Survival Tips for Disney Family Vacation
Who doesn’t love a Disney family vacation? No work, no worries, and it’s the happiest place on Earth. If you’ve ever been on a family vacation though, you know sometimes it’s not all rainbows and lollipops. Things can get a little tense when the kids argue or the family disagrees on how to spend vacation time. Here we have some easy tips that will help ensure the whole clan ends up having a great time.
Decide when is the best time of year to go.
The busiest times in Disney World are whenever school is out for vacation. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is their busiest week of the year because of schools being out, cool weather, and holiday festivities. Summer, particularly mid-summer, is the second busiest because everyone all over the country is out of school for summer vacation. The downfalls with going during a busy time are higher costs, longer lines (more time waiting in lines, less time for more attractions), and crowds. The least busy times are the weeks after the busiest times (e.g. the week after New Year’s).
If your children are elementary school-aged, taking them out of school for a week for a Disney Family Vacation may not be as detrimental as taking older children out of school for a week. However, if you feel that an affordable, quality Disney Family Vacation is worth it, and your children can make arrangements with their teachers ahead of time and are able to get caught upon returning, the benefits may outweigh the academic inconveniences. Going during less busier times means more affordable costs, shorter lines (more time for more attractions), less crowds (beneficial for younger children all), and likely cooler weather.
Article originally written on Sep 26, 2014. Updated on Aug 23, 2019.
Take advantage of fast pass and the Disney dining plan.
Fast pass is extremely helpful in getting on as many attractions as possible. It works by scheduling the times that you will be going on each attraction on your phone or at the attraction and coming back during your designated time to get ahead of the line. While scheduling your attractions may be somewhat of a drag, it is worth it, especially if you are going during busier times of the year.
The Disney Dining Plan is extremely helpful in saving tons of money on food. A fast food lunch for a family of three in Disney World can cost as much as 70 dollars. The Disney Dining Plan allows you to plan your sit-down restaurants in advance and pre-pay for a number of breakfast/lunch and snacks. Going during a time that the dining plan is free will save tons of money.
Your Survival Tips for an Amazing Disney Family Vacation!
Make it affordable.
Why spend so much money on a vacation that you come home more stressed than you left? There are plenty of ways to have an unforgettable time with your family while making your money go further and staying within your budget. For starters, try a vacation rental instead of a pricey hotel. In the Disney area, you can find a 3 bedroom vacation home with a private pool and spa, full kitchen and a washer and dryer for less than $800 a week. Similar hotel accommodations with none of those amenities can run you over $1700 for seven days!
Second, try to save as much money as possible on attraction tickets. Tickets are always going to cost you more at the gate, so rule that out from the get-go. Look for discounts and special offers from vacation rental providers like VillaDirect, or search for Disney-authorized ticket brokers. Emphasis on Disney-authorized. Never buy tickets from people selling them near the parks, Craigslist, E-Bay or any other online marketplace. You could end up losing your money, and still not get into the park.
Planning ahead will make your trip run even smoother, especially if your children are on the younger side. If you have never been to Disney World before, research the parks, other attractions, and the logistics of each area (e.g. stroller rentals, locker rentals, restrooms, drink stations, first aid etc.). Disney has an app that you can download to get all information about everywhere in the resort, including maps. Hard copies of maps and other information is also available at your hotel and around the resort. Check the weather for that week, and pack accordingly. If your children are young, schedule a nap or downtime in the middle of the day.
Be a little selfish.
A trip to Disney is an absolutely magical experience for the kids, but remember: you’re on vacation too. This is your time to have fun and relax as well. If you’re a Disney junkie and would prefer to spend every day at the parks, by all means, go for it! But if you want to read a book by the pool and catch some rays, go on a relaxing fishing trip or do a little shopping at Orlando’s famous outlets, don’t hesitate to put Disney on hold for a day or two. The kids will understand. And if they don’t…no Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwiches!
Once you’ve had your fill of Mom and Dad-friendly activities, go watch your kids meet Mickey Mouse, Cinderella and Goofy for the first time, and take some unforgettable photos.
Remember the big picture.
At the end of the day, vacations are about enjoying each other’s company. Our schedules are busy, and it’s not every day we get to spend so much time with our children or our significant others. Enjoy your time together, make some funny memories, and always remember: if family didn’t get on our nerves from time to time, they wouldn’t be family!