I love a family trip to Disney World but it’s not always pixie dust and magic. Sometimes the kids won’t stop fighting, and no one can agree on what to do, and everyone is hungry… and Mama loses her cool. It happens to the best of us, but there are ways to avoid reaching this point. With some careful planning and preparation, you can really enjoy Disney World the way it is intended… as a memorable and happy family vacation.

Here are my recommendations for keeping your cool as a parent at Disney World.

  1. Prioritize. Sit down with your family and choose 1 or 2 “must do” attractions for each of you. Book fastpasses for these attractions, or make reservations if they are excited for a dining experience or Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo.
  2. Research. Learn the height restrictions for the rides and measure your children so there are no surprises when you get to the parks. Don’t try to cheat with lifts in the shoes. These safety measures are put in place for a reason and Disney has very liberal height requirements.
  3. Beyond your “must do” items, still make dining reservations, choose fastpasses and schedule your days, then make sure your family knows what the plan is. Download the app on your smartphones and you can all track the itinerary as you go.
  4. Be prepared. Pack a small first aid kit, sunscreen, water bottles and snacks for the day. You can use a cooler backpack to ensure your snacks stay cool through the day. Disney World also has lockers that you can use if you don’t want to carry everything around all day.
  5. Set a budget. Let your children know how much they have to spend on souvenirs and stick to the budget. Shopping at local shops outside of the parks is a great way to find Disney items at cheaper prices.
  6. Take a break. Schedule a time in the middle of the day to return to your resort and take a nap or go for a swim. Kids need some downtime!
  7. Use a stroller. You can rent a stroller from private companies in Orlando or right at the Disney parks. You may not use one for your 6 year old normally, but at Disney World it can be a life saver. Not only does it give your child a chance to rest his or her tired legs, it’s also great for carrying backpacks, water bottles and extra clothes. Renting strollers off-site will get you more comfortable strollers that can be easily folded and generally are available at a better rate than the park rentals.
  8. Sleep. You can’t expect your children to stay up late, get up early, skip their naps and still be pleasant all day long. Let them get the sleep they need (and you need too!) to walk through the parks all day. Choose a day to stay out late for fireworks, and a different day for early extra magic hours and sleep in or get to bed early the rest of the time.
  9. Go with the flow. When it rains, find an indoor attraction to enjoy or visit the shops. Do the kids want to stay at the resort all day? Go with it! The pools are fun. Don’t force the kids to visit Mickey or ride the rides if they don’t want to. There’s something for everyone to enjoy at Disney!

Like everything, Disney World is what you make it. The pixie dust needs a little help to be spread around, and with a little planning, you can keep it flying!