I can’t WAIT to take my son to Walt Disney World for the first time! I know that when he first sees it, it will likely be completely overwhelming, and to help ease his mind and help answer his questions about what to expect, I have some ideas on how to prepare my little one for Walt Disney World:
TALK To Them: This one may seem pretty obvious, but talking about the basics is the best place to start. Explain to them what a vacation is, how you will get there, what a theme park is, and what kinds of things you will do on your vacation. Even little ones will comprehend at least some of it, and it’s something you can recall when you get to the airport or hotel “Remember I told you that we were going to get in an airplane to go to see Mickey?”
Pictures From Past Trips: Visual aids are always helpful when explaining about how WDW works – and if your kids are anything like mine, they will LOVE seeing old pictures of you, and it’s the perfect way to get them to see some of the rides, characters, restaurants, and sites they can expect to see once they arrive at the Parks.
Videos: Everyone has a smartphone, tablet, or computer at hand these days – so you might as well use it to show them videos of the Disney Parks. There’s an official Disney Parks You Tube Channel, or you can just search “Disney World Tour” for plenty of helpful videos. You can also request a Disney Vacation Planning DVD via the Disney Website that will help explain what WDW is all about.
Local Theme Parks: Start small, and take your little ones to a local carnival, fair, or theme park to give them an idea of what to expect. Waiting in line, riding rides, enjoying delicious carnival food, as you’re going through each of these, be sure to tell them that “This is like how it will be when we go to Disney”. Taking them on various rides is also a good test, as it gives you an idea of what things they might like when they’re at WDW
*The same goes for characters too – try and get them some character interaction BEFORE you wait in line to see
Mickey (only to find out your little one is scared to death of him!). Local baseball games/zoos/kids fairs, or even local Disney Stores sometimes have character meet and greets – all of which are a great place to bring your little one.
Let Them Help: Kids love to be involved in planning – no matter what their age! Even my not-quite-2-year-old toddler can follow requests like “can you bring mommy your sandals?”, so letting your kids help pack their suitcases, or pick fastpass rides, or choose restaurants “Do you want to eat with Mickey, or with The Princesses?” really lets them feel like they are a “big boy” or “big girl” who is really getting to participate in what the adults are doing.
Craft Up A Countdown: Once your trip gets closer, have your little ones help you make a “Countdown To Disney”. There are a bunch of ways to do this – a big calendar where they get to cross off each day, a paper chain where they tear one off each day, a chalkboard countdown, you can check out some ideas here and here.
Bottom line is – even if you are mega super ultra prepared and do ALL of these things I suggested, your kid still might not love Disney World, or they might still have breakdowns or be overwhelmed – and you just have to remember That’s all ok! Their love for Disney will likely grow as time goes on, and as they get older they will start to understand what a magical place it really is!
I personally know that I will be using ALL of these strategies on my son to help get him ready for his first trip to WDW, which is something I can’t wait for us all to experience as a family!
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