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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn

Replanning on the Fly

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

Everyone wants their magical Disney vacation to go off without a hitch, from rope drop to fireworks where everything just falls into line and flows perfectly. Unfortunately, even at Disney World life happens. When things go sideways it is important to embrace flexibility and patience. Let's look at some useful tips and tricks and insider know-how to help you either get back on track or determine how to change your plans to suit your new evolving needs.

You’ve spent months carefully planning your vacation, from the food you will eat to which ride you will hop on first, to where you will stand to watch the fireworks. Disney is a vacation that requires planning so it is extra hard, when after all that planning something goes awry and you find all your carefully plotted plans falling apart. When that inevitably happens, because we have never had a single trip go “perfectly” it is important to be willing, and able, to adapt to whatever is thrown your way. Rides can break down (we were once stuck on “it’s a small world” for over an hour, perhaps not our favorite Disney experience but makes a fun story now), lightning lane return times get canceled, kids melt down, thunderstorms happen, all of it derailing your carefully laid plans and then what?

Replanning on the Fly with a Sick or Injured Family Member

General Tips

  • First and foremost, be patient and gracious - Disney cannot fix all problems, their guest service is unparalleled but even they cannot make it stop raining (yet) or prevent accidents that result in twisted ankles. But Cast Members will be much more likely to try to help if you are calm and flexible than if you are angry and belligerent. Further, you are much more likely to get yourself back in a happy Disney headspace if you are willing to embrace the unforeseen changes and find a way to make the most of your trip regardless. I know that is easier said than done, but if you miss your group window for TRON Lightcycle/Run and spend the rest of the day broadening about how unfair it was they wouldn’t let you ride you’ll miss out on so many other potentially wonderful moments in your trip.

  • Ask a Cast Member: If something does go wrong, be willing to seek help from a Cast Member. Disney employees (called Cast Members) are some of the most happy and helpful people we have ever met. It is possible there is not a fix to your problem, but they deal with people problem solving their Disney vacation everyday, so odds are they have seen your particular plight before and have a solution for you.

  • Blue Guest Experience Umbrellas - If you are in the parks with a problem one of the best ways to find a solution is to seek out one of the blue Guest Experience umbrellas that are situated throughout each park. Cast Members at these locations are incredibly helpful as solving issues and getting you back to your park touring.

  • Guest Relations - If your problem is more complicated, or if you happen to be close to the front of the park anyways, you can go to Guest Relations. In the parks Guest Relations can always be found to the left of the entrance after you go through the turnstiles - at Magic Kingdom you’ll find it at the Fire Station building on the left after you go under the train station.

  • Front Desk or Concierge Desk - The same is true when you are at your resort, if you have an issue go speak to a Cast Member. We had issues ranging from running out of bandaids (and the shop was out and a Cast Member went to find us one), to losing a screw on a pair of glasses and they found us a glass repair kit (who know that was even a thing). The Cast Members are extremely helpful and there to help more your vacation as smooth as possible.

  • Be familiar with the park layouts: It is not hard to learn your way around the Disney parks, in fact they were designed to be relatively easy to orient yourself and navigate, but having a general idea of where attractions or dining are located will help. There is nothing more frustrating than when you are running late for something and you take a wrong turn, or when you find yourself going a crowded roundabout way when there were more direct routes. Taking a little time before your trip to look at the park maps will help you leaps and bounds on your trip.

  • Be flexible: At the end of the day flexibility will be your friend. We always recommend planning a Disney trip with a set amount of ‘Must Dos’, those are the things you prioritize, because during a smooth trip it is impossible to do everything. When the unforeseen plays a role, the ability to let things go and readjust your plans to fit where you family is at mentally or physically during your trip is important to still having an enjoyable vacation when things go awry.

Common problems

Below are some common problems that arise during Disney trips and our tips and thoughts on how to handle them:that arise during Disney trips and our tips and thoughts on how to handle them:

Late for a Reservation

We’ve been there, didn’t plan enough time to get from one park to another and your Genie+ time is coming up, or your kid threw a massive fit early in the morning making you late for your Cinderella’s Royal Table reservation. There are so many reservations that can be made for a Disney vacation, from dining reservations to Genie+ reservations, virtual queues, tours, and more. It can make the trip a bit stressful as you dash from location to location to make the different reservation times. While we won’t say you can ignore the times given, know that there is generally a 15 minute grace period associated with the times. The exception to the rule is TRON Lightcycle/Run, where they are currently instituting a hard cutoff at the end of your come back time for the virtual queue.

If you are running more than 15 minutes late then there is more cause to worry. For attraction Genie+ comeback times it is generally at the discretion of the attending Cast Member. We’ve seen it both ways, where a Cast Member let in a party who was 30 minutes late and another time where a party was turned away. So it is worth checking, but have grace if you are turned away. If you are running late for a dining reservation it is worth it to call the restaurant directly to let them know. More often than not they will be accommodating, especially if you call to let them know your issue.

Overlapping reservations

It is pretty hard to overlap dining reservations or tours because the Disney system will not let you make reservations like that on top of each other. However, it is possible to have a Genie+ comeback time or virtual queue group called over another reservation. The main road block with this tends to be a Virtual Queue group being called over when you have a Genie+ comeback time or dining reservation:

Virtual Queue over Genie+ - In most cases of these overlapping we will recommend you go to your Genie+ reservation first. Genie+ gets you into the Lightning Lane queue, which will move quickly. The Virtual Queue feeds you into a standby line that may be anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours long.

Virtual Queue over Dining - We recommend that you go talk to the dining location. They may be able to accommodate you coming late if you have a virtual queue comeback time over your dining reservation time. Remember to be flexible and gracious, because during peak crowd times there may be nothing they can do and you will have to choose one.

Technical difficulties

Most of the interactivity for planning and navigating Walt Disney World occurs via the My Disney Experience app or portal on the Disney site. If you experience any issue with the app or site there are a couple options for you:

At home - If you are at home you can call the Disney technical services help-line at 407-939-4357.

Visiting Parks - If you are in the parks and having issues you can visit either Guest Services at the front of the park or any of the blue Guest Relations umbrellas scattered throughout the parks.

Resort reservation issues

Walt Disney Disney’s resort reservation number is Call 407-939-1936 .

What to do when you have a problem with your resort reservation

It’s important to always either have a physical or easily accessible digital copy of your resort reservation before checking in. This makes it easier to resolve issues.

Regardless of the problem, always be polite. Yelling at a cast member will not get anything fixed. If they can not help you with your difficulty, ask for a manager. Always make sure you know the name of the person you spoke to and the time, whether it is on the phone or in person. Write it down. If you have a travel agent contact them, they may have channels you do not to get the problem resolved.

It is also always important to remember that beyond room category - standard, water view, preferred, etc, any room requests you have made with regards to things like buildings, the floor your room is on, closeness to transportation, even connecting rooms are simply requests. If you do not get what you requested it is still possible to ask at the front desk. On one trip we had requested to be put in an area of the hotel that had newly renovated rooms. When checking in we were assigned a room that was in a different area. We told the front desk we were willing to wait until later in the day for room access if we could have one of the renovated rooms instead and they were able to reassign our room without a problem. But there is no guarantee they will be able to.

If you are assigned a room of a lower category than you paid for, politely ask the front desk to make it right. We have had this happen, and we called the resort direct line from the parks. After we were transferred around several times and explained the problem we finally talked to the person who was able to correct it. By the time we returned to the resort that evening we had been assigned a new room and they had even brought our luggage from bell services into the room already.

If you have requested an ADA room or a first floor room for a medical reason those rooms are guaranteed. But make sure you have called ahead of time and had this added to your reservation. You can indicate this when booking online, but you can call Walt Disney’s Resort reservation number 407-939-1936 to double check ahead of time. If you are not assigned an ADA room let Disney know and they will find you an ADA room even if it means moving you to a new resort.

If there is something wrong with the room when you check in let them know as soon as possible. Disney can not fix it if they are unaware of it. If the room wasn’t cleaned completely before you arrived, if a sink isn’t draining, if the refrigerator isn’t cooling - these are all problems the resort can fix relatively easily if they are aware of them. Make sure you politely let them know rather than just sucking it up and dealing with it in silence.

Lost items

If you have lost something at a Walt Disney World park or resort, start with returning to where you think it was lost and talk to cast members there. If you do not recover it there your next recourse is guest services in the park or the front desk of the resort. If the item has been recently turned in you will be able to retrieve it there. If they do not have it they will direct you to submit an online ticket, at, where you will fill out where the item was lost and a description. You will receive an email if the item is recovered. If you have already returned home when your item is recovered Disney will ship your property to you. But remember Walt Disney World is a large place with thousands of guests each day, some items are never found. You can then call daily for an update at 407-824-4245. We have successfully recovered a lost cell phone this way.

Need to change vacation at last minute

Call Disney’s reservation line at 407-939-1936. We had an extended family member pass away less than a week before a trip a couple of years ago. We were well within the window of no refunds. Disney was able to help us successfully reschedule our entire trip to a later date, which was actually less expensive, and refunded us the difference. We were also able to rebook our airfares without a penalty once we contacted the airlines and let them know the circumstances.

Genie+, ILL, or Virtual Queue ride goes down

When a ride you have booked a Genie+, Individual Lightning Lane or Virtual queue reservation goes down Disney will push a message to your MDE app. You will be given the option to have a free lighting lane for a wide variety of experiences at the park that day, or a pass to come back and access the attraction once it is available. If you are on the ride when it goes down your ticket or magic band will be scanned and you will be given the same options.

Injury or Illness

Unfortunately people get sick everywhere. At times you may only need to take an evening or a day off and rest and HYDRATE, but if the problem requires a little more assistance or even a visit to a doctor, you do have a couple of options to easily access health care at the WDW resort.

First Aid Centers

If you or a loved one has a medical problem in the parks - anything from a horrible blister on your foot to heat stroke, head to the First Aid Centers. First Aid Centers can be found on the MDE app in the interactive map by hitting the down arrow under Guest Services. Look for the cross icon. They can be found at the following locations:

  • Animal Kingdom - On Discovery Island near Creature Comforts

  • Epcot: The Odyssey Building near the the Mexico pavilion

  • Hollywood Studios - To the left of the entrance as you enter the park by Guest Services.

  • Magic Kingdom - between Casey’s Corner and the Crystal Palace

Outside of the four theme parks you can also find First Aid Stations at both of the water parks - Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. They do not have a Baby Care Center in the water parks.

At the First Aid Stations you can get a single dose of medications like Tylonol, bandaids, an ice pack or even a wheelchair in an emergency. You can find a place to rest for a little bit. Medications that need to be refrigerated can be stored at the First Aid Centers. In case of a true emergency they can contact emergency services for you. All services at the First Aid Center are free of charge.

Next door to the first aid station you will find a baby care center. There you can purchase many sundry items including sunscreen, over the counter medications and baby formula, food, wipes, and diapers. There is also a kitchen with a microwave, an area for nursing moms, changing tables, and high chairs.

AdventHealth Services

Walt Disney Resort has contracted with a concierge health service, AdventHealth Services, to help guests take care of non-emergency medical difficulties. They provide urgent care visits, prescription delivery and will rent out medical equipment. You can schedule a video visit for a minor ailment, or your front desk will be able to provide complimentary transportation to AdventHealth Centra Care Urgent Care which is open 24 hours in Lake Buena Vista. AdventHealth can be reached by calling 408-939-7480.

Local Urgent Cares

There are a plethora of other urgent cares just outside of the WDW property, just a car ride (or uber/lyft) ride away. We are not personally familiar with any of them, but here ( is a Yelp article with the best rated Urgent Cares near the Walt Disney World property.

Replanning on the Fly with a Sick or Injured Family Members-

So after dealing with the immediate needs of your situation you are left figuring out how to salvage your vacation. Here are things we found to be useful when we’ve been in the middle of a vacation that was impacted by an illness, injury, or other difficulty.

  • Be able to prioritize what is the most important to your family. Which rides, attractions, or experiences have they been looking forward to the most. This will help you to narrow down which parts of the remaining trip to focus on. Instead of thinking about how can I maximize my WDW vacation experience, think about how to slow down but still hit a few key important highlights. Then try to think outside the box.

  • Is there a way to take turns with missing parts of the vacation. If one family member is sick and needs a day (or several) off, can the remaining family members still participate in the parks or other activities that day? It isn’t selfish for one adult to take the kids to the parks if another is ill or needs to rest. If a child is sick, can the parents take turns spending time with the ill child while the rest of the party still participates in some parts of the vacation. Maybe try to save the parts the ill family member was most looking forward to for the end of the trip and focus on things that were less important while they recuperate. Brianstorm what works best for your family.

  • Make the most of the time you are stuck at the hotel. Buy a board game from the gift shop and have a family game night. Watch movies. Enjoy some of the perks at your hotel. Find the most important pieces and try to focus on still doing those.

Phone numbers

- If you are not immediately in the parks or at a resort here are some useful Disney phone numbers for you to reach out for help:

  • Reservations and Tickets: Disney Resort Hotel Reservations

    • (407) 939-1936

  • Disney PhotoPass

    • (407) 560-4300

  • New Tickets

    • (407) 939-7679

  • Existing Tickets

    • (407) 934-7639

  • Website Support

    • (407) 939-4357

  • Special Events, Tours, Recreation

    • (407) 939-1929

  • Dining Reservations

    • 407-939-DINE

  • Annual Passholders

    • (407) 939-7277

  • Group Reservations (10 Rooms or More)

    • (407) 939-1942

  • My Disney Experience, MagicBand and MagicBand+

    • (407) 939-4357

  • Resort Hotel and Theme Park Information - non reservation questions

    • (407)939-2273

  • My Past Walt Disney World Visit

    • (407) 939-6104

  • Disability Services

    • (407) 560-2547

******If you have an issue at your resort it’s helpful to call them directly.


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