Melt-down – (official definition) “Severe overheating of a nuclear reactor core, resulting in melting of the core and escape of radiation.”
WDW Melt-Down (Diva definition) “The actions that result from being tired, hot, hungry, having aching feet, being overstimulated, saying no to your greedy kids for the 1,000th time, dealing with a nagging spouse, and knowing that you spent a lot of money to be at WDW.
WDW Melt-Downs usually manifest themselves in the park as:
1) Yelling/Snapping at anyone in your party regardless of what they asked you or who else is around.
2) Talking ANGRILY through your teeth (usually involves some eyes bugging out and a furrowed brow and temples pulsing),
3)” Snatching” things up ( things can include: children, items, toys, drinks, or anything else its possible to grab in an angry way).
4) Bench-planting. Where the person simply refuses to go further and plants themselves on a bench or table. Only slightly less irritating when its an adult than when it is a child.
5) The HASTY retreat. Usually occurs when one or both parents have simply “HAD ENOUGH” and they half-drag their children while stomping their feet out to the car/bus.
6) The sob-fest/ screaming uncontrollably. Slightly MORE irritating in this case when it is an adult instead of a child, however 100% possible to see/ experience as an adult. Usually gets more looks, but you are probably never going to see these people again so why do you care?
And the list goes on…
Prime Time for Melt Downs- 3:00pm. “The WDW Witching Hour” and a sure sign that the family has NOT taken their mid-day break.
WDW Melt-Downs happen. They are unavoidable should you be there with or without children, with or without your parents (the grandparents), or with or without your spouse. Doesn’t matter how good of a planner you are or how well behaved you or your children “normally” are. This. Is. DISNEY WORLD. And it doesn’t make you a bad parent if your kids (or you) completely “lose it” in a park. ( It just means you don’t hide as well as those other parents have been able to up until this point).
The first official Disney Melt-Down I can remember, although my parents assure me I had plenty when I was a child, happened when I took my husband to Disney World for his first time shortly after he turned 30. We were riding the boat from Hollywood Studios (then called MGM) to Epcot to get some dinner. I am excited, although my feet are sore also… yeah!! PASTRIES FROM FRANCE AWAIT.
My husband has turned into a plow that I am harnessed to; dragging him through the streets as he “makes sparks”. He is slow, he is grumpy, he doesn’t want to eat ANY of the things I’ve suggested for dinner. I am thinking “why the heck didn’t I bring someone FUN here instead of you jerk-face?”, and suddenly my stack blows!
Without warning I am talking through my gritted teeth with cold-hearted fierceness and I’m pretty sure I could have killed him with my laser-beam stare-downs.
“You have one hour”, I declare, “One hour to GO AWAY and do whatever you want. Rest your feet, get some food or booze in your system, I don’t care… I just want Epcot World Showcase to be large enough that I don’t see your face for an hour. We will meet back at Canada.” And off I stomp. And oh I am TICKED for like 15 minutes. My arms are crossed and I’m thinking of all the nasty things I’m going to say when I see him again. Then I start looking around, I get some yummy food, I sit at a table a chill while a show goes on in England, I de-compress. And by the time I see him again he’s happier and I am happier. We have never missed a mid-day nap or an opportunity to “get away by ourselves” for a single trip since then (though we still melt-down every trip for different reasons).
So, now you know Disney Melt-Downs WILL happen. The Disney Diva has even provided startling (and embarrassing) evidence of this FACT of WDW vacationing. So, what to do WHEN one of these massive melt-downs rears its ugly head. Well In case of EMERGENCY: BREAK G.L.A.S.S.
Give G is for GIVE permission for melt-downs/cool downs to occur.
Like I said, its going to be unavoidable. So the best idea I’ve heard is to limit the amounts of melt-downs each person is entitled to have. I have searched Family Fun magazine high and low for the article I liked to no avail (so don’t think I’m stealing credit for the idea). This writer suggested printing up some “melt-down” tickets. I believe each family member had three printed. Each time a person would start getting fussy with the others, the writer (or her family to her) would ask “ok, you can be mad, or in a bad mood, but you will have to turn in one of your tickets”. When you were out of tickets people had the right to be mad at you for a while too. The tickets basically entitled you to be mad for 10-15 minutes then you had to get it together or use another ticket. This is GENIUS and we will use it next trip for sure.
If you’re with other grown ups schedule “alone and away” time for each of you to just go and blow off some steam and come back and meet up. This may mean an early morning for one while the other sleeps in, or just an hour walking around the park or at the swimming pool/hot tub by yourself. SCHEDULE the time though. And Give Permission for people to take it.
Also, realize your kids are over-stimulated. So give them small breaks and just go and sit together under a tree and watch the birds fight over the popcorn kernels in front of Casey’s Corner. Sit down and listen to the Scottish/Canadian band play for 30 minutes or so. And if your kids are old enough give them small breaks and meet back up.
L is for LISTEN to your body.
Are you sweating through your clothes? When was the last time you ate anything? Are you drinking water? Is your family’s non-verbal communication changing (crossing arms, rolling eyes, huffing, pushing in the stroller), do your children have a vacant look in their eyes? Are they saying they don’t WANT see (insert name of character here)? Yeah… time to take a break and head off that melt-down.
First step is to find someplace to SIT that is COOL (as in air-conditioned). Usually the kids are not going to want to go into Carousel of Progress, or basically anything inside of Liberty Square, or those shows in Epcot World showcase, but explain to them its really just a chance to slip off your shoes, enjoy the air-conditioner and zone out for a while. Sometimes we will just sit on Tomorrowland Transit Authority and go on loop after loop after loop. The workers never seem to care and the tram has a nice breeze. Standing in a line does NOT work here. Here is a BIG post about Quiet Places in Magic Kingdom to take a break.
Second step is to get some food in you. If all you’ve had is burgers/ french fries and chicken nuggets you A) are not doing WDW right!, and B) need to clean your system a little bit. There are tons of fruit stands that have some good snacks. We love their pickles. And water water water. Sugar usually WORSENS melt-downs. So be careful to not just go grab an icecream bar.
A is for ASK how everybody is doing
COMMUNICATE and ask your family frequently for a “check up” on how they are doing. Disney World is Huge, you’re not going to get it all in on one trip (you think there would be so many frequent visitors if you could?!?) Just do what you can do and concentrate on QUALITY of time OVER QUANITY of rides (read this post if you are silently disagreeing with me). Ask them to give you a run down of how they feel on a scale of one to 10 frequently and honestly. If at any point anybody drops to a 5 or below. Slow down and re-evaluate.
S is for Step outside yourself
As a Communications Professor one of the things I frequently challenge my students to do is to step-outside of themselves and really THINK about what is happening. Ask yourself, “is this something any normal, rational, normally enjoyable to be around, person would do?” If the answer is no then think… why?? What happened in the time leading UP to the melt-down occurred? Did you tell your teenager you would go ride a ride later then never come back to it? Did you tell your aging parents to hurry up? Did you tell your wife to stop spending money, then turn around and buy a giant turkey leg for yourself? THINK…Before you react just THINK. What role do YOU have in the meltdown? What role do THEY have in the meltdown? Are you turning them into the villain (complete with matching dragon) in your head? I mean honestly, do you think your 5 year old is just sitting around plotting HOW to ruin your day today? Step-outside and think before you react, apologize if warranted. Apologies turn most every situation around if they are sincere.
S is for STOP before you all act STUPID.
If I have told you think once I have told you this 5,000 times loyal readers (though lots of you are brand new. Had over 650 hits on the site yesterday!) TAKE A MID-DAY BREAK. TAKE IT! Stop doing the mental math you lil’ engineers,accountants and extreme type-A personalities about how much each minute you are not in the park is costing you and remember WHY YOU ARE AT WDW IN THE FIRST PLACE. You are onnnnnn aaaaa VACATION! Yes, you guessed it!
And let me assure you that your “hissy fit” (another name for a melt-down that Southerners commonly use) is going to be remembered by your family members FAR longer and more vividly than how many rides they rode that day, much less the actual contents of each ride/meal/ or character greeting. All that most of you will remember is the photographs and if you all look miserable in those just GUESS how the trip will be remembered. You talk about wasting money. You can read more about this on my post Quantity of Rides VS Quality of Life.
GO BACK TO YOUR HOTEL/RESORT ROOM MID DAY AND TAKE A REST! Get out of the parks during the heat of the day and come back refreshed and ready to tackle the park. Switch parks after your mid-day cool down if you have park-hopper tickets (which I recommend in my post HERE on ticket options) so you can to keep things exciting and new. Remember WHY you are spending the money my friends, not HOW MUCH money you are spending. If everybody is miserable its not much of a trip. And I’d say it’s the #1 reason why most people don’t return to WDW.
If you are off-property and CAN’T go back to your resort to rest because its 15-20 minutes away then read my post about quiet places to nap in each park by clicking on the link.
I love Walt Disney World. I’d move into the castle tomorrow (if I didn’t know some cast member would catch me and throw me out). I have every intention of eventually retiring and giving tours, or making up beds, or sweeping streets, I don’t care… I just want to go and make someone’s dreams come true every single day. And that’s what WDW is intended to be… a dream world where your heroes are real and your family is even MORE so.
So remember when that next melt-down starts trying to creep up on you. Just break the G.L.A.S.S. and do what is RIGHT by your family
Have a magical trip!