I don’t have children of my own, but there are ten children under the age of eight who call me “Auntie” (well, the ones who can speak do). I’ve done Disney World trips with anywhere from two to six of them at a time. Now, thankfully, I was never the only grown-up on the trip! But we’ve done such a variety of combinations of parents, grandparents, great-grandmas, and aunts (biological and aunts-by-choice) that I’ve developed a theory of the adult:child ratio required for a successful Walt Disney World vacation.
I propose that a successful Walt Disney World vacation requires that you have at least one adult or (responsible) teenager for each child small enough to ride in a stroller, *plus* the number of strollers you have. This is “The Ratio.”
The Ratio is due in large part to the bus transportation system. (If you’re staying on the monorail line or have your own car, The Ratio is less essential to maintain, but still helpful.) If you’re like us, you like to squeeze every ounce of magic out of each day, so you stay until park closing. At that point, two things are true: the queues for the buses to the hotels are long, and the small children have likely fallen asleep in strollers or will soon fall asleep while queueing or once on the bus.
Assuming each small child is sleeping, you’ll need an adult or teen per child to carry them on the bus . . . and then, unless you’re particularly skilled, you’ll need an additional adult or teen to fold up and carry each stroller onto the bus. Even if the children are awake when boarding the bus, it’s likely — unless you put forth a concerted effort — that they will fall asleep during the journey, and then you’ll have to carry them off.
We have violated The Ratio on occasion, and while we’ve survived, it’s never ideal. We’ve definitely been the people whom the other bus riders pity. My sister-in-law and I have sat, covered in sleeping children, while everyone else gets off the bus, until my brother can unfold the strollers and carry the kids off one by one. I’ve also managed to keep a talkative three-year-old awake during an entire ride from Magic Kingdom to Pop Century around midnight. While by the end he was babbling complete nonsense, he did manage to walk off the bus himself while I carried his baby brother.
The Ratio means that if you’re a couple with more than one small child, you should bring at least one more person on your trip. May I suggest an auntie?