Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Best Of" Week: Minnie Moms: Cranky Kids Part 1

Windy is planning her first trip to Walt Disney World with her husband and two children.  She asked for tips on dealing with tired kids at WDW and preventing the situation in the first place.  The Minnie Moms offer suggestions from their own family vacations.  The ladies had so many helpful ideas that they will appear in two posts.  Check back later for part 2.

Corby: There are several factors that go into keeping children from becoming overly tired. Some things to consider are: if you all function better in the morning or at night, what time of the year you’re going and what age children you have. The younger they are, the more you’ll have to adapt to their schedules.

There is so much to see and do at Disney World. All the rides, attractions, sounds, parades, etc can be a lot to take in for any person, let alone a child. I’ve often heard people say they need a vacation after their vacation to Disney! My family absolutely loves all the excitement and we don’t go to Disney World for a relaxing vacation but to have FUN! We are pretty “hard core” and spend the entire day and night in the parks. However, we DO sleep in! We’re not morning people so we take our time getting to the parks. This has allowed our son, who recently turned 6, to get “caught up” on his sleep from the long day/night before. We usually barely make it in time for breakfast at the resort. We take our time eating and then we’ll hit a park and stay until closing. When we first started taking him at 3 and 4 we would get a park hopper and leave whatever park we went to for the afternoon and return to the hotel to take a nap or just relax a bit. After we took a little break, we’d shower up, go eat dinner and finish out the night in another park of choice. Obviously, if your family prefers the morning, as most families I know do, then I would recommend waking up early and arriving at the park for rope drop. It will be a lot less crowded and hot.

We also have always used a jogging stroller, even when our son was 5 (which I’m sure was pretty silly looking) just so he could be pushed around instead of walking. For older children, I think you’ll find they are excited and having so much fun that they’ll be fine walking all day. If you’re going in the summer when temperatures are at their highest, I would recommend dressing appropriately, drinking lots of fluids, and we always bring the fans that squirt out water to cool off. A tip is to buy the water fans before you get to Disney. You’ll pay a fraction of the price than you would in the parks. It’s amazing how much more comfortable (and pleasant) you’ll be when you’re not so hot. Also remember to eat well! We usually start our day right with a large breakfast from the resort. We then will eat a light snack in the afternoon and then have a nice dinner at night. May sound silly but I know how my child gets when he’s hungry or he’s eaten a bunch of junk and it‘s not a pretty sight!

The most important tip to remember is either getting to the park early and leaving early or arriving later if you‘re planning on staying late. It’s also a good idea to have an “off “day or two from the parks if you’re going for an extended amount of time. Spend a day at the resort pool, go to Downtown Disney for some shopping, or play some miniature golf to break it up a bit. Know ahead of time that there is just so much to do and you more than likely won’t be able to cover it all. Take your time and do what you think is manageable for YOUR family. Have all family members make a list ahead of time of what’s important to them and what are their “must do’s”. Hit the “musts” first so everyone is happy. If you don’t get to do everything you would like then you’ll just have to plan another trip in the near future! (That’s always my excuse anyway!)

Heather: Keeping the Kid Krazies at Bay

Since I think the common answer is going to be build down-time into your schedule, I wanted to take the angle that kids who are allowed to participate in the trip planning will be much more invested in the trip overall.  I DO think that planning your day to include time back at your hotel or property to rest, swim, and decompress is vital. 

Here are some other ideas on keeping the tired, whiny, “this is supposed to be fun and we’re unhappy” mantra from high-jacking your trip.

1. Before you leave, check out or buy several kid-oriented guide books and let each child make a list of their top 5 things to see in each park. Try to group those attractions together geographically when visiting.

2. Let the kids make an individualized map of the attractions they want to see and collect a small memento or mark off the attraction as a treasure map. Interested kids = happy kids

3. Split up parents/kids in the park if your group has differing priories or attractions (or if due to height requirements the younger kids will be standing around watching). Never underestimate the power of individual parent attention as a mood lifter.

4. Take a stroller even if you think your child is too old. Likely at some point they will want to ride and if not you can pile the backpack and bags in it and not have to carry them.

5. Takes things to do in line (apps, bubbles for little kids). Tag team bathroom visits and line holding/snack distribution. USE your time in line to the best of your ability.

6. Know when to call it. Be willing to compromise that you may not see everything on your list. An afternoon or evening off may mean you miss something. In the long run everyone has a better WDW experience because you are not grumpy and feeling the “must do it all” pressure.

Click here for more info on our Minnie Moms.  Please let us know if there is a topic you'd be interested in seeing or a trip planning question we can answer for you! 


  1. I completely agree! Our toughest trip was when my son was 3.5, my daughter was 2 and my youngest daughter was 10 months. Our motto was 1 diaper bag, two strollers and three kids. We definitely let the kids sleep, but as soon as they were up we ate breakfast in the room (we bought cereal, fruit and milk at the local grocery store) and would head out. We would leave the parks around lunch time to head home for breaks, whether it be naps or pool time and would head back at dinner. The most valuable lesson we learned though was with our 10 month old. She would be in the stroller most of the time. She wasn't quite walking yet, and I didn't want her crawling all around the parks. She was rarely tired because we did not give her opportunities to move around at all, like at home. So if you have a little one, give them some "exercise" time too to get their legs moving.

  2. Great advice, Beth and oh my goodness...3.5, 2, and 10 months?! You are a VERY brave woman!

  3. Great article and great tips!

    We've not done WDW with our kids yet, but we have done Disneyland over a period of days and can't stress just how important it is to stay on property (or as close as you can) so you have a place to hole up in the middle of the day, rest (aka nap) and reboot.

    It makes a WORLD of difference. :)

  4. Corby - Luckily, my parents came along, as did my brother, then pregnant sister-in-law and my nephew who was 18 months. It was a busy vacation to say the least, but of course, great! On our last trip, my kids were 5, 3.5 and 2. It was much easier, but still very busy! Each trip will get a little easier - next time my kids will be one turning 6 while there, 5.5 and turning 4 while we are there, plus my nephews will be 4.5 and 1.5, and we can't wait! I am especially looking forward to the next trip since it will be our first time with three potty trained kids! :-)

  5. Beth, I am with you. My parents and my brother are the secret weapons for traveling with AUdrey. Last trip, we had 5 adults and one toddler. There was always someone ready to take a break with the little one.

  6. I'll second the allure of the grandparents to help. My MIL went with us last year which was helpful with our then 3 YO and me being pg. She was not able to come this year so we are already getting our game plan on for what is most important to see and how to best split up our days in am/pm sessions for the parks with a 6 month baby along.

    We are going to try and take advantage of Magic hours unlike last time. Our boys are up every morning at 6:30 so we might as well take advantage of a less crowded park.

  7. I used to work in the parks, and it IS when kids get impatient, tired or hungry that they get the worst and have the worst time. Cast members try to do the best we can to be cheerful and engage kids, but sometimes there is no consoling them. (Adults get the same way when hot and tired, lol)
    - Snacks and bench breaks are a good plan, I think.
    - Also, when I was a kid, my mom gave us a certain amount of money to spend on "Stuff". It helped us to not be too expexctant or greedy (as kids are wont to do) and gave us a little responsibility.
    - The stroller tip is a good one, but remember you have to leave it outside of nearly ALL attractions. While it might be good to give little legs a break and you can use it to hold your belongings, you really don't want to depend on a stroller you have to leave alone to keep all of your stuff safe. While they do their best to get it back to you, keep in mind that the parks don't take responsibility for anything you bring in.
    - I suggest small backpacks for each person(Not for tiny ones obviously)for their camera, water, etc.
    - LOOK AT PARADE AND SHOW TIMES. If there is a parade, likely the lines will be a little shorter during. Also you don't want to miss it if you want to actually see it.

    1. As a former Cast Member myself, I couldn't agree more. Great tips, Jen!


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