A 1 Year Old’s Review of the Disney Dream

Today’s blog post is going to be a little different! You’re going to “hear” from my 16 month old daughter about her vacation on the Disney Dream. The best parts of our trip, from a baby’s perspective. Enjoy!

Stateroom: My mom sprang for a room with a verandah! Let me tell you, this thing is great. There’s not a whole lot I enjoyed more than sitting on the verandah with my apple juice early in the morning in my jammies, watching the water and feeling the ocean breeze in my hair. Opening and closing the balcony door over and over was a pretty fun game too. Disney gave my mom a pack and play for me to sleep in (I saw her queen bed and I have to say… mine was fine, but hers was better) and a diaper genie to dispose of the dirty diapers. There was a curtain that separated my sleeping space from mom’s so that my room could be nice and quiet and dark, just how I like it. I even slept in a few mornings! Figured it was the least I could do for my mom as a thanks for the trip. I’m a great daughter!

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Food: A+. My dinner server Andre kept the cookies coming (once I was finished with my dinner, of course!) I have a dairy allergy and they were very careful to make sure I didn’t get sick. Some of my favorites were the whole wheat penne pasta with red sauce that made a fantastic mess, the grilled chicken skewer with sweet potatoes, and cheese-free pizza! There was a high chair waiting in my spot each night, and a fresh cup of water with my name right on it. Talk about service! For breakfast I sampled a bit of everything from the buffet including: cereal, Mickey waffles, pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs (my favorite!), hash browns, yogurt, and LOTS of fruit. One day we even got room service and I ate my hot dog and french fries right there in our room!

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Activities: When we first got on the ship there was a small sheet waiting in our stateroom that said “Toddler Activities”. How did they know?! It was full of things tailored just to my interests. My very favorite thing to do on the ship was play in Nemo’s Reef. As I’m not yet potty trained (no judging please!) I’m not able to use the pools on the ship. At first I was a little sad, but then we went to Nemo’s Reef. This is WAY better than a pool! I spent so much time here while mom and Nana took turns enjoying fruity “grownup” drinks that they wouldn’t share with me. As a bonus, it was located right next to the Cabanas buffet, so when I was done playing and needed to replenish all that energy burned I could just pop over and have my mom get me some french fries (my favorite).

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Ship: This is one big ship. The first day my mom let me walk everywhere, it was great! I even climbed the stairs when the elevators were very busy. After the first day, I realized this walking thing was a lot of work and I needed to conserve my energy for making trouble. After that I let my mom carry me around. I did quite enjoy pushing the buttons on the elevator though!

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Castaway Cay: My favorite! I know what my mom means now when she says she’s going to her “happy place”! After getting off the ship and taking a tram to the beach my mom was able to snag one of the complimentary wagons available at Castaway Cay for me to sit in with all the stuff I needed for a successful day at the beach. The sand was perfect for digging, the water was bathtub temp and I got a kick out of the little fish swimming all around my feet! I could have spent all day there. Well, until nap time at least. And I did!

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it’s a small world nursery: Horrible, will never return. My mom isn’t allowed to have any fun without me. Ever. (Editor/Mom’s Note: it’s a small world is staffed by some of the sweetest and most patient caregivers on the ship. They were able to calm my dramatic high needs child long enough for me to enjoy a lovely brunch at Palo, with smiles on their faces. The children in the nursery looked like they were having so much fun! Fiona is just a little… difficult 😉 )

There you have it folks, Fiona’s review of the Disney Dream! Do you have a baby that has sailed the Dream or another Disney ship? We’d love to hear what they thought of it too!

Preparing for a Disney Cruise with a Baby

As I prepare for my young daughter’s first cruise I thought it might be helpful to talk through some of the ways I’ve tried to get ready for sailing with a baby! Anyone who has traveled with a baby knows it’s not easy, but something tells me all this preparation will be very much worth it in the end.

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  1. Think about the basics: diapers, baby food, cribs. How are you going to secure these things for your trip? First, once you’re paid in full you can call and request (or do it right online from your DCL account!) a pack and play for your stateroom, and a high chair for your dinner table. Older babies will be able to enjoy the wonderful Disney Cruise Line food, but make sure you pack some purees if that’s all your baby will eat. Kitchens on DCL cruise ships will puree vegetables for your baby in the main dining rooms and through room service, but it’s always good to have a backup! If the baby is still on formula you may want to consider carrying on or ordering bottled water for making the baby’s bottles. Diapers are available for purchase on the ship, but they are expensive so consider packing your own. Complimentary diaper disposal units, bottle warmers, and bottle sterilizers are also available through DCL guest services.
  2. Sign up for some time in the nursery. From your DCL account online you can sign your baby up for some time in the nursery under “My Cruise Activities”. This is a great way to ensure you still get to enjoy some of the adults only areas of the ship like Palo or Remy and the adults only pool!
  3. Easier said than done, I know, but try to pack light if you can. I’m still going to bring a stroller for my daughter, but a small one as space in the cabin to store things is limited.
  4. Excursions aren’t just for adults! Many port adventures have a minimum age of 6 months (the same age limit to sail on DCL), meaning the whole family can enjoy these activities together so make sure to plan some of these in advance.
  5. If you’re going to the beach at Castaway Cay there are complimentary wagons available on a first come first served basis. This will  help you contain all those baby necessities, so do pack whatever you need for the beach!

Have fun! If you go into your Disney Cruise knowing there’s no way you can be prepared for all situations your baby is going to throw at you, you’re going to have a great time. What could be better!

5 Things to bring to the parks if you’re taking an infant

Bringing my infant to Disney World, I learned a few things about packing the perfect park bag for babies. Every parent is different but I found these 5 things to be invaluable for my little family while we toured the parks!

  1. Stroller accessories. We were stopped several times by people asking where we got our stroller setup. I have a very particular baby, and was worried she wouldn’t sleep anywhere but her crib. Wrong! Here’s how we did it. I purchased this stroller canopy and this fan with foam blades, safe for baby fingers. The canopy perfectly covered the part of the stroller that the attached canopy didn’t and the fan provided cooling and white noise for the baby. She took several 2 hour naps like this! It took some walking at first but once she was settled my husband and I could sit and enjoy a Dole Whip or take turns riding Space Mountain (thank you rider swap!) FYI I used the Baby Jogger City Mini stroller, which is the same stroller rented out by many Orlando stroller rental companies.
  2. Bottled water, if your baby drinks formula. Your milage may vary, but I found it worthwhile to pack a bottle or 2 of room temperature water in our bag every day. To me Florida tap water has a distinct taste and my daughter noticed it too. Also having bottled water at the ready meant when baby went from zero to starving on the People Mover I didn’t have to go anywhere to make that bottle! Crisis averted.IMG_2292
  3. My husband and I made some dining reservations that weren’t character meals. This was a risk, but we found that our daughter did ok! Character meals were better because the new “friends” that came around kept her entertained but non-character meals were ok too. One thing I found helpful was a suction cup table top toy that she’d never played with before, like this. We only brought it out during eating time, and it usually bought us several minutes of grownup talk time 😉 IMG_2143
  4. A camera. A REAL camera. I didn’t take it out as much as I’d hoped to, but our DSLR camera captured some pictures that will last a lifetime. Things that would have blurred on a cell phone camera (even the best ones!) are clear and priceless. Don’t forget your camera!
  5. This one is cheating a bit, but don’t forget to pack your patience and a sense of humor. I’ve written before about how things won’t go to plan, but that will be so much worse if you can’t just let these things roll off. Would I have loved to see the Beauty and the Beast performance at Hollywood Studios? Sure! But the baby was hot and cranky and the pool was calling our name. And you know what? That’s ok.

Do you have any tips for things to bring with you to the parks to help make a trip with your infant easier? We’d love to hear them!

Why Taking a 6 Month Old to Disney is a GOOD Idea

This past November I took my 6 month old daughter to Walt Disney World. I heard a lot of “Why?” and “She’ll never remember” comments but you know what? That’s ok. Our (the grownups) memories of the fun she had there, and the photos we can show her when she gets older will be worth the money we spent… or didn’t spend! See point #1! Here are some reasons taking my baby to Disney World when she was 6 months old was perfect.

1.) Babies are free! From flying down to Florida (this is personal preference, many choose to buy a seat on the plane so their infant can be in a carseat) to park tickets, my girl didn’t cost me a penny more at Disney World than she would have on a random Tuesday here at home. Besides the souvenirs, of course 😉

2.) At 6 months old, my daughter was a great age for visiting the parks, I think. She could sit up, which was handy at restaurants so she could hang in the high chair while mom and dad ate, but not crawl or walk so she didn’t get into anything. Win win! She was able to take her naps on the go in the stroller while her dad and I walked the parks, and the pack and play was a great accommodation for her night time sleep.

3.) Your mileage may vary on this one, but characters didn’t freak her out. I think she was still young enough that she could kind of roll with the punches and didn’t find them to be scary at all. In fact, she loved them! And they loved her.

4.) She reminded me to stop and smell the roses. Because of my daughter I spent time on the smaller “less exciting” rides, and loved every minute. We also spent a lot of time in the resort pool (because the baby loved it) which was a nice reminder that I was on vacation, and it was ok to take it easy.

5.) Because no matter what, a day at Disney is better than a day at home. Oh, and sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words 🙂

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Preparing for Baby’s First Trip to Disney World!

With my daughter’s first trip to Walt Disney World rapidly approaching I find myself worrying a bit about how preparing for a trip with a baby will be quite different from planning one for just myself! Here are some tips I’ve found to be helpful so far when thinking about baby’s first trip to Disney World.

Packing

Because we live in Massachusetts my husband and I prefer to fly to Disney rather than drive. This trip we’re taking Southwest Airlines, which is especially great because each ticketed passenger is allowed 2 pieces of checked luggage. This means the baby can have her own luggage for no extra charge! Packing things like diapers and formula will save us money instead of buying while we’re in Florida (no worries though, if you don’t have room for this stuff in your luggage I’ll still tell you how to get it).

Gear

Most Disney hotels will be able to supply a Pack ‘n Play and clean sheets upon request. If this won’t do for your baby there are services where you can rent full size cribs. Baby will only sleep in a bouncer? That’s fine too! Check out A Baby’s Best Friend, they rent both of these things and much more for babies. I’ll personally be ordering an exersaucer and Bumbo seat for our trip, so baby girl has a place to hang out that isn’t mom and dad’s arms!

Photo courtesy of ABBF

Photo courtesy of ABBF

Another major piece of gear is a stroller. With all the walking we do around Disney a sturdy, comfortable stroller is a necessity. We’ll be bringing our Baby Jogger City Mini from home, but if you don’t feel like lugging yours to Florida there are several stroller rental services in Orlando that can help you out. Kingdom Stroller Rentals and Orlando Stroller Rentals are two of the Dole Whipped recommended (simply because we’ve used them before!) companies. One thing you may want to consider purchasing ahead of time is a stroller fan. It can get pretty hot in those strollers, and a fan is a good way to keep baby cool!

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Other Necessities

As mentioned above, because we’ll be able to pack an extra bag we’re going to be packing our diapers and formula. If you don’t have the room in your luggage or simply don’t feel like packing it though, no worries. We here at Dole Whipped have recommended Garden Grocer before for groceries, but they also carry many baby necessities. Several brands of diapers, wipes, baby formula, jarred food, and even some medicines are available for delivery straight to your hotel room. We recommend making the order a few days before you leave on your trip because Garden Grocer does fully book for deliveries and you’ll want to make sure these items are there when you arrive!

Have you taken a baby to Disney World before? How was planning different for you and your family?

Nursing around “The World”

This might not be the most popular post ever simply because it doesn’t apply to a wide audience, but it is one that is definitely helpful if you’re taking a breastfeeding baby to Disney World. I’ve taken a nursing baby to Disney several times and I’ve found some great spots to discreetly and quietly nurse your little one, and hope this will come in handy for another momma!

First and foremost, EVERY one of the 4 main parks has a baby care center with a dedicated, private area for nursing moms. You can also purchase diapers, wipes, formula, food, and just about anything else you might need for baby here. There are changing tables, highchairs, a full kitchen with a microwave and sink, and an area with a TV and comfy places to sit. Should you find that you don’t want to stop the fun for a visit to one of the centers, however, there are PLENTY of quiet and comfy places you can nurse in the parks!

Magic Kingdom:
it’s a Small World (ride time: 10.5 minutes; ask to sit in back of boat)
Carousel of Progress (length: 21 minutes – air conditioned!)
Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover (ride time: 10 minutes)
Hall of Presidents (length: 22.5 minutes – air conditioned!)

Epcot:
Top of the “mountain” in the Canada pavilion (public but usually secluded)
Impressions de France theater show (length: 18 minutes – air conditioned!)
Ellen’s Energy Adventure (length: 45 minutes – air conditioned!)
Living with the Land (length: almost 14 minutes – air conditioned!)

Hollywood Studios:
One Man’s Dream (length: 25 minutes – air conditioned!)
Great Movie Ride (length: 18.5 minutes – can be loud)
Writer’s Stop (coffee shop; quiet with comfy chairs, air conditioned!)

Animal Kingdom:
Festival of the Lion King or Finding Nemo: The Musical (both 30 minute stage shows in the air conditioning)

Any of the locations above are excellent places to nurse on the fly! Taking a nursing baby to Disney World shouldn’t be something you fear…it is very easily doable!

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