How to Survive a Disney Vacation

I am back!  And I am rested, refreshed and ready to get back at home improvements.  Summer just takes a lot out of a girl, you know?  Tim and I just returned from our vacation to Florida on Friday and luckily we (well, I) had all weekend to sleep and get a little vacation from the vacation.

We had a phenomenal time at Disney and Universal, however, we are not as young and spry as we used to be. Say it with me: 6 PARKS IN 5 DAYS!  We pretty much crashed as soon as we got back in from the day and woke up exhausted.  I could go over every detail of what we did while in Florida, but what’s the fun in that? Tim and I have a few travel tips and reviews we want to share with you.  You know, just in case you decide to take on the insane task of tackling two of the most popular theme parks in the United States in less than 7 days.

TIP #1: Plan a rest day!  In the past, my family and I have gotten around to all the Disney Parks and Universal in one week without killing each other or feeling totally burnt out by the end.  Our trick is that we rest on the day we drive in, we rest on day in between, and then we sleep in a little on the day we drive back.  It is so important to plan a rest day.  Can’t afford to take a day for yourselves?  Then pick one theme park, either Disney, Universal, or Seaworld and stick with it.  Not only will you save money, but you will also save your sanity.  Tim and I paid for the onsite amenities at our hotel but we just didn’t have time to use them because we were jetting off from one place to the next.  I would have easily given back a day at Disney just to lay by the pool and spend one on one time with my love.

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TIP #2: Bring packable food and alcoholic beverages if you need them on the trip.  I don’t want to even look at how much was spent on food in the parks.  We were going to make sandwiches and bring them in with us but that just didn’t seem very healthy with the heat as bad as it was and the risk of said sandwiches getting smushed.  So we resorted to eating in the parks every day.  Don’t get me wrong, the food was very, very good.  But there are only so many $10 burger plates a person can eat before their bodies start to shut down.  If you are staying on site at Disney, the best way to save some money is to carve out about 2 hours for a lunch break.  You get some peace and quiet from the screaming kids and you save about $50 per person in the long run.  And if you enjoy a good drink at the end of a stressful day, bring a few to keep in your room.  Paying $8 for a beer doesn’t really say fun for me. Also, when you are reserving your room, be sure to ask for a refrigerator.  We stowed away our snacks and drinks with ease.

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TIP #3: Single rider is the way to go to save time.  All the single riders, put your hands up!  There were certain attractions Tim and I had to ride together for a better experience but both Disney and Universal offered single rider lines to fill in the gaps and speed up the wait time.  We rode Test Track at Epcot (an average wait time of 40 minutes) 3 times with only 5 minute waits.  Though we weren’t even in the same cars, we still had a blast!

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TIP #4: Seriously, stay onsite.  We were greeted with helpful staff who gave us tips to Disney World at the All-Star Music Resort.  We parked the car on Sunday and didn’t have to drive again until Wednesday when we went to Universal.  The shuttles come every 20 minutes to give you free transportation from park to park and we got pretty darn lucky with the wait times.  Usually we would be walking up as soon as the shuttle pulled in.  The magic hours Disney offers for onsite guests also helped us strategize which rides to hold off on going to until more than half the crowd had dissipated.  We got to ride Tower of Terror multiple times, the kiddies were few and far between, and we received plenty of one on one attention later in the evening.

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TIP #5: Know when to walk away.  At some point in time, you will get tired, hungry, thirsty, and fed up with thousands of people bumping into you all day.  Tensions are going to rise and the next thing you know, you and your family/child/significant other are having a screaming match in the middle of the “happiest place on earth.”  It’s okay, we’re human.  Best policy?  If you can, acknowledge that you need a little 15 minute break to cool off and set up a meeting place. Go get some food, a drink, a cigarette whatever you need to feel better enough to let the fight go and enjoy the rest of your day.  If the issue goes past the typical hungry/thirsty/tired pissiness, save it for the room to discuss.  It’s no fun becoming a part of the amusements in the park.

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TIP #6: Smell the roses.  There were a few moments when we weren’t running everywhere to get to the next attraction and those moments were really sweet.  For a bit, we got to take in the fact that we were together and we were having such a fantastic time and boy, do we appreciate the fact that we got to take a trip of this magnitude.  Those are the moments that we will remember.  Like Tim riding the Mad Tea Party teacups for the very first time, having a butterbeer together, watching the fireworks at Universal…those are the moments that make the magic.

TIP #7: Bring a bathing suit.  The water rides were probably my favorite part.  It was hot out but we really took advantage of the Toon Lagoon at Universal and just got drenched.  It was amazing.  We brought a change of extra clothes along and wore bathing suits all day.  Don’t let the fear of getting wet hold you back.  We laughed the hardest on the water rides.

Regardless, we had a great time.  We are already planning our trip for next year…spoilers.

Have any extra travel tips for people heading to Disney World or Universal Studios?  Leave them in the comment box.

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