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WDW Trip With Kids Planning Guide
Visiting the resort with your children
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Brian Bennett

Traveling With Kids - Maximizing Your Child's Comfort

Your child is likely to have a bad time at Walt Disney World (or any other vacation, for that matter) for only three major reasons. First, he can simply be uncomfortable, second he can be tired, and third he can be stressed by "input overload". The best way to ensure that you have a good trip, then, is to help your kids avoid those conditions.

Comfort and theme parks are usually diametrically opposed concepts. The thing that we have to figure out is how to maximize comfort given all of the facts about theme parks that make us uncomfortable. Each kid has his own quirks that you can cater to individually. Some general things to keep in mind, though, are:

  • Stomach...stomach aches (and other gastro-intestinal problems) can be caused by many different things. Poor food, irregular meal times, excessive quantities of food...all of these things can provoke nausea or just a bad feeling. The easiest way to deal with this problem is the same way you do at home. Have regular meal times (a difference of an hour isn't critical, but lunch at 11:00am on on day and at 3:00pm the next can be tough to deal with). Avoid snack foods (or at least minimize them). Have some sit down nice meals, rather than fast food. Burgers and fries can be your child's favorite meal, but a steady diet of grease is bound to catch up to you eventually. Bottles of Pepto and Dramamine can be good things to keep in the fanny pack just in case. Of course, some attractions may cause nausea, too. Body Wars, Star Tours, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, the mountains at the Magic Kingdom, the Tea Cups...these are just a few of the attractions that might have such an effect on a child (or an adult).

  • Sound...a child's ears are very sensitive. Loud and sudden noises can be frightening and even painful for a child. What is simply noisy to you, as an adult, is perceived very differently by a youngster. There are several things to combat this concern. First, warn your kids about noises that they will hear in any given attraction. The Legend of the Lion King, for example, is extremely loud. Tell your kids in advance so the noise will be expected. Second, you might want to consider hearing protection for your kids. Ear plugs can be purchased at any pharmacy. They are also available from Cast Members at some of the louder attractions (don't hesitate to ask). Older kids will probably rebell at the thought of wearing them, but younger kids might be relieved...and even think the plugs are fun.

  • Sights...kids can be carried away by sights that are mere fiction for adults. Older folks can more easily perceive reality than can a young child (except, perhaps, for that invariable wish to hit the lotto...) Therefore, it is important to prepare your youngster for any potentially frightening or perhaps simply fanciful sights that they might see. The appearance of the witch in the Snow White attraction is a common concern. A child can potentially see that image as a real witch, so let your kids that they're about to see a pretend witch. Reinforce the idea that these stories are "pretend" or "make believe" and are just fun for us to read and ride. A famous philosopher (Nietzsche, I think) is quoted as saying, "Knowledge is Power". Nothing can help make someone over come a phobia like being aware of the realities surrounding it. Let you kids know what will happen, assure them that you will be there with them, and allow them the liberty to "wait 'till next trip" if they are still frightened. One last aside, don't forget to warn your kids about any characters that might be at a breakfast or dinner event or that they might come across in the parks. There are many stories floating about of kids being scared to death by a 5-foot-tall Mickey Mouse, and other similarly sized characters. Jafar and other such "villains" can be especially frightening...beware!

  • Smells...this might be considered an odd thought, but some smells can be irritating or disheartening for anyone. A great example would be to avoid the petting farm and the horse barn at Fort Wilderness if your child has severe allergies. Also, the smells of baked goods wafting over the crowds on Main Street can be tantalizing -- or irritating -- depending on your state of mind...and stomach. If Johnny just threw up on Space Mountain, you might want to give him some time before making him walk by the bakery or candy shop.

  • Separation...smaller children can be easily intimidated by crowds. This is especially true if you and your child are separated by the flowing masses. Take precautions by teaching your child what to do if you do get separated. Have a "I'm Lost Drill" on your first day in the park and and walk though what your kids should do if you get separated. Having been through the "drill", you son or daughter might feel somewhat more comfortable since they know what to do if a problem arises. You might want to go so far as to take your child to a cast member and ask "what would happen in the event of an actual emergency." Make sure, too, that you kids know how to identify a cast member (via the special name tags that they wear).

The best way to handle the fatigue and "input overload" problems is covered in the section about taking a daily afternoon break.  Another nice thing is that taking a daily break works for adults and children alike.

 

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