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in the Park
Tips and ideas for the traveling family
|Adrienne Krock, editor|
|When my toddler was a few months old, our
family took some out-of-town relatives to a certain theme park in Buena
Park which shall remain nameless. Tired of using the plastic fold-down
diaper changing stations in their restrooms, I found a spot on the map
labeled "Baby Care." I didn't care that it was on the opposite
side of the park, I had visions of friendly greeters, rocking chairs,
clean changing tables, and more. Imagine my disappointment when I found a
regular old ladies' room with a few permanent steel changing tables
inside. That was their idea of Baby Care?? I guess I've been spoiled by
the luxuries offered at the Baby Care Center in Disneyland...
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Adrienne Krock. A few years ago I was just a regular Annual Passholder at Disneyland and my husband was a Disney newsgroup lurker. We had the opportunity to meet a few other Annual Passholders, a group of people sometimes called "the Internet Group" by newcomers who join us at our Sunday meets. A few months later, my husband and I co-created our website, the Happiest Potties on Earth.
I have some experience taking children of various ages to theme parks and on day trips having been a day camp counselor and worked as a site director for a day camp, as well as being a California Teaching Credential holder who taught second graders for five years. But the best thing I've ever done has been having my son. Matthew amazes me continually. (Yes, we plan to have more, No, this isn't an announcement, and No, it's not your business when-- Am I the only one who as that conversation memorized and can recite it in her sleep?)
I plan to offer family-focused tips for vacationing at Disney parks, especially Disneyland, (and I'm assured that very soon I'll have experiences to share from Walt Disney World, too!). My column will be based on my experience (as well as yours!) and yes, my opinions! I also hope to offer insight from a child-development point of view in dealing with situations that arise while traveling. For example, if your child's developmental level is X, here are some ways to handle the situation. After all, parenting can be frustrating and stressful, especially on vacation.
This leads me nicely to my first topic: "An Oasis from the Noise and Stress, A Haven from the Crowds: the Baby Care Center on Main Street." I have actually seen a mother of twins walk out of there in a giddy mood after changing a horrific diaper from Twin A. The woman gushed to her husband, "This place is so wonderful! Give me that one, I'm going back in!" and she grabbed Twin B from Daddy's arms and rushed back in to change him, too! Now if that were me, I would've said, "Oh, honey, this place is wonderful, you will really enjoy changing the baby's nasty diaper in there," but I do understand why she was happy.
When you enter the Baby Care Center, you arrive in the lobby. You wait there until one of the Cast Members (CMs) welcomes you into the Center. There may be a wait if the Center is full. While I've been able to go in with another person to help me, you may be asked to go in alone depending on how crowded it is. Since the Center is not that big, try to be patient during peak times. The Center is usually busiest immediately after parades and in the late afternoon and evening.
Probably the most often-used room is the Changing Room. Inside this room are four wonderful changing tables. They are very well-cushioned, with high walls and Velcro belts. Between visitors, the CMs clean the tables and place paper on them to keep them clean. There are shelves for holding diaper bags, camera bags, water bottles, etc, etc. There is also a "dunking toilet," for dunking soiled cloth diapers, although, personally, when I have used cloth diapers I've never dunked, but that's another column.
My husband and I tag-team change Matthew. I know parents with more than one child who go in together to divide and conquer. Then there are my friends who like to come in and keep Matthew's head happy while I deal with the other parts.
Probably the best, little-known resource in the park is also in the changing room -- two kid-sized toilets. I'm not talking the kind they have in elementary schools -- these are smaller. They're the perfect size for potty-training children. These toilets are cleaned by the CMs every time they are used. They spray them with disinfectant and wipe them down. They have one sink for everyone to use and children can reach it, too. My good friend, Exceptional Mom Mary brings her preschoolers to the Baby Care Center for potty stops because it's so much easier in this atmosphere.
Another area of the Baby Care Center is reserved for feeding your young one. This wonderful area is sectioned off from the rest of the Center. It's not very bright, and there are comfortable chairs to sit in. You'll notice I used the term "feeding" not "nursing." This area is not only for moms who nurse but for bottle-feeding moms as well! The good news is that only feeding moms are allowed in. The bad news is that only feeding moms are allowed in. If you're looking for a quiet place to feed your baby, this is the spot. If you're looking for a quiet place to take your children while you feed your baby, or if you're a dad looking to bottle-feed your baby, you're out of luck. Neither dads nor other children are allowed in the nursing area.
Yes, I know, some moms take their children to Disneyland by themselves with no other adults to watch their children while they are using the Nursing Area. Believe me, I don't make the rules here! Personally, I'm a person who has no reservations about feeding my nursing child anywhere. I have used the Nursing Area at the Baby Care Center, but only when Matthew needed someplace dark and quiet. Matthew could eat anywhere and we only went to nurse at Baby Care when he got older (closer to 12 months) and I needed a place to put him to sleep. If you prefer the privacy or have a child who needs quiet to eat, this is a great place for you.
The CMs will warm bottles and baby food for you in the kitchen area. They use a microwave to warm bottles, but you can request hot water to warm your bottle in. In the main area, there are several highchairs for feeding your baby. While I've never fed a baby there (Matthew always eats just when we eat), I've seen many parents taking advantage of the opportunity to sit down and let their children eat in a quiet, relaxed atmosphere.
Finally, the Center offers several products for purchase that you may need:
Safety leashes for allowing toddlers to "roam" are available from the newstands at the front of the park and at other locations inside, but not at Baby Care Center. They don't sell sippy cups, unfortunately, but you can go buy a "Souvenir" sipper (straw, not the no-drip Playtex or Gerber kind,) from many Disneyland stores.
The Baby Care Center is a wonderful service offered at Disneyland. If you've never been there and you have young children, stop by; you'll be glad you did.
Wanted: For a future column, I'm looking for a picture of the "old" strollers they used to rent at Disneyland, if you have one, please email me!
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