Vacation used to mean lounging on a beach and drinking little umbrella drinks for seven days straight. But now you're a parent.
Enter Disney. You see other friends taking their kids, or maybe your own have started to inquire. After all, Disney is a rite of passage for childhood, that magical place where dreams come true and you get to hug lots of glorified mascots, and watch your husband lust after princess Jasmine.
(Oh yeah, that happened.)
We just returned from Disney a few short weeks ago and I can honestly say, despite all my grumbling, it was some of the best time we have spent as a family. We all had a BLAST! Not just faking it for social media blast, either.
I had a great time, but in sharing my joy I quickly learned how many fellow parents had Disney horror stories and dashed expectations. So, in my effort to solve as many first world problems as I can, here’s the unfiltered guide to doing Disney like a pro, and the three things having a great time depends on-- a little booze, good friends, and timing. Which come to think of it, might be the key to everything.
The most important part of planning your vacation goes into the actual time of year of your visit.
That alone is the key to a good experience. Period. Think January, the week after Thanksgiving, and generally most of the fall. The definition of insanity might be waiting 80 minutes to take a two minute ride. Don’t be that person. There's also timing as it pertains to the ages of your kids. Our experience taking our then two and three year old paled in comparison to going with our now five and six year old. What were we thinking? They barely remember it and it was so much harder dealing with meltdowns, strollers, and missed naps.
I just can’t imagine a “vacation” that involves waiting in long lines, in the heat, with thousands of other people’s kids...without the slightest buzz. First off, Magic Kingdom is dry park, but please—don’t let that stop you. Bringing in booze is pretty easy. Might I suggest these lovely “sunscreen flasks”. Easy to transport and no one suspects a thing. (Pro tip: don’t forget the actual sunscreen—you will be forced to buy a $100 bottle of the stuff inside the park). We packed vodka, but pick your own poison. The best mixer that is readily available are the frozen lemonades, which come in a different flavors. The world is your oyster! Another bonus is that the food is so bad at Magic Kingdom, the buzz will come quickly.
My other big suggestion is to not make this a nuclear family-only event. We went with one of our best friends and his daughter. The distraction of having a friend meant no sibling arguing and their excitement was doubled by getting to share it with a pal. Same went for the husband and I; we were more relaxed and fun with one of our friends along for more adult conversations. It felt like our own little party. It makes waiting in line go faster.
Also, Disney people watching is also pretty epic, so bring your snarky friend and make up amazing back stories about the possible sister/wife situation behind you in line waiting to meet Goofy.
The other parks beside MK all tend to be less crowded and they all serve alcohol. Epcot is a damn good time, folks. Despite popular belief that it’s more for adults than kids, my kids (ages five and six) had just as much fun at Epcot as any of the other parks. Bonus if your little darling is ‘Frozen’ obsessed—this is the only park where they get to meet THE Anna and Elsa.
Pick your can’t miss rides, hook up the Fastpass, and pop a Xanax. You got this.
Header photo by Thomas Kelley