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7 Ways to Prevent Family Drama at Walt Disney World

6. Take a mid-day break.

Little girl in princess dress asleep on storybook

Image: elPadawan, Flickr (license)

“Mommy, Disney World is the best! Let’s go TAKE A NAP!” said no kid ever.

Kids are adorable and squishy and make Walt Disney World magical, but they are usually terrible judges of their own energy levels. Most kids will do anything in their power to keep the fun going non-stop on a Disney day, even if it they’re tired. Often, parents don’t realize anything is wrong until our little prince or princess shows signs of crankiness. For some kids, ignoring this early signal can prove a recipe for a meltdown and some unexpected Disney-day-drama.

Ironically, many adults follow the same pattern.

Planning rest breaks into your Disney days is one of the best measures a family can take to prevent drama. Yes, kids may initially sulk at the prospect of leaving the parks, but it is worth it. Leaving the parks for a few hours when crowds swell to their busiest will give you a chance to recover during that bonkers time of day when most families are just beginning to feel the drama. Kids have a chance to nap, snack, or watch cartoons in the room (this is where staying on property really becomes worth it). Adults can catch their breath and rest their legs. Introverts can recover with some alone time while extraverts can enjoy some casual socializing (hopefully not with their dear introvert trying to hide in the closet).

During your Disney days, keep an eye on the energy levels of your family members, especially small children. Be flexible and find some ways to compromise with those who are getting worn out but deliberately planning opportunities to rest and recover.

7. Be kind and set boundaries

Adorable little girl meets Cinderella

Image: Disney

Some family drama on a Walt Disney World vacation can feel unavoidable because of clashes of values. Maybe you have a family member who is a “boundary-buster” who all-too-often demands their own way. Maybe someone tends to act passive aggressively. Maybe one family member suffers from anxiety while others in the family don’t understand it and exacerbate the issue.

In any family, the first step to resolving these problems is to set good boundaries. Entire books have been written on the issue.

You are an individual with values, and it is okay to have boundaries around those values, like furniture in a house. It is okay for family members to have disagreements and even to discuss those disagreements in values, like visiting a house but not caring for the decor. It is not okay to belittle, steamroll, or disregard the values of a family member entirely. We may not be able to change the behavior of crazy family members, but we can take steps to set clear and healthy boundaries in a kind way. If drama is being caused on a vacation by clashes in values, it is okay to set a boundary: “It’s okay that you want to ride that ride, but I am not comfortable on roller coasters. I will be in the shop while you guys ride.” If a boundary-busting party member gets upset, stay firm and polite: “That’s okay. You guys have fun, and we can meet up and do something together after you get off the ride.”

Easily fall into anger or anxiety? Take time to step away and clear your head, even if you have to get firm with family members to keep that boundary in place. If they get offended, that is on them, not you. Boundaries can be tricky territory to navigate, but they are crucial to preventing drama in the long term and, if nothing else, keeping it from wrecking your trip. Bad things feels bad and that’s okay—stuff happens, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. It is okay as an individual if you (or you and your spouse) need to establish some boundaries with family during a Disney vacation. Communicate kindly within your family and if a boundary issue keeps cropping up, do what you can to address it and find a solution. It’s rarely possible for all family drama to be avoided but establishing clear boundaries can often help or at least guard your values.

How do you prevent family drama on a Walt Disney World vacation?

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