Getting in Shape for Walt Disney World

Twice a month, I write a column for WDWFanZone.com, another fabulous fan site for Walt Disney World! Stuart and the rest of the team over there produce some incredible content and I’m honored to be a regular contributor.

This week’s post is a bit of a sensitive subject for some–including myself. But, it is important information for anyone planning a trip to WDW who may not realize what a physical vacation it can be if you’re not prepared.


This may be a sensitive topic for some, but I’ve always prided myself in being open and honest.

That's me with the Dapper Dans at Magic Kingdom. ©EnjoyingtheMagic/Marie Rossiter

That’s me with the Dapper Dans at Magic Kingdom. ©EnjoyingtheMagic/Marie Rossiter

I’m a big girl.

I’m not alone in the world when it comes to being a person of size, even though it can feel like it sometimes.

Going to theme parks, in general, can be a real challenge for those who are plus-sized. And, even though Walt Disney World makes it about as easy as possible for those of us with a little more to love in one place or another, the bottom line is that even for the healthiest person in the world, a Walt Disney World vacation is a workout!

I have about 6 weeks until my next trip and, unfortunately, the weight I wanted to lose before my next trip managed to find me instead of leave–so, I’m more aware than ever that I need to prepare myself for what is to come. This time, I’m doing what I can to get in shape for my trip.

PHYSICALLY

Ok, so there is no way I’m going to lose all the weight I need to before my trip. But, I’m not going to let that ruin my vacation! With the 6 weeks I have, I’m walking every day to build up my stamina and my muscle strength. Did you know that it’s common for people to walk between 5 and 10 miles PER DAY when at the theme parks? Yeow! No wonder why my body aches at the end of a long day.

So, it is important to be ready for long walks like this. Building up slowly is the key to a successful trip. And, while I know my feet will still be screaming at me, somewhat, I know by doing a little work now will save me more aches and pains later.

I’m also trying to drink more water. This is mostly to get me in the habit of doing it by the time I get to the parks. One of the biggest destroyers of Walt Disney World vacations is dehydration. It is easy to get caught up in the sights, sounds and activities in and around the parks. Suddenly, you feel dizzy and tired and just “off”. I can almost guarantee it’s because you haven’t had enough water. You can get free water from counter service restaurants, so take advantage of that. Dehydration causes cramps, which will make walking even more challenging over the course of a long day.

I also know I’m going to need to take more breaks than I have before–this is not only because of my size, but also because I’m just getting older! My energy level at 44 is much different than it was even 5 to 10 years ago. I need to work in a few breaks along the way and not try to overdo, because once you cross that line, it’s hard to go back. Over exertion can wipe you out for more than one day and I don’t want that for my time at Walt Disney World!

MENTALLY

There is a certain amount of mental preparation that goes into getting in shape for a Walt Disney World vacation, especially for someone like me who is above average in size.

Constant questions of “will I fit in the rides?” manage to make their way into my brain–and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. The good news: the vast majority of rides/attractions provide the room necessary for plus size people to be comfortable. The last time I went, I rode all the mountains (even though it was a big snug on Expedition Everest and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad). I even manage to get on the Rock and Roller Coaster Featuring Aerosmith (my first time), even though I was secretly hoping I wouldn’t fit so I wouldn’t have to ride. Let’s just say, I’m glad I got in the car; I had a blast!

Also, just knowing that I can’t move the same way others can is a little–hard on the ego. Far too many times I’ve felt myself get so down about my size that it threatened to ruin a good time. The bottom line: no one there gives a hoot about my size, my family doesn’t care about my size and I know I’m doing what I can to get healthier. So, I’m preparing myself mentally to just enjoy every moment at my favorite place in the world.

So, if you’re like me, don’t worry! You will have an incredible time and be able to experience just about everything at the parks. But, please make sure to take some time before your trip to prepare your body and mind for the workout to come! You’ll thank yourself for it later, trust me!

This article was originally posted on WDWFanZone.com on April 15, 2015

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Walt Disney World adds allergy-friendly menus

GREAT NEWS for Walt Disney World visitors with allergy or food sensitivity concerns.

Starting today, April 14, Walt Disney World restaurants roll out brand news allergy-friendly menus to its counter service and table service restaurants. The roll out begins with the signature restaurants and will eventually hit the other locations over the next few weeks.

 

According to the Disney Parks Blog:

The new allergy-friendly menus provide allergen content for each menu item, making informed choices easier. Menu selection includes appetizers (where applicable), entrées, side items, desserts and kids’ meals, and focuses on the most common allergens: gluten/wheat, milk, peanut, tree nut and fish.

As a mom of a child with allergies (and my own!), these menus will only add to the excellent experiences I’ve had at Walt Disney World despite our health concerns!

A new allergy-friendly menu from Jiko is an example of what will be found across Walt Disney World soon. ©Disney

A new allergy-friendly menu from Jiko is an example of what will be found across Walt Disney World soon. ©Disney

Based on the sample I’ve included here from Walt Disney World’s Jiko restaurant appetizer selections, the new menus make the experience much easier than what we’ve dealt before with to identify potential allergens–which, while helpful, was a little time consuming and awkward to look through a big binder or talk directly to the chef. You can click the image to see the full menu!

 

Have you dealt with food allergies or sensitivities while on vacation on Walt Disney World? What was your experience like and how do you think these new menus will impact the guests’ experience?