Walt Disney World: Practical Tips and Positive Mindsets

Golden rules for happiness in the Magic Kingdom
LET THE MAGIC BEGIN: Disney's Illuminations show (courtesy, Disney)

The first time we visited Walt Disney World was to mark a celebration. I'd just completed my doctorate degree, but in getting there I'd spent more hours in the library than with my then nine-year-old son Matt. When the university wouldn't honor my request to allow Matt to march in the procession with me, Matt, my husband David, and I ditched my convocation for three days of family fun at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Matt deserved it, and so did we.

The place proved to be everything we hoped for—great rides, exciting attractions, lively shows. But like most novices, we overdid it. We snaked through lines, boarded attractions, and hurried on to the next experience even when what we coveted most was a nap. As a result, there were more than a few cranky meltdowns. Along with the many magical moments.

With the lessons of that experience learned, we waited until my daughter Alissa turned four before showing her Mickey and Minnie's playground. Over the years we've now gone through the gates with our progeny when they were pre-schoolers, pre-teens, teens, college students, and twentysomethings. The rhythms, goals, and great moments vary with the age group—and so do the things you wish you knew ahead of time. And so to help you the next time you pack up the family in search of those Disney moments, here are some suggestions from parents who've learned the hard and easy way about making the Magic Kingdom work for, not against, you.


Away.com's resident family expert Candyce Stapen has written the book on family travel, having authored some 1,400 travel articles and 27 books, 26 of them on family travel. She is the winner of the 2004 "Caribbean Travel Writer of the Year for North America" award and a three-time winner of the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award. Her articles have appeared in publications including Nick Jr , FamilyFun , Parents , Better Homes & Gardens , Conde Nast Traveler , National Geographic Traveler , and the Family Travel Network , among others. Her book, the National Geographic Guide to Caribbean Family Vacations is available from Amazon.com.

Published: 11 Apr 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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