The most magical place on earth does not come without stress. We just came back from a trip to Disney in October and I slowly realized that we had to go about navigating our trips a little differently. While neither of my boys have been diagnosed with anxiety by a doctor, they do have anxious tendencies. Going into that situation completely unprepared can make for a stressful situation for both parent and child. If you are planning a trip to the parks, here is some useful information on how to handle anxiety at Disney World.

Plan Your Days Ahead

There are tons of resources online on how to plan out your trip to Disney. When we head to the parks with the boys we make sure we know where all the attractions they would enjoy are and what times the shows we want to catch are happening. We also take advantage of fast passes and early park hours to reduce crowd and wait times.

Know the Triggers

If you have a child with anxiety (or anxious habits) it is super important to know what triggers them. Crowds? Avoid peak seasons and weekends. Impatient? Learn how to work the fast past to your benefit. Loud noises? Maybe skip the fireworks. Whatever the triggers may be, recognize them so that you can plan the work around in advance.

Avoid the Element of Surprise

With anxiety, the unknown is uncomfortable. Explain to your child what is happening and where and they can have time to get used to the idea. My 5 year old was anxious every time he was waiting in line for a ride that he couldn’t actually see. So things like “It’s a Small World” and “Toy Story Mania” which he actually loved, were filled with questions for the wait time. Explaining what is going to happen on the ride before it happened, ease some of his fears. The element of surprise does not work in their favor.

Accept the Unexpected

That’s not a typo my friends. Especially if you travel with small children, you should already be expecting and accepting of the fact that things are not going to go 100% how you planned. No matter how far in advance you plan them. Our children are well in tune with our energy so the less stressed you are, the less stressed they will be.

Take Breaks When Needed

Because it will be hot, and you want to avoid getting over tired and overstimulated. There are a few quiet areas in the parks to get away from the crowds and just unwind. Breastfeeding? Check out this guide that includes some information on where you and the little ones can go. Indoor attractions are also a great idea to get away from the heat and still be entertained. My boys love Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy.

Bring Comfort Items (Or Distractions)

Familiarity eases anxiety. Period. Bring your child’s favorite items from home. Bring their tablet and noise cancelling headphones for long line wait times. Sometimes blocking out the noise and other stimulants help. Comfort is the focus.

Now that you are familiar with how to handle anxiety at Disney, you can enjoy your time and navigate your trip with confidence.

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