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Moms Panel Monday: Planning Dad’s Way

Lisa Mendillo

by , Sr. Manager, Digital Integration

In the words of Disney Parks Moms Panelist Todd, taking a vacation to Walt Disney World gives dads a chance to be the hero of the family! A hero? Have you dads ever thought of yourselves as heroes when it comes to planning a trip? Well, Todd and Ricardo have, and they are sharing some of their most successful “dad tips” to help you plan your next magical getaway and be the hero in your family!

“If they think you are a hero, be prepared to play the part. Go overboard, let yourself have fun and show the kids you’re having a great time. Whenever I go with my family I dress the part (Mickey shirt, backpack, ultra organized FUN MACHINE), volunteer for shows and experiences as kids love this,” Todd said. “Show them a little of what dad would have been like as a kid.”

Moms Panel Monday: Planning Dad’s Way

However, before dad slips into full kid mode upon his arrival to the parks, plan your vacation and make it a family affair, according to Ricardo.

“Plan ahead and involve the entire family when it comes to important decisions such as resorts, restaurants and FastPass+ reservations,” he said. “I’ve been taking my family to Walt Disney World Resort for many years and we plan ahead … together.”

While planning, why not suggest a date night to your significant other? Todd highly recommends a special evening and reminds parents there is no need to worry about what to do with the children, thanks to Disney’s Children’s Activity Centers.

“The centers are fantastic,” explained Todd. “My kids immediately asked to go again when we picked them up! Plan a wonderful evening for that someone special and show them Disney magic is not defined by age. Some of my suggestions include adult meals, carriage rides and even a spa treatment, which happens to be my wife’s favorite.”

Remember a Disney day can be a long day, especially for little ones. Ricardo reminds families to know their limits and remember to take breaks when needed. This might even include something as easy as a ride on the monorail, suggest Ricardo.

“Disney Dad makes tough decisions,” said Todd “I’ve made decisions to skip rides, leave theme parks, and stay in rooms because these tough decisions avoided potential meltdowns. Know everyone’s limits and comply.”

But remember Disney Dad can also be a super fun dad, or perhaps even a “dorky dad.”

Moms Panel Monday: Planning Dad’s Way

“Walt Disney World is the number one place in the world where dorky dads are revered for their dorkiness,” explained Todd. “I’ve even worn a quarter back wristband to the parks that usually carries football plays, but for the trip it had our plans for the day written out. I got so many unsolicited compliments from dads about how awesome it was!” “It’s definitely the place to bring out the kid in you,” said Ricardo. “Get a pair of ears or a silly t-shirt. Your kids will love it and so will you.”

Ricardo and Todd both can’t stress enough to be in the moment when you are with your family at Walt Disney World. Forget about work and simply enjoy the precious time spent with loved ones. As Todd says, “work may have paid for the trip, but your job on vacation is to at least pretend it did not come along on the trip.”

“One thing I love to do on every trip is to take a step back and simply watch my family enjoy the moment,” said Ricardo. “Remember you are on vacation and while a plan for each day is a good idea, follow it loosely so that everyone enjoys themselves.”

“Hold hands, carry kids on shoulders, snuggle for fireworks and parades,” recommends Todd. “My favorite Walt Disney World picture is my daughter grasping me around my neck with Wishes Nighttime Spectacular taking place behind us.”

So dads as you and your family plan your next Walt Disney World vacation, Todd encourages you to remember family first, plans second and dad third. “This may seem unfair to dad until you realize: dad is a major part of all of these items.”

For more dad tips or to ask questions about planning your upcoming Disney vacation, be sure to visit the Disney Parks Moms Panel for a personalized response from our knowledgeable panel.

Photos courtesy of Todd and Ricardo.


  • Planning the vacation was almost as much fun as the vacation itself. With 100 days left before we left for WDW, I gave both of my kids a mini mason jar with their names on it and filled them with 100 sweet’s each and told them to eat only one per day (torture for kids, I know). This really helped to build up the anticipation even more, especially as the candies got down to a single layer. It was a Kodak moment on the morning they both ate their final sweet, as we all knew the day had finally arrived.
    When we arrived at the airport, they got to open a small gift we had gotten them- customized magic bands based on their favorite Disney characters. They proudly showed them off everywhere they went, even offering to “pay” for meals and purchases using their band.
    Those are some of the memories I will cherish in planning our WDW vacation last year.

  • I love being a Disney Dad, planning upcoming vacations builds the excitement. Keeping track of which parks on which days I want to focus on, booking tours or dining experiences as soon as they become available. Using the Fastpass+ to chart a path through the park to put us where we want to be for parades, fireworks or anything else that is a must see. Of course, crisscrossing and going wherever your inner child takes you can be a lot of fun too.

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