I originally wrote this post for Growing Up Disney on May 13, 2011.
Last December we took our then 23 month old to Walt Disney World for the first time for a 5 night, 4 day vacation. I was so excited to introduce him to the place I love so much! I spent hours reading web sites, other blogs, books and message boards about taking a toddler to WDW. I carefully mapped out our trip so there wouldn’t be any late nights right before early mornings, or late breakfast reservations too close to an early lunch and even mapped out when we could head back to the resort to rest. I booked breakfast on our first day at Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom with Pooh and friends. I wanted to eat here early so we could get a good photo of the family in front of the castle before all the crowds started piling in the park. We did get a good photo, but the breakfast was a disaster! That’s when I realized I missed a key component in planning my trip: prepare your toddler for meeting characters!
My son knew all the main characters by name from watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Toy Story. He even knew a few others from books we’ve read and the vacation guides we used in our planning. I didn’t think there would be any problem when it came to meeting these same characters at the parks. I couldn’t have been more wrong! He was TERRIFIED to say the least. He was excited when they were 10 feet away or more, but once they came closer this is what we got:
I’m sure he was thinking “Get those big animals away from me RIGHT NOW!”
As our trip progressed, he slowly warmed up to the characters. I still had to hold him as we approached the characters, but by the end, he was giving high fives to his new friends from the comfort of my arms!
As our next trip is fast approaching, I have some thoughts on how to get your toddler prepared for meeting the characters.