What should I do? More Rides or More Relaxing at Walt Disney World

You all know the story.

Boy meets Girl. Girl loves Boy. Girl & Boy have babies. Babies get bigger and Girl & Boy decide that “in order to be good parents” they must take Babies to Walt Disney World. Boy & Girl begin planning, obsessively looking at blogs and WDW maps and books. Boy & Girl design a plan of action for Disney World and then freak out when Babies go into complete and utter meltdown at the Disney Witching Hour of 3:00pm(15:00). Boy and Girl scream at Babies “we’ve paid a lot of money for this vacation and you are going to LIKE IT and we’re all going to have a GOOD TIME now GIVE MICKEY A HUG”. Babies heads spin around, Boy & Girl head’s spin around. They decide they are never going back to Walt Disney World again because they were all miserable. The End.

Perhaps you’ve heard this story from friends? Perhaps you have people look at you crazy when you say are going (back) to WDW(…again). Or you’ve had them take the “I had a 28 hour labor” (aka misery loves company) approach where they tell you every single thing that has ever gone wrong in the history of a Disney Trip and inform you that its “too expensive” and its “not all its cracked up to be”.

Blasphemy I tell you! As Walt says “All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.” And courage MAY be exactly what you need to have this trip go well.

Walt Disney World IS a place where dreams come true every single day. There are tears that come from the magic of watching a “Make a Wish Foundation” child and family meet their wish-character. And there are tears that come from the sheer frustration of your children turning into little chucky dolls while your spouse (without mercy) drives the cattle of your family down the winding paths of Frontierland.

Two things happen on the extremes of most WDW trips:

1. People don’t plan at all and wander aimlessly through the streets, missing entire rides and waiting in 60-minute long lines.

2. People over-plan, do not allow any time for “moments” to happen and make everybody in their family utterly miserable.

So, obviously you are planning so no need to talk about #1, but there IS a need to talk about #2.

There is only one time I’m ok with you being a slave-driver. When you Make people get up early to get to the parks. Lets say you have a 7:45am Chef Mickey reservation. Well you need to leave the resort at 6:45am Which means (most likely) you all need to be up at 6:00am. Which in Disney Time is about 2 minutes before the “crack of dawn”. So yeah, make those people get up and get going in the morning, but take into consideration how late you will be up the night before in your pre-planning. If you’re staying for fireworks at 11pm it is unrealistic to ask your family to get up at 6am the next day. Especially if its day 4+ of your trip.

Plan cushion time into your days. Have a flurry of “must dos” then plan in “and we can do whatever until we decide to eat lunch”. We just planned our friends 6 day trip today and realistically they will have done everything that they really would want to do in about 3-days. Build in cushions like “Mike gets to pick what we do” but be sure to specify WHICH side of the park it must be done on. You don’t need to be crossing parks, you’re doing enough walking without hoofing it from Tomorrowland Transit Authority to Big Thunder Mountain.

We always leave the last day as a “whatever we feel like” day. That way if we missed something we can go back and get it. We schedule a meal in that day, but everything else is up for grabs. (unless touringplans.com says it’s a “park to avoid” that day, then its just too bad for whoever wanted to ride the ride.

And, of course, what is super key to not having your family want to stab you in the eye with some of their extremely overpriced collectable pins is the AFTERNOON NAP. Yes yes, I hear you complaining already, but let me tell you people. Its about quality of life not quantity of rides. Checking off another ride on your must-dos while your children try to figure out if their mickey mouse stuffed animal might serve as a good-enough voodoo doll for YOU is not quality WDW time. As a matter of fact it’s a bigger time-waster than not being in the parks at all.

So trust me, take a break. You’re NOT going to do every single thing in WDW in one week folks. If you could do you think you’d have “repeat-offenders” like me coming back 3-4 times a year? Disney is always changing, always growing. Even if you get it all done this time there will be all new stuff in 2 years (especially with the new changes being made in Magic Kingdom). Relax people, its supposed to be a VACATION. You’re supposed to be building memories, not torching relationships. If it doesn’t get done, so what?! Really, do you think you will be stewing on your deathbed “if we just could have done Jungle Cruise”….

QUALITY over QUANTITY + a 2 hour nap in the middle of the day is the REAL secret to (Disney) life.

And in the words of Forest Gump “That’s all I have to say about that”.

Love, The Disney Diva

  • Family Traditions at Walt Disney World (chipandco.com)
  • Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom opens to Walt Disney World Guests in February (chipandco.com)


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3 thoughts on “What should I do? More Rides or More Relaxing at Walt Disney World

  1. We did nap/pool on our very fist trip in 1996 with a 12 yr old and a 10 yr old by accident. Almost no internet in those days, so no nap/pool advice. Over the years I have been twice with just my mom. We took it at our own pace and no naps. I have been my mom and my DGD (2) and we took it at Her pace. Went last year with mom, DD, DS, DGD and family friend. Other than DGD freaking out at the Haunted Mansion (scared, we left), I guess we’ve just been very lucky to have not had any melt downs in 17 years of attending.

  2. I would just like to say that I read “Disney is always changing, always growing,” and promptly started singing “Just Around the River Bend” in my head.

  3. Nap/Pool time has been our plan of attack since we tried to kill ourselves getting EVERYTHING done in 2007 with a 8yr old 2 – 7 yr olds and a 3yr old. We were so tired after our vacation that we needed 2 days more to recoup. So when we went back in 2008 it was Ok..let’s plan this park for the morning and come back to the hotel and nap and swim and then go back to this park at night. We learned to take advantage of those Magic hours in the morning and evening in order to keep the melt downs at a minimum during the afternoon. This plan has worked since 2008 and we are yearly fanatics!

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