You’ve planned your family trip to Disney for weeks, months, perhaps even years. However, that won’t provide any immunity against temper tantrums in the middle of the line, in 90% humidity and at the end of the day. It’s enough to make anybody upset, even if you outgrew the terrible twos a long time ago.
So what’s a parent to do? After visiting Disneyworld over 10 times with my two children, I’ve learned quite a few lessons. The most important lesson is to avoid certain temper tantrum triggers, which tend to be the same regardless of the setting: hunger, tiredness, boredom, need for attention, and feeling uncomfortable. Keep that in mind, since it will help you have a more pleasant vacation.
Here are my top tips to avoid temper tantrums during your next Disney vacation. You’re welcome.
11 Tips to Avoid Meltdowns During Your Disney Vacation
- Don’t over schedule and set realistic expectations. Chances are that you will not get to do all the rides in one day with very young children. If they are early risers and you are staying at a Disney resort, use the Extra Magic Hours in the morning to enter the park earlier than other guests.
- Take snacks. Fruit, dry cereal, pretzels, crackers are all great snacks you can take with you in individual bags. Not only will you save money, but you’ll prevent meltdowns. Always have a “just in case” snack in your purse or bag when standing in line.
- Offer and drink plenty of water. It’s very easy to become dehydrated and guess what? That can make you cranky, no matter how old you are. You can buy cold water at the park, stop frequently at water fountains or take your own water bottle.
- If meeting characters and getting their autographs is a priority for your child, consider booking a character meal. If you’re on a budget (who isn’t?), breakfast and lunch are much less expensive than dinner. Since reservations can be very hard to get, try booking a very late breakfast that can serve as an early lunch or a late lunch than can be an early dinner. If going to Disneyworld, call 1 407 WDW DINE or click here to make a Disney Dining reservation. If going to Disneyland, the number is (714) 781-3463. You can also find your favorite characters in the park using apps, such as this one by Verizon.
- Use a stroller. Yes, even if your child is 5. You can use it to store light items as well. And if you think pushing a stroller with a preschooler is cumbersome, wait til you have to lug a 4 or 5 year old over your shoulder because they’re asleep or so tired they’re cranky. You can rent a stroller in the parks or even buy a lightweight one at the gift shops if you travel without one.
- Allow time for children to just run around. All the parks have playground areas where kids can blow off steam. Most do not allow strollers inside the play area, though, just so you know.
- Explain what to expect. Some children become over stimulated very fast, others are scared of the dark. Take a bit of the anxiety away by explaining what you will do, what the ride is about and that you will be with them every second.
- Keep your kids distracted while waiting in line. Bubbles can be very effective, but messy. If you have a smartphone, download apps before your trip to keep your kids entertained. Count out loud how many people are wearing hats or Mickey Mouse t-shirts. You can also take a Doodle Pro Mini Doodler to make funny drawings; it hardly takes any space and come in handy at the most unexpected times.
- Go to the bathroom before standing in long lines. Even if your child is not potty trained, it’s best to do a diaper change before you get in line. We learned our lesson after our son once had a diaper explosion right when we were 5 minutes away from riding Winnie the Pooh.
- If your child is scared of flushing toilets and loud noises, warn your toddler that many toilets will flush automatically and make up a silly story about why it’s so noisy. In extreme cases, I know parents that temporarily cover the sensor to avoid the automatic flushing until the child is almost leaving the stall.
- Don’t push too much. Each child is different and although you want to expose your little ones to new experiences, there are battles not worth fighting. And if that means taking earplugs for the fireworks, carrying a flashlight into pitch dark rides or skipping the It’s a Bugs Life or Goofy‘s Barnstormer, that’s perfectly fine.
Snacks during the day keep the tantrums away 1 of 6Keep snacks with you at all times. Fresh fruit, dry cereal and crackers are great choices.
Character meals can be worth it 2 of 6If your child wants pictures and autographs from his favorite characters, consider booking a character meal. That way you don't have to stand in line or find our where Mickey is inside the park.
Water is crucial 3 of 6You can become dehydrated very easily at Disney. Offer your little ones water every time you can, not only at mealtimes.
Pick your battles 4 of 6Know when to push your child and when to just let it go. Some children are terrified of the dark or even of the characters. keep in the mind the idea is to have fun as a family and you don't need to follow what other people say you have to do.
Take a stroller 5 of 6Children tire easily and it's much easier to carry a stroller than a 40 pound child over your shoulder.
Disney’s more than the rides 6 of 6Playground fun can be just as enticing for young children or even more than some of the rides. Let your kids run around in between rides.