10. Have a countdown calendar.
This will lead to the excitement level for the whole family. Let each person take a turn at changing the number of days left before leaving home for your WDW vacation. Consider having steps to go along with this process, such as having your suitcases packed on day 7?
9. Talk about what to do if your children become separated from you.
Discuss stranger safety. Show your children photos of what the Cast Members look like, particularly the style and color and details of their name tags. There are some different name tags circulating out there that look very much like a CM tag. Take photos with your phone each day as you head out to the Parks so you have a recent photo and information at your fingertips of what your child is wearing that day. Consider putting your name and cell phone number on the back of a complimentary park button. You can select a button to celebrate “First Visit” or celebrating a birthday. Have conversations about staying close together as you travel around the park. It is easy for a straggler to get separated from the rest of the family. Talk about where you are going next. This could be important in finding a lost child. If you lose sight of your child look in that immediate area for a few minutes. If you cannot find them alert a Cast Member. Tell your child to alert a Cast Member. Stay near the place you spoke to the CM so they can ask you some questions and they have a way of contacting you when your child is found. CM’s speak to other CM’s in the area with your child’s description. CM’s will help you find your child.
8. Read the Disney picture books or original stories that the Park attractions are based on.
Involve the whole family in this by reading the book together. Have the children take turns in reading out loud. Talk about the story, the characters, the setting, etc. Familiarize everyone with the good ending so that young children will keep in mind there is a good ending and won’t be so afraid of the antagonist in the story when they see them on the ride. Remind them that it is just a story and that evil character is not real.
7. Watch the Disney movies that attractions are based on.
It has been generations since movies attractions such as The Swiss Family Treehouse is based on. These are still great family movies to watch so pop some popcorn and settle in for a Disney classic movie. It makes seeing the attraction more enjoyable. When you visit the attractions you will appreciate all the details Disney Imagineers recreated for you.
6. Take long walks.
This is a good excuse to tackle the exercising you have been talking about. It will build up your endurance as well as your children’s. There is a lot of walking to be done on a Walt Disney World vacation. It will be more enjoyable if you can do it without sore feet and legs. If your kids are stronger you may be able to skip that costly stroller rental. This makes great family time and you can talk about your vacation building up the excitement.
5. Wear the shoes you plan on wearing in the parks to break them in.
You do not want to hit Walt Disney World with brand new shoes. It is very common to get blisters, if you do not prepare your footwear before you go. Wear shoes you plan on wearing in the parks on those family walks. Make sure you get some good quality Blister Band-Aids just in case. Another good precaution to avoid blisters is to wear two pairs of socks.
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4. Look over the attractions and talk about which ones everyone in the party would like to experience.
This is an important step in your planning. When you have chosen attractions you can then choose FastPass+ wisely. Don’t waste a child’s FP+ on an attraction that they cannot ride or have no interest in riding. You don’t want to be ready to get into a ride vehicle with a child screaming and upset because they do not want to ride it. If it is frightening to them it is better to put that attraction off until a later visit. Make use of the Rider Switch that allows one parent to stay with a young child while the other parent rides with the child (ren) that want to. Tell the Cast Member when entering the queue that you want to take advantage of Rider Switch. The first parent, after riding, then watches the non-riding child. The second parent to ride enters through the FP+ line with up to two members of their party to ride so they are not riding alone. It is a very helpful option for young families. Pay attention to the ride restrictions such as age when choosing FP+. There are attractions nearby that would provide a great attraction experience so plan on doing that while the rest of the group rides the thrill attraction.
3. Talk about the vacation budget and choosing souvenirs.
Everyone has a spending limit and it is important to recognize yours. Look at the menus, prices of the tickets, resort, and see the Disney Store Park’s merchandise section to get an idea of what everything will cost. When choosing restaurants look at the menus to make sure there is something there that everyone in your party will want to eat. You can even determine what the cost of each meal would be. Determine how much money is left for snacks and souvenirs. You may want to have the children earn vacation money that you will hold onto until you are at WDW. Explain that there will be lots of tempting merchandise everywhere and that they will want to take their time to choose what they would like to purchase. You could get Disney Gift Cards for each child with their credit limit. When they run out of credit on the card they cannot spend any more. Use this as a financial lesson while giving them control over their spending.
2. Build up your map skills.
Walt Disney World is a very big place. So big that many first time visitors will stand in awe wondering which way to go next. Disney provides many different maps to help you find your way around. Your Disney resort has a map in your room and on signs around the property. It will show you important things like precisely where your room is on property and where the food court is, the main swimming pool, laundry facilities, the bus stops, etc. The Park Guides have maps of that park with all the attractions listed, a description of attractions including any height requirements, location of rest rooms, restaurants, first aid stations, character locations, shops, etc. There are maps of the entirety of the property pointing out the location of each park, resort, water parks, Disney Springs, bus routes, etc. Map skills can be taught through homemade lessons or purchase map skills books appropriate for the ages of your children at local teacher supply stores or booksellers in your area. It makes getting around so much easier if you are comfortable with map reading. Be sure to visit the My Disney Experience app or website for more maps.
1. Have a craft night.
Design family shirts. Make your own autograph item to take to the characters. Make bags to use in the park. This is something fun to do as a family that can also save you money. If your children want to get autographs from the Disney characters make your own autograph book or choose from other ideas like a pillowcase. Maybe create family t-shirts you will all wear. Large box stores and craft stores have iron-on’s, sew on patches, fabric paint, inexpensive shirts, really all you will need to make your family unique shirts you will be proud to wear. Make/decorate ready-made small cross-body bags or string backpacks in which your children may carry their own autograph book/item, pen, and small snacks. There are many boards on Pinterest with great ideas to stimulate your creativity. Although not a “craft” you could mix a large bowl of Trail Mix allowing each person to add a bagful of raisins, or peanuts, M&M’s, dried fruit, or whatever you want to make your healthy snack mix. Let the kids stir the big bowl. Then use a small measuring cup to add the mix to small “snack-size” bags. These little bags can be added to your bags that will be carried in the park each day so everyone has a handy snack when they want it.