I believe vacation should be relaxing, not stressful. Yet just a few minutes of people watching at Walt Disney World will provide you dozens of examples of stressed-out visitors! Some people might even say that a Disney vacation is inherently stressful, but I disagree. Here are ten tips for keeping your Disney trip stress free!
1. Plan your transportation ahead of time.
Starting your day by running late is a great way to ensure that you’ll be stressed out. One way to avoid this is to be intentional about planning your transportation and leaving plenty of time. First time Disney goers often don’t realize how spread out the parks and resorts are and how much time it takes to get between them. Even veteran visitors often don’t plan enough time for waiting in line for a bus, transferring Skyliner lines, or the often super-long parking lines. When you plan which parks you are going to each day, make sure you also research your transportation options and how long each one will take. Build in that time and then add 50% more just in case something goes wrong. This will ensure that you have a more relaxed start to the day!
2. Get on the same page with your travel companions.
One of the most common sources of stress at Disney is competing expectations. Unless you are travelling solo, you will need to work with your travel companions to make a plan that everyone is happy with. Talking about your goals for the vacation might sound awkward, but if one person is super stoked to ride every thrill ride and another wants to see every show, it’s best to find that out before you are in the middle of a park in the heat of the day! If you’re traveling multiple family members or friends, you may even want to plan times when smaller groups break off and do different things so that people have a chance to do the things they like most.
Eat early. Eat often. Even if you’re not planning table service meals (which almost always require Advanced Dining Reservations), identify where and when you want to eat and have a back up plan. Don’t wait until you’re hungry, because then by the time you find a place to eat, order, and get your food you will be straight up HANGRY (that’s hungry+angry). And bring snacks just in case that hunger starts to hit when you’re halfway through the line for your favorite ride!
4. Stay Cool
One thing that is always true about Walt Disney World is that it is hot, unless it is cold. But usually it’s hot – sometimes even in the winter when you expect 70 degree days you get met with the 90s. And there’s something about the heat that helps slightly-stress-out blood turn to boiling. Be aware of the heat and plan ways to cool down – inside attractions, a table service meal in the middle of the day, or even a trip back to your hotel mid-day for a nap in the air conditioning. Cooling towels and stroller fans are also favorite accessories of many Disney regulars.
5. Drink Water
You’re probably sensing a theme here. Keeping your body happy is one of the best recipes for staying calm and relaxed, and water is a key ingredient. The Florida temperatures combined with the physical exertion of a day in the parks (it’s not unusual to walk 5 or more miles in a day!) make drinking water especially important. Bring reusable water bottles and fill them up anytime you see a water fountain. Ice water is free at all dining locations, and bottled water is available for sale across the parks. If you’re not good at remembering to drink, you may want to set a timer on your phone to go off every 30 minutes as a reminder.
6. Have your bag/backpack organized.
We’ve all probably experienced that feeling of being a little stressed, and feeling the stress level go up and up as we search through a messy bag, backpack, or purse unable to find the one thing that we really need at that moment! It tends to be even more stressful when you’re rushing to get to a dining reservation, in the middle of a crowd, or while the sun is beating down on you. Do yourself a big favor and organize your bag so that you know where everything is. I like to pack things in ziplock bags so that I can keep things separated and still see everything. Keep things you know you’ll need to access frequently – like sunscreen, extra masks, sanitizing wipes, and water bottles – in outside pockets or on the top of the bag.
7. Have a plan in case you get split up.
There’s nothing more stressful than getting separated from a friend or family member without a way to communicate. Even if everyone has cell phones, you never know when a battery will die at the absolutely worst time, so it’s important to have a plan of what to do if you get split up. With young kids, the safest thing is to teach them what Disney cast members look like. Let them know that if they get separated, they should find the closest cast member and tell them that they need help. The staff at Disney are pros at reuniting lost grown-ups with their kids. For older teenagers and adults, identify a very specific location where you will all go if you get separated.
8. Pick three things each day to prioritize.
In order to be stress-free at Disney you will need to let go of a desire to do everything. It’s just not possible, and you’ll have more fun if you are realistic with your expectations. Each day, pick three things that you are really excited to do and make those your priorities. Fit in as much as you can around them, but consider it a successful day if those three things have been done. Anything else will feel like a bonus!
9. Have a plan for souvenirs.
If you have young kids, this is an absolute necessity to avoid the stress that comes with their constant pleas for every single toy they see. And whether it’s the kids purchases or your own, you’ll want to avoid the stress that comes with spending way more than you planned on. Create a budget for souvenirs and make sure everyone is clear on it. Have a conversation with kids ahead of time about the decisions they will have to make, and give them some tips on how to decide what to spend their money on.
10. Plan a rest day.
If you are doing four or more days at the parks, I recommend taking a rest day in the middle. Take a day off from the business of the parks. Sleep in. Spend a lazy day at the pool. Go play miniature golf or check our Disney Springs for a few hours. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of the parks in the middle of the trip will help you rejuvenate and have more energy for your final days.