My Disney Top 5 - Ways a Short WDW Trip Can be Your Best WDW Trip

by Chris Barry, staff writer
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Welcome back to another Disney Top 5.

As I’m sitting at my desk writing this very article, I’m incredibly close to another amazing Walt Disney World vacation. Within 48 hours, I will most likely be sitting on our balcony at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. The kids will be asleep and I’ll be having a glass of wine with my wife. We’ll be watching the resort as its put to bed for the night and imagining all the fun and wonder we’re about to partake in over the next few days. I can’t wait for that moment; when it’s just the two of us out there sitting in the cool night air, nowhere to go, nothing to rush off to, with nothing more ahead of us but more magical memories to be made with our family. It’s a peaceful and relaxing moment that you can only get when you’re settled in at one of your favorite places in the world. You’ve left the real world behind and for a few days at least… the possibilities are endless.

It’s not too obvious of a statement to say that Walt Disney World has fostered many of our most cherished memories as a family. While, I’m always excited for our next trip down to “the World,” the particular type of trip that we’re about to take always seems to be the most magical. Thanks to the way the Jewish holidays have fallen this year, school is closed for a few days adjacent to a weekend and not being of the Jewish faith, we have no religious or familial obligations to attend to…so we’re off on the road to Orlando for a quick four-night visit to the Most Magical Place on Earth. If our Disney travel history has taught us anything, it’s that these little escapes seem to wind up being the most fun. I’m not quite sure why that is. So, when I was searching for a topic for this week’s Top 5, it was my wife that suggested, “Why don’t you explore the Top 5 reasons why our short Disney trips always seem to be our best Disney trips?”

She’s a genius, that woman, and I don’t say that just because she’s reading this. She’s right. The more I think back, it does seem to be that the short trips always end up to be much more memorable than the long ones. Not that our longer trips are anything shabby: quite the contrary. I love a good seven-day or even ten-day trip. But that short first trip, as a family when my daughter was four was incredibly magical. The long weekend we spent checking out the Christmas decorations in early December…perfect. The four-day trip in May with just my wife and I during Flower and Garden… was blissful. The shorter ones do seem to stand out.

I’ve been communicating with a reader from South Africa that will be down there the same time we are. We’ll be there for four days. She’ll be there for 11 and yes… I’m definitely green with envy. However, if this trip is anything like our past ones, it’s going to have a certain sort of specialness to it that I hope I can explain.

That said, if you’re one of the many, many readers out there that are planning a trip and asking the eternal question, “How long should I stay?” here’s a slightly different take on that answer with my Top 5 Ways That a Short Walt Disney World Trip Can be Your Best Walt Disney World Trip.

5- Cost


A great rate could bring you here to Disney's BoardWalk Inn. Photo by Jennifer Baker.

Let’s face it, 10 nights at the Polynesian with 10-day Park Hoppers for all five of us certainly sounds like glorious fun until you look at the bill and see more than a month’s pay flying out of the bank. For a four-night trip though, we can justify a little bit of a splurge, especially if we get a deal. Disney was offering a 30 percent off room only deal for late summer/early fall. That got us The BoardWalk for around $250 a night. Not cheap for sure, but a good deal for a room at this luxury resort and not so bitter a pill to swallow for just a few nights as opposed to a full week.

4 – Off Season Travel


This is what you're looking for during the off-season, an almost empty volcano pool at the Polynesian. Photo by Chris Barry.

All of our shorter trips have been in the off-season. I don’t think we would ever book a quick weekend in the summer or during the peak vacation times of the year. When we have gone over the summer, I’m off, the kids are off, and so we book a full week, and sometimes more, because we have the time. However, if it works out and you can get away to Walt Disney World for a long weekend in the fall or in early December for the holiday decorations or in the spring for Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival, you really get to see the resort at it’s uncrowded best.

3- Less Pressure Leaving Home


The only flowers I want my wife concerned about are these at our favorite spot in the Magic Kingdom rose garden. Photo by Chris Barry.

What about the dog? Who’ll water the flowers? Did you stop the mail? How about the newspaper delivery? Do I need to mow the lawn so it’s not a foot tall when we return? Sometimes those long vacations, while completely worth it, can take a lot out of you just trying to get out of town for a week. I won’t even go into what my wife goes through as a small business owner. Shutting down and covering the business for a week or ten days is extremely taxing and let’s be honest…I need the woman calm and relaxed when we go away not panicked and stressed. A short break is much easier to prepare for and easier to deal with and that can go a long way towards your happiness quotient once you’re away.

2 – Less Can Be More


Just drop me off here for the four days and I'll be fine. Photo by Chris Barry.

We’ve essentially got three and a half park days on this upcoming trip. For a Disney fanatic like yours truly…that just doesn’t sound like enough. Trust me, I could always use more. But when you have a short amount of time you can set a limit with a place as massive as Walt Disney World. We know for sure we can’t see everything. You can’t really see everything on a weeklong trip either, but on a short trip like this one, we’ll narrow our focus and just see and experience exactly what we want to. We don’t care too much for Downtown Disney, so it’s definitely out. The waterparks are out. Things that we might consider doing away from the parks when we have a long week like renting a boat, mini-golf or a spa day for the girls are all out. This way, we get to do exactly the things we love most and that extra attention and focus makes them seem extra special. Four days full of guaranteed magical moments is just what I’m looking for right now and I can get that in a four-day trip.

1- It Just Leaves You Yearning For More


Once I leave here...I can't wait to come back. Photo by Chris Barry.

That may seem like kind of a bizarre reason to end with—but hear me out. The fact that we love going to Walt Disney World is a given. Nothing more is needed to prove that. Sometimes though, just getting a smaller dose of the place makes it feel that much more special and makes me love it even more. We won’t totally exhaust ourselves with a week or more of parks and pools and heat. It’ll be just enough…to leave me wanting more. And that insures that I’ll more than likely be back sooner than later. And that’s a good thing isn’t it?

I’m not trying to say that our long Disney vacations aren’t magical. They certainly are. All the time we spend together as a family in Walt Disney World is special. What I am saying is that perhaps the answer to that question that we hear so often, “How long do I need to spend there?” isn’t so clear-cut. If you can spend a week, please…go right ahead. If you can spend more time…then more power to you.

But, perhaps the next time you’re planning that escape to the Most Magical Place on Earth the answer might just be, “Less is more. Make it short and sweet.”

I can’t imagine I’m going to be disappointed with my four days.

What do you readers think out there? Can you be satisfied with a quick getaway to Walt Disney World? Or are you always in it for the long haul? Click on the link below; let me hear your thoughts and I’ll see you next time with another Disney Top 5.
 

Comments

  1. By yellowrosedtxn

    I agree with you. I never think about what I can do with less time. Usually I am the one that wants to do the long vacation and it wears everyone out. But the less is more theory is something to keep in mind. Thank you for this great article!

  2. By marclichon

    I enjoyed this article, thanks! I agree with short trips often being more enjoyable; we've found that to be the case with us. We went to Disney for 10 days once and enjoyed it LESS than 5 day trips. We were drunk with the overindulgence of time and would skip an attraction or event thinking "we'll get back to it later" but never did. We've stopped using Park Hoppers for the same reason; having the luxury of bouncing around made us appreciate our current locale less. Now we take shorter, more 'deliberate' trips: Since we can't park-hop we take our time savoring the park we've chosen that day, we never go to the parks more than two days in a row (knowing we won't make all the parks in a given trip), and we make 'days off' to explore resorts and other non-park entertainment (boats, monorails, DtD, horseback riding, campfires and movies by the pool). We've been to 'the world' around 15 times and finally found the touring plan that works best for us; short/often trips

  3. By yellowrosedtxn

    Quote Originally Posted by marclichon View Post
    I enjoyed this article, thanks! I agree with short trips often being more enjoyable; we've found that to be the case with us. We went to Disney for 10 days once and enjoyed it LESS than 5 day trips. We were drunk with the overindulgence of time and would skip an attraction or event thinking "we'll get back to it later" but never did. We've stopped using Park Hoppers for the same reason; having the luxury of bouncing around made us appreciate our current locale less. Now we take shorter, more 'deliberate' trips: Since we can't park-hop we take our time savoring the park we've chosen that day, we never go to the parks more than two days in a row (knowing we won't make all the parks in a given trip), and we make 'days off' to explore resorts and other non-park entertainment (boats, monorails, DtD, horseback riding, campfires and movies by the pool). We've been to 'the world' around 15 times and finally found the touring plan that works best for us; short/often trips

    I agree with you about the "We'll get back to it later" theory. We did that as well and then time would run out and we would miss what we wanted to see.

    Although I think I would enjoy it if I lived in California or Florida so I could go during the weekends or whenever I wanted to. As much as I love my kids, I will enjoy it when I can just decide to take a short trip by myself so I can take pictures or do what I want when I want.

  4. By josephbandrews

    I always wonder about the people that are so much more lazy about their days because they have 8+ days in the parks or 10+ days on the trip. I.e. taking days off in the middle, only spending a few hours in the park at a time and leaving to come back later etc..
    Don't get me wrong, I'm sure my crazy nieces would prefer extra time at the pool or going to the water parks vs. the 4 theme parks, but as adults we are mostly just the opposite.

    I think if I 'wasted' too much time at the resort (or any way outside of the parks) even on a long trip, I would truly regret it later.
    There's even been times when we spent way too much traveling between parks (like the relaxing launch from HS to EPCOT that takes fooooreeevvvver) and regretted not taking a shorter route or just staying put.

    With our shorter trips (or my really short solo trips), I never have that feeling afterward because we pack our days pretty full and take in as much as we can.

    Much like the author this isn't to say I wouldn't love to have 2 weeks sometime all at once...but I think I prefer short trips more often.
    Obviously rising airfare makes that harder to do (especially for Scooby and others in the UK or other parts of the world), but I'm still going to try--at least until I win the Powerball and buy a place at Golden Oak!

  5. By mkelm44

    I think this article hit the two biggest advantages of the 5 days or less trip: Less Cost and Ability to go in the Offseason.

    Since we don't do Disney Dining Plan when we visit, we are paying out of pocket for all of our meals. And while we have a pretty good and economical system- breakfast is something small we either bring or get in the park while lunch is a counter meal letting us have a more expensive dinner- it still adds up. I figure that even doing it the way we do that we're still spending $50-75 per person per day on food. If I were to go for a week, that gets cost prohibitive.

    As far as timing goes, neither of us has the patience for long lines time and time again- which makes off season nicer. Less time in lines means more time for stopping and smelling the flowers and letting us appreciate the park that we're in, not just rushing from place to place.

    But the thing which I think is best about the short trips is that we "stay in the magic." Since we aren't going for longer, we spend our time doing something Disney related. On a longer trip it is more likely that we'd be out of the Disney property, which is a little too similar to real world for us. Our vacations are designed to take us out of the stress of the real world as completly as possible. Being at Disney is great because we don't worry about Traffic or getting lost going to somewhere, we don't worry about being anywhere at any specific time (well except Dinner, but we're looking forward to that) and outside events that bother you just don't happen- no graffiti or litter or bad meals or the like. We spend our time in a nice relaxed zone that just lets us decompress.

  6. By DisneyGator

    Being from CA, we always consider the current trip to WDW possibly our last. The extreme cost of flying a family of 5 makes FL prohibitive. It's why we're going to DL this year. That said, when we go, and if it might be the last time, it's a long trip. Plus the fact that flights will cost in excess of $2K regardless of a short or long trip, we feel the long trip helps absorbs the fixed cost of airfare. I guess it comes down to this for us in CA. If we want, or can only afford, a short trip, we'll go to Disneyland. Since it only has 2 parks anyway, it just makes sense.

  7. By relaaxedwheniamthere

    living in florida most of my trips are of the 3-5 day vacations . planning is so inportant . but in dec. 7 days for all the xmas bueaty .

  8. By danyoung

    Chris, once again you and I are very much in sync with our park storming thinking. My new motto over the past couple of years has been "more trips - shorter trips". I find that a Thursday through Sunday trip works great for me, and I'll only have a couple of months to wait for the next trip to come up. But as you said, you can't hit everything in a short trip. I'll usually spend time in Epcot and the MK, and then trade off the Studios and DAK, hitting one on one trip and then doing the other the next. And then once a year, for my birthday at the end of September, I go for a few more days and try to do it all. Less than 3 weeks and counting!!!

  9. By jcruise86

    Good article, Chris! Thank you!

    Two comments:
    1. Universal Orlando seems to be working harder to entertain me lately, so less time at WDW could allow us to take in Universal's growing Harry Potter areas.
    2. I like the idea of smaller crowds, but since we live close to Disneyland, a trip to WDW would be about seeing favorite attractions that are not at Disneyland. I'd probably stick with summer to increase the chance that the Peoplemover, the Carousel of Progress and Mickey''s Philharmagic will all be open. (I haven't seen Mickey's Philharmagic yet.)

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