This spring I did something I’d avoided for years—I went to Disney World. I’ve taken my kids to five continents, but we’d purposefully skipped the classic family vacation to the land of Mickey Mouse. Why? Honestly, I wasn’t very interested, and since the kids weren’t asking for it either, I figured why not do other destinations on all of our wish lists. But when the Zika virus put so many warm-weather resorts on my pregnant no-fly list, Orlando started to sound pretty appealing. So we scratched a ski trip last minute and shot down to the Four Seasons at Walt Disney World. Here’s what we learned. - Henley
FastPass Like a Pro
I didn’t splurge on a VIP guide (but I wish I had, at least for one day). If you’re skipping the guide, too, download the Disney app the minute you book your trip and get very familiar with a functionality called FastPass+. FastPass allows visitors to pre-book rides for specific timeslots, reserving up to three at a time. Plan well, and for at least part of the time, you’ll be skipping the long queues like a pro. The three passes refresh once you’ve used them up, but note that time slots are much harder to secure same-day, so book the most popular rides in the morning.
Do Your Research
My kids don’t love scary rollercoasters, so I figured we’d be well-matched in terms of the rides that they wanted to do and the rides I was allowed on when six months pregnant. Wrong. As one Disney staffer said, if it moves, they’ll tell you not to ride it. I quickly learned to talk to the line monitors and find out exactly how rough each ride was so I could make my own decisions. If I abided strictly by what was listed as safe for pregnant women, we would have ridden almost nothing. I say this with a strong caution: talk to your own doctor, assess your own risk level, and don’t consider me a medical expert of any kind :-) But I found there were plenty of rides that were both fun and gentle enough, for the babes born and unborn.
Pack a Lunch
Other Passported moms warned me that food in the parks wasn’t good, but I was still unprepared for the level of unappealing grub. In the best of times, I wouldn’t have been excited to eat this stuff, but the options were especially off-putting given pregnancy tastes. Next time, I’d throw some fresh sandwiches and snacks from the hotel in my backpack. It would have saved money and made us all a lot happier. Even the kids weren’t into what’s on offer in the parks, and I’ll never be able to un-taste the split pea soup I ate in Harry Potter world.
Know Your Limits
Whether knocked up or not, navigating an amusement park with children is exhausting. Know your limits, both physical and mental, and balance the Disney time with pool time. For our family, one day in Universal and one day in Magic Kingdom was plenty, and our final day, no one felt like leaving the Four Seasons lazy river pool and kids’ club. While purchasing multi-day park passes are less expensive on a per-day basis, plan ahead carefully so you don’t end up with a day of passes that no one wants to use.