Being a parent has pretty much been filled with variations of “Why didn’t anyone tell me that?” and “If only I had known…” The first, obvious (now) example of this was my baby registry. That adorable, fluffy bathrobe turned out to be pretty impractical as was the Pack N Play “tent.” Washcloths and sleepsacks, on the other hand, were worth their weight in gold. I chose many keepers for the baby registry but if I had the luxury of a do-over after being a parent for a few months, I could have made it even more useful.
Being one of the first of my family and friends to have a child and wishing I had the benefit of the hands-on parenting experience of friends framed one of my major goals in writing my book, Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers (2012). Walt Disney World is unique vacation destination where a good time will be had by all; knowing all Walt Disney World has to offer families with young children and how to take advantage of it can turn a good trip into a truly magical experience. I wanted to use my perspective and experience planning Walt Disney World vacations for my little boys to help other young families create their perfect Walt Disney World vacation. Fast forward four years and I’m thrilled the fourth edition of Beyond the Attractions was published last week.
Being a busy mom influenced more than the content of the book; I knew my Disney travel guide had to be comprehensive but concise and easy to read. Coming in at just over 200 pages and containing information about must-do attractions for toddlers and preschoolers; attraction elements that may scare small kids; the best attractions for the little daredevils in your family; attractions the whole family can enjoy together; hidden activities when your kids need a change of pace; ideas to keep the kids entertained while waiting in line; descriptions of each Walt Disney World resort; child-focused recreation options; the best restaurants and dining experiences for kids; safety tips for your vacation; a preschooler packing list and vacation planning timeline; and maps showing the locations of preschooler-friendly attractions in Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I think I accomplished what I set out to do.
My young boys are my willing test subjects and I couldn’t have written Beyond the Attractions without them so I thought I would share some of their Walt Disney World favorites.
2- year old. All of them. Seriously. He hasn’t met an attraction he didn’t like other than Pirates of the Caribbean, which happened to be the most intense attraction he rode.
5-year old. Hands down, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. He graduated to this coaster from The Barnstormer and could ride it all day long.
2-year old. Garden Grill. The food is very preschooler-friendly and the small size of the restaurant meant lots of character interaction. Who can resist Farmer Mickey and his friends?
5-year old. 50’s Prime Time Café. There’s no question that the anticipation of seeing Mommy and Daddy get in trouble put this restaurant over the top for him.
2-year old. My son’s favorite hidden activity is a picnic on the Disney Beach Club beach with a sand pail meal from Hurricane Hanna’s. My son loves to dig, whether it is dirt or sand, so he’s in his glory with this al fresco dining option.
5-year old. Hedge maze in Epcot’s United Kingdom Pavilion. My little boy had a great time leading his little brother through this maze. I loved sitting on a bench watching with a Grey Goose Slush from the France Pavilion.
I’m very lucky. I have three amazing boys, a wonderful husband who shares and supports my love of Walt Disney World, and amazing friend and partner, Stuart Sternberg (aka @DisneyGeekDad) who encouraged me to feature my book, Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers (2012)., in the Spotlight Zone today!
For more information, please visit BeyondTheAttractions.com.