Magical. That’s the word people associate with a Disney vacation. If you watch a commercial for Disney, consume content put out by Disney PR, or spend any time on the internet researching Disney, you will come across the word “magical” countless times to explain what a Disney vacation is.
In fact, it’s called “The Most Magical Place on Earth,” so why would you not expect magic? As someone who chooses to spend a good deal of our vacation budget at Disney, I agree that there is “magic” at WDW, but is it ALWAYS magical? No. It’s not. Things can go wrong, and often things do go wrong. Being prepared for that will really help you to enjoy your trip!
Recently I came across a Disney news story about a woman who got into a physical altercation with her husband because of the stress of their WDW vacation. As I was listening to this news story, I couldn’t help but think about all the times I’d seen people bickering in Disney or even the times I’d snapped at a family member.
Let’s be real for a minute- it’s HOT in Disney most days. It’s crowded. It’s very stimulating. These three factors alone, without any dreams of “magic,” can lead to trouble. Then, add in the fact that you have spent thousands of dollars and have been meticulously planning for this magic. Do you see where all of this can lead to issues? I sure do!
Disney is a unique vacation because many planning elements must be done in advance. You have to book dining 60 days out, reserve which park you want to visit in advance, and once you get there, a lot of the day requires planning. This is very different from a tropical beach vacation, where most of the day is spent relaxing. Disney is amazing, but I’d never say it’s relaxing. So when you’ve spent hours researching, planning, reserving, making lists, and it goes wrong, now what?
I can tell you my family has had many examples of things going wrong. On our first Disney vacation, 3/4 of us got a slight stomach virus the day we arrived. Talk about ruining the magic! Once we recovered from that, we quickly learned that our usual schedule at home (with the morning and afternoon being the best time for activities) was NOT true in Disney.
My then two-year-old just was an exhausted mess and, for whatever reason, was her best from 4-10 pm. Considering at home, she was usually asleep by 7 pm; I would never have predicted this. We ended up switching up our plans and rearranging the trip to work around this. I had planned this trip down to the minute, and it basically had to be revamped.
On our most recent trip, my daughter was exhausted by day 7. We had gone rope drop to park close daily. It was our last day, and we had a mid-afternoon flight, but we had breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace, which had been my most anticipated reservation for the trip.
As soon as we got to the table before we ate, she puked. We left with just one picture that we could snap before the incident and left without eating or experiencing this meal that I had so looked forward to. This reminded me things will go wrong… even the things you really want most!
There are no tips I can add to this article that will alleviate the disappointment when this happens. I think the only advice I can offer is to accept and expect that it won’t always be magical. It will rain, rides will shut down, there may be puke (at least in my family’s situation!), and still, even with all of that said, it’s still our favorite place to go.
For first-timers planning that once-in-a-lifetime trip, if there’s one piece of advice I can offer you, it’s to expect things to change, to accept that there may be less-that-magical moments, but to take it all in and not let these minor setbacks ruin the whole trip. We joke in our house that our first trip to Disney was a disaster, yet we decided it was our family’s happy place. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is!
Hi there! My name is Stephanie and I am a mom to 2 young Disney fans, wife to a rope-drop-to-fireworks fanatic, a teacher, an avid reader, and a Disney-obsessed super fan! Writing and Disney are two of my greatest hobbies, so putting them together is a dream come true.