A Parent's Survival Guide to Disney World (and Other Parks)

high flying rides at amusement park

Taking your children to Disney World (or any other famous amusement park) is a rite of passage for everyone involved. Is there anything more iconic in a child’s life than a photo of him or her crying in the arms of Mickey Mouse?  

That said, spending a week at one of these parks as an adult can be painful. If you are terrified by the idea of walking for 10 hours while plunky, cartoonish music plays, don’t worry. There are ways to take your kids on this important milestone and still enjoy your precious vacation days. Here are our best tips: 

Comfy hotels 

Many families think, “Oh, we’ll be running around all day — the hotel we stay in doesn’t matter!” This is false. After spending all day waiting in lines and consoling screaming toddlers, you will find that the hotel is your only reprieve. At a minimum, it should be comfortable and relatively quiet. If there’s a bar or a hot tub, extra points. 

Good restaurants 

What’s the one thing all adult and kid vacations have in common? Stellar food. Picky kids may proclaim, “But I don’t like Brussels sprouts, Da​aaaaad,” and you can simply reply, “And I don’t like riding the ‘It’s a Small World After All’ ride five times in a row.” We all have to make sacrifices. 

Spas 

One day of your amusement park vacation, give yourself permission to get a massage. Put on some cartoons for the kids, and treat yo’self. Pro tip: Plan this for the end of your trip, when all your muscles are aching from carrying small children on your shoulders and riding jarring Toy Story-themed roller coasters. 

Fast passes 

Every amusement park has one of these , and they are lifesavers. We cannot overstate their value. You get to skip all the lines. They can be a little expensive, but you can’t put a price on your sanity. 

Kids’ clubs

Here’s the thing: If your children are over the age of 9, they love you — they really do — but they would probably rather spend a few days of their vacation making friends than hanging out with you. Lo and behold, the beauty of the kids’ club. One or two days of your trip, send the kids along with other like-minded munchkins, let them make fun new friends, and enjoy some peace and quiet.