Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Disney Mama Drama

I'm reading: Disney Mama DramaTweet this!

Scene: A hot and sunny day at Animal Magic Kingdom Studios.

Mom: "You'd better lose that attitude right now."

Child: "I don't have an attitude."

Mom: "Then why are you speaking to me with that tone?"

This wasn't an actual encounter between adults and children in my family, it's something I overhead. Okay, there might have been a similar exchange or two during our six days at Disney, but I really did overhear this.

When temperatures and teen (or toddler) attitudes soar, it can be easy to lose sight of what a family vacation is all about- time together, new experiences, family fun, and creating memories that will last a lifetime.

It can take a bit of planning to be a happy family at the Happiest Place on Earth, but it also takes a willingness to abandon the plan. For example, we were wilting in the heat waiting to be called for our restaurant reservation at Animal Kingdom, but my younger son really wanted to go see the Flights of Wonder, a bird show that conflicted with our meal time. In the end, we gave up our reservation, grabbed a few egg rolls from a nearby stand and headed to watch the show. We can get great Asian food close to home, but we don't often get to see owls, parrots, hornbills and condors flying within a few feet us of. I'm glad we made the switch.

Take A Break
Pass up the temptation to "do it all" in one day from park opening to park closing and consider returning to your hotel for a mid-day swim or siesta. You'll miss the peak heat and well as the peak crowds, and return to the park refreshed. When the boys were younger, they needed the naps. Now that we're all older, DH and I napped while the boys did their homework

Hop Around
Purchasing the Park Hopper ticket option permits you to visit multiple parks in one day and is a worthwhile expense. You can start your day at the park with the earliest opening hours, take your mid-day break and end it at the park with the latest closing (or best fireworks).

Every Other Day
When our children were preschoolers, we managed our Disney vacations by spending a day in the parks followed by a day swimming at the hotel along with a low-key excursion to Downtown Disney or Disney's fun mini-golf courses. Neither the children nor the adults in our group could handle six straight days of theme park fun.

Go With The Flow
If your agenda reads too much like a checklist and is full of must-do items, you might want to scale back. You also need to be aware that your child might not be the right age or have the right temperament for some of your favorite activities. The families that are most driven to do it all regardless are usually the ones that are the most stressed out.

Remember to Eat and Drink
Whether you pack your own or buy at the parks, full tummies and hydrated kids (and adults) are key. Theme park snacks and drinks can be expensive, but a $10 or even $20 snack is well worth it if it keeps attitudes in check. You simply cannot ignore basic physical needs (hunger, thirst, tiredness) (your child's or your own) and expect to have a good time.

I didn't see any Mama Drama at the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration beyond my own crabbiness when I failed to follow my own advice. D0 you have tips for happy times on them park vacations?

Disclosure: As a participants in the 2011 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration I was given park passes for my family as well as other perks, including the chance to hear great speakers, attend special parties and I received several gift items.

Prior trips to Disney were subsidized by my parents (1982, 2001, 2003). As a participant in the College Program and employee of the Walt Disney Company, I was able to visit Disney Parks at no cost Jan - May 1989). And boy did I witness a lot of mama drama in my role as an attractions hostess.

DH and I took a trip to Disney World circa 1991, during which I actually bought my own park pass.

Edited 3/23 to add a photo.


Real Life Sarah said...

I told my kids, "There is no crying or whining at Disney World. It's the happiest place on earth and they will kick you out!" I really did. But they are normally really good anyway. We just had to remind them a few times what we could be doing instead... at home, and how thankful we were to be there.

ConnieFoggles said...

We did lose sight of this advice sadly,during the conference part of our trip. It was mainly me, the adult mom who knows much better and uses this advice during all of our trips to Disney. I need to get a life! Thank goodness for my husband who helped get me grounded back to normal before we had major meltdown.

Love the mama drama title :) said...

LOL! Every family trip we ever took to Disney was fraught with fighting and discontent. It's hard to feel magical with long lines and tired kids. We've done it differently with our kids - we factor in break time. Whether it's just hanging the pool or the hotel room for a bit - you don't have to do everything and go on every ride. You can also remember it's supposed to be a vacation! (also - pack snacks!!)

Amy @ The Q Family said...

Great tips! I have witnessed many meltdown (not only from this trip) in Disney. And it's probably from what you have already mentioned. A packed schedule with less downtime is a real culprit.

This is our first stay on Disney property with kids and I am now a convert and totally see why it's worth every penny. Just the fact that you can take a quick break during mid day is priceless!

Kim Moldofsky said...

@Sarah - great tip for folks with younger kids

@Connie - knowing that we had a pass that was good for a week regardless of how much time we spent in the park made it easy just to "pop in." But our first attempt at the Magic Kingdom was somewhat short-sighted. Fortunately, that lovely family event the first night gave us just the bit of magic we needed to start the trip off right.

@Rebecca The Fast Pass can alleviate some of the wait time. Its also handy to travel with well-liked friends or relatives so that you can divide and conquer based on different people's preferences. We had a great trip, but we're so sensitive to heat that I can't imagine going after April/before October.

@Amy I agree. I've stayed on and off property. On property is a huge convenience and the extended hours are a bonus too.

Cindy Fey said...

We saw Flights of Wonder on our December trip and loved it! Those chickens running across the stage cracked me up! And it made me laugh even more when I thought what a rube I was for laughing at chickens!

When we visit Disney, we stay on site, but we avoid the parks on their days with extended hours. Those are the most crowded.

Amy M. said...

Kim, this is great advice! We had a family Disney adventure last summer that I still haven't written about. (oopsie)

These kinds of tips are GOOD!

Robyn said...

OMG, Kim, your disclosures just made me snort my coffee. Great advice.

One thing we do to avoid getting super over-tired. is to do each "land" at once. I don't care if the lines are shorter somewhere else. If we are in Tomorrowland, we will stay in Tomorrowland until we've rode everything we want to there.