Best of Both Worlds podcast: The Disney-sode

Podcast note: Sarah and I record almost all of our episodes of Best of Both Worlds at least a week or two ahead of time, and this episode on all things Disney was recorded before the war in Ukraine began. We’re not a news-oriented podcast anyway, but I know the juxtaposition of this and more news-oriented podcasts in people’s feeds might be jarring. I donate to Doctors without Borders, as they are active in Ukraine and many other conflict zones around the world. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to check them out – LV  

It’s something of a parenting rite of passage: Taking the kids to Disney. Maybe you’ve gone. Maybe you’re thinking about it now that Covid cases are falling and things are opening up again. Maybe the kids are asking.

If so, this episode is for you. Sarah and I have both taken our broods to Disney World numerous times — in her case because she lives close by (her most recent trip was a few weeks ago), and in my case because some of my kids are obsessed. Disney was most definitely not a part of my childhood, so this has been an adult learning experience for me.

We both share our hard won wisdom on making a trip to the parks work. From “consider not taking babies and toddlers,” to setting a gift store policy, to staying somewhere where you won’t have to drive to Magic Kingdom, we hope this episode will prove useful to some listeners. If you have done the Disney World family experience we’d love to hear your strategies. And if you have elected not to do the Disney thing, feel free to share that as well. In the Q&A section we discuss some Disney alternatives that might be worth checking out too.

19 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: The Disney-sode

  1. My husband mentioned trying to do Disney this year and I almost fainted. I have never been and have zero desire to go.
    Everything I read always seems so…complicated. People pour so much time in to scheduling things and reserving this and that. Gah. So not my thing.
    I don’t think this is likely to happen (though I’m sure it would be lovely and fun and a great source of memories)…but if it does, I’ll reference this podcast episode!

    1. @Elisabeth – maybe your husband could just take your kids! It’s totally doable for an adult with two non-toddler children. He could just go for 2-3 days in the park. And then you could do something else with your kids some other time. Not all kid vacations have to feature the full family….

    2. My husband planned our 2019 Disney trip in collaboration with our Disney planner (admittedly, I got the recommendation for her from a friend). When he had the call with the planner, the first thing she said was “I usually speak with the moms!” I gave input on a few things, but he handled 95% of it and I was happy to let him. (And we all had a great time while there!) Highly recommend letting him take on the bulk of the planning (Disney planners are free!) if he is the person who is more interested in going.

    3. I was overwhelmed too… but then I just planned when we were going to go, what parks on what day, and our hotel… and took everything at a whim… it was not the A type super planner vacation that many make it out to be and we had a great time. Even the restaurant’s IF you want a sit down restaurant, you can just reserve them the day of (people are required to cancel 24 hours before reservation time) and often find pretty good ones.. or some offer walk up (I think that’s back again).

      1. @Katie B – you totally can do it that way. When we went in 2020 there were no fast passes and not many sit down restaurant situations either so we took it day by day and still got to do most things we wanted to.

  2. No Disney plans, ever. Because a) don’t like crowds, b) don’t like Disney. Our kids go to local small-scale amusement parks (because their grandparents take them).
    We do family vacations to scenic and historic areas. I would love to take kids to Europe (they really want to visit France) and Israel. Some day. We go on trips to NYC and Washington DC. I am hoping to visit San Francisco as a family. Kids’ dream vacation: a few weeks in Hawaii.

    Just because it seems to be a “thing” to take kids to Disney, doesn’t mean one should feel compelled to do it and feel like your kids will suffer if they don’t “experience the magic.” However, if someone loves everything Disney – it makes perfect sense to want to share it with their kiddos.

    Have you been to Disney as a kid? Did you love it or was it “meh”? What is it about Disney that makes you want to go there?

    1. @Natka – I never went as a kid – my parents probably felt similarly to you! But I mostly enjoy it as an adult, particularly as I get to know it better the more times we go. We do other vacations that are more relaxing (as much as traveling with children is ever relaxing).

  3. Perfect timing! We have a trip planned in April (which we honestly weren’t sure would happen, but things are looking ok with the decrease in Covid cases!)

    I actually had really low expectations when we went in 2019. We were traveling with my husband’s family (10 people total) and thought it would kind of be a disaster with long lines, crowds, and family disputes. It was actually totally fine and we had an incredible time. You do need to plan ahead or you may miss out on things you want to do, but if you stay at Disney for a week, there are usually opportunities to go back to parks to check out things you may have missed. I think it helps to have appropriate expectations, too (ie it will be crowded)

    It’s not a “relaxing” vacation by any means and it’s definitely $$$$, but it is magical. I would probably not bring along infants or toddlers either. My youngest was 3.5 when we went and he was fine.

    1. @Sara – yep, I think 3.5-plus is definitely a good dividing line. And with older kids it can be really fun!

  4. Eurodisney seems unspeakably grim, so no Disney for us. But we have been watching videos and mulling over the original Legoland / Lego House in Denmark. Legoland looks fun, but Lego House looks even cooler, all the interactive exhibits and history. But I think slightly older would be best, maybe a trip for a 6th or 7th birthday.

    1. Legoland in Denmark is awesome! We went last summer with some extended family and 5 kids ranging from 4 months old to 5 years old and everyone had a blast. I highly recommend it! I would also like to go to Lego House.

  5. Lego land in Florida or California are perfect for the slightly younger kid. I highly recommend it! We’ve been to both and my son loves them! We are going to attempt a Disney trip for his tenth birthday but I admit that I’m a bit nervous.

  6. I usually tend to be less adventurous than Laura, but I disagree with the advice about not taking younger kids to Disney. We just took our two littles, ages 1.5 and 4, and it was tiring but great. I think it helped that, since we don’t have any older kids, it was a fully preschool-oriented trip, which meant more relaxed expectations and shorter lines. We were on the fence about taking a double stroller vs a single and decided to take the double, which was critical. The older one spent at least a couple cumulative hours sulking and snacking under the (also critically-important) rain cover.

    1. @Erica- I agree that if it is a truly littles-oriented trip that can work. You might go early, come home for the nap, maybe go back for an early evening. No one would be trying to go on the “big” rides with long waits.

  7. Not sure if you have this rule on purpose (for your own sake), but you can absolutely buy something in the Disney stores and have them hold it for you at guest relations until you’re ready to leave for the day. If you’re staying at a Disney hotel, you can even have them bring it to your room!!! It’s nice to not to have to backtrack through the park to buy something you really wanted.

    1. @Kaitlin- true, though the back-tracking might encourage consideration of whether you *really* wanted it 😉

  8. Hi Ladies, we just got back from our first Disney trip (well for everyone but my husband and we were still there when this episode dropped). We used Genie+ and the Individual lightning lanes… and between rope dropping one ride (like Frozen or Space Mountain), we decided to use it for anything that had more than an hour wait time and was able to ride almost everything that we wanted to ride. I feel like for it to really work, you need to be way more flexible with your day and realize that some of the super popular rides (like Slinky Dog or Jungle Cruise) you have to get your LL reserved for that first and be more flexible for everything else. We liked take a rest in the middle of the afternoon everyday. Also, we liked it when /other/ kids had the bubble wands… my kids got the bubbles and I didn’t have to deal with it… 😀 and I didn’t dig having to pay for our car onsite as well… though we do like having a car without renting one for flexibility sake. I thought it was going to be super busy because of Mardi Gras… but it didn’t seem /that/ bad compared to some amusement parks I’ve been to. But I agree with Laura on the just assume that you will be going again… we are actually planning another trip for in 2 years and it helped to realize that we can go again in a couple of years when the kids didn’t get to go on that one ride they wanted to go on.

    1. @Katie – realizing you’ll go again is helpful. When we didn’t get Rise of the Resistance passes in 2020 it was good to be able to try again in 2021! You also see that things go up and down in popularity. Right after Avatar launched it was like a 5-hour wait – needed a fast pass! But by the time we went in 2021 it was usually only a 45-minute wait or so.

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