The Health Disrupter Journal from The Allergista!

The Allergista is one of my favorite bloggers, and I’ve talked about her many times on here. She was kind enough to reach out to me to give me a chance to try out her health disrupter journal and share it with you guys!

Now, I have a confession to make: she asked me to do this a looooong time ago. Like, months ago. And I have not adjusted well to keeping up with blogging and parenting a 1 year old. Add journaling on top of that and I majorly failed. But I wanted to complete the journal before writing this post, so… here we are, months too late but honest!

So this isn’t my first health-journaling rodeo. I’ve kept a diary of what I eat and my digestive reactions before, and I’ve also tried out a few apps to track symptoms along with diet, sleep, and other things. I have a love-hate relationship with journaling this way. It’s great because it’s shown me patterns in my health, and helped me to discern what foods/habits cause my pain to flare up, or cause my IBS to get bad. But it’s really hard, at least for me. The first few days go well. I’m excited and write down everything in detail. But after that… life happens. I try to jot down some notes at the end of the day, usually while half-asleep, and soon I miss entire days.

And of course, when I do get sick, journaling is hardest of all, and also most crucial. So this is a huge challenge for me. The great thing about journaling is that even small bursts can be helpful in solving health mysteries. So with the Allergista’s health disruptor journal, that’s exactly what I did. I journaled for a week or two at a time, then took a hiatus. Not by design, but because that’s kinda just how it happened. But I still solved some of my own health mysteries.

The journal has four basic parts: a daily log, a weekly notes section, a weekly summary of symptoms, and a monthly calendar. To be honest, I didn’t use the monthly calendar much, but only because I have another one that I keep all my appointments and life notes on. I know in this day and age, most people don’t have a monthly paper calendar posted up anymore, so this would probably be more useful to someone who didn’t have another system in place.

The daily log is set up for allergies, but is easily adapted to chronicle chronic pain or gastrointestinal problems. The only section I didn’t use much was logging skin problems, since that’s pretty exclusive to tracking allergies. But I liked the tally system of giving each symptom a number and totaling it. The higher the number, the “worse” a day is symptom-wise. This is great because when you’re in a flare, you can feel like “oh I’ve felt horrible all week” but looking at the numbers you can see that there are days where even though you have symptoms, you’re feeling a little better. That can be really encouraging, especially in a long flare.

I like the body location symptom tracker. I’m a very visual person, and I like to doodle, so it was fun and also informative. I could see pain “make its rounds” so to speak. I like that a lot.

Finally, the notes section. At first, this was the biggest chore, mostly because I was unsure what to put there. But I ended up using it as my place to pose questions and come up with hypothesis. I could look back at previous weeks and see if I’d proven my ideas or answered any questions.

The biggest health mystery this journal helped me solve actually had to do with anxiety. When I have a panic attack, it almost exclusively happens at night. My anxiety keeps me awake, and eventually builds until I’m sweating, pacing, and generally loosing my mind. I found out through journaling that there are two things that I thought were helping me that were actually contributing to my panic attacks.

One was drinking. I had gotten into a bad habit of always having a glass of wine at dinner or bedtime most nights, thinking it helped me relax. It kind of did, but on nights when I didn’t drink I was much more likely to sleep well. Stopping this habit didn’t completely eliminate my anxiety attacks, but it helped a LOT.

Second was reading. Yeah, the thing EVERYONE tells you to do when you can’t sleep! I adore reading, and I read paper books with no irritating backlights to disrupt my sleep cycle. But I think I must love it a little too much. I noticed I tended to have trouble sleeping after reading, and noticed that I get a little too into books to relax. I stay awake thinking about the book (especially suspenseful ones) and end up in the anxiety zone. Now, I’m careful to only read either books I’ve read before or calm, non-suspense/mystery/adventure books before bed if I read at all.

So what’s my final verdict? Health journals are great, and the Allergista’s is one of the best I’ve tried! If you’re like me and can only journal in spurts, remember that it’s better than nothing and you can still benefit from what you learn from it. I highly recommend this one for it’s organization, it’s tracking tools like tallying and body diagramming, and it’s coverage of all areas you need to track in an easy format. You can download it by clicking

HERE!

I hope you all check it out and give journaling a try if you haven’t already. You’ll be surprised what you can learn! Plus, if you have an attentive doctor, they may like to look over it and help you find patterns and give you advice.

Also, don’t forget to enter the #SPOONIERAGECOMICCONTEST! There are free prizes to win and I’ll let you in on a secret: there’s not much competition right now. So enter today! Google “rage comic maker,” choose your favorite, then create a comic that has something to do with health, chronic illness, allergies, doctors, medicine, or anything in between! Then upload it to twitter or instagram with the hashtag #spoonieragecomiccontest.

Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Happy Holidays All Year Long with Chronic Pain!

Many aspects of life need to be modified when you have an invisible illness like chronic pain, and that includes holidays. Modification certainly isn’t (always) a bad thing! Here are some of my good (and bad) stories about celebrating special days with my old ball & chain, Chronic Pain.

New Years:

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Ahh, staying up late. I’m a night owl, but staying up late at a party/restaurant/with friends is a lot different than staying up late with a good book/Netflix/video games. I have almost never stayed up all night without a flare up unless I’m just at home being a lazy bum. So generally, that’s all I really want to do on New Years. My husband and I stay home, watch a movie, play board games, and maybe pop some champagne at midnight. This one almost doesn’t even count, though, because even if I wasn’t sick, that’s the kind of New Years I’d prefer anyway. I’m not a big New Years person, it’s one of those holidays I guess I just don’t really “get.”

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Of course, since going in to labor at a new years party this year, the holiday has a whole new meaning for me now. So stay tuned, because New Years is brand new again.

Valentines Day:

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This is my favorite holiday. In fact, February is pretty much my favorite month because it’s also when my birthday and anniversary fall. So it’s basically a month long extravaganza of people showering me with adoration. I’ve already written an entire post on dating ideas for when you’re not feeling 100%, so I won’t go on too long about this one.

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I did have to learn a hard lesson on this topic recently, though. This past February, I started feeling a little off just as my husband and I were about to walk out the door for our dinner date. I should have stopped right there and suggested we stay in and cuddle, but since we’d just had the baby I had this misguided sense of determination to not be a couple who never went out after they had a kid.

Long story short I ate a breadstick and then threw it up on my way to (note: not inside) the bathroom. So as nice as it is to go out “in spite of it all,” remember that sometimes it’s better to save the money for a dinner on a less special date and enjoy yourself than drag yourself out on a certain day just to end up miserable and publicly humiliating yourself.

Easter:

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I’ll be the first to admit that my family is very…unorthodox…in our Easter traditions. Yet it’s in a strangely orthodox way. Until just recently, we didn’t have any kids of egg hunting age in the family, but hello we all still love candy. So my mom hides eggs for us anyway. But it’s extreme. As in this year there’s still an egg missing at the time of this writing. It’s nice because there’s no running for eggs. It’s a long game of puzzles and combing every inch of the house outside and in to find eggs camouflaged and in unexpected places.

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We also have a Christian seder? On Maudy Thursday? For the Passover Last Supper…? Where we play the drinking game where you name all the plagues and the Elijah drinking game? And we watch Exodus Gods and Kings or The Prince of Egypt? *watches as all my Jewish followers unsubscribe* But really, this entire post is about creating your own traditions for holidays and my family definitely has that going on.

I also love all the special church services, but similarly to New Years I’ve found that sunrise services don’t tend to agree with me.

April Fools Day:

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Some people say that Halloween is a celebration of Satan and evil, but they’re wrong – April Fools Day is. Don’t be a jerk!

Earth Day:

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If you’re in the North Texas area, check out Earth Day Texas at Fair Park! It’s a free event where you can see just about anything earth-friendly, from presentations on animals like birds and reptiles, to local organic food, to the latest eco-friendly technology. If you’re feeling up to it, there’s tons of booths outside and inside to walk around and discover. Feeling tired? Come out and get lunch and listen to live music. The weather’s usually not too hot yet and it’s the perfect time to unwind outside. This year they’ve started serving alcohol at the event as well if you need some help unwinding.

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Not in Texas? One of my favorite relaxing ways to celebrate is to go see the annual DisneyNature documentary. They always do something for the environment with the ticket sales, like planting a tree for each ticket sold. Plus the movies are always great.

The 4th of July:

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I have an unhealthy relationship with July 4th. I love fireworks but mix large crowds, lots of walking, and Texas heat and you’ve got one very sick Rachel. I often brave it, though, because I really really reeeeaaaallly love fireworks! We’ve discovered a firework show that happens at a local airport surrounded by restaurants, and if you can deal with a lot of traffic and making reservations it’s a great option. You can eat indoors, step out to the parking lot for the show, then return to a table and drinks. That’s a pretty good setup. Sure, having a sit down Italian meal isn’t really the same as outdoor BBQ, but that’s okay. America is a melting pot after all!

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This year we discovered that a membership at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum (located at the airport) gets you seating on the unused runways during the fireworks. I’ll check in later and let you know if it works out for me and chronic pain this year. Traffic will still be a huge issue I’m sure, and we will be outside, but hopefully without crowds and a lot of walking? I don’t know guys. July 4th is tough. I haven’t mastered it yet, haha.

Halloween:

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I’ve written before about the absolute tragedy of missing Halloween. I freaking LOVE Halloween and being sick on Halloween is the very saddest thing ever – especially since I definitely prepared a costume. As an adult with no kids, I liked to have “candy feasts” where everyone brings candy and we play Cards Against Humanity and everything is awesome, but hosting a party isn’t something I can do every year.

(Note: Now that I have a kid I am so trick or treating for the next 18 years. I earned it.)

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But my more mellow Halloween tradition is to kick back with a “scary” movie (that usually errs on being more funny than it is scary) and a bag of candy. And of COURSE dress up no matter what! I love answering the door for the local trick or treaters too, though I know not every neighborhood has that luxury. I remember being so sad my first year in an apartment when we didn’t get one knock.

Thanksgiving:

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Thanksgiving is one of the more laid-back, easy to handle holidays. While tummy issues have occasionally reared their ugly heads, I haven’t had to modify this holiday too much. It’s pretty acceptable to flop around on the couch all day. And talking a family walk after dinner really helps settle an angry tummy.

Christmas:

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This is another holiday that has its own post, but like Thanksgiving, it’s a great time to curl up on the couch. Cuddling is widely accepted, whether it’s in front of a fire, a classic Christmas movie, or the little ones opening presents. The real trick to surviving Christmas is the build up decorating and shopping… which I don’t think anyone has modified to satisfaction yet. đŸ˜‰

What about you? How do you do holidays with an invisible illness? International readers, what holidays do you celebrate and how? I want to hear about it! Tell me your holiday traditions and tips in the comments!

The North Texas Walk to End MG

This past weekend I volunteered to help out with the North Texas Walk to End MG! This was my first time volunteering for a walk/run event because I hate running and I hate waking up early. But Pregnant!Rachel is very mysterious and decides that things she usually wouldn’t do, she should do. Because helping people is nice! And I’m home alone all day, so it’ll be good to get out! And trying new things is fun! And as much as regular Rachel dislikes the idea in general, I actually had a really nice time and I’ll probably do it again in the future!

Currently, money is extremely tight for us. But time is not. I’m mostly waiting for the baby to get here. So if I have time to spare now, and I know I won’t later, why not donate it to a good cause? Plus, did you know that morning time is actually kind of nice? And it feels good to be outside and with people in the morning? It blew my mind too. So maybe Pregnant!Rachel knows a thing or two. Trying new things is fun!

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So let’s start at the beginning – what is MG? MG stands for Myasthenia Gravis – another one of those invisible illnesses that spell check doesn’t recognize. I have a few readers with MG, so when I saw the call for volunteers on VolunteerMatch.org, I already had a personal connection to it even though I didn’t know a ton about it.

Simply put, MG is an autoimmune disorder in which your muscles become weak and exhausted without exercise or other normal causes of muscular exhaustion. It has to do with one’s nervous system and the impulses sent that say to move a muscle not working properly. I’m sure I’ve left a lot out, so you should definitely take to google if you want to learn more.

Here’s a list of symptoms taken from the MG Walk’s website:

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The MG Walk is sponsored by the MG Foundation of America, and they host fundraising events all over the country to benefit research to find a cure for MG. Their funds also go towards the development of an MG patient registry and creating MG support groups. It’s a great organization full of friendly people who are excited to make a personal connection with any walker, volunteer, or patient they come into contact with. In the spirit of this time of the year when we give thanks for all our blessings, if you would like to “pay it forward” and bless others, please consider donating here to this awesome organization. They’re doing a lot of good for people with invisible illness.

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The walk itself was awesome. They held it in the park across from my hospital – and if you’re new here, I have endometriosis and PCOS, so I do spend more time than the average bear at the hospital. They were so considerate of me being all pregnant and made sure I always had a place to sit and water to drink. I helped out at the registration desk, which means I got to talk to many of the runners. Again, normally I’m not a talky person, but everyone was so friendly and excited to be helping such a good cause that every moment was truly enjoyable, even for a (usual) introvert like me.

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Once all the walkers arrived, we had a lovely opening ceremony that included speeches, the National Anthem, and a wonderful testimony from Rachel Higgins, whom the MGFA named the MG Walk Hero for Texas. I wish I had been able to film it, but my phone was very low on space because I’m STILL working on getting the invisible illness in King of the Hill video done! But Rachel Higgins, if you ever read this, please contact me! I would love to feature an interview with you on this blog! Also, people named Rachel are always awesome. Always.

In the mean time, check out her testimony from the MGFA website (click to enlarge):

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Anyway, here’s some snippits of video I did catch:

And again, that donation page is linked here if you can help! Just click on “make a general donation” and you can help them meet their goal!

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We had a ton of dedicated walkers out there in the chilly-for-Texas air. There was a 3 mile walk and a 1 mile walk, so a lot of people brought their kids along either on foot or in strollers. I think it’d be a pretty fun event to bring your dog along on as well. It’s a walk, not a run, so you can take it at your own pace and enjoy the trail. If you’re in the states and you’re thinking this sounds like something you want to check out, click here and look under Locations to see if there’s a walk near you!

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After the walk I was at the snack table. They provided the walkers (and volunteers!) with an array of tasty snacks, everything from potassium rich bananas to rainbow-sprinkle-rich cookies. They even had baby cinnamon rolls – something Pregnant!Rachel has been craving. And they put me in charge of them – the fools! I didn’t eat all of them. I could have, but they were cinnamon rolls for a cause. So I only had a couple. Or like, three. I don’t know. I tried.

So there you have it – I tried something new and not only had a great time, but discovered an awesome organization that helps people with invisible illness, learned about an illness I didn’t know a lot about before, met new friends, and got cinnamon rolls. So I say check out VolunteerMatch.org and see what’s going on in your area. Donate a morning or afternoon of your time and see where it goes! Spending my time at the Walk to End MG one Saturday morning was much more enriching to the invisible illness community and myself than if I’d slept in and watched Pokemon while eating sugary cereal at around noon. I mean, both are good, but you should definitely have both in your life.

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If you’re new to my blog, I’d love it if you hit the “follow” button at the bottom of the page. You’ll get an email each time I post, and I never post two days in a row so it won’t be very spammy. I write about invisible illnesses of all kinds. Lately I’ve written a lot about pregnancy, too, but that’s a temporary state I happen to be in at the moment. Usually I focus on writing about life with invisible illness (illnesses you can’t tell a person has just by looking at them), research and technology to help people with illness, interviews, analysis of movies, basically anything and everything I can relate to life with a chronic illness.

Here’s a list of links to some of my most popular posts. I hope you’ll take a look around, share the articles, and leave some comments. Thanks for stopping by!

General Articles:

How to Date When You’re Sick

Is Your Illness Secretly a Super Power? 5 Superheroes with Chronic Illness

It’s Okay to be Sick (Handling the Holidays)

Traveling With Chronic Illness:

Spectre, AL – the Town from Big Fish

The Winspeare Opera House in Dallas, TX

Disneyland (While Pregnant!)

Videos:

Illness in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Illness in Spirited Away

Illness in Repo! The Genetic Rock Opera

Book Reviews:

The Directive (fiction, Crohn’s Disease)

Allergic to Life (autobiography, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity)

Interviews:

Shanna Groves – Hearing Disability

Brenda Ritz – Endometriosis

And be sure to check out my gallery of original comic strips!

Also, be sure to check out our Store for awareness-raising gear and gifts!

Chronic Travel Bug: Disney’s California Adventure While Pregnant!

I’ve already written an in-depth list of tips and information about visiting Disney’s California Adventure with a chronic illness, and you can read that here. Today, I’m going to instead focus on tackling this awesome park with a baby bump!

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I’ve already covered some pregnancy travel basics and you can check out my Disneyland post for some more info on the Diamond Celebration and pregnancy/handicap accommodation. The Diamond Celebration was less present in the California Adventure park, but they still had the treats and souvenirs for the event along with some decoration. There was one new show as well that I’ll talk about later in the post in the entertainment section. There I will also address some points on California summer weather that were not covered in the last two articles – and you’ll see why when you get there.

So, let’s dive straight on in to talking about the rides! As I stated last time, I did not ride any rides with a pregnancy warning on them…..except one. JUST ONE, and it was one that I was very familiar with. I am not a doctor, and I do not advise ignoring any health warnings posted on any ride. Once I come to the ride in question on which I chose to take the risk and ignore the warnings, I will explain why I thought it was okay, and I’ll explain the dynamics of the ride in depth. But this is a serious disclaimer: The people writing ride warnings know better than me!

Also, like Disneyland, the list of unsafe rides is very short: California Screamin, Goofy’s Sky School, Grizzly River Run, Cars Racers, Tuck and Roll’s Bumper Buggies, and the Tower of Terror.

Animation Academy: This is one of my favorite things to do in California Adventure. It’s a quick drawing class and they do tons of different characters every day. They make it so easy to follow that kids and artistically challenged adults alike will come away with a decent sketch, and it’s one of the few free souvenirs you can get in the Disney parks. If you’re a good artist, you probably like drawing anyway, and you get to draw with real animation paper with a real Disney artist.

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The class is also pretty short, I’d say 15-20 minutes. So pregnant ladies, your butt won’t even start to hurt! Plus the chairs are cushy. I happened to walk up when they were doing an Oswald the Lucky Rabbit class – he’s got a simple design but he’s one of my FAVORITE characters ever.

The Golden Zephyr: This ride is just so cool. It has such a cool look and I’ve never seen another ride like it. It was a smooth spin that was fast but not too fast and high but not too high. It’s also cool because it gives you a stunning view of the boardwalk and it flies you out over the water.

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The last time we were there this ride was closed, and I hear that it is closed very often. Apparently wind can be a big issue for this ride. If it’s open, give it a whirl!

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King Triton’s Carousel: I am happy to say that motion sickness stayed at bay for this ride as well. This is just a fun spin on your typical carousel, substituting brightly colored sea creatures for horses. Who doesn’t love a carousel?

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Ariel’s Undersea Adventure: This is Disney’s newest dark ride and I’ve already waxed poetic on how awesome it is. The anamatronic effects and advanced animated projections are a must SEA (oh, whipping out puns now). The line moves very quickly because the ride is non-stop, plus there are lots of places to sit your pregnant butt and rest. This time around, the ride got stuck very briefly but there was such an overwhelming amount of things to see that I didn’t mind at all. I appreciated a chance to get a better look at the amazing Under the Sea scene.

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Mickey’s Fun Wheel: This is two rides in one. There are swinging gondolas and classic gondolas. Last time, hubs and I rode the swinging variety, and while there’s no pregnancy warning on them, I would seriously not advise riding those while pregnant. You can read about our non-pregnant ride here, and see that it’s a good bit more terrifying than you’d think a Ferris wheel could be.

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This time, we stuck to a classic gondola. The wheel turns fast enough to give a little thrill without bringing on nausea. It also goes very high, giving you stunning views of the park and Anaheim. It also frightens me just a little – just enough to be fun and not so much that I’m going to faint or anything. Definitely check out this iconic ride.

Monsters, Inc. Mike and Sully to the Rescue: This ride is a little off the beaten path so there’s never a line. Every time we’ve ridden it, we’ve been able to walk right on. It’s a classic dark ride, and I love it. I love the effects, I love the anamatronics, the huge room of doors is amazing, and I always tear up at the little goodbye to Boo at the end. Don’t miss this hidden gem!

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The Cars Radiator Springs Racers: Here it is, the controversy. This ride has a pregnancy warning. It’s also the newest, most popular ride in California Adventure. Getting a fastpass is the only way to ride it, the line is always crazy long. In fact, even the fastpass wait felt a little excessive.

So, why did I ride it despite the warning? I mean it’s just a Cars ride, I don’t even like Cars that much. But this ride is super cool. Plus, I love going fast. I’m not a big adrenaline junkie, but I’m a sucker for speed rides. And having ridden this one before, I felt confident that I would be safe.

Let’s start with some ride specs. First, the ride warnings categorize this as a thrill ride. Warnings include “Dark, Loud, and Small Drops.” It’s got “race” in the title, but you’re only going to be going about 40 mph. Like most rides, the speed sounds low but feels fast. The cars themselves have seats and seat belts almost exactly like your car at home.

I’d ridden it before and knew how the ride played out. The entire first half is like a dark ride – you drive slowly through anamatronic scenes and cruise through some outdoor areas with waterfalls and cool things like that. There’s some swerving, but this ride is so new and so smooth that I can honestly say that Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was much more jarring. This one never jerked me around or took rough turns.

Then there’s the “thrill” half. You race. The cars don’t rocket off either. The start to the race is a smooth acceleration, it’s not like fast start rides such as the Rockin Roller Coaster, California Screamin, or Six Flag’s Mr. Freeze. If it had a rocket start like that, I would not have ridden it.

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The race is 40 mph and takes you around wide bends and up and down some small hills. The drops are very mild and never lift you from your seat or make you get “butterflies,” it just feels like some rolling ups and downs. The ride slows to a short dark ride section at the end with more scenes and anamatronics before coming to a peaceful stop.

I chose to ride it because I didn’t feel it was any more unsafe than driving my car at home. In fact, it felt much safer. I never went highway speeds and these cars never wreck, so I judged the risk to be minimal. Again, I’m not a doctor or a physicist or a ride expert. I did read a lot of reviews online from pregnant women who either risked it or rode it without knowing there was a restriction, and they all had similar accounts.

I do want to make clear that I was in my second trimester, and the reviews I read were moms in their first and second trimesters. A few said that they would not have ridden it in their third trimester. But these are also unprofessional opinions and it’s always better to talk to your doctor or just not take the risk.

Redwood Creek Challenge Trail: I’m going to be honest. We only came here for the character meet and greet. But strolling around the trails was actually really nice, and this area is huge. There are playgrounds, ziplines, rock walls, tunnels, and way more that we didn’t even get to see. Not a great area when you’re pregnant, but keep it in mind if you ever need to take your kids’ energy levels down a peg.

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Silly Symphony Swings: This is the only ride with no pregnancy restrictions that I would advise skipping. I love this ride, I love the concept of it, and I’ve ridden swing rides all my life and never gotten sick. But for some reason, this time around it made me super queasy. It’s hard to bounce back from nausea, too, so I definitely wished I had skipped it.

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I was surprised, especially because other round-about rides hadn’t made me feel ill at all. Dumbo, the carousel, the Ferris Wheel, I never felt sick once. My smarty-brains sister explained that it was probably the centrifugal force felt because you are on ropes instead of a bar, which means you’re being pushed out from the center, and that’s much more likely to make you hurl than riding in a circle with no outward-pushing force. She’s wise, that one.

Soarin’ Over California: This is probably the biggest thrill ride with no pregnancy warning in the park. It’s great fun and really gives you the sensation of flying over fields and the ocean and stuff. It does use artificial scents. I heard that in the past, the scents tended to come a bit late – so you’d fly over an orange grove but you wouldn’t get the scent until the next scene. That’s all fixed and updated now!

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It is essentially a virtual reality ride. There’s no 3D, but you are on moving seats in front of a very large screen. It didn’t give me any kind of motion sickness, but if you’re prone to that you might avoid it. It’s much gentler than other virtual reality rides (like Star Tours, which does have a pregnancy warning), and all the motions are sweeping and smooth. This is one of my favorites.

Toy Story Midway Mania: Like Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, the thrill from this ride comes from the interactivity and competition aspect. Unlike Buzz’s version, this one is 100% animated and projected on screens, rather than using anamatronics. It is in 3D, so if 3D glasses bother you you might skip it. The line is also outside in the hot, so try to do this one early or late in the day. When we were leaving, they were handing out etch-a-sketches for the wait, and that looked like fun. I’m sad we missed that.

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The ride itself is awesome, the games are challenging and every time you ride, it’s different. Everything reacts to your actions, and it’s extremely fast-paced. It does jerk you around a little, but it never hurt my stomach. Just a little jolting sometimes. If you can stomach 3D, definitely give it a go.

Like my Disneyland post, this list of rides is shorter than my last visit. Again, peak season is tough and waits are much longer. If you can give yourself more than one day in the parks and you’re going during the peak season, do it!

Now, lets talk about the entertainment!

Meet Anna and Elsa: This was our first stop of the day because we just knew the line would be insane. But first thing in the morning, our wait was maybe 15 minutes. They’re in the animation building, and you get to go into a room with Ana and Elsa all to yourself for pictures and talking. I was surprised at how much time they devoted to us! They were very excited by our gender-guessing game and spent a lot of time thinking it over. They asked about our family history, what I’d been craving, and they were the only characters to ask what other characters had thought.

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Anna surmised that since most of my cravings have been for ice cream and snow cones and cold food, our baby might very well have ice powers. I’m hoping so. In Texas they can make a good living that way.

Aladdin – The Musical Spectacular: This show closed for a while, so I was really excited to see it had reopened! We had seen it once before, but I’m so glad we went again. They’ve added a lot of new stuff, including some AMAZING magic carpet flight over the audience! We were sitting close to the stage, but it might be worth checking out the balcony to get a good view of that amazing carpet flying.

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The wait was not the funnest, but since no one moves until the doors open you can sit down. Once inside, the seats are very comfy. The show is a little long (45 minutes) so you might need to shift around a little, but it’s not too bad.

The Frozen Sing Along: Ugh. You know, this is one of those things that Disney really didn’t need to put much effort in to. Just get Anna and Elsa up there with a screen and go through the songs. It would be pretty difficult to mess this up.

AND SOMEHOW THEY MESSED IT UP.

Anna and Elsa don’t come out until the very end for a reprise of Let it Go. What goes on for the entire rest of the show? Historians from Arendelle. Boring historians telling the story of Frozen. I laughed maybe once. They did show clips from the movie, but most of the time they had a power point of movie stills. WTF.

They do have some snowfall and the projections on the walls that change the scenery were pretty creative, but other than that it was completely underwhelming.

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The seats were comfy and it wasn’t crowded. Honestly the best part was watching the very dramatic little girls around us do their version of the songs. Overall? I’d say skip it. The more I think about it, the more I want to rant and rave. IT WAS SO EASY, DISNEY. HOW. HOW DID YOU DO THIS.

Ugh. We need to move on.

The Pixar Play Parade: Last time we were in the parks we saw this from the top of the Fun Wheel. Boy, did we miss out. This is not just any normal parade. The whole thing is built around water guns. Every float squirts and sprays and splashes, and it’s just crazy how creative they got with it. You WILL get wet, they won’t miss you.

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We sat on a curb outside of the Aladdin theater in the shade, which is right at the beginning of the parade route. We got our spots maybe ten minutes before the parade start and it really didn’t get too crowded. I was able to stay sitting for the whole thing, which is awesome. Check it out, it’s very unique.

World of Color: California Adventure’s nighttime show has gotten a special re-writing for the Diamond celebration. Usually, the show goes through a lot of Disney movies and songs, projecting scenes onto sprayed fans of water and shooting huge water jets and laser lights everywhere. The concept is basically the same, but instead of Disney classics they take a more historical route. Neil Patrick Harris hosts the new show and talks about Walt Disney, how his studio began, and then still goes through many movies and songs like the show did before.

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I liked the additions, but a lot of people don’t. I can honestly understand why they prefer the original World of Color. The idea of telling the true story of the Walt Disney Studios is very cool, but the execution ends up feeling a little scatterbrained and unorganized. I still really enjoyed it though, and it’s a limited time show that you won’t be able to see once the Diamond Celebration ends, so definitely check it out.

Like Fantasmic, it will behoove you to get a Fastpass to see this show. All a fastpass does is guarantee you a spot in a viewing area. Without one, you’ll be watching the show from very far back, and it may be difficult to see over the crowd. I’m short, so even being close to the front I had some trouble seeing.

Now, you may remember that the last time we saw World of Color we were there in December. And with a show that is entirely based on water spraying around in the air, walls of mist ensured that we were soaked. I was so cold afterwards that we had to stop in every shop on the way to the door trying to warm up. Why am I telling you all this?

Because even in the summer, California gets weirdly cold at night. I was wearing a little sundress and I was cold before I got wet. This was actually WORSE than it was in December, though, because all the shops were blasting AC. There was NO PLACE to warm up. Nowhere. And we still had to get dinner.

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So I bought a very expensive sweatshirt. Again, good on you California for at least selling warm clothes. But would it kill you to turn on a heater at night?

Ah well. The shirt is cute. And speaking of dinner, let’s see some PREGNANT LADY FOOD. Yum yum yum.

Breakfast of Champions: Churros and Vitamin Water

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Lunch at the Cozy Cone in Cars Land – the twisty bagel was way too big, so I shared with the birds. Hubs got the Chili Cone Queso. We waited too long to eat lunch, so we really dug in and forgot to take pictures. Enjoy this photo I stole from google search:

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PS: A lot of these photos are stolen from google. I didn’t take as many pics as usual because I was pregnant and on vacation, so I cut myself some slack.

I want ice cream now break: Mickey Ice Cream Bar and Olaf Frozen Fruity Popsicle thing for hubs. When the lady gave them to us she warned us to be careful not to get our tongues stuck. They keep these babies VERY cold, which is good. They’re hard as a rock at first, but we got through eating them with no meltage.

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Dinner: Brea Bakery in Downtown Disney. Again, we waited too long to eat and took no photos, but this place is awesome because they have a lot of hot sandwich options. I’m surprised at how much I miss my cold cuts. This was a nice way to indulge that sandwich craving. You can see a bit of my sandwich in the “I’m cold so I bought a sweatshirt” pic.

We also bought vinylmation while we were in Downtown Disney, and we DID take a picture of them. So here you go.

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And that’s it! A full, successful Disney trip, baby bump and all. All in all, I’d say it was just as much fun as going sans pregnancy. Sure, I missed some of the bigger rides, but with the crowds of the peak summer season, I don’t think I’d have made it to all of them anyway without staying longer. My one regret is not wearing better shoes.

So there you have it. You can travel and even do an amusement park like Disney when you’re pregnant with no trouble. Plan ahead and you’ll have a great time! The second trimester is the sweet spot for pregnancy travel for sure. I felt too sick in my first trimester, and even though I’m not quite to my third yet, I’m already feeling much bigger and more sluggish. Plus, you don’t want baby to make a surprise appearance at a disney park!

…Okay, maybe you kind of secretly do. I mean that would make an awesome story. But it’s better to have a baby at home with doctors and no roller coasters involved. Probably.

Chronic Travel Bug: Disneyland While Pregnant!

The last time I went to Disneyland, I wrote in-depth about visiting with various chronic illnesses, and you can read all about that here. This time, I’m going to focus on tips for visiting with a baby on board!

But pregnancy wasn’t the only big difference this time around. For one thing, I visited during peak summer season instead of during the holidays. For another, this year Disney is celebrating their “Diamond Celebration” in honor of the 60th anniversary of the park opening.

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This means that, in addition to some stunning new decor, there’s all kinds of limited edition merchandise, collectibles, and food. But it’s so much more than that! There are special firework shows and parades, and rather than the simple themes they’ve had in the past – Disney movies, good versus evil, love conquering all, and believing in magic – everything this year focuses on Walt himself. The man, his dreams, and the amazing history of the happiest place on earth.

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Some people have said that the history aspect is a little dull, but to me that couldn’t be farther from the truth. However, I can see how children may have more trouble connecting to these stories than adults. As a child, I never really wondered too much about the man behind the mouse. But as an adult, I realize that this man gave me my childhood. He gave me stories and a love of storytelling. He gave me magic. He gave me friends and heroes. He gave me more than I could ever put into words, and paying my respects to that is an honor.

Fireworks and projects on Sleeping Beauty Castle celebrate Disneyland 60th. Birthday. The new firework show is called Disneyland Forever. ///ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Slug: Disney.fireworks60.0522.jag, Day: Thursday, May 21, 2015 (5/21/15), Time: 9:29:46 PM, Location: Anaheim, California - Disneyland 60th - JEFF GRITCHEN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

At the end of the new fireworks show “Disneyland Forever,” we see the shadow of the Partners statue on the castle come to life as Walt and Mickey walk away into the park. The show ends with the words “Just think….Disneyland is yours! Forever!” And standing there, crying tears of gratitude (and probably pregnancy hormones), it was akin to a religious experience. Walt gave us a little taste of heaven on earth. He made the world a better place to be. When life can be so dark and heavy, Walt took some of the weight away. I don’t know anyone he hasn’t touched. Childhood was God’s greatest gift to man, and Walt found a way to preserve it, and to bring it back during the moments we most need it.

But I’m waxing poetic again, aren’t I?

Ok ok, let’s talk about being pregnant in the happiest place on earth.

One thing you should know from the get go is that when you look online, you’ll likely see people talking about something called “the pink pass” or the “pregnancy pass.” This is allegedly a pass that works like a fastpass so that pregnant ladies don’t need to stay on their feet in long lines. If it used to exist or it exists in other Disney parks, it is not a thing in Disneyland. They’re still very accommodating and you can still get a “first visit!” button for your little fetal mouseketeer to wear on your bump, but you won’t be cutting in line.

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Now, there are a couple of things that can help because believe me, standing in lines was probably the hardest part for me. I could sometimes sit on a ledge or on a chain rope (even though strictly speaking that’s against the rules) for moments but the problem is that you have to keep moving in a line. Sitting on the floor may offer brief bursts of relief, but it almost isn’t worth it when you have to keep popping right back up to scooch forward. So what can you do?

I didn’t end up going for these options because I felt like while I was semi-miserable, I could deal. But if I was in my third trimester, I probably would have caved pretty soon. One, you can rent a wheelchair for the surprisingly low price of $12 a day. Most lines are wheelchair accessible, and you can pop right up to hop on the ride, then hop back in your chair. This is, of course, assuming you have a husband who loves you and your surprisingly heavy bun in the oven an awful lot. My own sweet husband said that he truly wouldn’t have minded, and it would have been kind of nice because we could hang our backpack on the wheelchair and he wouldn’t need to carry it. Plus it would be harder to get accidentally split up in crowds. But I ultimately decided I’d need to be more miserable to make him do that.

The other option works better if you have a wheelchair, but I’m sure would still work even if you didn’t. It’s a disability service offered that allows you to wait in line without having to wait in line. It works similarly to a fast pass. You simply go to the disability entrance of a ride (usually a wider corridor with ramps as opposed to stairs) and ask for a return time. You’ll still wait as long as you would have to get on, but you can go sit down somewhere and come back in whatever the wait time is. Now, this isn’t a trick for just anyone to use. You’ll need to actually have a reason you can’t stand for a long time, and one that’s not “well I just don’t want to.” A budding baby bump meets the requirements!

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Now we did use this option once, sort of. We had waited in a line and the ride broke down, so we got a pass to go to the front of any line so that our “wait time” hadn’t gone to waste. This is what talked me out of trying the disability line again, though. Pretty much everyone in line will be in motorized scooters. The people in our short wait line were all older and honestly, mean. They let us step in front of them so I could sit on a low wall, but were quick to tell us it’s just for sitting, and we better not think of cutting ahead in line. I don’t know. It felt like everyone was mad at us for being unfair or just using a baby bump as an excuse to cut in line. So I’d rather just wait longer and have my feet hurt than deal with mean people.

If you’re worried about heat, I wouldn’t be. It’s cooler in Cali than it is here in Texas, and at night it’s downright chilly. Most of the park has ample shade and indoor corridors with AC so you can walk about in comfort much of the time. Don’t forget sunscreen though! We always buy it when we arrive since the airport is stupid about liquids, but this time we left it until mid day. Don’t do that! I never get sunburn and guess what? I burned. I got red shoulders on day one. So first thing’s first – get sunscreen on!

Now, on to the attractions!

Let me begin by making it clear that I did NOT ride anything with a pregnancy warning. I know some ladies do, but I don’t think it’s worth the risk. Plus, in all the rides in Disneyland, there are only 8 with warnings anyway (Indiana Jones, Matterhorn, all three “Mountains,” Star Tours, Gadget Go Coaster, and Autopia). So why bother? Especially if you’re visiting in peak season, you will not ride every single ride until there’s only those 8 left. There’s a ripe full day without ’em, so leave ’em.

Alice in Wonderland – this classic dark ride has just gotten some serious upgrades, so don’t skip it! Like all the Disney dark rides, this is a low-speed ride through. There are some jolts as the cars hit a rough corner here and there, but not enough for you to hit your bump on the handles or anything. You may feel a bit ruffled, though.

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(We also saw Alice and Hatter sit down for a tea party with some little ones – so sweet!)

This ride has a ton of new visual effects, including a lot more of the original animation projected in creative ways amongst the audio anamatronics. Plus, this is the only dark ride that heads out into daylight down a fun hill of serpentine curves – pretty slowly and smoothly, though, so don’t worry! The updates are recent, so whether you’ve ridden this one before or not, make it a must see. This is my new favorite dark ride, the effects are just amazing.

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters – This ride is awesome for being pregnant for two reasons – one, you steer the car. So you can spin as much or as little as possible, and turn away from anything that’s making you motion sick or something like that. Two – it’s kind of a thrill ride! No, you won’t get a lot of speed or big drops or anything, but it’s a competition. You versus a companion in a laser shoot-em-up of robots and aliens. You can compete to get the highest score and defeat the Emperor Zurg! We take it pretty seriously.

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Now, there is a downside. This ride was by far the worst wait for me. Not because it was particularly long really, only about 25 minutes, but there was no place to sit down. The line was also sprawling, which means that you have to walk a long way rather than inching bit by bit. I guess it’s encouraging to move so much, but I needed a break. To be fair, it was one of the last rides of the night for us. The other thing was that there are a LOT of kids in this line. I love kids. I do. But when it’s mostly little boys making blaster noises and shouting about killing things, I love them less. A lot less. So don’t leave rides like this for the end of the day if you’re hoping for a quieter denouement.

The Disneyland Railroad – I loved this. I loved it because it was sitting, there’s a nice breeze, you’re shaded, and it’s kind of like a mini tour. You not only get wonderful views of the park, but some behind the scene stuff that can only be seen from the train. Plus, we got to ride with a Disneyland tour guide – but more on that later. This is a perfect mid-day ride because it gives you a break without you needing to actually take a break to sit on a boring bench somewhere. There’s very little wait time, and it’s very relaxing.

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You can get some breaths of gasoline-smell every now and then, but the farther away from the engine at the front you sit, the less of a problem that is. Baby was also excited about this ride – s/he started kicking excitedly as we walked up.

Dumbo – This was our first ride of the day. If you’re pregnant, you might get a little tug at your heartstrings from the storks that line the top of the ride, carrying baby animals to the circus. Plus I’m always pleasantly surprised at how high this ride goes, giving you a little thrill. It goes just fast enough for a nice breeze, but not so fast or high that you feel frightened for you or the baby. It also doesn’t spin fast enough to make you feel nauseated.

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An added bonus – since they moved the Dumbo attraction in Disney World, the Disneyland flying elephants are now the only ones that offer a view of the castle. This is too classic to pass up.

The Enchanted Tiki Room – I can no longer talk about this one without a lot of bias. Our dog, Dudley, loves it. I can’t even explain to you why, we have no idea. We listen to music all the time and he never cares. But if you play the Tiki Room song, he will always sing along.

This being our first trip since we’ve had him, we were way more excited than usual to go in and sing along. We picked up a Tiki Room napkin to serve as a little bandanna for Dudley when we got home. I love this show. It’s the first anamatronics Disney ever made, and they’re still amazing to this day. Plus it’s just fun to sing and the old jokes are still so charming and funny — I just love it. Plus it’s sitting down in the AC for a few minutes, what pregnant lady would pass that up?

It’s a Small World – this was our last ride of the evening, and it’s a perfect way to end a Disney day. The boat ride is relaxing and it’s fun to spot all the little Easter eggs, like Alice and the White Rabbit hanging out in Europe, or Woody and Jessie chillin in the Texas Room, aka the best room. TEXAS GETS ITS OWN ROOM GUYS.

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Two little things: one, at the end of the ride the boats bump in to each other, which will give you a little jolt but nothing major. Baby will just bounce around a little. Two, if you’re riding at night and it’s colder than you expected, you may not appreciate the blasting AC inside as much as you would mid day.

Jungle Cruise – This is another great ride with a terrible line. The ride itself is lovely. The cheesy jokes are always fun and who doesn’t love a calm, wave-less boat ride with a breeze and shade? The problem is definitely the line. Made up to look like an explorers lodge or poachers hut or something, it’s main problem is that even with a short wait time (we got 20 minutes) you’ll have to go up and down stairs. Why? Because it’s fun! Or something. I don’t know. But the ride is a classic, so if you want to go, go towards the beginning of the day when you don’t hate standing up yet.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride – This ride is one of the oldest and weirdest at Disneyland. It’s also one of the few that doesn’t have a counterpart at Disney World. It’s also the only Disney ride where you actually go to hell. Like you go to hell and the ride ends, there’s not even a happy ending. The protagonist just gets damned for all time. You just have to ride it, it’s too weird not to!

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However, pregnant ladies be warned! This is a very jerky ride. Tight, sudden corners with jolt you all over the place. It’s a dark ride, so it’s low speed and there’s no pregnancy warnings, so it is safe. But out of everything we rode I’d say this one caused the most discomfort.

Peter Pan’s Flight – For some reason, this is notoriously the longest line in Disneyland. It’s a classic ride, a story everyone loves, you get to fly around in a pirate ship, and they just updated the effects. While the updates didn’t wow me as much as the Alice in Wonderland updates, they’re still pretty magical. The trick is seeing it at all. We ended up using our “rain check” pass after we waited in line for Haunted Mansion only to have it break down. But odds are you won’t get such a pass and there’s no Fast Pass, so how do you ride Peter Pan?

Well there are a few tricks. One is to ride it at the very start of the day. Get there right when the park opens and you’re looking at the shortest wait – however, since it’s right near the gates, there will still be a wait. That means you might want to get out to Pirates or Haunted Mansion, where there will literally be no wait at park open. Your other option is to try and hop on at the very end of the day, but that’s risky since they may close the line before you get there. If you’re ok with missing a parade, that’s always a great time to get a shorter wait on high demand rides.

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Really the moral of the story is that if you walk by Peter Pan and the wait is 30 minutes or less, jump on. That’s rare.

The new effects are really cool though. There’s a lot of extra pixie dust – literally. Most of the new lighting effects involve Tinkerbell’s trademark sparkling. There are new figures and anamatronics along with updates and repaints of old figures. This is also the only dark ride to not be in cars – your flying ship hangs from above you, and much of the things to see are “far” below you. If you can get on, you’ll love every second of it.

Pirates of the Caribbean – Almost every time we go to Disney, we want to ride Haunted Mansion first. And that happens to be right behind Pirates. So we always get there when the park opens and go straight to New Orleans Square, and we usually see that Pirates has no wait yet so we almost always ride that first. That’s exactly what happened this time. We literally stepped on to a pirate boat with no wait time at all.

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This is a great ride for everyone. The thrills come from the atmosphere which is so much darker and more suspenseful at Disneyland than its counterparts. It’s nice and cool, with too-chilly breezes in all the right ghostly places. Plus this ride has two drops, as opposed to Disney World’s one. But the drops here are pretty gentle, since the boats are so wide. It’s just like going down a big slide. And there’s no splashy sudden stop at the end, like on Splash Mountain. However you may get a little spray. That was actually kind of exciting to me because I like rides where you get wet and was sure I wouldn’t be allowed to go on any. The surprise! Pirate splash! I was like “Look! My butt’s wet! THIS IS SO EXCITING!”

Splash Mountain – You can’t ride this. I was actually excited not to because I think this ride is terrifying. But husband got to use the single rider line to ride it with minimal wait time, plus he didn’t feel too lonely since it’s a one person to a row ride anyway.

Staying behind while your Daddy-to-be takes advantage of a single rider line? Splash Mountain is a fun one because you can wave to him just before the big drop, and even snap a video!

Haunted Mansion – This is the best ride. It just is. And if you’re pregnant, no worries! It’s one of the slowest, smoothest rides in the park. And it’s still AWESOME! If you go to Disney and you don’t ride Haunted Mansion, you’re doing it wrong.

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You may notice that this list is a good bit shorter than the last time I went to Disney. This was my first time in Disneyland during peak season. I was taken aback at how much more crowded it was, and how much longer everything took. I’m glad we got to go to D23, but I will likely stick to visiting in more off-season times from now on. If I do go back during peak season, I’ll definitely give myself more than one day per park. If you’re pregnant, that’s a good idea anyway, since you’re probably not as spry and nimble as you used to be pre-bump.

Another reason that there are less rides on the list is that we took some time to do other things in the parks. Disneyland is a lot more than just rides, and since this is our last trip without kids (well sort of…you know what I mean) we decided to see more shows and do some of the more “grown up” Disney things.

So, what did we do and see?

Take a Tour – The biggest thing we did was take the Walk in Walt’s Footsteps Tour. This is something we’ve always wanted to do, but since it costs extra money and takes so much time, we’ve always opted to cram in as many rides as possible rather than take the leisurely tour route. Carrying a baby around, however, meant that we were taking the park at a more leisurely pace anyway. Plus, the Diamond Celebration is one of the best times to learn more about the man the park was celebrating.

The tour is actually a great thing to do whatever stage of life you’re in. It may be trying for young kids, though. There’s a lot of patient listening involved. But it’s a lot more than walking around listening to stories! You’ll get to ride two popular rides with no wait time (exactly which rides changes tour to tour, but they assured me it’s always something accessible to everyone, so no worries if you’re pregnant – you won’t miss out) and a meal is included in the price!

The tour guide speaks to you through headphones, so you don’t need to worry about missing an important bit of a story if a horse drawn car rolls by or a kid starts crying. The tour is still live, too, so you can ask questions. You’ll also get to hear recordings of Walt’s opening day speeches for each land. Most people know the famous Disneyland opening speech “To all who come to this happy place, welcome…” but did you know he had a speech for each area of the park? Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland…. and they’re all lovely.

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The rides we rode were Alice in Wonderland and we tried to ride Haunted Mansion but ended up getting the rain check pass instead. According to our tour guide, the ride had closed due to “a strange circumstance.” And she said it must be very strange for the castmembers not to just tell her. Some of our tour group ventured guesses – that someone threw up, fainted, dropped something on the track, or tried to get out of the car – but she assured us that those were all rather common circumstances, and we’d have to be much more creative to think of one a Disney employee would deem “strange.”

We also rode the train as part of the tour, if you want to count that as a third ride. The tour is about three hours long, and there’s a bathroom break in the middle. If you’re pregnant and need more than one, you can break away from the group at any time as long as you let the guide know so they can stay close and not leave you behind. Our group was pretty small, probably only 12 – 15 people. And our guide was sweet and enthusiastic about the whole thing.

Sometimes the tour will take you up to Walt’s private apartment, but sadly not this time. We did, however, get to see the Disneyland Dream Suite, which was almost as good. I thought that this hotel room above Pirates of the Caribbean was just a prudent use of extra space, but it was actually built for Walt. While he had his own private apartment over the Firehouse on main street, he needed more room for when his entire family would visit. Sadly, he passed away before the completion of the suite.

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It was only recently that imagineers discovered the original plans and brought the dream suite to fruition. And of course, added a lot of magic. The room is right next door to the mysterious Club 33, and it cannot be reserved. A night in the dream suite is priceless, literally. You can offer as much money as you want, but you’ll be turned away. The room is only given freely as a surprise. There are various contests and drawings you can enter and win a night. But it’s only by luck that you can stay there.

So other than being literally in the middle of the park, what’s up there that’s so great? When you walk in, you might be a little underwhelmed. It just looks like a very nice hotel – okay, like the nicest rich people hotel ever, but what makes it a “dream?” There are some really unique things. For instance, in the bathroom the tiles have tiny, almost imperceptible lights in them that look like a starry night sky. The fireplace in the sitting room has an animation of a fake fire inside it, and when it “sparks” it looks like tiny fireworks. But that’s not even the real magic of the room.

Look closer, and you’ll see mysterious buttons in each room labeled “Good Night Kiss.” More seasoned Disney fans will know that as a reference to the nightly fireworks in the park – Walt wanted fireworks every night as a “good night kiss,” one last sweet magical thing to end your night with. So what do these buttons do? Each room is different. They might make a boring landscape on the wall come to life with mermaids coming up out of the water, or they might make an old antique train in a glass box start up and chug along right out from its case and all around the room. It might make an old grandfather clock face burst into color with singing birds. It might make knick knacks on the shelves sing to you and light up. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s so very rare to see real magic.

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And, as a fellow tour member pointed out, I can now tell my child that they have of course been in the dream suite, they’re an honorary Disney citizen and they’re awesome.

The tour tells the story of many rides and park secrets, but the most important part is that it tells the story of Walt Disney’s entire life – from his childhood to his death. And there at the end of that tour, when you hear about Walt’s last days and final breaths, you’re gonna tear up. And then, when the guide tells you the story of his favorite song, Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins, and why he loved it – and then they play it for you – you’re going to cry like a big baby. In fact, everyone in our tour cried, and that made our guide cry. She said she tells this story every day, but with tears on literally everyone’s face she totally could not hold it together.

Mickey’s Soundsational Parade – ANYWAY. Then you wipe your tears up and go to lunch! Your meal will be at the Jolly Holiday and we happened to sign up for a late lunch that put us sitting in the shade with food just in time to watch the daytime parade go by! It wasn’t the best view in the world but it was nice to sit and eat and have something to watch to make you stop crying about Feed the Birds. There was an awesome Mary Poppins section where Burt and Mary came riding by on carousel horses just like in the movie – it was AMAZING!

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One thing, though – if you’re having lunch on the tour, a lot of the options are sandwiches with deli meat, which is a no no for pregnant ladies. Don’t worry though – there are a couple of lovely salad options (which is what I went with) and the Jolly Holiday said they’d be more than happy to make a sandwich using the hot turkey they usually put on salads. So there are options, just be sure to let them know you’re pregnant and what your dietary restrictions are. Remember that not everyone’s been pregnant, and they may not know that you can’t have deli meat. So always explain what’s up.

Marching with the Disneyland Band – As a long time band nerd, one of my biggest dreams is OF COURSE to march with the Disneyland Band. Well, during the 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration, that’s apparently a thing you can totally do. Over the speakers they announced to head to the castle to march along with the Disneyland Band down main street. And it was like the crazy dreams I had as a teenager that I knew would never come true just coming true all of a sudden. We got to be right behind the band, and marching down Main Street was like a real parade – people were lined up cheering and waving at us as we marched by. And I had tears streaming down my face the entire time. The parade route was short and very doable for a pregnant lady. And it was also my favorite thing from the entire trip, so yeah, I definitely recommend it.

The Dapper Dans Now on to my husband’s dream come true – the parade ended with a big sing along with the Dapper Dans. He was a big time choir geek as a teen, and the Dapper Dans are one of his favorite things to see in the parks. We also got to see them perform in one of the cafes. We had been asking the meet and greet characters to sign their names on one of two banners – boy or girl – to guess the gender of our baby. And husband just had to get the Dans to sign too. After agreeing unanimously on “Boy,” they each took time to sign their name while singing. Because they’re the best.

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Mickey and the Magical Map – This is a new show that I was SO excited to see because, as you know, Sorcerer Mickey is my very favorite Disney character. It’s pretty much your classic Disney show, running through a few classic Disney movies with Mickey, but there are a lot of cool new things. For one, the entire stage is a projected screen that characters hop in and out of, going from live actors to prerecorded ones very quickly. They also had these guys in big balloon things that I can’t even explain — it’s a good show. Go see it. I was worried about getting to see it because it’s new, but the castmembers said don’t worry, it’s rarely been so crowded that anyone was turned away.

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The Fantasy Faire – This is the newest little area of fantasyland, and it’s all dedicated to the Princesses. They have storytime where they tell the stories of all your favorite princesses. We saw the Frozen one and I was really impressed. They do everything low-tech, which is really cool. It kind of feels like greek theater or street theater, everything is done with simple practical effects, masks, and puppets. Plus the two guys they have playing off each other to tell the stories (along with the princesses themselves) were really really funny and well-written. Don’t sit in the sun, though, if you didn’t buy sunscreen yet! I speak from experience!

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There’s also an entirely new building where you can meet three princesses. They change throughout the day, but the sign out front will tell you who’s in there. We met Belle, Snow White, and Cinderella. And it’s nice that you can wait in line in the shade and get to see three characters for one wait. And they’re all indoors with that sweet sweet air conditioning. Very good if you just sunburned the crap out of your back watching storytime.

Finally, there are the nighttime spectaculars. During the Diamond Celebration, there are two limited time shows along with Fantasmic, the normal show that’s always there but that I was unwilling to miss because it’s my favorite show in the world. It will take careful planning on your part to see all three. You’ll have to hit the first parade and fireworks, and the final showing of Fantasmic. No dinner reservations unless they are the special firework ones!

Paint the Night – This new parade is a lot like the classic Electric Light Parade – cranked up to eleven. It’s bright and gigantic. We didn’t take the time to line up early for it because that is the best way to meet the rudest, grumpiest people, but you don’t even sort of need front row seats for this baby. Heck, I sat down on the ground behind the walkway where people leave the park, but everything was so big and bright and tall I hardly missed a second. Since it’s new, though, you will be in a crowd of probably grumpy people. It’s unavoidable. So if you’d rather not deal with it at all, I understand.

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Our tour guide said one of the best places to watch is from It’s a Small World. It’s much less crowded. But since the fireworks start right after the parade and husband was insistent on having a castle view, we didn’t take her advice. You should, though.

Disneyland Forever – You know that Disney wasn’t going to just do another firework show for their Diamond Celebration. Expect all the amazing fireworks you’re used to, but there’s much more. Using projections on the castle, Main Street buildings, The Matterhorn Mountain, and It’s a Small World, the buildings light up and even dance along to the music. Your favorite characters in their original hand drawn animation are also projected all around you. Tinkerbell does, of course, soar over the park, but she’s not alone this time! The Matterhorn Mountain turns in to the roaring volcano, Mount Wannahackaloogie, and Nemo swims high overhead through the RING OF FIRE – now with actual fire.

It’s amazing. And if you look up recordings on YouTube, it’s really hard to tell what’s even going on because it really is a completely immersive, 360 degree experience.

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Once again, however, if you want to watch on Main Street because you want to see the Walt and Mickey moment at the end, you will be packed in with crowds of insane proportions. Since they open the street after the parade, everyone floods into it and you have to stand. I am vertically challenged, and while I could see the sky just fine, I couldn’t see the projections on the buildings or the castle. Luckily I was there with my crazy husband, who picked me up, pregnant and all, and perched me on his chest for the entire. Show. And I did not ask for this, it just happened.

Since I’m pretty sure no one else’s husband is that crazy, you might stick to the Disney tour guide’s advice to watch from It’s A Small World.

Fantasmic – Be sure to get a fastpass for Fantasmic early in the day. If you want the second showing because you’re wanting to see the fireworks and the parade as well, wait until later in the day, between noon and 3, and the fastpasses for the second show should be available. Most of the good viewing areas for the show are roped off for fastpass users only, and if you’re short and your husband just finished holding you for 20 solid minutes, it’s good because you’ll almost definitely be close enough to the water to see everything without tall people in front of you.

Alas, as with all of the night time shows, everyone is grumpy and mean. If you’re pregnant and you sit down, people will mutter about how obnoxious you are and how they’re going to take your spot. Nice. But for the most part, it wasn’t too bad because we wound up next to a family of Canadians! And the stereotypes are right, they are the nicest people ever. We talked about my pregnancy and her kids and our trips and how it’s crazy that I have to pay to pop a baby out here in the states. It made it a lot easier to ignore the grumpy gusses muttering behind us talking to these nice folks. So, find some Canadian buddies to watch your nighttime shows with if at all possible, it makes a world of difference.

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The show itself is amazing. I’m pretty sure I’ve already written volumes about how it’s my favorite thing in the world and it’s amazing and there’s giant dragons and all kinds of crazy stuff. This time, they did cut a section out – not sure if it’s for time or if there was a weather issue or something, but it did make it feel a little short. I don’t think I would have noticed if I wasn’t already so familiar with the show, though.

This post is way longer than I meant it to be. But I’ll end here, with the part every pregnant woman came to see: THE FOOD.

Well, unless you’re in your first trimester. You probably want to skip this part until your appetite returns.

Breakfast: Mickey beignets with a Mint Julep in New Orleans Square

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Lunch: A FREAKING BACON MAC AND CHEESE HOT DOG. Because it really is the most magical place on earth. Plus it comes with yummy apple slices.

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Second Lunch/Early Dinner: Jolly Holiday salad with a Matterhorn Macaroon for dessert.

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Glorious. Now I’m hungry. Stay tuned for a look at Disney’s California Adventure while pregnant, as well as the gender guesses from all our Disneyland friends!