Can You Enjoy Walt Disney World When You Hate Theme Parks?

walt disney world, cinderella's castle, princesses dance

Hi, Cinderella!

Ummmm – the answer is yes.  It’s been over a year since our visit there, but I was inspired to write this because a friend and Disney-skeptic is anticipating her first visit to Walt Disney World with her two young children.

I usually can’t stand places that are geared specifically toward “family fun”. I get irritated with the lines, rude people, misbehaving children (yes, my own included), and shockingly expensive (and unhealthy) food.  So, maybe it’s because I was expecting the worst that I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe it’s because it had been a brutal year and we were all just so grateful for an escape together. Maybe it’s because I’m softening my stance as a travel snob and succumbing to the ease and comfort of places that cater to families.  We enjoyed our visit to Walt Disney World – and here’s why…

WHY WE LOVED WALT DISNEY WORLD:
It was clean, spotlessly clean…
My usual experiences with theme parks involve accidentally stepping in something sticky and/or gross, risking multiple wasp stings as I try to use the garbage cans, and trying to convince my public-toilet-phobic daughter (in full potty-training mode at the time) that the washroom’s not THAT dirty.  I appreciate the effort all the Cast Members (disney-speak for employees) make in keeping the areas clean, and I’m happy not knowing why there weren’t any stinging bugs.
It was completely accessible… Even the most severely disabled person could enjoy some rides, and because the parks are so accessible for people who really need that access, it made getting around with the minor encumbrance of a stroller a total breeze.  For those traveling with babies and toddlers, each park has a baby-care centre with quiet and cool spots for feeding and changing baby.  The tiny toilets went over extremely well with our potty-training miss.
It had healthy options! And recycling! I was pleasantly surprised at the healthy food options available – they weren’t just an iceberg lettuce afterthought - and all kids’ combos automatically came with veggies and milk instead of fries and pop. During that whole trip, Walt Disney World was the only place in Florida we saw that recycled, and had separate bins for recyclables.
It wasn’t THAT expensive… Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, things at Disney cost money.  However, I was surprised at how often I WASN’T a victim of sticker shock when I looked at a price tag or a menu.  Plus, the quality of Disney stuff is really good, when you compare it to other food and shopping options nearby.

Free Mouse Ears!

But it’s not perfect… for the life of me I’ll never understand why a grown woman would butt in line in front of a toddler to hug someone in a Winnie The Pooh costume, why parents would wait for eons in line (in the blazing sun) so their child can get an autograph from a movie character (umm – you know that’s not really Ariel, right?) and I didn’t love that a few rides let out conveniently into a gift shop.

My advice for Disney skeptics?  Arrive prepared – I learned the hard way that you have to plan for certain things months in advance (ie. character dining), and have an itinerary roughly sorted out beforehand.  Disney is more than just the Magic Kingdom and you’ll need to figure out just what you can and can’t miss.  My friend Sandra runs her own travel agency called ClickTheMouse and I was lucky to have been “armed” with her Tips For Walt Disney World With Toddlers before our visit.

We somehow managed to visit Florida this year without a visit to the Mouse, but it’s not just my daughter who wants to return.  I can’t wait to see  my little bub in a pair of mouse ears.

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11 Responses to Can You Enjoy Walt Disney World When You Hate Theme Parks?

  1. kgirl at 15:24 #

    I have definitely been expecting the worst, but also getting excited. It will be an experience, that’s for sure. Now to forward this to the huz, an even bigger skeptic…

  2. Corinne at 16:29 #

    It also helped that we were there at a not very busy time. I think our experience would have been markedly different had we had to wait hours in line for rides…

  3. Corinne at 16:34 #

    Oh – by the way – the Snow White ride is really scary!

  4. jennimom at 23:41 #

    We feel your potty training pain!

    That’s why e just developed an amazing iPhone potty training app and think it is great tool for your readers. It has an interactive rewards chart and original catchy song by kids recording artist FM.

    Ce=heck it out at:http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/its-potty-time/id342564231?mt=8

    Good luck from the moms @ appsNminded!

  5. I’m glad you had a great time. I couldn’t relate much because we love Disney. :) But with that being said, I think we have Disney’d out. We have been going there several years in a row and I think I have had enough. But who knows, next year I might be planning Disney trip again.

  6. Corinne at 15:45 #

    I’m not sure why I got all cranky and jaded as a grown up – might have a lot to do with being a total travel snob in my ’20s.

    One thing’s for sure, Walt Disney World has a real effect on people, we definitely want to go back.

  7. Carolina at 23:59 #

    We’ve never been to Disneyworld but have gone to Disneyland countless times. I agree with all your pros, and yes I also believe you really will enjoy yourself more if you plan ahead.

  8. jessica at 10:16 #

    Good on you! (: im only 11 but i love Disney! me and my family go nearly every year. we’re going again this year surprisingly, this will be our 7th time! I first went when i was two, but we’re going again and i will be twelve wen we go this year. Ive been to Disney land Paris before, at Christmas time, it was amazing. although it wasn’t as good as Disney Florida. When we go this year me, my mum, dad, brother and sister but also my sisters new born baby Cameron! He will be 3 months old when we go, and we are so excited! He will love it as much as we all do. Did i mention my brother Ross was on worlds strictest parents, so we are going to have dinner with the dad mark garnet, out in Florida! If you have never seen it go to you tube, and type worlds strictest parents Ross and Naomi, that is my brother Ross. Jessica xxx

  9. Once you have those Disney ears you will always want to go back! It is great to see Disney from a different point of view.

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