The scenario: We only have one day in MK, HS, AK and US/IOA (no rest days in between) and this is a once-only trip. We’re staying at WL and I’ll be with my mom and kiddos who are 7 and 9. We want to rope drop and stay for night shows, so I’m looking at really really long days. We’ll be there in Oct, so it will probably get into the low 80s and there could be afternoon showers.
The question: everyone says to plan in a mid-day rest period, but a mid-afternoon rest feels like it would cut into our already-precious park time and it seems that the trip to/from the resort could be tiring in itself… Each afternoon we have a TS meal reserved and I was thinking we’d do a lot of shows in the afternoons. I also expect to have a rest/snack time in the shade somewhere in the park. Do you think I’m still underestimating our exhaustion levels or does the plan to progressively slow down as the day goes on make up for not going back to the hotel?
With kids those ages (and I’m not sure how old Mom is) you will find that everyone gets tired out. While the rest may seem to cut into your precious park time, you will find that the time you do spend in park will be better for it. You’re going to need to select your “must do” things and plan for those; if you have time or energy for the rest, so be it, but better to plan conservatively IMO than to plan to go gangbusters for all those days in a row and end up miserable for it.
You might be able to pull it off at four days, but you will be exhausted. We’re the type to prefer hitting the parks early and then leaving early (around dinner) to rest/relax. There is just no way we could stay until closing as well without a break.
So, I’d choose what you think is more important: Getting to more attractions (rope drop) or seeing the night shows (staying late). You might trade one or other on any given day.
Personally, the night shows are of least importance to us, hence we get there early and leave early-ish. (Eating dinner OUTSIDE the parks is quite the norm for us.)
Doing the mid-day break and then coming back is possible, but we aren’t generally inclined to return once we leave, or leave at the time we really should to make a mid-day break effective. If we rejuvenate enough, we’ll head back out to Disney Springs for the evening.
I have found that by doing RD and following the TPs we always completed the rides that we wanted to do in time for a late brunch/ early lunch, sometimes being able to ride our favourites more than once. Then we have the choice of whether to stay and wander in the afternoon or take a break. Don’t underestimate the power of the TPs! One thing I found when the children were young is that it is really important to keep refuelling them. When energy levels sap ‘hangry’ sets in.
Doing to RD to park closing multiple days in a row will be exhausting and will likely result in some unhappy children (and adults for that matter). Without a day of rest in between park days, I personally think you are going to need an afternoon break (maybe not every day but at least some). I know it’s hard with a once in lifetime trip, but remember even if you stayed from opening to closing you still can’t do it all. Pick the things that are most important and do those–anything else you get done will be a bonus.
With judicious planning you can do all of DHS in one day with a block of rest time in the middle. Maybe you can engineer that day for the third day in your trip? Giving yourself some rest time in the afternoon and then pop back in the late evening for Fantasmic! or Star Wars?
Two things, I went twice with my husband pre-kids as “commando tourers” and once we literally didn’t use a day of our tickets because we were so exhausted. And many of those days DID included a mid-day break, aka nap. It’s hot (we went in Oct!) and you walk a lot. I’m just not sure a table service meal is enough of a break.
Second, you are paying good money to stay at WL! Don’t you want to take advantage? That pool is really awesome. If I were just going to go RD to fireworks at the parks everyday, I would spend the $99 on the Marriott right down the road.
The Disney exhaustion is real. To me it’s like saying I’d like to run 4 marathons, 1 each day in a row with my 7 and 9 year old. We took breaks, 7 and 11 yr old, and were still tired. Our feet were killing us.
I second this option. US/IOA is nice and all…but if you are trying to pack too much in, you might not enjoy it as much. Plus, US/IOA is better geared toward folks a little bit older. Okay. Yes, there is Harry Potter there. But that’s like 3 rides (well, 4, if you include the train). Then what? Not that there isn’t enough to do…but there’s really TOO MUCH to do in just a single day.
You could save yourself some money and headache if you focus on WDW instead.
I seem to be the minority here but we have frequently done rope drop to close. We always do an early dinner table service meal and use that time to refuel. My kids are 6 and 8. We were tired but we were not miserable.
I hate taking a break - but … there is no way that I could do 4 full days open to close.
I do RD - and if there are morning EMH I RD for that. Then after lunch back for a rest, shower and then we usually do early dinner at the hotel before going back to the park.
I did go last year in Jan, which was not hot (in fact it was unseasonably cold) so I did stay an hour or so after lunch instead of going back right after we ate, but the break was still there.
Also - the middle of the day is when the parks are the most crowded. Nice to get away from that for a little while.
I also agree about WL - if you are going to be in the park open to close, don’t waste your money. If you want to be on Disney property just stay in a value.
I’ve seen people that make a few different TPs. I’m the one who need a break in the middle of the day-it gets too hot for me and I don’t handle it well, even in October (last few times we’ve been there it’s been in the 90s). That being said, I think you could play it by ear-plan for RD touring, break for lunch and then let the family decide what to do with the afternoon. (WDW prep has great touring plans with this idea in mind)
My family is also in the minority. We don’t do midday breaks either because we do not want to spend that much time on transportation. We have gone to either DLR or WDW when the kids (triplets) were 4, 6, 8, 9, and 11. At age 4, we had short days: 9/10 am to 4/5 pm. Or 2/3 pm to close. At age 6, in CA, we did 9 am to 10 pm x 3 days, but humidity is lower and parks are way smaller. At age 8, in WDW, we did 6 park days in a row. We did open to close 4 of 6 days. We ended at 6 or 7 pm two of the days. We were tired by the end of this trip and vowed to put a rest day in on our next visit. This past month, we did 8 park days between UOR and WDW with 2 rest days. We did park open to park close on 7/8 days.
So it is possible. We are all very active people who like to “go.” Since you are going in October, you could do it. In the summer, I thought a couple of rest days were needed.
We did have the plan “slow down” a lot in the afternoon. We did lots of morning rides, then a long lunch. Then we would do shows or characters or play areas (Tom Sawyer Island or the Boneyard for an hour) before hitting some rides again. Then we found a spot for the night show and ate some dinner/treats while waiting. Some days we needed a second air conditioned meal (especially at MK), although that was always a quick service meal.
Note: Feed the kids often and give them LOTS to drink. My kids probably ate 3000 calories a day while there. I had snacks in the bag, then we had ice cream in the am and popcorn or smoothies in the pm. We usually had two full meals a day (breakfast in hotel) unless we had a late, big buffet lunch. Your older child might find the kids’ meals too skimpy. My kids are 70-80 pounds, so not big, but they needed constant fuel and drink to power through the full days.
Just a reminder to be flexible. If it’s hot & you’re all pooped, call an audible and go take a break. Prioritize your must-do items for the morning & save the afternoons for the “would-be-nice” stuff.
Also, not sure where you are from but even if the temp is in the 80’s but your hometown has been in the 50’s before you go it is going to feel hot. We went last year in November & it hit almost 90 several days. Even though it cooled down at night, it still felt quite warm during the day.
I was in this situation the first time my husband and I went to Disney. I figured there were four parks so four days would be perfect. By the fourth day we were in actual pain from running all over the place. And we were in our 20s with no kids! Now we go for six days and we take afternoon breaks most days back at the hotel. Longer than six days would be even better but we can usually only take a week off work.
Thanks all! It’s nice to hear different strategies. Our arrival and departure days are for enjoying the resort and I should have mentioned that our US/IOA day is pretty much only Harry Potter so we won’t be staying late that day and will be spending some time at the pool. Our schedule is: Day 1 arrive and explore the resort/swim; Day 2 MK all day; Day 3 US/IOA go home in the afternoon; Day 4 DHS - I am hoping we can do a pm rest here, but my son wants to do Jedi training so depends on when we get a slot Day 5 AK and then Day 6 a resort day before heading home.