Every time I head to Walt Disney World, I always will see at least one family that has various family members on the verge of a meltdown. There is a lot to see and do at Disney World and you certainly want your family to experience as much as possible. It is certainly do-able, but to avoid a meltdown while on vacation to the happiest place on Earth, here are our top 10 tips for a stress-free vacation:
10 – plan in advance – when you plan a vacation through Disney, you are given the ability to make advance reservations for dining (180 days in advance) and FastPass+ (60 days in advance). Does someone in your family want to meet Anna and Elsa at Princess Fairytale Hall? Or does someone else want to have breakfast with Lilo and Stitch? Some reservations are very hard to get, so take the time to figure out what your family wants to do and make those reservations well in advance. We always like splitting the planning into a family decision when making FastPass selections so everyone will have something to enjoy and to look forward to.
9 – don’t plan too much – vacations cease to be fun and relaxing when every minute of the vacation is planned. While it is tempting to make advance dining reservations for every meal, don’t. Not only is it very expensive to do that, but you’ll miss the wonder and excitement that comes from just walking around the parks or the resort and finding small things to enjoy.
8 – take a break – my family lives in South Florida, so we make it to Disney World about once a month and we have family in Orlando, so we often don’t stay on-property, but when we do, we have built into our days a designated break time. We come back to the room and let each person decide what they want to do – you can take a nap, watch a movie, go to the pool, read, walk around the resort. Every time we do this, we are able to hit another park hard at night. Those results pale in comparison when we attempt to go directly to a second (or third) park without a break.
7 – utilize Disney transportation – having stayed both on and off-site, it is always a more pleasurable experience when we stay on-site and are able to use the Disney bus system. We don’t have to fight crowds in the parking lot in the morning. It is particularly useful when we head to Epcot to enjoy the flavors of the World Showcase and are able to get home safely. You are also able to get right to the front of the parks and not have to wait for and take the parking lot trams!
6 – bring a survival bag – when I first started heading to Disney World, I shunned carrying any kind of bag. I wanted to beat the crowds and bypass the security lines, but having a backpack with you is a great idea. Disney allows you to bring in bottles of water and small snacks. This can be particularly helpful when you are waiting in line and someone gets a craving for a snack. It is also helpful to carry some spare, disposable ponchos (you can get them at any drug store for about $1, but they will run you $8 in the parks), as well as your camera, a sweatshirt, dry socks, any guidebooks, etc.
5 – download a Disney app – my preferred app is the official Disney app because it offers so much information in one place. Not only can you make reservations and FastPass selections from the app, but you can also see what times meet and greets are scheduled, check attraction wait times, and buy tickets. It also has maps of the parks so you can see how to get to your favorite attraction or restaurant.
4 – sunscreen – Disney World’s location was picked for a multitude of reasons. Chief among them was the pleasant weather that it offers guests almost year-round. Nothing can make walking around and standing in line more unpleasant than a nasty sunburn. Be sure to put some on before getting to the park and making sure to re-apply every 90 minutes or so.
3 – splurge a little bit – Disney World can be expensive and many families are on a budget when they get to the parks. It can be stressful having little arms reaching out from the stroller as you walk through the Emporium or MouseGear, but nothing will make the entire experience memorable for young ones than a keepsake from the park, be it glow with the show Mickey ears, a Donald Duck plush, or a box of Goofy taffy.
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2 – have a non-park day – it is easy to fall victim to the idea that you need to be in the parks every day. Take a day where you don’t go to the parks. Sleep in and enjoy your resort. Take a trip down to Downtown Disney or go to one of the two miniature golf courses. Go resort-hopping and just explore the grounds. There is so, so much that goes unexplored by families when they spend all their time in the parks.
1 – remember why you chose Disney for your vacation – Disney is a special place for a lot of people. Don’t forget why you came to Disney. It is easy to “lose the forest in the trees” and get distracted by the fact that you are at a magical and happy place. Take a few moments and just observe the happiness on all the faces around you. Seeing others (especially first-time visitors) wonder in the magic of Disney World can be an emotionally overwhelming experience.
Stress happens on vacation, but remember these tips to keep it at a minimum. What is your top tip to remain stress-free at Disney?
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best price for your vacation, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!
Photo courtesy of Disney Photo Snapper