Some parents would rather gouge their eyes out than take an infant to Disney World. I am not one of those parents. I am, rather, one of those Mickey-loving parents who has visited Disney while pregnant, with my first son as a toddler, and even on a kids-at-heart anniversary trip with my husband while we left the toddler with his grandparents (please don't tell him).
Our most recent Disney adventure was one that required a lot more planning and flexibility than any of our previous trips, because we would be bringing both our now-preschooler and his new baby brother. As always, we enjoyed a magical time and made plenty of unforgettable memories, but there were some definite downs to accompany all those ups.
It all started the evening before our big Disney day. We stayed on property so we could get to the Magic Kingdom bright and early to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours (anything to cut down on waiting in long lines with the kiddos). My little guy was not a fan of the hotel-provided portable crib, so sleep was not our friend. He spent most of the night on my chest; great for him, not so great for me. Luckily, I had anticipated this probable lack of sleep and packed along some cans of cold brew in our snack bag to pop open as soon as we got into the park. Caffeine to the rescue!
Then, of course, came the joys of navigating the throngs of other vacationing families with an unwieldy double stroller (though bringing a stroller is one of my top tips). A special license should probably be required to drive one of these things. I can't count the number of times I had to excuse myself for hitting the back of someone's shoe or how many times the "no, you go" game was played.
And I'm sure they're used to it, but I did feel bad for the PhotoPass photographers who politely waited while we spent what felt like an eternity getting everyone to face the same direction and smile, only to have the baby turn his head at the last minute. I have to hand it to them, though, their patience and talent turned into some unforgettable family photos . . . and a few forgettable ones.
I almost failed to mention the extra "show" I put on for some of our fellow vacationers. Anyone with an infant knows that when they get hungry, they want to eat righthisminuteplease. I'm pretty laid back about nursing in public, and I figured a couple people getting a quick flash of my boob was better than having to listen to my son cry throughout an entire ride. I can now (proudly) say I've nursed my son while singing along to The Little Mermaid, taking a spin on the Carousel of Progress, and flying through the sky with Dumbo the Elephant.
It may sound like I'm complaining, but I wouldn't change a single thing. The minor inconveniences of traveling with an infant immediately faded from my mind when I realized how lucky I was to see Disney through his eyes. The wide-eyed wonder with which a child experiences a place like Disney World for the first time is indescribable.
Seeing my baby coo and smile at Mickey as he reached up and grabbed his nose is an image that will always pop up in my mental scrapbook of Disney memories. I know that every time we ride Peter Pan from now until eternity, we will tell him, "This was the very first Disney ride we ever took you on." Of course, I secretly hope that makes it his favorite ride. I loved snuggling him up in his baby wrap and letting him nap while I watched my preschooler spin round and round on the teacups with his dad.
It wasn't all about the baby, though. As self-proclaimed Disney gurus, we knew we could take advantage of the "rider switch" service and take turns riding the roller coasters with our preschooler. It was the first time he had been tall enough to ride the big coasters, and his giggles and excitement were contagious. My husband and I even found time for a brief romantic moment during the evening fireworks while the kids were relaxing in the stroller.
Before this trip, we had been told dozens of times that it isn't worth it to take an infant to Disney World. In my mind, this couldn't be more wrong. It may not be the same Disney trip you are used to, but it is one you can only experience when babies are at that age where there is room for never-ending discovery and amazement at even seemingly ordinary things that we grown-ups often take for granted. It really does make all of the crying, wake-ups, and unconventional nursing spots worth it.