It’s well known entertainment lore that Walt Disney conceptualized Disneyland — and, subsequently, Disney World — because he thought there should be a place that parents and kids could enjoy together.
And we’re so glad he did! Every Disney World vacation has its moments when it comes to traveling with little ones. And most of those moments are COMPLETELY. AWESOME.
But, let’s face it: not every Disney vacation memory with kids is Insta-story worthy, know what I’m sayin’? So we’ve devised a list of tips and tricks — some food related, some not-so-much — to help you plan a Disney trip that your kids will LOVE!
Here we go!
Plot Your Chicken Nugget Route Carefully
Sometimes, our little angels can be somewhat intolerant. An unfamiliar restaurant can make a kid stop in his tracks and wail, “Eww! I don’t wanna eat THERE!”
Here’s a good tried and true strategy to help reduce those moments: let them help plan the food journey. A lot of times, it’s the fear of the unknown that makes kids balk at new eating establishments. Once they’ve looked at the menu and are assured that their beloved nuggets and fries are available — with a Souvenir Light Up Cup! — they might be more willing to give it a try.
Then, when they give you the side eye when you walk up to the restaurant, you can say, “Hey, kid. Don’t look at me. YOU picked this one!”
Book At Least One Character Meal
That being said, make sure to book at least one Character Meal. Lines for characters around the Parks can be CRAZY long if you don’t have a Fastpass. A Character Meal (you can check out all of the restaurants, meal times, and featured characters here) is a great way to interact with a handful of characters, grab some autographs, and snap some photos, all in one fell swoop.
Plus, there’s food. AND it’s a great way to see how the littlest ones are going to react to to the costumed characters. (Will they freak, or will they fawn?)
For instance, a first day visit to Crystal Palace is a good way to test the waters before you stand in a 45-minute line in the Parks, only to find out your World’s Biggest Pooh Fan just ISN’T DOWN with a five-foot Pooh Bear who has feet the size of her torso. Much easier to swallow that info while you’re eating Mickey Waffles in an air-conditioned room than after you’ve spent the better part of an hour broiling under the sun.
Take A Spin Around YouTube
Another way to help the kids get on board with the planning is to show them videos of the rides in the Parks you’ll be visiting so they’ll know what they can expect. Ask them what their favorite rides are from the videos you watched together (make sure to check the height requirements so you don’t have any disappointed shorties!), and then book Fastpasses for their favorites. This is also a great way to decide whether your tall-enough littles are brave enough for some of those thrill rides!
Bonus tip! You can check out even more Disney Tips — and tons of info about restaurants and eats!! — through our DFB YouTube Channel!
Buy Some Cheap Disney Souvenirs
Make a plan to pick up a few inexpensive Disney items from the dollar store of your choice before you leave for your trip, and stash them in your suitcase. Because, let me just tell you, the siren song of the Disney Souvenir is strong once you enter those gates, my friend.
Lessen the temptation for “gimme”-itis by supplying your brood with Mickey-faced whoosits and whatsits before you even step foot on park property. Pass one or two out every other day (or as rewards if they’re behaving and telling you what magnificent parents you are for taking them on this wonderful trip) and that hopefully will keep the Veruca Salts at bay.
Another tip: grab some bubbles while you’re at the dollar store. They make a great stress reliever for anxious children and are a terrific time-passer while you’re waiting for the parade to start. (Plus you might avoid having to buy some seriously pricey bubble blowers in the Parks!)
And Perhaps Most Importantly…
And maybe the most important tip: Don’t overplan your days. There’s so much to see, do, and experience at Disney, but downtime is your FRIEND! All of those sights, smells, and spins on the rides can overstimulate even the hardiest among us — but especially those wee ones.
Take a break in the middle of the day, maybe right after lunch, just to head back to your hotel and CHILL. Take a nap. Read a book. Take a swim.
Just give your brain a breather for a bit. Then, when you head back over to the Park for the evening, you’ll be relaxed, refreshed, and ready to watch some awesome nighttime shows! Your feet, your brain, and your family will be so thankful you made that break happen!
Parents, we’re pulling for you and your little ones to have a memorable — and perfectly magical! — Disney World vacation!
Do you have any tips to share when it comes to taking your kids to Disney? Please let us know with a comment!