Disney Tantrums…Not just for kids

So I am sitting here watching my son (age 4) throw a fun little tantrum and thinking…thank goodness we are NOT at Disney, lol. Yep it happens; kids get tired, overloaded with sweets, too much stimulation, need more sleep and they aren’t the only ones.  Adults get hungry, hot, tired and CRANKY too…so much fun, right – NOT. Unfortunately when at Disney…tantrums can still be a thing…but luckily there are ways to AVOID them. Perhaps not 100%, but at least bring them down to a tolerable level.
Dealing with a tantrum at Disney seems to be a common worry or concern of many of my clients and I try my best to walk them through the steps to avoid such an event. With 2 kids, both in the tantrum age zone…it’s something I try my best to avoid as well. I have been to Disney more times than I can count and have taken my kiddies several times, at various ages and have learned a few things.
First…kids will be kids. Just because you spent your hard earn cash on what is supposed to be the BEST VACATION of a life-time…doesn’t mean your toddler is going to change. You know you kid(s) the best. You know their triggers, limits and issues. And you need to be honest to yourself about it. This is also where the adult tantrums come into play, lol. As an adult, we want to see and do stuff too. We want to stay up late and watch the parade/fireworks and do the special Holiday party. We want to have a few adult beverages and relax. We want to ride the coasters and do some thrill rides. BUT…we also want to see the magic in our kid’s eyes, see their faces light up with wonder and delight…but It can come to the point where we need to decide, what is more important? OR find a happy mix; a healthy medium. This is something I have developed over time and each and every trip gets better and better; as kids ages change so does the experience.

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BIG kid in stroller; she is happy & entertained while WE get a break.

Things to consider, thoughts to ponder about YOUR child: LIMITS…
• Walking – Strollers are NOT just for toddlers…if your older kid isn’t a grand walker…consider a stroller
• Sweets – Some kids have a limit, some can’t handle it at all. Giving them a limit WILL help.
• Sleep – Some kids NEED sleep, some can handle a little less than normal…but sleep is a MUST.
• Length of Day – Some kids crash out early, some are night-owls…some with a mid-day nap can flourish
• Food – Some NEED to eat at normal times, some can snack until a BIG meal…but DON’T push it off.
• Lights, Sounds, Stimulation – Some kids are ok with all the action, some kids are overwhelmed (consider breaks, head-phones, distractions)
• Heat – some people are ok in the heat, some people just can’t function (same with crowds). Know this and prepare.

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Dole Whip; nice treat, but LOTS of sugar – try sharing.

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Mickey Pretzel…my FAVORITE snack.

Be honest…if your kid tends to throw more fits after a birthday party (SUGAR) or after a long day at the zoo or fair is burnt out…then consider that at Disney. It’s OK to miss a few things, especially if it prevents a melt-down. Consider cutting back on the treats (we allow ONE per day), consider NOT doing the night-time fun every night (perhaps every other), consider packing or renting a stroller for an older child to prevent (my legs are tired whining). Pack “distractions” for kids who get easily bored (waiting in line) or overwhelmed. Consider saving an experience for “next” time. For us…this is the Holiday Parties…I am dying to take the kids, but when the time is right.
With all these trips under my belt you would NOT believe what I have witnessed (not that this will be you); parents forcing crying kids on rides, kids climbing on chains, bars and displays, kids having over-tired meltdowns during the evening parade, kids begging for more and more treats/toys, parents yelling, screaming and dragging kids along. It’s hard…we ALL want to see and do it all…but we ALL have our limits. Some kids are scared of certain rides, some are just hungry, some are dehydrated and need to drink more water and EVERYONE needs to make sure they get plenty or rest…PLUS parents need breaks too.

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LOTS of healthy options at Disney…

For us…as long as I try to keep it healthy (packing healthy snacks/bars), limit sweets, provide LOTS of water (not milk, juice or soda) and make sure we ALL have plenty of sleep…our Disney vacations have always been 100% Magical and Amazing. But I also keep it real…I know my kids. And I know me. I know what I need to walk for a week straight, to deal with kids and a husband and to keep everyone together. I know what my husband needs (evening adult drink, lol) and I know what makes sense for us, for NOW, for THIS trip. I have dealt with a tantrum or two (not just from the kids) and although they weren’t that bad, I did learn from them. Disney is amazing, but it’s also BIG, long, loud, crazy, FUN, filled with sweet treats, shopping AND people. One needs to learn to adapt and “go with the flow” while also tending to all the needs of the group.

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Don’t forget to take time out for “play”…its NOT all about the rides.

I know some of this seems generic, but it’s about YOU, not what your friend did, your neighbor did or even what I did…it’s about what is GOOD for YOU. This is something I help all my clients with. I will have long chats about concerns and worries and help plan the best vacation per THEM, their needs. Each and every client/trip/family is different. It’s not something you can compare or copy…every trip is unique. One family’s favorite or ideal resort might not be yours, same with restaurants, rides and other activities.

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This TOY camera saved our trip last time…He took LOTS of “pictures”.

I post this…not as a deterrent to Disney, but as an honest account. This is something to think about and plan for…to have guidelines and back-up thoughts…to “practice” before you travel. To prepare and learn about all the “quiet” spots, children play areas and best resorts for a mid-day break (if needed).  To know when to push and when to alter your plans, lol.
**As a Travel Agent specializing in Disney vacations…it is my job to know the parks, resorts, restaurants, rides and attractions. It’s my job to see and do it all…it’s also my job to help and give advice to the best of my knowledge and expertise. Consider putting your trust in an agent whose FULL-TIME job is Disney, someone who knows more than just ONE resort. My services are 100% FREE if you book with me and as a Disney Vacation Planner…I book directly with Disney. Check me out – http://www.facebook.com/wordofmouse

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Disney Dining…the “PLAN”

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The Disney Dining Meal Plan is something I whole-heartily LOVE, especially for those with Food Allergies.  We get it EVERY trip…and yes I have to pay the same price as everyone else…no kickbacks for this gal 😦   But for some reason the “meal plan” concept can confuse many and I mean many people.  In fact it’s one of the most popular questions from my clients…a daily question for sure.  After years of booking Disney vacations and booking dining for other people…I find I have “experience” on the subject, lol.

So…in an attempt to Dis-Confuse you…here you go.  And in an effort to keep this simple, but yet detailed…I am only talking about the Basic plan, the middle plan, the Disney “Plus” plan, the Disney Dining Plan…as it seems to have many names these days.

The Disney Dining “Plus” Meal Plan includes…

  • 1 Table Service Meal Credit
  • 1 Quick Service Meal Credit
  • 1 Snack Credit
  • And 1 Refillable Mug (per person Ages 3+) – A great souvenir for home.
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Pick up at your resort, 4 different colors

Easy right…ummm for me it is…for others…they need more info…so keep reading

How many do I get?  And who gets it?

The number of credits you get are based on the number of nights you’re staying…so if you’re staying 7 nights and 8 days…that’s 7 credits per person (aged 3+).  So no matter how many days you’re spending at the parks…it’s based on nights staying at the resort.  As far as who gets it?  It’s for everyone in your party, everyone on your reservation…everyone that is aged 3 and up.  Those under 3 are not on the plan, do NOT get meal credits and do NOT get a mug…they can however eat off your plate (especially at a buffet meal) and in many cases a chef will make your portion a little larger knowing your also feeding a little one.

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You will get this when you check-in…a total summary breakdown.

Does everyone have to be on the plan? – YES, everyone on your RESORT reservation must have the same plan, the same everything actually.

Can I use the “Credit” at my Resort? – YES, you can use those credits anywhere on Disney property, were it is accepted.  Yes, some places do NOT accept the plan…but 99% of them do 🙂

So…how come some require 2 credits?  All the Dinner shows, Fine Dining experiences and Specially Restaurants (like Cinderella’s Royal Table) take 2 credits (as it’s more than just eating)…but the majority requires 1 credit, including most of the character meals.

What does a Table Service Meal, a Quick Service and a Snack mean?  Ah…the question of all questions.

  • A Table Service Meal…is basically all restaurants that have a waitress, that require a reservation, that are sit down. This includes the Character meals, any fun Themed dining and other yummy places.  They are either buffets or menu ordering.  Consider this your BIG meal, the meal that will fill you up the most…thus I plan for when I might be the hungriest.

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  • A Quick Service Meal…is basically all the other restaurants. They don’t take reservations, you don’t get a waitress and you seat yourself.  You walk up to the counter, order, take a seat and wait for either your beeper to go off or for your food to be brought out.  I often tell people to think of this as your “fast food” meal…but that seems to make people think you’re getting burgers and hotdogs…NO…there are plenty of awesome, yummy, healthy options at these places…and they go far beyond your typical fast food joint, by FAR.  Gourmet burritos, sandwiches, salads, yes burgers too, deluxe pizza, and so on.

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  • A Snack…a snack on the dining plan will be clearly labeled with a little icon symbol. But in general if the item is less than $5…it’s probably a snack credit.  But for the purpose of being detailed; dole whips, Mickey pretzels, popcorn, soda, bottle of water, fruit, bagel, cupcake, rice krispy treat, coffee, hummus/chips, ice cream, Mickey’s premium bar, etc are ALL snacks 🙂

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And this brings me to the BIG question:  How /when do I use these credits?  Now…this is something I do for my clients (for FREE)…I will walk you through the calendar, the parks and restaurants and find your family the best ones…for you.  Then we discuss the best time to eat these meals, based on your families’ specific needs…then I BOOK them for you…again for FREE.  So…this part of the planning is under control and I will walk you through it, step by step.  But for those that wonder…you can mix/match these credits…you are NOT required to use 1 per day or on a certain day.  They are your credits…so as long as you use them before midnight on the day you check-out…use to your needs and enjoyment.  And every time you use one (of any kind), your receipt will tell you how many you have left…so keep track.

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So…in major conclusion…I hope I helped clarify the meal plan.  In simple terms…you are purchasing credits; you’re paying for the meal before you dine…and at a discount.  Then when you’re at Disney…you click your Magicband (pay a tip if at a table service) and walk away.  No need to pinch pennies or skip the most expensive item on the menu…enjoy what you want since it’s already paid for.   And to get the most bang from your “credit”…you want to aim for the most expensive places and meal times.  But for us…we just aim for our favorites…the ones that make our trip the most magical, aka the Character Meals.  Those make and save our trip…they are entertaining and prevent me from standing in line after line to meet a Character…dining with them “kills two birds with one stone” (as the saying goes).

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Remember I am a FREE Disney Travel Agent…booking all Disney Vacations daily…my services are ALWAYS free when you book a trip with me.  I specialize in food allergies and special diets at Disney…and with all our Food “issues”…I am the perfect gal to help you with your food choices.

Contact me anytime – Nina 734-890-2350 or Nina@goTMCtravel.com

10 Things…

One thing I get asked a lot about or seems to be a big hit when I talk about it is…packing advice.  I did a Facebook post last week about 3 things I was hesitant to pack, but so glad I did (check it out)…but for this blog post I thought I would list 10 things that perhaps most people wouldn’t think to pack…assuming you all remember to pack the basics…sunscreen, sunglasses, good walking shoes and of course a poncho (Florida rain).  These are things outside of the typical list:

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So in no particular order…10 things I always pack but not everyone thinks about…

Nightlight (comforts of home):  This is great for families, people with little kids.  Not only do I pack a nightlight for bathrooms trips in the dark…but I pack fun pillowcases, favorite stuffed toys, blankets, pillows…a few little things that my kids usually sleep with…it helps with the first night away and it helps make the resort room seem like home.  The pillowcase is a great trick for those getting a non-cartoon themed resort, but want to “kid-up” the space.

Entertainment:  So as most people might think to bring video games and up-load movies on their phone/tablet for kids…I am suggesting something non-media related.  Although a movie in a LONG line is a major plus.  For our last trip I packed my 5 year old a kid puzzle book…as it was mainly for the plane…but I also pack it in our backpack for the parks…and was so GLAD I did.  During times when she was either a little bored (line), tired or too stimulated to even focus…she would do her puzzle book.  It was a major life saver.  And for the 2 year old…I packed him a toy Disney Camera that talks “Say Cheese”…this was a huge hit and when he was getting to little “special”…I just had him take pictures.  Also…crayons, markers, stickers, paper, coloring book, comics, homework, lol.

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Blister aids:  I posted about this one on my facebook page…but it was too good of a thing to not post about again, lol.  For all the years I have been going to Disney…I always come back with a few souvenirs I didn’t pay for; sunburn, worn/tired muscles and blisters.  This time I was prepared to remember a blister solution.  I ended up getting Band-Aid Blister bandages and used on my baby toe….before it was a major blister.  The band-aid stayed on…through showers, long days and so on.  And my toe was never a problem and it didn’t once hurt or give me a hard time walking – it was AWESOME.

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Baggies/Containers:  I also posted about this too.  I got colored baggies, 4 colors for the 4 of us…and used for everything.  But the best part was using for food, aka leftovers and snacks for the day.  Now Disney isn’t a fan of people taking food from the restaurants…something about not wanting to be responsible for anyone getting sick from eating a hot old sandwich that sat in the stroller and thus turned.  So beware of eating something that isn’t good anymore…but in general we ate ours within minutes of leaving the restaurant.  Plus I pack ice packs.  It was great for mickey waffles, fresh fruit, proteins, etc.  I would cut up at the restaurant…and then serve to the kids when in line for a ride or sometimes directly after eating…character meals are often too exciting to meet and eat at the same time, lol.  Also perfect when sharing a large tub of popcorn.  The different colored bags represent each person, thus I always knew whose germy fingers were in which bag.

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Wipes:  So when I say wipes…I mean nice, germ dissolving wipes.  I use wipes instead of sanitizer gel.  I use on my kids hands, on the play areas, interactive ride queues, on all our tables/chairs at restaurants, in the airplane, resort room and so on.  So by now…your thinking why is she such a germ freak…well I wasn’t always this way, but both my kids have severe allergies…so I NEED to wipe down every surface to protect them.  Not to mention when you think about all the millions of people that go to Disney and how many of them might have something to spread.  No-one wants to get sick on vacation and I don’t want my kids to go to the ER due to touching a surface that had cheesy fingers on it.  Another tip…I get the car tub pack of “Wet Ones” and put in the mesh pocket area of my backpack, instead of a water bottle.  Can you say..”Easy access”.

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Bottle holder:  Ok this was a life saver for us.  First when I say bottle holder I mean for on your stroller.  But they do make bottle holders for belts and keychain ones to hook on the loops on your pants…in case you are stroller free.  We use 2 cheap umbrella strollers when we go to Disney…1 kid/stroller per parent.  And between all 4 of us drinking water…a bottle holder was a NEED.  I purchased 2, 1 per stroller.  They were perfect for ANY bottle, a bag of snacks and even my phone.  They still allowed our strollers to collapse with ease and they were used 24/7.

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Portable Charger:  Now I’m not talking about your cord charger…but pack that too.  I’m talking about a 12+ hour backup battery charger that you plug into your device when it’s low…and it charges it up.  See Picture.  Now…I did pack this, as everyone said too, but I never used.  I am just not someone who’s on my phone when on vacation.  Well not a Disney vacation, lol.  But this is perfect for people that use their devices to watch movies in line, take videos of the parades and basically FB, tweet and text during their vacation.  Cell battery power drains super-fast, especially when you’re using the Disney apps or the line apps.

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Chef cards (Allergy cards):  I have been making Allergy cards for years…I use them all the time at home; kids backpacks, lunch boxes, when dining out, visiting, and I use on vacation.  But at Disney…I have special “Chef” cards as Disney is the only time I allow other people (chefs) to cook for my kids…and for a week on end.  I have made several through-out the years and have finally developed a great one for Disney.  Every time I need to order a meal…I present my card.  It clearly lists all allergies and it gives the chefs something visual to look at as you discuss your food needs.  These are perfect for people with multiple allergies and is something I am now offering for my clients.  I will design a card for anyone who books with me and needs one.  I also have one for families with more than one person with allergies.  Also great for vegans, clearing listing what you DON’T eat.

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Address Labels:  I love labels…the more the better.  And my favorite is using the free address ones you get in the mail from certain non-profits.  I use them for our luggage tags, to label our character books…I put them on everything.  Label your camera, phone, tablet, and stroller.  I grab extra of those FREE airline tags, slap on an address label…and boom I can attach to backpacks, camera bags, anything.  Disney has a great lost and found…but it’s easier when your stuff is labeled.

Cash/change:  Ok so this might seem obvious…but you would be surprised how many people forget.  Magicbands and credit cards has made life so easy for making purchases…but something’s you just need cash for.  Tips?  I personally like to tip with cash.  I pay for my dining with my magicband, using dining plan credits, and then tip the waitress with cash.  I also tip the Mouse-keepers (housekeepers), bell hops, bus driver, etc with cash.  I also pack LOTS of pennies and quarters for “smashed penny” machines.  Kids love those, I love those.  Plus…every kid wants to throw coins in a fountain…and there are plenty of those at Disney too.

I hope you found this list to be helpful.  Disney is often a week long adventure and it’s helpful to have everything you need at your fingertips.   Visiting Disney the “Smart and Prepared Way” and book/plan your trip with me.  Remember I am FREE and have lots of wonderful travel tested advice to share.  Nina@goTMCtravel.com or 734-890-2350

Eating with Pooh…and Piglet too!

One thing my family does EVERY Walt Disney World vacation is Crystal Palace…home of Winnie the Pooh and friends.  Dining with Pooh is my daughter’s (5 years old) FAVORITE attraction, lol.  Every time we go to WDW her only concern is if we got reservations to eat with Pooh.  So what’s the hype you ask?

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Well besides the above mentioned eating with pooh…you get to eat with Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet too.  And if you’re lucky…and everyone is…you’ll get to be part of a Pooh parade and follow the characters around the room.  Kids march around the room with the characters while music is playing – can someone say photo op?  And the thought of marching around with Pooh is enough to excite kids with ear to ear grins.  No tears in this place.  And with characters aside…Crystal Palace has a few other perks;

  • Unlimited Friendly Buffet – one of my husband’s favorites, and he’s picky
  • Location – It’s located inside Magic Kingdom, no need to leave the park.
  • Availability – When many character experiences book up at the 180 day mark…Crystal Palace almost always has an opening…which is perfect for last minute vacationers
  • Hours – It’s open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner and if you’re an early bird…you can get a reservation before the park even opens and see Magic Kingdom privately and get a beautiful picture in front of the castle without all the other vacationers in your perfect shot.

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Of course for my family…there is one other perk…Chef Mike.  That’s right…the Disney Chefs are celebrities to us…they keep my family safe, fed and happy.  They go out of their way to make sure my kids and I have what we need to continue with our magical vacation.  Due to our various food allergies…we pretty much always get special service.  And usually that means specially prepared food just for us.  Some people with allergies can eat the food that the restaurant regularly prepares; they just get a non-contaminated plate of goods from the back.  But my family needs, well…specially made goods.

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Chef Mike

After getting a call from the chef 1-2 weeks before our trip…Chef Mike and I were able to come up with a game plan to make sure my kids could get similar foods as the other guests.  This meant special Gluten Free, Diary and Egg free pancakes.  Frozen waffles were offered, but I wanted something we don’t usually eat at home.  We were able to have the home potatoes from the back, fresh strawberries (which was special) and real Maple Syrup.  Other foods were available…but these were the favs.

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And since the Chef had called for the kids, I couldn’t help but to ask about me – I am vegan with a dairy allergy.  So…as most vegans I was curious about some protein.  Crystal Palace doesn’t usually carry vegan meats, but Chef Mike being awesome…ordered some fake chicken for me, cooked it up special and I devoured.  I was even able to cut some up for later.  Not bad; food for now, some for later 🙂

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For dessert…we were given several packages of Enjoy Life cookies.  As I have mentioned in previous posts…that is the standard dessert for most peeps with food allergies so it gets tiring after a while…but the kids didn’t care and it gave me something to treat them with later as well.

And for those that wondered…my husband ate from the buffet…took about 3-4 trips.  We practically had to roll him out the door.  He had plates and plates of food, and then one whole plate filled with baked goodies like muffins, brownies, cookies and such.   He left a happy dad and was able to use his fuel to continue on with our day and wasn’t hungry again until dinner.

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Dining tip:  We usually like to eat our table service meal at about 10:45-11:00am – as you still get some breakfast goodies like waffles and then also eat the typical lunch proteins to help you fuel for the long day ahead.  But this last trip…it was a little too much breakfast and I think the kids did get tired of Mickey waffle after Mickey waffle 😦  So next time…I think we will do half brunch time and half dinner times – Just “Food for Thought”

As usual – I am a FREE Disney Travel Agent that specializes in Food Allergies and Special Diets at Disney.  I do book WDW, Disneyland and Disney Cruises.  Disney pays me, so you don’t have to.  Contact me anytime and I can get you organized and prepared for the most Magical Vacation.  Nina@goTMCtravel.com