Disneyworld with more than one baby? Think again.

This post was originally posted on my very first blog, NevalandMom.  It was re-posted on Mommyy’s Links as well This post dates back to 2/27/10.

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The “Happiest Place on Earth” may be the happiest place on earth, and it may be the most family friendly place you will ever visit, but what if you have multiple babies? Is it still family friendly? And are you as a parent “happy” in the Happiest Place on Earth?

My husband and I decided to be spontaneous, something we cannot often do with our children, especially with three children under two years old. I needed a vacation, and so we decided at the end of January that we would spend my daughter’s winter break in Florida. We booked rooms with our timeshare in Orlando, and I was thrilled that we were going to get away from the snow and cold for a few days and spend a little time with Mickey Mouse. We weren’t planning on visiting all the parks, and would play it by ear, but I figured we’d spend two or three days in Walt Disney World and introduce our little ones to this most wonderful family vacationing spot. The boys adore Mickey Mouse and friends, and my daughter, although this would be her third trip to Disneyworld, was very excited. As for Paul and I? No matter how old I get, I still love to go to Disneyworld. It is my favorite place to be. So I was totally unprepared for anything less than an amazing vacation.

The only negative with planning something spur of the moment is that we didn’t get the chance to seriously research doing Disney with three babies. I automatically assumed that we’d have no problems in Disneyworld, as it caters to young families. This may be true, however, if you are a family like ours, Disney might not be the place to go… believe it or not!

The first morning we awoke in Orlando, I was more excited than the kids were! I couldn’t wait to see Mickey Mouse, I could not wait to see that castle in The Magic Kingdom, and I was so looking forward to the mid afternoon parade with all the characters, music and dancing. We were unlucky enough to arrive in Orlando during the coolest week of the year, but I was determined to enjoy the week in the cooler weather. After all, we had just left 26 degrees and a foot of snow in NYC. Fifty-five degrees in Orlando was better than that! Plus, I had only done the Disney parks in 95 degrees in the past, and waiting on lines in the heat and humidity, walking with the kids would be difficult. Perfect. As the park was open until 1 am that day, we decided to wait until 11 am to arrive, to give the sun some time to warm up Orlando.

We had to get through the crowds with my seven year old, a double stroller and a single stroller. We thought it easier to take the two strollers than our triple. We walked around a little bit, just letting the kids take it all in, and decided that the first ride we took them on was “It’s a Small World”. The wait was only 30 minutes, so we went on. I asked the attendant if I could wait on the line with the kids in the strollers until I got to the ropes, and she said we had to park our strollers. Of course, having rules the way they are, I understood why they needed us to park our strollers. I asked if there was any alternative, as we were only two adults with three babies (my seven year old cannot hold a baby in a crowd), and she said no. I was a bit taken back, but again, rules are rules. We parked the strollers, took the kids out, and got on the line.

As we expected, due to my boys getting bored and antsy (what toddler doesn’t?), it was a nightmare on the line. Paul held the twins, and I held Joseph. The twins wanted to get down, so Paul put them down. I would hold one of their hands and Paul would hold the other’s hand. Louis is into diving on the floor yelling “safe” (as in baseball sliding), and Anthony is the neat police, picking up every bit of food or paper that falls on the floor. And wouldn’t you know it, both of the twins did exactly those two things while waiting in line. So as one twin was throwing himself on the floor and the other was picking up every bit of Disney litter, Mommy and Daddy were in a sweat. I need to remind you that we also had our 5 month old Joseph on this line, as we alternated which of us would hold Joseph and which of us would fight with twin toddlers.

We were still determined to enjoy our trip to The Magic Kingdom. After all, we spent enough money to get in the park! Tickets were almost $80 for each of us to get in and almost $70 for Juliana to get in. For $240, we were CERTAINLY determined to get SOME fun in the day. Don’t let anyone fool you. You only save a significant amount of money if you go to the parks for multiple days. And I don’t mean 2 or 3, I mean 7 or 10. Well, if you buy the four day passes you save about $20 for a day. But if you are like my family, who can’t possibly do all of these multiple days in the same trip, you have to add on the “no expiration” option, which adds a lot more to your ticket bill. I often wonder if Walt Disney had those prices in his plan when he designed this amazing world.
Well, those Disney people are not stupid after all, because the look on the boys’ faces when our boat went through “It’s a Small World” was priceless. They loved every minute of it, as did Juliana. And no matter how many times Paul and I sit through it ourselves, it is still amazing. So off we went to continue on our park journey.
I asked the attendants on the Pooh ride if my husband could wait on the line with one of the little guys, and I would wait with the others in their strollers until he made it to the front of the line, to save us from fighting our kids on the long lines (as the lines were getting thicker at this point). Once again I was told no. Another attendant evidently felt sorry for me, and as obviously the senior of the two, he asked what he could do to help us. I explained our dilemma that we could not possibly wait on one more line with three babies and our daughter with only two adults. I told him that I was not trying to cut any lines, and that one of us was quite willing to wait on the long line with everyone else. If they could allow us to do this, it would be very helpful, and I would meet him at the front of the line with the remaining children. He said that even though it was busy today, he could help us out. So he asked his colleague to assist me to the front of the line as my husband got up the ramp and was almost ready to board.

Paul called my cell as he approached the ramp, as surprisingly, the line was moving quickly. I took the twins out of their carriages, and the attendant helped me get to Paul. I was thrilled. And then, the line stood still. Evidently, the “fast pass” line backed up, so they needed to take them first, having the rest of us wait. And so once again, Paul and I were on the line for another twenty minutes with Juliana and three babies. And once again, we were in a sweat, losing our patience and energy, and not very happy in the “happiest place on earth”.

We spent the next day at our resort, debating on whether to try another park or not. We met other vacationers and resort workers, and asked for tips and pointers, should we decide to try the parks again. A few people suggested lying, either renting a wheelchair and beating all the lines all together, or going to customer service and telling them one of my children had special needs to get a pass to avoid the lines, and honestly, this was NOT an option. We were blessed with healthy children, and I won’t take advantage of special accommodations for those families who really need it due to disabilities or illnesses. Although I do think my family could use special accommodations, we were not eligible for any without lying, so we decided that our first Disneyworld trip as a family of six would be an abridged version, and we didn’t visit any more parks.

Yes, Disneyworld has the “baby swap”, but that doesn’t help our family because we still have to wait on the lines with three babies and only two adults. Yes, Disney has “fast pass”, but if you utilize this feature and your ticket says to return 3-4 hours later, if you are walking with multiple toddlers, do you really think it is conducive to return to that area of the park later on, when it takes so much effort to get around as it is? Yes, The Magic Kingdom (and I believe all the other parks as well) has a baby care center, but only one in the park, so if you are on another end of the park and need to feed three babies or change three diapers, you need to use the bathroom (and wait on the baby changing table line) or use your strollers. And a lot of the other “perks” Disney claims to offer for young families is ONLY an option if you are staying at a Disney resort. As we utilized our time share, that didn’t help us. But I DID visit the vacation desk at our resort, which was manned by a Disneyworld employee, and she could offer no other help for us.

Although I feel every child should experience Walt Disneyworld at the various stages in their lives: as toddlers, as preschoolers, as school aged children and as teens, I would certainly re-evaluate taking your toddlers if you have more than one toddler at a time, for Disneyworld is not very family friendly for families with multiple toddlers/babies.

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