By Leigh C.W. Jenkins
Touring the expansive Disney World resort while pregnant might seem like an impossible task. But with a little advance planning, it’s not only possible but enjoyable. Granted, touring while pregnant is a little different, but I have visited the parks twice, in the first and second trimester of my current pregnancy, and by following these tips, I’ve had a good experience. And so can you!
1. Build in Plenty of Rest Breaks
It makes sense: if you’re tired at home, you will certainly be tired at Disney, which requires much more walking and standing than your body is used to, so take every opportunity to sit and rest. Both Epcot and Hollywood Studios are full of shows—perfect opportunities to relax and recharge. Make sure to grab a guide and plan for no more than one show at least every two hours. Not only will you remain rested, you’ll catch all those great Disney details most people miss while rushing through the park! Also consider staying on-site if budget allows. This makes returning to your hotel room for a mid-day nap more feasible. And if you’re staying in Orlando longer than a week, take at least one day in the middle of the trip as a true "day off," during which you can rest by the hotel pool.
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2. Drink Water—and lots of it!
This goes double if you’re touring in the summer. Disney is required to give anyone who asks a free glass of water at any restaurant, including the quick service locations. Bring a water bottle that can be filled up at the numerous water fountains, always conveniently located next to the restrooms.
3. Travel with an (Adult) Partner
When I traveled during my first trimester, my mother was with me and served as a runner, fetching water or a snack as I ran out of steam. On my second trip I traveled alone and had to be extra careful to build in breaks, making sure I did not push myself too hard. Having another adult along is even more important if you’re visiting with excited kids!
4. Eat Small
Dining at Disney means huge portions and buffets galore. Especially in the first and third trimesters, when big meals may not be as appetizing, stick to the quick service locations or a la carte menus that will allow you to split meals with your travel companions. And make sure to keep snacks, such as crackers or trail mix, on hand to stop quick cravings. An added bonus—eating every few hours will let you try out different restaurants and menu items!
5. Read the Attraction Warnings
Over half of the attractions at Disney World discourage expectant mothers from riding. Talk with your doctor before you visit, and keep in mind where you are in the pregnancy. A woman early in the first trimester might be cleared to ride Barnstormer, while a woman in her third trimester will not. Be sure to look for warning signs of motion sickness. Some of the roughest rides for me were the 3-D shows, which would send me reeling with their sudden twists or turns. Remember that in most situations you can just close your eyes, but some rides won’t have such a quick fix. Talk to a cast member outside the attraction who can break it down for you. Cast members are always a great source of insider information on the attractions and restaurants, and can help you make decisions about what is best for you.
6. Know the Parks
I’m a bit of a theme park warrior, having visited Disney over twenty times, but touring while pregnant caused me to re-evaluate my entire plan of action. Study maps of all the parks before you leave to determine a few simple things, like where the bathrooms are or what the restaurants serve. There’s no need to visit the restaurants of the Mexican pavilion if the idea of spicy food is no longer appealing. Also, make sure you are aware of the location of Baby Care and First Aid. They are situated next to each other in each park and provide a place to rest and relax in the middle of the day. Another bonus: Studying the maps, menus, and attraction descriptions either online or in a good guide book before leaving home will turn you into your group’s undisputed Disney expert, which will come in hand when you finally hit the parks.
Photo Credits: Build in Plenty of Rest Breaks: DISNEY/HANDOUT; Travel with an (Adult) Partner: Disney/Handout; Read the Attraction Warnings: Goofy Barnstormer Water Tower by Peter Lee