- Meredith Barnyak fed her one-year-old on the Frozen Ever After ride at Epcot
- The Pittsburgh-based mom was accused of putting the infant in danger
- But she insisted she followed Disney’s rules and that it was completely safe
A woman who breastfed her baby in the middle of a ride at Disney World has launched a massive debate on the web – after the moment was caught on cameras by the park.
Meredith Barnyak, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, headed to the most magical place on Earth with her husband, mother, stepfather, and two young kids, Graham, three, and Poppy, one, last week.
The family was enjoying a day at Epcot when her daughter suddenly got hungry while they were in the midst of riding the Frozen Ever After ride.
The baby became extremely fussy during what Meredith believed was a gentle and dark boat ride, so she decided to feed her then and there – unknowing that an unexpected drop was coming.
‘She [was pulling] on my shirt and I thought, “OK, it’s dark out. We’re all humans. We’re all honestly going to enjoy the ride a lot better and [she’ll] be happier being fed,’ Meredith told the Today show on Thursday while reflecting on the moment.
‘I am a pretty big proponent of, any way you can feed your baby you should be able to do it – in any place.’
Soon after she began breastfeeding the one-year-old, the boat plunged down the 28-foot hill as the ride’s camera snapped a photo – resulting in a pretty hilarious image.
‘As soon as I saw the flash, I was like, “Oh no, I think all these people have a picture of [me] breastfeeding my baby on this ride,”‘ Meredith continued.
Meredith’s cousin, Jo Goddard, who runs a lifestyle blog named Cup of Jo, decided to upload the picture to her Instagram account – but neither her nor Meredith expected the fierce reaction that it would receive.
‘I thought it was a great picture and our family was laughing about it. And so I was more than happy for Joanna to post it,’ the mom-of-two explained.
While many agreed that it was amusing, others were quick to bash Meredith – with some people even accusing her of putting the infant in danger, despite her following Disney’s regulations the entire time.
‘My cousin @MeredithBarnyak being an absolute MOM on this Disney ride,’ Jo captioned the shot.
It showed Meredith breastfeeding little Poppy with a look of sheer shock on her face, as other guests around her were seen clutching onto the safety bar in fear.
The baby, however, seemed unbothered by what was happening around her as she enjoyed her meal.
‘Not to be a stick in the mud but this seems… kinda dangerous?’ one person commented.
‘Am I overestimating the thrill level on this ride? The rest of the adults seem to be clinging on pretty tight.’
‘This is the first thing I thought. This is clearly a dangerous situation,’ someone else agreed.
‘Seems dangerous,’ another user said, while a different person added, ‘Wait, I used to work at a park… We’d never let an infant on, never mind unstrapped.’
‘Sorry @CupOfJoe – big fan of you but this is stupid, dangerous and irresponsible,’ read a fifth comment.
‘Disney allowed this? Lifetime Orlando resident and year after year people get hurt or killed on theme park rides – usually for being dumb. I have no words.’
Someone else slammed Meredith for ‘ruining the photo’ for the other people on the ride.
‘I just feel if I wanted to purchase the photo, why would I want someone I don’t know breastfeeding,’ they scathed.
‘Just saying, it ruined the photo for others to buy for a memory who may not have another chance to go to Disney.’
Others, however, were quick to come to Meredith’s defense – especially other moms who admitted that they too have had to feed their kids mid-ride.
‘This looks like it’s maybe the Frozen ride in Epcot, and yeah it’s actually very tame,’ one defender wrote.
‘It speeds up slightly and there’s a mild “drop” at one point, but there is actually no need to hang on the way everyone is, and there isn’t even a lap bar.’
‘Disney has super strict requirements for how tall people have to be on rides, they’re definitely not making mistakes,’ someone else said. ‘[It’s not like they’re] letting a baby on a rollercoaster.’
‘Love it. Taking care of that baby in every circumstance,’ added a different user.
Another comment read, ‘Been there done that. #Momlife.’
‘I did this on the Pirates of the Caribbean [ride]… Whatevs. Baby gotta eat,’ announced one mom.
‘Ha ha! I have a photo of me nursing my toddler on the teacups ride,’ admitted another.
Someone else commented, ‘Way to go mama. I’ve walked through Disney while nursing, but never on a ride.’
‘If this happened to be a father holding a child in this exact photo, I can’t help but wonder if the responses would sound something like, “What a fun dad!”‘ a different person wrote.
‘Or, if this happened to be a photo of beautiful black bear, embracing her cub on a seemingly-fragile branch, high above the ground, we would say, in awe, “Look at her go.”
‘But, when we see a mother doing as she knows best, we are so prone to be more critical.
‘I will always be deeply perplexed by the ease with which we will criticize a human mother, the hardest-working, most protective mammal on the planet. Hero, hero, hero, forever.’
While chatting with Today, Meredith insisted that Poppy was never at risk.
‘I guess if you look at this picture, it might look like it’s an intense ride. But it’s a boat ride,’ she ensured her haters.
‘There’s no seatbelts. It’s a very nice relaxing ride except that the there is a drop that you don’t see coming because it’s dark. And that’s what that photo was taken.’
On Disney’s website, it confirms that Frozen Ever After has no height requirements and that ‘all ages’ – including babies – are welcome on the ride.
It is described as a ‘slow’ boat ride that ‘voyages to Arendelle.’ Guests will ‘take a musical tour of the wintery world of Frozen’ in ‘an ancient Nordic vessel.’
‘If anything, I felt like it was actually more secure because she was in one place versus me having to juggle her moving around,’ Meredith concluded. ‘I wouldn’t have breastfed my child if it was a roller coaster.’