Photo: Courtesy of Steven Diaz via Disney Parks

Walt Disney World is a vacation destination that many children dream of visiting. The lure of castles, princesses, pirates and magic is strong for children—and even some adults!  In recent years, Disney has added to the magic with Slinky Dogs, Mountain Banshees and Jedi Masters to give parents even more reasons to plan a Disney vacation for their children.

For some parents, a Disney vacation is a chance to enjoy their children’s delight in the magic. For others, it’s an opportunity to revisit their own childhood delights. However, for many parents a Disney vacation is a test of their patience—and the elasticity of their credit limit. If you fall into the latter category, the following suggestions may help make your Disney vacation a memorable one for the entire family.

While there are a few basic suggestions that all parents should heed—plan naps and down time for everyone, don’t over schedule smaller children, wear sunscreen and stay hydrated—there are some overlooked tips for giving your children the vacation of their dreams and still enjoying it yourself.

Skip the Lines

If the long waits for rides are what really saps your energy and enjoyment at Walt Disney World, travel during the off peak season. The parks all tend to be quieter in January and early February or in September. Take advantage and take in a week of Florida sunshine when the temperatures are as mild as the crowds. Also, be sure to take advantage of FastPass+ and choose your rides in advance through the My Disney Experience free mobile app 60 days in advance.

Use Disney’s Secret Ride Passes

Adults that are roller coaster enthusiasts traveling with small children can still get their adrenaline up on all their favorite coasters taking advantage of rider swap passes. Never heard of rider swap? Some folks refer to it as “baby swap” and it means just that. While your party enters the ride, one adult checks in with the cast member at the entry and is given a rider swap pass for remaining behind with the smaller guests who aren’t old enough or tall enough to ride.

The pass allows the adult to enter the ride with two or three members of their group through the fast pass lane at a later time. There are usually benches or seating areas in the vicinity of the ride exit for guests waiting with smaller children. This option eliminates the need for a guest to wait 45 minutes (or more) for their party and then an additional 45 for their own trip to Mars or ride on a banshee.

Spend Your Evenings at Epcot

When evening starts to fall and you’ve had just about enough of mermaids and mice, put the kids in a stroller and head over to Epcot. Having a hotel in the Epcot area where you can walk into the park is a welcomed perk if you can swing the cost. While the kids nap in the stroller, enjoy a tasty treat from any of the Lands around the world and an adult beverage. This gives adults some time to chat, stroll and enjoy the ambience while the little ones get much needed naps in their stroller.

And not to worry, if the kids don’t sleep there is still plenty for them to see and taste while confined to that stroller! And if they do fall asleep, just walk back to your Epcot area hotel and put them to bed!

Take the Shuttle to Disney Springs

Lastly, Walt Disney World has some fantastic restaurants and 99.5% of them are kid-friendly. Enjoy a truly good meal with kiddos in tow and no concerns about anyone judging you or them. If you are out of park passes (or patience), the newly renovated Disney Springs shopping and entertainment district has several famous eateries. If Disney Springs is just a little too hip for your tastes, check out the restaurants at other resorts. They all have specialty restaurants, food items and drink offerings that marry up with the resort theme.

Disney may be built for children, but it truly has matured and adapted to become a vacation destination for all ages.


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