A vacation to Walt Disney World is a trip that most families want to take. Just hearing the name Disney will light up a kid’s face. For parents, it is a little more complicated. The trip itself can be pricey and it can seem overwhelming. Because of this, parents want to make sure that the trip is worth it. That means, are the kids at the right age, how to beat the lines at Walt Disney World, and getting the most out of the trip.
First thing to think about when visiting Walt Disney World is to think about what you want to experience. Are you hoping to ride all the rides? Do you want the kids to meet characters? Are you looking for a mixture of the two?
Be Realistic. If your child is used to napping each day, or gets overwhelmed and needs breaks from things that are stimulating, don’t expect that this will not be the case at Disney. Just because the child is in a different environment doesn’t mean that they will suddenly be less worked up or less tired. Try to stick to your normal routine when it comes to breaks and naps. Oftentimes, parents try to do too much because, well, it’s Disney. But if the child is over tired or over stimulated, then that is when the melt downs start and no one is having fun. Remember to take breaks and naps in order for the child to be happy. Also, even if your child doesn’t normally take a nap, they might still need one during the trip. It can be too much for kids to run through the park all day.
Remember meals. While everyone is having fun, no one thinks about eating. But if the kids have not eaten on their regular schedule, it can make them more prone to melt downs. Again, try to stick to their normal schedule. If you don’t want to stop for full meals, try having snacks on hand to help between stops.
Don’t wait in every character line. Kids want to get their autographs signed but waiting in a 30-minute line for a few seconds, and then doing it again is a way to drive parents and kids nuts. If getting autographs is something that is at the top of the priority list, there are options to make the wait a little better. Know when the peak meet and greet times are. In the Magic Kingdom, visit characters during the parades or fireworks. Another good time to see the characters is during the Extra Magic hours. While there will still be a wait, it is a much shorter wait.
Another option for getting autographs is heading to EPCOT Character spot, near the Innovations West building, close to the front of the park. While there is still a line, 7 characters are there. It is an easy way to get photos and autographs from Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Chip ‘n’ Dale. It takes about 10 minutes and only waiting in 1 line. This helps later when the characters are out and you can bypass waiting to see them.
Character Meals: If the meet and greets are high on your and your child’s list, consider scheduling a Character meal. This is another way to combine seeing multiple characters at one time. Since you need to stop to eat anyway, this is a fun way to do both. Even it is not the budget way to see the characters.
If you are concerned with lines and being able to get the most use of FASTPASSES, skip the character breakfast. Character Meals are great for seeing characters and having some down time for lunch and dinner after being in the park, but spending that time during breakfast can cost you time in the lines.
Use Extra Magic Hours to your advantage: When you stay at a Disney Resort, you get access to Extra Magic Hours. This is when the park is open earlier and later to resort guests. The park that has Extra Magic Hours varies depending on the day. If you are a resort guest, be sure to get to the park that has the Extra Magic Hours early. Be there as soon as the park opens. If you are not a resort guest or do not plan to get there that early, consider going to a different park. By the time the park opens to regular guests, or even if you arrive for Extra Magic Hours late, the lines are already forming.
Arrive before the park opens. If driving, arrive to the parking lot no later than 30 minutes before the park opens. This way, you are already at the entrance when the park opens. Because many people do not get on the first busses or shuttles to the park, you can be ahead of thousands of people. This helps ensure shorter lines, at first anyway. If using Disney bus transportation, start out as early as possible – the transportation from the resorts start one hour before park opening.
Parade: If parades are something that are high on your list of things to see, plan your timing. Check the schedule of the parade, some happen at different times, and plan to get to the area early to get a spot. If you do not, you might end up with your child on your shoulder for them to see anything (which makes you uncomfortable and the people behind you annoyed). Add in the extra time to find a spot.
Plan something to keep the kids occupied while waiting. Waiting can be hard for kids, no matter what they are waiting for. Add in the excitement of seeing their favorite characters or going on a ride, and before long, someone is grumpy. Play I-Spy, or bring along a small toy they get while waiting. Something to help make the time go faster. Use wait time for afternoon snack time too!
Plan. I am not usually a planner when it comes to what we will do when on a vacation, but during a Disney vacation, if there are things you know for sure you want to do or see, you must plan. Try to make a general itinerary, but know that you will most likely have to deviate from it. Having a rough idea of when to do things and where you want to be will help make the trip smoother.
Be sure to make dining reservations if you plan to have sit-down meals or character meals, as well as make FastPass+ reservations.
Understanding the Disney Dining Plan can also help you get the most out of your Walt Disney World vacation.
For the days mid-trip that you might need a break from the parks – check out these tips of What To Do at WDW Without Going into a Park
Also, be sure to take advantage of PhotoPass Photographers and Memory Maker so that the whole family can be in all the pictures!
Once you plan your next (or first) Walt Disney World vacation, be sure to sign up for some Mickey Mail for the kids to let them know Mickey is excited about their plans! Imagine their excitement when they receive some mail right from Walt Disney World.