5 Ways Disney made our Munchkins EXCELLENT Travelers

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.

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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 😉

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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.

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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.

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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.

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5 Things I learned on my First Disney Cruise

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1.  Your Kids are Going to Love the Kids Club-

Okay… I know some people may think this is obvious (duh… thanks for the tip).  However, I have spoken to fellow parents who were also taken a back by their kids willingness to be dropped off at the Kids Club (free day care people!!!  FREE DAYCARE!  Well… maybe not free but no additional fees- ha!).  For a young couple this was very welcomed news.  Let’s face it vacations can be exhausting between all the planning, packing and taking care of everyone.  I had read reviews that talked about the kids club but I assumed our kids would gasp over the idea of being left at a daycare on vacation.  Boy was I wrong.  We practically had to beg them to leave each time we went to pick them up.  They could have stayed in there A.L.L. day if we let them.  They loved it SO much that the kids club actually turned into a bargaining tool, “Want to go to Goofy’s Pajama Party tonight… okay well everyone needs to be on their best behavior today then.”  How great is that??

Should you feel bad about dropping off your kids?  Heck NO!  With all we do for the munchkins we deserve a break.  This is our vacation too.  So, don’t be shy.  Sign up your kids pronto.  Don’t delay.  Take them the first night to the open house where you can explore the areas together.  They will likely meet friends and be begging you to be dropped off in no time.

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2. You Need a Whole Day in Castaway

We LOVE Castaway Cay… in fact whenever we see the cruise that plans on stopping in Castaway Cay twice my hubby knows he can talk me into it.  But, on our first cruise I think we foolishly waited to get off the boat bc it didn’t seem that intriguing.  Don’t make that mistake.  Get up and get off the boat early.

Why??  As soon as you hop off the boat there are strollers you can borrow, towels and jugs of water.  You can walk or take the tram over to the beach areas where you are greeted with characters and white sands.  The water is crystal clear, warm and gorgeous.  There are slides and activities for the kids in and out of the water.  *The kids club actually moves off the boat and there is an adult beach… although we’ve never tried it.

There are also excursions you can book.  We enjoyed the bike rentals equipped with helmets, training wheels and baby seats.  There were very easy, flat routes around the island which I highly recommend.  The bike package also came with tube rentals and snorkels which were perfect for cooling off after the bike ride.  Another cool experience that our boys LOVED was the manta ray feeding.

Plus, there is SO much going on… character dances, crab races and plenty of food and drinks.

It’s just so nice to be off the boat with all the amenities of being on it.  Don’t get me wrong we love to explore different cultures with the kids.  However, when we travel with Disney we expect to relax, have fun and bond as a family.  Some of our other travels… as amazing and educational as they may be- tend to exhaust me.  So… get excited about going to Castaway!!

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3. Dinners can still be long

Dinners are L.O.N.G. no matter what on a cruise with all of the scrumptious courses they serve.  Disney does a great job of training their servers to really engage the kids with coloring pages and magic tricks.  However, plan on your kiddos still ending up bored.  Especially, if they are 5 and under.  Luckily, Disney does offer Kids Club pick up at dinner when you have the late seating.   They served the kids very quickly and they took their time on the adult courses.  We enjoyed the time with the kids.  And, then just as they were winding down the Kids Club staff was there to whisk them away.  Then me and the hubs could enjoy the rest of our dinner sans munchkins.  It was blissful!!

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4. They are SERIOUS about Pirate Night

You could spot us newbies from afar.  I thought I was prepared.  I bought a few novelty items for the kids to dress up plus on pirate night Disney leaves some goodies in your room to help you get into the pirate spirit.  What I didn’t realize was that MOST of the cruisers go ALL OUT!!  They are in full costume… parents, grandparents… babies… I mean everyone!  I actually felt foolish having not participated.  Crazy!  But, for whatever reason it works on that boat.

I can’t believe I am saying this… but I actually recommend you packing pirate themed apparel and not just for the kids.  And, probably more than you think you need.

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5. Character’s are EVERYWHERE!!!

Make sure you have an autograph book because there are characters EVERYWHERE on board the boat.  It was like a dream to our munchkins… they were so proud of the number of autographs they got on that first cruise.  The characters are very interactive and really took their time with the kids.  Something that they can’t always do at the parks.  The kids really got a kick of finding the characters just walking around the ship.  That was something we hadn’t expected, but were pleasantly surprised by.  The munchkins conversations on whether Hook shared a room with Peter Pan or Chip & Dale cracked me up.

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