Disney World with Vanessa! A Q&A session

Thanks for conjuring me out of thin air for this weak premise of a trip recap!
Hey, no problem!

So…y’all went to Disney World?
Yup! After the trip to Virginia Beach with my family, we took a vacation with David’s parents and almost all of David’s siblings.

How were the plane flights? Last time they seemed to go pretty well!
They went…pretty OK! These flights were objectively better because they were nonstop to Orlando and back. She was still somewhat fussy on the way there and fairly fussy on the way back, for reasons that will become clear later.

Did Vanessa have a good time?
Seems like it! She’s pretty young for a lot of the activities at Disney World, but she likes looking around at people and things, and she had fun with her cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents.

What were her favorite rides?
Her favorite was It’s a Small World – the whole ride she just looked around wide-eyed. Hopefully the pictures of her on the ride turned out! Her second favorite seemed to be, oddly enough, the Jungle Cruise, but I think that’s because she got to stand on David’s lap and hold/pat the guardrails on the boat. (she’s very into patting things like that 🙂 )

Was she easier to take care of now that she’s over a year old? (as opposed to the last trip)
Sort of! Food was definitely easier – we brought some stuff for snacks, but for lunch and dinner we just went to restaurants and found something for her there. The biggest problem was that now that she can walk she tolerated sitting in the stroller much less well. But she’s not very good at walking (and she would get run over by people), so the only alternative was carrying her. Which is getting harder!

How’d she deal with schedule changes?
Surprisingly well! We tried to keep her on roughly the same schedule as usual (while staying on Central time), but of course we were often off by an hour either direction, and it didn’t seem to bother her too much.

How was the hotel?
We stayed at the Contemporary, which was very nice. The main reason we picked it was because it’s on the monorail (the monorail actually goes through the hotel!), so that made it a lot easier to get to the Magic Kingdom. (where we spent two of our three park-going days) Since we went back to the hotel every day after lunch for Vanessa’s nap, minimizing transit time for four trips each day seemed like a big deal.

Ooh, monorail!
Yes, many references to the Simpsons’ song were made.

Anyway, how’d that work out?
Pretty well. Honestly, between going through security and walking from the monorail exit to inside the park and then meeting people, transit time was kind of annoying anyway. But then we went to the Animal Kingdom, which we took a bus to, and it was a lot worse! So…yeah.

This was Vanessa’s first time in a hotel room, right? How’d she like it?
Wow, I’m impressed you remembered! She had a grand old time. Of course it wasn’t babyproofed, so we had to watch her like a hawk, which made getting ready in the mornings take a long time. Another downside was that it was just a standard room, so during naps/bedtime we would turn out almost all the lights and then try to make as little noise as possible.

Funny story: at 6 AM one morning David got up to pee, and I was only half-awake. The next thing I remember is David diving back into bed! He later explained that Vanessa was awake and just staring at him. (she did go back to sleep, thank goodness!)

Did Vanessa get any toys she liked?
We brought along some new toys and books, which she liked well enough. At dinner at Restaurantosaurus (located in DinoLand U.S.A. which is a section of the park just like, say, Asia or Africa…) her meal came in a plastic bucket with a shovel. (I guess because the restaurant is paleontology themed) Anyway, we were done and cleaning up and trying to decide whether to keep the bucket and shovel. I was leaning towards no because it was clearly very cheap and didn’t even say Disney World on it or anything, but settled on “whatever”, so David kept it. And now she loves that bucket and shovel!

I know you haven’t been to Disney World in a while – how were the Magic Bands?
Cool! They’re a band you wear on your arm that act as your hotel room key, park admission ticket, FastPass+es, and it makes it really easy to buy things!

Except I lost Vanessa’s on the first day and had to get a replacement. And I wasn’t the only person to lose a band.

So, overall, was it worth it?
Yeah! I mean, traveling is really stressful with Vanessa right now. But she had a good time and we survived.

Would you recommend Disney World with a 14 month old?
Not unless you’re going for some other reason. We spent *checks credit card receipts* *faints* *is revived with smelling salts* a lot of money and went to a lot of trouble for something Vanessa’s not going to remember, although she did enjoy it. I can see her having a great time in a few years, though, just like her cousins seemed to!

Anything interesting happen at the end of the trip?
Funny you should ask! We got back to our house, started feeding her some dinner, and she threw up.

Oh.
Yup.

our first vacation with Vanessa!

We’ve been on car trips with her before, but nothing over 3 hours. This time we flew to Virginia Beach to meet my parents and sisters at a beach house we rented! Some thoughts/lessons:

– Having a stroller in the airport is amazing. My back muscles are not up to carrying her around everywhere, but with a stroller we can go on walks, etc. We were able to gate check it on all 4 flights so we’d pick it up right when the plane landed. (although one time one of the wheels was out of alignment :-/)

– Vanessa was a real trooper. She even slept on two flights that were around her nap time.

– We bought her a seat, and on the recommendation of Baby Bargains we bought a Cosco Scenera Next for the flights (and rental car). It’s very cheap, lightweight, and pretty easy to install. Kind of annoying to have to carry it around the airport, though…

– Feeding her in a carseat in the car/on the plane worked pretty well.

– We tried to keep her on Central time throughout the trip – goes to bed later, sleeps later, what’s not to like? This kinda worked until it didn’t.

– She had her first trip to the beach! She was pretty hesitant the first day, but the second day she liked it, although more because she wanted to eat sand. (she ate a lot of sand; I am a terrible father!) But she did like sitting with me in the waves…and playing with mud…and trying to eat it.

– Family bathrooms in the airport are the best thing ever for changing diapers.

– Unfortunately, on the way back I booked us a 3 hour layover in Dallas. I’m not sure what I was thinking – more time in the airport is nice to not be rushed, but that is toooooooo long! Vanessa wouldn’t go to sleep because there were too many exciting things happening. (i.e. people walking around)

– But airports are a great place to have people comment on how cute your baby is!

– Sorry to people on that last flight – she cries a lot when she’s going to sleep, and there wasn’t much I could do about it.

– Relatedly, is 11 months too early to start the whole “inside voice” concept? Because it does not seem to be working.

– We had three carryons (backpacks for us, diaper bag for her), three suitcases, and a stroller (with her in it) and carseat to carry. So David and I carried four things a piece, which was doable but not pleasant. (once we checked the suitcases things got a bit better)

– TSA PreCheck was so helpful – it meant we didn’t have to take the formula out of our bags. Although the bags then had to be swabbed, which took a few minutes. (again, having a cute baby reduces friction here!) Oddly enough, on the way there one of us had to be patted down, but they let us choose which one. (it was a very thorough patdown…)