I get it… Disney… really? It’s funny how people love or hate the mouse and with equal enthusiasm especially in the travel industry!
As lame as you may think the mouse is I am going to make the argument that Disney is great stomping grounds for bringing up well rounded little travelers-
Here are 5 Ways Disney made my Munchkins EXCELLENT Travelers:
1) The munchkins are great on airplanes
We walk on a plane with 4 kids and a baby and I swear all you can hear are sighs. Plus, all the talk under peoples breath, the eye rolls and the avoidance. It is hilarious!!!
I smile and laugh in my head bc our kids have flown 3-4 times a year from the time they were infants. Every few months they are on a plane ride. Initially, it was either to Maui to visit their Papa or to Florida to go to Disneyworld bc with the Vacation Club it was just SO affrordable!
All those miles up in the sky have made my kids EXCELLENT flyers. Its a routine for them and we keep it consistent every time. Hint- Kids LOVE routine!!! My kids love the special treats they know I’ve packed them. They know activities that will keep them occupied and they know that sleeping helps pass the time. You know the saying “Practice makes Perfect!”
My favorite part about flying honestly is all the compliments we receive once we’ve landed. People cannot believe how well behaved our kids were. Its one of those mama moments that I just soak up– proof that I am doing a good job at this while child rearing thing 😉
Truth is it is not as much about my parenting though as it is about practice and routine. And, that moment is thanks to all those trips. The munchkins know hopping on a plane = fun. They know if they misbehave they will miss out on part of the fun. So, with that mindset our flights are easy peasy.
2) They understand and appreciate culture
Epcot is a fantastic way to introduce kids to culture and language. The park represents 11 countries and Disney hires people from each specific area so kids are able to ask questions and learn about another country from its own residents without any language barrier.
My kids especially love making the cultural kidcot masks. They get to visit a special kidcot area in each country where the cast member stamps the country and writes the child’s name in their native language on the back of their mask.
EVERY. TIME. we go the munchkins HAVE to make a mask. They never get tired of it.
It’s more than the mask though. I appreciate that they are able to chat with the employees about their homelands and learn a bit of the language. It sparks their curiosity and helps engage us in conversations about the world and where they might want to travel in the future.
It also helps in reverse when you are in the actual country and you can remind them of things they learned or saw in the parks. It helps familiarize them to the area so they don’t feel so out of sorts. Like when we traveled to Ethiopia and we were able to talk about the cast members we met, the pictures of the traditional African houses we had seen at the hotel, the Coke signs in the Africa area of Epcot and the drums the kids were able to play with. My son was proud when he could show the Ethiopians that he knew a thing or two about their instruments 😉
3) The munchkins are patient
Disney parks are known for their long waits and while we do utilize fast pass and baby swap when we can… my munchkins still end up waiting in their fair share of lines. This has been very useful bc trips always require you to wait in lines whether its at the airport, waiting to see the Eiffel Tower or to see an exhibit in a museum- lines are just part of traveling.
Having had so much practice at how to wait nicely, knowing fun little games they can play like “I spy” etc… really has been helpful. The more routine the activity is… the better equipped your kids will be to handle themselves in a mature, respectful manner.
4) They love trying different foods
Disney has done a great job with all the different cultural restaurants they have now. We have enjoyed African/ Indian inspired dishes at Boma and Jiko while staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The munchkins have eaten Moroccan, French, English, Chinese, Norwegian, German and Japanese food at Epcot and many more. Food is such an important part of a culture and getting small tastes of it here and there has helped them appreciate trying new things. I recommend if you visit the parks to not give your kids the kids meals with traditional mac and cheese and chicken nuggets. Instead have them split adult entrees or order several appetizers to share.
They may turn up their noses the first few times but once they give it a go I guarantee they will find exotic foods to be quite fun!! Mine have even made lists of all the different foods they have tried like escargot, injera and sushi.
5) The munchkins have learned how to have their own fun amongst the chaos.
Traveling is exhausting and chaotic. Crowded tourist attractions, busy train and subway stations and the airport are all places that get NUTS!! Guess where you can get that same type of vibe… that’s right Disney Parks. Crowds, Chaos and Disney go hand in hand.
My kids are literally immune to the crowds. They know how to stay close, they know what to do if they get lost… all of these details we have worked out previously through our many trips to Disney. This helps give me more peace of mind bc I know my kids won’t be overwhelmed. By ensuring the are not overwhelmed I also know I am avoiding potential meltdowns.
We also have a worked out a great flow. We know our kids need to have a break to rest & eat every 2-3 hours when we are out. We know what kind of snacks to have on hand and we can tell when one of the kids is losing their cool. I am glad we practiced all of these things at Disneyworld where if I didn’t pack enough snacks or diapers there was a very easy fix at the next gift shop maybe 10 feet away. Trust me Disney has you set.
I am glad to have had the practice as making a mistake while hiking in Costa Rica, driving across the countryside in Ethiopia or in the middle of the sand dunes in Dubai would NOT be as easy to fix.
So, if you are nervous about travel but would love to be a traveling family I think Disneyworld is a great starting off point. It’s convenience can’t be beat and helps ease you into experiences so that you can get some under your belt.