Is it possible to have a relaxing vacation at Walt Disney World?
With four theme parks, two water parks, Downtown Disney, daily parades and fireworks, and hundreds of pressed pennies to add to your collection it’s extremely difficult to say no and plan some time for some R&R.
Vacations are supposed to be relaxing. You’re supposed to return home feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to take on the rest of the world!
I’m learning to do things at slower pace now that I have two little sidekicks accompanying my husband and I on our travels. Like 99.9% of them.
After a few trips to Disney World with our kids under our belt, I have a better idea of how to keep it low key.
1. Avoid High Season
This may be difficult to coordinate given work and school schedules but if you can swing it, I’d highly recommend planning a Disney World visit during the fall or winter.
September, October, November (avoid the week of US Thanksgiving), early December, January and February are great times to visit.
It’s not blazing hot outside, the attraction and rides lines aren’t as long and it’s more affordable than visiting during high season (ie. Summer time, Spring Break, Christmas).
2. Choose Your Accommodations Carefully
If you want to avoid renting a car and car seats, consider staying at a Disney owned hotel. There’s complimentary monorail, bus and boat service for all Disney hotel guests that will take you to all the Disney theme parks and Disney resort hotels. Travel time may vary depending on the hotel you choose but monorails, buses and boats run frequently throughout the day.
If you have little ones, they may be into the bigger than life colorful icons and theming of the Value resorts like Pop Century. You can read our review of Pop Century Resort.
These resorts can be very busy and crowded because of the lower pricepoint.
Disney owned hotels in the Moderate and Deluxe categories are a bit less in your face when it comes to colour scheme although still fabulously themed and offer a wide variety of activities to choose from on non park days or after park hours including: horse drawn carriage rides, boat rentals, surrey bike rentals, or spending some time at the beach.
Off site resorts are generally more spacious with full kitchens, laundry facilities, separate sleeping and living areas and not as Mickey Mouse themed. It’s just a matter of deciding how “Disney-fied” you want your hotel or resort to be and the type of setting your family needs to be in to feel well rested. Check out our review of Floridays Resort Orlando – this is perfect for large families and those wanting to be close to all the major theme parks in Orlando.
Our kids love the Value resorts for theming and organized kids’ activities but my husband and I prefer Moderate category resorts for the extra amenities. Value resorts only have a food court whereas Moderates have a food court, sit down restaurant and a bar/lounge. You can read our review of one of our favourite Moderate Disney resorts – Port Orleans Riverside.
If you’re thinking about a Deluxe category resort, check out what we though about Disney’s BoardWalk Inn.
3. Make Dining Reservations in Advance
Speaking of food, if you know your family plans on having a few meals at the parks or Disney owned properties, make reservations as early as you can.
Popular restaurants like Chef Mickey’s are popular year round and having visited 4 times in the last 6 years, we have never been able to get a reservation here at a time that works for our kids.
It’s because most of our vacations are booked only a few weeks in advance.
4. Plan Non-Park Days
Planning a few non park days during your vacation is a good way to fit in some R&R.
Most resorts and hotels in the Orlando area have playgrounds, pools – sometimes more than one, a beach area, game rooms and organized daily kids’ activities so there’s still plenty for them to do outside of the parks. See #2 above for some of the activities and amenities available to Disney resort guests.
The Grand Floridian has a very quiet beach area – especially during the winter months.
There’s Disney Springs and several outlet malls in the area as well if you’re looking for some downtime away from the theme parks.
5. Have a Stroller Handy
Bring a stroller or rent one even if your kids normally do not use one at home.
There is a lot of ground to cover if you are planning to visit all the parks and kids will get tired easily.
Here are a few tips about strollers at Walt Disney World.
6. Make the Most of Extra Magic Hours
Have kids that wake up at the crack of dawn or have little night owls like I do?
Plan to visit parks with Extra Magic Hours either first thing in the morning or later at night when other families with children are still in or getting ready for bed.
This is probably the only time having kids that sleep at 10 PM most days works in our favour. 🙂
7. Think About Transportation
Do you need to rent a car? If you’re staying off site then yes, I would highly recommend one.
If you are staying at a Disney owned property, then it’s really a matter of whether or not everyone can wait in line for a bus, boat or monorail – wait times can vary from 5 to 45 minutes.
Those are just a few ways to plan a less stressful Disney World family vacation. It is definitely possible although maybe a bit difficult for Type A personalities like me. I still have a long ways to go! 😉
What are your tips for a relaxing family vacation at WDW?