8. Do not expect to tour the parks the same way you would have without children.
If you’re about to take your first Disney vacation with children, it is helpful to understand from the beginning that you’ll need to tour the parks in a way you haven’t done before. During an adults only trip, you can more easily push yourself to your limit, and decide last minute to stay out late for the fireworks and get up super early the next day. Children get worn out so much easier than adults, and simply cannot follow the same schedule you would have used during a pre-children trip. You’ll need to tour the parks at a much slower pace in order to avoid tired, cranky children, and meltdowns halfway through the day.
7. Put money on gift cards so children have spending limits with souvenirs.
One of the most stressful things for families with children in Walt Disney World is that so many attractions exit through gift shops, and their children want to buy everything they see. Before your trip, purchase some Disney gift cards, and make it clear to your children that they each have x amount to spend on souvenirs. If you keep reinforcing this idea before your trip even begins, you’ll at least have some kind of structure in place for when they want to buy everything.
6. Decide on a stroller plan ahead of time.
First off, you’ll need to decide if a stroller is right for your family. While strollers can be a huge convenience for small children with little legs, they are also a huge inconvenience. You need to find somewhere to park it before you get in line for an attraction, and you’ll be constantly folding it and unfolding it to use Disney transportation. If you feel that your children need strollers, I would recommend bringing them from home. This will save you time and money, as you will not need to head to stroller rental every day of your vacation. If you do not have a stroller at home, this (in my opinion) is a sign that your child can likely do without one on vacation.
5. Take advantage of rider swaps.
Rider swaps allow you to ride attractions without having to wait in line again, while someone else in your party waits with your child who is too young to ride. This is a great option for families who do not want to give up their favorite attractions due to having small children with them. Some attractions even have play areas for children while they wait with the non-riding adults.
4. Be respectful of which attractions your children want to experience.
If your child really wants to ride the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, make time to do that. You’ll never get to experience Disney with them at a young age again, and going on a ride they are looking forward to will make for a more memorable experience. At the same time, be respectful of attractions your children don’t want to experience, or that you know they will not like. Kids who are afraid of the outside of the Haunted Mansion will likely not have a good experience on the inside, so it would be better for your family to skip attractions that will obviously frighten your children.
3. Prioritize character meet and greets.
Character meet and greets are very exciting for young children, and can easily create memorable experiences. While some members of your party may be more interested in skipping them in favor of hitting up their favorite attractions, meeting characters will make for cherished memories down the road.
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2. Allow time for bathroom breaks.
Children simply cannot hold it like adults can, so it is super important to make sure you take regular bathroom breaks while touring the parks with young children. This may seem like common sense, but I have seen numerous meltdowns due to children needing to go to the bathroom while adults stall. If you child is visibly holding him or herself, and stating, “I need to go to the bathroom,” then they need to go to the bathroom! Regardless of whether or not you are in line for an attraction, about to go to a show, or whatever you may be doing, plan to use the bathroom frequently, especially if your child clearly tells you that he or she needs to go.
1. Take breaks throughout the day.
Do not plan to hit the parks from the second they open to when they close at night. I would recommend going early in the morning, and leaving right before or right after lunch, and going back later in the day if you’d like to see the fireworks. Children get tired easily, and cannot run around nonstop like adults can. Afternoon naps and taking frequent breaks can do wonders for families with children.