Keep kids up late without becoming crankypants?

Headed to Orlando for Spring Break 2020. 2nd family trip to WDW. Planning 4 WDW park days (plus 2 Universal and Kennedy Space Center).

Villians After Hours was just announced, and its available on one of our WDW days. Very tempted. We did regular DAH at MK on our last trip, and while I understand VAH is likely to be more crowded, still sounds fun.

Problem: 10pm-1am (likely closer to 1:30am if we go to the stage show that starts at 1:00). Kids will be 8, 10, and 13 (not really worried about 13yo). Rest of trip will be on more of a rope-drop schedule,
obviously not the morning after VAH.

Has anyone successfully kept kids up really late without either having them be miserable during the late night hours, or the next day? Any tips/tricks for keeping them awake super late?

Either a late start that day, or a long afternoon nap. Feed them lots of sugar.


IMO, the better question is have YOU kept them up that late without them being miserable?
My opinion is that I wouldn’t do it with the 8 and 10 yr old, and maybe try to plan out a special night with the 13yr old, and one parent, if possible.

If the 8 and 10 yr old are going to be miserable, then I just wouldn’t do it. It’ll cost too much money to have them be miserable.

My secret for youngsters to stay up and be reasonably happy is a vacation “treat” of iced tea in the later afternoon. PP mentioned feeding them lots of sugar, which would not fly for our kids. Sugar can also lead to crashes, which, just doesn’t seem like it’s worth the risk when there are alternatives. But, all kids are not the same. If feeding lots of sugar works, then go for it.

Another thing to think of - if you’re going until 1:30am, what time will bedtime wind up being? It won’t be 1:30am if you have to travel.

I’m not against it for you, or anyone else, but, I wouldn’t do it with our kids. 13yr old, if they were up for it, sure.

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I’d do it in a heartbeat.
We Have six kids - currently 6 - 19 yo. - and we love to travel. We don’t have giant budgets so we are commandos and squeeze it all in wherever we go!
Who cares if they are tired or cranky the next day. You’re on vacation! It’s not like they will be operating heavy machinery or doing homework. They just have to have more fun the next day! If you detect they are tired and speaking edgily toward you the next day you nip it in the bud. Rude behavior = sit out a ride or no desserts, etc. Disney is not about resting. Our last trip allowed us about 5 hours of sleep between our last two days - both MK days. My kids were 3-15 at the time and they pulled it off. :heart:

I’m doing the same thing but my kids are 8 and 4. They will be fine. They have stayed up late before for special events. Just need to make sure you have a nap/quiet time built into afternoon and a very low key morning.

The next day won’t be an issue as long as they can sleep in.


There would be a rebellion if the 13yo got to go, but not the younger two. I think it’s all of us or none of us. When we went to the MK DAH on our last trip, we initially bought tickets only for the oldest (was 10 at the time), then decided that it was worth keeping the younger two up for the special event and bought them tickets too. They did great, but it ended at 11pm…which feels very different than 1am…but they were younger…so…maybe?

I suspect we’d pay for it more the next day than the night of. We’d probably allow them a caffeinated beverage in the late afternoon (which they never get). I agree that the sugar crashes make it a riskier option.

We did MNSSHP with an infant, 2yo, and 5yo in September. We forced everyone to take a long nap that afternoon and kept it very low key. Then we stayed super busy during the party, kept eating snacks, etc. They did amazingly well. The 2yo started to crash around 1am. Everyone was a little more grumpy the next day but it was 100% worth it!


Works for me.

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My first inclination would be (again, for our family, this is just a thought of what I’d do:)

Parent A and 13yr old do the late night thing.
Parent B and the younger 2 do something special, as well - like a dessert party, or Hoop De Doo, perhaps?

In a perfect world, maybe on the same day, EMM (if it’s offered) for the younger ones, which would (in theory) have them tired later in the day.

Just something to make it “balanced.” You get the drift.

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The sugar was a joke…mainly.

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We avoided a cranky 5 and 8 year old last week by forcing them to take naps. We got to the parks early (like around 7) and left around 1pm. After quick showers, we would close the curtains in the room, and 1 parent would lay down with 1 kid in each of the beds. 8 year old complained he was too old for naps, but after 10-15 minutes in a dark room with no stimulation, they would both be out like a light (and so was my husband). Once the 3 of them were soundly sleeping I’d plug in my laptop and blog or readjust plans for the next day. We let them sleep until 4:30, so a good 2 1/2 hour nap. I think Disney, the heat, over stimulation, etc can make them tired regardless. The kids were still raring to go even when we went to bed at 10:30 each night. For the MNSSHP they slept 3-5:30 and were still bouncing off the walls when we went to bed at 1:15 am.


It IS a joke!
If you really want to keep them up, you have to go for the caffeine.:wink:


It would never occur to me! I don’t really do caffeine.


We did regular MK DAH in February with our four kids - then 8, 6, 4 and 2. It was two hours earlier - from 8-11. Our littles made it until about 9:30 and then crashed. My big kids made it the whole time and could’ve probably hung for another hour…maybe hour and a half. My 6 y/o fell asleep around midnight on the bus back. But during the event they were fine. Running on adrenaline and sugar :laughing: We had a blast!

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Pixie sticks and Mountain Dew? Isn’t that the Toddlers and Tiaras formula for keeping kids up.



My first thought was mountain dew and red bull.


My 8yo had a great time at the MVMCP last year. No nap just lots of cookies and cocoa. Meanwhile his brother pooped out and went back to the resort early with my husband. In a way it worked out as they both got a special memory with a parent (H ordered them pizza and they watched a movie). I didn’t mind as I wasn’t paying OOP for that party (it was included with our package).

I’d push hard for naps but honestly, caffeine and sugar and just excitement are my go to.

We’re not doing it this year as we’d be OOP and I doubt that the now 7yo would be able to hang the whole time.

Could you do a trial run over the winter holidays? Maybe with NYE? Have everyone nap and then go to a First Night celebration or just stay up to watch the ball drop / have a family pajama party?


I didn’t read all the responses, but we kept younger kids than that out at MK when it was open until 1 am. They loved riding splash mtn over and over without any wait; it’s one of the main things they remember about the trip that they loved. I think we left by midnight.

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Keeping the kids up late has never been my problem. Staying up as late as they can- that’s my problem. :laughing: I always tell the family that to me, DAH means “Dreaming At Hotel.”

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Took our 10 year old to this in July. He did great. We slept in the morning of and spent time at resort before heading to MK around 5:30 for dinner and fast passes before the VAH actually started. The next morning we slept in again and headed to AK around 11:30am. Ten year old did better than DH…lol! My only complaint is that, yes, VAH was crowded.

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