Our trip to Walt Disney World earlier in the month was a bit of a dream come true. The last time Trent & I visited was before we were parents. I confess, we swore then that we’d never visit with diapers and a stroller. We broke half that promise. We went with a stroller. That said, I’m so glad we did.
Disney with a preschooler is wonderful! Our son is old enough that he could really enjoy it and begin to take in the magic. But, we saw a LOT of meltdowns around us throughout our trip. We did have a bit of tired whining and tears from our own little one, but nothing compared to some of what we witnessed. It got me thinking why our visit was so cheerful and others seemed to be living a nightmare.
Young kids are used to their schedule. The best days will always be those that follow that schedule at least to a degree. It won’t be perfect. You are on vacation after all. Sharing one room, we all went to bed at one time and we all got up when he woke up. We spent shorter time in the parks than we had when it was just the two of us. It’s impossible to “do it all” and, honestly, there is no need.
Keep it Simple
Rather than attempting to “do it all,” we made a simple 6 item to do list before the trip. The final item – to eat Mickey Mouse ice cream – was one of the last things we did in Hollywood Studios before our ride back to the resort to catch the Magical Express and head for home. After we enjoyed our treat, we all cheered at having accomplished our list.
A combination of schedule/habit from daycare for him and the heat which had none of us wanting to eat large meals, we all snacked throughout the day. To save a little money and keep snacks more accessible, I packed some from home and carried a few into the park each day in an old Subway kids’ meal Lion King bag. Perfectly themed for our trip, plus allowed easy inspection as we entered the parks and for each of us to pick out whatever we wanted. We also brought an insulated sippy cup with us and refilled it with water as needed.
It’s their magic!
Admittedly there are temptations, and certainly we encouraged a few things we thought he would like, but we mostly let him lead the pace and decide what we would do. On our last day this meant given a choice of three shows, he chose to see The Voyage of the Little Mermaid so that’s exactly what we did. Having never seen the movie before our trip to Disney, our son developed a liking to that redhead on our vacation. That’s the kind of fun memory that wouldn’t have happened if we’d just taken him to one of the other shows. (And, yes, we now own the movie!)
In line with the “their magic” part – it’s their vacation too and don’t we all need a little downtime? We ended our day at Animal Kingdom by mid afternoon to head back to our resort for time at the arcade and pool. Two things that our son had asked to do several times. We had fun playing together, relaxing and getting to bed the earliest of all our nights there setting us up to enjoy early Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios on our last day.
Want them with characters or major park landmarks? Do it early in your visit when your child is more rested and less overstimulated. We got some cute shots and he was far more willing of a participant at those times.
Take the Stroller
Ok so that one applies to the “preschooler” slant to this post as well as those younger and even a tad older. It’s a LOT of walking. Whether you bring one from home or rent one from a private company or the park itself, I highly recommend it. Ours provided him a spot to relax with a bit of shade, enjoy a snack, people watch, parade watch and rest his legs. Plus, it was a good place to stash our extra snacks, napkins, hand wipes, the autograph book, sippy cup, bottled water, etc. All the things we needed, but didn’t need to physically carry with us on every ride.
Our only issue is that our cup holder disappeared while our stroller was in “stroller parking” during a ride at the Magic Kingdom. I had debated adding a zip tie before we left home and didn’t. My advice – do it or add a stroller lock. But otherwise we had absolutely no problems and were happy to have brought the stroller along. Remember to label it! I have free printable label here.
Have some tips of your own for fun with kids at Disney? Share in the comments. Also, be sure to see my Disney Packed Fun for Less post for ideas on fun, inexpensive treats to pack and our suggestions on Trip “Must Haves” to make your vacation a bit easier.