You’ve been there countless times.
The Happiest Place on Earth
It usually goes something like this…With kids full of excitement and large backpacks full of food and any items you may need for the next 8-10 hours, you walk around for miles, wait in lines, ride some incredible rides (Hyperspace Mountain never gets old, am I right?), make memories, take a few selfies, and practice your emergency preparedness skills.
Bet you didn’t see that coming, did you?
A visit to Disneyland AND practicing vital preparedness skills…DOUBLE MOM WIN!
But think about it, Disneyland is a perfect place to practice emergency preparedness skills and here’s why:
- you’re practicing living out of a backpack for 8-10 hours and walking for long periods of time with the already mentioned heavy backpacks
- you’re trying to meet up with and find people in crowded streets
- you’re staying entertained while waiting in lines without electronic devices
- you’re working on staying calm in the chaos and confusion of thousands of people going different directions
- you’re learning to manage a cellphone that is always threatening low battery
Plus, it is something your kids are excited to do. For some reason, kids just aren’t excited to trek around with only a backpack for 8-10 hours, waiting in imaginary lines with no cell phone coverage for the fun of it…but throw in a few rides and Mickey Mouse and you have a willing family!
Now, if you visited Disneyland in the last year like my family did, see if these lessons learned from Disneyland ring true to you and change how you look at preparedness.
10 Surprising Lessons Disneyland will Teach You about Preparedness
1. The color red is for lobsters and 49er Fans, not you: You’ve seen them. The poor lobster souls walking gingerly back to the Disney tram at the end of the day. They fell for the wily overcast mornings Southern California offers and never applied sunscreen. Maybe they didn’t bring any with them or maybe they didn’t want to pay the $10 for a tiny tube of sunscreen. Whatever the reason, it only makes sense that if you’re out all day walking around you’d need sunscreen. But have you noticed very few of the pre-fabricated 72-hour kits actually come with sunscreen in them? If your skin can’t hold up to a day at Disneyland, it won’t withstand any day walking around outside either, even if it is the Winter or overcast. You may want to add a can of spray sunscreen to your 72-hour kit because it’s light and quick to apply on-the-go.
2. It’s bright out there: It is bright in the sun and standing outside all day, squinting leaves you nothing but a gigantic headache. You wouldn’t head to the beach or pool or Disneyland with out glasses so why wouldn’t you have a pair in your 72-hour kit. They are small and lightweight and you can pick up a cheap pair at your local dollar store (something is better than nothing).
3. Bad tasting water gets old: There is only so much room to carry water in a backpack and at some point you may have to resort to drinking or filling up your water bottles at the Disneyland water fountains. The truth is, it’s hard to go back to drinking regular ol’ tap water (unless you live the great state or Oregon where the water is pure and delicious) because there are so many options at home and out around town for great-tasting, filtered water. We have grown accustomed to not only drinking clean water but delicious water. So after a day or two of drinking water fountain water, you may find yourself tempted to purchase the $5 bottle of water or soda at the nearest Disneyland gift shop. Just like at Disneyland, there is only so much room in your 72 hour kit for water.
The suggested 1 gallon of water per person, per day, would pretty much fill up your whole backpack, plus it would weigh over 25 pounds! So the solution is to have 2 quarts of water and a filter to clean more along the way….and some flavored drink powder packs, like Gatorade single serving pouches (it has the added bonus of restoring electrolytes to tired bodies) to flavor that filtered water. Plus, they are small and light weight.
4. Heavy backpacks are hard for kids (and adults) to carry: Cramming everything you may need to be comfortable at Disneyland has it’s own price…it is HEAVY! By the end of the day, you’ve inherited all of your kids items (they are tired of carrying it too), you’re shoulders ache, your lower back kills, your arms are full and you’re wondering why you packed half of this stuff anyway. The same will be true of a heavy, over-filled 72-hour kit.
There is a saying amongst backpackers that applies to 72 hour kits, you know the saying, “Ounces are pounds and pounds are pain.” Think twice about everything you put in that pack. If you’re in need of your 72-hour kit, you’re not going on vacation or even a leisure hike, you are fleeing something and need to be able to move quickly. Catch Debbie’s class later this month on what you REALLY need in your 72-hour kit.
5. You need a way to entertain kids in line that doesn’t require electronics: Disneyland is a great way to teach your kids (and you) patience! After all, you spend a lot of time in lines or staking a spot to catch a parade and during all of that downtime, your kids need to be entertained or they start getting mischevious (like swinging on those rope lines, like my kids love to do…). So you pull out your phone or tablet or other electronic device, only to notice there isn’t much battery life left.
The bottom line is that electronic devices can’t be counted on for entertainment in an all-day situation. And you’d be surprised how many children can have panic attacks when they don’t have their preferred device and they are stressed or scared. The good news is there are lots of games and tricks you can try the next time you’re in line to help pass the time with out electronic devices. Practicing these now will get your kids used to interacting and engaging–and when everyone is having trying to stay calm and have fun in a stressful situation, everyone feels better. Here’s a link to 20 or so games to try next time.
6. The importance of a great meeting place and time: A lot of the time you spend at Disneyland can feel like it’s spent meeting up with people. After all, your youngest wants to go on Winnie the Pooh and your oldest wouldn’t be caught dead on that ride, so you split up confident with the cell phones in hand that you will meet up later. Then three phone calls and ten text messages later, you wonder what Mickey Mouse black hole they got stuck in. It can be frustrating to say the least (especially if the meeting place is out front of It’s a Small World)! You see, in the chaos of Disneyland it’s really hard to hear your phone and let’s be honest, between checking your Disneyland wait time app and taking pictures, you don’t have a lot of battery to waste trying to connect with people. So, you have to do it the old-fashioned way–synchronized watches (yes, a watch) and clearly designated meeting places.
Practicing being where you said you will be, when you said you would be there (no matter how short the line is at Pirates), will prove vital during an emergency where there is chaos, noise and a lot of people around. If your family has already practiced meeting up and sticking to the plan, should you need to split up, you will have a better chance of uniting later.
7. Good walking shoes make a difference: Wearing comfortable shoes makes all the difference between your feet helping you or hating you for taking them to Disneyland with you. Does your family have shoes under their bed? Are they comfortable? Because the closest shoes to their bed will be the ones they grab. And do you know what kids in uncomfortable shoes do? They beg to be carried. You’ve probably carried a child around Disneyland and it doesn’t take long to realize they need to walk on their own. Give your kids (and you) the best chance for that safe walking by making sure you all go to bed with comfortable, sturdy tennis shoes under your beds.
8. Staying calm in the crowds & chaos: If you’re like me, by the end of the day, Disneyland grates on you. There are people everywhere and you’re really tired of swimming up stream in a sea of people. However, being in situations with crowds, chaos and noise is great practice for hectic situations. Practice now to be calm when everything around you is chaotic.
9. Be flexible: Rides close down, they close off half of Disneyland to make Star Wars land, or the bathroom is closed for cleaning…whatever the reason you HAVE to be flexible at Disneyland. Staying positive is the mantra of Disneyland, after all it’s the Happiest Place on Earth and being flexible during REALLY stressful times will help everyone stay positive. In a stressful situation, your children will look to you to know how to react and it’s important you have the skills to stay positive when plans change, life is chaotic and/or frustrating.
10. A dead cellphone doesn’t do you any good: You’ve noticed in many of these lessons that we mention low battery on a cellphone. There is nothing more frustrating then trying to find a lone, empty place to plug your phone in at Disneyland (they are just as hard to find as the Hidden Mickeys!). Lots of people pack extra ways to charge their cellphone. I personally tried the Dollar Store variety with batteries but there are many other options to recharge your cellphone but next time will try THIS ONE from Amazon. While the Dollar Store variety worked, it took 4 AA batteries to charge to 100-percent.
Getting Your Family Prepared…Easily
Preparing your family doesn’t have to be one extra thing to-do.
We get it, life is busy just dealing with what is going on right now (after all, no matter how hard you wish, the laundry won’t magically fold itself and the kids still need to make it to soccer and piano practice) and adding one more thing to your list feels insurmountable.
However, teaching your kids the skills to cope in any situation will be invaluable to them and as a parent, don’t you want to know your kids have the skills to survive?
That is why when the heavens smile and you’re able to work on getting prepared without you and your family dreading it, you all win.
Don’t you give up, you’ve got this…and hopefully now you have one more excuse to visit The Happiest Place on Earth and make great memories with your family!