Mom Guilt: Insights on Disney To Share With the Kids

The Main Stage At Disney'S Hollywood Studios
The main stage at Disney's Hollywood Studios

What I’ve Learned Attending Conferences at Disney World, And How It’s Helped Me to Plan Our Vacation

I feel guilty every time I go to Disney World. That’s because I usually go without my kids. I have been to Disney every year for the last three years without them, and probably eight times before that for professional conferences. Every time I’ve gotten to tour the parks, hop on rides and sample Disney hospitality, and the only thing my kids got was a t-shirt (or more expensive guilt-driven purchases).

But this summer will be different: I am taking my kids to Disney and I’m going to share with them the insider’s view I get every time I attend a meeting at Disney. And lucky you: I‘m sharing this with you, too. Here’s what I ‘ve learned, and what we’re going to do:

  1. The Magic Of Disney Resorts

    The Magic of Disney Resorts is that you will see things like this: A princess carriage complete with white horses sparkles compliments of the Panasonic Lumix camera

    Check into a Disney resort, at least for the days we are headed to the parks, plus one day for pool time. I’d love to stay at the Polynesian Resort, which is undergoing a huge renovation and where I first stayed for a conference long ago (before I had kids). In the Polynesian Resort, Walt Disney’s vision is clear: the lush grounds and tropical feel of the hotel are truly relaxing and a world away. The Polynesian Resort, which is being renovated and will be done in early 2015, connects to the parks via monorail, which is convenient and easy. If not Polynesian, the Beach Club and Yacht Club are wonderful too; a quick walk to the fun on the Boardwalk and a boat or bus ride to the parks, Beach and Yacht Club share what may be the best pool at Disney. Staying at a Disney resort has lots of advantages: easy transportation to the parks, extended hours at some parks, earlier Fast Pass signup, charge-to-room privileges and more.

  2. Disney'S Magic Bands

    Disney’s Magic Bands make your experience easy, and, yes, magical. Photo Credit: DebMomof3

    Get Magic Bands for the whole family. Magic Bands, which come with the package when you stay at a Disney Property and buy park tickets, are smart bracelets that let you get in and our of the room easily, enter the park, pass through the Fast Pass lane and charge purchases to your room; and to limit the damage from charge-happy family members, you can limit charge privileges to certain family members (or in our case, one: Me). Magic Bands are waterproof and can be worn in the pool, and you can select a different color Magic Band for each member of the family.

  3. Magic Bands: High Tech Jewelry

    Magic bands: high tech jewelry that pair nicely with the good stuff; sparkles compliments of the Panasonic Lumix camera

    Teen strategy: Hit the parks early every day, and be there when the park closes every night. If in the middle of the day the park feels too crowded, we can head back to the hotel for a swim or some downtime, then go back for the evening. At night, lines for rides can be shorter, especially when most people are watching fireworks or the parade at the Magic Kingdom.

  4. Toddler Strategy: When my kids were toddlers, we got the most from our visits by getting them to the rides and character greetings before lunch, then heading back to the hotel for a nap. Later we would have dinner in the park and watch the parade and fireworks, which may have been their favorite part of a visit to Disney.

    Cinderella'S Castle At Night

    Cinderella’s Castle at Night: magical, no matter your age. Photo Credit: Angela Tiffin

  5. Rain can be your friend. If rain is at all in the forecast, pack ponchos and water sandals for your trip and plan to have fun: a lot of people either leave the park or hit the restaurants when it rains, meaning lines for rides are shorter and getting to the rides can be easier since the parks are less crowded.
  6. Fast Pass: When planning the trip, plan which days to hit which park and sign up for Fast Pass rides. You can sign up for three a day, and after you’ve used your three you can register for more (but only one at a time, after you’ve used the current one). Don’t-miss rides for us include: Space Mountain, the Mine Train, Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan and the Big Thunder Mountain at The Magic Kingdom; Chevy Test Track and Soarin’ at Epcot; Star Tours and Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios
  7. Downtown Disney and Disney Springs: Downtown Disney is undergoing a huge renovation that will transform the restaurant, shopping and entertainment center into a village reminiscent of turn of the century Florida (scheduled to be completed in 2016). A look at the photos makes me think of Sandestin or Seaside on the Florida Panhandle, but on a much larger, grander scale. Until then, Downtown Disney offers a fun place to roam, eat, shop and relax, and best of all, there’s no admission price, so often it’s our first stop when we get to Orlando.
The Newest Ride At Disney: The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

The newest ride at Disney: The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a must-ride for our next trip to Disney World: Photo: Margalit Sturm Francus

Once we’ve visited the Disney parks, we’ll find some other fun things to do in Orlando, too; there is great outlet shopping, Tampa-area beaches are only an hour or so drive, the Space Coast is two hours and Daytona is two hours. Or, maybe we’ll just book an extra day and relax by the pool at the Beach Club. Because my kids can never get enough of Disney.


Disclosure: I was a guest of Disney at the recent TravelingMom Retreat and received a Panasonic Lumix camera that I used to photograph my trip; all opinions and advice are my own.

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss