While gearing up for my son’s first (and my 15th!!!) trip to the Walt Disney World Resort I came up with a list of suggestions for parents preparing for their child’s first visit:
Just Push Play
Once you’ve announced your upcoming trip, be sure to request the vacation planning DVD from Disney Parks. The DVD provides an overview of all the wonderful experiences at the Walt Disney World Resort. Each segment gives viewers just enough to peak their interest without giving too much away.
DIStracted Tip: Parents looking to get a more accurate feel for the attractions should check out YouTube. Watching Walt Disney World attraction videos can provide peace of mind when selecting experiences for your little pirate or princess.
Practice Makes Perfect (okay, maybe not perfect!)
Make an effort to experience a local carnival or amusement park prior to your child’s first visit. Not only is it fun for the whole family, it also gives parents an opportunity to discuss proper park etiquette (no cutting!) and to assess which types of attractions your child enjoys and/or can handle. After taking a spin on the Tilt-a-Whirl at a local amusement park I know that the Mad Tea Party is definitely out.
These Shoes are Made for Walkin’
A trip to a theme park will wear out even the most energetic child. While your rugrat may seem to have boundless energy, he will most likely crash and burn after a few hours of standing in line and running from attraction to attraction.
Our son is coming up on 5-years-old so we plan to use a stroller. Those with kids beyond stroller age may want to begin taking family walks to prepare for their visit. If your family is particularly sedentary, start off with a stroll around the block and build up to a longer distance of 1-2 miles a few times a week.
DIStracted Tip: Make sure you wear a pair of broken-in shoes on your vacation. While brand new shoes may SEEM like a good idea, you’ll end up with blisters. Every Walt Disney World veteran has a pair of shoes they swear by. I prefer to wear a sport sandal (ex. Keen) when I visit the theme parks. They’re relatively lightweight, offer good toe protection, a fair amount of support and, best of all, they’re water resistant. No squishy socks for me! Parents should be able to find miniature versions of my favorites at their local outdoor store or online.
Know Your Kid and Plan Accordingly
It’s a good idea to become familiar with which attractions are appropriate for you child. When considering attractions and experiences think about:
- Fears (dark, heights, loud noises etc)
- Accessibility concerns
After taking the above into account, check out the official Walt Disney World Resort website. Once on the attractions page, parents have access to a nifty little tool which allows users to limit by a variety of facets. Let’s say that my preschool aged child is 42” tall and adverse to big drops and fast moving rides. By selecting those facets on the attractions page, I can quickly get a list of attractions and experiences appropriate for my child.
DIStracted Tip: If you are traveling with an infant or a child that doesn’t meet the minimum height requirements for an attraction, be to sure use the rider switch option. To read up on rider switch, check out Christen’s article on taking small children to Walt Disney World.
How Many Sleeps Until Walt Disney World?
Anticipating an upcoming trip is part of the fun! Of course you can buy pre-made countdown calendars, but I think creating your own countdown calendar or chain is more fun. I’m not terribly crafty so I opted to make a countdown chain. There are a TON of ideas on Pinterest, so you’ll have no shortage of ideas. Goofy is my absolute favorite character, so when I happened across a Goofy-themed countdown chain I just had to make it!
My son loves removing a link every day and seeing how many days are left until our trip.
This One’s For You
Finally, get your child’s input and take their preferences into account when planning; after all, the trip is for them. Here are some ideas of questions to ask your little one:
- Magicband color
- Most anticipated theme park
- Most anticipated attraction at each of the theme parks
What did you do to prepare your child for their first visit?