Thursday, 4 September 2014

The Duff's Demolish Disney September 2014 - Travelling with Kids - The Highs & Lows


NB: Apologies for no particular order, I type as I think and I think in no particular order!!

Ah, look at their angelic faces, such good well behaved children having the time of their lives at the wonder of the modern world that is Walt Disney World in Florida, every parent who has yet to go to WDW looks at this and thinks yep, my offspring are going to love every single minute of it, they will be well behaved and adorable, they will go on the rides and cuddle the giant characters.  Anybody who has actually been to WDW with kids will know its more like this....


So following on from my original pre trip, I thought I would tell you my findings of three trips across the pond with kids to Orlando, my highs and lows so to speak!

The first time my two daughters went to Florida was back in 2010, they where 1 and 3 respectively, I was so excited for this trip, my husband and I hadn't been for five years and I badly (selfishley?) needed a holiday.  Preparing for the holiday started early, we were due to leave in the October and in January came the fun of getting my sprogs passports, now trying to get a one year old to sit upright on a stool and stay still is damn near impossible, put it this way it took several attempts but in the end it was fine a a few weeks later they both had their adorable five year passports.

Next on my list was the organising of hand luggage and packing of suitcases for them, I will get a Trunki, they look awesome everyone has them, the kids can be pulled along on them I said to no-one in particular, they'll be perfect, the reality was they were a pain in the arse.  I ended up having to carry the bloody things and because they are so hard and bulky I ended up bruised from them smacking in to me, the plus side was they did carry a lot of stuff - a lot of stuff they didn't really need.  The same could be said for their suitcases, well they were small so they shared one, I must have packed about three change a day for them, far far too many clothes.

This first time with kids we travelled first of all with British Airways from Glasgow to Gatwick (the kids thought they were in Florida when we arrived at LGW, at this point I knew I was doomed) and then with.....


Yep, God save Richard Branson and all who fly with him, anyway I over packed the hand luggage, parents no matter how much crap, sorry essentials you need for your darlings take it out of the case and take away three quarters of it, you won't need it and fill the space that it had taken up with spare clothes and wipes, nappies etc you will need it, oh and extra snacks because if your kids are anything like mine they will hate the special kids meals.

Virgin Atlantic were great, they had seat back tv's (in 2010 we didn't have the heaven sent creation that is on-demand) and they sat enthralled in front of the tv for nine hours, going between kids films and napping and in the youngest ones case enjoyed peeing on her father, if you can afford it book a seat for your kids, my pair spread out across the middle two seats and drifted off for some of those nine hours.  

Now we have flown twice more with VA across the pond, this time when the kids where 3 and 5, and last year when they where 4 and 6, it wasn't any easier as the older they get the less sleep they need and still I over packed their rucksacks (Trunki RIP) with books and colouring stuff which didn't get a look in, On demand had arrived on the Jumbo and they both spent their time tapping away at the screen watching all manner of stuff and when they weren't doing that they were going to the toilet and looking out the windows.

They do also give out cool kids back pack things at the departure gate but after the initial five seconds of enthusiasm they get thrown on the floor along with their clothes, their toys, their mother's nerves.....

But you know what despite the fact my children annoy me constantly, they are children, I love mine to bits and to be honest if they were sitting like little angels I would be worried, maybe I am wrong but if you have a perfect kid friendly holiday plan in mind,organised to the the minute, you can forget it, it wont happen!

Now back tracking a little bit, the one bit that always worries me slightly is going through check-in and airport security.


I'm always scared my pair are going to run amok and produce bottles of liquid from somewhere and get us thrown out the terminal, as I type this I'm becoming to realise I worry too much, anyway I have always found that security staff are charming and so good with kids, they make them feel important and as for check in last year a lovely British Airways staff member actually had my pair behind the desk getting them putting the luggage tags on.  Immigration in the States scared me too, the officers always look a bit gruff but again no problem, the last few times my girls have been charmed by America's border control and thankfully we got in!

Another thing that scares me is turbulence, travelling with my sprogs the first time I felt a little nervous as to how they would cope with flying in general never mind turbulence but they coped admirably well, the second time we went with them on our return journey we had hellish turbulence, the nasty kind where the plane drops away, like being on the Tower of Terror but at 39000ft instead of safe and sound on the ground, my eldest asked the stewardess if we where going to crash in to the sea, the gorgeous blonde with her perfect made up face smiled beautifully and assured her we would not be crashing any time soon, my youngest daughter? well she couldn't have cared less the violent shaking of the plane had sent her to sleep, when the sick bags behind us (we were on the very last row of a 747) fell on our head, she was zonked, when the plane felt like it drop thousands of feet, nope still sound asleep, when our meal was flung on the floor, zzzzzzzzz, when people in front of us where puking their guts up, you get the idea she was asleep.  But I will save me and turbulence for another post!


So you have taken your journey to the States and you are happily through security and on the bus to the hotel, this will be our home this year - Kidani Lodge at Animal Kingdom in WDW, this picture for no particular reason other than it makes me happy!


How will the kids cope? The heat, the killer squirrels and lizards, the people who talk in that funny accent, people from different ethnic groups, huge portions of food, cars on the wrong side of the road and this is before you even get to a theme park.

Kids are adaptable, I had visions of mine going round rudely pointing at everything and everyone but no when they were when faced with new people they where charm personified, in the lift (we had twenty stories to go up) they charmed businessmen and women, Middle Eastern tourists, College kids and housekeeping, they made friends all over the shop, as soon as they saw other kids especially at the pool or on the WDW transport system that was it the had made a new BFF.  I really was quite proud of them!

Now on arrival at WDW the first time our kids had pushchairs which where a godsend for carrying their extra crap around with, changing bag, giant Mickey balloons etc but my husbands bugbear was the fact that your buggy may not be where you left it when going on a ride.  I remember we came of the Nemo ride at EPCOT and couldn't find one of our buggies anywhere, I sorta knew that the Cast Members tidied up the buggies but my husband was furious that it had been moved which led to us having an argument, the joys.  But the buggies were a necessity they made life so easier, when we went back two years later we decided to go without, their little legs did get tired but it made life so much easier, we just invested in a large backpack to carry our stuff around and the kids could get up and personal with everything much easier.

My pair at WDW
Getting up close and personal with the characters is something I thought the kids would like, nope I was wrong, the first time they where a little scared of the characters and you very quickly learn that there is no point forcing them, the second and third time they loved them especially the talking characters such as the princesses, every time we saw them we had to get a pic.  

At WDW there is no point forcing kids to do things that scares them, you see so many families having meltdowns at Disney because little Jimmy doesn't want to go on Space Mountain, I'm 35 and it scares me, never mind a 5 year old going on it.  But every child is different, both of mine have bravely been on Expedition Everest, told me they enjoyed it and then advised me that they are never going near it again!  My youngest last year went on Space Mountain with me, a first time for both of us and I did not know that the seat layout was one behind the other and I spent all of my time on the ride holding on to her leg behind me so I knew she hadn't fallen out!  She also held my hand on the Tower of Terror which didn't bother her (this is the same daughter who slept through the turbulence)

All I can say is that taking my kids to Florida has been the best thing I have ever done, it's expensive, it can be stressful but I have found since the first time I took them that there is no point setting unrealistic targets of things they are gonna do, if they won't go on a ride or cuddle a character it is not the end of the world, I would rather my little demons sorry cherubs are happy and not kicking off because I forced them on something, it is not just my holiday it is my families holiday and I think some parents forget that.

I want to create happy memories that my family can look back on, Disney is not an endurance race, you are not required to do everything in one day or even two weeks, remember happy kids = happy parents!



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