The Best Tips for Surviving Disney Parks
My husband is a Disney theme park addict.
He spends his days thinking about his addiction. If he isn’t dreaming about it, then his face lights up when it comes up in conversation. He claims that I am his supplier. I can’t deny that I have strong affections for his addiction as well. All I have to do is mention it, when we are near, and he’s out the door with the kids in tow so fast that I can barely keep up.
Disney World Parks are my husbands addiction-he’s obsessed. And honestly? So am I. My daughter is 5, and she has been the parks 4 times. This year, for our yearly Florida vacation, we are staying further south on the Peninsula, down by Fort Lauderdale. But all I had to say is “Our girl asked if we are going to go to Disney again”, and he made sure our last day of vacation would be spent in the Magic Kingdom.
I know we are not alone in our Disney obsession
We can’t be- because a company whose 11 theme parks are bringing in a third of its 45 billion dollar profit- well they’re doing something right. So why do so many families like ours ride the Disney crazy-town bus? And why, with all the excitement and happiness, do we see so many children melting down and parents frustrated in the “happiest place on earth?”
This is not your typical Disney Parks Guide.
I’m not here to tell you all the tips and tricks to get the best bang for your buck. This blog post will not tell you the best places to eat, the perfect science to using your fast pass. I am, however, going to tell you how to survive your Disney Parks vacation- without your children melting down.
The Best Tips for Surviving Disney Parks
Wear all the babies (and toddlers, and even preschoolers)
If you don’t know what baby wearing is, do your research now. I didn’t have the slightest clue what baby wearing was with my first, and I keep thinking about how much easier life would have been if I did- particularly on our vacations! And Babywearing isn’t just for babies. Kids tire out. Their feet hurt, and they become overstimulated eventually on the parks. They’re going to hang on you, cling to your legs, and demand to be carried- even if you have a stroller.
Every time O became cranky and ornery on our trip in magic kingdom, I would wrap him up and he would immediately pass out. Pixie Dust or Sleepy dust, there was nothing a wrap nap couldn’t fix! For our most recent trip, I brought both my wrap and the Lillebaby. The Lille was fabulous for quick ups and downs, but the wrap was what saved me- I find it much more supportive, and it distributes the weight of my 25 lb toddler so well, I easily wore him for 2 hours straight at one point, comfortably.
Bring plenty of water
During our lunch, Hubs commented to me that he was surprised- it wasn’t the food which was overly expensive at the parks- it was the drinks. Which makes good business sense- on hot days, it’s not food you need- its fluids. Make sure to pack plenty of water bottles for your family, stay safe, and stay hydrated. Especially if you are nursing. We brought 4-5 bottles of water for 4 people to make it 12 hours at the park- It wasn’t enough and by the end of the day we were battling headaches and buying drinks. They are heavy to lug around, but water is essential.
Don’t Push your Family to do it all
Yes, you may have planned this trip for months. You saved and pinched pennies so that your family can make happy memories in the happiest place on earth. But don’t be so consumed with fitting everything in that you neglect your family’s needs or happiness. Stay at a pace your children can handle and your family can enjoy, even if it means you miss the parade or don’t get to ride every ride. Your kids won’t know they missed. But everyone will feel it if you keep up at a pace your family can’t handle.
Be patient with your kids
This kind of ties in to number 3. But it’s important enough that it needs its own bullet point. Disney is amazing. It’s magical. It’s also hot, over-stimulating, large, and exhausting. The adrenaline rush in the beginning of the day and the subsequent crash later in the day makes for meltdowns. Your kid is going to whine, or bicker with their siblings, or throw down in the middle of Main Street USA because they think they need to have that light up balloon or their life will end. Take a pause and a deep breath at this point. Think about how you are feeling in that moment. Tired, hot, impatient. Now bottle those feelings and put them inside your 3 year old’s body. Throw in lack of sleep and poor impulse control. Now the meltdown makes more sense.
I saw so many parents get frustrated, yell “what’s wrong with you?!” and threaten to go home. None of that helps anyone. First, remember that no one is judging you for your kid’s behavior right now. We are all parents and chances are they are looking at your kid and thanking their lucky stars it isn’t their kid on the ground at that moment. Getting frustrated is not going to make your kid get their act together, it won’t make you feel better, nor will it make your family vacation any more enjoyable. Now, I’m not saying you need to buy your kid that overpriced balloon. I’m just saying pay attention to your own patience and self-control. Utilize it, model it while you remind and help your child to have their own modicum of self-control. Then you can all gather yourselves up and head over to the tea cups.
Ok, so I know that in the beginning of this post I promised I wouldn’t overwhelm you with the million ways to optimize your Disney Trip. But I will tell you this- planning, pre-planning your trip, is a heck of a lot of fun. My husband and I loved researching and making reservations, planning fast passes, and talking about our must-do rides. Knowing what you are getting into before you walk into the park will help your day move along smoothly. You don’t need every second of the day planned out, but having a game plan will go a long way, so that you aren’t spending your time at the park staring at your phone, trying to decide where to go next, while your kid attempts to climb into someone else’s stroller.
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So that’s it! My advice for having the best family vacation at Disney. No fast pass, reservation, magic hours here. Just good common sense. Focus on your family, not your trip, and you can’t go wrong! What are your favorite things about Disney World? What advice would you give someone visiting the parks with children?