Visiting a Disney park is a rite of passage for every child, but some families avoid it due to the cost and the stress of planning such a huge trip. I have already covered some budget advice in my previous article “Six Ways to Save Money on Your Next Disney Vacation,” so today I will be giving some Disney travel tips on taking your kids to Disney without losing your sanity. It can be done, I promise.
1. Have a plan but be flexible.
I realize this sounds like a contradiction, so let me explain. It’s good to have a plan—what attractions do you want to go on, where do you want to eat, what park do you want to visit on what day—but remember that some things are out of your control (weather, ride closures, restaurants are booked up). A “go with the flow” attitude can make or break your Disney vacation. It’s also wise, as you already know, to plan around your child’s schedule for eating, naps, etc. This holds true at a Disney park as well.
2. Go during the off-season, if possible.
It’s well known that being among a huge crowd can cause stress levels and tempers to skyrocket. If your schedule allows it, visit the Disney theme parks during non-peak times. Generally the best times are January and February (between holiday and spring breaks), late April/early May, and October through early December. Holiday weekends such as Presidents Day and Thanksgiving are also very busy times. A bonus to visiting during the off-season is generally hotel prices are lower and you’ll have a better chance at getting the restaurant reservations you want.
3. Bring your own water and snacks.
You can bring unopened bottles of water, or empty plastic beverage containers, and small snacks into the Disney theme parks. This is a lifesaver if your kid is a picky eater or if you have a small infant who cannot yet eat a whole hot dog or hamburger. Snacks also come in handy while you are waiting in long lines.
4. Speaking of long lines, come prepared with games and activities.
Keep kids distracted in long lines by playing games like I Spy, 20 Questions, or an alphabet game. One of my favorites is to name a Disney thing starting with the letter A (Adventureland, for example), then the next person has to list a Disney thing starting with the letter B (Bambi), and so on. Another version is to take turns naming as many Disney things as you can that start with the letter A. If someone repeats, they are out, and you continue until you have a winner. Then move on to the next letter!
5. Utilize the Baby Care Centers.
Few people are aware that the four parks at Walt Disney World and the two parks at Disneyland Resort each have a Baby Care Center. The Baby Care Centers have a private nursing room, changing tables, microwave, and high chairs, and you can purchase items such as diapers, wipes, and over-the-counter medications.
6. If you’re staying at a hotel, go back in the afternoon to rest.
Getting to the parks in the early morning will help you avoid some of the crowds and summer heat, but this means by the afternoon everyone is tired and grumpy. Utilize that hotel room by going back for naps or some pool time in the afternoons to avoid the parks’ busiest times. Go back into the parks when the sun starts to go down and stay until closing, if you can last that long!
7. Invest in a locker.
You can rent a locker and have in-out privileges all day. Great for jackets, snacks, and that one toy your kid insisted on having right when you entered the park.
8. Stop by City Hall or Guest Relations if you have any special needs, such as food allergies or a disability.
A Cast Member can provide helpful information that will make your visit a little easier.
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