Disney World is definitely a little bit of heaven on earth…until it’s not. As it turns out, that line can be a lot closer than you realize. These important Disney World tips are the key to saving your vacation!
Living next door to Walt Disney World and spending a ridiculous amount of time there, believe when I tell you… I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen the families that are truly enjoying the park, each other, the food, the craziness, the heat…everything. And I’ve also seen families fall apart because of the unneeded stress and pressure that is put on them. A pressure that comes from feeling like they HAVE to have the BEST vacation of their lives…or else.
I understand where they’re coming from…I really do. Disney is not cheap, for most people, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and they want it to be the absolute best it can be. They want to experience everything, not miss a detail because who knows if/when they will ever return.
Because I truly want you to get the best experience you possibly can, I feel it’s my duty to clue you into some of the struggles you might encounter. And most importantly, give you the solutions. This will prepare you for anything that might be thrown at you, thus allowing you to maximize your Disney happiness while you’re there.
So here it is, 5 Trials (and how to overcome them) you might possibly encounter to throw you off your Dream Disney Vacation game:
1| The Heat
You may already know this but if not let me be the first to clue you in…Florida is flippin’ HOT in the summer months. It’s not just the heat that will kill your mojo, it’s the humidity + heat that will really get you. It’s stifling hot. It’s hot in shade, it’s hot in the pool…it’s hot.
SOLUTION: Go during a month that it doesn’t feel like you’re walking on the surface of the sun. When’s that? The summer months, of course! For more specifics read all about the best and worst times to go here.
Now, not to worry…if you don’t have control over when you go, there are still ways to get around the heat…
First of all, plan to play in the morning and at night when the heat + humidity aren’t in full swing. If you’re staying on Disney property take advantage of the extra morning magic hours. You can start your day even earlier to beat the heat.
I also suggest staying out late. Take full advantage of enjoying the parks after the sun goes down. It will make a world of difference in your entire family’s attitudes. It’s also so fun to see the parks at night. It has an entirely different feel to it.
Tip: All of the parks stay open at least an hour after the scheduled closing time. The rides/attractions are not open but the gift shops are. So take advantage of that time.
In the Magic Kingdom, they have what’s called, “The Kiss Goodnight”. This adorable and nostalgic little castle show takes place after the park closes and is such an incredible end to your day. It’s also super fun to see the park when it’s practically empty!
To get out of the sun during the midday heat, head back to your resort to swim or take a nap. If you don’t want to leave the park (I totally get it!), plan to enjoy experiences that are INSIDE and are little be more relaxing like Mickey’s Philharmagic in the Magic Kingdom or One of the Musicals in the Animal Kingdom…Finding Nemo and Festival of the Lion King. (If you have to only watch one, choose the Lion King. It’s by far our family’s absolute favorite!)
2| The Crowds
Disney World is just plain crowded. It just is. It’s an incredibly popular destination and it shows! However, there is a way to maneuver around it plus there are less-crowded times during the year that you will want to take advantage of.
SOLUTION: Use this crowd calendar and read all about the best and worst times to go here, if you haven’t already. Simply put…Disney World is a busy place year round but if you go during peak a season, you’re in for a whole lot of crowds.
Another way to beat the crowds is to utilize your FastPasses. Each day, each ticketed guest receives 3 Fast Passes. You can schedule your Fast Passes up to 60 days in advance if you’re staying on Disney property or 30 days in advance if you’re not. (No worries, if you’re not. You will still be able to get the Fast Passes you want. Just be sure to do it asap.)
My suggestion is to try and schedule your Fastpasses as early in the day as possible because after you’ve used all three, you are eligible to get one more at a time. You can do this on your phone using the My Disney Experience App or you can reserve the Fast Passes inside the parks at one of the FastPass locations. (Just ask a Cast Member where to find them.)
You can also steer clear of the crowds by playing early and staying late. The park is the busiest in the middle of the day so if you can get there as soon as it opens, you’re beating a lot of the crowd.
Tip: Be sure to catch the “Let the Magic Begin” Welcome Show at The Magic Kingdom. This takes place at the front gates of The Magic Kingdom. It’s such a fun way to start your day and get to be one of the very first people to enter the park. The show continues on when you walk inside the park and goes all the way up to the castle. The cast members line Main Street waving Mickey hands welcoming you all the way in.
Another way to handle the crowds is to go with a good mindset. Sometimes, it’s just plain crowded and you can’t do a thing about it. But if you can keep a good attitude, make it fun, and roll with the punches, it will be A LOT happier for you, your family, and all the other people there.
Tip: Schedule plenty of time to use Disney Transportation. Know that you will most likely be waiting either for a bus, monorail, or a boat. I like to have little things to occupy our kiddos while we wait…snacks, little toys, games on your phone, etc.
Plus ask a cast member for your free Disney transportation trading cards while you wait! There are so many awesome and FREE souvenirs all throughout the parks. Watch this video where I share our family’s most treasured Disney souvenirs—all for free!
3| The Unfortunate Fact That You Won’t be Able to Do EVERYTHING
Let me repeat…you won’t be able to do EVERYTHING that Walt Disney World has to offer.
It’s just impossible. Like I said, we lived there for 2 years, had annual passes and free reign to go anytime our little hearts desired and I felt like we almost got to do it all.
If you’re planning on going for only a week, wrap your mind around the fact that it will be impossible to do it all. Don’t be discouraged, you will still have an amazing time. I promise you that.
SOLUTION: Get organized! Sit down as a family and write out your MUST-DO activities. Make a list for each park of what you really want to do so at the end of your vacation you’ll feel confident that you experienced the most important things. Then if you have more time throughout the week, you can check out some of the other things.
To give you an idea of what our family feels like you really shouldn’t miss out on, we made a list of some of our MUST-DO experiences:
Belle’s Enchanted Experience in the Magic Kingdom
Meet Mickey at Town Square in the Magic Kingdom
Deven Dwarf’s Mine Train in the Magic Kingdom
Soarin’ Around the World in Epcot
Happily Ever After Show in the Magic Kingdom
Festival of the Lion King Musical in the Animal Kingdom
Safari Ride in the Animal Kingdom
Hollywood Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios
These are not listed in order of importance nor are they the ONLY things you should experience. But they are the ones that have really touched our hearts and stayed with us.
Of course to maximize your time you will also want to utilize FastPasses and rider switch opportunities if you have young children.
4| The Sheer Exhaustion of it All
Yes, this is going to be an over the top magical vacation that you. Will. Never. Forget. But it’s also incredibly exhausting! You are going to be walking upwards of 6-10 miles PER DAY! I know. Yikes. (But just think of all that extra guilt-free Disney dessert you will be able to partake in!)
SOLUTION: Physically prepare yourself now. If you don’t normally exercise or walk every day, do it now. Do it before you get on vacation. Get your body used to walking that amount during the day. This will allow you to enjoy yourself on Day 1 AND on Day 7. It will also allow you to maximize your entire trip and not have to sit out because you physically can’t keep up.
You will also want to get good sleep before and during your trip. I know, I know…I just told you to start early and stay out late. But try to make a point to get right back to your room and to sleep asap. Also, use that midday to go back to your room and get in a nap.
Listen to your body, if it’s telling you to pull back, do it. Sleep-in a couple of hours or retire early. Don’t feel guilty or like you’re missing out on something. The truth is, if you don’t feel good, you won’t enjoy it anyways.
Tip: My go-to sleep aid is a product called Serenity Restful Complex Softgels. They are completely natural and help me get the sleep I need without feeling groggy or sleepy the next day. They also really help me get to sleep faster. Plus it helps with stress and anxiety too…so bonus! If you want to order them at wholesale cost, let me know. I use these every night…on vacation and off.
I need to stress the importance of having GOOD shoes. I see people walking around the parks in flip-flops and I just think…How?! HOW?!!!
Before we lived there, our extended family took a week-long trip to Disney World. It was heavenly. …except for my feet. By day 4 (I swear to you, I’m not being dramatic), my feet felt like they were broken. Both feet. Walking around with so much pain.
I had pretty good shoes but definitely not the right amount of support for a full week at Disney. Little canvas slip-on’s or strappy sandals will not cut it. I understand sneakers are hot and maybe don’t entirely fit in your fashion motif, but by the end of the week, you will be writing me thank you cards and sending me gifts professing how much you appreciated my suggestion of wearing good shoes. Really. It’s that important.
5| The Rain
I don’t mean to rain on your parade (see what I did there?) but if you’re headed to Walt Disney World during the summer months (June – September) it will rain while you’re there. If you’re going October – May, it will only probably rain while you’re there. Either way, you will want to go prepared.
SOLUTION: Bring the appropriate rain gear…Ponchos, umbrellas, and an extra pair of flip-flops. I know, I know, I just talked till I was blue in the face about how you should never wear flip-flops at Disney World. However…this is my exception (and you won’t be wearing them all day). The reason I suggest a pair of flip-flops is because they’re small and can fit into your backpack/stroller as a back-up. I probably don’t have to tell you how uncomfortable it is to walk around for any length of time in wet socks and shoes. It’s awful.
In Florida, when it rains, it pours. They’re not messing around. We’re not talking little sprinkles or a light mist, we’re talking buckets crashing down around you. Yes, you will have your poncho and umbrella for your body but you need to protect your feet. So whether that means, you keep our flip-flops for back-up’s when your shoes get soaked, or you immediately put them when it starts rains to keep your sneakers dry for after it rains. Either way, take a back up. (You will again, want to thank me and shower me with gifts. See what I did there again?)
Tip: Buy ponchos from the dollar store before you go (you know so you won’t have to sell your oldest child to purchase ponchos inside the park). They’re a bit pricey.
Also, bring a separate poncho or something to cover your stroller. Learn from me to cover it up while you park it so that you don’t get off a ride and find a swimming pool has form in the seat of your stroller and every single thing left underneath is now soaking wet.
Don’t let the rain spoil your day. Embrace it! I actually love when it rains at Disney…because first of all, everyone tends to leave the park. Most people don’t want to deal with the rain (they didn’t come prepared). They also don’t realize that the rain doesn’t usually last long. And second- The rain cools things off. Which is THE BEST in those hot sticky summer months.
Disney World is full of magic, dreams, adventure, and fun but as you can see, it has some parts that can really throw a wet towel on your vacation. However…now you know what you’re up against, and your trip will be just as wonderful as you imagined!
Tell me, has Disney World ever been a bummer for you? Why? How did you overcome it?
Planning a Disney World vacation? I gotcha covered…Check out these other Disney World Tips:
Welcome to Being Katie Brave! I’m so happy to have you here. If you’re looking to take better pictures (stress-free!), get the inside scoop on all things Disney World, or be inspired to live YOUR best life (even if especially if it scares you to death) …you’re in the right place. I ’ve written 3 photography books, our family lived at Disney World for 2 years, and wear my heart on my sleeve…all of which would never have come to pass if I didn’t push past my fears and step in the darkness. Join me as I share my adventure of life, one post at a time.