As part of my association, and training, with Distinctive Journeys in becoming a Disney Vacation Planner (firstname.lastname@example.org!), I have also been asked to contribute to a Disney Blog, made up of guys and gals who... well, who love Disney and want to talk about it. This is the first article I submitted...
The Lovely Steph Leann and I have been to The Most Magical Place on Earth many, many times, and have even made it out to The Happiest Place on Earth once last year. Our vacations usually last any number of days, but more often than not, we spend at least five nights there. Our longest has been a nine night, ten day excursion in which we were able to do so, so much, including tours and shows and other fun things.
Between the two of us, we have a wealth of Disney knowledge, and even more things that we think we know... but one thing is completely and totally assured--you will be exhausted. We've often joked that "we need a vacation from our vacation" because when we return home, we unload, collapse into bed and go to work the next morning, though the nature of my job allows me sometimes to take the next day off to recover. She, however, remains wiped out for days to follow.
Every trip we've taken thus far has been without kids of our own, and we are prepared to take our new family member, our son Campbell, on his first visit this November, when he'll be 11 months old. We swore we'd wait a little while longer, at least until age 3 or 4, so he could remember it, but we are we kidding? We probably would have delivered him at the Magic Kingdom were it an option. Perhaps in line at Splash Mountain--after delivery, we could do the parental ride-swap.
Anyway, as I help other people on their own vacations, I offer one piece of advise about traveling to the parks: Take a day.
Its so tempting for all of us to hit the World, get unloaded, toss on your pin lanyard and grab your tickets at head to the bus stop, or get the car pulled around and try to get there in time to get fast passes for Soarin', or to hop on Peter Pan before the wait time is an hour, or maybe to grab a safari ride before all the animals conk out in the mid-afternoon heat... and The Lovely Steph Leann and I are no different.
Like most, we have our days planned out weeks in advance, taking into consideration magic hours, dinner reservations, possible delays and constructions, and even when we want to meet Mickey and the Fab Five or the Pooh Gang or "If we do the Cinderella breakfast, we are likely to get Snow White, Cindy, Aurora, Belle and probably Jasmine, so maybe we can get Poppins and Alice at the Supercali, and try to see Rapunzel in between Small World before we get to Tomorrowland and..."
But we've learned in our planning to find one day somewhere in the middle of trip, perhaps the halfway point, or a day before or after, as our "rest day". When I say "rest", its not necessarily a "catch up on sleep, never leave the room" day... to the contrary, its a "sleep in past our 6am wakeup time, maybe to 730 or 8, get showers at our own pace, go to a late breakfast, walk slowly everywhere, and do NOT, I repeat do NOT, go to the parks" day.
This is our day to take it easy. By this time, we have already hit all the parks at least once, probably stayed til midnight at Epcot or past it at the Magic Kingdom, or gotten into Animal Kingdom or Hollywood right before 8am, we've had several early morning breakfasts and late night dinners and we've done lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of walking. And we walked alot too.
We found that day in the middle to be vitally important to our survival, a day when we can do brunch at Kouzzina (at Boardwalk, you have to sacrifice half a park day to do this anyway), maybe go down to Downtown Disney to scope out some things we want for our visit later that week, and, in the instance of our last vacation, we were able to nap in the afternoon before taking in La Nouba--instead of dashing off of Toy Story Mania, racing across Hollywood, catching the ferry or the bus, or running to our cars, getting to the hotel a few minutes later than we wanted, dashing around like crazy people looking for the outfits we were going to wear, "did you get your ticket?" "I thought you had it!" "Do we need our reservation number?!" "My camera is full, I need to delete pictures!" "I bought you a memory card" "I forgot it in the room!" "I still can't find my ticket!" kind of afternoon (let's be honest--we've all had one of those afternoons, right? Right.)
Take that day. And with your kids, its even more important... let them spend as much time at the pool as they want, or maybe head to DisneyQuest, or just resort-hop and spend some time in other kids areas they haven't seen. Plan for an evening show like La Nouba or Hoop de do Revue or a resort dinner at the California or O'Hana, so you'll have plenty of time to get ready.
And the next day, after you've had a day of rest, your feet, your body, your mind and your family will thank you.