Walt Disney World is a perfect vacation spot for families with young children. And, nature being what it is, people with young children often find themselves making more young children. This means that at any given time there are lots and lots of pregnant women at the Disney parks. Here are some tips for coping if one of them is you:
- Check in with your doctor. Yep, I mean it. Your doctor is the best source of information about travel safety for your unique health situation. She will probably giggle when you call to ask whether a trip to Disney is OK, but this is most definitely a better-safe-than-sorry situation.
- Be prepared for medical contingencies. Make sure to always have your doctor’s contact information, your health insurance card, and information about any medications that you’re taking, on your person, even in the parks. While the likelihood of your needing any of this is minimal, in the event of an emergency, you want make sure that your access to care goes as smoothly as possible. While you’re in diligence mode, spend a moment with the map of each park to note the location of the first aid center. If you’re experiencing discomfort or have a question, the wonderful cast members there can provide assistance or recommend sources of more comprehensive care.
- Keep cool. It’s no secret that Florida can be hot, hot, hot. With an already stressed body, overheating can lead to numerous problems for both mother and child. To keep your core tempertaure down, be sure to stay hydrated. In addition to the pricey water bottles for sale in the parks, you are welcome to bring you own water with you. The counter service restaurants will also give you free cups of ice water; just ask. You may want to consider other methods of cooling as well. Try carrying an umbrella or parasol as your own source of shade. Those misting fans are a great way to cool off. You can also place a commercial cool pack or even a wet washcloth on your neck. Try to make the entertainment focus of your trip indoor shows and attractions where you can sit in air-conditioned comfort. And even if you’re not a swimmer, you may want to consider taking a dip in your resort’s pool. In addition to being a great way to cool off, the weightlessness effect of the water can take a lot of pressure off your joints.
- Note restroom locations. If you’re staying hydrated, then you’re going to need to make some fairly frequent pitstops. Keep a park map handy and note the locations of restrooms. While oppressively long lines are uncommon in Disney bathrooms, you may encounter one or two during your trip. If you’re in a must-go situation, don’t be afraid to ask to cut to the front of the line. In my experience, many of the women in line ahead of you will be moms who completely understand.
- Plan rest times. TouringPlans almost always recommends that guests take a mid-day break from the parks. This goes double for pregnant women. Go back to your hotel. Put your feet up or take a nap. Even plan for a total relaxation day in the middle of your trip. Please.
- Heed the warnings. While most attractions at Walt Disney World are perfectly safe for any guest, there are a few that come with health warnings for pregnant women. Most of these are the obvious thrill rides, but some “tamer” rides also have warning notices. For example, the Kilimanjaro Safari at the Animal Kingdom has advisories against pregnant women riding because of the bumpy road surfaces and jarring movements of the jeep. This may seem silly, but why take chances that you don’t need to? Get informed by checking the signage at each ride.
- Pamper yourself. This is your vacation. Consider stopping by the Saratoga Springs Spa for an Expectant Mother Massage. Or hire a sitter for your older child and lounge with your hubby on the beach at the Polynesian while watching the fireworks. Sure it’s a splurge, but you’re worth it.
- Plan your lodging with comfort in mind. While you may be fine on a double bed at the Pop under most circumstances, this may be the trip in which you’ll be most happy if you upgrade to nicer digs. Those king-sized beds at the Contemporary truly are more comfortable. Or consider booking a one or two bedroom DVC villa. These are equipped with large jacuzzi-style tubs – absolute heaven when you’re exhausted. No matter where you stay, consider asking for a centrally located room, near the restaurants and transportation. The less walking you have to do at the hotel, the more energy you’ll have in the parks.
- Plan your food intake. Many pregnant women experience changes in their taste preferences. Take this into consideration when you’re planning your dining reservations. Perhaps your usual love of spicy Mexican food should be indulged on a future trip. Also, because of your temporarily restricted stomach capacity, you may be more comfortable having smaller meals or snacks throughout the day, rather than attempting to beat-the-buffet. This may influence your decision about whether to purchase the Disney Dining Plan. You should also remember that you are permitted to bring your own food with you into the parks (avoiding glass containers). Even if you don’t normally bring your own snacks with you, it may make sense to keep a supply of healthy, known palatables with you at all times.
- Beware the skunk. Just as many pregnant women have food sensitivities, they also may have scent sensitivities. Walt Disney World happens to be a very “smelly” place. From the perfume counters at Epcot’s France pavilion, to the faux chili dogs burped by Stitch in his Great Escape, and the aroma of skunk in the Journey to Imagination attraction, scents are used to enhance many park experiences. If you are in a phase where odors make you queasy, take extra care to become informed about which attractions have added aromas.
- Be aware of how much you’re walking. During my own pregnant trip to Walt Disney World, I was five months along with twins. I was in good health and well acquainted with the parks. On the first day of the trip, I toured at our usual pace – skipping from one end of the Magic Kingdom to the other to minimize wait times. At the end of the day, I felt like my knees and hips had become unhinged. I had forgotten that ligament-loosening hormones and extra weight completely changed the amount of stress regular activities would have on my body. Start slow and modify both your pace and distance traveled to accommodate your new shape. If you start to feel like walking is too much for you, wheelchairs are available for rental at the front of each park. There’s no shame in rest when you’re touring for two.
- Bring a book. You’ll be skipping the thrill rides on this trip, but that doesn’t mean your family members have to. Let them go ahead and conquer the Yeti on Expedition Everest while you take the opportunity to relax on a shady bench with a cool drink. Your family will feel much less guilty about leaving you behind for a bit if they know that Jodi Picoult is keeping you company.
So ladies – What have you done to make your pregnant park excursions more manageable? And gents – Do you have any advice for making the trip with a pregnant partner run smoothly. Let us know in the comments below.