What Do Kids Want to Do on Vacation? The Answers May Surprise You!

Hollywood studios balloons, hollywood studios Christmas, Hollywood studios gifts, Disney's Hollywood studios

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, a book I loved so much I read all 854 pages twice, offered some information about what kids want and do not want on vacation.  In a research study with children ages 6 to 17,  71% of kids reported they needed a vacation because school and homework “got them down.” The Unofficial Guide took a good look at what kids wanted to do, and from a kid’s point of view, they make total sense. One big thing to remember about kids is they are not little adults, they are little kids, and little kids do not think like adults in many regards. Let’s take a quick look at what kids want to do on vacation, with some photographs to get you all psyched up for your next Disney trip.

Contemporary Resort pool, Contemporary Resort Hotel,Contemporary resort quiet pool photo

The perfect place for swimming at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

1) To go swimming and/or have pool time

Are your Disney plans so packed full of theme parks rides and show times that you totally missed scheduling any time to hang out by the hotel/resort pool?  Kids LOVE to swim. I know those park tickets are expensive, your vacation certainly has a lot to do with getting the most for your hard-earned money, but kids LOVE to swim. Take them to the pool, jump in with them, rest your feet, and make some memories in the process.

Chef Mickey's photo

Although pricey, Chef Mickey’s is just the type restaurant kids are sure to love on vacation.

2) To eat in restaurants

I am all about saving money, and I’m all about cooking a meal in the hotel room if I can save some money. I’ve warmed up canned ravioli in the room microwave, eaten oatmeal in a styrofoam bowl for dinner, and eaten Mini-Wheats for breakfast. But with 78% of kids reporting they wanted to eat out on vacation, be sure to make some time for a restaurant or two.  Ask your child if there is a certain restaurant he or she is just dying to eat at, and if it’s a character meal restaurant, maybe start saving months ahead. I steadfastly refused to pay for character meals for my kids. I never felt like they would eat enough to make it worth the expense. But last Christmas, they surprised me by announcing they would use their Christmas money to pay for us to eat at Chef Mickey’s. For some reason, while it wasn’t important to me, it was important to them. Ask your child what they would like, and while you’re conversing, this may be a great time to talk about how expensive some of these restaurant meals can be.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Kadani Village photo, Animal kingdom lodge photo

A stunning hotel for kids to relax in…Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort.

3) To stay in a hotel or resort

76% of kids surveyed said they wanted to stay in a hotel. For the vast majority of you, a trip to Orlando is not about staying with Aunt Sally in Kissimmee, but about staying in a hotel, resort, or rental house somewhere. If you’ve been planning this vacation for a long time, or even if you are just beginning the planning, why not look through resort photos and let your kids have some input as to where they would like to stay.  You may be able to afford six days in a Disney Value Resort, but you and the kids may enjoy staying just 4 days in a Moderate Resort, if the kids like the pool and the resort amenities better. You would actually save money on food by staying less days.  But before you make any certain plans, let the kids provide you some input as to what they would like. You have the ability to veto it anyway, and hypothetical conversations frequently lend themselves to talking about life, money, and making good choices. Kids can learn a lot from a Disney vacation, and here’s two sets of suggestions to get your kids on the road to success and future Disney vacations.

Magic Kingdom entrance photo, Magic Kingdom, Admission to Magic kingdom, cars at magic kingdom, parking at magic kingdom

This way to the world’s most popular theme parks…

4) To visit a theme park

76% of kids in the survey wanted to visit a theme park. Now Orlando is a fabulous town with lots to offer besides theme parks like Disney and Universal, but I have a hard time imagining staying in Orlando without actually visiting a theme park. That’s why you’re reading this article right now, because you’re interested in Disney theme parks. So start your planning – get some tickets, take them to a theme park, and ride some rides!

Magic kingdom picture at night, stay up late magic kingdom, Cinderella castle at night

Stayin’ up late, until they throw you out of the Magic Kingdom.

5) To stay up late 

I love this one, and it’s so true. My kids want to stay up late any night they don’t have school the next morning, so this seems to apply double for vacations. Luckily, I love Disney at night and frequently discuss how beautiful a walk around the resorts can be when most people have gone to bed. Now, staying up after 12 is not conducive to beating the crowds before opening the parks the next day. You have to make a choice, late night or early morning, so ask your kids what they prefer.

My family has been going to Disney the last three summers during the first week of June. It’s hot and sunny in June. We stay up the first night of our arrival until we can’t hold our eyes open. Then we sleep in the next morning. By the third day, we are staying up until 3 a.m. and sleeping until noon. Yes, we miss all the park openings. No, we don’t even see the Magic Kingdom until after 5 p.m. But a nice brunch, a swim in the pool, a big dinner we cook in the room or dinner at the resort, and off we go. It’s 102 degrees in June, but at 1 a.m., its a cool 70 degrees.  Every hour in the summer after dark is worth three to me in the hot sun when the lines are longer.

This plan won’t work so well for you Animal Kingdom fans, since that park closes early, but it works pretty well for the other parks, especially if you have Park Hopper tickets. Now you certainly don’t have to stay up half the night to have fun, but those kids would enjoy staying up way past their bedtime. Just ask ’em…

So there’s five things kids want to do on vacation.
  • Swim in Pools
  • Eat in Restaurants
  • Stay in Hotels and Resorts
  • Visit Theme Parks
  • Stay up Late

Vacation planning can be an excellent way of opening up doors of communication with your child. This is a perfect list you can use to see what’s important to the children in the family, and then as a family, you can decide just how many of these activities you plan to incorporate into your upcoming vacation plans. We all have dreams, and apparently kids do too. Staying up late- now I know I can turn that dream into a reality for my kids.

Thanks for coming along on a photographical Disney ride, and we’ll see ya pool-side, after staying up half the night!


Love Disney World photography? For a virtual Disney vacation in pictures, join Mouze Kateerz on Facebook and Mouze Kateerz on Pinterest.  If you have some fabulous Disney photographs you’d like to share, send an email of your favorite Disney location to mouzekateerz@chipandco.com.

See ya soon!



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