Scheduling Rules to Avoid Burnout at Walt Disney World

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Schleping around a heavy bag all day doesn’t make it any easier.

Crying children, aching feet, sleeping next to strangers on the bus. These are all symptoms of the typical Disney burnout. There are many different vacation styles that families may exhibit while on a Walt Disney World vacation. To most families that haven’t been there a million times like me, they may be unsure of how to go about their day. Many families don’t know when they will be back so they want to pack it all in, not miss a thing, and make everything a larger than life, unforgettable vacation. While this idea sounds nice and pretty, not only will it become unrealistic, but it might actually do more harm than good to your vacation. Let me assure you now, you might not be able to “do it all” but that’s no reason you shouldn’t have a fantastic vacation. Follow these 5 steps to avoid burnout at the happiest place on Earth.

 

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I get very excited about sleeping in.

1. Sleep in when you want to.
There has been some debate as to whether the new fastpass+ has helped or hindered the spontaneous Disney World spirit in us. Being able to pre-plan your day can be offputting for the family that likes to wing it and go with the flow. I’m here to tell you that fastpass+ can be your best friend to avoid burnout in the parks. Knowing a few scheduling rules will allow your day to be more relaxed, allow some room for spontaneity, and make your trip more magical. Does your family like to sleep in? Did you stay up till one in the morning last night because there were extra magic hours at the Magic Kingdom? Were you up incredibly early for a flight and you want nothing more than to get a full night’s sleep and energize yourself? Allowing yourself to select the times you want your fastpasses makes sleeping in at Disney possible. Pre-fastpass+, you usually had to get to the park at rope drop to solidify an hour or so of rides with virtually no lines. Now, if you want to sleep in and schedule your fastpasses for 10am or 11am, be my guest. You are in control. You don’t have to do it everyday, but getting a good night’s sleep will make everyone involved a lot more pleasant.

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Brad has no trouble finding a relaxing spot.

2. Everyone at Disney is like a big kid, and kids need naps.
I am a very strong proponent of the afternoon nap. Unless you have the stamina of the energizer bunny, you and everyone in your party will want and deserve a break. I like to make my breaks in the mid afternoon. This is typically when the park is the most crowded, and in summer months, the hottest part of the day. This is when I go back to the hotel and nap, swim, shower, and/or just hang out for a bit and get off my feet. Most humans are not used to being on their feet all day, standing in lines, getting in and out of ride vehicles, carrying around backpacks, and dodging crying kids in strollers. It can be a lot mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting then you’re prepared to handle. Just take a break from it however you want.

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Fastpass or bust

3. Decide how long you are willing to wait.
While your fastpass is going to help minimize waiting in lines for a couple of rides, it sadly can’t do it for all of them. Some rides don’t make sense to wait for, I talk about it in a blog entry. Some rides will always have long wait times unless you have a fastpass, i.e. Soarin’, 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, Toy Story Midway Mania, and many more. Before you go, I’d have an honest discussion with your party to see what is the maximum time you are willing to wait in a line and will still be able to enjoy a ride. For me, it’s about 15 minutes. If it is longer than that, I simply move and and maybe try to go back to it later or save it for the next time. Keep in mind if you are willing to wait 45 or more, that is 45 or more standing on your feet. That fatigues people quickly. Also, a long wait in a longer line detracts from the enjoyability of the ride. Most of the smaller attractions are worth a ten minute wait, but if you’ve invested 45 minutes in a line, your expectations of the ride may become unrealistically high. I think setting up a time limit ahead of time will avoid pushing your limits too much and let’s your kids know the expectation.

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Quiet shady spot to rest my tired feet. And do some serious people watching.

4. Find places that make you comfortable.
If you have some time to kill between fastpass reservations or dining reservations, find a seat somewhere and have a snack. If you are there on a super hot day, pop into one of the air conditioned stores until you feel better. If you got stuck in the pouring rain and you are now wet and cold, don’t be afraid to head back to your hotel and change. If a front row seat to the parade is not super important for you, wait on a bench and don’t stand up until it is necessary. Be able to go with the flow and pop into a 3D show if you need to be off your feet just a little longer.

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The vacation is fun because we are together, no matter how much or little we do.

5. Get it out of your head that you’re wasting money if you don’t do everything.
It probably doesn’t come as a shock to anyone that Walt Disney World vacations can add up to a pretty penny. I think it’s a natural feeling to think you have to “get your money’s worth” out of the ticket, and this might mean go go go to a lot of families. Sometimes I find myself falling into this trap but then I realize how much I do there really has little connection to how much fun I have there. It will be more enjoyable for everyone if you don’t attempt to do it all, and instead do what it most important to your family. Burnout and unruly children can put a serious damper on your vacation. While I might not be a parent yet, I will be one day, so I’ll add my two cents. By bringing your children to Disney World, you are already the coolest parents ever. Not every child get’s to experience this magical place, but it’s not a place where parenting and children’s actions should be thrown out the window. When your kids no longer seem appreciative of the awesome gift you are giving them, it’s time to leave, go back to the hotel, and get some rest. The phrase “you should be enjoying this” has never yielded more enjoyment in its audience.

I think if you come back from your Disney World vacation and feel like you need another one just to relax, you overdid it. The optimist in me knows this won’t be your last trip to Disney World, so back burnering something until your next trip is not out of the question either. The flexibility of being able to go with the flow will set you up for a much more enjoyable vacation. Try not to feel tied down to everything. When you need a break, take one, when you need to sleep in, keep pressing snooze, when you don’t feel like waiting in line, don’t. You make your own rules, you decide when it’s go time. This is your vacation, so make it a good one!

Why Frozen Summer Fun is a Must See

signIt is without question that the movie Frozen has become a massive hit around the world, and it was only a matter of time before Disney cashed in on its huge success. The two adorable sisters Anna and Elsa were first introduced to the “World” at Epcot. They greeted their fans in the Norway pavilion and then over time the lines grew. They were then moved to the Magic Kingdom so more of their adoring fans would have a chance to interact with the Queen and Princess of Arendelle. What came next was pretty much madness. Parents and children waiting up to 5 hours or more to meet the sisters. As someone that thinks waiting in a line for 15 minutes is getting to be long, spending hours in line is unimaginable to me. Parents, listen up. Your solution is to go to Disney’s Hollywood Studios Frozen Summer Fun instead. While you might not have a personal meet and greet with them, your day will be much more exciting being immersed in everything Frozen.

Wandering Oaken Trading Post

Wandering Oaken Trading Post

As a frequent visitor to Disney World, I always enjoy experiencing new things. I wasn’t quite sure what to think and didn’t even quite know what they meant by Frozen Summer Fun. I did know however, that it was being advertised on every map, times sheet, bus, and poster all over Disney World. As my mom and I entered Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the first thing the cast members do is hand you an Olaf cut out. The idea behind this is to take pictures of you and your favorite snow man and post them on Twitter using #olafsummervacation. I decided we would ride Toy Story Midway Mania first and then I would look over the times sheet to see what Summer Fun was all about. On your way through the park, you can’t help but notice the giant stage that is now set up right in front of the sorcerer hat.

Frozen snacks and drinks have taken over the park.

Frozen snacks and drinks have taken over the park.

I saw on the sheet it said Wandering Oaken Trading Post. This was located right next to Toy Story. All of the Frozen cast members are dressed like they are going on a ski trip in the Alps and try to speak with their best Norwegian accent. The trading post was chocked full of Frozen merchandise. T Shirts, dolls, stuffed Olafs, jewelry, everything Frozen. Even Frozen inspired tasty treats. We left the post and went on with our day.

Enter the Frozen Funland, complete with ice rink.

I have mentioned in a previous post that I do not do well in the heat and Frozen Summer Fun was a great way to keep cool. Instead of watching the Coronation on the stage by the sorcerer’s hat, we opted out in favor of spending time in the coolest (literally and figuratively) room in the park. To the left of the the trading post mentioned earlier was a Frozen Funland, complete with snow, an ice rink, and frozen treats. It was like entering into an arctic safe haven from the unrelenting heat outside. For $10 you could ice skate, and the cast members would even help you tie up your skates. It truly felt like a little piece of Arendelle in this room.

Do you want to build a snowman?

Do you want to build a snowman?

The other part of Frozen Summer Fun I didn’t partake in was the sing along. They recommended you sign up in advanced for this. Anna and Elsa lead everyone in Frozen’s greatest hits. I figured, I sing the songs in the shower, in my car, and in my kitchen all the time, so I could forgo this.

After another ride or two, we left the park for lunch and our midday nap with plans to return around dusk for more Frozen festivities. When we got to the park in the evening, we were welcomed by a band decked out in more alpine clothes rocking out to great songs from the 80’s. It was just a cool atmosphere. If any of you have ever been out to Disney’s California Adventure and have seen The Mad Tea Party or another band like it, they had a very similar feel. When the band finished playing, it was time for the Frozen fireworks (what I had pretty much been waiting for all day).I wasn’t quite sure where to stand since Disney’s Hollywood Studios doesn’t typically have fireworks since they have Fantasmic. stageIt was very packed in, since the Studios version of Main Street is no where near as wide and accommodating for a fireworks show, but we squeezed in and looked up. (People love to forget that fireworks are in the sky) We unexpectedly had Anna, Elsa, and Christoph on stage getting things going and even saw some selfies with Olaf from around the park. The fireworks show was amazing. They seemed to be lower and wider in the sky than other firework displays and danced perfectly to the sound of Frozen soundtrack.

#olafsummervacation

#olafsummervacation

I will never deny my love for Wishes at the Magic Kingdom, but I can’t help but feel this put Wishes to shame. I left the park that night excited from all the new things I had seen that day. I felt more apart of the Frozen world than I ever could have during a 5 minute meet and greet. If you have kids that love all things Frozen, this is a must. What was once supposed to only be during the summer, has now extended to September 28. I would strongly urge you to make the trip if you can, you won’t regret it.

 

Dealing with the Disney Heat…how I attempted to stay as cool as possible in the happiest place on Earth.

ice cream mickey earsI have recently returned from a fantastic trip to Disney World with my mom. We have been avoiding the summer months in recent years but decided to brave the July heat of Orlando. Let me preface this by saying I do not do well in the heat, and I absolutely despise humidity. I walked around incredibly jealous of people that looked like the real feel of 104 with no breeze was like a mild spring day. Why weren’t they sweating like me? Why was every hair still in place of their head while I experienced a frizzy mess? Come on people, no likes a show off. Anyway, this post is to give my honest feedback of how I dealt with the heat and tips to help you for your future summer Disney vacation.

Sitting in Cosmic Rays to cool down from the heat.

Sitting in Cosmic Rays to cool down from the heat.

Become an A.C. addict:
So I get a little annoyed when the door of my bedroom cracks open and precious air conditioned air is slipping out into the hot hallway. Disney, on the other hand thinks that cool air is something that should be shared with the world, inside and outside. OK, not really, but they have no problem leaving doors open of buildings that are cranking out some powerful A.C. without feeling wasteful. On this particular trip, indoor attractions were my friend. Anything I would have had to wait outside for and didn’t have a fastpass for, I was just not going to wait. Anything that would have me outside without any chance of cooling down (ex, the shows at Hollywood Studios) I skipped. As much as I love Beauty and the Beast and Indiana Jones, the thought of sitting outside close to people without the chance to cool down for 30-40 minutes sounded like torture. The key to getting around the park and staying cool is utilizing restaurants, bathrooms, and gift shops (All air conditioned). Sometimes my mom and I just sat at a quick service restaurant for 15 minutes to cool our bodies down before we braved the heat again. You and everyone else in your party will feel better after a refreshing break.

Apparently I love to mist myself.

Apparently I love to mist myself.

Bring a misting fan:
I bought one cheap from Wal Mart and was so incredibly thankful I had it. It made some of the longer walks or longer waits bearable.

Keep that refillable mug stocked with ice.

Keep that refillable mug stocked with ice.

Try a zero calorie snack:
If you purchase the refillable mug or just bought a soda and a quick service restaurant, don’t throw away the ice. Keep it with you as you walk around the park. This zero calorie snack is a great way to cool yourself down.

Become a vampire during the hottest part of the day:
For this particular trip, our plan of attack was fastpasses early in the day so we were back at our hotel during the hottest/most crowded part of the day, then back to the parks at dusk. If you go into the trip knowing that you might not get to everything in the park, but it will be worth it because you won’t be mentally, emotionally, and physically drained then you will feel good about your decision to cut out early and come back later.

Olaf is all over the place, ready to keep you cool.

Olaf is all over the place, ready to keep you cool.

Do you want to build a snowman? How about ice skate?
If you are fortunate enough to visit Disney World while Frozen has taken over Hollywood Studios, make sure to visit the Wandering Oaken Fun Zone. To give you some indication of how cool it is in there, the staff members are wearing winter sweaters and pants. Inside this winter wonderland is a huge pile of snow kids (and adult kids) can make snow castles and dig in actual snow. Or for $10, you glide along in the indoor ice rink. My mom and I just sat in this building for a while. Not to mention this is where you can get some delicious Frozen themed treats. Definitely a must see if you’re there this summer.

Some things to consider:
With all this talk of unforgivable heat, it might seem counterintuitive for me to tell you to pack a light jacket, but here is my rationale for it. If you are a sweater or are now wet thanks to an attraction with water and you enter into a deliciously air conditioned room (for example the hall of presidents for a 40 minute show), evaporation will cool you down. And at times, it might make you even chilly. Having a super lightweight jacket can come in handy.

The pools were basically baths, hit the showers for a refreshing feel.

The pools were basically baths, hit the showers for a refreshing feel.

The pools were not exactly refreshing. Now I can’t attest to every pool in the Walt Disney World Resort, but I can say the pool I had at my hotel was like bath water. This is something that feels amazing on a chilly November day, but when you are just looking to cool down and you think pool is the trick only to be met with 85-90 degree water, you realize it would be more refreshing to take a cold shower. This was a bit of a letdown to me, but in the intense sun, I understand how the shallow pools heat up so fast. Swimming in the morning would be your best chance at a refreshing experience.

My other tip to you would be to take advantage of the late extra magic hours if you can. My mom and I stayed for the Magic Kingdom extra magic hours from 11-1am. We made it to around 12:30 but the lines were so short and it was much cooler than during the day.

Overall this was a very good trip. It might be awhile until I go back in the summer, but this is because I am spoiled by Disney World in January (parks are empty). As always, be smart about being in the heat. Stay hydrated and don’t forget the sunscreen. Just enjoy your time there without overdoing it and you will feel calm, cool, and collected throughout your trip.

Getting Ready For Your Walt Disney World Vacation…MagicBands

magic 5 About a month out from your Walt Disney World vacation, you will receive a special little present in the mail: MagicBands. These are the greatest things Disney has given us since Dole Whips, and I’d like to share with you not only why they are awesome, but some tips for stress free use.

Peel off the black part to make it a kids sized band

Peel off the black part to make it a kids sized band

Right away I was super impressed with the bands. You can choose from seven colors (red, yellow, green, grey, blue, pink, orange), from your My Disney Experience account after you have a Disney reservation. The bands have your name inscribed on them in case you have a large party with duplicate colors. The bands also arrive as one size fits all, but have been creatively designed to magically turn into a kids size band by removing part of the strap. The bands are lightweight, waterproof, and can be easily taken off if you don’t feel like sleeping with it on.

Why Is The MagicBand So Magical?

Your name is printed on the inside to keep every in your party straight.

Your name is printed on the inside to keep every in your party straight.

Disney has pretty much done away with the paper ticket and has phased out paper fastpasses. Everything is now linked to your band.

Your MagicBand:
1. Will open your hotel room.
2. Is your ticket into the parks.
3. Is your fastpass+ ticket onto a ride.
4. Can be linked to your photopass account.
5. Can be linked to you credit card to pay for meals and souvenirs.
6. Allow you access into certain areas around your hotel (i.e. Stormalong Bay pool).

MagicBands let you toss that fanny pack away.

MagicBands let you toss that fanny pack away.

You can just about go to the parks wallet free if you’d like. You may even feel lighter or opt to leave your fanny pack at home. I especially appreciate the convenience of everything rolled into one because I have forgotten my ticket in the past. I also had to put up with my husband asking “do we need our tickets for this?” obnoxiously every time we left our hotel room during our first Disney trip together. MagicBand made it easier to manage his negative behavior, because I could see it on his wrist and could ignore him when appropriate. Other times that MagicBand would have helped me was when I was with a group of my friends and we had been at one of the parks in the morning when it was cool and I was wearing jeans. I used to keep my park ticket in my back pocket so I’d have easy access for the fastpass machine. That evening I changed into shorts and went back to the Magic Kingdom. I didn’t realize my ticket was still in my jeans pocket until we were at the gate. A pain in my butt that will never happen again.

Get all up in that Mickey head grill.

Get all up in that Mickey head grill.

How To Not Look Like A Newbie:
There is a Mickey head in the middle of the MagicBand. There is also a Mickey head on anything that will read the MagicBands RFID chip (hotel room door, park entrance turnstiles, fastpass return line, etc.) Your band will only read if you touch Mickey head to Mickey head. Yes, you actually need to touch your band to the Mickey Head. You’ll see many people who don’t read this blog waving their MagicBand over the sensor and hoping for Disney magic to allow them entry. While the park attendants will patiently remind you that you need to touch Mickey to Mickey, the patrons behind you may not be as patient. Want to get your kids excited/train your kids to use them, practice at home by decorating your house with Mickey stickers. Put your kids to the test. Put them high, low, on top of counters, on doors. Your family will not only look unbelievably awesome for knowing what to do, (read: you will look like an awesome parent with your life together when your kids manage their MagicBands flawlessly, and who doesn’t want to look like an awesome parent?) You will also save some time not having to learn how to use them.

Complimentary when staying on property.

Complimentary when staying on property.

FYI:

MagicBands are only complementary to Disney World Resort guests and Annual Passholders. If you are staying off site, you will have the option of purchasing a MagicBand at one of the parks. If you do not wish to purchase a MagicBand, you will have a card that will essentially do the exact same thing. If you do have a MagicBand, you do not have to link it to your credit card. It might become all too easy to start waving your wrist around in the air and spending money on souvenirs like you just don’t care. Also, even if you do opt in, your children won’t be unless you want them to. Remember how I mentioned the My Disney Experience account? This is how you choose your fastpasses and link them to your MagicBand. Make sure to link your reservations ahead of time to avoid frustrations. I will go over the My Disney Experience app/account in a different blog, but for the meantime, those staying on property can reserve fastpasses 60 days out and off property 30 days out.

Disney in the Summer…Mother/Daughter Style

CIMG8196 (Medium)Are people born with an addiction to Disney, or are they made? I have been heavily influenced by my mother, who fed my addiction from an early age. She just got out pictures from our first mother/daughter trip. It was the year 2000 and I was an extremely awkward looking middle schooler. No offense to my dad and brother, but on a girls only trip, we made our own rules, plans, and quickly learned what worked well for us. As two easy going gals, we could venture the “world” at our own pace, taking in the smells, people watching, and noticing the details in everything. Before I knew it, I wanted to know more and more about Disney World and I wanted to go back more and more to Disney World. And luckily for me, my mom could be easily persuaded to more frequent trips.

CIMG8615 (Medium)We just booked a trip at Disney World for this July and will be staying at the Beach Club Villas (This has become my new favorite resort). While we had sworn off Disney in the summer (I don’t do well in heat…sweaty everything) it just felt like the right time to go. After a year of ups and downs, we are feeling good, and sometimes you need to celebrate life and family. While I’m not trying to fool anyone, July will be hot, humid, and crowded, I do have a few suggestions for those traveling in hotter months, and/or are traveling with someone that isn’t looking to jump on every ride and hop from park to park.

CIMG8683 (Medium)Pick Your Top “Must Dos”
Do not feel like you have to tackle everything in the park. Use your Fastpasses to pick your top choices, and then maybe hit a couple more if the crowds aren’t too bad. You must be flexible and be ok with leaving the park if you didn’t get everything done you typically do on a February vacation.

Leave During The Hottest/Most Crowded Part Of The Day
The new Fastpass+ system has made this concept work even better. If you really can’t stand the heat, wake up early and hit the parks until maybe 10-11. Head back to the hotel and swim or nap and grab a bite to eat. Since you can now make Fastpass+ arrangement ahead of time, you can schedule them for the evening hours. Come back to the park around dinner time or later to catch the fireworks. The parks are open pretty late in the summer, usually 11 or midnight so you will still have plenty of time to have fun once the sun goes down.

CIMG3881 (Medium)Take Frequent Breaks
As noted above, when you come back to the hotel midday, use this time to check out the hotel’s pool, catch up on some sleep, sit in a hammock that some of the resorts have, just relax. Don’t be scared to take breaks at the parks too. Find a bench in the shade, enjoy some delicious ice cream, or relax on one of the longer rides. You body, mind, and soul will thank you for not overdoing it.

Stay Hydrated
When I was younger, I was definitely guilty of drinking too much Diet Coke on vacation. Now that I’m old and wiser, I realize I need to stay hydrated so I don’t get fatigued. As annoying as it might be to have to run to the bathrooms frequently from drinking so many fluids, dehydration and heat exhaustion don’t sound particularly appealing to me. Maybe try going back and forth between your beverage of choice and water.

CIMG8118 (Medium)If Possible, Avoid Outdoor Attractions
There are many attraction at Disney World where the entire show/ride is outside. While I’m not saying you should scratch these from your itinerary all together, I would wait until evening if at all possible. The attractions/shows that are mostly outdoors are as follows. Animal Kingdom-Kilimanjaro Safari, Epcot-entertainment around World Showcase, Hollywood Studios-Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Lights, Motor, Action Stunt Show, Beauty and the Beast, and Magic Kingdom-any entertainment in front of the castle, Big Thunder Mountain, Astro Orbitor, and Splash Mountain (unless the line is not bad since you will get wet). Save these for a cooler morning or evening and head to the air conditioned rides during hotter times of the day.

Have Different Shoe Options
Make sure to bring shoes that you can walk around in all day. If these shoes are sneakers, I would recommend also having comfortable sandals as well. On a hot day, your tired swollen feet will want some fresh air. But remember, Disney is NOT the place to try out new shoes. Make sure you are able to walk a few miles in your footwear before you deem them Disney appropriate. Also, summer tends to be the rainy season in Florida. Only having one pair of sneakers that are now squish can put a serious damped on your trip.

P1000476 (Medium)A little planning ahead of time can lead to a much more enjoyable vacation. It’s really easy when sitting at your computer with a light springtime breeze ruffling your hair to over plan a summer trip full of every attraction imaginable. Remember, simply checking attractions off of a listed itinerary is not the purpose of a Disney vacation, enjoying spectacular attractions with beloved friends and family is the purpose of a Disney vacation. Sore feet, sweaty clothes, and sunburned skin are easy ways to turn a majestic fireworks display intended to cap off your perfect day into a series of loud noises you can’t wait to end so you can finally collapse into bed. You’re much better off planning a relaxed, conservative trip that will leave you looking forward to the next attraction, show, meal, park, day, and vacation — although if Mother-Daughter trips to Disney have taught me anything over the years, it’s that the next attraction or meal is far less important than the next conversation, smile, laugh, and memory shared with your family.