So, you’ve booked your trip to Walt Disney World and you’re excited to sharing it with your family. Until the realization sets in–you’re traveling with small children. Excitement is then replaced with stress–how will you manage it, will they enjoy it, are there kid-friendly activities?
The first step to planning a low-stress vacation with your small kids is to take a deep breath and then lower your expectations. Not completely, but realize that they’re small and have less endurance than us big kids. This was my biggest mistake on our trip–I expected to see it all, do it all. I didn’t factor in rest time, “down” time, and traveling with the youngest family members requires going at a slower pace. I did expect less and relax more on our second trip, and was able to enjoy it more.
Plan in advance. Spend some time looking at your dates on a crowd forecaster and choose the least crowded park for that day. It will most likely not be the park with EMH’s for the day, but you have to choose whether you want more time or less crowds. My personal favorite crowd predictor is Undercover Tourist. The stop light color-coding is easy to figure out.
I mentioned lowering expectations. That can be hard, when you want to see and do everything. I suggest choosing the one or two things most important to each member in the party and planning your day around that. Nighttime parade and fireworks at Magic Kingdom at the top of the list? Head back to the resort mid-day for some rest and naps then return to the park early in the evening. Schedule a table service meal near the parade route. We chose Tony’s Town Square and we were able to walk right out and grab a great spot for the Main Street Electrical Parade. Have a ride that tops the must-do list? Head for it early in the day. That may mean switching up your touring plan, if you’re using one.
Most importantly, don’t stress yourself out when things don’t go according to the plans you worked so hard on. And once you arrive, you may just find the plan going out the window as you enjoy the magical flow of Disney.
Rachel is a Virginia native who now lives in Louisiana. She is married with two children, ages 5 and 3. After dreaming and wishing for several years, her family had their very first Disney vacations this year and are now addicted to researching and planning—whether for themselves or for others. They now plan to visit the parks at least once a year.