Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Zero to Hero

Zero to Hero

One thing you will notice about going to any Disney World Resort park is that it is filled with kids. They seem to be everywhere. I haven’t pulled up any rocks but I bet that if I did, there would be scores of little kids crawling around under there.

After a little exposure you will notice that some of these kids get connected with adults (or maybe the adults brought these kids in the first place) who knows. However, the adult-kid relationship begins to degrade the longer they stay and the hotter it gets.

I am fortunate that when the going gets tough in the parks, we can just pack up and go home and come back some other day. However, a lot of people who are here may not be coming back for a long while or worse, may never come back again. I really want people to enjoy themselves while they are here at the park, but not at my expense or the expense of their own children.

This blog is not how to have fun and manage your children at the same time. That has been covered in lots of other places. Check out the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids and other books for great tips. What I have for you here is how to be a Hero at Disney. This is what to do so that not only you have a great time, but you pay it forward so others around you have a great time as well.

First, you need to know that at present, I never go to the parks without a stroller (and you can probably deduce that there will be one of those afore mentioned kids in it) and in that stroller is a small cooler that fits under the seat. Hanging from the back of the stroller is a backpack (with a huge Ariel patch ironed on) filled with snacks, water, etc... This gives me the potential to become a Hero. If you aren’t bringing a bag with you, you are not going to be a hero.

There are three places where meltdowns occur that can really destroy a day. The first is the in-line meltdown, the second is the seated for parade meltdown, and the third, is the eating a meal meltdown. Any one of these can really detract from your day. There is nothing worse than having your family in line behind a family struggling to get their kids through the line without resorting to, “Do you want me to take you out of this park!” Or getting the perfect spot on Main Street for the parade and listening to that sniveling little whiner complaining about how board they are then watching that whiner yell at their kids for getting restless.

All of these suggestions came from things my wife and I started doing to satisfy our own kids. We simply started having enough for everyone. Most of the things we are talking about are very inexpensive, but do require that you are prepared before you travel to the park.

1. Bring Bubbles - We started finding the little bottles of bubbles that are often handed out at weddings and parties. They sell them in trays of 6 or 12 and they are usually at party supply stores and department stores (Target, Party Place). We bring six or more and dump them in the bottom of our backpack. When a child starts to have problems in line or waiting for a parade, we just pop one of them open and begin blowing bubbles. You should see how fast the mood lightens. Then, the moment the kid calms down, we normally had off the bottle to the child (with the parents permission of course) and all of a sudden you are a HERO.

2. Glow Necklaces - This one is relatively recent, but if you travel to any dollar store, or even places like Michael's or Target, you can find packages of glow necklaces for $1 or so. We buy two or three packages. They normally contain 10 or more strips of various colors. While waiting for parades, fireworks, etc... once it gets dark, kids get a little restless and parents get quite impatient. Not to mention every lit up Disney cart comes around and our kids start with the gimme gimmes! We started lighting these up and wrapping them around our own kids and handed them out to all the kids around us. We might have spent 3 bucks total but those last 15 minutes sure went by quick and again - We’re Heros!

3. This isn’t a new idea, but it is so simple and free. We tend to play the Fast Pass game. Since Fast Passes don’t really expire (meaning you can always use a Fast Pass any time after its starting time on the day its issued) we accumulate them all day long. Often when we decide to leave we may have a group of Fast Passes left over that we don’t use. Its always prudent to hand those off to a family that really needs it. You never have to look far to see that family that has no Fast Passes, no options, and no patience. Maybe not as big a hero, but still a nice pay it forward.

4. Dance in the park. Whenever a band is playing, singers are singing, piano player playing, grab your kids and start to dance. If you are really brave get a conga line started. Just go crazy and have fun. It is contagious and will most likely show others that there is fun to be had even if you aren’t on a ride or buying something.

5. Have a silly face contest. Enough Said.

6. I love eating different kinds of food, mmmmmm food. Nothing makes food taste awful like sad kids. They don’t get into food. To them food should be quick and sweet. If you are eating at a quick service then you have to get the kids sitting down somewhere while an adult goes to wait in line, if you are eating at a table service, there is the standard wait time until you get seated and then more waiting for the food. If you are character dining, you know that even though you are having a buffet (most likely) you aren’t leaving until you’ve seen each character and that can take over an hour on a busy day. So, dig inside my backpack and you’ll find 50 or 60 coloring pages all directly from the Magic Artist section of Disney.com. I print them out and keep them stocked in a folder (we actual store this in the car) but we also collect those little packets of crayons from different restaurants so that we always have a supply of crayons. Want to be a Hero, grab a stack and hand it to the table next to you with the crying baby, the sad and bored kid with his head down and the exasperated parents. Hero, absolutely free!

7. Lastly we keep a handful of ring pops in the front of our bag for our own kids. It can bring out a smile in the worst of times. I would not suggest giving candy or taking candy from strangers, but sometimes in the depths of despair, you may need to resort to this. Ask permission and make sure you have already been talking to the parent. Moreover, this works only when you have enough for your own children first.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed part one of How to be a Hero at Disney. Remember, there are dozens of things you should be doing to have fun at Disney, but these will make your experience so much better by lightening up the environment around you. This takes an average day at the parks and turns it into the commercials you see of the parks! Besides, you’ll never see these people again so ham it up and be silly. That always works!

1 comment:

  1. Boy, I really wish I'd run into you in the parks during those first couple of trips! Great tips, both for helping others AND for helping yourself!