-Skip the nap, which usually ends in catastrophe.
-Go back to the hotel. Depending on where you stay, this can be a feasible option. If you're staying in a Deluxe resort (on the monorail line), it's a fast and convenient option. Plus, if the adult going with Little One is needing a rest too, you can crash in your comfy bed. With Moderate resorts, this is still an option, although you need to account for a little longer trek. Value resorts require the longest trip, and it could end up taking a major chunk out of your day. Although Value resorts are great for families (relatively inexpensive and fun-themed), it's important to consider how important a mid-day nap is and what your child's sleeping conditions need to be. If you have a baby/toddler who requires a pitch-black room, a machine playing the sounds of ocean waves, a Serta mattress, and a lullaby being sung, you're in a different boat than a mom who has a baby/toddler who can sleep standing up. Take this into account when choosing your hotel!
-Your next option is to take a time-out for a nap, but do it "on-the-go" style. This is a good compromise, especially if you only want to take a few minutes to power-up, without having to make a trek back to the hotel. Here are a few options about napping in the Parks:
- Hop on the Walt Disney World Railroad. It circles the entire Magic Kingdom Park, and the breeze when you're riding is really soothing! It makes just a few stops, but you can stay on and ride as long as you like. Special note about strollers: You CAN take strollers with you, but they have to be folded. Disney-issued strollers won't fit on the WDW Railroad. Therefore, you'll need to hold your napping child. I've also seen parents create makeshift pallets on the train benches (with blankets, jackets, etc.) and just have the napping child lying down next to them. The train moves at a slow pace, and as long as someone is sitting next to the child, it should be just fine.
- Take advantage of the Baby Care Centers. These are in every park, and they provide for many needs that parents and babies might have. Although there are not beds/cribs, there are plenty of rocking chairs. Keep in mind that you might be asked to leave your stroller outside the Center in some parks. Napping in the Baby Care Center would be ideal if your baby/toddler likes to be held and rocked. This is just my personal opinion, but I thought I would add it: Since the rocking chairs are usually in the nursing area of the Centers (each one varies a bit), and if you're only holding your baby while he/she sleeps (not nurses), be prepared to let nursing mothers use the rocking chairs should it get crowded. Since they are designated for that purpose, it would be polite to give nursing mothers priority. To see great photos of the Baby Care Centers, click here.
- Find a quiet spot in the parks. This allows you to keep your child in their stroller and not have to make a risky "transfer" (out of their stroller, boarding buses or trams, etc.). Here's my tip: As you're strolling through the parks at the beginning of the day, keep your eyes open for good napping locations. Then, once you notice your little one has fallen asleep, you can immediately go to your location, take a seat, and enjoy the rest time yourself (without stressing about where you'll sit and camp out). We found a nice area in Disney Hollywood Studios near the 50s Prime Time Cafe and Echo Lake. It was shaded with trees and had several benches. Since there were no attractions nearby, there wasn't a lot of traffic (but we were still able to people-watch!). Another good area is in Magic Kingdom, where the Swan Boats used to be. It's near the bridge over to Tomorrowland. Although the Swan Boat attraction isn't there anymore, they've kept the loading area, much like a pavilion, open. It's shaded and is off the beaten trail. You won't be bothered there! Again, just look for areas as you go about your day. Once you keep your eyes open for them, you'll see potential nap areas everywhere!
- Jump on the Monorail! This is a tip that I want to share because the Monorail is a little-known area that can be nice for napping when you're visiting Magic Kingdom and Epcot (there is not direct Monorail access from Disney Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom). Although you should avoid the Monorail (for napping) during peak hours like park opening and closing, it can be a great option midday. The Monorail is climate controlled, and there's plenty of room to leave your stroller open and roll it right on. When you get on the Monorail at Magic Kingdom, you'll make a nice loop to the Contemporary Resort, Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC), the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, and then back to the Magic Kingdom. Keep in mind that this loop will contain those three stops before returning to Magic Kingdom, so it's not a continuous, nonstop ride. When you get on the Monorail at Epcot, there's a longer stretch to ride until you arrive at the TTC. You can switch Monorails and head back to Epcot, or you can switch Monorails and continue on to the Magic Kingdom. Note: There is a continuous narration on overhead speakers when you ride the Monorail, and this might keep your child from sleeping well. However, being able to stay stretched-out in their stroller might outweigh this risk!
It's important to know your options for napping when you take a young child to Disney World. You might even use a different strategy depending on the day. With our daughter, Evy, there were some days when my mother-in-law took her back to the hotel (Grand Floridian), and other days when she napped in her stroller on the Monorail or just in a quiet spot in the parks. However, she had a nap each day and it made ALL the difference! It's definitely possible to still allow for naptime while not having to sacrifice a huge part of the day. For more of my ideas and tips for traveling with babies and small children (including specific attractions that are good for napping), click here!