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Belle and a Little Girl

10 Things Your Kids Are Desperate To Do On Your Disney Vacation

It’s the night before your first morning in Disney World… do you think your child is dreaming about the rides at Disney? Or perhaps being within 10 feet of wild animals on the safari at Animal Kingdom? Maybe looking forward to seeing amazing fireworks displays? Those would make sense- they’re all kid friendly activities that your children are sure to enjoy on vacation, but they might not top their lists. Here are a few things that it seems kids are really most desperate to do on vacation.

10. Go to the pool.

Resort pools are usually pretty cool, so I can’t blame kids for wanting to spend time in them. They are often themed, and sometimes even have a waterslide or other interesting feature. You may even have a pool at home- but never mind that. Your child will still want plenty of pool time on vacation, even if it means less park time.

9. Stay up late.

You can try to explain to your children that going to bed as soon as you get back to your hotel is going to help them be happy in the morning. You can do this until you’re blue in the face, but the bottom line is that they will be adamant that staying up longer is the only acceptable possibility. And tomorrow morning, they are going to be extremely cranky, just as you predicted.

8. Buy stuff.

If you’ve given your child money to spend on vacation, it is going to be burning a hole in his or her pocket from the moment you set foot in a park. Don’t be surprised if the first thing your child wants to do at Epcot in the morning is visit Mouse Gear. Even for the child without money or a budget, he or she is going to want things as well and will work very hard to make sure you procure the desired items for him or her. There are hundreds of amazing things to experience in the parks, but there are thousands of items for sale in the gift shops. Don’t be surprised if your child is more excited about shopping than going on rides.

7. Play with toys.

If you bought a souvenir, then you’d better believe your child will want to play with it- right now. And tomorrow morning while you are trying to get ready. And at bedtime. And maybe even in the middle of the day.

6. Get snacks- lots of them.

This one goes hand and hand with the desire to “buy stuff.” Your child is going to want a lot of snacks, simply because they are there. Hopefully you also enjoy snacks, because chances are good that your child will insist that they really want popcorn so badly, but then only eat two handfuls before being full or wanting the next, “better” snack. “But I really, really want ice cream!” Or a frozen lemonade. Or a pretzel. Or a hotdog.

5. Get their faces painted or have a makeover.

Kids love face painting or any kind of princess or pirate makeover. Sometimes I can’t imagine how the young princesses I see in the park are surviving the heat and humidity with their hair done up and wearing full ball gowns. Or, how the boy dressed as a pirate, complete with face makeup, hat, and wig is managing not to pull or wipe it all off. For whatever reason, kids just love to be dressed up, and they’ll be pretty patient when it comes to making it happen at Disney.

4. Move on (to the next activity).

“When are we going to do (insert other activity)?” “Is this almost over?” These are common questions that you might hear from your child, no matter how fun and entertaining the current activity is. Many kids just don’t have the attention span to stick with one activity for a long time. Kids are always looking forward to the next thing, even if it’s not something that exciting.

3. See characters.

This isn’t a given for all kids. Some are afraid of characters, especially the fur characters (the non-human ones in head-to-toe costumes, like Mickey Mouse, Baloo, and Pooh). Others, however, are obsessed with their favorites. You might be surprised that a child who hates waiting in line will be perfectly willing to stake out a spot in a very long one to see his or her favorite princess or other character.

2. Play in the fountains.

There’s something inherently fun in jumping around while trying to evade water (or not). Please note that I am referring only to the interactive “jumping” type fountains- not the big ones that you are definitely not allowed to go in. I would really hate to hear that a child jumped into a resort lobby fountain because his mom read this article.



1.Play or climb on anything that resembles a playground.

Let’s take the Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area at Hollywood Studios as an example. This area is based on a movie that is 25 years old. Chances are good that your child has never seen the movie and has no idea about what the playground is referencing. None of this matters, because it has tunnels and slides. During the Flower & Garden festival this year, the small playgrounds at Epcot were also hugely popular. They were constantly crowded and the child I was travelling asked frequently, “And then can we go on the playground?” It doesn’t matter that Disney is the only place you can experience many things and that playgrounds are plentiful back home. A playground is a playground, and kids want to be on it. Period.

What are your kiddos’ favorite activities at Walt Disney World? On your next trip, take it easy and go into it expecting to be diverted by some of these activities, even though they may not be part of your “plan.”

Photo courtesy of Disney Photo Snapper

About Meredith Smisek

Meredith Smisek is a kid at heart and works as an elementary school guidance counselor. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, dog, and parrot. Meredith's hobbies include cooking, playing ukulele, and "talking Disney" with anyone she knows who is planning a trip to Disney or has just returned.