So you have made the decision to take your young princesses and pirates to Disney World. Now you are beginning to get nervous because of all the things that could go wrong. Will they be terrified of Mickey? Will they be able to to ride Space Mountain? Am I going to have to carry the little guy or girl all day long? Let Grumpy help with some tips for taking young children to Disney World.
Grumpy has been to Disney World lots of times. Not enough or too many (as if there were any such thing) but plenty. The last trip, however, was different. It was Grumpy Jr’s first trip.
Just so you know Grumpy Jr is not the bravest little boy. For example, those little cars you can ride at Walmart and the mall terrify him. Things that move (like audio-animatronics do) scare the bejeezus out of him. So as we were planning the trip Grumpy was a little nervous. Grumpy developed a strategy though.
Running In Terror From Mickey Mouse
Imagine the look on your face when you have finally waited through the long line to meet Mickey Mouse. Imagine the look on your little ones face? You are all smiles and excitement and so is he or she? Not necessarily.
When it comes to taking young children to Disney World everyone assumes that their child will run to Mickey, Minnie and all the other characters. Sometimes they do. And sometimes they run the other way! Think about it. How many times have you taken your children to see Santa Claus and seen some little one screaming in Santa’s lap (and not for the things on his wish list either!)
The same can apply to the Disney meet and greets. But your child loves Mickey Mouse right? Of course but seeing Mickey on TV and seeing a five foot tall Mickey Mouse can be two totally different things. Think about it. When you stand next to Mickey you are probably taller than he is. But when your child stands next to Mickey the mouse probably towers over him or her. It can be quite intimidating for young children to have this over-sized mouse reaching out to grab them.
Know Your Ride and Know Your Child
Grumpy made one huge mistake the first time we took Grumpy Jr to Disney. Our very first ride was the Great Movie Ride. Everything was great until (yeah you saw it coming didn’t you!) the alien scene. Fortunately the terror was short lived. But for a while Grumpy thought he would never get his boy on another ride.
Before you push your child onto a ride think about it a little more than Grumpy did. Know what you are about to get your child and yourself into. If your child is terrified of bugs, for example, A Bug’s Life is definitely out! Stitch’s Great Escape is perfect for little ones right? Maybe not! Splash Mountain? Lovely little animals dancing and singing. Oh and a huge drop! Can your child handle it?
Set Reasonable Expectations
You have been talking up your Disney trip to your little one for months. You have been telling him or her (or them) how much you love Expedition Everest. Great move right? Probably not.
If your children are young chances are there are some rides that are going to be off-limits due to height restrictions. Know which rides your little one can get on and which ones they are too small for.
Another point about expectations, you cannot do everything. The average Disney guest experiences about ten attractions. Figure out which attractions will give your little one the most joy and do those first.
The Grumpy Strategy
But Grumpy you said you had a strategy. Isn’t it about time you shared? What is it? Glad you asked.
Grumpy Jr loves to watch videos while sitting in Daddy’s laps. Normally we would watch silly animal videos but after we confirmed our Disney trip the videos shift to Disney World Videos.
Grumpy definitely wanted Jr to love the character meet and greet Mickey Mouse as much as he loved his plush Mickey Mouse. So we watched lots of videos of Mickey at Disney World. We watched parades, show and meet and greets. We especially watched videos of talking Mickey Mouse
Grumpy took a very similar approach to rides. Disney has lots of short ride promo videos on Youtube. Again with Grumpy Jr in Daddy’s lap we would watch these videos for every ride Grumpy Jr might be afraid of. We watched Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the Haunted Mansion a lot!
While watching the videos Grumpy would sometimes laugh (like at the ghosts and make jokes about them) and sometimes pretend to be afraid. Pretending to be afraid worked magic with Grumpy Jr. Grumpy Jr was getting scared but when Grumpy pretended to be afraid he started comforting me and tell me it was not scary. (For the record, this worked on the airplane ride to WDW too.)
Don’t Force The Issue
One of the keys is not making your child do something they are absolutely refusing to do! Trying to get them on a ride but they are throwing a fit? Don’t get frustrated. Just skip it.
Instead let your child pick what he or she wants to do for a while. After all you are trying to make memories your child will remember fondly.
Your Child Is Not Grumpy Jr
What worked for our family might not work for yours. You know your children best but a little preparation will get your children ready for Disney.
Have you already taken your little ones to Disney? What worked for you and what didn’t? Please share in the comments.
Still not convinced your child is ready for Disney? Check out Grumpys Too Young For Disney Article here.
For more help on taking young children to Disney check out 5 Tips – What Not to do When Taking Kids to Disney World by Disneyfanatic.com
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