Every family experiences a meltdown at some point during their Disney vacation. It’s totally normal and happens to the best of us. Let’s be honest…most families don’t spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week together in the the Florida heat, with the added challenge of crowds, sugary treats and the fatigue that can sneak in. Mom wants to do one thing, while Dad disagrees. Suddenly, everyone is Grumpy and needing a break from one another. Oh, and don’t forget the additional pressure many families put on themselves to have a perfect, magical, "Instagrammable" experience. These expectations just aren’t realistic.
The solution is to plan for a Disney Date Night during your vacation! This can either help your family recover from the meltdown or help prevent one from happening in the first place.
My husband and I have learned how important it is during our family vacation to spend some time together, just the two of us, when we can ride the thrilling attractions we love, relax, hold hands, visit the parks at our own pace and even enjoy a specialty cocktail (or two) together, without having to put our son’s needs first. Even if it’s just for a few hours, we come back to our resort feeling re-energized, reconnected and ready to continue giving our son the attention and priority he deserves for the rest of the holiday. We truly feel it’s important to make memories as a couple, too.
No matter how many kids you have, a Disney Date Night will be achievable if you follow my advice and choose one of the options, below. Doing so will add a lot of value to your family’s holiday.
Here are my tips on how to have a Disney Date Night, even if you’re spending your vacation with the kids.
Build a Disney Date Night into Your Plans
Your Disney Date Night won’t come as a surprise to anyone in the family if you plan it from the start. I recommend planning your date night two or three nights into the vacation. I’ve started asking my clients which night of their vacation they’d like to plan their Disney Date Night! Most of them have never even considered the possibility, but are very happy to have the plan in place once I make the suggestion.
Don’t Give the Kids a Choice
Your kids might not understand your need to spend time together as a couple during your Disney vacation. And if you give them the option, they are almost sure to defend their right to have you in their presence for the entire holiday. Let me assure you, this is not the case! Parents need time to be themselves without the kids, vacation or not. You and your spouse are entitled to a few child-free hours during your Disney vacation, whether the children approve or not.
So many parents feel they need their children’s approval to leave them for a few hours. I strongly disagree, and if you need someone’s permission to go on a date with your spouse at Walt Disney World, then you’ve got my permission to do it. Go, have fun. The kids will survive. In fact, they’ll more than survive…they’ll have a great evening, too, and probably be disappointed when it's time for them to be picked up.
Ask older siblings to keep an eye out for their younger brothers or sisters while you’re gone. Make it fun for them to be without you for a few hours. Who knows what fun they might get up to when you’re not around?
Hire a Sitter
There are a couple of different options for hiring a babysitter at Walt Disney World Resort.
The first is to use a service such as Kid’s Nite Out, which is an independent childcare provider. This one-to-one babysitting service will care for your children between the ages of 6 months and 12 years old in your resort hotel room. The price varies depending on the number of children (pricing for up to four kids is listed on their website, but you can call for the rate for larger families).
Another option is to hire an independent sitter to care for your children at the resort. We have done this in the past, with a great outcome. Our sitter, Lori, came directly to our room to take care of our son while my husband and I went to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to ride Avatar: Flight of Passage and have a bite to eat together. While we went on our date, our babysitter took our son to the arcade, to the splash park, for something to eat at the resort counter service restaurant and to check out the children’s activities planned there for the evening. If we had asked her to, she would also have brought him to meet us inside one of the theme parks. She was absolutely wonderful, and our son had a great time with her. We plan to use her services again in the future.
Here are a few more options for activities your kids can do while you and your spouse connect at Walt Disney World Resort.
Islands of the Caribbean Pirate Cruise at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
This experience will leave you and your spouse with a couple of hours together for a “day date” to have an uninterrupted breakfast together. This two-hour excursion takes place daily at Caribbean Cay in the middle of Barefoot Bay at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, from 9:30 until 11:30 am. You do not need to be a guest at this resort to book this experience for your children, but if you’re not a guest, it might take a little bit of planning to get there. Children must be between the ages of 4 and 12 to participate.
While the kids are having their pirate adventure, you will have a couple of hours to grab breakfast at Centertown Market or Spyglass Grill. You may even decide to venture over to Disney’s Riviera Resort for a cappuccino and pastry on the patio before it’s time to pick the kids up for the rest of your day together!
Albatross Treasure Cruise at Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Your kids will go on a treasure hunt across Crescent Lake and even in the Epcot World Showcase Lagoon! This adventure departs from the Bayside Marina in front of Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.
During their two-hour hunt for pirate’s booty, you and your spouse can take a leisurely stroll or Surrey bike ride around Disney's BoardWalk, or pop into Epcot via the International Gateway for a pastry and coffee at the France Pavilion.
This adventure takes place weather permitting from 9:30 until 11:30 am. Children must be between the ages of 4 and 12 to participate.
Captain Hook’s Pirate Crew at Disney’s Beach Club Resort
For $55 USD plus tax each, children can enjoy an evening at Captain Hook’s Pirate Crew at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. Like the Pirate Adventure Cruise, you do not need to be a guest of Disney’s Beach Club Resort to make use of this fantastic service.
You can drop your kids off as early as 4:30 pm, with pick-up at 8:30 pm. If your children are fully potty-trained, they’re old enough to participate. They will be fed dinner during their time there, and will even get to go for a pontoon boat ride out on Crescent Lake! Captain Hook will make an appearance, as well. For a character encounter, four hours of childcare and a meal, I think this is an excellent value. Reservations are strongly recommended.
For your date night, you can enjoy dinner at any of Disney's BoardWalk area restaurants or head into Epcot to eat or to enjoy a cocktail or two in any of the world showcase pavilions. There may even be time for you to head into Disney’s Hollywood Studios to ride the thrill attractions there, such as the Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith or the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. This theme park is a walk or boat ride from Disney's Beach Club Resort!
Accompanying Family or Friends
If you’re fortunate to be traveling with extended family members or another family, ask them if they would mind taking the kids for a few hours one evening. If you’ve got friends along for the vacation, offer to swap date nights! Ideas to keep them busy:
I can’t stress enough how much fun you and your spouse will have when you plan a Disney Date Night during your Walt Disney World Resort vacation. And if you work with me to help you plan your Disney vacation, don’t be surprised to hear me ask which night of your vacation you want to spend without the kids in tow. It will be my pleasure to help find a way for you to connect as a couple at the most magical place on earth!
For more Disney Date Night ideas, check out Top 5 Date Night Activities at Walt Disney World over at Pixie Dust Fan!
Amy is a former Disney Cruise Line cast member, Certified Cruise Counsellor and Vacation Specialist at Pure Magic Vacations.
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