by Jennifer Marx, Author of PassPorter
Travel Guides, and her sister Kim Larner
carefully planned your Walt Disney World trip months in advance, only to discover you're
pregnant. Congratulations! Now you may ask yourself, "Should I still go to Walt
Disney World, or cancel my plans now that I'm expecting? If I do go, what should I
avoid?" While neither of us have personal experience being in this condition, we did
travel to Walt Disney World twice with Jennifer's sister while she was pregnant and we
have some insights to offer. Jennifer also travelled to Walt Disney World three times, visited Disneyland (California) once, and sailed on the Disney Cruise Line once during her pregnancy.
|1. Talk to your doctor.
If you have any special conditions that may make travel difficulty, your
doctor can advise you. If your doctor gives you the green light, ask him/her for the names
of good ob-gyns in the Orlando area, just in case. Also carry your own doctor's name and
phone number with you at all times.
2. What is
your due date, and how close will you be to it when you plan to travel?
Travel in your third trimester may not only be risky, but downright
uncomfortable. Some airlines may require a note from your doctor, and as a general rule,
you should not fly within 30 days of your due date without your doctor's permission. To
make air travel more comfortable, request an aisle seat (for easy access to the facilities
and better leg room), bring food and water for yourself, and stand up and stretch at least
once an hour during the flight. You may also wish to dress in layers in the event it gets
too hot. Jennifer's sister Kim adds, "anti-nausea medication may also be very helpful
during the flight." If you drive rather than fly, just remember to pull off the road
every 1-2 hours for a little walk.
Kim at Disney while pregnant with
her second child, Natalie
3. Are you going on the Disney Cruise Line?
Pregnant women past their 24th week are not allowed to sail. Before your
24th week you'll still need to fax a doctor's note to Disney and then complete a medical
clearance form before you can sail. Call 800-511-9444 for more information. Also, if
nausea is a problem during your pregnancy, talk to your
doctor/midwife about anti-nausea medication before you go. Jennifer's sister Kim adds this note:
"If you can handle the motion of a cruise ship, it's a fantastic value for a pregnant
woman as you can graze whenever on whatever and never have to pay a cent. If you are not
feeling up to some of the off shore adventures, don't worry. You will find staying on the
ship has it's definite advantages as you really have it to yourself. You can go into a
lounge and listen to your favorite Disney tunes with your feet propped up while watching
jet skiers out the HUGE portholes. On special nights they may have Captain's parties where
there are free drinks offered to all who attend. Not to worry, they always have several
yummy nonalcoholic choices available." Kim adds this tip regarding eating onboard:
"Many women have an increased appetite (or need to eat small meals more often) during
pregnancy. When you are on a cruise you are at the mercy of the ship to provide your
meals. Although there are a wide variety of foods available, currently the Disney cruise
ships do not have a 24 hour buffet available. What worked best for me was room service.
It's great as you can return to your cabin several times throughout the day, kick off your
shoes, sprawl out on the big bed, and order your favorite sandwich or fruit plate. You
will refresh yourself and be able to participate in all the fun activities the cruise has
4. Pack with care.
Pack plenty of comfortable clothes you can layer. Water bottles
with filters (such as Brita) are also a good idea to bring along, as you should be
drinking water frequently to avoid dehydration. Sure, you can buy bottled water at Disney,
but it's very expensive! Be sure to also bring your prenatal vitamins and any special
medications or food. If you've got morning sickness, pack those saltines! You may also
want to bring a maternity support belt, particularly if you're not used to walking around
much. Bring along your prenatal medical records as well, just in case. Jennifer's
sister Kim adds this packing tip: "Bring a really good pair of walking shoes,
possibly a 1/2 size larger (or the wide version of normal size) as the Florida heat mixed
with the physical activity tends to puff your ankles a bit. "
5. Get your zzzzzzs.
Moms-to-be usually need more sleep, but this can be hard when you're
pregnant and even harder when you're away from home. If you have a favorite pillow or
wedge, consider making room in your suitcase for it. A portable travel sound machine can
block outside noise and lull you into sleep. And a nightlight for the bathroom will make
those frequent trips easier to bear. Jennifer's sister Kim added this perspective on which
resort to stay at: "Staying at the Disney Institute was a real advantage for me as we
were able to utilize the golf carts to get not only around the resort, but all the way to
Downtown Disney. You exhaust quickly when you are pregnant and I was able to save a great
deal of energy by not walking or waiting for the buses as much. I felt more comfortable
knowing if I wanted to check out the pool or the gift shop in the main hotel area that I
could simply jump in the cart and off I'd go, effortlessly. "
6. Avoid attractions with health restrictions.
These restrictions are always posted at the attraction itself, or you can
check the PassPorter Walt Disney World guidebook to find out before you go. In general,
you want to avoid rides that are bumpy, cause dizziness, or accelerate too quickly. Epcot
is the most pregnant-friendly park -- only two attractions, Test Track and Body Wars, are
off-limits. At Magic Kingdom, just say no to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash
Mountain, Dumbo (if you get nauseous easily), Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Mad Tea Party, The
Barnstormer, Astro Orbiter, Space Mountain, and the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway. At
Disney-MGM Studios, stay off Star Tours, Rock n' Roller Coaster, and the Tower of Terror.
At Disney's Animal Kingdom, avoid Kali River Rapids and Dinosaur. Kilimanjaro Safaris
carries a health restriction, but many pregnant
women (including Jennifer's sister) feel okay about it. If you decide to go on the
Kilimanjaro Safaris, ask the cast member if you can ride in the wheelchair-accessible
vehicle -- it isn't as bumpy as the others. If you're not certain if a particular ride is
for you, have your significant other try it out first and then report back. If you opt out
of a ride, you can either shop in a nearby gift shop (there's always one around) or stay
in the queue with your party until boarding and then ask for the "chicken exit."
7. Do you know where your restrooms are?
You'll be a happier mommy-to-be if you always know where the nearest
restroom is located. Be sure to grab a park map (or two) on your way into the park and
keep it handy. Or just keep your PassPorter handy -- all the restrooms are marked on the
PassPorter maps. Each park also has a First Aid and Baby Center. It doesn't hurt to note
its position on the map when you enter the park, and to keep your eyes open for it during
the course of your day's tour. If you need a cool place to lie down (not to mention a
helping hand from a knowledgeable professional), you'll be glad to know how to find it.
8. Get plenty of rest.
Take advantage of park benches and sit-down shows and rides while you're
touring. The Baby Centers are also cool havens to take a break -- every park has one. How
about a midday swim back at your resort? Get yourself a maternity swimsuit you're
comfortable in and take a swim -- swimming while pregnant can be very liberating! Avoid
the waterslides, though. Another way to relax is to book the Mother-To-Be Massage at the
Grand Floridian Spa or the Spa at Saratoga Springs -- it's a 50-minute treatment that
includes a foot compress, body brushing, and a soothing massage with lavender oil. It's a
bit pricey at $120, but we hear it's VERY relaxing.
9. Know your restaurants.
If you have food aversions, which are common during pregnancy, consider your
restaurant choices carefully. You can use the descriptions in PassPorter or the menus on
Deb Wills' site (http://www.allears.net). For food
cravings, keep your favorite snacks handy in a backpack. And don't forget to drink that
10. Plan your trip well.
This does not mean going "commando," but this isn't the time to
"wing it" either. Your trip will be more comfortable and enjoyable if you have a
good idea of what you plan to do and when. This is especially important for first-time
visitors to the World. When you have a plan, you'll find it is much easier to change it on
the spur of the moment, which is exactly what you may need to do.
11. Will you need to cancel?
Consider the possibility that you may need to cancel your trip at the
last-minute. We'd suggest you take advantage of travel insurance in this instance. And if
you get a note from your doctor, you should be able to get a refund even on those
12. Shop for baby.
Oh, and while you're at Walt Disney World, you may want to pick up some baby
clothes. In our experience, you'll find the best selection at Downtown Disney (World of
Disney and Pooh Corner). We also found some infant outfits at Mouse Gears at Epcot. Don't
forget to pick up some embroidered Mickey Ears for your little one -- you can get them in
smaller sizes at The Chapeau on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.
Things To Do: More Tips for Expectant Moms-To-Be can be found at AllEars.net (http://www.allears.net/pl/pregnant.htm). For a
more humorous look at being pregnant at Disney, visit http://raven763.tripod.com/roseandthorn7/Hum7a.html. And don't forget Jennifer Marx's own pregnancy journey with Alexander,
during which she travelled to Walt Disney World three times and Disneyland once!
And if you'd like to discuss this topic with other PassPorter readers, visit the PassPorter Message Boards.
> Notes: We're not doctors, and we cannot offer medical advice. Always consult your
doctor before traveling and follow his/her advice.
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