We’ve all seen those families at Disney parks – you know, the ones where the kids are crying or complaining, the parents look stressed, everyone looks tired, and then one of the parents says, “Most magical place on earth, huh? We spent X (insert a huge number here) dollars to get here and by golly we’re going to have a good time!”
Well, I’m here to tell you that after about twenty years of going to the resort as an adult, I have finally learned to keep calm at Disney, and you can do it, too.
Full disclosure: I’ve been there with those unhappy families. Really. My husband deployed for a year and when he got back, I thought it would be a grand idea to take our two young daughters, ages 4 and 2, to Walt Disney World. It would be our younger daughter’s first real trip there (her first trip was as an infant).
We booked a vacation package at Port Orleans French Quarter with the Table Service Dining Plan, piled everyone in the car, and set off on the seven-hour drive to Orlando. The whole trip was a surprise, we didn’t intend on telling the kids until we drove under the signs welcoming us to Disney.
My older daughter asked where we were going, and we simply said “Florida.” Which was true, but she assumed that we were going to visit grandma, who lives in Tallahassee. When we stopped to get something to eat in Saint Augustine, we broke the news to the girls: we were going to Walt Disney World!
My older daughter flipped out, and started crying hysterically. She wanted to see grandma! She was inconsolable. We drove the rest of the way to Orlando with her in tears. We pulled up to Port Orleans French Quarter and she was still unhappy.
The next day we headed to the Magic Kingdom, arrived at rope drop, rode Dumbo (this was back when you had to wait in a single, very slowwww moving line), got on the carousel and that was it…double melt down from both girls. We were out of the park by noon.
There were a coupl
e more trips just like that, and then we were fortunate enough to get annual passes to the parks. That changed my viewpoint, and while my annual pass has now lapsed, I have, for the most part, kept my relaxed attitude. That doesn’t mean I don’t get excited every time we go to Disney, it just means I have just learned to sto
p and smell the orange groves at Soarin’.
Here are some tips to help you Keep Calm and Enjoy Disney:
Realize that You Will Never See Everything
We lived in South Florida the past few years and we took a LOT of trips to Walt Disney World. We probably averaged more than 10 visits a year. And yet we never saw everything there is to see. The parks and resorts are constantly adding new things: new festivals, new attractions, new foods, new merchandise.
The Walt Disney Company is always updating or changing its offerings, so there is no way to see everything, and you have to make your peace with that. It just means that you will always need to plan another trip back to the resort!
You Can’t Keep Everyone Happy All the Time
While we always try to let each person in our party have a voice in what we do, I have just learned that you can’t make everyone happy at the same time. This seems especially true with teenagers.
So we strive to let each person pick one thing that they absolutely must see/do/eat and make sure that they get to do that. After that, there are no guarantees.
Take Time to Relax
Everyone has different definitions of what they consider relaxing. For some, it’s a dip in the resort pool. For others, it’s taking a nap in the air-conditioned hotel room. My husband and I like to relax and wait for our fast passes at the Nomad Lounge or at other lounges in the parks and resorts.
Regardless of your personal definition of relaxing, just make sure that you set aside some time to do it. Really.
Take Time to Appreciate the Details
gineers pack amazing details into everything they design. If you’re always in a rush, you tend to miss out on these little touches. I haven’t been to Galaxy’s Edge yet, but I have heard there are Easter Eggs and hidden references everywhere.
Other great places to stop and take look around are the Jungle Skipper Canteen Restaurant in Magic Kingdom (have you seen their Great Wall of China?) and Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar in Disney Springs. There are tons of details on the animal treks in Animal Kingdom. And plenty of sight gags in Hollywood Studios’ Muppet Vision 3D.
Book an Onsite Resort Room
If it is at all within your budget, book a room at one of the Walt Disney World Resorts. Aside from the benefits of being able to book your FastPass+ at 60 days out and using Disney transportation, there is also the intangible benefit of literally staying within the magic.
It may sound strange, but if I’m lounging by the pool at Pop Century, I don’t feel at all like I’m “wasting” precious Disney time. Whereas the few times we’ve stayed off property, I’ve experienced a bit of anxiety because I felt like I was missing out on something.
Use an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner
The last tip I have to help you keep calm at Disney is to use a travel agent that specializes in Disney Destinations, like Patricia Payne at All for Dreams Travel. She’s planning my next trip to Disney for me, and not only does she notify me when my various booking windows open up, she also found an additional room discount for my dates of travel. Her services are amazing, and they are FREE.
How do you keep calm at Disney? Share your tips in the comments below!
**Feature image courtesy Military Diva