I Did Not Plan for Disney … Twice


Spoiler alert: we had a great time!

About two years ago, my family and I decided to go to Disney World for spring break. The kids were good ages for the magic that Disney brings and I even slacked on screen time limits so they could get familiar with the Disney characters. I talked to a friend of mine who goes to Disney every opportunity she gets and she gave me a ton of good advice!

But the truth is, I did not plan. I did not get dinner reservations 60 days out. I did not research all of the resorts to find the right place for my family. I didn’t map out travel times from the hotel to the park, pick out specific rides or attractions we couldn’t miss, or check out what else is outside of the park itself.

We booked a hotel, bought tickets and … went. And it was amazing.

a family posing for a picture in front of Cinderella's castle at Disney World
Granted, I find Disney to be magical in itself and feel like in many ways you’re set up for success. They want you to be happy! My kids had never been there before so any amount of magic would have been a treat. Also, there is so much fun to be had that, for a few days of a trip, being bored would require some effort.

What did we do to prepare? We bought Lightening Lane passes. That’s a must because no one in my family, including myself, will tolerate standing and waiting for the day. We got there when the park opened to minimize lines. We took breaks to eat and sat and relaxed our feet during that time. I checked the reservations for dinner here and there in case something opened up and we scored a character meal! We talked to the concierge at the hotel about what they thought were good stops for the ages of our kids. They work there, after all.

We did not stay for the fireworks.

You read that right! Yes, fireworks are pretty cool. But they are not cool enough to tolerate everyone being fussy at the end of the day, cramming to find a spot to sit with a good view, and a tantrum filled ride back to the hotel. We left the park when we were ready, leaving when everyone was still feeling good and sufficiently pooped out.

So when we decided to go to Disneyland during a trip to California this week for something else, I did even less planning. We did not stay at a Disney resort, we did not have dinner reservations (though I looked throughout the day and did see them pop up here and there), and we did not outline the rides we couldn’t miss. Again, we skipped the fireworks, got there early, and leaned on the Lightening Lane passes. This time we brought some snacks.

And guess what? It was still amazing! We rode the rides we wanted to and only waited 20 minutes max … except for princesses because we would have waited any amount of time for them! But even that was “only” 40 minutes. And worth the joy that exuded from my daughter.

Can you spend a ton of time and energy planning for Disney to make sure everything is just right? Of course! That planning can either ease your anxiety about such a big trip or make you feel pretty rigid and inflexible when you get there. Because we didn’t plan out exactly what we wanted the day to look like, we did not stress throughout the day but tried to soak it all in. The magic lives on, whether you plan it to the minute or not.



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