[Updated May 2016]
Whether it’s your first trip or your twentieth, a trip to Walt Disney World should always feel exciting. You’ve researched the rides and shows, picked out where you’re going to eat, and know the hotels like the back of your hand. Once you get there, though, it’s easy to hit a wall.
Here are 10 ways you can avoid Disney burnout — so that you won’t have to take another vacation just to recover from this one.
1. Acknowledge that you can’t see and do everything
It’s a hard fact to face, but it’s an important one: It’s pretty much impossible to see and do everything in the theme parks during a single trip. There are even seasoned, Disney-going veterans who have yet to experience everything.
Accept from the outset that you won’t get to go on every ride, or see every single show. To ease any anxiety over this, make a list of five to 10 attractions or shows that you would like to see in each park. Then, use it as a checklist when you arrive. You’ll have a more manageable itinerary — and expectations.
2. Take advantage of FastPass+
There is nothing more draining than having to wait in line for two hours in the Florida humidity.
Guests of Walt Disney World can now reserve specific visit times for attractions using a service called FastPass+ even before they leave the hotel. This can be done online, via a mobile app, at kiosks throughout the parks, and at the hotel concierge.
Taking advantage of the service eliminates the need to wait in long lines, freeing up some time to spend doing other things around the resort — or resting.
Day guests can make their selections up to 30 days in advance of their park visit. Disney hotel guests can book their times up to 60 days in advance of check-in for their entire length of stay.
When you make your selections, you can select which members of your party would like to experience each attraction so if grandpa wants to skip Space Mountain, you can schedule him to do something else.
Depending on availability, you should be able to make up to three FastPass+ selections each day at one theme park prior to your arrival. You can also make an additional FastPass+ selection through the My Disney Experience smartphone app or at one of the kiosks in the parks after using your first three. Once you have used that one, you can select another one, and so on. Additional FastPass+ entitlements can be used when park hopping as well.
3. Stay hydrated
Walking around the parks for hours will definitely make you thirsty, so it’s very important to stay hydrated. Don’t be tempted by all of the soft drinks being sold at the snack carts and focus instead on water.
Buying bottled water can certainly add up, but most quick-service locations offer free ice water if you ask. In addition, feel free to bring along a refillable water bottle.
If you purchase a Disney Dining Plan, each member in your party receives a refillable mug that can only be filled at your hotel, although it comes in handy at the parks for filling up at the water fountains.
4. Wear proper footwear
It may be obvious but it’s worth repeating: wear the right shoes, especially if you’re not accustomed to walking thousands of steps a day. The best footwear for pounding the pavement is sneakers, preferably ones with good arch support.
5. Split a park visit into two days
If your schedule allows, choose the park that has the most attractions you would like to see and split the park visit into two days or even a day and a half. This will let you do things at a leisurely pace instead of making a mad dash down Main Street, USA or around the World Showcase.
6. Return to the hotel during the day for naps
If you’ve woken up at the crack of dawn to hit the ground running, take a break around midday to return to the hotel for a nap; this is especially true for families with smaller children who might get overwhelmed by long hours in the park. A nap will rejuvenate you and maybe you can return to the park later.
7. Schedule in at least one hotel day
Visiting the parks several days in a row can definitely take its toll on your body. That’s why it’s important to give yourself a day to just hang out at the hotel, ideally at the halfway point of your trip. Don’t feel like you’re missing out on the action back in the parks; the Disney hotels host outdoor movies and poolside games and activities.
8. Take some time to do off-property exploring
As wonderful as Disney is, you might consider taking a day to escape from the magic. Why not head out into the Orlando area and enjoy some shopping, local restaurants, or a museum? If you don’t rent a car ahead of time, Walt Disney World has an on-property AAA Car Care Center where you can rent one. They even provide complimentary shuttle service to pick you up from the hotel or the parks.
9. Pick one day to go to a park late
Most families make it a priority to get to the parks in time for the opening, but that can wear you out. Think about picking a day to sleep a little later and then head out to the park in the late morning — this is where your FastPass+ will come in handy.
10. Carve out time for shows and parades
Don’t devote all of your time to the rides. Make sure to allow yourself some times to check out the shows and parades. You’ll get to sit down for at least 10 minutes — and enjoy some air conditioning if you’re going to be in an indoor theater.
We should note, however, one of the best times to get on a ride is when a show or parade is in progress because many of the guests have their eyes glued to the show and not on the rides.