Three and UnderThere isn't much a three-and-under child can do to actually help you. They just want to feel included and be part of that excitement. Your passions are often their passions at this age, so there are a lot of things to give them an outlet to express that excitement.
- A Disney countdown calendar is a perfect way to countdown to the day you leave for Walt Disney World. Go out and buy a bunch of Disney stickers and a piece of poster board and draw up a three month (or more) calendar. Have the kids decorate it, and every day they can put a sticker on the day in the morning.
- Visit a nearby Disney Store and let someone know you're heading to The World soon. Sometimes they'll put your names up on the screen and make an announcement. While you're there you can pick up small toy for them to keep while they wait.
Four through SevenKids all have varying degrees of reading skills and understanding of technology, so these age brackets are only general ideas for kids of this age. No judgement! We want to get the kids involved in making decisions and picking out places in the parks they want to see. As they get older, they'll be a living and walking touring plan.
- Print out maps of all the parks and have the kids create their own touring plan or itinerary. Ask them about their favorite rides. Have them draw routes and paths on the paper and talk about it together. As your kids get older, they'll be studying the maps and memorizing them more and more.
- Give your child a computer/tablet and have them watch the fireworks or shows (assuming we're not worrying about spoilers!) and review them for you. Make your choices based on what the kids want to see.
Eight through TenNow we want to get the kids to get more involved in the details, which include wait times, travel times and the awareness of crowds. Depending on your child's ability to use Google Maps and/or your allowance of them being on the internet, here are a few activities you can give them. If you don't want them using a computer, give them general travel times listed below and have them figure things out.
- Use Google Maps and have them discover how long it takes to fly or drive to Orlando. If you're flying, figure out the time it takes to drive to the airport. Have them figure out when the family needs to wake up and be out the door. Then have them figure out how much time is left in the day once you land and arrive at the resort.
- Have them look up average wait times or the popularity of all the rides they want to go on and ask them what part of the day and what order is best to go on them. Make them part of the process in determining FastPass+ selections.
- Use Google Maps and have them explore an aerial view of the resort and the parks. Have them figure out how long it takes a bus to get to and from the parks and when the family needs to wake up each day to get to the parks.
- Show them how to use Google Maps in street view so they can walk through the parks and explore them on their own.
Eleven and olderNow you can finally bring your kids into the planning process with details. Have them look for flights, assist in finding hard-to-get ADRs, look up restaurant reviews and plan out where your family will want to eat.
- Depending on where you are in the planning process and how comfortable you are in sharing the financial end of things, have your kids help look for good deals on flights or look through different package offerings on the Disney website. Bring them in at the very beginning of the planning process; have them do it with you so they have some ownership of the whole vacation.
- Show them how to use the My Disney Experience app and look for openings for ADRs that you couldn't get.
- Have them select a few restaurants they want to go to and incorporate them into your plans.
- Have them coordinate FastPass+ times, show times, and firework times. Give them a copy of your spreadsheet/calendar for them to manipulate and compare them once a week.