Pregnancy and the Parks

by Lisa Perkis, staff writer

Welcome to another MousePlanet Parenting Panel. This column we tackle a topic that pertains less to parenting and more towards those special mothers-to-be who visit the parks: What tips and advice do you have for pregnant moms visiting the parks? This week’s question was once again sent out on Twitter and we received several great responses.

Deborah Yamato is a 33-year-old mother who works full-time. Between her and her fiancé, they have three children: an 11 year old, 6 year old, and a 7-month old. They grew up in the park and are lucky enough to provide the same for their kids. Their latest addiction is MouseAdventure and have participated in six events. Deborah writes:

My fiancé and I have both been coming to Disneyland since we were children and have now been annual passholders for several years. My children have been coming to Disneyland since they were infants and, this past summer, while I was in my last trimester, we got to watch my 6 year old start the transition from the smaller rides to the “big kid rides.” I quickly learned while pregnant that certain aspects of Disneyland can be completely different during pregnancy, but still completely enjoyable!

My best advice would be to learn the restrooms early on in your pregnancy and pay attention to the time of day. Realistically during your last trimester you are going to spend an equal of amount of time inside the restroom as you are in the rest of the park. Get to know where the restrooms are. Try to stick with the larger ones because they are less likely to have a wait and, although I’d always like to think people will see my big belly and let me go on in, it very rarely happens. More often than not you end up dancing around like the 4 year old a few spots behind you, but no one thinks you are as cute. Be aware of what time of day it is. Do not try the bathrooms by the train station at the end of Main Street right after the fireworks. Getting to an actual stall is almost an illusion.

Pay attention to your food aversions and your cravings. I never had much morning sickness with either of my children, so I did not have to watch the areas of the park or restaurants that had certain smells. I learned really fast while carrying my last one that the granola bar or fruit snacks I was craving at the oddest of times was not going to have readily available in the park. And although I left the house the first few times thinking I was going to the Happiest Place on Earth and I would be able to find an abundance of satisfying foods, I found myself sitting on a bench wondering if I was still quick enough on my feet to grab the fruit snacks from the little toddler a few benches over and get away. Not literally, of course, but I would salivate as I was trying to convince myself that this fresh delicious apple in my hand equaled that toddler’s fruit snacks. Pack your cravings and take them with you!

Lastly, if you go to the park as much as we do and this is your first pregnancy, take a quick peek at the Baby Station at the end of Main Street. I must admit that I had no idea it existed before my last one was born and was perfectly fine doing most things around the rest of the park, but I have never been a big fan of breastfeeding out in the open, not because of the stares, but because I cherish the quiet time with my little one.) Visiting the baby center provided a much more sterile changing station, a quiet area to breastfeed, a place for my 6 year old to watch TV if he wanted, and the center stocks all the basics. While pregnant, go take a look. If for no other reason than to see all the essentials they offer in case you forget and see the other little bundles of joy and get excited about yours. Other than that, relax and enjoy your time walking around the park with your family.

Laura Troescher is a Website/graphics designer, mother of one, and wannabe Annual Passholder living in the high desert of Reno, Nev. Disneyland has been her second home all my life. Laura writes:

I was only 16 weeks (about 4 months) pregnant during our trip to Disneyland. I was just starting to wear maternity clothing, but didn’t look pregnant to the average beholder. This means that my belly was not an issue, but to comment on my experience visiting Disneyland during relatively early pregnancy: At first I thought I would be bummed that the rest of my party could ride every attraction while I couldn’t, but in the end it was a really positive experience for me. I am a photographer hobbyist and I got some awesome shots while “waiting around.” This was especially true in the early morning when we are usually so focused on getting to the attractions quickly. There are tons of beautiful sights and photo opportunities before the crowds arrive.

I have also discovered the joy of people-watching in the parks. Sitting in the shadows and observing a park sweeper happily snapping photos of guests with their cameras or watching a character interact with excited fans provided amazing photos, as well as memories. There were a few times that I attempted to wait in line with my family for an attraction I couldn’t ride, then duck out of line at the last “chicken out” exit, as we call them. But overall this just created confusion for the cast members. I didn’t look pregnant, so it wasn’t immediately obvious what was happening, and although I’m sure there is a reason for the exits throughout the queue, I just felt like I was creating an unnecessary “emergency” situation. If I do visit the park again while pregnant, I will avoid the queues and just stick to enjoying the alone time outside the attraction.

In addition to the emergency exit confusion, I realized that some of the queue areas can be dark. With low visibility, plus amplified clumsiness and a lack of balance, I encountered some tricky footing situations. Walls, props, and queue chain poles became difficult to see and potentially hazardous. I am not claustrophobic, but pregnancy does strange things, and the tight crowds in places became dicey. I would suggest that pregnant ladies be mindful of the tight spaces, especially those with low lighting. Hopefully you have a party with you that can help give you a bit of room in queues and crowded areas.

Of course, tired feet and body are an issue, and staying at a hotel close to the park so we could return midday for a rest was key during those long and busy days. Our trips are always during the summer season, so finding resting spots with shade and staying hydrated was essential. Those long and cool rides like Pirates of the Caribbean, the Disneyland Railroad, and "it’s a small world," become magically more enjoyable during the summer months, especially for pregnant feet! Oh yes, and one more must for being pregnant in Disneyland: ice cream! Visit Gibson Girl often.

Amy Dupas is about to deliver any day now! She has been an avid Disneyland visitor since she was 5 and is now 32. She has been a Deluxe pass member since 2001 and her friends call her the Disneyland Queen. She is taking her newborn on July 7 for his first trip. Amy writes:

My experience going to Disneyland while pregnant might be different from most, as I went with friends and no other children, so it was very easy for us to make it around the park. I used the park mainly as a place to walk around and people-watch. The best thing about Disneyland is that even if you have kids or a family, it’s the best place to be when pregnant. Aside from the roller coasters, you are able to ride all the rides and enjoy yourself. There are plenty of places to sit and relax and put your feet up if needed. All the food choices you could hope for are available, and you don't have to be apart from your family while they are on rides unless you want to. There really wasn't anything I couldn't do while I was pregnant while at Disneyland. While participating in MouseAdventure, I was smart enough to rent a wheelchair; which to me was fairly priced, since I knew there was no way I was going to make it around the park fast enough. It poured rain that day and we ended up leaving early, but the wheelchair did come in handy. In addition, bathrooms are close enough to hop from one to the other if you have the need!

Laura Joseph lives with her family in the Central Valley of California. She is a stay-at-home mom with two children ages 5 and 8. Her family has enjoyed numerous trips to Disneyland Resort as well as multiple trips to Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line. Laura writes:

My husband is an RN and always stressed to me while I was pregnant to take it easy on my body making sure I don’t overdo it. Also, to stay hydrated. Taking this advice in mind it might be hard to see how a trip to one of the Disneyland Parks can be done while pregnant. Here are some tips.

  • Slow down and begin to think of simply being in the park as the experience rather than the rides and attractions as the main event. For me, it was realizing the fun in the trip was simply being there—not on what I got to do or see.
  • Enjoy the view. Find a shady spot on a bench and watch the crowds. I also made sure to take along a book to read. One of my favorite places to rest is in “ Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.” It is a nice, cool, dark place where you can close your eyes and take in some peace and quiet for a few moments.
  • Go off season. Do some research about how busy the park traditionally is at different times of the year. Plan your trip when you won’t have to fight the biggest crowds; you’ll be much more comfortable.
  • At the Disneyland Resort in California, staying at one of the Resort hotels gives you entrance into the park from the Monorail station in Downtown Disney, so you can avoid the long lines at the main entrance. It is also a quick and easy way to go back to your hotel for a short break during the day.
  • Don’t feel like you have to stay all day to get your money’s worth. With young ones and while being pregnant I have found that it was nice to pick some days to either go in early and leave early, or go in late and stay late.
  • Enjoy the shows and ride all of the rides that a pregnant woman can ride, because, in doing so, you will also be doing the same things that a baby or toddler can do. You can begin to make plans for taking your newest family member back to Disney.
  • Staying hydrated isn't just about drinking water: That includes all the frozen treats, as well.

Follow MousePlanet on Twitter so you can be sure to join in the next discussion—we will post the topic and follow up with guidelines so you can participate and lend your parenting expertise to our MousePlanet readers.

It's your turn—keep the discussion flowing!

Visit the Parenting on the Parks section of our MousePad discussion board, and share your opinions about "Pregnancy in the Parks" (link), or send your suggestions via e-mail (link). Don't forget to follow @MousePlanet on Twitter! Reader-submitted tips might be used in a future article, and you might be selected to participate in an upcoming panel discussion!