Home » 10 Surprising Things No One Tells You About Doing Disney While Pregnant

10 Surprising Things No One Tells You About Doing Disney While Pregnant

Walt Disney World 50th, Disney

In thirty-five years of visiting Disney parks, nothing quite prepared me for the surreal experience of visiting the Most Magical Place on Earth while pregnant…

I’m a bit of a late bloomer to the mom-to-be scene, and I will be completely honest that the idea of visiting a Disney park while pregnant sounded intimidating. Would I spend my entire visit feeling excluded, unable to enjoy the same food, rides, and experiences? My concerns were multiplied after I visited Universal Studios for their Rock the Universe event—it was a messy experience. Universal Studios is pretty much the worst for pregnant moms as almost every single ride comes with significant warnings.

Walt Disney World 50th, Disney
Image: Disney

Despite my concerns, my experience at Walt Disney World surprised me. As a matter of fact, visiting The Most Magical Place on Earth while pregnant actually came with some charms I didn’t expect.

This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about visiting Disney while you (or a loved one) are pregnant—in our previous guide, we covered suggestions for the best rides for moms-to-be, places to catch a rest, and even tracking down pregnancy-safe beverages throughout the parks. You can consider this a companion to that piece. I’m a research junkie, and what really interested me were the less obvious aspects of visiting Disney parks as a mom-to-be. What should a pregnant woman or her family expect when visiting Disney parks that isn’t widely discussed?

It is of course important to note that every woman’s experience in pregnancy is different, and it is imperative that you clear any advice with your doctor, midwife, or other qualified medical professional. This article is based on my own experience and research, and it isn’t a substitute for medical guidance from a professional.

With that in mind, here are the top ten unexpected things I found about visiting Walt Disney World while pregnant…

1. Hiding your little surprise might be a lost cause

Trying to keep your little bun in the oven a secret from your traveling companions? That may prove difficult or impossible at a theme park.

This tip applies mostly to first trimester moms—for those unfamiliar, many moms are advised to hold off widely announcing a pregnancy during the first trimester because of the higher risk of miscarriage during that season. Some moms choose to wait even longer.

I found myself in this scenario when we took a multi-day trip to Walt Disney World during my first trimester. We had a unique opportunity to bring along two of our young adult students and neither knew I was pregnant. I had already narrowly avoided our students figuring out I was pregnant at Rock the Universe, largely thanks to the fact the Rip Ride Rockit coaster was closed.

My attempt at stealth at Walt Disney World proved pretty short-lived—our students all know I am a Star Wars and roller coaster junkie, and our first stop was Star Tours. I had to give them some reason why I would skip half the rides, so I told them I was having equilibrium issues due to a health thing.

Star Tours, Walt Disney World
Image: Theme Park Tourist

They figured out my ruse in about three seconds, and the game was up. They spent the rest of the trip bursting with excitement and refusing to allow me to carry anything. It ended up being a great trip but keeping my secret would have been hopeless.

You might have better luck than I did, particularly if you already are the type of person who avoids thrill rides. However, do realize that if your traveling companions notice changes in your theme park behavior, there is a good chance they might figure out what’s actually going on.

2. You might be calling your doctor / midwife a lot about rides

In our previous piece, we covered some of Disney’s “safe” rides for pregnancy—mostly those that don’t have a height restriction (except for Kilimanjaro Safaris which can get pretty bumpy). We’ve all seen the warning signs outside of most Disney rides. I generally assumed that if a ride had warnings, there was no way a pregnant woman could ride it safely.

Now, what I am about to say comes with extreme caution, and the crucial addendum to check anything related to your pregnancy with a qualified OB doctor or midwife. With that in mind, I was surprised to discover that there are different reasons theme park rides are problematic for pregnant women, and I was surprised when my doctor didn’t have an issue with some of them in different parts of my pregnancy.

The most important reason doctors discourage pregnant women from riding many theme park rides is the risk of placental abruption—separation of the placenta from the inner wall of the uterus. The sudden stops, starts, spins, and changes in momentum on many theme park rides increase the risk of this and other dangerous problems. Lap bars and restraints are also problematic because of the pressure they apply to the abdomen, particularly for second to third trimester moms.

The danger level of these risks can vary depending on where you are in your pregnancy, and I spent a fair amount of time checking in with my OB, on-call midwife nurses, and a family doctor (who happens to be very familiar with Disney parks) about which rides were safe. To my surprise, there were several rides on Disney’s “no-fly” list that they had no issue with during the first months of my pregnancy. I remained cautious, but it gave me some peace of mind to make educated decisions about which rides to enjoy and which ones to skip.

Once again, I urge extreme caution—if you don’t have approval from someone qualified, don’t do it, but if you have a line to a trustworthy medical source, don’t hesitate to double check if some unexpected rides might be okay depending on how far along you are and the risk levels for your pregnancy.

3. Staying nourished and hydrated is crucial

Getting adequate calories and hydration during pregnancy is pretty important, particularly if you’ll be visiting somewhere requiring a lot of energy expenditure like a theme park.

Every pregnant woman’s experience with food is different—you might have trouble eating enough early in pregnancy due to nausea and food aversions, or you might crave everything in sight. I had the odd experience that I largely craved fruit and vegetables during my early pregnancy (and chocolate ice cream? Not so odd) and tracking down healthy options that didn’t set off food aversions in the rural area where we live has frequently proven a challenge.

Walt Disney World can be kind of awesome for pregnant women looking to stay nourished, mostly because they offer so many choices. Food aversions have remained a major problem well into my second trimester, and I cannot describe how much I appreciated the variety available at Walt Disney World for dining. If I was averse to one type of food, I knew I could find something else. The best parks for dining choices remain Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios also have a good range of options as well if you know where to look.

A few tips would include bringing some snacks with you (especially something light like crackers), as well as keeping a water bottle on hand. When I needed to get some water at one of Disney’s soda fountains, I mentioned my pregnancy and politely requested a large cup of water instead of a small one. Cast members were always helpful and accommodating to help me stay hydrated.

4. You’re going to need special sunscreen

Sun protection is pretty important for moms-to-be. Pregnancy hormones do some interesting things to our bodies, and those changes can make us more prone to sunburn, freckle patches, and other unique reactions to UV rays.

The problem is pregnant women can’t just use any sunscreen.

I didn’t realize this until I was actually pregnant, but most commercial sunscreens contain a cocktail of chemicals that don’t mix well with a growing baby—the worst offenders are Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, Octocrylene, and Octinoxate. Some combination of these ingredients is found in almost all spray-on sunscreens and most general-use sunscreens you might pick up in the parks.

If possible, get yourself a mineral-based sunscreen before your vacation. I currently use Hello Baby (a zinc oxide formula) which is widely available in places like Walmart and Target, but there are a lot of great options recommended on pregnancy sites online.

On the aforementioned Disney visit, I hadn’t thought far enough ahead to buy mama-safe sunscreen, so I had to go hunting for some in the parks. I did manage to track down a sport sunscreen at Epcot that didn’t have any of the dangerous ingredients, though it had a strange oily consistency. If you find yourself in this situation, I recommend looking at the park’s baby sunscreens first and perusing the ingredients closely. They do have a few varieties available that are pregnancy safe.

5. You’ll want to pace yourself more than normal

Pregnancy fatigue can be brutal. Well into my second trimester, it still leaves me addled on the couch on a regular basis. Beyond brain-numbing fatigue, a whole range of pregnancy discomforts (ligament pain, nausea, swollen feet, etc.) can cause disruptions to your normal pacing while visiting theme parks.

Across the board, it’s a good idea for pregnant women to slow down and pace yourself when visiting Disney parks.

I often experience bursts of energy at Walt Disney World that gave me the option to keep a quick pace during my recent visits while pregnant. Despite this, I chose to slow down and take rests when I could, rather than risk fatigue or other issues taking over. A little cardio can be good while pregnant (with doctor’s approval), but you want to make sure you aren’t pushing yourself so hard that you can’t talk or that you overheat.

Instead of rushing, take the opportunity to slow down and embrace regular rest stops when visiting Disney while pregnant. If your traveling party moves at a faster speed, communicate with them when you need a moment. If you are comfortable with a little alone time, send them on ahead for a bit to wait for a ride you’ll be skipping and use that time to recover your energy and move at a more comfortable pace.

Concerned about too much alone time? Have you heard about Rider Switch?…

6. Rider switch is your friend

While enjoying some quiet time alone during a Walt Disney World vacation may sound delightful to some moms-to-be, for others, the idea of being away from friends and family might sound miserable.

Rider Switch to the rescue.

Disney’s former child swap system is now called Rider Switch. Basically, it allows a party to not have to wait in line twice if they have a child or party member who doesn’t want to ride something. One part of the party rides while the other waits with the non-rider. When the first group finishes up the ride, they join the non-rider while the other part of the party rides.

I took advantage of Rider Switch several times when we brought our young adult students along to Walt Disney World—we wanted to stay together and enjoy conversation in the ride queues. I’m pretty comfortable flying solo at theme parks, so I just told the cast members I was a non-rider, and they directed me to an appropriate waiting area while the rest of my party did the ride. However, if you have a large enough party and want someone to keep you company, you can utilize Rider Switch to have someone stay with you without them having to wait in line twice.

7. Keep a bag of tricks for pregnancy discomforts

The worst pregnancy discomfort most women face is morning sickness—rather, all-the-time sickness.

I appreciate a good lifehack, and I have used all sorts of tricks throughout my pregnancy to quench nausea bouts. Some are theme park friendly (such as acupressure on the wrist) while others are not (you probably won’t want to pop a Unisom tab at Magic Kingdom).

The first option is keeping some anti-nausea chews or candies on hand. Preggie Pop Drops are a popular choice if you don’t mind something sweet. Ginger chews are another great option. I prefer Gin-Gins for their strong ginger flavor, but Trader Joe’s ginger chews offer a less intense experience if needed. I eventually replaced my ginger chews with MegaFood Baby & Me 2 Morning Sickness Nausea Relief Chews which work great and aren’t overly sweet.

My other go to trick for heading off nausea has been inhaling the smell of peppermint. While you can just sniff a piece of gum or a can of mints, I had the best luck inhaling peppermint essential oil. Eating a small snack like crackers or carrots, as well as drinking some lemon water can also help somewhat.

Other easy-to-carry tools can be added to your Disney-day kit to head off different pregnancy discomforts. A cooling cloth or fan can help if you overheat easily. Some moms swear by belly support bands for Disney park outings. Compression socks might be helpful for some (I like the ones offered by Trtl). On a basic level, extremely comfortable shoes are a must. If you run into any overwhelming aches, stop by any of the First Aid Stations in the four parks. The nurses there are extremely helpful and should have access to some pregnancy-safe OTC medications.

8. If possible, stay at a nearby resort (or know where to retreat)

I’m usually an advocate for getting a resort on Disney property when possible, mostly thanks to convenience. This recommendation goes double if you will be visiting while pregnant.

Staying on Disney property or even having access to a resort isn’t strictly necessary, but it does solve several problems for visiting Disney parks while pregnant. For one thing, it makes taking a mid-day break much easier. If you need an afternoon respite due to fatigue, nausea, or other issues, a nearby resort can be an ideal haven that won’t require a long drive off-site. Other options for staying on Disney property at a lower price point include staying at the Swan and Dolphin (which are both owned by Marriot but offer many of the same perks as Disney resorts) or using Disney Vacation Club point rentals.

If staying on property is impossible, it’s a good idea to learn the best places to retreat in and near the parks. In our previous guide, we mentioned shows and restaurants are good options. Other possibilities include resort lobbies and lounges, quiet attraction spaces like Star Wars Launch Bay or the walking paths of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot’s lovely gardens, or even areas like the hidden corners of Pandora or Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Night.

Can’t find anywhere to catch your breath? Disney First Aid to the rescue again! All the First Aid stations have a special area where you can rest and recover if needed. Just let them know you’re a pregnant mom who needs some recovery time!

9. A prenatal massage might be a worthwhile splurge

If your doctor gives you approval, a prenatal massage can be a truly heavenly vacation splurge, and there are several options for securing one at Walt Disney World.

Currently, all four of the spas on Disney property offer prenatal massages for moms-to-be, including Senses Spa at The Grand Floridian and Saratoga Springs resorts, Mandara Spa at The Walt Disney World Dolphin, and the Spa at The Four Seasons Orlando. Prenatal massage is generally only permitted for second and third trimester moms, but if you are in either of these two stages, getting one is well worthwhile.

A few notes for your spa visit: you’ll need to use some caution when using spa facilities like hot tubs and steam rooms. Some professionals advise avoiding these altogether while pregnant, while others may allow short dips in the hot tub or at least a little time warming your feet—the key is don’t let your body temperature rise too much. All four spas offer excellent facilities that you will have access to throughout the day of your visit.

10. Take advantage of “Me Time”

Being pregnant at Disney parks does not have to be miserable… as a matter of fact, it can be the perfect excuse to slow down and enjoy some personal time.

On my first visit to Walt Disney World as a pregnant woman, I spent a lot of time with our students and my husband. On a repeat the following month, however, I took a different tactic. In most cases, rather than waiting with our students in line, I took advantage of times they were in queues to explore the parks freely, resting where I wanted, eating where I wanted, and taking in the beautiful refuges of the parks at a leisurely pace. Instead of feeling FOMO and pressure to participate in every experience, I felt freedom to just enjoy myself and wander where I wanted. This slowed-down time gave me opportunities to explore places like Pandora at night, wander through Epcot, and even to relax and read a book while enjoying a healthy meal.

Pregnancy can be hard, and it does come with some sacrifices… However, it also comes with some perks and superpowers. If you find yourself visiting Walt Disney World or Disneyland while pregnant, take advantage of the opportunity to take your time, try something different, and explore the magic from a whole new perspective.

Have you been to Disney while (you or a loved one are) pregnant? What other tips do you have? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook! Thanks for reading!