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How to Avoid Theme Park Meltdowns
May 18, 2023

Toddler tears or emotional breakdowns can ruin even the happiest places on earth. Nothing spoils a Disney vacation booking like an overtired, hungry, hot or cranky child. If you’ve spent months or even years dreaming and planning for your family’s perfect theme park vacation, you’ll want to protect your sanity and investment by being as prepared as possible.

Keep children (and parents) happy by making a detailed schedule, taking plenty of breaks, packing snacks and essentials, and following your child’s lead. Here is a list of ways to help you avoid amusement park meltdowns.

1. Make a Schedule

Some children are flexible and will have no problem staying up later than usual or missing naptime while on a family vacation. However, this is certainly not true for all kids. Children who are used to daily routines at home tend to do better with a vacation schedule. If your child has regular nap and meal times at home, try to stick with those same times on your trip. Getting kids to bed at a reasonable hour can be especially important. While Sleepy makes a cute dwarf, starting the morning with an overtired child can almost guarantee a rough day at the park.

Plan ahead to make a detailed schedule for the whole trip, and try to stick with it. Be sure to include time for meals and regular breaks, and add in the average wait times for big rides and attractions. Adding Disney’s Genie+ to your tickets will shorten your wait times on many attractions that typically have the longest wait times, so take into consideration as well.

2. Naps and Breaks are Key

Family tickets to Disneyland or other theme parks can be very exciting. You may be tempted to make the most of it by packing your day full of activities and rides. But pushing your kids to go-go-go without stopping for naps and breaks could derail your whole trip.

While scheduled breaks are essential, you should also check in with your children. If your kid starts to fade, it may be a sign that a meltdown is on the way. If it’s sunny, look for shade or duck into an air-conditioned space. If you have a stroller, it may be the perfect spot for a quick snooze. Each Disney Park also offers a Baby Care center that is quiet, and stocked anything you may need for littles.

3. Stock Up on Snacks and Water

Keeping hunger and thirst at bay is vital to a happy theme park visit. While snack carts and shops sell all sorts of fun snacks and drinks, these can add up throughout your trip. Not to mention, the time spent waiting in a long line may be the tipping point before a big meltdown. You can also use Disneyland’s mobile ordering feature at many quick service locations to get your food without waiting in line.

When in Disneyland parks, you should certainly splurge on Dole Whip and churros, but you should also always keep water and easy snacks such as fruit or crackers on hand. Packing refillable water bottles and using water refill stations is a good idea.

While some kids love dining at restaurants, others may get too antsy for a long sit-down meal. Be sure to consider this when planning your day at the park. If you plan Character Dining or another restaurant meal with your child, breakfast may be the best low-stress option.

4. Bring Wheels

Even children who have grown out of or do not usually need a stroller may benefit from having one on a long, hot day at the park. Strollers are helpful for carting around small kids, providing sun shade, making carrying supplies easier, and can be a bed for napping in a pinch.

If you forget your stroller or don’t wish to pack one, Disneyland parks will rent them to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis. Having wheels while moving through the park with your family can make the experience much easier for kids and parents alike.

5. Pack for Success

Packing for a family theme park vacation is a tricky balancing act. You will want to be hands-free yet as prepared as possible. Here are some vital things to remember:

  • Smartphone chargers as you’ll use phones for navigation, communication, mobile ordering, Lightning Lanes, and to take lots and lots of photos and videos.
  • Plenty of snacks and refillable water bottles.
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, and sun protection hats.
  • Jackets, sweatshirts, and umbrellas in case of bad weather.
  • First aid essentials like bandaids, wipes, and hand sanitizer.

6. Follow Your Child’s Lead

While “luck favors the prepared,” all the planning in the world may not be enough to avoid a meltdown. Theme parks can be loud, crowded, hot, and overwhelming for little ones. Follow your child’s lead. Check-in with children, ask them what they would like to do, be alert for mood changes, and try to anticipate needs.

While keeping to a schedule and fitting in every ride, activity, and attraction may sound like the perfect family vacation, it may be an unrealistic goal. Avoiding meltdowns may require skipping rides, leaving shows early, or eating crackers in line.

One bonus tip for avoiding melt downs is giving yourself enough time to experience it all without feeling rushed. One way to do that is to take advantage of our Extra Day Free Disneyland tickets. With five days of Disneyland fun for the price of four, you can take your time, and take rests whenever needed without feeling like you’re wasting your vacation. Combine that with our Extra Night Free hotel specials, and you’ll save more the longer you stay. Our team would love to help you plan a stress-free Disneyland vacation. Book at getawaytoday.com or call our agents at 855-GET-AWAY.

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