Preparing your Kids for a Meet and Greet

Character Encounters

I recently wrote about how much of a scaredy cat my little girl was, at first, when the time came to meet Disney characters. At the time, of course, I found a way to ease her into it, but it was all improvised and depended on what our situation was. When a friend of mine read the post, she emailed me immediately, because it turns out that all the kids in her family are so easily scared that they already developed a whole method to help children meet characters more comfortably during any Disney World vacation.

My friend says the first thing you need to do is show your child videos of the characters in action before even going to your trip. That way, they will be a little more familiar with what they will encounter at Disney World. Once you are already at Disney, she suggests that you let your kid take in the whole environment and the rides before going to meet a character to avoid overwhelming him or her. This, of course, is not necessary if your child shows interest in a character from the beginning. When the time comes to meet a character, it is better to introduce your toddler to a face character first, instead of one with a mask, so it will be less of a shock to them. As I advised, hold your child with you and let him warm up to the character before a picture, that way everyone will be more comfortable. Finally, she suggests that you schedule any character dinners you may have planned towards the end of the vacation to give time to your child to get used to meeting Disney characters all around.

To prepare yourself for it, get help from the people at the Orlando Vacation Store. They have great deals and packages.

 

Thanks, Valerie for these awesome tips!

Diaper Bag 101

Whenever you want to go out with a baby or a toddler, there is never an accessory more important than your diaper bag. Especially when traveling to Disney World, what you pack or forget at home can be a game changer when it comes to enjoying your day at the park. I decided to create a “Diaper Bag 101” list so I can make sure I have everything I need before I leave the house, and I would like to share it with you:

  • Changing Pad
  • Diapers and wipes, especially if your baby has sensitive skin. You could buy this elsewhere, but they might not have the brand that works for you or for them.
  • Antibacterial spray
  • Wallet with the essentials: documents, credit cards and cash.
  • Disposable poncho
  • Sunscreen
  • Snacks
  • Cell phone charger, because you do not want to miss out on taking a million pictures of your kids having fun, and that definitely takes its toll on your battery.
  • An autograph book

Of course, some of these things you can still but at a Baby Care Center (and there are quite a few of those at Disney World), but it is always better to have everything you need readily available, right?

Road Trips With Toddlers Made Easy

Many people choose to come all the way down to Orlando by car instead of flying over. Although I live here, and I have never had to take a road trip to Disney World, I have taken many road trips to go to different vacation spots with my kids. I do believe it is a very fun and entertaining way to travel, and I do prefer it to flying. In spite of it taking much more time than a plane, there are always fun places to stop and check out on the way and it gives you time to bond with your partner and kids while traveling. Taking a road trip with kids, though, does require you to take some special measures. Here are some tips to make your travelling time easier:

  • The younger your kids are, the better, because it is more likely that they will sleep most of the travel time.
  • If they are no longer in that phase in which they sleep almost all the time, you should schedule more bathroom breaks and stops to stretch your legs than you would have scheduled travelling on your own. You definitely want to avoid your kid getting cranky and throwing a tantrum in the car.
  • An alternative is to drive at night, so that they will be so tired that they sleep until morning. This might be rough for the drivers, though.
  • Be flexible with your planning. Booking ahead can save you the headache of finding a hotel at night, but you might not be able to get there if your baby cannot handle the length of the trip.
  • Schedule a break during feeding times. You should never breastfeed while on the road or play to much with your kid’s eating times.

Stroller Tips

A stroller is an extremely necessary element for your Disney vacation with your kids. If you love the one you have at home and it is not too much trouble to bring it with you, go right ahead. If not, it is incredibly convenient that Disney offers strollers for rent at the parks. They might be a little expensive, but it is still more comfortable to pick them up at the entrance and drop them off before leaving than the trouble of traveling with yours from home. The Disney strollers are also very convenient because they have quite some storage space on them, so you do not have to carry your diaper bags and all your kid’s things on you.

There are two things I have learned from using the Disney strollers when I go visit the Magic Kingdom with my kids. One is that it is always better to rent out two individual strollers than a double one. Not only is it easier to maneuver with them through the crowd, but it allows some group separation. When my oldest wants to check out a ride that might not be suitable for my baby, I let my husband go with her and I stay with the baby. This also applies when one of them wants to take a nap. The other important stroller tip I have might sound a little obvious, but many people tend to forget it. You should always bring something to mark your stroller so that it is easily recognizable in a stroller parking spot. Most people choose to rent, so it gets easy to confuse strollers and wind up with somebody else’s. Something as simple as a scarf or ribbon can do the trick!

Inside the Baby Care Centers

I know I have talked about the Baby Care Centers a few times already. They are, of course, incredibly convenient for parents going to Disney World. The one thing I noticed, is that I had never gone into detail about them, so here is a look inside the Baby Care Centers!

One thing I love about them is that they have private nursing homes, so you can feed your child at peace without people around you. They also have a small shop inside that offers everything you might need, from diapers or creams to baby formula.

They have a common area with sofas and a TV where your other kids can wait and rest for a little while, which is always convenient. It has air conditioning, so it can also be a good escape from the heat during summer months. There is a kitchen with microwaves and tall feeding chairs as well, in case your toddlers are a bit older. The changing rooms are also great, with tall, spacious changing tables that can fit your diaper bag and your kid, even if he or she is a little older.

Disney Junior Play’n’Dine Has New Characters!

Great news for the little ones! Disney Junior has decided to invite new characters to their Play’n’Dine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Disney’s Hollywood and Vine now has Doc McStuffins and Sofia joining Handy Mandy and Jake from the Neverland Pirates to meet and have fun with the kids dining there. The cutest thing is that they now have a new musical number as part of the act, and they invite all the kids to get up and dance with them. I know I have to take my kids to breakfast or lunch there pretty soon!

How to Discipline

There is never anything more uncomfortable than when your kids act out in public. For me, this is especially true in Disney World, because the point of the whole trip is to spoil my kids, so I feel at odds during those awkward moments. I have, though, come up with a few tips on how to discipline them for a trip.

  • Prevent, prevent, prevent
    This can be applied in two different phases: first, help your kids understand what the trip will be about. I am not talking just about the rides and the fun, but the walking and waiting in line. If they are already prepared for it beforehand, they will take a rough day at Disney World more lightly. While at the park, prevention is also key. Make sure they rest as much as they need to, that they eat well and drink lots of water and bring sunscreen to avoid nasty sunburns.
  • If you must, leave
    Leaving the location is something that always helps my kids calm down. Of course, leaving Disney World is rather drastic, but you can still apply it in a smaller scale if the tantrum your kids are throwing is not that bad. Leave the store, restaurant or ride line and see how your child reacts.
  • Use positive reinforcement
    Snacks or a souvenir in exchange for good behavior always works wonders at a theme park.

How Should I Schedule My Park Days?

A Disney vacation with toddlers is never the same as one with older kids. For starters, visiting all four theme parks becomes less important. The first time I did this, I stressed unnecessarily over one simple question: how should I schedule my park days at Disney World?

Quickly, I learned something very important regarding this question, and it is that, when traveling with small children, no park is as important as the Magic Kingdom. My advice to you is that you schedule two days there, even if you only plan on three days of theme parks. After that, it will depend on your kids’ preference. If  they like animals, you should choose Animal Kingdom over Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Epcot comes last in the priority list for small kids, because they seem not to like this park as much as the others. It still is a worthwhile experience, but probably better for a longer vacation.

If you are planning to stay around a week or more, it is also important to schedule a rest day for the kids to recover fully. This day could also be good to visit Downtown Disney or the smaller water parks.

 

When To Go To Disney World

Waiting times and crowds are aspects of Disney vacations that get rougher to deal with the younger your kids are. It is always hard to explain to small children who can be grumpy, hungry or tired that they have  to wait for another hour or so to finally get on the ride they wanted to get to. A little planning goes a long way when it comes to this, though, and figuring out the crowd behavior to pick a good date can be a game changer. Because of this, I wanted to show you this chart that WDW Prep School made with the best times to visit Disney World throughout the year. If you ask the  people who plan the Orlando vacation packages, they can help you get great deals on the most convenient days, too.

If you are planning ahead for next year to get the best deals in tickets and reservations, which I highly recommend, they also released their date chart for when to go to Disney World in 2015. You can check it out here. You have to take into account when choosing your date that green days are not empty days. There will always be a crowd at Disney World, but it is lighter during these dates.

An Incredibly Useful Height Chart

One important factor to consider when going to Disney World with small children is their height. Although not all rides have certain height requirements, some of the ones that are the most fun do! Because of this, I want to share this incredibly useful height chart with you. I found it online and it has definitely come in handy.