When traveling with children you will feel the excitement and wonder of finally reaching the magical world of Disney. Before you reach the park and after there are many safety hurdles you must cross. Here are some ideas for practicing those critical skills for your Disney Vacation.
Explaining to your child why it isn’t safe or appropriate to run away from you and to a character can be difficult. They may understand in theory when you are talking in the car, but how well is that going to work when they see a team of Storm Troopers walking around Hollywood Studios?
Games like red light green light are good introduction games to important listening skills. Other games can be you list off two things and they repeat them to you. Keep adding an item and having them repeat it back. This encourages the child to remember and practice listening to the words you say. You can also practice this by going shopping and having them walk beside you. If your child can manage their way through the entire store without asking for candy or a toy, running away, and being helpful. Give them a quarter in a piggy bank to spend at Disney. If you give them a quarter for every successful listening game. By the time you go to the park, they will have gained listening skills and souvenir money!
Learning to walk as a family can be difficult. You walk too close to someone, maybe you have a child that is a runner, or your oldest likes to wander off. Practicing this so you know what to expect before you go to the park is important.
Going for family walks to your local nature park or playground is a great place to practice. Not only will you build up your stamina for walking the parks but you can practice walking past those tempting swing sets or keeping together even though someone saw a frog and really wants to follow it to where it lives. When you have mastered walking as a family, staying together with minimal walking over each other. Try taking it up a notch and walking the mall. There are more distractions here. Noise, toys, and people. This can help your children not only learn to walk with distractions but practice how we talk in public. Use these walks to make sure the shoes you are taking on your trip are broken in to avoid any blisters.
Table Manners are a very fun thing to practice in my opinion! But there are many types of eating situations at the park that can be hard to learn how to handle.
For Character meals: Have another dinner at home where everyone dresses up and eats very neatly using the best manners they know. Practice indoor voices and dinner conversation. Occasionally get up from eating as a family and do something fun like Simon says twirl like a princess, or Simon says- Jedi pose! This will help your children practice skills they will need for character meals. Stopping and starting eating when there is something else exciting happening is difficult for some. Practicing this can help smooth some of those bumps out.
For sharing snacks: Turn on a movie at home or go to a movie theater. Only get one popcorn. Have your children practice passing it and sharing it. This is a simple way to work on those sharing skills and can be a good way to watch through the movies you know you want to review before your trip.
The final test: The last table manners test is to go out to eat. If you’re going to a sit-down restaurant at Disney, you need to visit a sit-down restaurant before you go. A buffet, the same way. If both? Pick one you haven’t done before. Tell your children that they can dress in whatever costume they want to wear at Disney. Then while you are out you will practice using all your newly learned manners. This is a great way to know if there are any skills you still need to work on before you leave, or if there are any hiccups you may want to have a backup plan for on your Disney Vacation.
This may be the hardest one to teach. Learning to ride politely in a car for a long trip or on a plane is tricky without actually doing it. Pointing out good habits in your short car rides is possibly the best way. Then sitting down with your children a day or two before your trip and coming up with some ways to handle the travel. Involve them in packing the games or toys they want to play. Encourage them to think of things they can do together or separately. Talk about things that may happen in the car or on the plane and how to handle them. If they need a bathroom break, if they are feeling overwhelmed, or if they are tired. Knowing what to do and going over the options for these situations for a few days prior can help ease some of the travel stress. Being able to communicate these needs while on your Disney vacation can help you avoid mid-queue bathroom runs.
We finally made it!
A large part of all these manners is teaching kids to recognize and communicate their feelings. Communication is always key. Working out ways to handle new situations and to communicate needs and wants will make your Disney Vacation smoother and more fun for everyone! If you’re still on the fence about whether you are ready for a trip or not, read our blog Who would take a baby to Disney?
You can also visit https://disneywildaboutsafety.com/ to view more safety tips, play games, and watch fun videos about vacation safety.
A two time Disney College Program participant Leah loves Disney and helping others find the magic inside of them. She loves to cook, dance, and explore new places. She may always be on the go but her family is her top priority.