Disney World Vacations are supposed to be magical events, right? But sometimes the screaming, crying, I-forgot-my-teddy moments happen in the middle of Mainstreet USA.
Sound like fun? Or more like a nightmare?
While I can’t guarantee your won’t have some sort of incident at Disney with your kids (or seeing someone else’s kids) I can guarantee this:
You Don’t have to take a vacation from your Disney Vacation.
Yes, folks, Disney can be magical and stress-free!
But how is a Stress Free Disney Vacation even possible?
Somewhere along the lines of Advanced reservations and once in a lifetime trip, we forgot that Disney World was supposed to be fun!
It’s not supposed to be this feet hurting, sunburnt, I-ran-out-of-money stress fest.
Amid all the perfect Disney pictures are parents and family members who are about to loose their shit. Kids that are at their limits with the stroller, and teens that want to run away. Don’t forget about the honeymooners- it might be trouble in paradise after all.
But I’m here to ease those misconceptions and fears and reassure you, that with a few simple and foolproof methods you CAN have a (mostly) stress free Disney World vacation!
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Foolproof methods for reducing stress at Disney World
Let’s take a look at what you can do to drastically minimize stress and enjoy your Disney World Vacation- so when you get home you actually miss Disney and can’t wait to go back.
Packing for Success
Rule Number 1- PLEASE pack and plan and think about all types of weather. Yes, in the summer Disney is HOT. But it will also be WET.
Nothing like looking like a drowned cat by lunchtime and still having a full day at the parks in the scorching sun and humidity.
And the winter- oh winters in Florida. One minute their cold, the next their hot, and before you know it you’ve got sunburned faces and wind burnt lips. You’ll start out with warm clothes in the morning, shed your layers but lunch, and be downright frozen when the sunsets. Then the next day is perfect shorts and flip flop weather even though you brought 2 jackets to the parks just in case.
I can’t make this up people.
When you pack, plan for most of whatever weather you think, but then pack 2 outfits for the opposite weather. So shorts AND jackets. Sneakers AND sandals. Sunscreen, sunglasses AND lip balm.
Remember you are on vacation, you don’t want to have to run to the store (or even worse, the resort gift shop) and load up on outfits because you didn’t plan ahead.
This is especially important if you are coming for a week or longer visit, because it’s likely that half of your trip will have one type of weather and the other half won’t. Also, to save yourself some packing space, plan to do a load of laundry- I promise the facilities are clean. It will save you some room to bring home souvenirs too!
Hangry is NOT pretty
I don’t care who you are- Hangry is NOT pretty.
You can prevent this (and all the stress that accompanies it) several different ways.
Make sure that you have your days planned out. Either have definite times or know what your options are (especially if you have allergies like me!) Let your travel planner help you with planning out your days and your advanced reservations (and also when you want to do quick service).
When you have your days planned out (not to the minute, give yourself some time) you hopefully won’t go hungry because you’ll have planned your times to eat.
Also consider ordering from Amazon or packing a bunch of snacks. Let me paint a picture for you. Your hungry, you forgot your refillable insulated water bottle, and now you have the choice of waiting in a 15 minute line for water and popcorn or a 25 minute line for quick service. And the kids are screaming. and its hot. really hot.
If you had ordered from Amazon you would have had everything you needed before hand (or if you are staying for a week or longer, you can order and have it before your trip is over!)
Also, Disney has this nifty thing called MOBILE ORDERING. If you are eating from quick service, you can order your food ahead of time. This is SO helpful! And it does have SOME allergy accommodations (like gluten).
Don’t set yourself up for failure. Pack some snacks, bring in a water bottle and plan ahead so you can have a relaxing meal without having to stress about where you are getting it from. No one wants to wait in line in the middle of the summer lunch rush while their entire family is hungry.
What’s your top 3?
Sit down as a family, a couple, by yourself and think.
What are the things I want to do most at Disney World?
This is really important because part of the reason people get so stressed out is that they want to do EVERYTHING.
Newsflash! You can’t do everything.
In fact, I say it’s hard to do even a top 10 unless you have a 7-10 day vacation. That’s why I’m recommended the top 3. The top 3 things you make 100% a priority.
Then everything else can fall in place as the schedule allows and you don’t feel super upset that you didn’t get to do everything you wanted.
Disney is especially magically in that there is so.much. stuff. to do. But they also boobytrap you with it. Street performers and character meals that take 2 hours and showtimes that can get pushed back all add to the time debacle.
I remember one event really vividly, we were at Magic Kingdom at Tony’s Restaurant for lunch and a couple next to us was about to have a full blown argument over the fact that they were 20 mins behind schedule. Between an unscheduled bathroom trip and the waiter taking too long they had “messed up their day”. In fact, they were so stressed they left their camera.
We turned it into management and tried to look for them as we were two minutes behind them out the door- but they had already taken off- desperate to make up the time they had missed.
What about a detailed plan?
One thing I can guarantee is that any minute by minute plans will get messed up- even with advanced reservations and fast passes. In fact, I’d say that the ONLY way to do a detailed plan would be to:
- get to the parks an hour early
- by Minnie Van or Uber (not your own vehicle since you have to wait for tram)
- hit up every fast pass exactly at the beginning time (not middle or end of the hour long window)
- show up to your restaurant 20-30 mins early (since these places are packed!!!!) and plan for the meal to take 2 hours
- Or bring all your own food so you can eat in the lines and when you have time
- put on blinders so you don’t see any street performers, parades or shops
- skip anything that isn’t fitting into your schedule immediately- no down time
That doesn’t really sound like fun to me though… but to each their own!
Don’t stress yourself out with it- pick the top and enjoy your trip!
Use a Travel Planner
Travel planners work like this.
You contact them. They provide a FREE planning service for Disney. You don’t have to do anything besides tell them your preferences and make your selections.
Easy peasy right? Even as an annual passholder living in Central Florida I still use a travel planner. It’s just way too easy to let her find the best prices in the time frame I’m looking for.
Plus, there are so many travel planners to choose from! I have mine through a personal recommendation and I just love her! Reach out to your friends, family and facebook groups and see who they recommend. Or hop online and find one on google or Pinterest. I can promise you, that with the right planner, they will make your trip so much easier and magical!
Planning for Vacation
Can you plan for a stress free vacation?
YES, yes you can. This is done by planning something known among the Disney Vacationers as an “off day” or a “rest day”
What do you do on an Off day?
Anything you want!
Most people like to chill out at the resort before a reservation somewhere in the afternoon. Resort hopping is a super fun experience! I have a giant list of free things and also cheap things you can do at the park on your off day.
You can also do certain character meals on an off day without a ticket. Check out my guide for that! That’s a favorite for rest days and it works really well for arrival and departure days too!
Basically, you’re giving your feet and body some rest so that you can actually enjoy your vacation- while taking in the beautiful Disney World scenery.
Or Plan for something Easy
I like a good “off day” but I like an EASY day even better.
We like to call easy days the days where you spend half the day at the parks. This can be an early wake up to take advantage of the extra magic hours and then come back to the resort by mid afternoon.
You can sleep in, have a late brunch, let the kids burn off some steam in the pool. Then head over in late afternoon for a fun evening and night at the parks! Many Many people do this when they do the special events, like Mickeys Very Merry Christmas and the Not so Scary Halloween Party.
Since it’s a separately ticketed event, you can just plan it into your vacation. You can get into Magic Kingdom as early as 2pm- so don’t waste another ticket for the morning. Just chill out and then head to the special event for a night full of fun holiday experiences!
This way you still get to enjoy all the Disney Magic without running yourself to the ground with exhaustion and stress.
It’s not all for the kids
Sure, Disney is a family vacation. But let’s not forget, that parents and caregivers need to enjoy themselves too!
Take advantage of many of the cool things for adults and you won’t regret it!
You’ve got spa options, bar hopping (and a really cool dueling piano bar!), fancy restaurants and hitting up the parks by yourself. You can even golf, get a back stage tour and hit up the Orlando area for some of the unique sites.
What do you do with the kids???? Disney has you covered. They have vetted their own group of babysitters and special child only events for you to catch some time to yourself.
Some of the options for kids include two different play areas/daycares, in room baby sitting and hiring an independent Orlando Baby sitter. You can also send your kids on a magical pirate cruise or drop them off to enjoy a few hours on the safari.
Take advantage of that and make it a vacation that everyone can enjoy!
Money will be your biggest stressor
Yep. Even if you aren’t doing Disney on a budget, Money can still be a bugger.
Why? You want to get the most value for your money. You paid good money to be here and enjoy yourself- and if things don’t go so well(like rain every.single.day.) that can be really frustrating!
And if you are on a budget and constantly counting every penny- you are not going to enjoy yourself.
So I have two recommendations.
One. Find your max limit and add money to that max. Disney is EXPENSIVE. I’m an annual passholder and I watch the prices climb before my eyes. Even if you don’t plan to spend a lot- you will. Things happen and you want to make sure you won’t stress about it.
Two. Remember that you won’t be back next month. This is a special trip (even if it’s yearly) and you can still have fun, spend some money (because it’s going to be necessary to eat and get a few things at the stores) and still not stress about every cent.
If you’d like some budget ideas, my budget section is full of great tips!
Know when to go
Some would say I saved the best for last, and this is a very important tip for planning a reduced stress Disney Vacation.
You need to know when to actually plan your Disney Vacation.
Disney sees annually 50 million people a year. That’s a LOT of people! And they know that most of those people come during two seasons.
Summer and Winter.
So if you want to avoid the crazy crowds, the long restroom lines (even though they have like 100 stalls) and the 30 minutes lines for the snack cart, try to plan your vacation during these off times.
The best times to go would be Jan-March (skip the end of march) and August-October. January you will see a lot of rides closed for refurbishment and August is HOT! But you can deal with these things if you aren’t fighting the crowds, missing your fast pass reservations, or not getting the food reservations you want because it is SO busy!
There you have it folks! Disney World can be a magical experience for the whole family- without everyone pulling their hair out. You CAN have a great trip at Disney with it being a low stress vacation.
Save this post for your next Disney Trip so you can make it stress free!
Have any other tips for a low stress Disney Vacation? Share them in the comments below!
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