Disney Parks Like a Pro, Part One: The Three Principles

As a Disney Parks and Resorts fan, I recognize that some people will never understand the appeal. A percentage of the population is just not wired for entering a world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy, and I am fine with that. Everyone has something they like, and it’s okay if it’s not Disney-related. Besides, the parks are crowded enough as it is.

Yep, nothing cool to see here. At ALL. Everyone should just stay home...
Yep, nothing cool to see here. At ALL. You’re not missing anything, just stay at home…

But visiting a Disney park has also become a rite of passage. Kids reach a certain age, and adults feel compelled to take them to Walt Disney World/Disneyland, whether they want to spend the time and money or not. This is an easy path to miserable experiences for all. Nobody has fun on a trip when the people paying for it are irritated the entire time.

I always feel bad when I spot one of those unhappy groups, because it is certainly possible for a non-fan to enjoy their vacation to a Disney park. I mean, it shouldn’t be that hard, right? Every year, millions of guests visit thousands of acres of design and technology dedicated to just that proposition.

But for non-fans and first-timers, visiting a Disney park can seem intimidating, insular, and ridiculous. Not to mention crowded, and miserable, and expensive.

It's not shoulder-to-shoulder every single day. Just most of the days.
It’s not shoulder-to-shoulder every single day. We were there on a rare quiet afternoon.

Over the years I have been approached for survival tips by friends dreading their Disney park trip. After enough of these conversations, I have boiled everything down into digestible pieces, divided into principles and practices. It may seem like a lot of pondering for what should be a carefree vacation, but will be worth it when you do Disney like a pro.

The Three Principles:

Willingness To Try

This first step sounds like something you might tell a small child, but is essential to the success of a Disney park vacation. A person who will try to keep their irritation, exasperation, frustration, or any other -ation at bay, and try to have fun, may find themselves actually enjoying it. That isn’t the whole fight, of course, but it is a crucial start.

It's okay to be grumpy at a Disney park under certain circumstances.
It’s okay to be grumpy at a Disney park under certain circumstances.

A Small Measure of Imagination

Guests don’t need to be creative geniuses to enjoy a Disney park, but someone who walks around shaking their head at how fake everything is will miss the greater point. The places in a Disney park are not pretending to be real, they are real places that allow someone to pretend. It is literally true that Pirates of the Caribbean is just a fiberglass boat drifting past a bunch of dressed-up robots. But using that as a basis for criticism is like dismissing a movie because it’s not really Abraham Lincoln, but an actor in a fake beard and stovepipe hat. There are stories told in Disney parks, and finding them requires that small measure of imagination.

Resolved Budget Concerns

This is the toughest one. A Disney park vacation is expensive, and there is no way around that. Although there are some great methods for saving money where you can, it will not be a cheap trip. We recommend drawing up a realistic budget using the principles in the next post, understand that it will be a large number, and save until you are comfortable spending it. That will remove the biggest stumbling block to happiness when the big trip finally arrives.


To sum up: one, leave your grump at home; two, a little pretending won’t hurt you; three: save enough money ahead of time. It’s really that simple. When combined with the six practices in Part Two, it will take your Disney trip to the next level.

One thought on “Disney Parks Like a Pro, Part One: The Three Principles

  1. Pingback: Disney Parks Like a Pro, Part Two: The Six Practices – Deep Forest Outpost

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