“It’s the happiest place on earth,” said no parent ever in the middle of a 1,000% humidity, 95 degree day, two hours into a line with no end in sight…with a toddler having a meltdown and a five year old that “HAS to go potty RIGHT NOW!”
While many parents dream of taking our children to Disney, once we begin planning the trip we find that it can become overwhelming in a hurry.
Here are some tips for tackling that dream Disney trip in the most sane and manageable way possible.
Plan (WAY) in Advance
Room-only reservations at Walt Disney World Resort Hotels can be made up to 499 days in advance of your intended checkout date. While this may be just a bit much, booking your vacation package 6-8 months in advance is not only smart, but often necessary. Dining reservations open 180 days in advance and they go quickly, so it’s a great idea to have some sort of game plan in mind around 6 months ahead of time. Each visitor gets 3 FastPass+ reservations at one park per day, which can be made 30 days in advance, or 60 if you’re staying at a Disney hotel.
While spontaneity is fabulous once you arrive, it will only work if you have a solid plan in place, so be sure to lock down your basic itinerary well ahead of time.
Check the Crowd Calendars
Hate crowds? Then Disney during the week of Christmas is not going to be your best bet. For lower wait times, be sure to consult one of the many crowd calendars available online, at sites such as touringplans.com, to research when may be a good time for your family. Typically it’s best to go at a time when school is IN session if your schedule allows. Fall Break is usually the lowest crowd in terms of the school calendar; however, it’s gaining in popularity each year.
Use a Travel Planner
Travel Planners can be a huge sanity saver when doing Disney. Their fees are paid by Disney, so the service is free to you! Most will assist in your dining reservations, FastPass+ choices, make hotel recommendations and even help if plans needed to be changed at the last moment due to a hurricane or other catastrophic event. Planners also offer price monitoring: They can help you get your reservation booked before promotions come out, but are also able to go back in and apply a promotion to your reservation if one becomes available.
Rider Switch, Single Rider Lines, and More
Worried you’ll be using your vacation days stuck in a place just for kids and having no fun? Think again! Even if your kids are too young for many of the thrill rides, Disney has made it easy for everyone to get in on the fun! Disney’s Rider Switch is a system that allows those with small children to take turns riding the bigger rides, while the other person/people wait with the child. Many of the thrill rides also offer Single Rider Line options, which allow one person to go through a much shorter line, allowing you to be back with your family and on to the next kid-friendly attraction in no time. Lastly, Disney has become a foodie’s paradise, so be sure to take advantage of the incredible dining options available on site! Spas, amazing pools, golf, eco-excursions, private fireworks cruises and more are all options at Walt Disney World. We all know that Disney isn’t a cheap place to visit, so make sure that you include some enjoyment for yourself when planning. Remember…if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!
Take Care of Yourself
This is a big one that’s often forgotten! A trip can go bad in a hurry if a sunburn or blisters on your feet happen, so make sure you take care of yourself, and your family while traveling. Wear comfortable shoes (and bring extra shoes!), wear sunscreen and a hat, and stay hydrated. It’s also a good idea, especially if traveling with grandparents or those who are less active, to get in some walking ahead of time. The average person at Disney walks between 8-12 miles PER DAY, so be sure to be prepared.
Give Yourself PLENTY of Time
Disney World is HUGE. Trying to tackle all four parks in two to three days, is well…exhausting and impossible. There are amazing things going on all day and night, so be sure to give yourself enough time to enjoy it without feeling overwhelmed or rushed. It’s also a great idea to build in rest time or an entire rest day to keep the meltdowns at bay.
Hopefully these tips will help save your sanity as you plan for a stress-free Disney vacation. The most important tip of all is to remember to have fun, and know that amazing memories will be created….no matter how chaotic things may seem at the time.