You may have read my recent post about how petrified I was to take my two small children on a Disney vacation with me and my husband. Well, we survived, and returned (mostly) unscathed. We had a few bumps in the road, but we got through them and have some better ideas for next time. In the interest of you not making the same mistakes I did, here are my six completely random tips for doing Disney with little ones.
Bring Essentials on the Plane
Literally five minutes before we were leaving for the airport, my husband put his hand on my three year old’s forehead and asked me, “does he feel warm to you?” Knowing that my dear hubs is sort of a hypochondriac when it comes to our kids, I
huffed walked over and felt my son’s forehead. I was totally prepared to tell my husband that he was nuts, but gee, he did feel a little warm. Five minutes before leaving for the airport is NOT a fun time to find out your kid has a 101 fever. But you know what would have been a million times worse? Finding this out while trapped in a metal vessel forty thousand feet in the air. Because Mom packed the ibuprofen… in the checked luggage. So whatever it is that you think your kid might need in an emergency, just carry it on. You can thank me later.
Don’t Skip Going Just Because You Have a Baby
My older son was three on this trip and my younger son was seven months. Guess who was much easier to travel with? Answer: the baby. He doesn’t walk (run away), doesn’t talk (complain), and his needs are pretty basic. When he’s tired he just passes out instead of throwing an epic tantrum on the ground of the Magic Kingdom (not that there’s ANY way my older guy did that). He slept fine (my older son was up half the night trying to talk to my husband) and didn’t have the horrible cold my older son had. Of course babies can’t go on the more thrilling rides, but since this is Disney, there are plenty of options for them. I’m not saying that you should go to Disney FOR the baby; I’m just pointing out that you shouldn’t let the baby’s presence cross out a trip that would be fun for the rest of the family.
Joffrey’s Coffee Carts
If you’re a mom, you love/need coffee. And if you’re from Rhode Island, you probably want your coffee iced (especially in the Orlando heat). The first few days at Disney, we visited Starbucks in the park for our caffeine fix. But the lines there were seriously longer than the lines for some rides! Then on our last full day, I was hanging around Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom when I saw a beautiful sight! A Joffrey’s coffee cart with NO line! But would they have iced coffee? A quick perusal of the menu appeared to indicate no, but then in teensy, tiny letters at the bottom of the menu I saw the words ‘All beverages are available iced.’ I seriously have not been that excited in years. A bit of research on my part shows that Joffrey’s coffee is available in all four parks and the Transportation and Ticket Center. And I never saw a line at one! So if you’re looking for a cold caffeine fix, they’re a great option.
Where Should I Nurse??
I am totally down with nursing in public. My baby’s need to eat is way more important than some people being upset that they can see all of one square inch of breast tissue. My issue is that my current nursling is a nosy little fellow who gets very distracted. This leads to two major problems if I try to feed him around a lot of other people. First, he doesn’t get enough milk, and second, I’m constantly trying to cover myself just in case of nipple slippage. Hot and humid weather do not lend themselves to wearing a cover, and sometimes the park’s one baby care center was a five minute walk away, so I would find myself a private-ish place to sit and park my double stroller in front of myself. Voila, we’re alone!! I mean, that behemoth stroller has to be good for something. (Alternately, I brought my guy on the Carousel of Progress; he got a great feeding and loved the singing!)
First Stop, Must Dos
As my husband and I were getting ready to head out of the Magic Kingdom on our last day, my three year old said to me, ‘I can’t wait to go on the train ride with you guys!’ Oops. We had zero time to go on this ride but we had repeatedly told him we would ride it ‘next time’ we were in the park… like since the first day we were there. Since the train ride is front and center at the entrance to the park, it had caught my little one’s eye as soon as we’d arrived. But now we had a bus to the airport to catch, so we basically had to tell him no. I felt horrible and was actually more upset about it than he was. I get major mom guilt just writing about it. So don’t be like me; ride that darn must-do ride first thing, first day in the park. Because you know what? If you have time, you can just do it again!
Embrace the Chaos
If you’re a parent, I assume you’ve kissed the concept of perfection goodbye. The perfect holiday, the perfect family photo, the perfect vacation. They just aren’t possible with the mini humans running around. This fact is even truer at Disney. There’s so much to see and do there. Combine that with the cost, the heat, and the walking and there is major hot mess potential. So prepare yourself before you leave – this vacation will not be perfect. My son had a fever/cold and was majorly sleep deprived. We still had a good time and made some nice memories. Please let go of the concept of getting your money’s worth. The only things we get our money’s worth out of at my house are diapers. If you and your family are hot, crabby, and tired, leave the park and take a break. I could make a list of all the things I wish we did differently. I wish I took more pictures, I wish we went on more rides, I wish my child wasn’t petrified of the characters; but this is the beautiful mess that we sign up to embrace as parents. Don’t let the fact that you paid an arm and a leg make you forget that.
I was exhausted by the end of our trip, but in no way did I regret it. Come to think of it, I rarely regret going anywhere with my kids. That’s why I had them — I want to share my life with them. One day they probably won’t want to hang out with me all the time, so I’ve got to stock up on memories now. And we definitely made a bunch on this trip.