View Full Version : Young kids in parks...

Susan A
07-06-2013, 04:17 PM
I don't know if this should go under "Vacation Planning"....
My kids are 7 (girl) and 5 (boy) and are going on their first Disney trip in a few months. Realistically, how much stamina do kids have for the parks? We will bring strollers for each one and I'm open to returning to the WL for a break in the afternoon. Both of my kids have Sensory Processing Disorder and can become overloaded with sounds.
Please tell me how your family does for a week at the parks. I'm making a rough schedule for the week and I'm thinking 7:00 dinner reservations might not me realistic.
P.S.(How do you stay up the the Electric Parade)? :mickey:

07-06-2013, 04:25 PM
It will really depend upon the kids. If you have really active kids who are used to bicycle riding, walking etc, they might do quite well as far as staima goes.

However, Disney is typically a place where sensory overload is very possible for your ones - even those who are not usually sensitive to loud noises, constant motion, songs, bangs (there are fireworks that accompany some of the daytime shows as well).

You might consider earphones that the kids could wear if the sounds are too much for them. My nephew had difficulty with the fireworks but did fine when he knew he could wear his headphones to muffle the sounds.

Other than that, you'll just need to see how your kids fare in the parks and, if they seem to be getting overwhemled, opt to take a quiet rest back at your resort.

At the ages of your kids, you might want to opt for earlier dinners.

Perhaps you could plan the Electrical Parade for a day on which you've also planned a nap time back at your resort?

07-06-2013, 04:56 PM
You just never know until you try.

I have an autistic nephew who THRIVES at Disney! He has no desire to be around people, let alone family any day of the week. But at Disney, you can't stop him!

My sister in law mentioned going to see Monster's University, and my nephew got excited thinking he was going to Walt Disney World!:mickey:

Pirate Granny
07-06-2013, 07:24 PM
Can you get the name of the headphones? We will need two pairs!


07-06-2013, 08:10 PM
I'll ask my brother what he got!!

07-07-2013, 08:47 AM
Our oldest son also has SPD (and ASD). I strongly suggest you should get a guest assistance card for them. With our card, we were able to have our son wait in another area for the rides and shows. He too becomes very overwhelmed with sights and sounds and meltdown happen quickly. It doesn't get you in to the attraction sooner (most times) but they can wait in a more comfortable place.

07-07-2013, 04:19 PM
Can you get the name of the headphones? We will need two pairs!


3M Peltor Kids Earmuffs. He got his from Amazon. If you use that source to purchase, please use the link to the left as it helps Intercot!!

Susan A
07-07-2013, 10:04 PM
I've never heard of a "quiet" waiting area...

We were thinking of also planning a day when we don't go into the parks at all, sometime in the middle of the visit.

Does the vacation start to catch up with the kids? I know it did on many of my previous trips. However, we didn't have kids, we walked the entire park and stayed until closing. We won't be doing that this time!

One other thing. I was thinking that park hopping might be a hassle with little ones, since it is time consuming. What do you think?

07-08-2013, 08:17 AM
At 7, my youngest DD didn't need a stroller. I think that for a 5 yr old, however, it is a must.

07-08-2013, 08:34 AM
We have always park hopped with our kids. Usually we leave mid day for the resort and then go to a different resort after they nap or rest.

We too find it helpful to have a break mid week or no park.

07-08-2013, 09:16 AM
There's been some great advice offered here. I just wanted to add that I commend you on trying to be realistic about your kids endurance at WDW. I see so many parents trying to go full tilt with young children in tow, and it often results in major meltdowns (child and parent). When my son was little, it was less important that we saw every single thing than we were seeing them together. I always said we were going at "kid speed". :)

Susan A
07-10-2013, 09:19 PM
Thank you, that means a lot to me. :cloud9:

I have seen plenty of parents say, "I brought you to Disney, now behave!" That's so sad.

I have worn my dad out in Disney. He said to me, "Please, no more Disney death march!"

Main Street Jim
07-10-2013, 09:57 PM
*TAKE A BREAK* in the middle of the day, like maybe right after lunch, if you plan on staying for fireworks/parades. Head back to the resort, take a nap and let the kids wind down a little bit, go to the pool. Shower, go eat dinner, then head back into the park<s>. :thumbsup:

Keep in mind, as a former CM, I usually recommend *at least* an hour travel time between park and resort (if you're staying on property, either driving your own vehicle or using Disney transportation; off-property, give yourself MUCH more time). So that's two hours right there, just in getting to/from the parks.

07-10-2013, 11:10 PM
We are religious about the midday break. Kids that young just can't go all day and night in the Florida heat and be happy about it (heck, neither can I)! And why would they be expected to? They don't do that at home!

On a trip about 10 years ago we pushed the kids a little too long one day, and boy, were we sorry! Never did it again.

07-13-2013, 09:54 PM
Well, I remember when my sister and I were that age. Dad would treat WDW like Vietnam. Don't fall behind, b/c he would leave you. But proper motivation came through and we managed to see everything. Dad liked seeing everything and taking pictures of them. So, I think kids can be spurned to make it and a good pace. If you are staying at a resort, a mid day break back at the resort pool works well too.

07-15-2013, 10:02 AM
Hey there! I can relate to your question VERY well. I have two boys, they are almost 2 years apart (now 7 and 9). We are about to go to WDW for the third time with them in a few weeks. My boys are both ASD kids and the younger one has MAJOR auditory sensitivity (SPD issue).

I would ditch the strollers, first of all, unless your kids really do have legitimate stamina issues. With my own boys, we find they do much better when they walk around, as it provides more sensory input for them and makes us more aware of when THEY have had enough. Otherwise, it is easy to go too far and do too much when you are pushing them around, and then you might end up in meltdown mode when you are not expecting it. Our last trip using a stroller was when the boys were 6 and 4 and only the younger one rode. The next year, they both walked, for a week in December and they did fine.

Our days would look like this:
Parks-no plans ahead of time, decide when we wake up and go where the KIDS want to go
Dining-no plans ahead of time, decide where to eat day of, using Mobile dining page to find last minute ADRs...worked like a charm.
Pool=Definitely, weather permitting
Playgrounds=Definitely, weather permitting
Nap=Pipe Dream :D
Nighttime shows/Fireworks=NOT A CHANCE! (my boys lives revolve around thier daily schedule, and messing with their 9pm bedtime was/is recipe for disaster). We were out of the parks by 8:30pm at the latest, and that was pushing it.

Basically, we went at our kid's pace. If they wanted to sit on a bench for 30 minutes, we did. If they wanted to play in the Imagination fountains for an hour (and they did!), we let them. We rode the same rides over and over, all week long. We ate dinner and lunch at the same time as we do at home. We ate at restaurants that had the kind of food they liked. We tried very hard to make the vacation enjoyable for THEM, which in turn made it enjoyable for US. We've been to the parks enough times, and we didn't want to pressure our kids into doing it all. They are timid about trying new rides, so we let them have that control and only did the rides they wanted, etc. We have many years ahead of us to keep going back and it would be great to always have something new to look forward to. For us, 3 hours of park time per day was about the norm. Our longest park day, we started at AK, hopped to MK, then back to Epcot. 5.5 hours.

Park hopping is essential, IMO. It is a good way to mitigate overcrowded parks and try another one. MK tends to get ungodly crowded at random times, so if you find yourself in that situation, it's nice to be able to get outta there and head to a less crowded park. Crowds and my older son DO NOT mix, so we have had to do that more than a few times. Had to leave Epcot one evening when there was a special event in WS that we didn't know about that made the WS INSANELY crowded. We simply left and took the boat over to the Studios instead, which was much better. Nice to have that flexibility.

Oh, and for the sound sensitivity issue, our younger son uses Angry Bird earbuds, which he uses as headphones, but the good thing about them is that used alone, they provide very good sound insulation, they are small, inconspicuous, and easy to carry in a pocket, and he LOVES Angry Birds, so he has no issue wearing them. We've tried foam earplugs, over the head headphones, etc. and the basic in ear headphone buds have been the best. They are $15 and we got them at Target, but they can be found at Toys R Us as well.

07-20-2013, 11:30 AM
I agree it depends on the kids and you won't know till you are there. Our DDs first visit to WDW was at 5 and she ended up being a park commando and still is. Our DS at 5 sometimes reached overload 5 minutes after we left the room. Having a plan was great but we ended up reading our kids and then reacting to them. They never had a problem with the pool!:diver:

07-20-2013, 10:34 PM
I actually found the strollers helpful for my little guys and pushed it to the upper age limit. Yes, lots of times I was pushing empty stroller, but it was great when we were standing in a line and son would just climb into his stroller and fall asleep. I found my kids liked the feeling they had a bit of their own space (stroller) with their beverage stored there. Also I loved being able to stow a bag in the stroller with all the stuff: wipes, sun screen, change of clothes, a couple of lolipops or inexpensive snacks. The snacks are great distractors in lines.

I got kids to park when they opened and headed for the rides that they enjoyed most (ie Fantasy land first, etc.) while the lines are short and crowds light. I did follow a itinerary in the morning and it seemed to give a sense of structure to the day and no arguing about what we are going to do next. Once all the "important" attractions were out of the way I could relax and follow their lead without worrying they missed something really great. They also got to have a lot of fun with minimal wait which kept their mood good. I found table service lunches to be a great way to cool off and relax in middle of day. Kids were often recharged after that.

For us the negative of going back to the resort is that kids hated the process of leaving park, traveling to resort, then going back out to another park later. WL is close to MK so that would be a good day to take a break in resort. I found that we did better to take a sort of break in the park and then spend evening at resort/pool and not go back out again.

My kids have never been good on a rigid schedule, I know others are the opposite. I found that mine just napped in my arms during dark rides, in their strollers in the parks and yes, even during the fire works (several years in a row!) When I took them back to the resort to rest they wanted to jump on the beds! I also find they took their breaks in the parks. Sometimes my kids just needed to sit on my lap for a little while. Other times to just run and play and not be led onto rides. There are actually many areas to relax and play. My kids loved the splash areas in the parks so I would always break clean clothes and zip lock baggies for wet clothes. I would get myself a cold drink and sit and let them play and then they would be refreshed and not need to go to resort to swim. I also paced the attractions to their energy levels. Swiss tree house when they are energetic, Carousel of Progress in the afternoon. When we did the World Showcase the passport and games helped kids enjoy it. I laughed at how much my youngest enjoyed coloring with markers! Something he could do every day, but for him this was familiar and soothing.

I had mixed results with dinner meals. My kids are generally great in restaurants, but long meals at WDW were hard for them when they were really young. Dinner at the food court by the pool was always perfect. Dinner at Boma was great because kids loved exploring AKL, going outside to see the animals, and the buffet assured kids could eat quickly and not wait.

Some times I did the parades and fireworks and sometimes they liked them, but often they fell asleep in my arms. Be prepared for them to want really expensive light up toys sold during the parades! :)

Taking a day off in the middle of the week to just chill is a great idea!

I am sure your kids will do great since you are so attuned to them.

Susan A
07-20-2013, 11:00 PM
Thank you for all of your great advice.
I like the idea of them walking to get the sensory input. I also think it is a good idea to have a little cozy space of their own to relax. My son loves to pull the sun shade all the way down. My poor daughter has even less stamina know that she has been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and anemia. She will take full advantage of the stroller.
Does anyone know if there is an age limit to the baby stations in the parks?