Congratulations on your Disney vacation! You’ve set the date, picked a resort, and settled on your dining reservations. To ensure many magical moments, here are some things that you can do to prepare the entire family for your trip!
Prepare to walk
Guests at Walt Disney World will walk between 5-10 miles per day. At least 3-4 weeks prior to your trip your family should begin doing practice walks around your neighborhood, preferably in a new pair of sneakers or in the shoes you plan to walk in around Disney. Correct any issues with rubbing, poor fit, or socks that could cause blisters or pain. Getting a bit more accustomed to the walking will tremendously help everyone minimize achy legs and feet. If you have a little one in your family who demands to be carried, make plans to use a stroller or break the “carrying” habit before the vacation. Adults with issues walking may consider renting a scooter.
The weather in Walt Disney World can be hot and humid, even during the winter months. Good health guidelines recommend that we drink 64 oz of water a day. When you are active in warm and humid weather, you may need to drink as much as two times more water to avoid heat-related illnesses. Prior to your vacation, get your family used to carrying a water bottle, refilling it, and drinking more water. (Water at Disney is $2.50 per bottle. This can really use up a vacation budget!) Suddenly drinking more water than you are used to will cause you to need more bathroom breaks. If your family starts drinking more water 1-2 weeks prior to your trip, their bodies should be used to it. There’s too much to do at Disney to spend all your time in the restrooms!
Most major rides in the Disney theme parks have guests exit through a gift shop. Before you enter the parks, set a budget and discuss with the family how and when souvenirs will be purchased. If you normally leave members of your family home when you go shopping for any reason, including due to bad behavior, consider a few short, practice shopping trips prior to your vacation so that everyone knows the behavior that you expect. Hopefully this will “minniemize” potential teasing and begging for all that neat merchandise!
Eating out as a family
Dining in a Disney theme park is an experience all by itself and there is more to making your dining experience memorable than the restaurant you choose. The majority of the Disney restaurants are designed around a theme, with the staff interacting with the guests as a character of that theme. While preparing for your trip, consider how often your family eats together at a table or in a restaurant. Sitting down to dinner every night is sometimes nearly impossible with sports, homework, work and other scheduling obligations. Sadly, many families today no longer sit at a table and enjoy a meal, while others eat on the run. If table manners are a challenge, consider practicing your “Disney manners” before your trip. The stimulation of characters, excited guests, music, and the sight of an ice cream machine can heighten the energy level at the table. If you practice the behavior that you expect before your trip, you will be less likely to experience meltdowns or embarrassment in the restaurants. Don’t forget the adult kids as well! Pre-determine if alcoholic beverages are included in your vacation budget and if they will be a part of the meal. Don’t forget to know when to say when.
Develop and Practice a Separation plan
With the crowds and distractions at Disney, it is possible for family members to become separated. Develop and have your family practice a plan of what to do should they become separated. This is a critical planning step when traveling with young children or with those with medical conditions. Tell your children not to search for you, but to seek the help of a cast member. If your kids are old enough, set a meeting place and tell them to go there should you not be able to find one another.
Choose your Pool time
My family has limited access to pools and lakes for swimming. The first time we stayed on the Disney Property, we had to walk by a pool to reach our room or the bus stop. This resulted in continuous begging to go swimming! Learn from my mistake: pre-determine and communicate how pool-time will factor into your Disney schedule. Our family decided that we would use the pools in the evenings before bedtime. (No risk of sunburn at night!) This way, the kids knew when they would go swimming each day and the begging stopped!
The best part of these activities? Your family will be spending time together!