Last Updated on June 20, 2023
Physically prepare for Disney World? Did you know that the average Disney guest walks 16km per day while on holiday? This is an often missed consideration it isn’t just about what to pack or how well you timed the touring plan.
Sure, a lot of it has to do with that but there is a lot to be said for physical preparation. If you are like me, where you walk a little and sit/stand for most of the day, this could be a major shock to your system.
There are a number of ways to prepare yourself, physically, for the demands that Disney World vacation brings to your vacation.
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1. Physical Preparation for Disney World is for All Ages
These preparations aren’t just for the adults in the group. Everyone should work up their endurance and be able to physically meet the demands of a day/week at Disney.
While you are “training” the kids, this will let you know if your youngest really needs a stroller or if they are just being a pile of lazybones (I have one of each). Disney World isn’t just about the physical exhaustion; it can be very visually overwhelming for little ones that aren’t used to all the hustle and bustle of theme parks. Knowing what your kids can and can’t handle during a quiet walk to the corner store will serve you better when it comes to getting their butts out of bed in the morning and bringing them to the parks each day.
This is true of anyone that may be limited in terms of mobility. There needs to be a real discussion regarding how far one can walk during any Park day and how long they can withstand this type of exercise. Arrangements can easily be made in advance for limited-mobility Park guests.
2. Consistent Pre-Disney Workout
Whatever physical preparation you do for Disney World should be a consistent walking regime with a fair bit of standing still for hours.
My Pre-Disney Workout consists of 4-day stretches of walking a few miles/kilometers and a break on the 5th day. If you need to start with one day on and one day of that works too but it also needs to increase in intensity. 4 Days of Disney Parks is 4 days of walking.
3. Eat Health
Eat well before arriving at Disney, because guess what you are about to have consecutive cheat days at Disney World. Believe that!
While I would never suggest one goes on a diet, I do suggest getting some nutrition in you to prepare for the delicacies at WDW. Your pre-Disney intake can make or break your efforts to increase endurance for those long days at Disney World.
4. Be Aware of Your Home Habits
Be it daily coffees, or a myriad of smoke breaks, there will always be a way to satiate your vises. However, you run the risk of missing out on other amazing Disney treats/experiences while searching for your regular cup of joe. There are some seriously good coffee options around WDW. If you are like me and get headaches from skipping coffee time I need a good 3 days to de-toxic from that schedule. Disney is also not the time to change that schedule, be sure to take care of that in advance.
Sure, there are plenty of distractions but cutting yourself off can also be physically draining. After speaking with a medical professional, we suggest you temper those habits to a reasonable level that you are happy with.
Walk often! It can’t be expressed enough. As I have mentioned before, the average Disney guest walks over 16km per day. That’s 10 miles for our American friends. In other words, you will want to be able to do 15-21,000 steps per day, for the length of your trip.
The idea is to start slowly and increase your distance. You don’t need to do all 16km in one go. Disney is a very start-and-stop type of activity; as long as you can accomplish this distance within the Park operating hours, and without too many required rests in-between, you are on the path to Disney success.
While we are walking all these distances, for weeks on end, be sure you are wearing the fabulous shoes you plan to wear to Disney. If you have several shoes that you want to break in, rotate them during the week and get a nice wear pattern into them before the big day. The last thing you need is to have brand new shoes at Disney and create gnarly blisters on the first day.
Now that I’ve told you to walk a lot, you will also want to stand a lot. Seriously! Disney is very “Hurry up and wait”. You will be on your feet from morning ’til night, save for those few minutes on the rides or while enjoying a nice meal.
As a teacher, I have the “Standing all day” sorted. I just need to add more than 45 minutes of gym class to my exercise schedule and we should be good to go.
While the general consensus is that standing desks aren’t all that they are cracked up to be, they are a great way to get those standing minutes up. CNN published this article on all the ways you can add more movement, and standing, to your daily routine; it’s worth a quick look.
7. For all weather
While we are working on our endurance, it is important that all weather be taken into consideration. In Canada, specifically, it only gets “Florida hot” 2 months out of the year. This means that while I may be able to walk 16km per day and stand for 8 hours with minimal breaks, this doesn’t mean I can last half this long when the weather hovers over 30c (86F).
The gym is a great place to start when the weather drops back home, as they will be significantly warmer than the outside temperatures (looking at you Canada mid-December). You may not be able to test out your new outfits for their ability to wick away sweat but you will break in your new shoes and that’s the most important part.
While you can’t exactly wear your rainboots to the gym, be sure that those are properly worn in too. If I am visiting Disney during the summer months, the rain doesn’t last too long but it can be daily. I generally bring a pair of flip-flops for when the rain starts, switch out my shoes and keep them safe and dry until after the rainstorm ends. Bring an extra pair of socks, because eww, and away you go.
Have proper shoes! Almost daily, I see a Disney Facebook group, Twitter post, or forum article asking “What are the Best Shoes for Disney?” There aren’t many wrong answers there but crocs and brand new shoes are high on the list.
Be sure that your shoes have ample arch support, are comfortable, breathable, and properly worn in.
9. Embrace the Suck It Will Rain
Not everyone likes water, and that’s ok. There are plenty of ways to stay hydrated and it’s not like everyone is all that hydrated properly in the first place. But! Disney is a whole other beast. It is important that guests stay hydrated, especially during those hot Florida days, which are basically every day.
Disney is so adamant that their guests drink enough water, that they have installed themed bottle refill stations throughout the Parks and Quick service restaurants are obliged to provide free cups of ice water upon request. There is never a need to buy bottled water unless you really want to. Here are our favorite water bottles for Disney World.
That being said, drink up and learn to like water. It doesn’t even need to be your favorite drink, it just needs to make you not gag at the thought of drinking it more than coffee/wine (while on vacation, not IRL. Let’s be realistic).
10. Rest Days before your vacation
When it comes to prepping your body for Disney, it is important that you have a rest day just before taking off. You will still want to get out and stretch your legs on your 2-day car ride to Orlando but when flying, take the day off before flying over.
It is important that your body has a rest day, especially when jumping head-first into Disney World. The visual/emotional/logistical strain on the body is enough to exhaust the best athlete. Take a day off, center yourself, and get ready for the happiest place on earth.
Clothes – Where fashion meets function
In order to keep your body healthy, you will want to make sure your clothes are lightweight, relaxed fit, and breathable. This can be easier said than done, as functional clothes are rarely fashionable. But they do exist. Take the time to research your favorite outfits and test them out while you are walking around downtown racking up those steps.
This works for shoes, bags, cameras, or anything that you plan on taking with you. Test everything out in as near-possible conditions to see if this is really what you want to take with you on your holiday. Sure, it can be replaced while at Disney World, but at what cost.
Plan like anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, and pack accordingly. While I traditionally have a well-stocked Park Bag, there are some that choose to go without. I have yet to do this but the thought of it is already giving me anxiety. Have ample supplies of anything that you may need in the parks and know where the First Aid center/Baby care centers are for anything else.
Many Disney fans that I have encountered, in the wild claim that if I do not have these items with me on a daily basis, then I don’t need them while at the Parks. While the logic is sound, there is a slight problem; I am 20 minutes from my house and have Universal Health Care on a daily basis. At Disney, I have neither. I want to make sure that my kids aren’t going to get dehydrated and need medical care, I want to make sure no one twists an ankle or breaks down in tears before noon because they are just too tired to continue.
Sure, I have travel insurance or could purchase the necessities but I don’t want to do that. I would much rather take preventative measures and take a strong offensive position on any potential obstacles, than play defense and see my park plan blown up. Did I mention that I have wicked anxiety when it comes to traveling?
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