5 Sure-Fire Ways to Ruin Your Child’s Disney Vacation

So, you’ve planned your very first family vacation to Disney and you can’t wait to experience Disney through the eyes of your children. It’s a wonderful, warm sentiment that many parents share. But some first-time visitors are prone to making some pretty serious missteps when it comes to vacationing with their kids. Here’s a list of 5 things you will want to avoid at all costs, lest you desire to witness some serious meltdowns and awe-inspiring tantrums.


Your 3 year old just LOVES seeing Mickey Mouse and all of his friends on television. He asks to watch them morning, noon, and night. So you’ve scheduled dinner at Chef Mickey’s for your very first night in Disney, and at least one character meal during each and every other day of your vacation. While this might seem like a good idea, you may find that your child was not anticipating the 5 inch Mickey Mouse on the TV screen would actually be 5 FEET tall in real life. Some children are utterly terrified, and you may find yourself having to leave a very expensive meal before you’ve eaten anything. If your child hasn’t had previous experiences with character interactions, try scheduling a meet and greet with a Fastpass for early on in your vacation and leave the character meals until later. That way, if your child is afraid of the character at the meet and greet you will still have time to cancel your dinner reservation without paying penalty.


Although you might not consider Peter Pan’s Flight or Pirates of the Carribean “scary”, your young child just might. If your child is telling you in the queue that they are “afraid” to ride something, you’d best heed their warning and skip it for now. Once you’ve forced a child onto a ride that scares them, you’ll be hard-pressed to get them on anything else for the rest of the day. And I assure you that no one will be in a good mood if you’ve paid hundreds of dollars to walk around a Disney Park all day without being able to ride any rides.


Most children are creatures of habit. Parents have worked hard to establish a routine for meal times, nap times, bedtime, etc, and children get very used to and comfortable with that schedule. Obviously a Disney vacation may warrant some adjustments to the normal schedule, but throwing it completely out the window is a recipe for disaster. If you have a child who is used to napping every day, make sure your schedule includes some time for a nap. If you have a child who is used to eating at a certain time every day, try to schedule your meals around that same time. You don’t have to do everything exactly the same way, but try to maintain some “normal” in your vacation.


Disney theme parks are large, expansive spaces containing days worth of fun activities. It’s not always possible to ride every single ride and do every single activity in every single park on every single vacation, especially if have young children who still need naps and regular meal times. I know that a vacation to Disney is expensive, but that doesn’t mean you must drag your exhausted, hungry family around against their will. Pace yourselves and enjoy the time making memories with your family. You don’t have to “do it all” to “get your money’s worth”.

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Grown-ups need to consider the fact that children may have a different idea “fun” than adults do. While you may envision your family spending all day long riding rides, viewing parades, and eating elaborate meals, you may find that your child’s Disney agenda is quite different than your own. They may enjoy doing those things some of the time, but don’t be surprised if kids ask to spend lots of time at the pool, play with their purchased souvenirs, or stop at a playground. Remember that Walt Disney’s vision in building the Disney parks was to have a place where parents and their children could enjoy a safe, clean, and fun environment together. That fun can be had in the resort pool just as easily as on the rides at the theme parks.

Do you have any other tips for parents vacationing with children? Leave us a comment below!

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About Jessica Brosnan

Jessica is a mother of one and an elementary school teacher in New Jersey. She enjoys musical theater and loves to cook. Jessica is a Disney Vacation Club member and is perpetually planning her next Disney vacation.

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