There is nothing better than seeing your child’s eyes light up as they see Mickey Mouse or hug a Disney princess for the first time. As parents, the sheer joy and belief in magic is one of the biggest reasons to take young kids to Disneyland or Disney World. Still, parents wonder how their kids will do in the parks, as they worry about long lines, lack of sleep, melt downs and more. The great news is there are absolutely ways to avoid the melt downs and have more fun with the littles!
1.) Schedule an afternoon break. I actually do this for my clients of all ages, but it’s especially important for young kids. Staying close to the parks makes this much more feasible. Plan on exiting the park for a few hours after lunch to get in a rest or nap time (or even just a relax in the pool time). This allows kids to recharge and return to the parks happy, ready to cheerfully dine in the restaurants and make to the night time entertainment.
2.) Plan ahead. Kids can sense their parents stress and emotions. Too many families show up at the Disney Parks with no sense of what they will be doing and as such the typical “What should we do next?” disagreements often occur. Planning ahead allows you to continue through your day without every decision being in the moment and up for potential arguments. Know which park you’ll attend each day, where you’ll start, any must see show times, and go from there.
3.) Bring or rent a stroller. Your three- or four-year-old may well have outgrown a stroller at home, but people literally walk miles and miles each day in the parks. It’s hard enough for adult legs, but little legs get tired extra fast. Without a stroller your left deciding between a whining/crying child or carrying your child around, making your walking that much harder. Strollers can be rented in park, but there are also outside companies with much more comfortable strollers that I rent from for my clients!
4.) Know your food plans ahead of time. Hungry children and long days don’t mix. If you hope to eat in the sit down restaurants, you’re going to need reservations in advance. Nothing good can come from walking up, hoping to be seated soon with your hungry preschooler and then being told the wait is over an hour. (Or worse, that there is no availability at all). In between meals, consider your snack options. You are allowed to pack snacks into the park (no hard sided coolers or glass containers), so you can have a few quick bites on hand if hunger sets in. For sale, you’ll of course find the traditional theme park snacks like ice cream and popcorn, but there are also fresh produce stands and other healthy snack choices. At Walt Disney World, having the Disney Dining gives each person 2 snack credits per night to use, as well.
5.) Reduce your time in lines. This is probably the biggest concern I hear from parents. Small children and long lines just don’t mix well. (Honestly, long lines and any age don’t mix well!) Most people believe that long lines are inevitable in the Disney Parks, but that’s not true. A really well laid plan helps you avoid the long waits. At bare minimum, knowing how to use FastPass well is a good start. For a much more streamlined plan with short waits throughout the day, consider using a Disney expert that offers fully customized park touring plans. Note that this is different from a “custom itinerary” which usually does not include a fully strategized ride by ride plans to avoid the longs lines each day of your stay, so be sure you are getting what you want.
With a little planning in advance, your Disney World or Disneyland vacation with your little ones can be extra magical!
Ready to learn more about any of these options? Visit our website to connect with us for more information!
This post was written by Sabrina Tinius, a specialist in planning Disney vacations for families who want less stress and more time making memories that last a lifetime.
Through her in depth destination knowledge, park touring strategies and incredibly detailed planning, Sabrina is here to help you have a more enjoyable Disney vacation — while saving you tons of time and stress. And when she’s not busy crafting amazing Disney vacations, you can find her hanging out with her two awesome kids, taking family vacations of her own, and occasionally baking up a storm in her Seattle area kitchen.
Want to learn more about Disney Vacation planning? Check out our past posts on the topic :
- Visiting Disney Parks in Summer? You MUST Read This First!
- Which Disney Vacation is Right For You?
- 7 Reasons Why I Will Never Plan Another Disney Vacation!
- 4 Reasons Why Disney Cruises are GREAT for Extended FAMILY vacations
- How to Surprise Your Kids with a Disney Vacation for Christmas
- 5 Reasons to Plan Ahead for Disney World
- Disney World – 5 Reasons to Stay at a Disney Property