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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Disney World with a Toddler

As excited as we were about our trip to Walt Disney World I was terrified at the thought of trying to conquer it with a toddler. There were so many unknowns. How would she handle waiting in line? What about trying to actually sit down and eat at a restaurant? Would she be scared of the characters?

We heard horror stories of meltdowns and tantrums. So how did we prepare for Walt Disney World with a toddler and how did it work out for us? My plan is to detail some of our biggest concerns, explain how we prepared for them and how they actually ended up working out. 

Fears...fears of the dark, rides, fireworks, and characters?

Mini d is notorious for saying she is scared of the dark. She had never really riden any rides before so we weren't sure how she would react. And let's just say our experience with Santa at the mall last year was less than ideal. All signs pointed to setting ourselves up for failure. 

Knowing this going in to it we tried to prepare her for what was to come. Months before our trip we started watching parades and firework shows for Walt Disney World on Youtube. We talked about the characters as they went by, and we got excited about the fireworks. We really built it up as something that was going to be really fun and not scary at all. 

Anytime we were outside at night and she mentioned being scared of the dark we would say that the dark is silly and not scary. We would laugh at the dark because it was so silly. We also purchased glow necklaces and bracelets from the Dollar Tree before our trip that we wore the entire time we were there. These glow accessories lit us up on dark rides and at night, they were even great for attaching to our stroller and making it easier to find at night. 

Although she was shy and a little intimated by meeting the characters she was never scared. She never got scared of the fireworks or the dark because she was prepared for them. She knew what to expect because we had watched it all countless times on Youtube leading up to the trip. 

What about trying to have a sit-down-dinner?

Eating out with a toddler is it's own form of torture for many parents, let's be honest. Between having to {go potty} every five seconds and needing to get down and explore it's challenging to say the least. Character dining is a must. Meeting the characters gave mini d an incentive to stay seated. We also kept coloring books in our backpack to pull out whenever she was getting really impatient.

Waiting in biggest worry.

Standing in a line waiting with a toddler seems almost impossible. I'm thankful we never really had to wait for a long time. Our longest line was about 25 minutes. Using the Fastpass system and getting to the parks EARLY was our biggest help. We also used the Disney app to see what rides we could go on that didn't have a long wait and planned around those rides. Things that helped when we were waiting were pulling out bubbles from our backpack to play with or talking about the ride that we were about to go on and watching other people ride it when we could see what was going on.

Naptime meltdowns...

I read a million blogs leading up to our Disney trip on how to avoid an over-tired toddler. What I learned after our trip was that every child is different. We planned our days around going back to the room at lunch for a nap and to eat. In actuality mini d slept in her stroller in the parks just fine. When we got back to the room for our break she was already rested up and looking for something else to do. Usually she ended up at the splash pad until we were ready to hit the parks again. I say that to say if they are going to have a meltdown they are probably going to do it regardless. Know your kid. If you have a toddler that won't sleep in a carrier or a stroller you may have to go back to the room. Or you might have a child that will be just fine sitting in a shaded area napping in their stroller while you people watch. In our case daddy d would head off to the single rider line on many of the roller coasters while I sat with mini d during her naps. I don't ride ANYTHING scary so this was the perfect opportunity for daddy d to get in his "thrill riding". Or we would enjoy a nice quiet quick service lunch during her nap time. 

The best tip we received was to take our time and not try to do EVERYTHING. We didn't over-schedule meals and if we had to skip a fastpass we just skipped it. We didn't wait in long lines for characters or rides. If the line was long we went on to something else. Disney is not something you can do in just one trip. We knew we were going back so we did what we could and are saving the rest for another trip. If you are anything like us you will develop a love for the mouse and will be back time and time again. 

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