Don’t Be That Dad: The Forced Fun Dad

So, you are going to spend a lot of money on a vacation to Walt Disney World because you love your family and want them to have a wonderful time with you. That is an awesome goal. What it is not so awesome is when you take that good goal and try to force it on your family. The subconscious thought process goes something like this. 1) I work hard and want to get away to spend some time with my family. After all, the kids are growing up fast and I only have a limited amount of time to do things like Disney with them. 2) Disney is really expensive and we only have a week to do everything. 3) Everyone is going to have fun if it kills us. The dad who thinks like this is not only going to be miserable, his family will be too. So how do you avoid being the forced fun dad? Here are my recommended steps.

1. Realize you can’t do everything at Disney in one vacation and that’s okay.

Take a deep breath and realize it is impossible to do everything at Disney in a week. The Disney property is approximately 28,000 acres. There are somewhere around 50 rides spread over four parks and you get 3 fast passes per day, with one extra after you use the first 3. If you want to ride everything, you are going to spend a significant amount of time in line. Add to that all of the characters it is possible to meet that may also have wait times. Then, there are shows and numerous other possibilities for entertainment. There 2 water parks and over 200 places to get food on property! I have been an annual pass holder for almost 2 years and still haven’t done everything. That is part of the appeal. It gives you a reason to come back. Slow down! Trust me. Your family will have a much more pleasant memory of their time on vacation with you if you just take it easy.

2. Ask each person in your family what their must do attraction is in each park.

This is where you can built some excitement and anticipation into your vacation. If you have never been to Disney watch some YouTube videos with your family on different things to do at each park. Get the My Disney Experience app for your phone and look up the attractions to see what looks the most fun. The point is that everyone gets to look forward to something instead of one person trying to force everyone to see everything. Maybe the next trip ask everyone what they didn’t get to do on the last trip that looks fun to try on the upcoming trip.

Being a forced fun dad causes sad faces.

3. Have a plan, but be flexible.

I cannot stress this one enough. The 6 “P’s” apply to a Disney vacation – proper prior planning prevents poor performance. If everyone wants to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom you do not want to just wing it, unless of course you like standing in a 2 hour long line in the hot July sun. If you are staying on property, you can book fast passes up to 60 days ahead. I highly recommend you take advantage of that. I am an annual pass holder who gets to book fast passes 30 days ahead and there are rarely any available for the Mine Train by that time. If you can’t get fast passes for some major ride your best bet is to get to the park at least an hour before it opens and be ready to head strait to that ride when the park opens. Another option I like is going to Magic Kingdom when it is open until 11 or 12 PM. A lot of people leave after the fireworks and wait times are often reduced during the last hour or so.

After you get your plan realize that you need to be flexible. For instance, Disney can’t control the weather. If it is storming, the Mine Train will not be in operation. I remember standing in line once with my family for Festival of the Lion King when a storm was approaching. Suddenly there was a very loud lightning strike close by us. Some guy in line seriously asked me if that was part of the show. The point is don’t get upset if your plan falls apart or gets changed somewhat.

4. Build in rest and relaxation times.

There is nothing quite like the heat and/or tension headache that comes on in the middle of a hot day walking around a crowded theme park. To avoid it, use that middle of the day to do something relaxing like going swimming or taking a nap. Disney resorts are nice enough they could almost be a vacation unto themselves without the parks. The pools are a great place to kick back and relax while the kids have fun. Go to the parks in the mornings and/or evenings. Remember, you aren’t going to get to do everything in them in one trip anyway. Use the hot part of the day for taking a break. Recharge your batteries so you can hit the parks at full strength in the evenings. Don’t think that you will be able to stay in a park from open until close and enjoy it.

A definite sign it is time to recharge

5. Realize everyone in your family does not have the same thing in mind when it comes to vacation.

I am an early riser. If I don’t get up by 6:30 and get my day started I feel like half the day is wasted. That is especially true on vacation. After all, there is a huge magical world to explore on a Disney vacation and we are going to miss it if we don’t get going. My wife, on the other hand, thinks that is weird behavior. Her idea of vacation is getting to sleep late because she has to get up early every other day of the year. She is not ready to think about Mickey Mouse at 6:30 in the morning. I need to take that into consideration when planning and not get upset because we do not have the same mindset when it comes to what constitutes a good vacation.

You want to have good memories of time spent with your family. That is an awesome goal. They also need to have good memories of time spent with you. You are all in this together. Don’t be the forced fun dad.

So there you have it, my recommendations for not being theforced fun dad. What do you think? Do you have any other recommendations?

We are all in this together!


I grew up in Southeastern Kentucky where everyone loves basketball. I am married to Marty and we have three daughters, two sons-in-law, one grandson, and a Japanese Bobtail cat named Luna. I didn’t get to go to my first theme park until my second daughter was four months old. We came to Magic Kingdom that year and I was hooked. We moved to Central Florida in 2017 and became annual pass holders at Disney World. Now we are in the parks almost every week. In my time here I have learned a lot about Disney, but I feel as though I have only scratched the surface. That is why I am excited about sharing the experiences and things I learn along the way. I would love to hear from you. Let me know what you want to learn about a trip to Disney. I may write a blog about it.