Friday, August 12, 2011

My Top Tips for Enjoying Your Disney Vacation with Little Ones

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.

Standing in Line Strategies: If there is a long wait at an attraction that does not offer a Fastpass, then you have the option to return at a later time and hope the line is shorter or, have a few things in your backpack to occupy your child's time.  We use this time to find out what the kids have liked so far and to plan out what we will do next.  I also use my camera to let the kids looks at the pictures we have taken (my camera has a slideshow option which is quite nice!).  In our back pack, I carry a small magnetic drawing board for quick games like Tic, Tac, Toe and Erase a Face (Just like Hangman, except erase a feature of a face).  My kids also love playing I Spy and searching for Hidden Mickeys.  These things make the time go by just a little bit faster as we wait to experience an attraction.

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.

First Aid Kits: In our backpack that we carry in the park, we pack a first aid kit with us.  This is a quart size bag that includes neosporin, Disney band-aids, tissues, travel size paper towels and tweezers (for splinters).  It is an easy way to make quick fixes for skinned knees or potential blisters.  For my kids, a Band-Aid, especially one decorated with their favorite character, can cure just about anything and help us get back to enjoying our vacation quickly.  When that doesn't work, Grampa usually comes to the rescue with a Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar!

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.

Meeting the Characters: Ease into a character meeting.  Let your child approach the character in their own way.  I have found that from trip to trip, my son's fear of them has changed.  Never take for granted that because they loved meeting the characters on your last trip that they will on this trip.  If your child has never met a character, I recommend planning a character meal before heading to the parks to give him a chance to meet the characters in a very laid back setting.  The cast members at character meals have always asked us if our children were comfortable with the characters.  They would then make sure the characters knew how to approach our table.

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?


Jackie@Delightfully Disney said...

Great Tips! We do the glow sticks too! And I also remind my daughter of how she is expected to behave and we never have any problems! She's always been an easy child :) Im a little partial I guess lol!

DisneyBabies said...

Great tips! I passed them on to one of my friends planning her daughters first trip!

Debs said...

Great tips! These are terrific for kids of all ages. I ♥ glow sticks:D

Disney on Wheels said...

Hopefully I will get to implement soon with my nieces and nephews. :)

Beth Doda ~ disneymom2jhe said...

The funniest thing is that before kids, I thought I was such an expert. But once you travel with little ones - you realize how much your park touring has to change! :-)

Heidi said...

Disney is definitely different with kids. And with mine being so spread apart in age, it really makes for some interesting vacations.

Bird said...

We didn't really have any issues. These are great tips though!

Anonymous said...

What kind of backpack do u use?