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How to prepare kids for DL who have never experienced anything Disney before?
I am a planner as a hobby and I've planned many, many trips before this one. This one has me stumped....the family is going to DL/CA this May and their children range in age 3-12. They are concerned about the experience for their youngest more so than the older ones. The reason is that they have not shared anything Disney with their children before now. The oldest knows what Star Wars is but they have never seen any Disney films or even TV. They have never experienced Fireworks, are any type of characters in costume even for Halloween. They are thinking of canceling the trip which I do not want them to! I so want them to have the Disney experience! Can any of you give me some ideas to help them prepare the children for a Disney experience? Characters in costume, the fireworks displays, the water/fire shows etc? If they cancel, I want it to be for an informed decision over just not knowing. Thank you for your advice!
My youngest was close to 4 when he first visited DL. We tried walking more to get his legs use to the distances we would be hoofing it. We still rented a stroller though. Besides that we didn't prepare much. The first day was an overload by the end. He was surly and his mouse ears end up at a jaunty angle as we left. When we returned the stroller, he had a meltdown. The saving grace was the tram back to the parking lot. I promised him one last ride (the tram.). He loved it.
We were there for only 2 days. It was my fault for pushing him on that first day, but I also had a 15 yr old with me and wanted to make the most of it for the older one as well. Looking back at it, I should have taken a mid day break. Gramma was with us. I could have had her take the little one back to the hotel or I could've and she could've stayed with the teenager.
We are going in March. I have rented some Disney movies and gone to the library for Disney books so that the 4 yr old (now 6) has some understanding of what the rides are based on.
I would recommend not pushing rides on the little ones. We left Haunted Mansion after the stretch room as he found it scary. He wants to try it again this March...we'll see. Most of the dark rides (Peter Pan, PotC, etc.) he went thru the whole ride with his hands over his eyes. But, he loved Space Mountain...go figure.
We never had a problem with the characters, though I know some do. If you anticipate an issue, I'd let the little ones approach at their own speed. One may run up and want to give hugs. Another may be content to stand on the sidelines and just observe. Of course, watching their family members interact with the characters may help ease anxiety.
I'd also have them watch some of the rides on youtube. This will prepare the 3yr old in case he/she might be frightened of some of the dark rides. I'd also watch some videos of the costumed characters meeting kids. My daughter loved watching these (she was 2 when we first went) She had never met a costumed character before so I wanted to prepare her for them. We really talked about how large they were (way taller than daddy) and that they'll hug you (if you want them to). When she met her first character (Minnie) she wasn't scared at all.
It sounds like the parents are the ones who are freaking out and blaming the kids.
DL is by far easier to break in a family who has never partaken in Disney parks. I've been in similar situations and I just play it down and do all the planning low key so they are not overwhelmed.
Just play it down some. Mention good food options, mention comfy beds, mention great weather, mention anything that a "non Disney" family may find appealing in vacationing. If the parents feel relaxed, then the kids will be too.
Is there a reason these kids have never been exposed to Disney at all? I'm not sure they would enjoy it since they know nothing of Disney or the characters.
I agree. There's so much that they just won't "get". But I'm sure they would have a lovely time regardless.
Is there a reason they have never seen Disney things? I guess I'm confused as to why they even want to go in the first place if they have no clue what Disney stuff is. Maybe they can rent some movies before the trip. Youtube is great for knowing what the rides are like.
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There are just so many options for kids these days! When I was growing up, there were few choices for childrens movies and television programming and most of it was Disney, Warner Brothers or PBS. Now, the Cartoon Network, NIck, Nick Jr., I mean - 24 hours of children's programming? I used to dream about such things ... but I digress. The family may be thinking only abut the Mickey Mouse characters, which are much less prevelant on TV and Movies. I was suprised while planning my trip that DD4 did not know who Donald Duck was ... so I found some cartoons for free on my Amazon Prime account to share. Does the family know that Beayty and the Beast, Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh are also Disney characters? The kids might already know some of them and the parents just don't realize it. As far as the fireworks are concerned, they can customize the trip anyway they like. Fireworks can be skipped or can be viewed from a great distance if noise is a concern. Anyway, HTH
All I can say is; Wow! To have kids reach even the young age of 3 and not have any clue about Disney? Wow.
The only people I've ever met like that were people who were a little, shall we say, conservative in their thinking and they truly believed Mickey was the devil.
Why would they want to do DL if their kids have never been exposed to Disney?
Okay - so, as others have said, the best thing may be to encourage them to show the kids youtube videos of some of the parks, and to maybe watch a little Disney movies.
For fireworks, if they're staying on or near property, watching from there may be better.
My first thought when someone asks how to prepare a child for Disney is the same no matter which resort you're talking about: Make sure they understand that if the character doesn't look like a human, they will be wearing a head costume and Mickey is BIG in real life! We used to remind our kids all of the time: 'Mickey is as tall as Daddy!' It's a bit of an exaggeration, but helps kids cope.
Thank you everyone for your feedback. This family is "different". The grandparents are the reason why they are going to Disneyland. They are footing the bill as well. The older 11 year old boy knows more about Disney then I think his parents know because he is attending school. The 3 year old girl, is the one they are more concerned about . They do not allow the kids to watch TV/movies. They just started introducing the 3 yearl old to Disney princesses so that is a start! I agree with you all on the why but I'm glad they have the Grandparents to take them so once they experience the Disney image I'm sure they will continue to grow with Disney as most of us have! Love the YouTube idea! I've also started them on some count down crafting and I've shared some of my Disneyland video's and have recommended that they allow their kids to go to the Disneyland website for all the interactive features the site has to offer. I've given mom a list of characters that are popular right now and letting her introduce them to the kids so when they go, they will know what to expect and even given them trigger phrases to say to the characters to have them interact with them. Fireworks will be an issue so I'm recommnding they get a resort room with a view of the park so they can watch them from their balcony their first night and see then if they want to be up closer to the show. Again, thanks for your advice! I think I had the right track but needed you guys to confirm it is a good path.
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WOW!!! Elizabeth (DD 1.5yrs) knew Disney before we went. She was very familiar with Pooh and Tigger. I recommend the kids at least sit down and watch some Disney movies so they are able to recognize some characters while at the park. I also agree with having them watch Youtube for the rides. Good luck to them.