We started taking our kids to Disney World when they were 5 and 2. We’ve been through it all! Here are 8 tips for Walt Disney World with kids:
1. Don’t try to see and do everything – I’ve seen parents pull a whining, crying child into a queue because they feel like the kid should have all the fun they paid high dollar for. But kids get overwhelmed, over stimulated and over tired. Instead of dictating a touring schedule, take some cues from your kids. If they need a breather, don’t be upset if you have to take one.
2. Don’t take them on a scary attraction first – I’ve heard stories where parents messed up and took their kid on Splash Mountain or Big Thunder or even Tower of Terror as one of their first attractions of their visit. The kids were traumatized and refused to go on any attractions during the trip, even tame ones like the Tea Cups. Don’t be one of ‘those’ parents. Take the time to watch Youtube videos of the attractions at Disney World. Plan on taking your child on the tamest attractions first and save the rest for last.
3. Feed your kids – Touring Walt Disney World takes a lot out of you. Don’t follow the same meal and snack schedule you do at home. Feed them more often and make sure they drink plenty of water. A full belly will cut down on whining, temper tantrums and grumpiness.
4. Take a break – The best thing I did for my kids when they were little was taking a break in the middle of the day. We got to the parks at opening, stayed until lunch and then headed back to the resort for a rest. Sometimes this rest involved a nap. Other times it was swimming or just vegging out in the air conditioning. We’d stay for a few hours and then head back to the parks until closer to bedtime.
5. Souvenir shop on the last day – To cut down on the I wanna, gimmes and I gotta haves, inform the kids that souvenirs will be bought on the last day of the vacation. This way you can hurry through the gift shops at the end of the attractions (I hate when they do this!). On the last day, plan some time into your day to browse the shops. You might even go to Disney Springs to do your souvenir shopping.
6. Plan character meals for just after your midday break – We liked to plan our character meals for 4:30 pm. This way the kids were well rested after the midday break and they are more likely to sit still and behave. At least that was my experience! In the mornings, they are hyper and eager to get their day started. At lunch, they are tired and cranky from the excitement in the mornings. But 4:30 PM with a midday break was absolutely perfect for my kids.
7. Find some water – There are some pop jet fountains and water sprays that you can let the kids run though. This is a great way for them to cool off especially if they are overheated. Jacob threw a fit during our first trip and the Fairy Godmother actually left her line of kids to come over and talk to him. She told us to take him to the pop jet fountains (no longer there) and it improved his mood 100%.
8. Tinker Bell Gifts – To encourage good behavior in the parks, consider secretly packing a small gift for your child everyday. Let them know that Tinker Bell visits the good boys and girls who listen to their parents and follow directions. Each night while they are sleeping, place the small gift out in the room. When they awake, they will see that Tinker Bell was there!
9. If they whine, feed them! – Meltdowns, whining, crying, fussing, all of those things can be cured with a snack. Many times kids get that way because they are hungry or thirsty but they don’t know how to recognize it and communicate it to you. My very first weapon of defense when I see my kids starting to spiral is to grab the closest snack and drink. It could be ones that you pack or you could buy them in the parks. Either way, snacks will help you have a less stressful vacation. Trust me!
What are your best tips for taking kids with you to Walt Disney World?
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