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Disney World is a once in a lifetime trip for most families. Most people spend months or years planning their trips. And then, many parents are disappointed when their children have meltdowns while there. By taking some time to prepare your kids in advance, you can prevent some of those meltdowns. Here are 5 ways to prepare kids for a trip to Disney World.
Preparation Area #1: Walking
One thing is true about Disney World: you will do a ton of walking while you are there. Most people log an average of 8 to 10 miles PER DAY! We have had a few days where we pushed 12 miles.
That’s a lot of walking for anyone, but especially kids. Because of this, some people rent strollers for their children, even when they are 6, 7, 8 or 10 years old!
I was determined to get rid of the stroller as soon as possible. Our first trip without a stroller was 2 weeks after my son turned 6.
In the months leading up to that trip, we went on family walks a few times a week. Each walk would be a little longer than the one before, until my son was able to walk more than a mile without stopping. By the time we got to Disney World, he had no problem walking.
Tip to prepare kids for a trip to Disney World: Take your kids on walks prior to your trip to get them ready for all of the walking.
Preparation Area #2: Sleeping
The days at Disney are long and tiring. Some people get up early to hit rope drop and then turn in early. Others sleep in and enjoy late nights at the parks. Still others, like us, do both early mornings and late nights with a nap in the middle of the day.
Regardless of which approach you take, be sure to build in some time to sleep or you will have some very cranky kids on your hands after a day or two.
It has been a long time since my son has taken naps at home. However, when we are at Disney, naps are a mandatory part of the day for every one in the family. It is one of our “Disney rules.”
To prepare him for this, I always remind him prior to our trips that he must take a nap every day while we are there. I tell him that the trade off for taking naps is that he gets to stay in the parks late at night to watch the fireworks.
He knows that naps are just a part of being at Disney. He doesn’t argue about Disney naps. In fact, they are a welcome break for him.
Tip to prepare kids for a trip to Disney World: Decide when you are going to work sleep into your busy Disney days, and then talk to your kids about it in advance.
Preparation Area #3: Characters
Don’t forget about character interactions when preparing your kids for Disney. Most of the characters that you can meet at Disney World do not talk. (The exceptions to this are the princesses, and a few other “face characters,” such as Aladdin, Alice, and Mary Poppins.) However, when the characters are in shows and parades, they do speak.
This can be confusing for some younger children. To prepare your kids for this, explain to them in advance of your trip that the characters will probably not talk to them when they meet them. Tell them that they must save their voices for the shows and parades.
Most kids will be accept this explanation. But, it’s better to have this conversation before you are standing in front of Donald Duck!
Tip to prepare kids for a trip to Disney World: Explain to your younger children that most of the characters don’t talk during the meet and greets.
If your kids are scared of the characters, see my tips for overcoming this fear.
Preparation Area #4: Rides/Attractions
Disney rides and attractions are much tamer than you will find at other amusement parks. However, there are some experiences that are still frightening to smaller children. In preparation for your trip, think about what things are likely to frighten your children.
For instance, my son’s biggest fear is the dark. He is scared of any roller coasters that are dark, such as Expedition Everest and Space Mountain. I need to know which attractions are dark, so I can prepare him.
If he knows what to expect in advance, he can be ready for it. It also allows him to choose not to ride a particular ride if he wants. This greatly cuts down on his anxiety and fear of the rides.
If you aren’t familiar with the various attractions at Disney World, watch videos on YouTube or grab a copy of the Unofficial Guide to Disney World. It has a description of every attraction in the parks and will warn you about the ones that are likely to scare children. You can also find this information at touringplans.com.
Tip to prepare kids for a trip to Disney World: Learn about all of the attractions so you can anticipate which ones are likely to scare your young children. Talk to your kids about those attractions and show them videos from YouTube so they will know what to expect.
Preparation Area #5: Souvenirs
A trip to Disney World is expensive. And once you arrive, you will find a gift shop at every turn tempting your kids with countless souvenirs. Chances are, your kids will be constantly asking for things. This is another area that you need to prepare your kids for before you arrive.
There are ways to save money on souvenirs while there. By deciding on a method to handle this aspect of the trip before you leave home, you can prevent the meltdowns and save yourself money and headaches.
It helps to talk to your kids prior to your trip about how much money they will be allowed to spend on souvenirs.
Tip to prepare kids for a trip to Disney World: Decide on how you will limit the souvenirs that your kids ask for while at Disney World before your trip. Talk to your kids about how much they will be allowed to spend.
Most people spend a lot of time planning for their trip to Disney World, but many forget to prepare their children for the experience. There are several things that you need to talk to your kids about in order for them to be ready.
Taking time to train your kids for lots of walking and talking to them about what to expect can help you eliminate many of the common meltdowns. The better prepared your kids are, the easier your trip will be on the whole family.
I hope these tips help you to prepare your kids for a trip to Disney World.
For more tips on Disney World with kids, see how to stop meltdowns, the perfect age to take your child, how to keep your kids safe, and life lessons to teach your kids while there. And find out how to prepare your phone for Disney World.