Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers, by Lisa M. Battista, MRB Ventures, LLC, 2010, 186 pp.
It has been a very long time since I toured Walt Disney World with preschoolers, yet my recollection of the challenges involved in such an undertaking is as fresh as if it was yesterday. Had it been published back then, Lisa Battista’s Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers would have been an integral part of my vacation planning arsenal.
The uninitiated parent is simply unaware of the level of planning necessary for a stress-free WDW vacation with preschoolers. After all, they reason, “Disney World” is for kids. What can go wrong? When that question is answered, usually by a screaming child in the middle of a crowded park in 80° heat and 100 % humidity, it is far too late.
Although preschoolers can do fine at WDW, there are traps lying in wait for the unwary parent. Heat, long attraction lines, and dining and character meet and greet lines can cause even the most even-tempered preschooler to collapse from overstimulation at the most inopportune time wasting precious touring time and causing unnecessary stress.
Beyond the Attractions provides useful advice to touring parents from a seasoned WDW veteran who has toured the parks with preschoolers many times. The traps are exposed and then navigated around. But the book does not simply provide advice on how to prevent meltdowns, it shows that with some foresight, preschoolers can enjoy WDW as much as their parents or older siblings.
Battista’s method, the overarching theme of her approach, is preparedness. That theme is introduced early in the book and reinforced throughout. Very early on Battista sets out her “Top Six Tips,” the first of which, not surprisingly, is “Have a Plan.” But what sets Beyond the Attractions apart is that Battista tells us in great detail HOW to plan and then provides the tools to ensure that the plan is workable.
Of course, Battista covers in great detail essential topics such as which attractions are “Preschooler-Friendly” and who or what to expect at each character dining experience. The real value of the book, however, is in Battista’s discussion of more remote but equally important topics including how to prepare your preschooler for the trip, where to find non-traditional “attractions” or activities both in and out of the parks, what to do and where to go in the event your preschooler gets sick, and how to recreate the magic at home after the vacation ends.
Walt Disney World is a constantly evolving organism. As the ongoing Fantasyland expansion nears completion, much of the information in Beyond the Attractions will be obsolete. Additionally, new restaurants and minor attractions are periodically added and subtracted while restaurant and admission prices are changed each year. To ensure that Beyond the Attractions stays relevant, Battista has included a section devoted to official and unofficial Disney websites which provide up to date information on WDW. The list of website addresses and official Disney telephone numbers is contained in an area of the book Battista calls “Resources.”
This “Resources” section serves as a kind of staging area—a place where all of the previously gathered information can be molded into a cohesive and useable plan. Age appropriate “Must-Do” lists with annotated park maps, planning checklists beginning 6-months before departure date, and preschooler packing lists provide a virtual vacation planning road map where no planning detail is left to chance. And it is exactly that level of planning, Battista argues, that is necessary for a successful WDW vacation with preschoolers.
With a preschooler, a trip to the supermarket can be an adventure. Without proper planning, a trip to a place as visually and audibly stimulating as Walt Disney World will likely be a nightmare.
Beyond the Attractions provides all of the information and tools necessary to plan a memorable WDW vacation with preschoolers. Armed with this information and prodded by Battista’s constant reminder to plan, odds are that your vacation will be a dream.
Contributed by: John Marchese (NDD#172) John is the DDL Media Relations Blogger.