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View Full Version : Taking 4 year old for first time [to Disneyland]



kristie73
08-15-2006, 08:16 AM
We are taking my son to DL for his first time (who will be turning 4) in November. I'd like tips and advice for our quick weekend busy trip. We've chosen Veteran's Day weekend. I know- busy, but that's how it goes. :eek: I know we'll do fastpass stuff and just make do the best we can between DL and Cali Adventure. We'll only have 2 days. I'm also concerned because my son can be a little slow to warm up to situations. I'm not sure how he'll do with characters and rides. He can be pretty stubborn and impatient. :~D But he loves Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh and all the Disney movies so I know he'll recognize stuff. Will his fears go away when he enters? Will he refuse to do stuff? :confused: I'm afraid us as parents are getting so excited to see our little one so excited and then we'll be let down because he'll refuse rides and character pictures. :crying: I'm just looking for other parents that can relate and have experience. Or any tips and suggestions of how to manage our trip. Thanks.

lauras5boys
08-15-2006, 08:34 AM
My twins are 4. One of them loves the characters and all the rides and the other is scared of the characters and has now told me after riding Haunted Mansion about 4,000 times that he is now scared of it too.

He may hide from the characters but that's ok. A good way to get a character picture is to go to Mickey's house in Toontown and you can hold him while standing with Mickey and have you husband or the DL photographer take the picture for you.

We often take a break from the rides and characters and go play in the playground at Toontown (let them run wild and it only has one exit so it's easy to keep track of them), we make chocolate chip cookies at Jr Chef and bring a bathing suit or change of clothes to California Adventure and let him run in the water at Flik's Land.

annieb727
08-15-2006, 08:35 AM
since you're going for such a busy weekend, a great place to get some character interaction is one of the character breakfasts -- go to one in one of the hotels - and go BEFORE the park opens. We like Goofy's Kitchen. Some people don't. I've never been to the Lilo & Stitch Breakfast. But this can give you a good idea of how your son will react and interact with characters. Then you can know ahead of time if he'll like to meet the characters or not. Rather than waiting in line for Mickey's house for an hour and THEN finding out - you don't want to waste your precious park hours. Now, if he LOVES them, then sure -- it's NOT a waste :)

When we went, our three year old was wanting to go on scary rides, so we took him to Gadgets Go Coaster for the first of the roller coasters. He was nervous the first time, but by the second or third time on it, he LOVED it. In the end we had him on Big Thunder Mtn Railroad...we'd hold on to him, so he felt secure, and he would raise his hands and SCREAM! It was SO fun.

He hates Splash Mtn, because he DID NOT like to get wet - and the drop scared him. Try Pirates before splash. See how he reacts to the small drops first. If he hates them - DON'T take him on Splash Mtn.

Might be a good idea to rent a stroller. Not necessarily first thing in the morning, but later in the day. He might be tired of walking, but not tired enough to leave DL. When we were there last October we had our 3 year old and 1 year old. We only left DL one time out of ten days for naptime in the hotel. They napped in the stroller and we did kid swaps while they napped. And boy did they sleep well every night!

I'll post more when I get some more ideas...:)

Oh...and HAVE FUN!!!

junglemom
08-15-2006, 09:10 AM
If you are park hopping, I highly recommend Turtle Talk with Crush. He will love that. And then you'll have the Monsters Inc. ride too.

Just feel him out. You will probably spend most of your time in Toon Town and Fantasyland. Try and see shows and parades. The Jungle Cruise is a big favorite with my kids. And my favorite character interaction meal is Minnie and Friends at the Plaza Inn, at the end of Main St. If you get the first reservation of the day you practically have the characters to yourself.

Have fun!

adriennek
08-15-2006, 01:23 PM
Will his fears go away when he enters? Will he refuse to do stuff? :confused: I'm afraid us as parents are getting so excited to see our little one so excited and then we'll be let down because he'll refuse rides and character pictures. :crying: I'm just looking for other parents that can relate and have experience. Or any tips and suggestions of how to manage our trip. Thanks.

Frankly, if he refuses to do some things, I would say that's just ok because there are so many other things to do. I'd wait to do darker rides until he's done light rides first. it's a small world, outdoor fantasyland rides like Dumbo and Casey Jr can be great for getting his feet wet. At four (well, heck, at 5 and 7, too) my kids were/are huge Buzz Lightyear FREAKS so that ride goes over very well. My now 5-year-old just ADORES Pooh and has since he was 3. (There's no accounting for taste, but what's a mommy to do??)

I'm going to suggest the opposite of annieb regarding characters, however. I would not try a character meal until you know how he reacts to characters. There are MANY opportunities to meet characters at Disneyland. Just walk onto Main Street and Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and/or Pluto almost always seem to be around. There are several opportunities all over the parks. I would not want to spend a lot of money on a character meal only to have my child be anxious the entire time, not quite trusting that one of those big things would leave him alone. A character meal can be a terrible place to feel 'trapped' as a child afraid of character.

My almost-8-year-old has been going to DLR since he was 19 days old and he didn't really warm up to characters until he was about 4 1/2. He might warm up over time, but in my experience, it's best to let the child take the lead and approach the characters when they're ready.

Adrienne

annieb727
08-15-2006, 01:29 PM
I'm going to suggest the opposite of annieb regarding characters, however. I would not try a character meal until you know how he reacts to characters. There are MANY opportunities to meet characters at Disneyland. Just walk onto Main Street and Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and/or Pluto almost always seem to be around. There are several opportunities all over the parks. I would not want to spend a lot of money on a character meal only to have my child be anxious the entire time, not quite trusting that one of those big things would leave him alone. A character meal can be a terrible place to feel 'trapped' as a child afraid of character.

Adrienne

I actually hadn't thought of it like that...good points. I'm always learning :)

rfaljean
08-15-2006, 01:30 PM
With each of my 3 daughters, we started them out very slowly. We started my youngest daughter (now 8), at age 5, with Small World, Casey Jr, Peter Pan, etc and then went for the Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise, Train, etc. As for characters, my now 12 yr old hated all of the characters when she was 7, except for the "face" characters. My son was the same way at 1, but he sure did like Ariel.... Try the princes and princesses first, then maybe move up to Buzz or Woody... The best thing we did was just go with the flow. Don't rush him or push him. He'll let you know when he's ready.

mommy-san
08-15-2006, 06:21 PM
Just remember- disneyland is all "hurry up and wait". So if this puts your kid in a mood as it did mine, take it slow. My daughter loved to get pictures with the characters but hated the lines. So the character meals were perfect. she also hated the lines for rides so we did other things like innoventions (talk with stitch), small world, or King tritons carousel when she got overwhelmed and grumpy.

adriennek
08-15-2006, 11:11 PM
I actually hadn't thought of it like that...good points. I'm always learning :)

:) Thanks for not taking it personally. :)

Adrienne

MommyTo3Boys1Girl
08-15-2006, 11:51 PM
First off, have fun! Taking your child for their first trip is so magical, I get teared up just thinking about, no matter their age.
My kids were 13 months for the oldest on his first trip and the youngest was 10 months. Both of them have been numerous times since then, but I was shocked how well they surprised me and just loved the costume characters. They don't have problems with any characters, but they do shy away more from seeing the face characters, not really sure why.
I would give him time to look from afar and then let him decide if he wants to see them. Same for rides, if you let it be his decision, I think it will work better.
Only you know your child and what he will be comfortable with. But just remember, that unless this is your only trip you will ever take him on to DLR, you can always catch things you miss this time, on the next visit.

mom22gls
08-16-2006, 03:45 AM
My four-year-old daughter still cannot tolerate a dark ride, even if it is not scary or fast. I'm pretty sure she went with us on the Haunted Mansion last year (at WDW) and was fine, but when we went on it in February, she cried the whole time, but it actually seemed darker to me too. She even got upset on the People Mover. She still won't get into a picture with a non-face character, although she is all about the princesses. She's a little slow to warm up to situations, and is not all that timid, generally. I am starting to think she made such a stand about what is "scary" to her, she doesn't want to back down from it, that it is becoming a bit of a game to her. I don't push her, but encourage her to try new things, especially if it has been six or more months since she was offered that type of experience. After four or five hours or so, take a break and go back to the hotel, or at least to something quieter for awhile-that always seems to be the meltdown point.

ToursbabeC3po
08-16-2006, 11:41 AM
I'd wait to do darker rides until he's done light rides first. it's a small world, outdoor fantasyland rides like Dumbo and Casey Jr can be great for getting his feet wet.

Best advise Given!

pmover11
08-16-2006, 12:43 PM
The original poster said she only had two days, but my personal experience in May with a 4 and 2 year old is the following:

The first day, we tried light rides, then dark rides. They hated the dark rides. We also had gone to the park in the late afternoon after driving up from a San Diego visit.

The second day, they didn't want to go on dark rides, so we stayed away from the Fantasyland area. They agreed to go on Haunted Mansion (Pirates was closed) and were unsure, but not as adamantly against it as they were on the first-day dark rides.

The third day, we went to CA Adventure and everything was fine, including Monsters.

The fourth day, the 4 year old wanted to go to the Fantasyland dark rides. She wasn't thrilled, but was still unsure. The 2 year old still didn't like the dark rides.

The fifth and last day, both kids asked to go on the dark rides. In fact, while the 4 year old was asleep after Fantasmic, I asked the 2 year old what ride she wanted to go on before closing, and she said, "Haunted Mansion" and loved it. Then she wanted to do Snow White, Peter Pan, Mr. Toad and Pinnochio. Because Pinnochio had no line at all, she liked riding it over and over again until they had to close the park. (I have no idea why she wouldn't go to sleep like her sister, but that Daddy-daughter time was one of the best parts of the trip, and I will always like "Finoyo"-Pinnochio for that reason.)

I think that the extended trip allowed us to take things easy, and let the kids get familiar with the park. We took daily naps in the middle of the day, and didn't push to see everything on any day.

The longer you can extend your trip with the little ones, the better the experience. Rushing around=stressed parents & kids=bad Disneyland experience.