How to survive the worst Disney World trip with kids

My youngest son doesn’t really like Disney World. OK, that’s not true. If you ask him about Walt Disney World he will say he loves it. Ask him WHY he loves it and he will tell you “the swimming pool.”

Now don’t gasp, but Disney is not our happy place.

I know, I know, the horrors! But this is why. Every single time (OK, we have only been twice) we go to Walt Disney World, my youngest son gets the flu.

worst Disney World trip

Walt Disney World Vacation Take One

Our first visit we had no idea he had a 104 fever until after the first day. He was grumpy, but at just 4 years old, he was grumpy and whiny a lot. Talk about crying wolf! We took him on the tea cups, on Barnstormer and too many other rides. By the end of the first day he declared that he hated rides.

Well no wonder! Who wouldn’t feel like crap with a 104 fever when you are twirling around on the tea cups. He has yet to go on a ride since, even at other amusement parks.

My oldest on the other hand had a blast and only wants to ride roller coasters no matter where he goes. His dad is the same. This suits our family just fine since I am terrified of roller coasters and would rather do the calm activities.

worst Disney World trip

Walt Disney World Vacation Take Two

And that’s exactly what I did with my youngest on our second visit. And yes, he came down with the flu after our first day then too. This trip I was prepared though. Disney is great about having medicine at every resort on property and at the first aid centers in the parks. I’d packed a mountain of children’s acetaminophen and ibuprofen, but I didn’t bring cough syrup, which we needed after a few days.

Loaded up with drugs we walked the parks. Naturally, Disney’s Hollywood Studios was our favorite stop. Star Wars is big in our house and definitely our favorite park at Walt Disney World. There aren’t too many rides. It was also the only place this kid was happy during our trip.

Read our guide to all things
Disney Hollywood Studios Star Wars now!

worst Disney World trip

Princesses and Storm Troopers

While my niece, who was traveling with us, wanted all things princess, my son wanted to hang with Chewbacca and Storm Troopers. That’s what we did. We didn’t go on a single ride the entire trip. All we did was walk around.

Did I want to go on a ride? Sure. I wouldn’t mind going on the Dumbo ride at least ONCE, but that’s not what my kid could handle. Instead, we ate ice cream at Magic Kingdom. I regularly nodded at the other moms with sick kids in the park. Oh how I could sympathized with them as their kids melted down at every turn.

worst Disney World trip

Don’t Stress When Things Go Wrong

Yes, Walt Disney World is magical, but it doesn’t turn your kids into angels. Kids, no matter their age, get tired and need rest. I quickly learned that if we spent a few hours in the park and then head back to the hotel pool my life was infinitely better.

Yes, we spent a small fortune to be there and enjoy the parks, but I’d rather not scream at my kid the entire time because he is miserable and I feel like I need to get everything I can out of the trip.

My son was sick and I had to roll with what he could handle. I was not alone. Countless parents bring sick kids to Walt Disney World every year. When a parent plans for up to two years for the perfect trip to Disney World and anyone in the family gets sick, you power through.

CLICK for tips for taking care of
your own sick child at Disney World?

worst Disney World trip

Kids WILL be Kids

Kids get tired, get sick, get impatient standing in lines, whine, don’t want what you just paid for them to eat, get a case of the “gimmes” and everything else that comes along with being a kid. The biggest thing to remember is that your kids will be kids no matter where you are, even at Disney World. Just like you can’t stop parenting just because you are on vacation, your kids won’t stop doing all of those annoying things either.

Roll with it. Slow down your schedule. Provide ample pool time where your kids can just be kids for a minute. Let them play with other kids.

Give yourself a break! Order a cocktail by the pool and relax. It’s a VACATION.

Make sure you vacate your normal harried routine and get some rest too. If your child does not get a picture with every character in the park, it will be OK. No one will die.

Walt Disney World is dubbed the most magical place on earth. If your kids aren’t feeling it, find a way for them to enjoy themselves again. If you aren’t feeling it, make sure you look at how you are spending your time and change directions. It’s the only way to survive. There is no one way to do Disney, so find your own Disney magic.

6 thoughts on “How to survive the worst Disney World trip with kids”

  1. Mom

    Your philosophy is great, tips very helpful, and of course you know not only from your son’s experience, but from your own when YOU got the flu the second half of our one and only visit to Disney World when you were a kid!

  2. Mary Lopez

    It’s very sad to hear about your little kid but it’s not Disney lands fault I think. Flu can be caused anywhere. We just have to maintain primary steps to keep our kids safe.

    1. Keryn Means

      Thanks so much for your comment. I don’t think I ever blamed Disney World in the article, but I apologize if that’s what you felt I implied. I merely pointed out that my son, like so many other children, arrive sick or get sick while there. We as parents push our kids too hard to have the best time possible because of the expense of the trip, when in fact, we need to remember to slow down, allow them to recover, so they can go back to having fun.

  3. Tani Gonzalez

    Hi Keryn,

    Just to clarify some important information here: I like your advice about slowing down, but when your child has flu, the most important and responsible thing to do is please keep him home. Don’t treat the symptoms and take him out to spread flu. This is common behavior in everywhere from schools to Disney and I believe it comes from not understanding that the cough medicines and fever reducers are not making your child less contagious. This year, more people are dying from flu, so please help spread proper information about what to do when your child is sick at Disney- keep him away from
    others. Thank you! ?

  4. L McAllister

    Another lifesaver with a kid that isn’t feeling well is stroller rental. Our 7 yr old started feeling bad during our trip but recovered enough to want to be in the park. She was almost too big for the strollers they offer so this won’t work for everyone but it helped us tremendously.

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