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Florida Guide > Hints and Tips

Starting Your Disney Holiday with Baby/Toddler

The whole family has probably been very excited for weeks and cannot wait to start their holiday proper so I am writing this just to highlight procedures when you arrive in Florida. These can be a little stressful because you will have had a long journey and just want to get on with your holiday but there are still formalities and queues ahead of you.

There is usually a fairly long walk to Immigration, whether you land at the International airport in Orlando (MCO) or the smaller charter airport (Sanford). For those with little ones you will not have got your buggy back yet so baby/toddler along with hand luggage will have to be carried. If possible the person carrying the little one should try to have a rucksack as their hand luggage so that they can put it on their back leaving their hands free. If you have a small baby a sling is very useful. We used to take a cooling spray with us because the little ones get hot and agitated whilst queuing; all they want to know about was Mickey!

After clearing immigration and this can take some time in the busy holiday periods, you will collect your bags and your buggy. The buggies are often not on the luggage carousel they are usually in a big pile somewhere nearby so if you can get this before you get your luggage the youngest member of the family is safe and secure. Although it does not often rain in Florida when it does it is heavy and your buggy may arrive soaked, it is handy to have a spare plastic bag with you in case this happens.

I am not sure if there is a charge for luggage trolleys at Sanford but at Orlando International last time we went they were $3 each and you do not get a refund when you return them. If your party is quite large with plenty of luggage it might be worth getting a porter that you tip at $2 a case, it saves the hassle of retrieving your luggage and pushing it to the car. My Mother gets a porter and waits for the luggage with the girls while Dad and I go off to get the car. By the time the luggage has arrived Dad has usually got the car.

Car Hire firms will hire you a car seat but there is usually a charge of approx $6 a day so you may well prefer to take your own not just to avoid the cost but you will know your little one is used to it and that it is clean. Most airlines let you carry your child seats as an extra to your baggage allowance. You will need to check with your airline, I know BA and Virgin do but I am not sure about all the Charter airlines. Also the seat laws for little ones are stricter in America so check that your seat will be complying with the law. Do not pack you car seat in a black plastic bag use clear plastic as the baggage handlers cannot see what it is and may not be so gentle with it.

You are now on your way but be prepared for little ones (and adults) to suffer from jet lag in the first couple of days. Whilst many nap on the way over and usually get a few hours sleep the first night the body clock has not adjusted and you will all wake early on the first day. Do not forget if their normal bedtime is 7pm by 2pm US time it will be bedtime! Do not plan any late afternoon/early evening activities with the little ones for the first couple of days leave that until later in the holiday, by day 3 you will all probably be back to normal.

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Page added on: 8 November 2009
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