Your Walt Disney World vacation certainly has the potential to be the memory-making experience that dreams are made of. Realistically, it also has the ability to drive you insane along the way. Parenting is a hard job at the best of times, and dropping your family into an unfamiliar destination where there is an abundance of waiting, crowds, and sensory overload might have your kids reacting in unexpected ways. To help keep everyone feeling their best, here are five tried and tested tips to help you survive Walt Disney World with young kids.
Keep Bribery Snacks On Hand
All the parenting advice you have lived by so far can go out the window at Disney. There is nothing wrong with some short-term bribery, especially if your kids don’t know you are doing it. Keep some tasty treats on hand and reward them with they are behaving nicely and wait quietly. Yep, just like a pet! If you keep their energy up and set expectations that gain your child rewards when met, they are less likely to lose the plot along the way.
Have Some Games In Mind To Play In Line
The best way to avoid everyone glued to a device for entertainment in each line is to keep your family communicating by playing fun games that will help pass the time. ‘Eye Spy’ is a great game to play in a Disney queue as there are so many decorative elements around, and there is much to choose from nearby and at a distance. If you resort to using a device, try the game ‘Heads Up,’ which has a Disney version that can be played together and doesn’t disturb those around you too much. Hot tip: hold the phone down near your chest to draw less attention to your game.
Keep Expectations In Check & Take Breaks
Disney days are long and can be pretty overwhelming for young ones. The best approach to keeping everyone feeling good is often to not wait for the meltdown before taking a break. Plan break time into your day. Whether you leave the park and head back to the resort or just take some downtime in a cool and quiet area, avoiding the emotional meltdown is far better than trying to recover from one.
Don’t Write Off A Stroller
Even if your child is always on their feet and full of energy, it’s unlikely they are familiar with the walking and standing involved in a Disney day. While you might be quick to move past a stroller at home, think again when you are headed to a Disney theme park where you can easily crack 20,000 steps and hours of standing. Strollers can be a pain, I understand, though being able to give your younger ones a break when they need it most can be priceless, especially if it saves you from carrying them!
Don’t Be Phased By Unexpected Reactions
If you’ve been waiting for that moment when your child’s eyes light up as they cuddle Mickey Mouse, be sure to keep your expectations realistic. When kids are tired, nervous, or overwhelmed, they tend to be unpredictable. If your child doesn’t react as you expect them to, don’t try to force the situation. As much as I understand the encouragement to capture the moment you’ve been waiting for, pushing them too far might change the course of the whole afternoon. Instead, try walking away and trying it later. One of the children we used to travel with would constantly find it hard to connect with characters in the morning when she was nervous, though, over the course of the day, when characters and rides felt a bit more comfortable, it was easier for her to enjoy those interactions.
We are throwing this one over to our DIS Community now. What are your best tips for surviving Walt Disney World with younger children?
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.