For many of us, there’s nothing more exciting than a trip to Disney World! That magical land offers so much — exciting theme parks, lovely resorts, tasty meals, and, if you’re staying on Disney property, free transportation via bus, boat, or monorail.
That free transportation puts a lot of parents in a conundrum — if you’re flying to Disney World, how can your Little stay safe during the plane ride, especially if they may not need a car seat once you’ve arrived in Disney World?
We’ve got some suggestions!
Handy Table of CSFTL Disney Transportation Recommended Restraints
|Age of Child|
Method of Travel
|Children Age 4 and Under||Children age 5-7||Children age 8-12|
|Airplane||Car seat, installed and used during the flight. Stored in the hotel room during the trip.||Airplane lap belt, possibly CARES harness||Airplane lap belt|
|Disney Transportation (bus, boat, monorail)||No restraint needed for bus, boat, or monorail transportation.||No restraint needed for bus, boat, or monorail transportation.||No restraint needed for bus, boat, or monorail transportation.|
|Taxi Cab/Ride Share||Do not recommend taxi travel for a child this age without a car seat.||Ride Safer Travel Vest, BubbleBum or Graco RightGuide (RightGuide is only for children who weigh over 50 pounds)||BubbleBum, Graco RightGuide (RightGuide is only for children who weigh over 50 pounds), or other lightweight booster|
Children Age 4 and Under: On the Plane and In the Parks
At CSFTL, we will always advocate for children to have their own seat on the airplane. In addition, we always advocate that children that age sit in an installed car seat during the flight.
Most of the time, this works fine because you’d need a car seat upon arrival. This is where Disney presents a challenge.
If you’re staying on the Disney property, it’s likely that the first step once you’ve gotten off the plane is Disney’s Magical Express. The Disney adventure starts the moment we head downstairs to the bus stop and board the bus that’s known in my family as the Mickey Bus. It’s the first chance to use your Magic Bands!
Once you’re on the Mickey Bus, there’s no need for a car seat or booster. While some of the Magical Express buses sometimes have seat belts, not all of them do. And none of them allow car seats.
So, what do you do with the car seat you’ve used on the plane?
Put it under the bus. The bus driver will load it for you but you can watch as the driver gently places the car seat under the bus.
This is the question we get asked the most. And it’s a good one.
Once you get to your hotel, just put the seat in the closet or other storage area and ride the bus, boat, or monorail during your stay. When it’s time to go home, store it under the bus on the Magical Express, then install it on the airplane’s seat for the ride home.
Children age 4-7: On the Plane
The younger children in this age range present the biggest challenge. Technically, they can sit with just the airplane’s seat belt for the flight. But if they aren’t able to sit properly, then the CARES harness is a great option for the flight.
This model was 4 years old, weighed 40 lbs and was 40 inches tall when this picture was taken. The harness mostly did its job but when she grew weary of the flight and started thrashing around in her seat, the harness didn’t do much to keep her in position.
I very much wished that we had a car seat for her for the plane during that trip.
Children age 4-7: At the Parks
Most of the time, the Disney Transportation was the best option for moving between our hotel and the parks. However, sometimes, we had a dining reservation in a different hotel that required a taxi ride to get there.
When these models were 4 and 7 years old, we took two Ride Safer Travel Vests with us for those cab rides between resorts.
For the 4 year old, sitting still in the vest was a huge challenge. Though she was within the manufacturer’s guidelines for age and weight on the RideSafer Travel Vest, we don’t recommend these for children until they’re closer to their 5th birthdays.
Older Kiddos: On the Plane
A year later, we took the same trip and the model above was turning 5. She sat in the airplane’s seat belt and managed to behave for the entire flight. I definitely had some stress in advance around whether or not she’d be able to sit properly on the flight!
I was relieved to find that the extra year of maturity made a huge difference in our model’s ability to behave.
Older Kids: At The Parks
For these older kiddos, most of the time we rode the Disney transportation so we didn’t use any kind of child restraint. But occasionally, we’d need to take a cab to a resort for dinner, or the kids were so wiped out after a full day at the parks that we took a cab back to our hotel.
At 5 and 8 years old, we brought the RideSafer Travel Vest for the younger model and a BubbleBum inflatable booster for her older sister. These both fit in the bag we take to the parks so they’re very convenient to carry around! Another portable booster option is the BoostApak.
Both kids were able to sit properly in these seats for the few cab rides that we took during our trip. I needed to buckle the 5 year old into the vest– she was unable to do this herself, and she needed an adult sitting right next to her as a reminder to sit properly.
For our older model, the BubbleBum has a bit of a learning curve to it — it requires a little more setup time than the booster this model uses at home. Though we’d practiced getting settled into the BubbleBum before our trip, it still took her a minute when we got into the car.
Pro tip: It’s a great idea to ask the cab driver for a little time before leaving so you can get set up.
Large Groups Travelling in Taxi Vans
If your group needs to take a taxi but is too large to fit in a sedan, you’ll likely end up with a 12 or 15 person van. These vans typically do NOT have head rests in the rear seats so older children in their booster seats and adults sitting on the van’s seat will not have head support. You may want to split your group up so that you’d fit in multiple sedans instead.
We’ve found that lightweight options that fit into our park bag every day made for the best choices in portable child restraints while we’re in Disney World. More than once, our plans or the weather changed at the last-minute and we found ourselves stuck waiting for Disney Transportation because we’d left the Ride Safer Travel Vest and the Bubble Bum at the hotel. Which made us late for dinner!
For children of the appropriate ages, sizes, and maturity levels, these products are a great addition to our travel kit.
We hope this guide gives you the information you need in order to feel ready to take on the World!