How To Do Walt Disney World & Not Return Home Exhausted
Walt Disney World is supposed to be the place Where Dreams Come True, and no one dreams of running themselves ragged and leaving exhausted. Yet unfortunately, that’s the reality for a lot of people. If you walk around the parks, you’ll notice many families looking stressed and overwhelmed. I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be that way! Your Disney World vacation can absolutely be just that—a vacation—not just something you feel like you have to endure “for the kids”. Take a look at these practical and perspective-shifting tips to make your trip relaxing and enjoyable for everybody.
1. Stop Worrying About Money
This is the number one tip for a reason—because it seriously makes all the difference. Disney is expensive, y’all. It just is. For most of us who are on a budget, there’s a temptation to try to “get our money’s worth” out of all the dollars we spend on a Disney vacation. But here’s the thing: you’ve saved up and shelled out the cash already. It’s gone. Let it go. (Cue Elsa’s song.) Now it’s time to focus on the experience itself. You’re here with your family to enjoy time together not to get subjective value out of money. I’m not saying “blow your budget”—that’s impractical and irresponsible. I’m simply encouraging you to release yourself from the pressure of making the most of money you’ve already spent. This tiny shift in perspective will help you to relax and enjoy.
2. Make a Plan
Intentional planning can go a long way in helping you to relax as well. If you’ve got a plan before you arrive, it takes away the need for constant decision making in the moment, which can be exhausting. Figure out your must-do attractions and experiences and tackle those first. Then follow the general flow around the park.
3. Don’t Over-Plan
However, even the best laid plans get thwarted by the occasional ride shut down, weather delay, or unexpected long wait time. Your plan cannot account for the variables of rain and crowd size. It also can’t account for those in-the-moment personal preferences and Disney surprises (such as a random character sighting). Allowing yourself to veer from the plan or be flexible within it can save you from the stress that can wear a person out emotionally. Slow down, expect the unexpected, and roll with some spontaneity in order to full live in the moment and enjoy your park day to its fullest. Remember that happiness fuels you physically, so go with what’s making your crew happy, even if it’s not on the plan, and even if that means you can’t “do it all”.
Many groups with young children or older seniors simply cannot go from park opening to park closing without getting physically and emotionally drained. By the time the fireworks roll around, tears of exhaustion may be flowing, and that’s never a formula for magical memories. In order to avoid a meltdown, consider building in a few hours of rest in the afternoon. Head back to your hotel for a little nap to recharge, or simply find a quiet spot in the park to chill for an hour. Put away your phone and map and allow yourself and your group to re-energize for more Disney fun in the evening.
5. Budget for Snacks
Disney World has some of the funnest snacks! And a quick snack break could be just what your crew needs to rest and reset for more fun. But in order to stay on track with the resolution of #1, don’t forget to add snacks into your Disney budget. If you’re on the Dining Plan, this is obviously a non-issue, but if you’re paying out of pocket, be sure to plan for at least $5 per day per person for snacks. While your feet rest (and your blood sugar gets a jolt), you’ll be glad you did!
6. Take a Pool or Beach Day
Even the best, most relaxed day at the Disney parks can still be physically tiring simply because there’s a lot of walking involved. In order to fully recharge and get into vacay-mode before heading home, consider adding a do-nothing pool or beach day at the end of your trip. Budgeting in an extra night at the resort or an add-on trip to the coast could be just what you need to fully unwind and process through those Disney memories. Yes, it’s extra money, but it may be worth it when you consider the end goal of avoiding exhaustion.
It sounds simple, but…don’t forget to smile! Your positive attitude is life-giving for yourself and your whole crew (especially kids). Set the tone for happiness, and you’ll automatically combat exhaustion.
It can be done! Slow your pace, revamp your expectations, plan for success, and focus on your important people, and your Disney vacation will truly feel like vacation. Here’s to a restful, relaxing, anything-but-exhausting trip to Walt Disney World!
Melissa resides on Florida's beautiful Space Coast with her husband and four Disney-loving boys. She frequently allows skipping school for Disney World visits...because making memories is more important than math. Their family has also been seen on HGTV's hit show "My Yard Goes Disney."