We all dream of the perfect Walt Disney World Vacation. Blue skies. Calm toddlers. Affordable food and drink. Getting lost in the idyllic commercials of happy families and perfect weather we forget that things can and will go wrong.
Typically, I’m a glass-half-full Disney girl. But, sometimes, you simply must plan for the worst in order to have the best vacation. How not to ruin your family’s Disney vacation? Read on!
1. Neglect The Planning Process. Gone are the days when you could turn to your spouse and say, “Hey! Let’s take the kids to Disney this weekend.” Okay. You could. But, depending on the season, you’d have to forfeit any sit-down meals and wait in horrendous lines because all of the FastPasses are taken. Now, as soon as you decide to go, the planning process must begin. Just about every sit-down restaurant in Walt Disney World needs a reservation, especially if you enjoy eating dinner during dinner time. Know where you want to eat, which day you want to eat there, and at about what time you’d like to eat. Guests staying on-property (yet another advantage) can make reservations up to 180 days out from their arrival. And speaking of planning ahead, you can make FastPass (a “skip the line” option) reservations 60 days in advance of your first day of arrival. Non-resort guests can make these reservations 30 days in advance.
2. Forget The……rain poncho, sleep sound machine, favorite pillow. Whatever it is that helps you or a family member be at their best on a trip away from home, you don’t want to forget it! Begin packing a few weeks before. I lay out our suitcases in a designated area with packing lists on top of each one. Each time something makes it into the suitcase, I check it off the list. For a great collection of packing lists click here.
3. Avoid The Mid-Day Rest Stop. You don’t have to go back to the resort for a nap, unless you have little ones that just can’t go on without one. But there is something to be said for naptime; my husband will attest to that. If you can’t (or won’t) leave the parks for a little rest, there are ways to recharge in the parks. Have a Mickey Bar and people watch on a shady bench. Or enjoy the shows, parades, or long indoor attractions like Carousel of Progress, Ellen’s Energy Adventure or Finding Nemo – The Musical. The indoor options are dark, cool and on a hot Florida day, prove refreshing. Mid-day is the busiest time, with wait times reaching capacity. It’s the perfect time to step back, take a breather and bounce back.
4. Fail To Budget. No argument here. Disney World is expensive. Whether this is a once in a lifetime trip or you’re finagling a way to visit every summer, there are budget friendly ways to accomplish your goal. Couponing To Disney and Mouse Misers are two of my favorite sites with money saving tips.
6. Stay Plugged In. A vacation at Walt Disney World is a magical place if you only let it be. If your nose is stuck in the ipad, eyes glued to the laptop, you’re missing out on quality family time. Unplug at Disney. The world will still be there when you get back.
7. Ignore The Golden Rule. The crowds will be your first clue, but you’re not the only guest at Walt Disney World parks. You’ll be there with 50,000 of your closest friends. This is the perfect time to practice the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated. When someone cuts in front of us in line or invades personal space or steps in between the camera and the subject, ruining the picture, I tell myself, and my kids, “They’re just reminding us of how NOT to behave.” You will have plenty of examples of horrible behavior while you’re there but awareness will eliminate you as a problem. We’re all at Walt Disney World to have the vacation of a lifetime. Practicing The Golden Rule will help ensure that you, your family and your 49,946 other friends will ALL have a magical time.
8. Push Your Family To Do It All. Even if this is a once-in-a-lifetime-trip, you can not do it all. Disney planned it that way. There is more than enough to do in a month long trip, let alone the typical week long stay. All the more to lure you back for another vacation. Enjoy what you are able to accomplish. Savor the moments. Stop and smell the roses or look at the ducks. Memories will be created in the little things. The joke your son makes waiting in line. The Cast Member or stranger who extends a special kindness. The meal or show that makes an impression. The look in your daughter’s eyes when she meets her favorite princess. I know you’ve heard this before, but they’re only young once. And so are you. The child in you will be stirred. You will appreciate things you haven’t thought about in a while. Enjoy this opportunity to travel back to your childhood and cherish the moments you are creating for your own child.