I Took My Toddler on a 10-Hour Flightby Abigail Stanley
People say a holiday to Disney World, Florida will cost anywhere between £6000-7000. On January 1 2018, whilst my husband was working nights, I did what I always did and browsed the internet spending my imaginary money. I found a deal, £3000 for tickets, accommodation and a car for 2 weeks for 2 adults and a child under 3. Did you know you don't pay for Disney tickets for a child under 3?!
People thought I was crazy taking a 2 and a half-year-old Tasmanian devil all the way to the USA when he wouldn't remember it. What was the point? The point was about £1500. That's how much more we would pay if I waited until Teddy was over 3 years old, until he was old enough to appreciate it.
Why spend £3000 to get the shits on an all-inclusive in the Canaries when I could take my baby boy to the most magical place on earth? So I booked it.
What I didn't count on was my baby girl. I got pregnant around May time. The holiday was booked for September. I had severe SPD with Teddy, I was on crutches and I was told if I got pregnant again it would most definitely return but worse than before. I was like a living interpretation of Mr Blobby at the Paralympics last time so I was not excited. This potentially meant walking around the Disney parks in 30-degree heat, being 5 months pregnant and possibly on crutches.
We arrived at the airport and checked into the Virgin airport lounge at Manchester Airport. All was going well, I had winched myself into my stockings, and then it was time to board. When it was our time, the first argument was brewing. Teddy insisted on pulling his own suitcase. It seemed cute to the other passengers at first until he started having meltdowns when the wheels wouldn't go right and there were several agitated people behind us trying to get on the plane who swiftly got their ankles broken by the suitcase wheels if they tried to squeeze past Teddy.
The journey there was actually quite smooth. The hostesses came by really regularly with snacks and drinks. Ted had his iPad and his seat TV so he watched 10 hours of nursery rhymes on one TV and 10 hours of Disney movies on his iPad.
We arrived and it took a millennia to leave the plane. We arrived in a holding room so we could line up and go through passport control. Americans are in no rush whatsoever. It took 10 hours to fly here and they were determined to overreach this goal just looking at our passports.
We finally got through and retrieved our baggage. There were Thomas Cook and Thomson signs everywhere directing holiday goers to their reps so they could get their transportation. There were no Virgin signs. I had to Google what people did when they got off the plane with Virgin as there was literally no one in sight. Apparently, there was a Virgin rep on the downstairs level of the airport. I mean duh? Who wouldn't know that? When we located her empty stall downstairs she was nowhere to be seen. I spotted her then just casually drinking Starbucks and chatting to one of the other airport staff, probably some guy in the middle of checking passports with time to spare. Teddy was now so tired, he refused to sleep at all on the plane and had been awake more than 14-15 hours at this point. She finally gave us a welcome pack and we had to ask what it even meant. There was an address but then she told us 'oh but you won't find it on sat nav because it's a new estate' oh great so how do we find it? 'Oh just type this address in and it's in the general area'. Okay great, because America is well known for being close together and having small pieces of land and small housing estates. Teddy was now crying and crying and crying and he was so tired he was incomprehensible.
After finally finding the house we then discovered we had to check-in at the head office which was another 15min drive away. We knew we had to try and stay awake and beat the jet lag. It was night time UK time but only the afternoon in Florida. Teddy couldn't even stand up, we were also exhausted from the journey. It was like a bad copy of clockwork orange trying to prise our eyes open. We went to bed and Teddy woke up at 4am USA time. We did this for two weeks. We couldn't ever beat the jet lag. We had five hours to kill every single morning before the parks opened. I also had major anxiety about Teddy and the house pool so, in our 5-bed villa, we all slept together.
Teddy didn't appreciate Disney. He was tired as he had been up in the heat for hours before arriving anywhere. He only wanted to go back and go to the villa pool instead of enjoying the parks and would scream to go back the whole time. We had a character breakfast and all he did was push the characters away from him as he thought they were trying to steal his bacon.
The only place he was happy was the water parks so we went here on most days. I didn't mind so much, the water parks were amazing. You could get drinks refills as well, which you couldn't at the other parks, and Teddy could be let loose, not confined to his pram prison. And I could let my swollen ham legs rest up after all the walking.
The return flight was in the evening. And was delayed. Only by an hour or so but when you've been in the airport for hours and knew you had 10 hours of flying to go the delays were just painful. Teddy was just exhausted as he was usually asleep at this time and would not go to sleep in his pram. We thought he would definitely sleep on the plane. He didn't. He fought and fought and fought. We rocked him, we gave him hot chocolate. Nothing worked he was like the exorcist, his head almost spinning 360. There is also limited hostess service on a night flight so there wasn't anything to break up the monotony of screaming on the way back. He finally fell asleep after two hours but only slept for 1 hour. He was in a better mood but still exhausted.
My overall takeaway from this trip is that I'd do it again. It was like labour. Hell, but I can only think fondly of it after the event. Any tips to give someone as crazy as us for planning such a long journey. Fuck screen time and buy an iPad. And tell Jamie Oliver to eat shit and give your kid as many sweets and crisps as they want. Basically, just give in to their demands and pacify them like the little baby Hitler's they are. And give them Piriton. Joking, don't drug your babies, just an idea...