This post contains affiliate links.
There are only 35 more days until our trip to Walt Disney World! It is amazing how quickly time passes. We have been prepping for quite some time, but I still feel like there is so much more to do. Taking four special needs kiddos on a week long vacation to one of the most overly sensory stimulating places in the country is going to be challenging. I'm not going to lie. The situation becomes slightly more complicated with an autistic husband who's never been to Disney World himself. With all of that said, we're going to have an AMAZING time and the kiddos are going to do fabulously well. Why do I know this? Because we've prepared for EVERY possible scenario under the sun.
Each morning for the last month as we gather together to go over the schedule for the day and say our family prayer, everyone in the family is asked,
"What's one thing about Disney World you're excited about today?" One wouldn't think that everyone could have a different answer everyday, but for the most part everyone does. It's amazing. Then, everyone is also asked a second question,
"What's one thing about Disney World you're nervous about today?" I can not tell you how much these two questions have helped the kiddos on a daily basis as we prepare for our trip. Their anxiety levels have lowered significantly. All four kiddos are communicating emotions, worries, and concerns. If Jason and I can't help ease anxieties, we call Disney World to find out answers to questions they may have. We'll continue our morning ritual until we finally arrive home from our trip.
The first day of our trip will be spent in Epcot. Jason and I have been preparing a schedule for the day for quite some time. We scheduled our fast passes. The kiddos watched online videos of attractions and shows in the park, before deciding what they wanted to do there. We studied the menus of every restaurant in Epcot and made our reservations. I seriously don't think I've ever prepared for a trip to this extent, but I know it will be worth it.
Even after all I've already done to prepare, my husband can attest I've been a nervous wreck worrying about how Sunshine is going to do on this trip. Am I worrying too much? I don't think so. Sunshine is the most rigid and ritualistic person in the house. She does not transition well AT ALL. Waiting for anything for any length of time seems impossible to her. When Sunshine's schedule doesn't go as expected, or she doesn't transition well, or she's required to wait for something, she rages and is physically aggressive towards anything and anyone in her path. Her screams reach the pitch and volume of a smoke detector and can go on for hours. She bursts blood vessels in her face on a weekly basis, because the rages are so strong. So yeah... We're taking her to Disney World. Lol. I just keep thinking she's 3, and at 3 pretty much anything goes as far as behaviors are concerned, especially at a place like Disney World. I'm hoping she'll just blend in. Lol. Still, I would really love to enjoy myself.
Thankfully, I have a few tricks up my sleeve. I know Sunshine much better than she knows herself. If she knows what's coming, and the plan doesn't change, she usually does okay overall. Sunshine loves learning time activities. If she's learning and keeping her hands busy, she'll usually sit still for a period of time. At no other time of day can she do this. Lastly, Sunshine doesn't understand the concept of time. She's always in the present and tries to understand the day in terms of meals and food. In desperate times of need, food is a fabulous distraction for her. So, I present to you my plans to help Sunshine while we're at Epcot. I had so much fun putting everything together. The older kiddos are super excited about it all, and I'm sure they use everything just as much as Sunshine.
Thanks to meal reservations, fast passes, and a lot of conversations with Disney cast members, our day in Epcot was pretty easy to plan out. We've gone through the schedule orally with the kiddos, but I know once we get there, all of the kiddos will need a picture schedule to help them make it through the day.
When the kiddos wake up, before heading to Epcot, they'll notice Finding Nemo themed eggs placed throughout the hotel room. Each kiddo will be permitted to find four eggs, each filled with $1 in quarters. The quarters can be used for the penny machines in the parks or for the arcade in the hotel. I thought this activity would be perfect for getting the kiddos up and motivated for the day.
Finding Nemo Egg Hunt
Our first attraction at Epcot is The Seas with Nemo & Friends, scheduled using a fastpass (Sunshine's choice). This will be followed by time spent at Sea Base. Then we end our Finding Nemo themed activities with a scheduled fastpass to Turtle Talk with Crush (Princess' choice attraction). I've planned three Finding Nemo themed busy bags, along with snacks to help us make it through this part of our day. All activities are placed on trays for the purpose of this post, but will be placed in Ziploc bags for our trip. These activities will be perfect for when we're sitting, waiting for Turtle Talk with Crush or taking a break at Sea Base.
Sequencing Marlin's JourneyDry Erase Lapboard to use as a hard surface, and for drawing if needed.
Paper Clip Number Match Up
Source: The free Finding Nemo themed number cards can be found at Homeschool Creations.
Ocean Creature Button ActivityDress It Up Buttons Disney Collection at the craft store a few months ago. This busy bag seemed to be the perfect excuse to use them. After adding a few ocean creature buttons I had quite a cute collection. Add a few pipe cleaners and a mini Play-Doh and we're good to go! The kiddos can string the buttons or they can play with buttons in play dough.
There are times when using busy bags will be possible, however there will also be times when we're standing in line and sit down activities aren't appropriate. For those times, I've put together a few games and activities to help the time pass.
This is a spin off of Simon says, but I thought it perfect since Marlin is so over protective of Nemo and Dory all the time.
We can't forget about snacks! How about some Goldfish and Finding Nemo fruit snacks? Dinomite is so excited about gummy sharks too.
After our Finding Nemo and Sea Base Adventures we head to the world showcase, first stopping in Mexico. Depending on time and lines, we may pick up a Mexican treat for the kiddos to try. We've already explained to them that while in Epcot they have many delicious foods to try. If we can all agree on one, Jason and I are fine with ordering one item in various countries for everyone to share. The kiddos can also decide what else they'd like to do in each country.
Our lunch reservation is for Ackershus Royal Banquet Hall, where we'll dine with 4-5 Disney Princesses. The girls are extremely excited about this, however the boys feel the opposite. Lol. Each kiddo will have their own Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters for characters to sign. I'm hoping due to character visits, the kiddos won't need too much other entertainment during our meal. They can always browse through their encyclopedia.
I did not plan many busy bags for the world showcase, as there seems to always be something to look at for the short length of time we're in each country. The kiddos are all about meeting characters and seeing live entertainment. They'll enjoy seeing a Viking ship, the Eiffel Tower, etc., but for the most part, it will be a quick run through of each country with some delicious snack samples from vendors. On the rare occasion that we do need a busy bag in the world showcase, I put this one together. There is a girl's version and boy's version, as my boys are not at all interested in princesses, (except for Mulan and Jasmine, but don't tell them I told you that). Lol.
Princess & Flag Match UpDisney Princess Mini-Figure Play Set #1 and Set #2 used for this activity.
Figure & Flag Match Up
Source: I created the flag printable for these activities, for your free copy, click HERE.
To keep the kiddos entertained while waiting in line if their bubbles are in fact gone by the time we make it to the World Showcase, we'll be playing "I'm Going on a Trip Around the World," a version of the game, "I'm going on a picnic, and I'm going to bring..., using the letters of the alphabet. We may have to team up with the kiddos, if they find the game too difficult, or not require things to be in alphabetical order, but no matter the version of the game, it should be fun.
Moving on to the food...
Kid's Sushi from Japan
Other Snacks from the World Showcase
Dinner will be served at the Coral Reef Restaurant. I'm not sure which kiddo is more excited about dining while watching sharks swim by. Lol.
Once dinner is finished we'll be heading to the ride Soarin' scheduled using a fast pass (Bulldozer's choice ride.) If the kiddos are up for more fun, they have shown interest in the rides Test Track, Mission Space, & Spaceship Earth (Dinomite's choice ride). I've prepared the following busy bags for Sunshine, in case we stay. She does not like rides that are fast or anything where her feet dangle.
Build Your Own Car
Spaceship Lacing Card
If the kiddos decide not to stay at Epcot after dinner, we'll head back to our hotel and swim before bed. We're going to try to keep the kiddos' as close to their regular sleeping routine as possible while on vacation.
I have a feeling we're going to have a fabulous day in Epcot! Between busy bags, games to play while in line, and extra snacks, Sunshine should do quite well. I know I will rest a littler easier knowing at least I'm prepared for our first day at Disney.
Welcome to to the Learn & Play Link Up!!!
This week's features share fabulous inspiration and ideas for busy bags perfect for the season. Most activities designed to fit a tray, can easily be used for a busy bag. No matter the age of your child, there's something for everyone!
Montessori-Inspired Addition Activities Using Dots from Living Montessori Now
September Practical Life Trays from Welcome to Mommyhood
Free Apple Number Puzzles from Totschooling
Current Shelf Activities for my 3.5 Year Old from Everyday Begins New
Now it’s time for this week’s link party! This new link up is for all blog posts that include learn and play activities and hands-on education for kids. We are excited to read your blog posts and to see what you have to share! Please link up below and grab our button to display on your blog.
If you are a blogger, share your family friendly posts here. We are looking for things which include:
- Montessori Education
- Sensory Play
- Tot and Preschool Trays
- Fine and Gross Motor Activities
- Kids in the Kitchen
- Healthy Recipes for Kids
- Arts and Crafts
- Natural Living
- Free Educational Printables
- Family-Oriented Activities
- Healthy Living
Your post will be shown on each host’s blog where we will individually pick features every other week. That means there is more of a chance that you will be featured!
Everyone, please meet our link party hosts:
Guidelines for Linking:
- Please link up 1-3 posts
- Follow each of the hosts on social media
- When you link up, please add our button and place it at the bottom of your shared posts or link back with text link.
- By entering a link, you’re giving us permission to feature an image on our blogs. Proper credit & links will ALWAYS be given.
- Please visit a couple of shared posts and leave a comment for them
- Remember that you must link back in order to be featured