Traveling to Walt Disney World with my three little ones has taught me several lessons. Every trip I have taken with my kids has been more than magical, but also very educational from a parent's perspective. Here are my top tips for enjoying your Disney vacation with your children. My post focuses on preschool aged children and older, but Jenn of Disney Babies Blog has a great article that focuses on vacationing with infants and toddlers.
Use Disney's Fastpass System: Standing in long lines isn't fun for anyone, especially little ones. One of the best ways to reduce the time you spend in line is to use Disney's Fastpass System. Using a Fastpass gives you the opportunity to return at an assigned time and skip the standby line. Not all attractions offer this service, but if the wait is more than 30 minutes at an attraction that offers a Fastpass, I recommend you use it.
Snacks and Drinks: Sometimes, just taking a quick break from the action is exactly what my kids need to rejuvenate. We carry plenty of snacks into the parks to keep our energy up, but also, I can make sure my children have something to eat before reaching the stage that they are so hungry that they get cranky. We also carry water bottles with us to stay hydrated. With all the walking they do, extra snacks and water are always needed.
Consistent Rules and Consequences: Just because you are in Disney doesn't mean you should forget all the rules and expectations you have for children's behavior at home. We let our children know before we leave the resort each morning what our plan for the days is. This is also a good time to add a few reminders about what is expected of them. Our children are very well behaved but that doesn't mean they won't have their moments. By having consistent consequences at home, they are very easy to implement on vacation.
Don't Forget the Sunscreen: No matter what the weather is when we are up and getting ready to head to the parks, we make sure the kids have on their sunscreen. We actually have this rule at home all summer, but in Disney it is just as important.
Check for Blisters: There is a significant amount of walking around Walt Disney World. When my children were really small, when we would take potty breaks/diaper change breaks, I would check the kids' feet for blisters. Now with them being a little older, I ask them every so often and then check their feet when we take breaks back at the resort. By keeping up with it, I can make sure I have our band-aids ready in case I see a blister forming and do something about it before it is too late.
Glow Sticks: Having a child with anxiety, the dark attractions can sometimes be scary for him. I bring a collection of glow sticks with us to Walt Disney World, which come in all colors and sizes. At our local dollar store, I have found bracelets, necklaces, fairy wands, tridents and many other shapes. If any of the kids get nervous on one of the dark attractions, or just walking around at night, I hand them a glow stick. It gives them just enough light to calm them, but it also is a light that will not disturb other guests' experience. If you do stock up on these at home, remember they have liquid in them, so if you are flying, pack them in your luggage that you will check, rather than in your carry on bag
Potty Training Routines: If your child is potty training while in Disney, keep to your home routines as much as possible. Just a warning, the toilets in Disney are loud. When my daughter was just two, they scared her to the point she refused to go into the bathrooms. It turned into quite a struggle that lasted well beyond that particular vacation, so be prepared. It actually set her back in her potty training significantly.
These are just a few of the many things we have learned along the way to help make our vacation as magical as possible. Most importantly, I have learned to enjoy the time I have with my little ones. I am finding that time goes by much too quickly to take these moments with them for granted.
What is your best tip for enjoying a Disney vacation with your little one?