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Disney with s Stubborn Child… A 5 Step How Too

Just how do you survive a Disney trip (or any vacation) with a stubborn child? Let’s just say I have ALOT of practice with this! I am by no means an expert, but I can promise you my list of ideas will help you out!

 Each trip we go on I learn a little something new, or pick up a trick from others and add them to my list of hope!  Hope that we will not just survive another vacation with our sanity intact, but also truly enjoy it!

Picture this, you?ve hit Main Street U.S.A. and you?re so excited to be there that tears are running down your face (this might have happened to me a time or two) and your children are there, and they too are so excited? but then, they spot the nearest gift shop, the balloon handler, the Mickey Ice Cream, and they start begging.  Then they all start telling you where they want to go first. You start panicking.  You can?t keep up, you can?t even hear your own thoughts or wants, and your brain is shutting down.  Once you finally can hear your own thoughts again, you must make a decision.  At this point, someone is going to be disappointed.  Which one of you will it be?  My immediate thought, which child will make the smallest scene?  Put up the smallest fight?  Kid #2 wins!  Kid #1 only cries a little!  But seriously, HOW did we get from so excited to be there to kids crying in T-10 seconds?  You?ve been there right?  Yep, me too!  But never again!  Keep reading for that tactical plan to avoid the above scene and truly enjoy your days in the parks!

5 Tips to help a stubborn child and their parents enjoy a day in the parks!

1. Devise a plan! – Let’s face it, we all work best with a plan, knowing that our interests and concerns will be taken care of. Children are no different. When they feel out of control, they act out of control.  
Before heading to the parks each day, ask everyone what their two must dos are for the day.  Then build a plan around those ideas. This will ensure everyone sees and does what they want and it will save your sanity from the “what’s next” and “can we now? questions.  Once you have your must dos done, you can add a new must do for everyone! You’ll feel so accomplished at the end of the day and everyone will feel like they got what they wanted!

  1. Snacks & Water – Snacks are imperative! A must! Yes, you can buy snacks all over the park!  Great snacks but they are expensive and may not be available when you need them the most.  For example, you?re standing in line for Splash Mountain.  You?ve waited for 25 minutes, your half way there and little one declares their hunger.  You?re too far in to get out, but not close enough to hold them off.  Here is where you NEED that snack in your backpack!  Everyone continues on the happy wait to ride Splash Mountain and your sanity is not lost by a hungry whining child!

Have water in your backpack.  Always!  It goes the same as snacks.  Line, whinny kid, enough said.  Additionally, freeze several  water bottles so that you have cold water later in the day.  They can also serve as ice packs for sandwiches or other items you might pack for snacks.

  1. Souvenirs/Spending Money ? It is very easy to get sucked into Disney, especially when you are wandering the parks and seeing all of the fantastically magical merchandise. People are covered head to toe and are basically walking advertisements for everything you can buy in the stores.  I generally end up wanting EVERY shirt and pair of ears I see!  I can?t imagine my kids feel any different!  I don?t know about you, but one of everything is not in my budget!  (Nasty word budget) So to bring ourselves back down to reality it?s super important that we set everyone?s expectations before we arrive!  Have a pre-park chat with the kids about when you will shop and how much we can spend.

We typically wait until the later part of the day to shop.  This helps us to see what?s available, but also so the kids can?t change their minds after purchase.  I offer my kids an amount of money each, and let them do their shopping.  They check out price tags and determine if they have enough money.  If we will be there multiple days, they can save their money for the next day so they can buy something more expensive.  One of my kids can handle this, the other one, that stubborn one that prompted this writing, well, she can?t!  She does best with fewer options and everything set in stone.  So decide what might work best for you and give it a try.  You can offer amounts of money, or for younger kids, a one thing rule.

Occasionally we will throw out an impromptu shopping trip with limited choices such as you can pick a pair of ears or a pin.  This is a crap shoot at my house.  If crabby kid is crabby she can?t handle it so it becomes a fight.  Here is where I say tread lightly and only offer if you think it will be fun!  Then cross your fingers and hope you choose wisely!

  1. Take a Break -Disney is exhausting! It doesn’t matter how you do it, you’ll be tired half way through the day!  If you’re tired, of course the kids are tired.  If your feet hurt, your kids feet hurt too!  Keep this is mind and know that as adults we can (hopefully) deal with our exhaustion in a reasonable manner.  Kids, well they aren’t quite as in control of themselves. So, offer up opportunities to sit and rest.  Enjoy a snack, take in an air conditioned show and by all means take a break and head back to the hotel in the middle of the day for a nap!  (I should heed my own advice on this one!  The way we do Disney is not for the faint of heart! 17 hours in a park… Totally not recommend!) I promise you won’t miss anything!  Disney is awesome about repeating shows throughout the day! Walt designed the parks for families and he and his Imagineers have done an excellent job in this!
  2. Prevent Line Boredom ? Let?s face it, standing in line is not any fun for anyone! Disney does an excellent job of making the lines interesting and sharing a story that leads up to the ride you are about to go on, but it is still a line, and it can still be long and boring! Line games are a great way to pass the time!  Of course there is always the tablet with games for kids, and there is nothing wrong with using it, but it can also be a time to spend with each other!  Bring along some paper and a pen (or use your tablet/phone) and play tic-tac-toe, charades, hang-man or any of the other old school games we all know and love.  Recently while at Disneyland I saw several people playing  ?Heads Up? on their phones with their group!  It was highly entertaining for them and for all of us around them!  What games do you suggest to play in line?

What we really want in a family vacation is to have a great time and make great memories!  Nothing fun happens without a little hard work and planning!  So, use the above tips and help your family have the greatest time possible at Disney!

Share with me your travel tips!  What works best for you when traveling with your stubborn child?

Jamie Rumph
Jamie Rumph
Hi, I'm Jamie, traveling mama, entrepreneur, and travel advisor. I'm addicted to Disney, traveling and exploring the world with my family, and have a passion for helping families experience the magic of travel. My home is filled with love and chaos, 2 crazy girls, 2 large dogs, and the most spectacular architect and Disney Cast Member I call my husband. We live in Florida and spend our weekends playing at Orlando's many theme parks and visiting the beach. In 2015, after helping numerous families plan their vacations to various Disney Destinations, I started a blog to answer all of the many travel questions I received daily. In 2016, the blog grew into a travel agency, and Love of the Magic Vacations was born. With a team of nearly 20, we spend our days creating family vacations around the world. What started as a blog is now a full service, worldwide vacation destination planning service. I create custom itineraries for each of my clients that not only meets but exceeds expectations. There is no greater gift than making memories while sharing the world and its cultures with your kids.


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