This past weekend was a BIG one!
As a family, we traveled to Walt Disney World for Abby’s first visit, which was chock-full of unique experiences, including (links to separate linked posts follow as they are written) :
- Our first Dapper Day
- The Inaugural runDisney Star Wars Dark Side 10K
- Our first stay in Club level of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Although the trip was way too quick, it certainly was not short on fun. And, as I always like to preface kid-related posts, YMMV – additionally, my personal expectations of a Walt Disney World Resort Vacation are likely very different than the average park-goer, as a former Cast Member and Annual Passholder (i.e. I generally don’t feel as rushed/feel the “commando” need to do/see as much as possible). Additionally, we visited the Magic Kingdom (only one park, only one day – from about noon to 8 PM) on a busier day (likely due to the race weekend/Dapper Day crowds) but with incredibly perfect weather (sunny, high 70s/low 80s, low humidity) so those variables certainly played a part in the flow of our day.
So, without further ado, here are my observations/lessons learned – here…we…go!
I Could Have Skipped the Stroller
Now, this could be a controversial topic (LOL) but hear me out! 🙂
As a former MK CM (fun fact: my first WDW job was in stroller, locker, ECV and wheelchair rentals), I vowed that I would never bring my child to the park in a stroller (I hated how difficult they were to maneuver, the complaints about lost or stolen ones, and of course, the general lack of guest etiquette when using strollers), but since having a child, my views have generally softened. That being said, I was very iffy whether I was going to bring a stroller for this visit or not – and if I did, if I’d bring my own, or rent one – but in the end, we packed up our own, decorated it, and rolled on to Mainstreet U.S.A. in style.
Once we headed into the thick of things, however, the story changed a bit. The park wasn’t CRAZY busy, but it was pretty congested – people, strollers, wheelchairs, ECVs…and lots of SLOOOWWW moving people. I hate to admit this, but I am a very impatient walker, and tend to get irritated when people are in my way. Or stop in the middle of walkways. Or worse…walk slowly, stop, and then continue to be unaware of their surroundings. YIKES. So, as you can imagine, walking with a stroller, attempting to be mindful of not mowing down others, and maintaining some semblance of a comfortable walking pace – is a challenge.
Thus began my mental pro/con list of using a stroller at Walt Disney World…
- Excellent Storage – we were able to pile our diaper bag, umbrella, extra shoes, extra clothes, baby carrier, extra blankets and more into the underseat storage area.
- Convenience – with four drink holders on our jogger, there was always a place to place a water bottle!
- Sun/Weather protection – most strollers offers good protection from the sun from the shade/extra blankets, etc. If it had rained, it would have been particularly helpful.
- Lots of Backtracking – this, I was prepared for from my CM days! You see, strollers are generally not allowed inside any attraction buildings, so you have to find a stroller parking area. This area may or may not be close to where YOU want to go. You may also have a mom brain and forget where you last parked your stroller 😉
- Roller Derby mode – PEOPLE DO NOT CARE YOU HAVE A STROLLER! You have to be a super defensive stroller driver, as people dart ahead of you, stop abruptly, and generally get in your way – but as the stroller driver, you are ultimately at fault if something happens. I tended to just leave our stroller in the parking lots to avoid this, which seemed to undermine the reason to even have it with us.
- Disney Transportation compatibility – we opted to drive to the Magic Kingdom so we would not have to collapse/re-open the stroller for the bus (and risk not getting a spot). Now, with a standard stroller, this would not have been terrible, but Abby still rides in the infant seat, so this would be rather unwieldy. Thankfully though, you can roll your stroller onto the ferry or the monorail.
…now, as I’ve already mentioned, my child is not-yet-mobile, so that has a lot to do with my experience, but for now, the stroller was definitely NOT a necessity for us this trip! I also realize I am fortunate to have a baby carrier-loving baby!
Breastfeeding was a Breeze
For the past two months, Abby has been EBF (exclusively breastfeeding) so this part was “easy” in that I did not have to cart along any bottles/extra gear into the parks.* Additionally, as I am usually home with Abby, we’ve practiced nursing in a variety of positions and methods (including, in a soft structured carrier, with or without a cover, etc) so we felt confident about this prior to the trip – something I would definitely recommend to any nursing moms/nurslings.
I packed my Itzy Ritzy nursing infinity scarf (not an affiliate link, just for reference!) as our optional cover, which worked well for nursing during lunchtime. Since I was wearing a halter dress for dapper day, I draped the scarf to the side (see inset image), since I felt pretty covered otherwise. As mentioned above, we spent about 8 hours in the park, so Abby nursed 4 times, in the following places, with ease:
- Columbia Harbour House – we sat upstairs, where it’s a little quieter, and had a window seat, so we were able to people watch, eat lunch, and enjoy in a calm place.
- Frontierland, watching parade – loosening the straps on the Kinderpack and lowering Abby, I was able to easily nurse Abby while watching the Festival of Fantasy Parade go by! A cast member kindly allowed me to slip into an alcove between display windows on the wooden walkway, I leaned against the wall a bit, and Abby was able to nurse comfortably.
- Carousel of Progress – Abby was sitting in my lap, and started to indicate she was hungry, so I turned her around, and she was able to nurse without a fuss.
- Magic Kingdom Ferry Terminal – it was the end of the day (and past Abby’s bedtime!) but we were waiting to board to head back to the Transportation and Ticket Center, and Abby was hungry, so we moved to the side, took a seat on the bench facing outward (toward the water).
I never felt uncomfortable or at unease through the day, and I was very happy about the experience!
The Baby Care Center Rocks
We only stopped in once, but it was definitely an amazing resource to discover!
Back when I was as a Dream Squad Greeter during the Year of a Million Dreams, I was a frequent visitor of the Baby Care Center, where we’d help kids with their missing parents 🙂 I never went past the common area room with tables, coloring pages and a Disney movie playing, but knew that it was a quiet and comfortable place for families.
Located between Main Street and the Crystal Palace Restaurant, the Baby Care Center is a great respite from the heat and features private nursing rooms, a large diaper changing area with multiple tables (see image) and retail sales of common baby items (diapers, wipes, etc). I loved the huge changing room, because although all the restrooms we visited were equipped with changing tables, even the largest ones sometimes only had 1 to offer, so you had to wait. Now, I don’t mind waiting for an awesome attraction, but waiting to change a cranky wet or dirty-diapered baby is certainly not a magical experience, to say the least!
S-L-O-W is the name of the game – so Hakuna Matata!
We spent about 8 hours in the park on Saturday, and rode three attractions – the Jungle Cruise, the Haunted Mansion, and Carousel of Progress. We certainly could have done more (and certainly could have done less) but we had a blast, regardless!
No, most of our day was spent simply taking in the experience, taking photographs (including meeting Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck!), meeting with friends (we were so fortunate to spend time with a handful of our favorite people!), interacting with cast members, having fun in spontaneous dance parties, and of course, indulging in delicious Dole Whips!
We had a great day in the park and though Abby may not remember it, I am so glad that her first experience was so positive for us as a family – and we got some really fun pictures, to boot!
…so, there you have it! I look forward to seeing how things change as Abby grows, becomes more perceptive of her surroundings, and of course, becomes mobile. I could not have asked for a more enjoyable experience!
What’s the youngest you’ve taken a child to Walt Disney World? Alternatively – do you remember your first visit?
* I did pack the breast pump and bottles for the resort stay, as I pumped and left milk for hubby to feed Abby when I went to run the 10K. Between the 2 AM wakeup, bus ride to/from and of course, the run, I was gone for about 5 hours.