured. It wasn’t my ideal plan but I needed to find a way to get my son the sleep he needed and help the rest of the family enjoy the theme parks.
Here are some attractions that had the magic combination of coolness, darkness, movement, and attraction length (my baby isn’t going to fall asleep immediately) and may be just the thing to try to get your tired baby to sleep.
1. Walt Disney World Railroad. This train ride makes the rounds of the Magic Kingdom theme park in about twenty minutes. Although the ride is not completely dark, there was enough shade to keep my son cool and drowsy enough to fall asleep.
2. Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. If movement is a necessity for your baby to sleep, this twenty-minute, dark, theater-type attraction may be a bit of a gamble; it does not move continuously.
3. Tomorrowland Transit Authority. This ten-minute tour of Tomorrowland loads continuously and your family will be able to stay on for more than one loop. The “People Mover” moves nicely but the light levels will vary, especially as you move from inside the buildings to outside.
1. Spaceship Earth. Within five minutes of boarding this dark, slow-moving ride with low noise levels, my son was sound asleep. The fifteen-minute long ride was the most successful in getting our baby to sleep quickly.
2. Living with the Land. The gentle movement of this serene boat ride lulled my little guy to sleep. Light levels do vary throughout the ride.
This park is tough – there aren’t a lot of great options so you’ll have to make do.
1. The Great Movie Ride. In my book, Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers, I caution against this ride for preschoolers; it contains some scary elements, not the least is a scene from the movie Alien. However, for babies who aren’t watching the action and have a limited view because they are snuggled up against a caregiver, the lower light levels and slow-moving nature of this approximately 20 minute ride may be enough to put them to sleep. It can be loud so if low noise levels are necessary for your little one to sleep, avoid this one.
Animal Kingdom is the toughest as there aren’t any indoor attractions that would have done the trick for our son. Luckily, it was one of the days he fell asleep in the stroller.
1. Discovery Island Trails and The Oasis. These animal-viewing areas have shaded pathways and little nooks and crannies to view the animals. These areas can feel more secluded than pushing the stroller through the pathways of the theme park.
Would I have preferred our son to nap in our room? Yes. Are these attractions perfect for lulling your kids to dreamland? No, but they worked in a pinch for me and I hope they work for you. Please share any other suggestions you have in the comments section.
Lisa M. Battista is the author of Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers When she’s not chasing after her little ones, you can most likely find her at the beach or in the kitchen trying her hand at a new recipe. You call follow her on Twitter @DisneyExplorer and Facebook.
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