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I see you. You surprised your kids with their first Disney vacation. That’s so exciting… for them. Meanwhile, you have been tirelessly pouring over your Disney Vacation Planning binder for 3 months and have 6 more months before your trip. Your alarms are set for that magical 60-day FastPass mark, so you can be on My Disney Experience as fast as humanly possible. Every penny is being pinched and calculations are being made as to whether or not to get the dining plan. Between social media and blogs ( like this one) you are ravenously hoarding information from others who have done it.
Disney vacation planning is an overwhelming experience. There are so many parks, attractions, hacks, restaurants, characters, character dinings, magic band patterns, Mickey ear varieties, fast-passes, crowd calendars, special events, must-do’s…the list goes on and on.
I get it. I am a planner, too. But, I have to tell you this.
Stop. Just stop.
Yes. The gal who has a blog practically centered around Disney just told you to stop. It’s true. I have written several posts on things that you must have at the park, and how to get through the Magic Kingdom on a hot day. And those tips are helpful to you, I hope. Because I believe it is important to share knowledge and to help you be prepared. You should always be prepared. What you should not be is stressed.
In your head, I am sure you are berating me and your internal dialogue is saying something to the effect of ” Of course you can say this. You get to go all the time. But this is my once in a lifetime trip!”
Take a deep breath.
Let me explain what I have seen at Disney parks.
Tired kids at midnight absolutely exhausted and in full-on meltdown mode because they had no nap that day.
Mothers planning every.single.second and herding their exhausted families (with matching t-shirts) like sheep down Main Street because everything is scheduled and reserved to the minute. They can’t be late for the Haunted Mansion Fastpass, so they completely miss the amazing piano player at Casey’s corner.
Adults arguing with Disney cast members ( literally the kindest people on earth) because the line at Prince Charming’s carousel was too long, so they couldn’t wait for the next ride or they would miss their reservation ( True story. AND…the carousel is never that long).
It’s not fun.
The reality is that no matter how much you plan, you will not be able to do it all in the span of a couple days.
Fun fact, I probably average about 25 Disney visits per year, over the past 3 years. That number may be higher if you count the random times I may run in for just popcorn and leave. (Another true story. I think I set a record of being in the Magic Kingdom for just 10 minutes to get a Pluto popcorn bucket and Mickey Birthday button) My husband works there in the summers. And we still haven’t done it all.
Yet I have been where you’re at. We have taken family to the parks, and I would feel the compelling need to give them the most magical experience that I rushed everyone so much that they couldn’t soak it in. Focusing intently, I would fail to look up from the MDE app on my phone and, well, smile. Halfway through the afternoon, when everyone needed to stop because I was cattle-driving them all day; I would be cranky and frustrated that the day did not meet my expectations.
Whether it is your first time at Disney or your 50th…that is just no way to spend a Disney day.
But, I don’t want to berate you. I truly don’t. I am writing this because I care about you and truly want you to have the best time. So, I just want you to stop, take a breath and let me sprinkle some pixie dust on your Disney plans and help encourage you through the process. Because, even if you miss going on The Haunted Mansion or Spaceship Earth… you won’t screw this up.
Want to know what our most magical Disney days have been? The ones where we went with just one or two goals.
So, here’s my best advice to you.
- Pick one meal reservation per day that you REALLY want.
- Mark down where your absolute favorite character is and where to meet them.
- And think about the ride you have always loved or dreamed of riding and tell yourself ” if that is all we get done, then I am happy.”
- I have no ill-will against the T-shirt thing or trying to do all the fun Disney-type traditions that we all know and love. I love them, too! But don’t do them at the expense of your sanity or obsess over them as the be all to end all of your vacation.
- If you are really overwhelmed…consider “hiring” a Disney Vacation Planner ( they’re free!)
Then what do you do with that extra time when you are more relaxed?
Stop on Main Street and watch your child’s face when they look at the castle. Heck, let them dance for as long as they want.
Use those 3 fast-passes, but leave plenty of time between them to mosey around and just see what there is to see. Have a candy apple, catch a show, watch the glass-blower in the Emporium.
From one control-freak Disney planning mom to another—I promise you that your kids won’t care whether you stayed at the Grand Floridian or All-Star Movies. They are not going to care if you had matching T-shirts. It doesn’t matter if the princess tiara came from the Emporium or the dollar store. Everyone will be okay if you don’t get every dining reservation on the wish list.
What they will remember is the family-time and enjoying the magic together. So, if you plan anything…plan on that.