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!

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.