Question: We are thinking of going for 19 nights, in February and are planning on doing WDWR, Universal, Discovery Cove, SeaWorld, Aquatica, Busch Gardens. How exhausting is the time out there and do you think we are being too ambitious. It’s going to be a holiday of a life-time so want to try and cram as much in as possible but not to the detriment of our enjoyment for being too tired…
Answer: Well there is no question about it, the time out there can be exhausting, but no I don’t think you’re doing too much. It partly depends on your family’s preferences. When we go, we get up at the crack of dawn, so that we are at the parks for when they open – that is the least busy time and you can get a lot more done in those first couple of hours than any other time in the day. We stay there all day, until the parks close and do that on repeat for a fortnight. And by the time we get back, we’re exhausted and need another holiday. But that’s our preference and there is no need to enjoy yourselves to those extremes! With two children and given the vast amounts of walking involved, you are definitely right to consider the impact of how tired it will inevitably make you. However there are tips and tricks to make sure no-one gets wiped out and still enjoy your trip to its full potential.
If you can do it, I do advocate getting there early, simply because you’ll beat the queues. Many families choose to stay until lunch/early afternoon and then head back to your hotel/villa for a rest or swim, before going out again to see the evening entertainments, or for a meal, which can slow the pace down a little and allow you to relax. Where you’re planning on staying and if you’ll be driving might impact your decision for that. Alternatively, you can take it easy and relax in the mornings and head out later on, and stay out. As you’re thinking of one of the quieter times of year, you have the flexibility to do that if you wish.
I would LOVE to go out there for 19 nights, so for length of holiday, it sounds great. In terms of the parks you’re thinking of visiting, I don’t think it sounds like too much – many people try to do the same in 14 nights. I make it a total of 12 parks you’ll be visiting (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Universal, Island of Adventure, Sea World, Discovery Cove, Aquatica, Busch Gardens). I would use the fact that you’ve got ‘extra’ time to pace yourselves, rather than trying to do something all day every day. You’ll have more than enough time to experience the best of each of the parks and still get some breathing room.
My advice to try and reduce the impact would be to plan your days effectively, so you intersperse your days at the bigger parks with days at the water parks or smaller parks. The biggest parks are Universal (both parks), Magic Kingdom and Epcot, so make sure between these you add in Discovery Cove, Aquatica and the Disney Water Parks, if you plan to visit these. Sea World has lots of shows, so a few ‘breaks’, and DHS and Animal Kingdom aren’t quite as big. With 19 nights you could also afford to a have a few days ‘off’ – time to hit the shops (not overly relaxing) or pool days. 18 days give you 6 free to repeat and relax – I’d use those extra days to repeat Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Islands of Adventure and Universal and maybe Hollywood Studios (meaning you can take it easy at these parks the first time round) and two/three days where you stay by the pool, or just hit the parks in the evening to see the fireworks etc.
And as always, make sure you make use of the FastPass system at the Disney parks to optimise what you can get done in the parks. Unless you’ll be visiting over a public holiday (and if you are, I’d advocate visiting the water parks, Discovery Cove, rest day on those days), I don’t think you’ll need to pay for the Universal Express Pass, but you can read more about those here if you wish.
Another option to reduce how tired you might get could be to break it up with a few days at the beach, or a Cruise. Disney offer 3 and 4 night cruises to the Bahamas and their private island, or the Caribbean, which are meant to be pretty incredible and a nice pace after the craziness of the parks. 15 nights at the parks and 4 on a cruise to chill you all out before you go home? Sorry, I’ve moved on from your holiday to planning my dream trip
So, to sum up, plan it a little and you will have the trip of a lifetime you want!