The Happiest Place on Earth: Disney World Tips to Avoid a Meltdown

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Disney World Tips to Avoid a Meltdown TouringPlans Blog

Avoid becoming Grumpy by following these simple tips!

It has happened to all of us. You’re in the grocery store, and you hear a child having a tantrum. Perhaps it’s your kid on the floor screaming; because you didn’t agree to buy the Lego set that is so conveniently located right in the check-out line. Now you’re heading to Disney World, and you’ve heard it’s the “happiest place on earth.” Is it possible that this Disney magic you’ve heard so much about is going to prevent this from happening on vacation? What about yourself? Are you going to be able to handle the crowds and the chaos without losing your cool? Let’s hope all goes smoothly, but just in case, here are some tried-and-true Walt Disney World tips for avoiding meltdowns by the young and old alike.

  • Manage Expectations - We’ve all seen National Lampoon’s Vacation, right? Nothing will kill a vacation quicker than unrealistic expectations. Walt Disney World is enormous; about the same size as San Francisco. You wouldn’t expect to see everything a large city has to offer in a day or a week, so give yourself a break. Create a reasonable touring plan to follow, and then try to relax and enjoy each moment. When looking back on your vacation, it won’t be about how many attractions you experienced, but rather about the special memories that you made.

Disney World Tips to Avoid a Meltdown TouringPlans Blog

Feed your chipmunks before they go nuts!

  • Stay Hydrated and Nourished - Fatigue and irritability can set in fast if you let yourself get overly thirsty or hungry. Take a few minutes to refuel and try some of the tasty food and beverage choices that Disney World has to offer. This will help give you the energy you need to keep going. And did you know that our mobile app, Lines, has a menu search to help you find the closest Mickey bar or cheesy pretzel?
  • Take a Break – After a few hours of touring, give yourself and your family the chance to take a break. Whether you head back to your room for a quick nap or check out one of the many shows with comfy seats and air-conditioning, set aside a few minutes to cool off and rest your feet. You’ll feel refreshed and maybe even have a second wind.
  • Get your Sleep - Several days of going from rope drop to the last firework can wear out even the most hardy theme park tourist. Give yourself permission to get a full night’s sleep at least a couple times during your trip. Need help finding a quiet hotel room? Use our room finder for all Disney hotels.
  • Take a Deep Breath – From time to time you may encounter rudeness even in Walt Disney World. On my most recent trip, my boys and I were entering the queue for “it’s a small world” when a woman began shouting at us that the line was behind her. There was no line behind her. We had arrived at the entrance about a half of a second before her entering from the left as she was entering from the right. We just stopped, smiled and let her and her child go ahead of us. It was only 10:00 AM, and this poor woman was clearly in need of some pixie dust. Now in your regular daily life you might be thinking that you would never tolerate something like that. Remember how you handle these situations will leave a lasting impression on your children. So take a deep breath and follow the wise words of one of our favorite Disney movies and just “let it go.”
  • Do Random Acts of Magic - Because we are all at Disney World to have a great time and make some magic, why not join in on the fun? Congratulate the couple wearing the cute bride and groom Mickey Mouse ears, thank a cast member for the job they do, or offer to take a photo for a family so everyone can be in the shot. You never know. Your kind gesture just might help someone else avoid a meltdown of their own.

So there you have it! With these few simple tips, you are well on your way to a magical and less stressful Walt Disney World vacation!

What about you? Do you have any helpful hints you follow to keep your group happy and having fun? Please let us know in the comments below!

Please welcome Kristi Fredericks to the TouringPlans blog team. Kristi lives in Colorado and has been visiting Disney parks since she was an infant. See more of Kristi’s work at www.disneyworldenthusiast.com.

You may also enjoy our article on favorite quiet places in Walt Disney World by Bob Whitten.

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Posted on July 2, 2014

19 Responses to “The Happiest Place on Earth: Disney World Tips to Avoid a Meltdown”

  • by susanlindsey on July 2, 2014, at 6:30 am EST

    Have a plan for purchasing souvenirs that is appropriate for the age of your children. Also D side ahead of time whether you want to engage in time consuming activities such as character encounters, autograph seeking, or pin trading. We like to make advanced dining reservations for character breakfasts. We are our ensured autographs and individual attention while avoiding long lines.

    • Hi Susan
      Great tips! We set a souvenir budget for our boys and just avoid the shops once they run out of money. It saves a lot of trouble! I agree 100% with your character breakfast tip. My boys don’t like to wait in line, so having all of their favorite characters come right to our table, saves so much waiting. It may cost a little extra money, but so worth it! :)

  • These are all right on target. All very good advice and I can’t tell you how strongly I agree with the first one. The urge to see “everything” especially for first time visitors, is a strong one. But the best thing is to decide before you go what you’re going to see and do and talk about all magical plans you have and not focus on the things that you won’t be doing. For our trip in November we have a solid (but flexible) plan (thanks touringplans.com) and we know we won’t be seeing it all, but we’ll be much happier and more rested with wonderful memories for sure.

    • Hi Wendy
      You have a wonderful attitude about not being able to see it all. Even after all these years of visiting Disney World, I still have to remind myself of this on every trip. It really does make it much more relaxing and pleasurable for everyone to keep a reasonable pace. I hope you have a magical vacation in November!

  • Never tell young children you are going to a specific attraction, only a general area (like Adventureland as opposed to Pirates). That way if there’s issues with that attraction (long line, malfunction) your child won’t be upset.

    Also, plan for afternoons back at your hotel instead of renting a stroller for your ten year old. If they’re that tired you’ll be tired too.

    • Hi Paul
      These are some more great tips! We learned the hard way about not telling your kids about a specific attraction with my youngest son when Toy Story Mania broke down and we weren’t able to see it until our next Disney vacation. He still talks about how he missed that ride and that happened a couple of years ago! We take breaks every afternoon of our trips. Even us “grown up” kids get exhausted and for some reason my husband refuses to push me around in a Disney World stroller. ;)

  • Great Tips from your new blog team member. Following these tips will help you to be ready to engage in the moment. Never know when a Character will be just around the corner or a CM will offer you a special treat or you may become part of a parade at Breakfast. Be ready for a fun time and a few surprises along the way. Thanks

  • Great tips. I always carry snacks into the park and some of non-melting candy for a quick pick me up. I agree with making a plan ahead of time, though you don’t have to follow it to the T. We try to take a breather midweek and go play some putt putt and just ride the monerail and swim at the pool.

    • Forgot to mention, we like to print off the park hours months before our trip. This gives us a chance to sit down and plan out our vacation. We make at least 1 dining reservation, we have small kids and quick service is more convient at this stage. We also let each child pick at least 1 thing they must do while on vacation. I look so forward to our Disney planning parties!!!

      • Hi LAW
        More amazing suggestions! Having a full day break mid-trip where we relax with some low-key activities really helps us get recharged for the second half of our vacation. Getting your whole family involved in the planning process is a great idea. My boys love picking out their top three attractions and one restaurant to visit on each trip. Isn’t the Disney planning so much fun? I enjoy it almost as much as the trip itself! :)

        • Great suggestion! Early this year we spent a full week at Disney World (Mon-Fri in the parks and traveling), and I used Touring Plans to decide what park to hit on what day. On Wednesday we had a reservation at the BB Boutique at Downtown Disney at 1 pm. My wife and I decided to not go in the parks before the appointment but just have a lazy morning. When we got out of the Boutique, it started pouring down rain. We took a bus to the Contemporary (we were staying at Pop Century), and we decided to wait out the rain in the lobby. My 4 year old daughter promptly fell asleep in my wife’s lap. When she woke up, it was still drizzling. We decided to go back to the hotel and then hit Chip n’ Dale’s free hoe down at Fort Wilderness. It was the only day we didn’t go in the parks and the only nap my daughter took the whole week. But it made all the difference in the world. Not once did she ever fuss or whine the entire week!

          • Hi Bob
            That’s a great story! It sounds like your relaxing day helped to keep the fun going the entire vacation. So how was Chip n’ Dale’s Hoe Down? I’d love to check it out sometime! :)

  • When we took our very spirited almost 4 year old daughter to Disney last year, we prepared ourselves before the trip. We know our daughter’s personality and mentally prepared that we would probably be dealing with a meltdown of some sort during the trip. And, as we expected there were a few fit throwing moments (mostly due to tiredness). When the meltdown’s started, we were ready for them and I think it made us cope much better and prevented an “adult meltdown”!
    We took afternoon breaks every day also…and that helped a TON! For the 4 year old and adults! Looking forward to our next trip in November!

    • Hi Jennifer
      Great point about being realistic and prepared for those difficult moments to happen even on vacation. I always try to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst and I’m usually pleasantly surprised at how everything seems to go pretty well over all. When my boys were younger, we definitely dealt with our share of tantrums in the parks. It’s always nice to keep a sense of humor about it and to realize you’re not alone! I hope you have a wonderful time in November! :)

  • I have three kids, including a toddler and another child with Autism. We follow these tips too, including looking for “quiet” places in the park to snack and put our feet up. With the constant hustle & bustle noise of the parks, just resting for 15-20 minutes several times a day in a low traffic area is important for everyone in our family!

    • Hi Julie
      Terrific idea about taking several shorter breaks throughout the day in the park. This would be a great alternative for people who don’t want to spend prime touring time going back to their hotel room or for those staying off property. :)

  • I loved this post. One fave tip: prepare for the unexpected. Good to be reminded of that, since touring with grands 2 and 4 this midaug first time for them. I’ve set up personalized touring plan (thanks, all) with plenty of rests in mind. Also good to be reminded, by your post, to be flexible re dropping or moving ride plan in case of littles deciding on a toddler detour! -such as play in the water fountain places if they spot them (my grands are great water babies!).