Disney World is “The Most Magical Place on Earth”. But what happens when you lose the magic? Has that ever happened to you? As we enter the crowded holiday season you may find yourself losing it more than ever. It’s the worst feeling in the world to look forward to a magical Disney vacation and then feel like it’s not going as good as you’d hoped.
Maybe everyone in your group can’t agree on what to do next. Or the heat has drained your energy. You could be dehydrated, hungry, tired or just plain grumpy.
The crowds may have pressed you so tightly you feel permanently merged to the stranger standing next to you. Nothing says awkward quite like being pressed into the sweaty back of a random Brazilian man.
Maybe you’re tired of dodging scooters steered by half blind elderly people who don’t seem at all concerned about running you over.
Did you spend hours saving the perfect parade spot only to have someone shove their sticky toddler into your front curb space at the last minute? Because, you know, they’ve been standing there all of 30 seconds….surely they deserve a front row spot. Right?!
And don’t even get me started on the tour groups.
With all these pixie dust thieves trying to steal your “magic” can you ever manage to combat them? Never fear! I am here with my top tips to help you keep the magic alive on your next Disney World vacation.
5 Ways to have a Magical Disney Vacation:
1) Don’t focus so much on rides. I know. I know. If you don’t get to Toy Story Mania right at rope drop you won’t get to ride it without a 90 minute wait. And that fast pass is about to expire and it’s on the other side of the park? Move it people! Move! Trample small children! Don’t worry about that old lady in the scooter about to run you over- just keep going. We can stress ourselves out so badly trying to fit in every ride that we kill the magic ourselves. There’s only so much pixie dust we have each day- don’t burn thru it too quickly.
Repeat after me: It doesn’t matter if we go on every ride. What matters is that we have fun. (Did you say it? Yeah I’m looking at you. You didn’t did you? Uh-huh. I saw that.) You may need to remind yourself of this multiple times during your trip.
Oh, and by the way? This is the most hypocritical item on my list. I am the worst at this. The worst. My family will laugh when they read this one. Hi Pot. I’m Kettle. 🙂
2) Visit a character. Many of us skip meeting characters on our Disney vacation in lieu of riding more rides. (See number one.) Or maybe we have older children that feel like it’s so lame to meet characters and take pictures. Or you may not have any children with you and you feel dumb visiting characters as an adult.
Whatever the reason, promise me you will visit at least one character on your next trip to the parks. Just try it. If you don’t feel it was a good experience I’d be very surprised.
I’d even recommend you save it for a time when everyone has lost the magic. Take a break and go do a meet and greet. No, don’t try Anna & Elsa with a 90 minute wait (unless you have a fast pass). Long wait times may not help you find your Disney mojo. Try one that is easier to get to. There’s a few in each park that are out and about for various windows of time. Because they leave and come back the queue doesn’t get as long as the ones that meet inside a building. Try Gaston, The Tremaines, the characters in town square, the Pixar characters in the back of Hollywood Studios, and the characters that meet in the countries around World Showcase. (Bonus tip- in the back of Storybook Circus you can meet Daisy, Minnie, Donald and Goofy. They are a little out of the way and sometimes get forgotten about. We caught them two days ago on a super busy Saturday and the waits were under 20 minutes.)
Meeting the characters will remind you of why you love Disney. Of the magic of seeing everything in this fairy-tale world as real. And of how dorky you can pose in a picture with funny characters without feeling like an idiot. We spent a whole day doing only characters and it was awesome.
3) Watch a parade. As you may know, I am a huge fan of Festival of Fantasy. I also love the nighttime one, Main Street Electrical Parade. Both of these never fail to put me back in the right frame of mind for touring Disney. The characters, the colors, the music- it’s all so much fun. Don’t just watch it quietly. Wave to characters. Cheer for your favorites. Take pictures. Sing Along.
If the crowds stress you out, don’t try to watch it on Main Street or anywhere near the castle. Instead try Frontierland. It’s much less crowded and there are many places you can stand and see it good without needing a front row curb spot. The daytime parade begins there, so watch it near Splash Mountain area and then you can move to Adventureland without needing to cross the crowds again. The night parade ends here so it won’t be by this area until about 20 minutes or so after the parade time begins. That can give you a little extra time to catch it.
4) Take a break. This may seem obvious but sometimes we just need to leave the parks and chill. You would not believe how many families I see experiencing complete meltdown. And that’s just the parents. Go to Fantasyland around 2 o’clock in the afternoon and see what I mean.
“I don’t care if you’re hungry. This is the last chance you will ever have to meet Elsa and by god you better shape up and smile for that picture because all your mother wants is a photo of you and her in your matching princess dresses!”
Once you reach this level I think it’s safe to say you have passed your optimum resting time. before it gets this bad, just leave. Go back to the hotel. Take a nap. Drink a lot of water and get something to eat. When you return late in the afternoon you will feel like a new person.
If the hotel is too far take the Resort Monorail to one of the resorts (I recommend the Polynesian) and find a quiet place to eat and relax. Don’t view it as missing out on touring and doing things- Look at it like you are recharging your batteries in order to fully enjoy the second half of the day.
5) Find an attraction in each park that is guaranteed to restore your pixie dust. I try to find one of these in each park. It needs to be easy to get on even on a crowded day and something that makes you feel good when it’s over. Bonus if you can sit down and cool off. If you don’t have one of these I’ll tell you mine. But let’s keep it between us, ok? Wouldn’t want everyone crowding our special places.
In Epcot it’s Universe of Energy. I’m not sure why but I really enjoy this show. It takes a while to ride, you will rest and cool off. You can even eat a small snack (if you’re stealthy) and drink some water. It doesn’t get real crowded and holds a lot of people. My kids even liked it when they were really little.
In Animal Kingdom it’s Festival of the Lion King. This can be crowded at super busy park times, but usually you can always get into the next show. It has such fantastic performers and energy. Always a winner.
Hollywood Studios is the most difficult park to choose a go-to attraction that doesn’t get crowded. Years back it used to be The Great Movie Ride but lately that tends to get some long lines. So I’d have to go with One Man’s Dream. All though it’s not a sit down and rest ride, it is cool and quiet. Meandering through it and looking at Walt’s legacy always reminds me of why I love Disney in the first place. Take your time walking through it and I guarantee you will learn something new that makes you love Walt even more.
Magic Kingdom is the classic magical place. There are many attractions that I love that don’t usually have long waits and make me happy. My number one pick is Philharmagic. It holds a ton of people so you can almost always get in the next showing. (Don’t waste fast passes on this one) They keep it super cool in there so it’s a great place to cool off. And the movie shows such magical Disney moments in film that it makes you feel all worm and fuzzy inside.
My second choice would be Wishes! fireworks, but due to crowds that can sometimes be slightly stressful so it drops to number 2 for me. Honorable mention goes to Carousel of Progress because it’s extremely hard to be grumpy while singing “It’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”.
Got any Magical tips of your own? Please share with me! I’d love to hear them. 🙂 I hope your next Disney vacation is the most magical yet.