Water on Water Rest Stops - How? When? Where? Why?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Imagine this not so unlikely situation, if you will.

You are at the happiest place on Earth (for me it is Disney World so shhh on the Disneyland biz, okay?) about to hop onto a ride your kids have been excited about since you showed them the ride through on youtube. Suddenly, the potty dance, a complete freak out, and a NEED TO FIND A RESTROOM IMMEDIATELY. Or even better, imagine a once in a lifetime experience on the roof of a gorgeous hotel with the most special view of Wishes ever and your son is practically holding his breath to keep from peeing all over himself and you. True story.

Convincing your kids to take a restroom break is probably challenging on a normal day. My four year-old has had accidents because he doesn't want to miss a single moment of an episode of Dog with a Blog that he has seen fifteen times. Sometimes these "please.go.to.the.bathroom!" conversations are just ridiculously bang your head on a wall frustrating. No one, including an adult, wants to take a bathroom break when they don't need one. It goes against human nature to stop doing something fun or to break away from planned actions to address a need they don't necessarily have.

When you imagine a life with kids, I am pretty sure no one expects to earn stripes as a bladder monitor. "Do you have to go?" "Are you sure you don't have to go?" "You had all that water, I think you should go." "Why don't you just try?" Parents are SO annoying, aren't we? It doesn't end when the potty training is over. I am pretty sure I will be leaning into my son on his wedding day, pretending to pin his boutonniere to his lapel, and it will just slip out. "Did you go to the restroom before getting dressed?" I don't know about you, but I would rather spend more time having fun and less time taking on an emergency seek and find mission with a restroom.

Mark my words, restrooms WILL be an issue if you are traveling with kids. How can you best manage this frustration?

Set Expectations

Don't expect your kids to go along with ducking into every random restroom you see. Discuss your expectations in advance and reinforce that message. Warn them that taking restroom breaks is something we are ALL going to do to prevent any accidents or emergencies. Tell them that you want them to try even if they don't need to go. Remind them that it is pretty hot outside and you are going to be asking them to drink A LOT of water today. What goes in, MUST come out. Acknowledge that it isn't fun or how you want to spend time at Disney World either. Reinforce that if the group gets through this experience quickly, you will be back to the fun faster. If your kids are still in the lovely "squirrel stage" of distractability, you can try the ol' "let's try to go and then we can...." I thought my son was still very much in the squirrel zone, but this did NOT work with him (age 4).

Be Realistic

Understand that you are going to have unhappy people trailing behind you into a restroom. More likely is that you will be carrying an unhappy person forcibly into the restroom while they assertively announce to everyone around you that they "don't have to go!!" Breathe deeply, this too shall pass. She who hears the sound of water hitting water laughs last. In most cases of forced restroom breaks, the kids would look up at me with forlorn beaten expressions because look at that, they DID have to go after all. Praise them for trying, thank them, trip over yourself with all the compliments for them being so agreeable and putting up with your utterly ridiculous request. This went a long way with my kids. I tried to always end our tenure in our forced break with excitement about what we were going back to. "Ok, now let's go meet Ralph!" This made Connor groan, so I would say, "You can ride on my shoulders, big boy!" To think I wondered HOW he ended up on my shoulders all the time.

Have a Plan

I am in NO way recommending a full study of restroom locations at Walt Disney World. Rest assured, you are never far from one, but finding them can take some time. It is sort of like an airplane, look both ahead AND behind, the closest one might not be in front of you. Look for a restaurant, if there isn't one inside, there is likely one close by. Larger restaurants will probably have their own dedicated restroom. If you find yourself in an emergency situation, ask a Cast Member who I assure you will be able to point you in the right direction in no time, with two fingers. The updated My Disney Experience app with it's GPS mapping capabilities has a restroom feature allowing you to see locations in your proximity right now. With these tools, you are sure to get there in time.


Accidents will happen. Kids get excited and involved and suddenly the panic sets in and they need to go RIGHT NOW. Bringing an extra set of lower body clothes is a good idea for young kids. Shove a pair of mesh shorts, underwear, and even socks into your bag. If you are prepared, you probably won't need it, or at least that is how the universe works for me. If you are caught off guard, perhaps by a child you never would have expected to have an accident, there are plenty of places to replace their soiled clothing, however, $$$. I was this kind of kid, the one who realized we were waiting for something special and didn't want to disappoint anyone by sharing that I sort of maybe had a situation here. If you can quietly (and with respect for your child) alert a cast member in one of the merchandise locations to your situation, they can assist you in finding the things you need to get through this much faster than if you search racks for sizes and hunt for underwear. This is a FAMILY park, they are used to these kinds of things and you are in no way the first family to come to them with this issue. You never know where a little Disney magic might strike. While I would never ever say that the mouse will make it all better, they will certainly do what they can to right the course of your day.

Times to Consider Taking a Break

Hopefully you aren't just passing by a restroom and suggesting it. I think Moms have a built in, "we haven't stopped for a restroom since clock." You know your kids best and you know when they will be most tolerant of this interruption in their day. A stop on their way to their favorite attraction is probably not a good time to suggest a break. Before you determine where to go next, think, "do we need a break first?" Sometimes you may be presented with a situation that warrants a quick stop to PREVENT an impromptu potty dance. Anytime you have just watched your kid down a large drink is a good time to make a stop, that's a given.
  • Consider a restroom break before
    • getting into a long line
    •  riding a bus, monorail, train, or boat
    • an attraction or show that has a longer duration
    • exiting (your hotel room, your resort, the restaurant, the park)

Staying one step ahead is a big part of successful parenting and Walt Disney World is not the place to let your guard down. Be prepared, silence the whining in your head if you can, those two minutes and the sound of water on water will ensure you have a great day.

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