In Celebrity Travel Chat with Colleen Kelly, Colleen interviews fellow travel experts and celebrities about their areas of expertise and their own personal passion for exploring the world.

Name: Liliane Opsomer, author of “The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids 2018”

Occupation: Guidebook writer and blogger

Passion: I am passionate about travel, fairies, Hobbits, and all things magical. Some of my favorite destinations are Middle Earth, Belgium, Sydney, Dresden, Patagonia, Hawaii, and of course Orlando.

Brief Bio: Liliane was born in Belgium, lived in New York for 25 years, and now resides in Birmingham, Alabama. Liliane is the coauthor of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids, a contributor to The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and a photographer for The Color Companion to Walt Disney World: The Unofficial Guide. She visits the parks several times each year.





Book Title: The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids 2018

What can readers expect to learn from your book? The book is jam-packed with useful information and advice on how to plan for a visit to the theme parks with children, and how to enjoy the parks. Each attraction is rated by age group based on a survey of more than 40,000 families. There are fright-potential warnings for rides that are scary or rough. Also included are stories from real families about their experiences at Walt Disney World, including tips written by kids for kids. The book comes with field-tested touring plans specifically designed for visiting with children, plans that can save families up to four hours of waiting in line on an average day so there’s time for relaxing by the hotel pool.

Where is the book available? The book is available in any good book store and via Amazon.

Any travel secrets you’d like to share?
When traveling with children, always plan your trip:
– Make a list of what you need while on the road and at the destination, ship things ahead if needed.
– Decide what you want to do for each day of your stay, alternating activity days with rest days.
– Be realistic, there is only that much you can do. Make sure to take a break every day. Return to the hotel for a swim, a nap, or both. Getting the most for your money does not equal having a good time.

What’s your favorite part about what you do? I love seeing the smiles on children’s faces when they meet characters in the parks, and the equally happy faces of their parents.

What’s been your best travel advice? Arrive early at the theme parks, I cannot stress this enough. It is the only way to enjoy attractions before the parks are crowded and to leave time, each to relax and smell the roses.

What was your worst travel experience? It is heartbreaking for me to see parents yell at their children and argue with each other in what is supposed to be the most magical place on earth (or at any theme park for that matter). Children have meltdowns because they are having unattended blisters, they are hot, tired, dehydrated, and over stimulated. I always am saddened when I hear “We’ve spent thousands of dollars to bring you to Disney World and now you’re spoiling the trip for everyone!”

Your child is having a meltdown. How do you respond?
Isolate the child and disengage. You’ll be able to deal with the situation more effectively and expeditiously if the child is isolated with one parent. Dispatch the uninvolved members of your party for a break or have them go on with the activity or itinerary without you (if possible) and arrange to rendezvous later at an agreed time and place. In addition to letting the others get on with their day, isolating the child with one parent relieves him of the pressure of being the group’s focus of attention. Equally important, isolation frees you from the scrutiny and expectations of the others in regard to how to handle the situation. The important thing is to disengage quickly and decisively with no discussion or negotiation. Be the adult, if your kids get you ranting and caterwauling, you effectively abdicate your adult status. Worse, you suggest by way of example that being out of control is an acceptable expression of hurt or anger. Instead of a knee-jerk response, freeze the action by disengaging and concentrate on the child to calm down. This usually starts with a time-out. Refrain from talking to him until you’ve both cooled off. This might take a little time, but the investment is worthwhile. Next review the situation with the child and follow through with the discipline warranted. If, as often occurs, things are not so black-and-white, encourage the child to communicate his feelings. Try to uncover what occasioned the acting out. A good question to ask after this routine is “What can we do to make this a better day for you?”

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? Japan in the spring.

Why? Ancient temples and shrines have always mystified me. The imperial palace in Kioto and Tokyo. Nara park during cherry blossom time, and the World Heritage site of Kasuga Taisha. The people, the food, the efficient bullet train transportation system, everything has fascinated me. And dare I say that maybe, I would also visit Tokyo Disney Resort? Of course I would.

Any projects coming up that you’re excited to work on? Walt Disney World is currently working on two brand new lands for their Disney Hollywood Studios park. I can’t wait to do all the research once Toy Story and Star Wars lands open, and I be ‘in character’ (in costume) when checking into their Star Wars hotel once it opens. Universal Orlando is equally busy bringing new attractions to their parks, with new Harry Potter attractions being on the top of my list. And who knows, a Harry Potter-related hotel might be just an announcement away.

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