Disney World Tips No One Else Will Tell You

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Let’s set some ground rules before I begin.  First, for all you Disney worshippers out there please do not send me e-mails telling me I’m depraved, not worthy of breathing and mentally unsound and soul less to write anything less than glowing about the Disney experience. Because I love Disney and all of it’s worlds.  Really, I do.

Whatever drug, hypnosis therapy or electro shock they’re giving their “cast members” bring it on Mickey. It needs to be shared because it must be exceptional stuff. All things Disney are great, including the Disney people. They’re like a combination of Stepford Wives and the robots in the movie Westworld before they got all freaky. The only thing not so great – the non cast members at the parks.

That’s the problem – Disney World would be perfect if it weren’t for the other huddled masses you have to share it with. Note I did not say Disney World was magical. If it were magical it would be free, uncrowded, blessed with a less humidity challenged climate and I would look, at the very least, 10 years younger and 20 pounds thinner as I climb aboard the Dumbo ride.

So, before I start let’s all agree Disney World – good, non Disney people – at best annoying and I know this is going to be hard for some of you, but take a deep breath – Disney parks not 100% magical.

I’m not a novice to the Disney Parks. I’ve enjoyed many a trip to Disney Land and Disney World.  Not even Hurricane Ivan could keep me from visiting the park in 2004.  Nothing says Disney fan like being hunkered down in the basement of a Orlando Marriott amid a sea of 3 legged ballroom chairs, scarred end tables and really, really, bad artwork to ride out the storm.

The good news  – it kept the crowds down. The bad news – worst humidity ever. So, based on my vast Disney knowledge here are some of my tips to making the most of your trip to Disney World.

Lower your expectations: To be fair, “Lower Your Expectations” is my family motto along with “Plan for the worst, hope for the best.” Both of these will come in handy as your Disney World mantra. Let’s begin with your park arrival.

I suggest staring with the classic Magic Kingdom. It’s here that you will see all that Walt Disney first envisioned.  Unfortunately it’s also where you’ll see the screaming armada of parents, grandparents and fussy children already hitting the wall. Yes, the park has just opened and already people are unhappy. It seems so unfair and so un-Disney. Just like there are no tears in baseball, you would think there would be no tears at a Disney Park (excluding tears of joy, of course).

The hard reality is that even at Disney World people still get cranky as hell.  My theories for this abound. My top two are: you are paying more than your first car cost to go to Disney World and that’s just for your Park Hopper passes and secondly too much pressure. You’ve planned for this, saved for it, used it as a parenting bribe (i.e.:  “If you three kids keep this up there goes your trip to Disney) and no vacation can live up to the hype. It’s like losing your virginity. You planned for it, you saved it, used it as a boyfriend bribe and then when the big day comes your like – really, that was it?

Pack extra underwear: Now, you might be thinking this is because the rides are so exciting you could wet yourself. This, my friend, is not the reason. You’ll need that extra underwear due to the Florida weather.  There I was standing in line for Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom and the unthinkable happened – my underwear was soaking wet. I’m talking I. P. Freely wet.

One of my worst fears had come true. I had peed myself in public. Urinary incontinence was now a part of my life.  Depends here I come and FYI adult diapers aren’t cheap. I excuse myself from the line and leave my kids and husband to scale Everest without me. I jog to the ladies room. My wet underwear is slapping against my backside as I run, making a mocking kind of whap-a-slap sound. It’s as if my underwear is singing, “ha, ha, you peed yourself, you peed yourself.”

By this time I’m also experiencing some serious chaffing. I hope Depends comes with a baby power lining or else I’m going to have to purchase adult diapers and diaper rash medication. Although, the smell of Desitin brings back good memories of adorable babies I don’t want to have to rub it on my own backside. Can you say mortifying?  I go into the stall to investigate and I’m relieved to learn that I haven’t wet myself. I’ve sweated myself. That’s right – sweated, perspired, and as my mom says “dewed” all over myself.

The debilitating Florida humidity had turned my body into a swampy mess. It looks like all my sweat rolled down my back, forming an Amazon river of perspiration that journeyed along my backbone, then used my butt crack as a conduit, a tributary, if you will, for conducting all the dampness to my crotch, which I guess in the whole river analogy thing, became an ocean of moisture. No matter how it happened I had to get, somewhat, dry fast. I could not spend the rest of the day and night in soaked underwear. Never mind how gross it felt it was deplorable hygiene.

Two words, ladies – yeast infection. So, I did what all of you would have done. I took off my capri’s, took off my underwear, put my capri’s back on, peered out of the stall until the coast was clear, then went to the sink, scrubbed those undies, stuck them under the hand dryer until they were good and dry, (yes, people did come into the restroom and saw my undies blowing under the dryer and yes, I felt shame and embarrassment) went back into the stall, took off my capri’s, put my dry underwear back on, put my capri’s back on, left the stall, washed my hands and went to catch back up my family. Now, think how much easier all that would have been if someone, somewhere in all the guidebooks out there had told me to bring extra underwear to the Disney Parks. You are all welcome.

People to watch out for: Being on the alert for these people will make your Disney World trip much more enjoyable.

Princess Stalkers: These are the parents (more moms than dads) that will run you over, trip you, shove your toddler to the curb, push your stroller off to the side and give you a hard elbow in the ribs or a karate chop to the neck to catch up with, get to or cut in line so their darling child can have the chance for a photo op and/or an autograph with a Disney Princess.

(WARNING – I have it on good authority that the princesses from the newest Disney movie Frozen are creating a blizzard of bad behavior from parents. Including a throw down between two dads about who was first in line to get their kid’s picture taken with Princess Anna.)

In my keen observations these parents aren’t here for the Disney experience they’re here to fill up their child’s Disney autograph book with faux princess signatures. These parents literally chase the princesses from one venue to the next.

Distinguishing characteristics of these parents are:  Ability to yell – Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White repeatedly and with gusto. Excellent at grabbing their child by the arm and towing them behind them at high rate of speed without dislocating said child’s arm from their socket while in hot pursuit of princesses. Stellar at exhibiting no shame as they “accidently” step on Ariel’s fin causing the princess to trip into their child and thus securing autograph.

Parade Parents:  If at all possible avoid the parade parents. They are easy to identify. They’re the ones camped out on the parade route, bonding their backside to hard, hot concrete three hours before the parade is set to begin. Do not go anywhere near their perch. Parade Parents protect their sacred little piece of parade watching Disney real estate like it’s their sovereign property.

Beware if you find yourself commingled with these people right before the parade starts. They will aggressively defend their turf. If your child accidentally sits on “their” part of sidewalk, scoop your kid up, keep your head down to avoid eye contact and quickly back away to safer, higher ground to steer clear of a very un-Disney like confrontation.

The Tears R Us Team:  Why, oh why do some parents make their children get on rides the kids have no interest in experiencing. I know that deep psychological damage is being done to children when their parents torture them – forcing them into a roller coaster seats as they kick, wail and flail in terror and then strapping them down and buckling them up all while the children sob. The screams reach migraine inducing frequency as the coaster revs and takes off. I’m pretty sure that kind of parenting sets off a complex series of serial killer brain cells in each kid’s head.

To avoid witnessing this scene and therefore avoid you opening your mouth to tell the parents what a colossal piece of crap they are (Yes, I’ve done that, but I did use better vocabulary) here is what you need to do.  Steer clear of any parent you hear using the phases: You’re being a big baby, don’t be a such baby, or any variation of. Immediately vacate your place in line if you hear a parent offering to a pay their fear-stricken child to ride the roller coaster. You know that will not end well.

Kodak Moments – Doubtful. If there ever was a place where you think you’ll walk away with wonderful happy family photos it’s Disney World. After all, as you walk through the parks they have clearly marked just where you should take those happy family pictures.

Here’s why you’ll get home without those one-of-kind photos. No one looks good at Disney World. Humidity cancels out any photogenic quality any of your family members possess. Even the Disney Princesses are having a bad hair day and they’re wearing synthetic wigs.

To exacerbate the problem no one wants to stop and have their pictures taken until after you’ve been at the park for a few hours. That means any photo you’ll take will feature sweat stained family members with their clothes and hair plaster to their bodies. Do I need to mention that humidity adds pounds? Yes, the moisture literally weighs you down.

So, you the mom, who has done all the heavy lifting planning the trip will look horrendous in any and all pictures. Totally unfair and dare I say, unmagical.

God forbid, that you want to take a photo at Disney World to use as your family’s Christmas Card. Talk about pressure. My sole advice is to take it first thing in the morning and you, mom, use plenty of hairspray.  The downside to using hairspray, in what once was Florida swamp land, is that it’s a mosquito aphrodisiac and they’ll be your constant, horny companion the whole day. To get good Disney pictures may I suggest going to Disney Land. The Southern California climate is much more conducive to snagging that all elusive Kodak moment.

I hope this few tips will make your trip to Disney World more enjoyable.  As you proudly enter the park armed with lower expectations and fresh underwear in your backpack, ready to quickly snap your family photo and on high alert (level orange) for people who could negatively impact your Disney adventure remember who you have to thank. Me.

25 thoughts on “Disney World Tips No One Else Will Tell You

  1. ren says:

    Thanks so much for the tips – i’ll definitely keep these in mind for our (possible) 1st trip to Disney. Although, i have to say that it doesn’t sound like much of a vacation…it sounds like a lot of work. I know, there are diehard Disney folks, but my idea of a vacation is just going by the seat of my pants and the thought of having to prepare months in advance for a vacation sounds not so enjoyable. I’d much rather be sitting on a beach somewhere relaxing..but i guess i have to go to at least once so we can say we’ve experienced it. Well, at least i’m going into it with low expectations so i might actually be pleasantly surpised! 😉

    • snarkyinthesuburbs says:

      Disney is tons of fun. But, it is a working vacation for my family because we try to cram everything into just a couple of days. Smarter people would stretch it out and lounge at their hotel. Not me, not with what I’m paying for those Park Hopper passes. I agree with you about sitting on my butt. My perfect vacation is a beach, a good book and a drink with a little umbrella stuck in it.

      • ren says:

        beach, book, drink = heaven!
        I’ve heard from so many people that you have to plan a trip to Disney by buying books, getting on waiting lists months in advance to do stuff…etc. Ugh – really??? I’m gonna have to did deep to get the motivation to do all of that!

    • Gina says:

      Go during December (early! not later than 12/15), January, or February, and you will avoid most of the issues in this article. December really is magical because of all the Christmas decorations. We have been twice during December – the weather was perfect and the crowds were low.

    • snarkyinthesuburbs says:

      I hear ya. Lot’s of planning, lot’s of calling ahead to get that lunch with the princesses ( I wussed out on that – not going to start calling Disneyworld at 8 a.m. (est) and get put on hold for up to two hours to get on that list.) There is a whole business out there of books and websites for planning your Diseny trip. Call me the vacation slacker – but that’s too much like work and not enough like vacation.

  2. Angela says:

    I believe my son, 22 years old at the time, holds the Disney World record for number of princesses photographed with in one day. My other sons, all 20 and 30somethings, got their pictures taken with princesses, too, but Jim got the most. Ever. I was so glad I’d never wasted my time, our money or their Dad’s temper by taking them to Disney when they were kids!

      • Angela says:

        No, they went up on FaceBook, though. My kids, who went to Disney World in their 20s and 30s, and paid for it themselves, had a blast. I’m sure if we had dragged them there, assuming we could have afforded such a trip with eight kids, they would have hated most of it. I know I would have. I don’t like crowds! Why then did I have eight kids? Hmmm, good question…..

  3. John Klip says:

    Nice list of tips. But one thing you said right on – lower your expectations. From my experience, there is always something going wrong. Hey, I have another good tip with me and if you will I can share it with you. Maybe someone doesn’t know but you can get free transportation from airport to your hotel, here is a nice artickle about Disney World Transportatiom

  4. Lisa says:

    Love the post..definately lower your expectations.I grew up going to Disney for vacation starting in the 70’s. My parents retired to Florida and their “hobby” was going to Disney 4-5 times per year. They are 82 & 83 years old and still go. My family (husband and 3 kids) planned our vacation last Christmas for Disney so that we could see my parents as we live far apart from each other (hadn’t seen them in 3 years). Busiest time of year there. Second day of trip we went to Magic Kingdom. Within minutes of arrival my father was rammed from behind by a crazy parent running with a double stroller w/ kids in tow, He was knocked face flat into the curb. Knocked unconscious, bleeding from his head. Long story short..Disney people wouldn’t touch him, spent 3 days in ICU w/ hematoma, concussion and stitches. The parent that did it continued on with their day and I spent part of my “magical” Disney vacation at the hospital by my Dad’s bedside. ….so I say watch out for those crazy parents with strollers…Never again for me!

  5. Angela says:

    We went on a Tuesday in Feburary to Disneyland…. it was a ghost town!!!!!!! We got on every ride – no lines – totally relaxed!!! Weather was awesome since it was technically winter in sunny SoCal. 67 and Sun. HEAVEN!! It was the best trip! We went 1 day and did EVERYTHING! So that’s my tip! 😉

  6. bclinton says:

    park hooper is not worth it.. you pay so much for the ability to change parks, but you spend 2-3hrs making that park switch.
    having a homeschool family, we spent a week at the WDW.. staying at ft wilderness campground. (yes we are trailer trash) saved money camping, saved money eating our own food, focused on one park per day.. no more than a 2min wait.. the longest wait was 30min at peter pan..

  7. Jaimie says:

    We just got back from WDW and I wish I had read this before. I had been to Disney several times before but never in July…and never again in the summer! The heat and humidity were unbearable! I can deal with the crowds…but the sticky underwear…ick!

  8. Rosemary says:

    The first time I went to Disney – I was 19 years old.. in AUGUST… first time in FL as we left the nicely air- conditioned airport to get the rental car we were greeted with a thick humid air.. after a day of adjustment to the humid weather — it was ok trip. Second time I went with my husband in May the weather was beatiful! It was off season.. third time – we went with our kids (their first time) in last week of Sept/first week of Oct – the weather was PERFECT not very crowded at all. I think best time to go is off season.

  9. Dani Fisher says:

    I agree with lowering your expectations!! I love Disney and we go once a year. We go right after Thanksgiving when it is half empty, no humidity, and temps in the 70’s. Lines are short and most kids are in school (I pull mine out). The pushers/ shovers and princess people are awful. My poor kids only see characters that are roaming freely, without lines- I’m not standing in a 2h line to meet a 20y old girl dressed as Cinderella!! I am all for taking time to go to the hotel (if you can justify it with the expense of the park tickets). Swimming and relaxing are just as important. It also gives you the mental break you need when you go back to the park and deal with the other, pushy parent’s sense of entitlement.

  10. Julie says:

    We just got back from Disney this week. We go every year at this time, and I thought we’d seen it all. We were, however, treated to a new experience this go round. We were taking the trams to the MK parking lot at closing time. A multi-generational family group of about fifty flooded around the people waiting in the bustling queues and attempted to hijack an already full (“no further boarding allowed”) tram. Apparently these folks thought they were participating in a boatlift. They were actually handing children over people’s heads. They were throwing open tram doors and sitting on the laps of total strangers. The trams hold 5 people per row, but they managed to wedge an additional 2-3 people into each row. The few members of the family that didn’t manage to squeeze in (all women) were standing at the curb screaming row numbers at the lucky ones that made the launch. It was all a little scary.

    No one bothered to tell the crew they were on the wrong tram. Their cars were apparently in the “Heroes” lot, and they’d rushed the “Villains” tram. Heh. Heh.

  11. Irish says:

    Capris? After many visits to WDW, including one trip from hell at the end of July, I’ve learned if its going to be hot at the parks it’s gym wear all the way…running shorts, sweat wicking shirts, etc. Avoid cotton at all costs. Yeah you’ll look terrible but really so does everyone else. And you’ll at least feel better than the lady with swamp ass who chose to wear jeans in 1000% humidity. It’s Disney, not Paris, throw fashion caution to the wind!

  12. Jean Speer says:

    I live in Florida, an hour to the east near Cocoa Beach and I would NEVER go to WDW in the summer. That is a death wish. All your tips are right on the money. We have not gone in years now that our kids are old enough to go on their own and pay for it themselves. I can remember very clearly years ago when my brother and his family came to visit from Wisconsin and wanted to take his family to Disney, he has two girls, and everyone was hot and very cranky and we were sitting on a curb waiting for the parade and thinking “So this is the happiest place on earth?” what a crock. I know it can be fun if everything thing is aligned just right like the kids being older, the weather is not 200 degrees and you are just there to go with the flow. That does not happen very often though. We have even gone in January and the heat was horrible. Oct and Nov are pretty good usually not the cool you get up north but the temps are better.

  13. T says:

    We go in January to avoid the heat, but there is nothing to be done about the ridiculous behavior of the people. Luckily, we deal with smaller crowds, but I have been run over by strollers, scooters, children, parents. The parade people are very scary. We just avoid all parades now.

    Unfortunately, I was one of those moms that forced my son on a ride. I learned my lesson when he wouldn’t ride another ride for 2 days. Even at 5, he had a right to his opinion, and I never did it again. 😉

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