Family Travel

10 Tips to Save Your Sanity With Kids in Disney World


The Everymom’s travel selections are curated by the editorial team. If you book something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. We only recommend places we genuinely love.

disney sanity-saving tips"
disney sanity-saving tips
Source: David Guerrero | Pexels
Source: David Guerrero | Pexels

Taking your kids to Disney World can be a magical experience. Getting to experience the joy and magic of the Most Magical Place on Earth through their eyes can be as wonderful as it sounds, with endless possibilities for some pretty core memories for you to take home with you.

However…I’d be completely lying if I said that taking kids to Disney World isn’t also filled with stress. Just like with any vacation, you are basically parenting your children in an alternate location. But, in this case, that alternate location is massive, with endless stimulations to distract them, hot weather, and lots of waiting in line. A trip to Disney World with kids really teeters the fine line of magical and stressful nightmare, and you’ll likely find yourself falling on one side or the other throughout the duration of your vacation.

While there is no cure-all for stress during a trip to Disney World (or any vacation) with kids, here are 10 Disney World sanity-saving tips to help safeguard your peace of mind while you’re there.

1. Stay On Site

When you’re staying at Disney World, you have dozens and dozens of different options when it comes to accommodations. You can stay on-site at a variety of different hotel budgets, or off-site at a hotel, rental, etc. If you are able to make it work, I highly recommend staying on-site when you’re visiting with kids.  

There are a few reasons for this. One is the perks you’ll get by staying on property. All on-site hotel guests get Early Theme Park Entry, meaning you can get into the parks 30 minutes before opening. If you’re staying at a Deluxe Resort or Deluxe Villa, you also get Extended Evening Hours. These let you stay in a park two hours after it closes on select nights. This extra time can make a world of difference in how much you are able to get done throughout your day.

The other reason, though, is for convenience. Each Disney World hotel has complimentary transportation to and from the parks, whether that’s by Monorail, boat, the Disney Skyliner, a bus, or a combination. If you need to take a mid-day break (more on that soon), or get back to the hotel quickly, you’ll find that transportation is going to make it a lot easier to get back. This is especially true for options like the Monorail, which quickly connects you to your hotel.

2. Make Dining Reservations in Advance

If you want to experience character dining or eat at some of the popular table service restaurants that Disney World has to offer, don’t leave your planning until the last minute. Ensure you make dining reservations ahead of time to book your spot, so you won’t need to deal with any hunger meltdowns that come when it’s time to eat with nowhere to go.

If you have a Disney World hotel reservation, you can make a dining reservation up to 60 days in advance of your arrival for the entire length of your stay (up to 10-nights). Booking early will help you get the reservations you and your kids want, so you don’t have to continuously check for new spots throughout your trip.

disney tips
Source: @homeoftheharveys

3. Consider Buying Disney Genie+

At Disney World, you have a few different options for waiting in ride lines. Most rides offer Standby, which is the regular queue that will have the longest wait. Alternatively, you can purchase a “Lightning Lane” which will let you bypass the regular Standby line. There are two options for this: buying Disney Genie+, or an Individual Attraction Selection through the My Disney Experience App—which you’ll want to have downloaded well in advance of your visit.

An Individual Attraction Selection is a Lightning Lane you can purchase for a specific ride that is a per person cost. These are used for several of the most popular rides at Disney World. You can also choose to buy Disney Genie+, which will allow you to continuously select ride times to access Lightning Lanes throughout the day.

The cost of Disney Genie+ varies per park per day, and must be bought per person. So, you’ll be paying far more for Disney Genie+ on a holiday week versus a random Wednesday in September. While the cost can certainly add up, if it fits within your budget, this can be well worth it to avoid lots of midday meltdowns from waiting in line. 

Even during slower times of the year, some of the most popular rides at Disney can easily reach multi-hour wait times, meaning you may be spending a lot of your day waiting around in line. If this is just going to cause more stress for your family, it can be worth paying the extra cost to get on rides more quickly and accomplish more of what you want to get done in your day.

4. Bring Snacks (LOTS of Snacks)

I cannot emphasize this enough–bring snacks. This is something that will not only help stave off meltdowns, but it’s also a great way to save a little bit of money in the parks. If you have a kid that is losing it in between meals, pack snack bars or easy-to-travel snacks that they can have while waiting around in line or hanging around the park. Any food you bring will be exceedingly less expensive than something similar you would purchase in the park.

5. Take a Mid-Day Break

Another upside to staying on property is that it’s a lot easier to get a mid-day break—which is something I highly recommend doing. With the cost of a Disney World vacation, it’s incredibly tempting to try to fit everything possible into your day. 

But, I warn you that this can result in a far more stressful experience. Instead, try and get an early start on the day and then aim for a mid-day break. This can be relaxing in the A/C at your hotel room, or cooling off by the pool. While it may be hard to pull yourself away from the parks for a few hours, this break will help you refresh and reset to get even more done afterwards.

6. Prepare for the Weather

In Disney World, you’ll be dealing with some wild weather. You should prepare for heat, lots of sun, rain storms, and even some potentially cool days depending on the time of year you’re visiting. 

Take a look at the weather forecast for the time you’re visiting to get a better idea of what you should prepare for—and pack accordingly. For rain, make sure to bring rain jackets or ponchos so you can avoid paying the premium pricing of buying them in park.

For heat, things like handheld fans, neck fans, cooling towels, and lots of sunscreen will make a huge difference in comfort for everyone. The summer in Disney World can be particularly brutal, so don’t go in unprepared.

As for cooler months, if you’re visiting during the late fall or winter, bringing layers is key. Sometimes a day will start off cool before warming up significantly, so make sure you can wear layers that you can take off if it gets warmer later on.

disney sanity-saving tips
Source: @findingbeautifultruth

7. Make a Plan if Someone Gets Lost

With so much to see in Disney World, it’s possible for kids to wander off. Obviously, this is every parent’s worst nightmare, so it’s best to have a plan in place. Speak with your kids beforehand about what to do if they get lost. Show them Cast Members in the parks that they can speak to if they get lost. Most of the time, if a Cast Member finds a lost child, they’ll bring them to a safe spot to be reunited with you.

For an extra layer of safety, you can also purchase things like temporary tattoos or lanyards your child can wear with your contact information.

8. Pack Your Own Impulse Buys (bubble wand, glow lights, etc.)

You’ll quickly realize when you’re in Disney World that there is an overwhelming amount of things your child will be tempted to buy (well, ask you to buy). A good way to curb this is to set a souvenir budget in advance and speak with them about it. Whether it’s a set cost amount for the trip, or an item limit for the vacation, setting that expectation can help stave off any tantrums.

On that note, there are also plenty of small souvenirs that you can easily bring with you ahead of time instead of buying them in the park. I’m talking about things like bubble wands and glow sticks that younger kids may be tempted by, but can be bought for a fraction of the price on Amazon beforehand. 

9. Use the Baby Care Center with Younger Kids

If you are bringing a baby to Disney or a younger child, I cannot recommend the Baby Care Centers enough. You’ll find a Baby Care Center in each of the four Disney World parks, providing parents with a changing room, nursing room, small kitchenette, and more essentials for your little one.

Along with all these necessities, the centers also provide another benefit to younger children–a relaxing environment with A/C. In the hot, overstimulating environment of Disney World, younger kids can completely benefit from a few minutes of cooling off and calming down in these wonderful spots.

10. Mentally Prepare for Your Plan to Go Off the Rails

If you’re going to save your sanity in Disney World, this is the most important tip: mentally prepare for your plans to go awry. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have plans in Disney World. From reservations to basic itineraries, it’s always helpful to have an idea of what you and your family want to accomplish over the course of the day.

However, not letting that plan be flexible can ultimately break you. If you planned to stay in the park until 2 PM, but your kids are all at their wit’s end by noon, take a midday break instead of trying to stick to your original itinerary. As a perpetual planner, I know this can be hard advice to take, but believe me when I say it will make all the difference in your Disney World trip.

best of family travel