You’re going to Disney, a magical place–but as Mr. Gold would remind us, “Magic has a price, dearie!” Whether to save money, or because you’re traveling with children too young to be on their own, you’re sharing a room with more than just your significant other. And no matter how much you love your brother, or how in sync you and your best friend are, or how well-behaved your children are, in close quarters for a few days, little frustrations can build up and drain some of the pixie dust from your visit. With a minimum of pre-trip planning, and almost no effort while there, your family can keep hakuna matata harmony for the rest of your stay.
The first step in this process is figuring out who’s rooming with whom. Identify a few simple characteristics of each roommate: Who snores? Who prefers to shower in the morning versus in the evening? Who are the early birds, and who are the night owls? Who wakes up if a mouse sneezes, and who can sleep through brass bands? Now take a look at the roommate list again. Do you have a light sleeper in with three who snore like chainsaw jugglers riding Harleys? Is there a lone night owl in a flock of early birds? You may want to see if there’s a way to juggle people to keep those of similar tendencies together. But if you can’t, there are ways to keep friction from these differences to a minimum:
If you’re a light sleeper, consider packing foam ear plugs, or sleeping wearing in-ear headphones. Either of these will block a lot of the sounds that might keep your awake. If you are more sensitive to light than sound, think about a sleep mask, so that others can turn on bathroom lights without waking you.
If you snore, think about ways to lower the volume of it. If allergies make you snore more, make sure you are taking antihistamines and/or decongestants. From personal experience, I say try BreatheRight strips, they can make a difference. Or be aware of what sleep positions you may want to avoid if you can.
Early birds, lay out your clothes for the day the night before. Dress in the bathroom or dressing area, and try to remember to close the door/privacy curtain BEFORE you turn on the light. If the plan is to hit the park as a group, and you’re up hours before the others, consider grabbing everyone’s resort mugs and bring back coffee for the rest. It lets you get out and moving, and sweetens waking up for the less morning-inclined.
Night owls, if you plan to go to Downtown Disney for a late show, or close down a park with late extra magic hours, be considerate coming in. Keep your voice lower, and make sure to kick off your shoes where no one will trip over them. Leave your pajamas in an easy-to-find spot in the suitcase or drawer. Again, try to pull the privacy curtain/close bathroom door BEFORE you turn on the light when changing and going through your nightly routine.
Discuss amongst yourself who prefers to shower when, and for how long. If everyone takes quick showers, it’s no problem if everyone in the room prefers to shower in the morning. Try to work out the rotation for showering, and keep in mind the number of sinks, mirrors, and their accessibility while someone else showers so that everyone has a chance to shave, style, and prep for the day without feeling unduly rushed.
When you first get into the room, take a quick minute for one simple discussion and define territory. No matter if you’re in a room at the Pop Century, the Polynesian, or a suite at Old Key West, you will be coexisting in a smaller amount of space than you’re used to, possibly with people you don’t usually live with. Setting up whose stuff goes where can go a long way toward maintaining harmony. Decide as a group that Joe will get the bottom drawer in the dresser, Sally and Eric each get half of the next drawer up, etc. Remember that bathroom counter space can be a scarce commodity and a great cause of irritation before everyone has had their morning coffee. Taking along a hanging shoe organizer designed to either hang in a closet or over the back of a door can give you more places to sort your toiletries and leave a clearer path to the sinks. Tuck the suitcases in the bottom of the closet or in a corner as out of the way as possible, and make sure the main walkways remain clear. Because a tiny little frustration like tripping over someone’s suitcase every time you try to go to the bathroom can become a major annoyance faster than you would expect, and it can poison the rest of the experience. Depending on who you’re rooming with, and how long you’re staying, a pop-up mesh laundry basket can be pretty handy for that. It doesn’t take up much space in a suitcase, can be found in many dollar stores, but it can be endlessly useful. It can be a place to corral dirty clothes, making it easy to take a load to the machines to wash (if needed), or can be used as at the designated location for the day’s haul of souvenirs.
Speaking of things to bring along from home, think about a nightlight. One tiny nightlight can make the difference between tripping over that corner of the tossed-back bedspread at 2 AM or successfully navigating to the bathroom and back without fully waking up. It can also provide just enough light to let someone change clothes without having to turn on a larger light, allowing the rest of the room to keep sleeping. More important in this day and age, one of the best items to pack on your trip is at least one power strip. These days everyone has at least a cell phone. But there’s also Kindles, iPads, handheld gaming consoles, and many other electronics that require regular recharging. Hotel rooms never have very many outlets, and sometimes the outlet is in a less-than-accessible place, such as a corner behind a small table and chair. The longer cord will bring the power strip up so that everyone can reach to plug in easily, and give you that many more outlets for everyone to share.
When you take just a few minutes to prevent the small disagreements and frustrations, you prevent the larger arguments that can happen when the little things add up with exhaustion and excitement. Everything that I’ve mentioned here, my family has learned over the course of several trips to Disney World. And while we mostly stay at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter, these tips and tricks have also worked in other Disney resorts and hotels on the road there and back.
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