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!

Rides with Virtually no Lines…Magic Kingdom

Over the past decade or so, die-hard Disney fans probably agree that the “down season” which used to occupy the weeks without major holidays has become a thing of the past. Frequent visitors might also agree that now there are only two real seasons, very crowded, and somewhat less crowded. Disney has really worked hard to get to this point. They have added special events to fill up that down season. This might scare some people away thinking big crowds equal big wait times, but no need to fret. My idea of a vacation is NOT waiting 180 minutes in a crowded line, and by following these tips, you won’t have to either. This blog shares some of my favorite attractions at the Magic Kingdom where you will encounter virtually no lines.

1. “Show Rides” are your friend

Country Bear Jamboree Clock
courtesy of mouseplanet

So I might have just made up the term show ride, but I thought it explained really nicely the rides and attractions that come in a show format. The Magic Kingdom has many of these show rides: The Enchanted Tiki Room, Country Bear Jamboree, Hall of Presidents, Mickey’s Philharmagic, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, Stitch’s Great Escape, and the Carousel of Progress. There is no getting in and out of any fancy boat, space ship, or hollowed out log. For these rides, you simply wait until the doors open, go find a seat, prepare to be amazed, be amazed, then head to the exit for the next exciting part of your day. Many of these attractions have clocks  outside of them that tell you when the next show will start. If you don’t see one, I would ask a nearby friendly cast member. A courteous, “Excuse me sir, can you tell me when the next show starts?” should do the trick. If it’s anything more than 5 minutes, I wouldn’t go in yet. The hall of presidents show is about 23 minutes long. If you just missed going into the last show, don’t waste your time waiting around a room. Go outside, go to the bathroom, drink some water, buy a delicious pretzel, check out the nearby souvenir shop, take a selfie, you get the idea. Then when it’s about 5 minutes to showtime, you can head in. For some of these show rides, you can actually see the queue lines before you decide to get into the line. As you’re walking around Adventureland, walk closely behind the Enchanted Tiki Room. If you can’t hear the pre show birds doing their bit yet, don’t go get it line. If the Carousel of Progress is still spinning, see if you can go get your picture taken with Buzz Lightyear which is located right next door, or watch some of the entertainment on the Tomorrowland stage. Once you see the carousel stop, then you will have enough time to go walk in. My advice would be to not use any of your Fastpass selections on these show rides. There is no real benefit of getting into the waiting area long before you have to. Disney theaters can hold a lot of people, and just about any seat is a good seat. (This is especially true with all 3D shows. The magic of 3D is the action comes to you, the seat you sit in is irrelevant.) I like to think of these show rides as great options to fill some time before I can return for my Fastpass attraction.

2. An attraction that requires physical work

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My husband at the top of Swiss Family Robinson Tree House at night. Check out the castle!

Another attraction that if you time it right you will be met with virtually no line is The Swiss Family Robinson Tree house. This is something I often skip when I go with my mom, but try to do when I’m there with my husband because he gets easily distracted and likes to climb on things. This is also something I will avoid doing on a very hot and humid day, or immediately following a run Disney event. I would make an educated decision on the spot whether this is something you really want to do. Those are 100% real life stairs that not only do you have the pleasure of walking up, but walking back down again. Anyone with foot, knee, or hip problems, people with fear of heights, and people with a fear of doing too much exercise on their vacation should probably pass on this. If you do decide to go exploring up the tree, DON’t go when it looks crowded. Since there is only one way up and one way down, you might feel pressure to walk faster, or perhaps you can only move at a snail’s pace because of the people in front of you taking their sweet ol time. Come back to this attraction when you can physically see the line it short. A great time to climb is at night. The lines will be shorter because most people will be tired at this point. You can also get some really cool views from the top.

3. Attractions that let you stop and smell the roses, or at least the sugar glazed almonds and popcorn

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View of Cinderella Castle from the TTA

These three attractions allow you to experience the Magic Kingdom’s beauty from a relaxed position, always something nice on a long, hot day. The Walt Disney World Railroad, Liberty Square Riverboat and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (TTA aka peoplemover) are definitely hidden gems in the park. The railroad is great because there are 3 stops, Mainstreet, Frontierland, and Fantasyland. You can decide where to get off, or just keep going around and around, taking in the sights. If one particular train stop looks busy, I would keep wandering on my merry way until I stumble upon the next one. The train also falls into the category of being able to see the queue before you go. Use your judgement. If you think you might not make it on to the next train, hop out of line and do something else. You could always wander over to the Liberty Square Riverboat. The boat boards every half an hour, on the half and full hour. This makes it easy to decide if you can just hop on and go, or do something else and come back. If you’re in the mood for something more futuristic, the TTA is one of my favorite rides to relax on. Not only do you get a beautiful view of Tomorrowland, you will get a peek at Cinderella castle. This queue line moves very fast. What might look like a 20 min line will probably be 5 minutes. The ride vehicles move continuously so unlike waiting for a train or a boat, these cars are always there ready for you to hop into.

While at Disney World, you might be a family that has everything planned out to the minute, or you might be the family that is totally winging it. A successful vacation allows for flexibility. I always enjoy the feeling of getting my money’s worth out of my park ticket. I think it would be impossible to do that if I spent the majority of my day waiting in a line. These parks are beautiful places to explore, and the time you will have being out line will allow you to do just that. Stay tuned for Rides with Virtually No Lines at Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.