Friday, April 4, 2014

Have baby, will Disney: Trip recap

Welcome back to one of my favorite guest bloggers, Rebecca @RMZFarrell, who just visited the world with her new little man for his first trip!

It finally happened…I had my baby. On October 23, 2013, Ronan Lorenzo Farrell joined the world and our lives haven’t been the same since.

I always knew that the day would come when Ronan would have his first trip to Walt Disney World, I just didn’t think it would come when he was only five months old. But we had an opportunity to join some family members on a trip in March, and couldn’t pass it up. I had my doubts about how the wee man would handle the heat, crowds, loud noises and unfamiliar places (see previous blog post “If I Had a Crystal Ball”)…so I decided to take it one day at a time and roll with the punches.

In fact, the Disney trip followed several days spent in southwestern Florida visiting family and then driving from there to Disney. I flew alone with Ronan as my hubby had to work. The biggest problem I had was wrestling my stroller into the gate check bag, but the baby was an ideal passenger on all of our travel legs.

Upon arriving at the world, we checked into Bay Lake Tower. Staying in a 1-bedroom suite was ideal for our party. Ronan and I had the living room – me on the pull out sofa and him in a pack and play. Having the full kitchen and washer and dryer, not to mention being within walking distance of the Magic Kingdom, was amazing.

On our first day, we spent the afternoon at Magic Kingdom, arriving just as the new Festival of Fantasy parade was ending. The park was PACKED, as we knew it would be based on crowd level predictor and the timing with Spring Break. Frankly, I was ill prepared for just HOW nuts the parks would be and it really wore me down after a while.  

I was SO ready to get out of there – and dinner at Chef Mickey’s (my first visit) didn’t disappoint. The characters made the rounds quickly and the food was fantastic.

Our second day was an early start, heading over to Animal Kingdom (7am opening for Extra Magic Hours). We had hoped to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris before our breakfast at Tusker House, but the ride wasn’t yet open. So we went back to Tusker House about 30 minutes ahead of our reservation and were seated right away – skipping the photo line as Donald was not outside for pictures. The food was great, but Ronan was missing his nap and cried until I took him back outside, put him in his stroller and pushed him until he fell asleep. Once he was out, I took him back inside and was able to watch my nieces enjoy the character greetings and conga line around the restaurant.

It was a chilly day at AK, but that didn’t mean the crowds were lower. In fact, it was the most crowded I’ve ever seen the park. Our group did get in our safari, checked out Finding Nemo: The Musical and I rode Expedition Everest with my older niece (highly recommend the first seat – really cool experience). All three of the kiddos in our party LOVED Nemo, and my son was especially enraptured. I never thought he’d be able to sit still for 40 straight minutes, but I was amazed by just how much he enjoyed himself. Go figure.

That night, we once again enjoyed dinner at Chef Mickey’s. Even though our table was essentially under the Monorail track, the windows offered commanding views of the Magic Kingdom and we had great character interactions and delicious food.

Day three of our vacation took us back to Magic Kingdom for more Fast Pass attractions and VIP seats on Liberty Bridge for the Festival of Fantasy parade. The parade is, in a word, INCREDIBLE. The floats are HUGE, colorful and imaginative, the characters current, and it’s a spectacle to behold. That night was dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table, past baby’s bed time, which resulted in me trying to eat a delicious salmon dish with one hand while bouncing him to sleep in the Ergo carrier. He did get a sweet kiss from Snow White, though, and my nieces loved meeting all of the princesses.

Getting OUT of the park that night after the Main Street Electrical Parade was an exercise in extreme patience. They opened up the backstage bypass exit, but the crowds were so thick that it took us about 15 minutes to get from the castle to the Plaza cut through. I was never so glad to get out of a theme park.

Our final day in the parks was supposed to be at Hollywood Studios – but we changed our plans to go back to Magic Kingdom and finish up the attractions we hadn’t been able to see due to the high crowd levels and being slowed down by stroller parking, nap times and long lines. We caught rope drop again and banged out several rides quickly before enjoying a tasty lunch at Tony’s Town Square. The whole group relaxed in the afternoon and then headed to Pioneer Hall for the Hoop Dee Doo Review. It was a fantastic way to end our trip – the food and service were top notch, the show a hoot, and the kids really enjoyed themselves. And who am I kidding – I had an absolute ball, too. I love the corny jokes, audience participation and any excuse to hoot, holler, clap and bang on a table.

Saturday morning I had a not so magical experience with the Magical Express. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, but a word to the wise, if you’re travelling with an infant in arms as I was, YOU CANNOT CHECK IN FOR YOUR FLIGHT AT YOUR RESORT. I had to take my own bag through the line at the airport and check in there. It was a pain in the neck, but we made it work…getting to the airport two hours before our scheduled departure gave us the peace of mind (and time) we needed to check in, eat, use the facilities, get through security and be the second family to board the plane.

Lessons learned
  • I could have skipped buying the $25 infant noise cancelling headphones. He didn’t need them.  
  • It would have made sense to pack a more user-friendly diaper bag; I used a hiking backpack with five different compartments and was constantly hunting for stuff.   
  • I should have purchased two gallons of spring water to fill bottles and drink.
  • Pack at least one change of warm clothes and a sweatshirt or rain jacket with a hood for everyone in your party – the central Florida weather is unpredictable at best.
  • The baby care center at Magic Kingdom is small and can be quite crowded – plus you can’t take your stroller inside. Not much in the way of comfy seating to feed baby, either. It was nice to have a changing area, but the whole place just plain smelled bad, was noisy and not enjoyable.

**In sharp contrast, the Animal Kingdom baby care center is bright, clean and has much less traffic. I enjoyed in tremendously, especially having a place to sit in a rocking chair and feed my baby.**


  • Be sure to include your infant in the number of people in your dining reservations so that they make room for the baby.  
  • Many restaurants have ‘slings’ where you can put your car infant’s car seat/carrier, but strollers are not allowed.
  • Try to stay close to the parks so that you’re not far from your room should a meltdown occur
  • Keep your dining reservations as close as possible to your child’s regular meal times or dinner may include overtired kiddos (and adults)
  • In peak periods, take advantage of Fast Pass Plus to visit the most popular attractions and be sure to get in as early as possible to hit others



Rides and Attractions (enjoyed with the baby in his Ergo carrier)
-         Magic Kingdom
o   Dumbo (FP+)
o   Jungle Cruise (FP+)
o   Pirates of the Caribbean
o   Haunted Mansion
o   Peter Pan (FP+)
o   it’s a small world
o   Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid (FP+)
o   Princess Fairytale Hall (Snow White and Rapunzel)
o   Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel
o   Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
o   Tomorrowland Transit Authority 
-         Animal Kingdom
o   Kilimanjaro Safaris
o   Finding Nemo: The Musical

1 comment:

  1. I should also mention that nearly everyone I saw 'carrying' a baby was using an Ergo carrier. In my experience, these are pretty darn comfy for large babies (14 pounds is the minimum unless you have the infant insert). If you don't already have one, consider borrowing one from a friend or family member, or check secondhand children's stores in your area as new ones are quite expensive.