7 Magical Days
I will always remember the Walt Disney World vacation when my husband proposed…not only because of the magical marriage proposal at the Contemporary Resort’s observation deck during the fireworks with a sparkling ring and an adoring fiancé, but also because a beat-up, Disneyed- out father departing from the Magic Kingdom coined the phrase “7 Magical Days…”
The exchange went something like this…
As my new fiancé and I sat lovingly close to each other visibly overjoyed with our Walt Disney World vacation thus far, I glanced at a family of four sitting across from us. The children were spent, passed out with what was left of melting Mickey ice cream bars in their hands and their faces covered with chocolate. Atop their heads were crooked Mickey ear hats as they slept on their parents’ laps. They weren’t the only ones who looked beat, however; the parents had a look of confusion, frustration, and complete exhaustion. The father glanced over at me and said to us, the happy couple, “Are you on your honeymoon?” I replied, “No, we just got here yesterday, and we just got engaged!!” He quickly replied with sarcasm, “We’ve been here….7 Magical Days.” It was at that moment that we vowed that would never be us…..that we as parents would actually enjoy our Walt Disney World vacation.
How does this happen you ask? How can you ensure that you as a parent don’t end up feeling overwhelmed by the Magic?
Well, we now have that family we dreamed about, and here are the Sutton Family’s top 5 tips. Although not at all conventional, they seem to work well for us when we travel to the World with our party of five.
1) Up and at ‘em. Let’s face it…children are early risers. If you plan on sleeping in, Walt Disney World is not the vacation destination for you. The best part of the day, when everyone seems to be excited and energized, is the morning. Grab a muffin and a cup of coffee (in your resort refillable mug, of course!) and head out the door bright and early. Try to take advantage of the Extra Magic Hour and experience as many attractions as possible before noon. This allows you to take in much of the magic before melt-down hour. Which brings us to tip number 2…
2) Get out of the parks by 2 PM. You can do this either of two ways: grab lunch in the park and then bolt; or have lunch back at your resort. Either way…get out of the Magic and back to home base before a level five melt-down occurs. If you don’t heed my advice and are still in the park mid-afternoon take a look around…it’s happening everywhere. I would imagine that the afternoon parades are quite spectacular, but honestly, since having my entourage I’ve yet to catch a glimpse of one. The girls would love to see the Magic Kingdom’s Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade, but until they are 18 it just isn’t happening because this is the “Sutton Family Quiet Time”. My husband and I take turns with the older girls at the pool while my two-year-old takes her afternoon nap. Honestly, we parents have been known to take a siesta or two ourselves in order to revitalize ourselves for the evening Magic.
3) Give in slightly to their indulgences. There is one thing about Walt Disney World that is complete torture both to parents and children: the strategically placed gift shops at the end of each attraction. Our children are not spoiled in anyway, but in the World we parents let go of a few of our rules to keep peace amongst the tribe. We do, however, tend to barter down our daughter’s desires for a cheaper prize. For example…on our last four visits, at the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction exit, we have somehow managed to talk our oldest child out of purchasing the Jack Sparrow hat. This is not just merely a hat, but a hat with the appropriate Sparrow hair attached which incidentally costs $30. We have bartered her down to a $10 pirate sword which we also use to ward off scary ghosts…
Bringing me to number 4.
4) Some attractions can be frightening to young children. Use this information wisely. Do not choose one of these attractions as your first encounter at the park, or try and use persuasive tactics. Persuasive tactics go something like this:
If they are scared of pirates like our girls, remind them at the end of the ride they will be able to purchase a sword that they can use to fight off ghosts in the Haunted Mansion or Stitch in Stitch’s Great Escape. We also have a family rule that they need to ride every attraction at least once. This has worked well, especially since our oldest is now 44 inches and can enjoy some of the bigger attractions. Well, let’s rephrase that…we enjoy them and she screams her head off. It’s all for the sake of Magic!!
5) Allow “Mommy and Daddy Time”. We have another saying when we vacation at the world, “During the day is kid time, the evenings are Mommy and Daddy time.” You will also hear us repeat this over and over again throughout our stay. Mommy and Daddy time usually consists of a nice dinner and a relaxing evening stroll throughout one of the theme parks. There are some evenings where we may not even return to the parks or see an attraction. We go to whatever park is on our itinerary for dinner, or a show, or we may have dinner at another resort and hang out there. Some examples of this are as follows:
Magic Kingdom- head over after quiet time for dinner, then stake out a spot for the Electrical Light Parade. Our girls eat Mickey ice cream bars while sitting on the curb, and I usually enjoy a coffee and a chocolate chip cookie from Sleepy Hollow. After the parade we stay to enjoy Wishes then back to the resort for bedtime festivities.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios- head over for dinner, then try to catch the last Beauty and the Beast show. Afterwards we head to Fantasmic! and eat concession snacks while waiting for the show to begin. Parental warning: There is cotton candy here which is not the best choice late in the evenings; try to divert your child with a “Look, there’s Mickey Mouse” fake to the right.
Head to another resort for dinner-the girls get all dolled up for a fancy dinner at Jiko in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge then stay to see the animals in the savannah or play in their amazing playground.
And finally the Sutton Family’s personal favorite…
Epcot-Our children know Epcot as the “Mommy and Daddy are going to have a few drinks” land. They run around and enjoy the many Kidcot activities while we enjoy wine from the various countries around World Showcase. On the last visit, my husband wandered into La Cava Tequila while the girls and I shopped in the Mexican Marketplace. Of course, the only downside to this is that I tend to give into their most expensive wants while partaking in World Showcase fun….“Mommy, can I have that $30 Hello Kitty purse?” “SURE!”
So that’s it…our top 5 tips for ensuring that your Walt Disney World vacation is….“7 Magical Days!!!”
As a Disney veteran, Nicole Sutton has experienced the “magic” as a child, teenager, young adult, and now as a parent. She now uses her expertise to plan Magical Disney Vacations as a Travel Planner for Glass Slipper Concierge.
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