Oh, preschool. This is such an eccentric age, so different from what came before it. Babies can be taken along for the ride. There are clear-cut guidelines with them. As kids get older, though, personalities emerge. Trips with preschoolers are best catered to the preferences of each child for maximum fun and excitement. We take our big family all over the place, but Disney with preschoolers has been one of the most interesting dynamics we've experienced in a while.
Here are some of our tips for making this a memorable, enchanted experience. As they say when you board the Walt Disney World® Resort Railroad at Magic Kingdom, “Now leaving for a grand circle tour of the Magic Kingdom!”
Must-Try Tips for Disney with Preschoolers
Get them excited. The first time we went as a family, I took the boys shopping ahead of time for matching Mickey outfits! We also watched all of the classic Disney movies…about twenty times each.
Let the kids guide. When we arrive at the park, I give them three options. “Do you want to ride a boat, go in a spaceship or hop on the train?” It's always the train, but I love that they're decisive!
Go on a food frenzy. At this age, they're likely getting involved in the kitchen and have tons of opinions about food. At Disney, you're presented with such a huge plethora of awesome, colorful, delightful treats! Let them ogle the options along Main Street and pick out some snacks.
Chill out mid-day. They may no longer take naps, but Disney with preschoolers will go much more smoothly if you give them a little downtime. We usually spend afternoons in the quiet spaces around Swiss Family Treehouse or Tom Sawyer's Island.
Consider bringing a grandparent. I'll admit that things can get hectic when the kids outnumber you, especially when they enter preschool age and start having varying opinions about what the day should look like. Bringing an extra hand or two can help keep everyone happy. You may even consider splitting up for a few different experiences throughout the day.
Baby them…a little. Even if your kids no longer use sippies or strollers, those items might serve as welcome security blankets during a meltdown. Busting out a lovey or offering a comfortable place to sit when they're feeling overwhelmed can go a long way. Disney with preschoolers is, after all, a LOT of stimulation.
Show them one or two of your favorite things. You undoubtedly have some beloved Disney memories. I personally insist on walking through the castle every time we go. My kids are like, “Mom, this is the most boring thing ever,” but it's nostalgic for me and gives them a little insight into my past.
Buy a souvenir. When I was a kid, my mom would allot a small budget for each of us to buy one thing on each of our trips to Disney. Those items became some of my most cherished possessions.
Let them drive. The cars, that is. They may be tall enough now to steer the Tomorrowland Speedway cars!
Encourage them to play tourist. Some Boy has claimed one of my old phones and an old video camera. It's adorable to watch him “record” his experiences. A small backpack or hip bag can even help them be responsible for their own items.
Watch the shows. Truth be told, I'm the type who usually skips the shows. “Everyone's distracted, let's ride ALL THE RIDES!” For kids, however, those fireworks and flashing signs and dancing princesses are larger-than-life. Claim your spot curbside and watch their faces light up.
What are you tried-and-true tips for Disney with preschoolers?