Dictionary definition: “Severe overheating of a nuclear reactor core.”
WDW definition: “The actions that result from being too tired, too hot, too hungry, and too overstimulated at a Disney park.”
WDW Melt-downs usually manifest themselves in the following ways:
– Yelling or Snapping at anyone in your party regardless of who else is around.
– Talking through your teeth. Frequently accompanies eyes-bugging out, and temples are pulsing.
– “Snatching” things up. “Things” can include children, items, toys, drinks, or any other thing that is possible to grab angrily.
– The HASTY retreat. Usually occurs when one or both parents have “HAD ENOUGH” and half-drag their children out to the car or bus.
– Sob-fest/ Screaming. Slightly MORE irritating when this is an adult instead of a child but definitely a possibility at any age.
Prime Time for Melt Downs: 3:00 pm, also known as the “WDW Witching Hour.”
FYI: In Walt Disney World (WDW), a meltdown is not necessarily indicative of bad parenting or the kids misbehaving. It’s just Disney World and part of the “FUN” of your vacation, so its time to plan for it the same way you’re planning for fast passes.
It is essential to learn how to head these meltdowns off when you see them starting up. So I would recommend the following:
- Permit meltdowns/cool-downs to occur. Limit the amount and time-limit of meltdowns you’re willing to tolerate. When people start to lose it, be like “Ok, that’s one.” Don’t yell and scream. Let them blow it out and then move on. You can’t have a rational discussion with anyone who is worked up enough to “lose it” so let them cool off and THEN talk.
- Listen to your body. Are you sweating through your clothes? When was the last time you ate? Drank water? Do your children have a vacant look in their eyes? The first step, look for an attraction that is cool (as in air conditioned) and where you can SIT DOWN. There are tons of them in every park. Use them as your first step to chill out. Let people do different things and get a break from one another if you’re careful, and most importantly, consider a mid-day nap!
- Check Your Stories. When people do something out of the ordinary, we try to fill in the answers ourselves. We do this by telling ourselves a victim, villain, and helpless story. Be careful not to make all your family villains in your head. I promise, they probably didn’t wake up today with the intention of ruining your entire trip that day and no, they have no idea how much you spent on this trip! Learn more about this in a great book Crucial Conversations!
- STOP before you all act CRAZY. Remember, you’re on vacation. Your family will remember your meltdown screaming match much longer than how many rides they were able to complete that day. Pace yourself and take a break. You probably won’t be able to do everything!
Walt Disney World is supposed to be a magical dream world where your heroes are real, and your family is pulled closer together as they “play together.” Melt-downs can taint the entire trip if you don’t head them off.
Keep Moving Forward!