Monday, September 7, 2009

The Art Of Resting

When you go to Disney World as adults with no children, you don't often think about going back to the room in the middle of the day. Especially to do something crazy like... *gasp*... take a nap. Kids, however, will find a way to let you know that napping isn't only a good idea, it is sometimes imperative.

Generally, kids about age six and under (maybe older than that) need a bit of a rest in the middle of the day if you want them to be coherent, cooperative children by about 6pm. Certainly, if you expect to see fireworks with them, a nap is really a must-do. Many families try to skip this because they are paying a whole lot of money for this trip and don't want to hear the meter ticking as they sleep away an hour or two. But I really must assure you it's money well-spent, and the return on investment can yield you a great deal of sanity. Besides, most kids, when asked what their favorite part of the trip was, will name the hotel and the pool at the top of their list.

Napping for infants and early walkers is a bit different than napping for older children. From about age two to six, children will need one rest about mid-day. Ideally, they will sleep, then maybe go to the pool for an hour or so (or video arcade or lobby television or something like that) and then will be ready to get back to the parks. This isn't very difficult to do. My favorite strategy even helps make the trip a bit cheaper for you by saving money on food if you have a fridge in the room:
  • Eat breakfast in the room or at the resort and get to the park before it opens.
  • Hit the park hard until about 11:30, eating snacks around 10am. You can bring the snacks with you to save money, or buy them as an extra treat/convenience.
  • Leave the park around 11:30am and head back to the resort. You can eat in the park quickly before leaving (eat at 11 or so) or make sandwiches in the room. If you prefer, grab something at your resort's food service area before retreating to your room.
  • Try to nap or at least relax to some television or soothing music.
  • After the nap or quiet activity, do some sort of simple activity like pool time, video games, or something that doesn't require lots of lines and walking. It can be active (like the pool), but "cool and refreshing" is the idea here.
  • Get back to the parks around 4 or 5pm.
  • Stay as late as you can handle, treating yourself to dinner somewhere in the park.

This is a general strategy and can be tailored to your different plans for the day. For instance, if you are eating a character breakfast, try to schedule it early (before the park opens) or at around 10:30 so you can go from there directly back for rest time.

Some parents recognize the need to nap, but choose to allow kids to nap in the stroller instead of heading back. This works best for infants who are really able to lie back in a stroller and rest, and even then, it isn't ideal. Kids under two, especially infants under twelve months, often need more than one nap a day making it really difficult to get back to the room for those periods of time. You may plan to either stay around your resort until after morning nap, then take afternoon nap in the stroller, or reverse it, depending on your children and how they will best fare. We prefer to get to the park early to help beat the crowds and the heat of mid-day. Regardless, prepare for stroller naps by bringing shade for the stroller and maybe a favorite stuffed animal or blanket. Anything that will make baby more comfortable will help ensure as restful a nap as possible.

It's important to also plan something to do yourself while baby naps in the stroller. Most attractions require you to remove the child from the stroller, which might wake him or otherwise disturb him. It's a good time to eat at a counter service restaurant. If you can pick your child up without waking him and he will like sleeping in your arms, you can attend a stage show like Beauty and the Beast or Finding Nemo: The Musical or you can take in the Hall of Presidents. I don't recommend the stunt shows or the 4-D movies, as they are loud in general with explosions and other things that are likely to wake a baby. Walking the trails at Animal Kingdom is also a nice way to pass the time, although if your stroller is large, you might have some trouble maneuvering through some areas. Check with a cast member.

So what are your strategies for napping and resting at Disney World? Do you have suggestions for places to enjoy while your youngster takes a snooze in the stroller? Please leave us comments with your thoughts!


disneynorth said...

Don't be surprised if the little ones fall asleep in the loud shows/attractions. In May, my 10 month old fell asleep in both the Tiki Room and the Circle of Life (Lion King movie in The Land). I thought that the Circle of Life would be too loud for him, but he zonked right out.

Jennifer said...

When my son was younger, I used the stroller method. He's always been a good sleeper and can sleep just about anywhere. I would walk him around with a blankie over the stroller until he fell asleep and then I would find a shady spot and read my book. This allowed the others in our group to go on the more adult rides that my son was not tall enough to go on. It's also a nice time to eat a meal "alone." Most counter service locations allow you to wheel the stroller up to your table. I even managed to pull off watching the night time parade at the Magic Kingdom while my son slept in the stroller beside me.

Now that he is past the napping stage, I plan half days just to break it up a bit. Every other day we plan some pool time or non-park time for a half day which helps both of us not get too cranky.

Jen said...

My best strategy for resting at Disney World is to go with a friend who knows the benefits of doing so! Being a grownup, I never would have thought of it myself--but that smart lady's napping plan was my saving grace once or twice! ; )

Middlingmom said...

We have to go back for a nap or our daughter is totally unreasonable plus she really does not sleep in her stroller. We typically stay offsite so we go back to the house around 11 or 1130 have a nice lunch at home and then lay our daughter down for 2-3 hours and in the quiet she will sleep longer. Then my husband and I will take turns exploring our resort or if we have other family members we will both go out; otherwise, we take a nap along with her so we are not burnt out either (dragging a toddler around WDW can be extremely mentally and physically tyring!).

Alex said...

I hit the parks hard, early in the morning for the extra magic hours and park openings and late at night until closing, and so I, a 24 year old, take a break after 12:30pm when the parks are often too crowded anyway to take a nap. Often this nap is just laying in bed cuddling with my boyfriend as on the last trip, or on the previous trip my best friend and I eating peanut butter and crackers, watching the Disney Parks preview channel (yes that really bubbly woman running around to the 10 best attractions in the 'World, one of which was a whole park I believe, not really a single attraction at all Ms. Bubbly; I am just going to say it, you are a liar!) and giggling about various things that are amazingly funny when you are exhausted. Usually though, even with everything else that we do during these breaks, we do get an hour or so of sleep, or at least sleep like rest with our eyes closed, which preps us to hit the parks again by 5pm. Our schedule is usually crazy and built for maximum riding, but even with what my friends call an, ahem, Disney Nazi schedule, I always build in rest times. My last trip was my boyfriend's first trip to a Disney park, and we got there on New Years day, which was his birthday and after not sleeping much New Years Eve (we were out of the house by 5:30am and I couldn't sleep until 3am), and staying up until the 2am closing at Magic Kingdom I let him sleep in until nearly 2pm on our second day. Despite my hyper, frequent contemplation of running off to the parks alone, it was a good idea, and after I had some breakfast I settled in myself, and I am sure it prevented us from dragging the rest of the trip.

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