Touring and Potty Trainingby Adrienne Krock, staff writer
Spending the day at the Disney theme parks with toddlers requires plenty of preparation—and often a bag full of diapers. That is, until the magical day when the little ones are potty trained. This week, we asked the Parenting Panel: What tips and tricks do you have for taking newly potty trained little ones on Disney trips?
Shoshana, also known as Niwel, has been a Disney fan since birth. When she isn't working, visiting Disneyland, on board a Disney cruise, or writing trivia for MouseAdventure, she and her husband are raising their 3-year-old princess in Southern California. Shoshana writes:
If you ever need motivation for getting your child potty trained, plan a Disney cruise. This May will be our third Disney cruise with her, but our first with her as a potty-trained toddler. The Disney Cruise Line has two rules for Oceaneer's Club: children must be 3, and they must be potty trained. Plus, if she was going to hit up any of the water areas beyond the splash zone, it was time to say "bye-bye undies."
As much as we loved having her in the nursery on the Fantasy and the Magic (and she loved being there), we didn't want to spend a lot of money having to book her into the nursery on the Wonder over the course of a two-week cruise through the Panama Canal.
We are no strangers to the Baby Care Center at the Disneyland Resort. Our daughter's first trip to Disneyland at 3 months old was when she helped me at my MouseAdventure station in New Orleans Square. I have changed countless diapers at the Baby Care Centers in both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure, as well as in our stroller all over Disney Parks on both coasts. It would be a relief to not do that anymore, but could we pull it off?
We had no choice. We had to pull it off.
We bought a portable potty seat that we can put over a regular one so she doesn't fall through (I had to explain what our other Princess-themed potty seat was to the folks at Disneyland security—assuring them that it wasn't a potty, just a seat.)
We also bought a Potty Watch that we could set to beep every 30, 60 or 90 minutes (great for in queues, but we have to remember to take it off before going on an attraction since it flashes and plays music).
We also learned you don't ask if your toddler has to go…. If you are near a bathroom, you go. But make it a game. Each bathroom is themed so differently at both parks, if you are a creative person, maybe make a potty passport and see how many you can hit on your trip. Also, be sure to pick up an "I'm Celebrating" and have them write on it "Being Potty Trained" or something similar (and you should absolutely wear it as a parent). Bringing a change of clothes and more underwear is vital, but knowing that both parks and Downtown Disney carry toddler clothes is very reassuring.
The good news is we did get her potty trained, but we made sure to do it far before our trip to Disneyland and our Disney cruise. Don't go the next weekend, or even a few weekends, after your child has a successful diaper-free weekend. Let them get used to it long enough so you aren't surprised during the 22-minute ride on Pirates of the Caribbean.
Oceaneer's Club—here we come.
Chris Salata, also known as GusMan, is a Disney-inspired author and photographer, and loves to help people get the most out of their Disney vacation. Chris writes:
My son did several Disney trips and a Disney cruise before the age of 2. While the first couple trips were before he was at the potty-training stage, we knew that there was going to be one Disney trip that would coincide with his potty-training time. This posed some questions and concerns for us, as we did not have to address the same concerns with our daughter. We made some assumptions about what we would experience and we had to think of ways to effectively use our time while making sure that my son felt comfortable about using unfamiliar bathrooms.
Like any other parents that were experiencing this part of their child's development, we did chat with other parents to get some ideas on how to help maintain progress while enjoying a vacation that was bound to be very exciting. The following tips turned out to work real well for us:
- Your child's needs – During your travels to and from Disney, take into consideration how you can meet the needs of your potty training child. If you are driving, you may have to keep an eye on the time and schedule restroom breaks a bit sooner to keep the training going. If you are flying, it might be good to use the restroom right before boarding, and possibly even get seats that are close to the onboard lavatory. Sometimes strategy can help prevent accidents.
- Hydration at the parks is still very important. Because of the increased fluid intake, it may be a good idea to schedule breaks at least once an hour. I know this may seem excessive to an extent, but it never hurts to ask your child if he/she needs to go.
- Family or companion restrooms are a good alternative if your child needs some extra help. They are usually located near traditional restrooms and have enough room for the child, parent, and even a stroller. These are also good locations for taking care of accidents in a more modest environment.
- Consider using the baby care centers. They have child-friendly restrooms that can also provide a small break from the action.
- Restroom break schedule – When it comes to attractions, keep your restroom break schedule in mind. It may be a good idea to have a potty break before you get in a queue and possibly afterward as well, depending on the queue. This is also very important for longer attractions, such as taking a ride on the Peoplemover or attending a show when leaving the venue may be somewhat difficult.
- Small sticky notes – If your child tends to be scared of the sound of an auto-flush toilet, consider carrying some small Post-It notes with you. Placing one over the sensor will prevent the toilet from flushing automatically. Just remember to remove the post-it when done and that you dispose of it properly.
- Carry extra supplies – This may seem obvious, but given that Disney is filled with fun distractions, sometimes accidents happen. Even if your child is well down the potty training path, having a small supply of extra clothes, pull-ups, or other needs may come in handy just in case.
The thing to remember is that Disney can be a very fun place to keep the potty training progress moving forward. Keep a good eye on intake and restroom breaks and you may find that a trip to Disney may end up the the driest place on earth as well.
It's your turn—keep the discussion flowing!
Visit the Parenting in the Parks forum on our MousePad discussion board, and share your opinions about this topic or many others, or send your suggestions via e-mail. Reader-submitted tips might be used in a future article, and you might be selected to participate in an upcoming panel discussion!