Disney World is a vacation destination designed for kids and the kid inside all of us. It’s a wonderful escape of a vacation, but traveling (to anywhere) with young children presents challenges to even the best, most organized, and super efficient parents. I like to think of myself at least as an organized parent, although there are days my organization skills seem to be lacking in the hustle of work, school, organization involvement, and sporting activities.
For the purpose of this blog post, I’m going to refer to my children, currently ages 7 and 4.5, as young. You could certainly apply the term to kids 10 and under.
I often share our experience of our 14-hour visit at Hollywood Studios. I talk about it so much because it was a day of pure magic. It was amazing. Over two years later I still feel like that. There is one part of the story that I always take for granted, but that is almost everyone else’s immediate reaction is “You did that with two kids under five?! Are you serious?!” And, I am totally serious. (Peanut was just two days away from turning five at the time.)
So next comes, “How did you do it?” Or sometimes, “Are you crazy?” We probably are but that is not the point. The short answer is that it just happened. It started with some planning as any good Disney trip should. That planning was include a very long break from the park to spend at the pool or relaxing at our resort. We followed through with our earliest plans, then spontaneity took over. We literally just kept going and no one wanted to leave. The kids were the main driver was the kids. We were going at their pace and doing the things they wanted to do. When the kids are the guides it helps with their attitudes quite a bit. We had tears at Jedi Training, but other than that there wasn’t a single meltdown. It was just a lot of fun.
We did take a very short break on a bench near the front of the park to relax and see if the characters would arrive for a meet and greet. This allowed Grumpy to catch a quick nap.
As the prior post mentioned Diva didn’t make it the entire night. Twelve-ish hours became her limit before she was fast asleep. Peanut was still pumped when we made it back to the room.
Kids really do rule the world when at Disney. Letting them run some of the show is part of how we make a Disney vacation fun for all and do our best at avoiding some of the meltdowns that can occur. Some other tips are:
Feed them! No, not a meal. Well, obviously a meal, but let them get eat snacks. Buy the Mickey ice cream sandwich, brownies, pretzel, popcorn (the bucket, if you like). Anything. Kids like snacks and you’re on vacation. Have a few for yourself as well. There are tons of snacks and they’re on prime display for the kids to see. They can’t have something every time you pass a cart but a snack (or two) a day is worth the time and arguments saved. Indulge.
Ask what they want to do! As a mom I know each of my kids’ personalities very well. In most cases I know how they’ll react to most situations. I know their likes and especially their dislikes since they have no problem making them known. They do surprise me sometimes. One of our big surprises at Disney was Peanut asking to meet Peter Pan. We watched a lot of YouTube videos, especially before the first trip, and we talk a lot about what they liked. I want to make sure they’re included in the planning and we’re doing the stuff that’s on their list too, not just what I think they’re list will be. Peanut made this list for our 2017 trip. He even included Elsa and Anna for his sister. We made sure to get everything on his list, at least once.
Plan to take a break! My kids were 2.5 and 4 years old when we arrived for our first vacation. There is no way I expected them to be out in the Florida heat for an entire day. They get hot, tired, and cranky doing nothing at home, letting alone walking (because we did leave the stroller parked for short periods), meeting characters, and waiting in lines. When it did happen it was great, but I didn’t plan it to happen again on our second trip. We still had breaks built into our day and we needed them even more since it was hotter than before. If you plan the break, but don’t need it will be fine. But, if you don’t have it in the plan and you try to do too much with the littles I can almost guarantee you’re heading for disaster.
Speaking of the stroller, use it! I have rented twice and will on our next visit as well. I choose to forego the park stroller for the more comfortable option for my kids. We’ve gone with Magic Strollers, a featured Disney provider, and rented a City Mini because my kids were and are still on the tiny side. Magic was recommended by a friend and was terrific. A clean, ready-to-go stroller was at my resorts before I even arrived. Once we figured out how to use it we were good to go…. and the kids were comfortable and good to rest in it too. They had plenty of stroller naps.
Be silly! Disney is definitely a place you can go and just have some fun. Play along with the characters. Dance at the dance parties and parade. The kids love it. Silliness makes them laugh. Laugh hopefully prevents crying and meltdown. It brings out the fun for everyone.
Fun is the name of the game. It can be pretty contagious at Disney. Remember to take a minute to see what you’re kids are enjoying even if it’s not what you planned because it might just be the most magical part of your trip and you didn’t even know it.