5 Tips for Planning a Magical Disney Vacation

A Disney vacation can be magical--and often, for families with small children, overwhelming and exhausting. Mighty Mommy has visited Disney 20 times (many of those with her 8 kids in tow), and shares her 5 best tips for preparing for a low-stress Disney getaway.


Cheryl Butler
7-minute read
Episode #290

Disney's famous tag line is that it's the "Happiest Place on Earth," so families can't help but plan their vacations with that magical notion embedded in their ever-hopeful hearts. When they get there, though, many find that it can be the complete opposite--namely, an overwhelming disaster!

I have just returned from a wonderfully-magical vacation at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida (my 20th visit!), with 7 of my 8 kids in tow, and am happy to share my 5 best tips for preparing for your Disney vacation. (In a future episode, I will share 5 more tips on on how you can make your Disney vacation a happy and enjoyable experience, rather than an exhausting blow out.)


Before I jump into my first tip, I strongly urge you to bring along something very important with you: a flexible attitude. While smart planning and certain strategies are definitely the keys to a successful Disney vacation, none of this will matter one iota if you aren't able to be flexible in the heat of the moment (literally,) when even the best laid plans go awry. Tinkerbell won't be able to spread her magical pixie dust on your family to keep them all happy throughout your Disney stay, but if you can sprinkle in a good dose of flexibility throughout your trip, you will definitely increase the chances of having a memorable and magical family vacation.

Tip #1: Know Your Family's Limits

The biggest piece of advice I can offer is to know you and your family's limitations. There is nothing more draining and heartbreaking than to witness a family having a "Disney meltdown" because they've pushed themselves beyond their comfortable limits, and are trying to cram in as many of the park attractions as humanly possible.

Obviously, one of the reasons this happens is because Disney vacations can be very expensive, and as parents, we have a natural desire to want to “make as much magic” for our kids as possible. But it's far better to pace yourself and take breaks, so that both you and your kids don't get cranky and overstimulated--especially if you are visiting during the heat of the summer, like my family just did.  

That said, if you're traveling with toddlers and pre-school aged children, don't try and attempt a marathon day at the parks, where your goal is to make sure your kids do 15 attractions a day!  It's better to have a few quality hours in the parks creating priceless memories, rather than ones where you're mostly at each others’ throats, because you're on a mission to see it all.

If you can get yourself into the mindset that you're going to maximize the enjoyment by experiencing a smaller amount of attractions each day, rather than trying to scratch off as many rides in the park as you can, you'll be setting your family up for success. See also: 5 Ways to Speak Positively to Kids

Tip #2: Familiarize Yourself with Disney's Parks Beforehand

Whether you've been to Disney 20 times like I have, or you're planning your first vacation, do yourself a favor and get familiar with the parks and resort options well before head down to meet Mickey and Minnie. The options for research are now are endless, with a variety of social media venues, professional blogs, and YouTube videos you can check out for tips. And of course, there are some great books and websites available to help you gather info beforehand.

A few of my favorite resources are:


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.