I don’t do out of park breaks because of the time suck. Do plan for an afternoon rest be it a TS lunch, some shows, just sitting with a drink for a bit etc. Does your 5 yo still nap? Most likely they will get the rest they need in the stroller - maybe not a nap at that age but a rest.
You can also ride the monorail for a rest.
We don’t stay out late though. We left right after dinner or earlier on some days.
The reason that many of us take afternoon breaks is because the mid-afternoon times are the most crowded times in the parks. I’d prefer to get up early and stay up late with a good long break in the middle of the day when many are just rolling into the park, then come back as those same frustrated people are leaving (having only “done” two rides!) With adults and a five-year-old, this may or may not work for you. If your little one is a great napper, it might work like a charm! If she is not used to taking a nap, you can certainly still break for the change of scenery, rest a bit and have a swim, but a preschooler who is not getting enough sleep will make things more miserable than big crowds will!
That said, you are in the perfect place for breaks and park hopping. Even if you only break when you go to Magic Kingdom, it would likely make for a better experience, especially if you have your heart set on seeing the fireworks!
My son was 9 the first time we took him 2 years ago and we didn’t do any midday breaks. We did great all day up until dinner time. After we slowed down and sat a while for a nice relaxed meal break, it hit us how tired our bodies and feet were. My boy was/is very active - he plays a different sport every season - but he couldn’t hang rope drop to closing. We ended up missing every single nighttime show or firework that trip.
For our upcoming trip of 5 park days, I have 3 days with 4-hour midday breaks scheduled. The other 2 days, one is a full but very relaxed, slow paced AK day, and the other is an early day ending about 4pm due to MNSSHP. According to my TPs, all of this still allows me time to accomplish everything we want, so we’ll see what happens.
We always take a break, even when it is all adults. It feels good to take my shoes off for a while, get out of the more crowded time of the day, not have all of the stimulus, and have the energy to see the nighttime entertainment.
We travelled with two toddlers and grandparents and found a post-lunch break was needed/appreciated. I planned our days from park open through lunch, then left the afternoons and evenings mostly unplanned so we could adjust for crankiness/desire to stay at resort pool/etc. It made our trip much more enjoyable. The one day our kids didn’t get sufficient nap/break time, they were super cranky at dinner, and it made it less fun.
I also really struggled with travel times in planning, but you should have no trouble with staying at the Polynesian. I found that Disney recommends that 1.5 hr travel time for reservations as a worst-case scenario (you have to wait awhile for buses, there is traffic, the security line is long, you can’t find the restaurant), so it’s good to plan for it for things you have reserved, just to be safe, but otherwise it’s a very padded estimate. Check out the Polynesian page on Touring Plans and there should be a table with general travel times from the resort to the parks that will help you get a better idea.
ETA: Definitely plan a break at least one day at MK so you have energy to see the fireworks in front of the castle. The projections, music, and Tinkerbell are some of the best Disney magic!
Last time we went with young kids, planning to take afternoon breaks. Problem was, once we were back at the hotel, the kids (and hubby) just wanted to lounge by the pool and wouldn’t go back to the parks with me! So it was pretty disappointing to miss some evening events I had planned. Sine you are staying on the monorail line, def plan breaks on your MK and EP days at least.
Take the break!! From a guy with a 5 year old and a 2 year old.
If you’re planning on being at the parks early for RD and staying for the evening shows/fireworks (which you totally should), there’s no way a 5 year old is going to hang that entire time and not melt down. That’s especially true in the hot months when everyone gets cranky and exhausted more easily! Breaking from about 1 to 4 also allows you to avoid the hottest and most crowded part of the day.
HEA and F! are not to be missed for a 5 year old, so I’d plan around having them stay out until 10-10:30 pm.
The beauty of the Poly is that it is really easy to get to and from MK and EP, so there’s no way it’s going to take you more than 20-30 min at most to get back to your room.
If you have young children, you are going to need some down time. Whether that means a late start, an afternoon break (whether in or out of the parks), or an early evening depends on your kids’ typical sleep schedules, personalities, and preferences.
My kids can maybe do one marathon day in the parks per trip if we just “have to” be there the whole day.
DH and I never used to take afternoon breaks, but then we were younger, didn’t go in the hot, rainy summer, had limited days, and trips were a few years apart. Now we are 60’s, have the luxury of time (more days per trip), and can go more often. I don’t need to see and do everything possible on each trip anymore. We went this past July, and learned to take a break timed with the afternoon rain. The heat and humidity can be brutal, and a long, heavy rain shower on the first day found me “hitting a wall” for the first time. Usually I can go-go-go. The rest of the trip, when the storm clouds gathered after we’d done most of what we wanted for that part of the day, we’d head for the buses back to our hotel. We spent a couple hours in cold, quiet AC, he napped, I put my feet up and used my laptop. Refreshed, we’d head back out to a park, with much more comfortable temps.
I’m all for doing in-park breaks when it works, but sometimes you just need to unplug. It’s easier to go without much of a break in cooler weather. Your group could also split up if only some people wanted to do a break at the hotel.
I think it depends on your group. We took breaks on our most recent trip in July because we RD every morning and it was insanely hot. However, we never did super long breaks because I would go crazy cooped up in our room with my kids for more than 2 hours.
We have gone in February and January before when it’s downright pleasant outside. For that kind of a day I wouldn’t have a problem not taking a break. Because you could just take a break and sit down somewhere on the trail or outside at a QS and not feel like you were melting into the pavement.
Maybe start your day a touch later (10ish instead of 8) or end it late afternoon/early evening or take a 2 hour break in the parks with a nice sit down lunch mid-day.
This. The days we came back early we had no intention of returning to the parks but DH didn’t even want to go to the pool. He just wants to sit in the room. So there is a risk that you might not feel like going back. And swimming is tiring!
We take breaks. DD5 loves relaxing in the pool during the hottest part of the day, and DH doesn’t cope with heat very well so likes getting out of the sun for a couple of hours.
On a typical Disney day we spend rope drop to early afternoon (1-2ish) in the parks. We leave either after lunch, or fit in one more ride before leaving. Once back at the resort we hit the pool for 60-90 minutes, shower and get changed for the evening. This puts us back in a park (or Disney Springs) well in time for dinner around 6pm. Sometimes we stay for the evening entertainment, sometimes we don’t. If we plan to get back to the resort later than 9pm we don’t usually rope drop the next day, since DD5 needs her sleep.
Also worth mentioning is that we go for two weeks at a time, so don’t feel the need to rush around and get “everything” done every day. We also go 2-3 times a year and have done for many years, so haven’t suffered from FOMO for a long time. If we did shorter, less frequent trips I suspect our pace would be higher.