After over a decade of dragging my four kids to theme parks, specifically Disneyland, you would think I had it all figured out. But I had to go to Disneyworld for Disney’s Social Media Moms Conference to perfect what might be the handiest tool yet in my theme-park-mom tool belt. Shield your ears if you’re judgeymom…
There. I said it. I believe in bribery. When it comes to an all day excursion at a theme park, I find kids need a little motivation to keep their minds from blowing and whole selves from melting down while waiting in lines, trudging many miles and waiting for french fries. Thus my philosophy on these mostly joyous but occasionally trying days is “Bribe early, Bribe often”.
Rather than reward them with sweet, sticky treats, a practice that ALWAYS backfires when the sugar rush turns into a sugar crash, I like to reward my kids with “stuff”. For years I’ve been either allowing them to shop as we walk and pick a little treat like a flashlight for the parade, a light saber or a balloon or a small toy to commemorate their visits to Disney.
These toys, much beloved and played with while we are still in the park, are largely discarded when we get home and the batteries fail. This used to depress me to no end but it was all for the greater good. That long walk down Main street at closing time seems a LOT shorter when there’s a balloon to be had on the other end.
I’m a fool. Buying random items when we could be collecting.
I never really “got” pins and the whole Disney collectible thing, which seemed to be all about the pins to me. No offense to collectors of pins. It just has not ever been my thing. But then I attended an info session about the Aulani resort while at Disney’s Social Media Moms conference and was gifted a little vinyl Aulani Vinylmation figure. Love at first sight.
“Mommy! Can I get another one of these guys tomorrow? I saw some in the gift shop!!!”
“Um sure honey… I guess so… ” (raises brows and narrows eyes, but not in a scary evil queen way, in a savvy mom way) “IF you behave!”
“Oooh! Yay! I’ll be really good! I hope I get Yoda, Mommy! I think there is a Star Wars Vinylmation of Yoda!”
Thus kicked off our relatively blissful and completely tantrum free time at the park. One vinylmation per day, per child, as a reward for good behavior. Set me back $10-13 each. (Plus another $13 for my “nerdy” vinylmations that I got to choose for my own cleverness and good behavior.)
Man was I proud of myself. Even when we got two Luke Skywalkers. Twins!
And then on the last day I realized the thing that made me smack my forehead in a moment of pure revelation, “D’oh! How could I not have known that?!”
You can trade your Vinylmations.
I don’t even have to keep buying them every single time!*
The kids can swap the ones they are less fond of for ones that appeal to them more, at locations throughout the parks. We ditched Miss Piggy in a Space Suit for another Muppet Vinylmation. If/when we ever see a Yoda, Luke’s losing a twin.
I can keep my lot going for quite a while with “Swapportunities” like this.
As for me… I’ve yet to complete the “nerdy” set. I’m on it.
Another plus for me is that my kids don’t abandon the vinylmation toys when they get home. Their joy for them stays inflated well past the lifespan of a balloon and they continue to play with these durable little collectibles. I think they will be the sort of thing they will treasure well into adulthood. I can’t wait to see their collection grow.
*For the kids… I’m another story entirely. I’m still buying for me. But I share!
Note: There are a number of different Disney Vinylmation collections. Some are purchased blind (you get what you get and don’t know until you open) and these can be traded. The ones that you can see, are not tradeable, at least in stores in the park. I’m still learning the rules!
But the rule in our family when the theme park trudging gets a little tough, is “Have a little patience, be good and you’ll get to go to the store and trade for a new Vinylmation!”
Disclosure: I was invited to take part in the 2012 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration conference. Various tickets/passes, accommodations and other associated perks were supplied to me for the duration of my stay. I was not specifically asked to share anything with my readers about the conference or anything related to Disney. All opinions are my own.
Disneyworld & Aulani provided me with the gateway Vinylmation figure. I have since spent a small fortune on additional figures without a moment of regret!