The 5 keys to keeping your cool at Disney World

It can get HOT at Walt Disney World. How do you keep your cool?  Oh, you think I’m talking about the oppressive summer temperatures?  No, no no… that’s a different post for a different day.  I’m talking about the all-too-familiar scene we’ve witnessed and experienced.  The kids (and adults) are exhausted.  Everyone is hungry.  The wallet is getting a little light.  Babies are crying.  Parents are yelling…

Are you having an anxiety attack yet?

If I’m honest, I tend to be a bit lot high-strung at times.  All of the variables in a Disney World vacation can just exacerbate the issue.  Experience has shown our family a few keys to keep us on a more even keel.  Give them a try… it may save you a meltdown or two!

5. Find the play areas and let the kids have at it! But, but, but… I’m in DISNEY WORLD.  Aren’t I supposed to wait in every line to ride every attraction possible?

I would say no!  When people take trips to Disney, it’s almost like they forget they are on vacation!  Would you rather say you did everything on the park map and feel stressed the whole time,  or look back on your vacation remembering the smiles and great moments your family had together?

If you have kids 12 and under, generally they are still into “playgrounds”.  Disney has them all over the place if you are willing to look.  In the Magic Kingdom alone there is the play area at the Dumbo ride, and a fun little section right next to Splash Mountain.  Also don’t forget the train ride which can allow everyone to relax for a few minutes and enjoy the breeze.

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Play areas and attractions like the aquarium at “The Seas” in Epcot can give the whole family a rest from the fast pace of a Disney Park day. 

 

4. Make the lines/queues fun! OK, “fun” may be a stretch but much of the frustration can be taken out of waiting.

Disney has done most of the work for you already.  “Seven Dwarves Mine Train” and “Space Mountain” come to mind as queues that are interactive.   Peter Pan was updated in 2015 to include things to keep your attention while waiting for the ride experience.  Still, there are others (Small world, Rockin’ Roller Coaster) that leave you yelling for your 4 year old to stop repeatedly licking the handrail (I’ve seen it).  Some tips for the more boring queues:

  • Use the bathroom before you get in line!
  • Don’t be afraid to snack.  Eating keeps everyone in a good mood (more on that later).
  • Think ahead of some travel-games like you may play in the car.  Disney themes are fun, like “Who can name the most Disney Princesses (Jedi/Villians/etc) in 20 seconds? ” (I’m sure you can do better).
  • My kids love small puzzle games so we always carry a few in the backpack.

Most importantly, don’t be those people who let one person go through the line and then let everyone else “cut” in at the last minute… Major no-no.  Learning to patiently wait in line is a good lesson that this instant-gratification generation could certainly use.

3. Stay fed and hydrated. This one is a bit of a no-brainer but is possibly the most important.  Our family has owned that we are the “hangry” family and we resonate in a big way with those Snickers commercials.

When you are burning a bunch of calories walking miles around Disney World, hunger can sneak up on you faster than usual.  We’ve found that snacking regularly is the key.  We bring fruits/vegetables/crackers/etc in the backpack and make sure everyone is drinking plenty of water.  Hydration can really become an issue in the Florida heat, so it’s critical to stay on top of that, not just for mood, but overall health and stamina.

2. The pool day can be the best day!  This is another mental block most Disney vacationers can’t get past:  “I can go to a pool at home… I’m not paying all of this money to go to Disney World and swim in a pool!”  Then what are you paying the money for?  To wait in line for “It’s a Small World”?

I think a much bigger point is to be made here.  I believe what we are willing to spend a lot of money on, is the opportunity to experience moments that become life-long memories.

I can say from experience, in our multiple trips to WDW, some of our best days were ones watching the kids (and me) go down the pool slide 500 times.  Walking around the resort and checking out the aforementioned playground.  So what, we weren’t on a roller coaster or meeting a character??? The setting didn’t matter.  We were relaxed as a family… taking the time to really escape together.

Not to mention this gave us mental and physical rest, so when it was time to take on a full park day, we were refreshed and ready to do so.

Give it a shot. You won’t regret the pool day.

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Kick your feet up and let the kids play in the sand.  This spot has a wonderful pool right behind at the Grand Floridian.  Each resort, from Value to Deluxe, has more than one pool where you can rest, cool off, and maybe even grab a cold drink!

 

1. Planning… but not over planningIn the current state of Disney World vacationing, you have to be a planning expert up to 11 months in advance (When Disney Vacation Club members can start making reservations).  Dining reservations can, and sometimes NEED to be made 6 months in advance.  Then there are the 30 and 60 day windows for Fast Passes… It can be very stressful long before you even get in the car or on the plane!

Many times you have to accept whatever Fast Pass times are available on the attractions you want to experience, and that can leave you running back and forth all over the park.  My advice is to set a plan that is based more around the route you would like to travel and hit your most important attractions along the way.  Know before the day starts which rides are a “Must” for your party and plan accordingly (knowing that for some a fast pass is a necessity).

Most importantly, do not.. I repeat, do NOT try and do everything.  This will only lead to exhaustion and frustration.  I’ll have friends say “Our family is going down for 4 days, should we do one park each day?”  My response is almost always that they should spend a minimum of 2 days at Magic Kingdom (especially with small kids).  That would be the least I would recommend and it would still take a monumental effort to experience the lion’s share of attractions.

I hope these tips help you in experiencing Disney with a little less stress and a little more relaxation.  The options presented to you at WDW are overwhelming and it’s important realize why you are there… Not to finish a long checklist, but to experience little moments of Disney Magic that will be with you for the rest of your life.

Do you have any tips to add?  Add a comment below and help me with my next trip!

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I had to share this “back of the camera” pic (trying to find the actual photo)… It just goes to show, no matter how prepared you are, these moments are going to happen with kids at Disney.  Just don’t let it ruin the day!

 

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