2015 Summer Disney Vacation: What is a Frogg Togg and why do you need one?

Heading to Disney World this summer? Before you get there, let me tell you something: IT’S HOT. I’ve recommended Frogg Toggs in another post “Keeping Your Infant or Toddler Cool at Disney World“, and I have had several people email me for more information. Here’s a bit more information on Frogg Toggs:

What is it?

A Frogg Togg is a cooling towel that is made from a durable and organic “man made sponge” called polyvinyl alcohol.

How do I use it?

To use a Frogg Togg, you wet it with water and wring it out. As the water evaporates, the towel becomes cool to the touch.

Is it reusable?

Yes! After it dries, simply re-wet the towel, wring it out, and the evaporating and cooling starts all over again. Towels are designed to last for years after your Disney vacation.

Is it safe for babies or young children?

Of course, I wouldn’t recommend them if they weren’t! The towels are made from organic materials. Once they are worn out, you can actually grind or rip them up and put them in soil to help plants retain moisture. Frogg Toggs will biodegrade after time.

What specific tips do you have for use at the Disney Parks?

I’m glad you asked! If you have young kids riding in a stroller, you can line the stroller seat with the Frogg Togg towel and let them sit on top of it. This is a non-intrusive way to keep your little ones cool. If you can, draping a Frogg Togg across your child’s shoulders and neck will also keep them cool. Re-wetting the towels is easy in any bathroom at Disney.

Where can I buy a Frogg Togg?

The cheapest place to buy Frogg Toggs that I have found is Amazon.com. You can choose from a large selection of colors (each member of our family has a different color towel!) including blue, green, pink, purple, orange, and more! (Hint: Different colors are different prices on Amazon.com). Click here to view Frogg Toggs on Amazon.

Funny name for a product, but a staple that should be in your Disney bag this summer. Be sure to share this post with other travelers:

2015 Summer Disney Vacation: What is a Frogg Togg and why do you need one? by disneyunder3.com

Baby Care Center at Sea World Orlando

Heading to Sea World Orlando with your infant or toddler on vacation? Similar to the other theme parks, Sea World Orlando has a Baby Care Center. While most of the restrooms at Sea World offer changing tables, the Baby Care Center features a sitting room area, padded changing tables, a nursing room, a kitchen, and bathrooms with toddler sized toilets. The facility is located near Shamu’s Happy Harbor, which is a kid’s play area. I highlighted the Baby Care Center on the map below with a red rectangle (on the far right side). Depending on where you are in the park, it may be a long walk.

Baby Care Center at Sea World Orlando for visiting with Infants or Toddlers. Written by disneyunder3.com

When you first enter the Baby Care Center, you walk into a nice sitting room with a few small tables with toys, rocking chairs, and a tv. This is a great place to cool your kids off on a hot day.

Baby Care Center at Sea World Orlando for visiting with Infants or Toddlers. Written by disneyunder3.com

To the left, there’s a kitchen stocked with bottle warmers, bottle sterilizers, a sink, and a microwave.

Baby Care Center at Sea World Orlando for visiting with Infants or Toddlers. Written by disneyunder3.com

Baby Care Center at Sea World Orlando for visiting with Infants or Toddlers. Written by disneyunder3.com

Off of the main space, there is a changing room with four padded changing tables and a hand washing sink.

Baby Care Center at Sea World Orlando for visiting with Infants or Toddlers. Written by disneyunder3.com

The next room is limited to nursing mothers and has a few rocking chairs.

Baby Care Center at Sea World Orlando for visiting with Infants or Toddlers. Written by disneyunder3.com

There are also two bathrooms (one boys/one girls) with a large toilet and a toddler toilet in each.

Baby Care Center at Sea World Orlando for visiting with Infants or Toddlers. Written by disneyunder3.com

Lastly, it’s important to note that the Baby Care Center at Sea World is not staffed. Previously, there has been a machine with diapers, wipes, and other basic baby supplies, but it was not there on my latest visit, late January 2015. (If you go and see that it has returned, please leave a comment.)

Baby Care Center at Sea World Orlando for visiting with Infants or Toddlers. Written by disneyunder3.com

Epcot’s World Showcase for Toddlers

Ecpot's World Showcase for Toddlers - by disneyunder3Throughout my work on this site, Disney Under 3,  I’ve talked to a lot of families planning their Disney vacations. Many families note that they plan to skip the World Showcase at Disney’s Epcot, because they feel that it is simply full of drunks or that their young children will be bored. I covered Epcot Attractions for Infants and Toddlers in a previous post, but let’s look only at the World Showcase at Disney’s Epcot. I highly recommend visiting the World Showcase early in the day. You will find low crowds shortly after the World Showcase opens (usually 11am) and typically people are well behaved early in the day.

Mexico: Mariachi Cobre – An upbeat mariachi band. The music is big and bright and toddler friendly. Toddlers will appreciate getting out of their stroller and dancing around.

Norway: No street performers or shows.

China: Jeweled Dragon acrobats – A traditional team of Chinese acrobats. Toddlers will love people flying, flipping, and jumping all over. This show usually draws a large crowd, so be sure to arrive early so that your toddlers will have a good view of the show.

Germany: No street performers or shows.

Ecpot's World Showcase for Toddlers - by disneyunder3Italy: Sbandieratori Di Sansepolcro – This new show features flag throwing to live horn, trumpet, and drum music. My toddlers loved the brightly colored flags waving and being thrown in the air. A second show in Italy features Sergio – An Italian mime and juggler that engages the audience throughout the show. This is a toddler favorite in our family. Children are welcome to sit on the ground during the show, and often get picked to participate.

American Adventure: Voices of Liberty – A group of a capella singers. This show is fantastic and their voices are wonderful, but it may not hold the attention of a toddler for long.

Japan: Matsuriza - (Traditional Taiko Drummers). This show consists of synchronized drumming on huge Japanese drums. From my experience, my toddlers will watch it for a few minutes, then be ready to move on.

Morocco: B’net Al Houwariyate – This new show features a Moroccan folk music band with several dancers. Toddlers (and adults!) are welcome to jump in and dance around. This is another great place to take a break from the stroller!

France: Serveur Amusant – This show is a comical balancing act. Toddlers will love watching the performers balance in different stunts. This show also draws a large crowd, so plan to arrive a few minutes early.

United Kingdom: There are two different musical acts in the United Kingdom. British Revolution – A British rock band. This show gives toddlers a good reason to jump around and be loud while dancing. Paul McKenna Band – This new show offers a traditional Scottish Folk Music band. It consists of 4 people with traditional instruments and singing. It held our toddler’s attention for quite a while and the girls loved “dancing to Brave music”.

Canada: Canadian Lumberjacks – Another new show, this one features axe throwing, chopping, sawing, and more. I love the idea of this show and we thought it would be action packed for our kids, but we were disappointed. The show moves slow, and it difficult to see due to the arrangement of the stage and accompanying barrier. Without holding your toddler, they won’t be able to see a thing. (Even with a clear view, the performers have their backs turned or safety equipment blocks the view at several parts.)

Spending an afternoon watching shows at Epcot is a great way to have a restful day in the parks with toddlers. No reservations or Fastpasses are needed for any of the shows. There are enough shows to fill most of an afternoon “line-free”. Remember: The times for shows vary weekly, so you’ll want to pick up a Times Guide to find the times for each show on the day of your visit.

Kidcot: If you need something to do for a few minutes between shows, consider stopping into a Kidcot station in any of the countries. Kidcot provides a free puppet on a stick that children can color. (Current puppets are Olaf and Perry from Frozen and Phineas and Ferb.) Feel free to stop into Kidcot just a pick up a puppet. It’s a fun thing for a toddler to hold onto for the day.

Photos: Top photo is Sergio, the Mime in Italy. Bottom photo is Sbandieratori Di Sansepolcro, the flag throwing group also in Italy.

Interactive Lines at Disney World – Mom’s Best Friend

With the expansion of Fantasyland at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Disney introduced the first interactive queue at Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

Here’s how it works:

1) Enter the line at Dumbo the Flying Elephant and wait until you reach the interactive play area.

2) A Cast Member will give you a pager, the same as what you receive while waiting at a restaurant for your table to be ready.

Disney Interactive Lines3) Play, play, play!

4) When the pager goes off, return your pager to the Cast Member and wait in the remainder of the line to experience the attraction.

What I liked about the play area at Dumbo:

1) It’s air conditioned!

2) Play areas are divided into sections by age.

3) Seating for parents (although the wooden bleachers were not the most comfortable!) The toddler area has plush seating that puts you closer to your young children.

4) Definitely made the wait go quickly, and gave me a chance to relax for a few minutes.

5) Lots of fun surprises (when kids go down the slide or across the net, there are sound and lighting effects.)

6) Great circus tent theme.

Acoustically, it was loud inside. Not just loud, but very loud. Nevertheless, I hope Disney continues to add more interactive queues as they continue to expand and re-imagine themselves.

Here’s a few preview photos:

Dumbo

Dumbo

Dumbo

Dumbo

Dumbo

Please take a second to hit the “Tack It” button below this post. This allows you to tack my images straight to Disnify.com. If you aren’t familiar with Disnify.com, it’s brand new! See my post on it here.

Keeping Your Infant or Toddler Cool at Disney World

Keeping Your Infant or Toddler Cool on Your Disney VacationIt’s hot in Central Florida! It’s not even the end of May, and the weather reports show heat indexes in the 100 degree plus category for this weekend. Here’s 9 tips to keep your infant or toddler cool on your next Disney vacation:

  1. Return to the hotel or resort in the middle of the day, which is the hottest part of the day. This is a great way to cool off, nap, or take a break for swimming. If going back to your room isn’t an option, plan a late lunch at your favorite indoor restaurant, this will give everyone a chance to cool off in the air conditioning and sit down for a while.
  2. Plan your park days out well, with the heat in mind. Choose indoor attractions during the hottest parts of the day.
  3. Invest in hats for your infants and toddlers.
  4. Make sure that your stroller has a large sunshade. If it doesn’t consider adding an extra sunshade to it.
  5. Take a few minutes to play in the splash zones at the theme parks. All Disney theme parks (and Downtown Disney) have areas that feature misting fans, spray jets, or splash pads. If you don’t want your infant or toddler to have wet clothes, don’t forget to bring a change of clothes.
  6. Bring a misting fan. Themed fans are available within the theme parks, but you can save some money if you purchase one before your vacation. Personally, we love the O2Cool Deluxe Misting Fan. We have been using the same two fans at Disney for over a year and have never had any issues.
  7. Invest in a Frogg Togg Chilly Pad. These neat towels stay cooler than the outside air when they are damp. When they stop cooling, just get them wet and they will get cool again. They cost about $12 each, and are easy to use at Disney. Our family wets them in the restrooms and we place the pad behind our toddlers in their stroller.
  8. Indulge in frozen treats! You’ll find plenty of Mickey bars, frozen lemonades, and slushes to help your youngest ones stay cool.
  9. Don’t forget to keep your infant or toddler hydrated. A small lunch sized cooler under your stroller is a great place to store water bottles. Did you know: All quick service style restaurants will provide you tap water and ice free of charge in the parks. It is not a hassle, just ask!

While it won’t help them keep cool, don’t forget sunscreen for your infants and toddlers. Amazon has a list of approved sunscreens for children under age 3.

Photo above was taken getting out of the sun one afternoon on the PeopleMover at Disney’s Magic Kingdom.

Disney’s Magic Bands and Your Infant or Toddler: Do They Have to Wear Them?

Disney's Magic Bands and Your Infant or Toddler

My blog post today is in response to a client for whom I am planning a vacation for her, her husband, and 3 children to Walt Disney World. This family received their Magic Bands in the mail today for their upcoming vacation, and a band was included for her child under age 3. Her question to me was, “Does my child have to leave this band on their arm for our whole vacation? What if he hates it?” My answer: No! Your child under age 3 does not have to wear the Magic Band that Disney has sent for them. In fact, the band is likely to only open the door of your Walt Disney World Resort room and do nothing else. Disney sends a Magic Band for every person that is registered in your vacation party, no matter their age.

Tip: Don’t leave the Magic Band for your child under 3 at home! My 2 year old loves wearing hers when we visit the parks, and likes to pretend to scan it along with everyone else when we use our Fast Pass Plus reservations!

If you don’t know what a Magic Band is, here is a quick summary:

  • Magic Bands are Disney’s new technology that replaces the old Key to the World cards. Magic Bands are RF (radio frequency) enabled cards that are inside a colorful wrist band.
  • Magic Bands are made from a hypoallergenic material.
  • Magic Bands open the door to your resort room if you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort.
  • You can add room charging privileges to your Magic Band and pay for things at the resorts and in the theme parks.
  • Fast Pass Plus reservations for attractions are stored on your Magic Bands.
  • Magic Bands are complimentary if you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort.
  • Magic Bands can be purchased in the theme parks if you are not staying at a Walt Disney World Resort.
  • Magic Bands are one size fits all and can be adjusted to fit smaller children by tearing away the outer plastic edge.
  • Accessories are now available at the theme parks to spice up your Magic Band, like covers and charms.
  • RF cards are available to those that do not wish to use Magic Bands, or are not staying at a Walt Disney World Resort.

Happy travels and memory making!

Playgrounds and Play Spaces Inside the Walt Disney World Theme Parks

Playgrounds and Play Spaces Inside the Disney ParksAll that riding in a stroller and waiting in lines leaves my young kids ready to burst with energy! To keep our park days running smoothly, I like to let them run, jump, and explore. While they are playing, I find it is a great time to use my phone to check my email or Facebook. Here’s a list of the playgrounds at each of the Walt Disney World theme parks:

Disney’s Magic Kingdom

  • Toddler play area under Splash Mountain: A small, soft floored playhouse, perfect for toddlers. To find it, walk towards the train station in Frontierland.
  • Interactive queue at Dumbo the Flying Elephant: An indoor play area located in the queue for Dumbo the Flying Elephant. You receive a restaurant style pager to let you know when it is your turn to experience the ride: Has different areas for different age groups and bleacher seating for parents. Located in Storybook Circus.
  • Small interactive queue at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Great while waiting in line; there are toddler friendly interactive stations. Located in Fantasyland.
  • Tom Sawyer Scavage Fort located on Tom Sawyer Island, Frontierland: A playspace designed for children ages 2 to 12. You must take the raft to get to Tom Sawyer Island.

Disney’s Epcot

  • Toddler play area inside The Seas with Nemo and Friends: A small, carpeted playspace, but it is inside and air conditioned. To enter, go through the double doors on the far left side of the building.
  • Indoor tunnel play area inside Mission: Space: A small carpeted playspace, but it is inside and air conditioned. To enter, go through the exit area of Mission: Space.
  • If the Flower & Garden Festival or the Food & Wine Festival is going on, there is a seasonal playground set up near the entrance to the World Showcase. The setup differs slightly each year, and the ground is covered in artificial turf.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure: A soft floored, playspace with larger than life props. Features nets, slides, and tunnels.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

  • The Boneyard: An extra large (about a half an acre) play area with tunnels, slides, and nets. Be sure to also visiting the digging area (large sandbox style area filled with “Texas grit”, a small pebble), where children can excavate “bones”.

Remember, if your child will be playing at any of the playgrounds or play areas, they will need to wear shoes. View my post about Disney’s shoe policy. Watch for my next post highlighting which Disney Resorts offer playgrounds.

Photo above was taken at the toddler play area under Splash Mountain at Disney’s Magic Kingdom.

Baby Carriers and Wraps in Lines at Disney World

Baby Carriers at Disney WorldWhen traveling to Disney World with an infant or toddler, a stroller is a necessity for most families. While Disney is stroller friendly, Disney does not allow the use of strollers inside most attractions. Carrying your infant or toddler through the lines can be tiring, especially if they can not walk on their own. The perfect solution is to use a baby carrier. And, on many attractions without a height requirement, Disney allows infants and toddlers to remain in the carrier during the attraction, so you don’t need to worry about loading and unloading your child once you get to the front of the line. Our family owns both a Moby Wrap and an Ergobaby Carrier. Here are my thoughts on using either of them at Disney World:

Moby Wrap:

The details: If you aren’t familiar with Moby Wraps, they are pieces of stretchy fabric that you can tie in several ways to carry your baby. When our children were younger than 4 months, I preferred to use the Moby Wrap.

Pros

  • Babies are snug in the wrap and will often fall asleep.
  • You can discreetly nurse on the go while your child is in the wrap.
  • Includes a carrying pouch and folds to be about the size of an average umbrella when not in use.

Cons

  • It takes some practice to use the Moby Wrap.
  • Tying and untying the wrap can be time consuming.
  • It’s hot in Florida and all that extra fabric, plus a warm baby against you, a wrap might be too hot depending on the season.

Ergobaby Carrier:

The details: Once our children gained good head control, I switched to the ErgoBaby carrier at Disney. Again, if you aren’t familiar with it, it is a soft carrier that allows you to carry your infant or toddler on your front, your hip, or your back.

Pros

  • Quick and easy to put on and take off.
  • Puts your child in a healthy, seated position.
  • Takes less practice and can easily be adjusted to different sizes, so dad wear the child, too.
  • Most models include a privacy hood that can cover baby from the sun or light if they are sleeping.
  • Older babies or toddlers can be carried on your hip or back.
  • Young babies can use the Ergobaby Carrier with an infant insert.

Cons

  • Not all models fold compactly when not in use.
  • To use the Ergobaby Carrier, your child must face you (front carry), older babies might prefer to look out.

Alternatives and Renting a Baby Carrier

I have a lot of babywearing friends that love other carriers like the Boba Carrier or the Beco Gemini Carrier. If you are purchasing a new baby carrier, expect to spend around $130 for a high quality carrier, while a wrap will cost you around $45. If you don’t think that you’ll get much use from a carrier once your return from Disney World, you can rent an Ergobaby carrier from Orlando Ergo Rental or choose from a selection of rental carriers at PAXbaby.com.

Child shown in photo is 5 months old and is in an Ergobaby Organic Carrier in River Rock Green.

19 Stroller Tips for Your Disney Vacation

Stroller Tips for DisneyVisiting Walt Disney World is a lot of walking, and infants or toddlers will need a stroller. Whether you decide to rent a stroller or bring your own on your Disney vacation, here are some things you’ll want to know:

  • Strollers are welcome at all the Disney Parks and resorts.
  • Strollers must be unloaded and folded on Disney buses and parking lot trams.
  • Except in peak times, strollers are not required to be folded on the monorails or ferry boats.
  • At Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, strollers must be folded to be brought on the trains.
  • Strollers are not permitted into most restaurants, especially during peak times. If you child is sleeping, you can try to ask a Disney Cast Member for an exception.
  • Most attractions do not allow strollers inside. You will park your stroller in a designated stroller parking area.
  • Disney Cast Members are stationed in the stroller parking areas. They move strollers around to keep it neat and tidy.
  • Stroller theft isn’t common in the theme parks, but it does happen. Stroller locks and bike locks are generally a no-no at the Disney Parks. If you lock your stroller to a fence, tree, or pole, a Disney Cast Member may cut the lock and move the stroller.
  • If you want to use a stroller lock, loop the lock through the back wheels of the stroller. This allows Disney Cast Members to move strollers around, but deters theft.
  • Never leave valuables (money, camera, souvenirs, wallet, phone) in your stroller. It is more common to have items stolen from your stroller than the stroller itself stolen.
  • If you are truly concerned about your stroller being stolen, get piece of mind with a GPS tracker.
  • There are a lot of strollers at the Disney Parks. Make yours stand out with a bright ribbon, scarf, or tape on the handle.
  • To help identify your stroller, consider adding a personalized sign, like these free printable ones I found at a local stroller company.
  • Glow sticks and battery operated holiday lights are a great way to identify your stroller at night.
  • It’s hot in Florida. Consider purchasing a clip on fan to put on your stroller to help keep your child cool.
  • Beware: if you leave your stroller full of crumbs in a stroller parking area, squirrels are likely to feast in it while you are gone.
  • A towel or blanket can be attached to the canopy of most strollers using binder clips to help block the light if your child is trying to nap.
  • If you don’t have a stroller rain cover, bring a dollar store poncho to cover your stroller in bad weather.
  • If your stroller doesn’t have a lot of storage space, buy an attachable hook or stroller bag to add to your stroller.

Be sure to read my advice on renting a stroller or bringing your own on your Disney vacation. If you do decide to rent, Simple Stroller Rental has provided Disney Under 3 readers with a 10% discount code: disneyunder3.

10 Potty Training Tips for Disney World

pottytraining2Will you be potty training on your next Disney vacation? Here’s 10 tips to help you and your toddler:

1) The Baby Care Centers located in all four theme parks offer toddler sized toilets without the automatic flush. Remember, there is one Baby Care Center in each theme park, and none at the water parks or Downtown Disney.

2) Most Disney toilets are equipped with an automatic flush. To prevent the toilet from flushing before the child is finished, hold your hand over the sensor, or block it with a post it note.

3) Consider purchasing a folding travel potty seat, such as the PRI Folding Potty with handles. It fits nicely into a gallon size Ziploc bag and can be stored in your diaper bag or beneath your stroller. You will also find that these seats are useful in the resort bathrooms.

4) The Disney Parks offer companion restrooms, which are located near the regular restrooms. These extra large single bathrooms include a toilet, sink, and changing table. They are great if you have multiple, toddler age children who need to potty, or an infant that needs changed and a toddler who is potty training. Additionally, opposite sex parents may feel more comfortable using these companion restrooms.

5) If your toddler boy can’t reach the standard size toilets at Disney, consider standing behind him and letting him stand on your feet. This extra inch is usually enough to help him reach.

6) Try to stick to your home routine while on your Disney vacation. If you always take your child to the bathroom after a meal, be sure to repeat this during your vacation.

7) Always remember to bring extra clothes into the theme parks for any accidents that occur. It is nice to also have an extra ziploc or other “wet” bag for dirty clothes.

8) Bring a small reward for staying dry or using the potty. Our kids love stickers!

9) Practice before you go! Especially if your child is used to only using a mini potty at home, practice by visiting public restrooms. If you have purchased a folding potty seat, be sure to get your child comfortable using it before you leave for your vacation.

10) Lastly, if accidents keep occurring while on vacation, just throw in the towel. Put your toddler back in a diaper or pull up and resume potty training once you return home. There are so many distractions on vacation, I’m sure once you return home, they will easily return to their routine!

The photo above is of a toddler sized potty located in the Baby Care Center at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.