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Parenting in the Park
Tips and ideas for the traveling family
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Adrienne Krock, editor
Adrienne's eMailbox

My mailbox has been filling up with suggestions from readers. Today I'll share just a few:

Adrienne's eMailbox for 9/28/01:

Michelle wrote:

When we took our trip to WDW in 1999, we had 3 kids in tow, at the time aged 6, 4, and 23 months. When researching info about the park, etc., I noticed the prices for breakfast and snacks. So I decided to pack one suitcase with nothing but snacks. This saved a bundle. We purchased Styrofoam™ bowls, plastic spoons, small boxes of cereal, pepperoni sticks, granola bars, cheese crackers, etc. Since we had a refrigerator in our hotel room, we purchased milk at the hotel grocery store and had our cereal each morning before leaving for the parks. We packed enough snacks of a variety to make the kiddos happy throughout the day. When we were ready to come home, the suitcase was empty and we then had a place to store all the souvenirs we bought and could safely bring them home.

We are planning a trip in October to Disneyland and are planning on using the same system as the kids are now 8, 6 and 3. This is a great way to save time and money since you don't have to waste time eating breakfast instead of going on the rides. Or if you're in line for the ride and a little one states they're hungry, reach in the bag and satisfy everyone! It's magic in the place of magic.

I also research the restaurants described in Birnbaum's and other books about Disney. They give food descriptions and prices for each restaurant and in which park or "land" they are located. I type out and print each restaurant food listing and price to take with us the day we visit the park. This may sound silly, but when you have hungry kids and need to make a decision, having something in front of you that tells you what food is available in which "land" is easier that walking everywhere only to find that that particular place is not going to satisfy everyone.

We look at the list, decide and go. It saves a lot of time and patience and sometimes even tempers when you have to walk from place to place searching for the meal that pleases everyone. A little extra leg work at home pays off when you're at the park and wanting to have a good time.

I've passed this on to other friends and have even given them my notes to take with them. They had a great time and admitted that these were well worth having with them.

Michelle, thanks for the tips, but, I am going to take your restaurant list one better… I'd like to save you all some time typing up restaurant tips. Brian Bennett maintains the Walt Disney World Restaurant Resource here at MousePlanet.

MousePlanet readers can create lists of their own by checking out the notes on 169 different restaurants at Walt Disney World! Vacationers heading west can use the Disneyland Restaurant Review.

Andy wrote:

We took advantage of your tip of using the front tram with strollers. Embarking was very painless. We didn't really notice a lot of fumes from the engine, and the noise unfortunately was NOT loud enough to drown out the man next to us (with his kids) who was cursing up a storm. Assuming we're not stuck with that guy again, we'll be using that front tram from now on. We probably will use the walkway if we have a sleeping child on the way out, though. That's a good idea.

The problem we had was disembarking from the tram. While the cast members were very nice and helpful when we loaded, there were no cast members at the unloading area by Downtown Disney, and we had trouble negotiating the bar that folds up on either side of the handicapped row. Couldn't get it folded down from inside the tram, and ended up lifting the stroller over since I didn't want to delay the other passengers, which was kind of awkward. I'm sure it's probably easy to fold down from outside the tram, think there's a catch underneath.

Anyway, I guess the tip (if you discuss this again) is to try to watch the CMs when you're loading to see how they lower those bars, in case you're on your own when you disembark. You'll probably need to hop out and do it from outside the tram.

I enjoy your contributions. My favorite tip (which I think is yours) was the one about marking your stroller to easily identify it among the masses. We just put 3 bands of green electrical tape around the handle and can spot it immediately. Thanks.

I don't think I can take credit for that tip, Andy, but I'm happy to post it here! Thank you for sharing your experience on the tram.

"Another Disney Mom" had a tram tip, too:

Thank you for the walking info. We frequent the park, and with three small children(5,3,2) I have learned a few tricks.

First, is that when waiting for the tram I go as far back as possible, less people. Second I never fold my stroller, I have a double seater that is front to back and it fits between the first two rows that face each other. So I load the stroller and keep it loaded, minus the kids all the way to the front entrance. This would work for single strollers too. I had a side by side and hated to wait for the front wheelchair car!

Second, freeze the water bottles! Cold water all day. I usually take one for each of us and a spare for the first of the day when the bottles are too frozen. I keep them in a soft 6-pack cooler and leave it at the stroller. My bag is an open top purse that holds a few diapers, wipes, my wallet, phone and camera. I need it to be light because I am usually holding one or more children.

Third, I have my car diaper bag. Full of diapers, change of clothes, and for the late nights, pj's so I don't have to wake the children when we get home.

There are other things, but my mind has stopped working. Thanks for all the info I really look forward to you section.

The only thing I will say: when the lines for the tram are very long, I don't like keeping my stroller unfolded because it takes up so much more room that people in line could be using to sit on the tram. I recently picked up on the pajama idea whenever we're out late and it works out very nicely.

Jamie had a location to add for breastfeeding at Disneyland:

In New Orleans Square, in the little courtyard between the Pieces of Eight shop and the New Orleans food store. There's usually a nice bench there, it's quiet so little ones don't get too distracted from their meal and I really like nursing our baby in that spot. It was a like a private garden area.

Just thought I'd share!

Thanks for the updates. It's a nice way to take our minds off current events for a bit.

Melly shared a wonderful e-mail that I've slightly edited for length:

I love reading your advice for parenting in the parks. I am a mother of three and have been going to DL with my children since my oldest (now 11) was just 15 months old, my other two are 9 and a very active 2 year old.

I absolutely love the Baby Center. I, like you, feel very comfortable feeding my babies everywhere, whether I am breast feeding or bottle feeding. However, sometimes when the little ones are cranky and tired a nice quiet baby smelling room with a rocking chair is the perfect place for Mom and baby to just to hang and nurse giving the baby a break from the sometimes over stimulating park...

(One) thing I started doing for my older kids when they were around 5 is giving them a disposable camera so they could take their own pictures of their trips. I always planned ahead and got these cameras when they were on sale and I had a coupon, making this very economical. They love taking pictures and it is great that they each have their own camera. If the camera should happen to get lost, it is not such a major catastrophe. Actually I write their first names on their cameras and their state, which came in real handy one time when one got lost, we just went to lost and found later in the day and someone had turned it in and with the name on it, identifying it was super easy.

The other thing that I started with my older kids a few years ago is I give them $X to spend at the parks. This amount really varies for us depending on our financial situation at the moment and how long we are going to spend in the park. I usually always start them of with $20 in Disney money and then add to it each day we are there with an additional $10 a day. This way they know exactly how much money they are going to have and can either buy something everyday or save up for a big item the last day.

To make them even more responsible (and to help me budget), I explain to my kids that I supply three meals and three snacks a day while we on vacation and if they feel they need an extra churro or pretzel then that needs to come out of their spending money. Since I implemented this system it has saved us a lot of headaches and even more arguments. My oldest child is very thrifty with her money and always comes home with some, however, my middle daughter spends every dollar every day, but it is her choice.

We are planning our next trip for December 12. I think I am even more excited than my kids. After the tragedy over the past couple of weeks I had thought about canceling my trip, but our leader is right we need to move forward with our lives. I might feel differently about the trip if I was flying, but we drive over from Phoenix so usually things go smoothly and quickly for us.

Thank you for your great columns, I truly enjoy them.

Melly, thanks for your thoughts. I love the camera idea. Disposable cameras are wonderful for this purpose and writing their names on them is a great idea. In my other life, I'm an avid scrapbooker, so I especially appreciate that tip. (You might want to check the sidebar on the right for some favorite online scrapbooking stops.)

I also wanted to comment on your decision to not cancel your trip: Good for you. I agree strongly with you that we must listen to our leaders and move on with our lives. More importantly, I believe that we must support our nation's economy!


Wanted: Your questions and feedback! They will help me plan future columns! Write me at: AdrienneK@mouseplanet.com

Adrienne's eMailbox

Adrienne's eMailbox

Send your Adrienne's eMailbox / Parenting in the Parks questions or comments to:

AdrienneK@ mouseplanet.com

Keep in mind all questions submitted to the Adrienne's eMailbox column become property of this site. They may be edited for length or style and in consideration of a family readership. Questions may also be quoted on other parts of the site too.

Not all questions may be responded to, but all will be read so I can have an idea of what you all think out there.

MORE INFO:

Here are two great scrapbooking resources:

MouseMemories, a MousePlanet affiliate, has many Disney and vacation themed accessories for scrapbooks.

If you're looking for scrapbooks and adhesives, my personal favorites are from Creative Memories.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Adrienne gathered experience taking kids to amusement parks when she worked as a day camp counselor and director. She was an elementary school teacher before she started her favorite job, being Matthew and Spencer's Mom.

Adrienne, Matthew and Spencer visit Disneyland several times a month, usually with Daddy, too.

Besides Matthew & Spencer, Adrienne and her husband Kevin created and maintain The Happiest Potties on Earth website.

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