Skip to content

What to Expect when you are Expecting – Walt Disney World

I know, it’s a take off the baby book. But when I thought of my “hot topic” for today’s blog, I thought about all of the expectations we Disney folk put on ourselves.  Whether you saved for months, or simply are taking the grandkids for dinner, everyone has expectations on what the true Disney experience is.  Let’s talk more on what a “healthy” expectation is and what a “toxic” one is.

The Healthy Expectations

I have been there – you have laid down $4000 for your vacation, from tickets to hotel, and you expect great service, food, attractions, and an awesome time.  I expect to check-in in a reasonable time period, I want to open my door to a clean and inviting resort room, and I expect that each park is open and up and running. You pay a lot to spend time here, so I feel these are certainly healthy expectations.

The Toxic Expectations

It is not “ok” to expect that your little one will be waking Tinkerbell, or will be chosen for the Jedi Academy, or be given the drawing from the Animator in the drawing class, or be doted on by every character.  Not everyone will have a towel animal in their Resort room, nor will everyone be the first in line at the hottest attraction of the day. Why am I being so blunt? I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings or expectations, but if you maybe “hope” on some of the things I have listed, instead of “expecting”, I guarantee you will have a happier trip.

I have read many Disney Message Boards over the years, and I get really upset when I see “How can I make my trip more magical?” Um… aren’t you going to Walt Disney World?  Have you heard about our economy these days? I know MANY who are unemployed right now, including my own Carl. It’s a long road to deal with, and if you are fortunate enough to avoid it and head to WDW, your trip is already magical!

Now I know some of you are saying “But Ellie, it’s my Hubby’s Birthday” etc… I know, there are many occasions to celebrate. Yes, you SHOULD celebrate them while in WDW, just don’t expect a big deal about them.  Wear a button, buy a cake if you want, but more importantly, enjoy the time spent on that special day.

Let us know “your” Disney expectations!


  1. I’m with you Ellie!

    As far as I’m concerned it’s magical just being there. Just sitting in a rocking chair on the BC porch makes me happy.

    Seeing guests enjoy their visit makes me happy.

    Now, in saying that, would I be happy if that chair were broke or if the area I was sitting in smelled like garbage? Not at all. The Disney World cast members and environment meet and sometimes surpass all of my expectations.

    I never had a bad trip but I also never expected ridiculous demands. A poor meal, a ride gone ride, nor a hotel glitch could break my vacation there.

    I’m unemployed and heading down to the world soon:) It’s my happy place.


  2. Last year I turned 40 year old and I told my dear husband I wanted to plan to go to Disney World with our daughter, then 6-turning-7. I had never been to Disney, believe it or not, and I knew it was the perfect time to take our daughter. Then we found out I was pregnant, with twins, so we booked our trip immediately for just weeks later, and drove the 21 or so hours to Florida.

    Our trip was wonderful, magical, and like nothing else. And why was that? I had absolutely NO EXPECTATIONS. We didn’t book any character dining things, or have reservations for meals, and I barely read anything about Disney. We just went. And explored. And did what we could. We completely enjoyed our trip because we had not set agenda. Sure, wanted to see this parade or that show, but we knew our time was limited so we fit in what we could. And it worked for us.

    Of course, we want to go back. And I know the second time around won’t be as magical because we will likely have expectations now. There are rides and attractions we missed, and want to see, so we will expect that.

    But I guess the moral of my comment is that NO EXPECTATIONS ARE THE BEST EXPECTATIONS!


  3. I also actually have one thing to add to this awesome post…

    There is one thing that I have seen WAY too many times: Parents completly loosing their cool when the kids have a meltdown….

    I think another very important thing to expect is your child(ren) having some level of meltdown during a vacation. Now, it could be a light meltdown, or it could be complete chaos. A very important thing to remember is most children are visiting Disney World for the first time. They are gonig to have expectations of thier own, and also are not going to be used to the very long hot days and long lines.

    I can say we have been VERY blessed with our kids. I dont think they have really had a meltdown on any level in any of our many trips. We typically include them on a lot of planning for our trip(s). While we are there, we make sure to take mid day breaks to swim or just shower and sleep.

    While I understand many parents save for a long time for a vacation to Walt Disney World, and may only get there once – I think parents need to remember why they are going there, and not be afraid to take a ‘time out’ themselves every once and a while.



  4. Amen. I think the catch is that people are looking for such a return on their investment, they forget to slow down. Magic is a surprise!
    We got a pirate room at CBR last year and I doubted the upgrade $$. In the end, it rain almost every night, and my kids loved playing pirate and getting lemonade from the fridge shaped like a barrel. The entire price of the upgrade? About $100 for the week, but when we were watching TV instead of fireworks, we were having a great time.
    I’m also a fan of making your own magic. Rent a paddle boat. Have ice cream for breakfast. Make a scrapbook. Get the janitor’s autograph. We spent an obscene amount of time in the arcades, but pressing pennies=$.51 of fun.


  5. I agree with Kelly. The first time we went we had no expectations and had a blast. The second time I planned and made lists for each day at each park – I fully expected to see and do everything on those lists. Then Tropical Storm Fay hit – stupid Fay! And the lists went out the window. But rolled with it and spent a lot of time in the arcade at the air hockey table and that is one of the brightest memories I have from that trip.
    Now we are planning our next trip and I am back to reading, planning and listing. But I know not to expect to see and do all that is on the lists. If we don’t get to some things, we’ll save them for the next time! My new motto is Roll with it!


  6. I completely agree with Susan and Kellie (and with everyone else!): Roll with it, go with the flow , easy does it, etc., etc. Wonderful, lifelong memories are rarely planned or scheduled. The best part about having fun is that it usually sneaks up on you when you’re least expecting it. Making your own magic: Amen! And I LOVE the idea about getting the janitor’s autograph!!

    On our first trip in February 2008 and on our second trip in February 2010, I didn’t plan a thing. My only expectation was to have a good time and I had that … And more. We’re going again in November and aside from making a few ADRs, I haven’t done much else. There are a few rides and attractions that I’d like to do that I’ve never done before (Hall of Presidents, Test Track, etc.) but if I don’t get to them for whatever reason, no big deal. Disney World will always be there and I will always be coming back.

    And Carl, I couldn’t agree more about ADULTS taking a much needed time out, whether it be at Disney World or anywhere else. It’s rare, but whenever I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed at Disney, I’ll grab a coffee or cold drink and sit and “regroup” on a park bench.


  7. I’m so glad that you posted about this. Some people get the World and then just get so upset when they don’t get absolutely everything they want.

    It’s a vacation and you have to just be flexible and enjoy it!


%d bloggers like this: