Disney, Travel Tips

5 Ways to Ruin Your Trip to Walt Disney World During the Holidays

It goes without saying that spending the Christmas holidays at Walt Disney World is a dream come true for many people.  You’d probably be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t dreamed of or at least thought of planning a trip to the most “magical” place on earth.  But, if you’re not careful, it’s quite easy to turn the Christmas vacation of your dreams into a miserable nightmare.  There are a lot of factors that go into a great Disney trip around the holidays but here are just a few mistakes you’ll want to avoid that can utterly destroy your vacation….

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Not doing your research and planning before you travel: I’m sure you know that vacations at Walt Disney World are very memorable and offer a lot of activities and unique experiences for the entire family.  There are tons of resources online from crowd estimation calendars to My Disney Experience, the online planning tool with myriad uses including scheduling character meet and greets and booking everything from dining reservations  and fast passes (special attraction line short cuts available to all park visitors in a limited quantity).  You can go as hard as you want with the planning, scheduling each day and hour down to the minute or you can create a loose schedule for your family’s adventures, using the My Disney Experience online platform.

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Not downloading the My Disney Experience app:  The same awesome information and planning tool available online is also accessible in the app form!  This app is very, very important because, once you’ve logged in, you have up to the minute updates and access to everything going on in each park and also Disney Springs.  There is so much information in this app I could write one whole blog post on it.  Can you believe, you can see the menus at just about every restaurant in Walt Disney World through their app?  On a given day you can see all the scheduled character meet ups in every park and you can add them to your daily schedule easily from the app.  Special shows and parades, like Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade (which only occurs during regular park hours a few select dates around Christmas and New Years) can be scheduled through the app so you know what highlights you and your family want to hit on any given day.

Toy soldiers and a magnificent Christmas tree a the entrance to Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom

Toy soldiers and a magnificent Christmas tree a the entrance to Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom

Refusing to take a break when you (and your family) need one:  Spending a day at the Disney park call be all at once exciting and exhausting.  The anticipation starts days (sometimes weeks) in advance and often by the time you reach the park, you may be already a little frazzled and worn around the edges from your travel and the usual adjustments that happen when traveling as a family.  One of the biggest mistakes a family can make is trying to do too much in one day.  Often times people plan to spend entire days at one park without a break at all, with the goal of making sure they will get to see it all.  This can be a huge mistake,  particularly if you have young children in your family.  Arriving at the park when it opens at 8 am and plodding straight through the evening with the intention of seeing the fireworks despite your kids completely melting down and parents emotions on edge, does not make for warm fuzzy holiday memories :-/  In most cases it may be better for the family to take a break right after lunch (2 or 3 pm) and return to the park later in the evening for the nightly parade and fireworks.  Keeping everyone rested and allowing time to decompress from all the excitement helps to ensure that you’re all in your best moods and able to truly enjoy your Christmas time adventure with Disney.

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Ignoring the holiday events outside the parks in the Orlando area:   Walt Disney World is only one of the family friendly attractions in central Florida that boasts great Christmas events and activities.  The Gaylord hotel which has several locations nationwide, hosts it’s annual ICE exhibit along with Alpine Snow Tubing and even a free, family friendly Cirque Du Soliel Christmas themed show!  If you want a break from the parks for a few hours or an evening, there are many activities you can find in the local area to keep you entertained and in the Christmas spirit.

EPCOT's Holidays Around the World offers cultural immersion moments in each of the different international regions of the World Showcase. Here my daughters learned about Christmas customs in Germany

EPCOT’s Holidays Around the World offers cultural immersion moments in each of the different international regions of the World Showcase. Here my daughters learned about Christmas customs in Germany

Leaving your Christmas Spirit at home: I know it’s easier said than done….  You spend all your hard earned time (off from work) and money on a magical vacation so you’ll want to make sure everything goes perfectly, right?  Yeah, that’s not going to happen 🙂  The crowds are high during the holiday season and even in a less stressful time of year, Disney vacations can be exciting and overwhelming all at once.  Promise yourself that you’re going to enjoy your vacation, one moment at a time.  Be flexible and try to be patient.  Enjoy the milder Florida winter weather and try to focus on the smiles on your family’s faces.  So what if the line to Space Mountain is 60 minutes?  Play a fun game with the kids while you stand in line or skip the ride altogether and shake your tail at the Totally Tomorrowland Christmas party with Buzz Lightyear.  Making a focused effort to keep your heart “merry and bright” will help ensure that your holiday adventure with Disney is one full of warm memories that will last a lifetime.

Have any of you had the privilege of spending time at Walt Disney World during the holidays?  If so, what are your tips for a stressfree, enjoyable trip?

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