Friday, June 18, 2010

Tantrum-Taming at Walt Disney World 101

Walt Disney World and children go together just like peanut butter and jelly. Kids love riding Dumbo, enjoy the Character parades, and marvel at the fireworks. They love seeing Mickey Mouse and all the princesses they can think of (Mulan included). They are a match made in heaven - well, add in the infamous tantrums and it's a match made in purgatory for you.

I have to admit that my least favorite park is the Magic Kingdom. Sure - it has a lot of places you can meet and see your favorite Disney Characters, watch your neighborhood high school bands play before the big parade, and marvel misty-eyed at the beautiful fireworks, but the screaming children densely populate it than anywhere else (in terms of theme parks) in the resort. But are Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom free of banshees? Of course not - you can hear them flail near Kali River Rapids, cajole their parents near Tower of Terror, and whine near Innoventions.

Parenting experts say that the culprits of tantrums are often hunger and tiredness. If a child is hungry and wants to have a Mickey bar when you refuse to buy it, he kicks and screams over it. Crankiness is another factor in a tantrum - there's so much to see and do at Walt Disney World. The over-stimulation - the heat, bright colors, bustle, and chanting turismos - can wear him out, and if he's autistic, he can melt down in a heartbeat. At the whole resort, there's more to the gists of many tantrums. Rides that seem or sound scary can cause them, since you're forcing a child to try something he doesn't like. The same is true with Characters, especially all fur Characters in general (because their faces are hidden by a mask or a helmet, like Eeyore) and face ones who wear too much makeup.

What's a parent to do when a tantrum starts? Don't spank your child in front of a place that is notable - doing so in front of Cinderella Castle just ruins the magic that Walt Disney World is meant for. (If you still want to spank him, take him to the bathroom, in the stall, and do it.) If on a line for some ride, distract him by playing a game about the surroundings or have him play a handheld video game console. If they have a long day, take them out of the park and return to your hotel to have them settle down before going there again. If he has a long string of tantrums for one day, take away privileges, such as a viewing of a show, for example.

The best way to lessen the screaming children is to have parents prepare ahead of time. Before going on vacation to strictly do Disney (or do Disney and visit other Orlando-area locations), plan your trip with the kids. Booking one is important, but kids need to get the idea of what the resort looks like. Have them go online to look at pictures and/or videos, order the Vacation Planning DVD, and borrow Disney cartoons or movies - it's especially true with autistic children, who can't handle most transitions easily.

Once at the resort, arrive 30 minutes prior to opening. Grab FASTPASSES early because there are many large families and turismos using them too. To ease your children's hunger while saving money, pack healthful snacks filled with fiber and protein with discretion. If they want something from the store, set a budget for them and convince them to spend within their ranges.

I don't hate kids, but I love them if they are well-behaved. It isn't fair to ban all of them out of Walt Disney World because it wouldn't have the same magical touch it's known for. By preventing and easing tantrums, parents and childless adults alike can enjoy the joys of the resort.


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