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.
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.
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.
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.