The name “Disney” has been associated with fantasy, magic, family entertainment and dreams come true for decades. And since 1971, Walt Disney World has been the optimum choice in vacation destinations for family fun, thrill rides, innovative attractions, spectacular entertainment and world-class customer service. Family, fun, magic, thrills, fantasy, princesses, castles, excitement—is there anything not to love about Disney World?
In a word, no.
But there are a few things at Walt Disney World that are pretty scary, and we’re not talking about the Haunted Mansion. Here are 10 of the most scary things at Disney World—and even a few ways you might handle or avoid them.
10. Inability to get a FastPass+
The scariest scenario I can imagine at Disney is scanning your MagicBand to enter the park gates and having no FastPass+ times selected at all. Yikes! An equally scary scenario—you tried to reserve FastPass+ times for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, Frozen Ever After, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Avatar: Flight of Passage, Slinky Dog Dash, but to no avail. Ugh! What’s a fan to do? If you can’t score a FastPass+ time, try getting to the parks at rope drop and hurry to the attraction first thing in the morning. You might not be the first one in line, but your wait times will be significantly lower than they would be later in the day.
9. Overwhelming crowds
A vacation at Disney World is the most fun a family can have together. The magic is contagious. Disney has no trouble selling tickets, which is code for “Disney is super crowded”—especially during the first two weeks of January, during Spring Break and Easter, the months of June, July and August, the latter half of October, the latter half of November, and mid-December through the first week of January. Know that if you go during these times, you will encounter crowds. There’s no avoiding them. FastPasses can lessen your wait times, but there will be times in your day when the crowds can seem overwhelming. Don’t let crowds put you in a bad mood. Look at it this way—you’re part of the crowds yourself. Practice kindness and patience, and most of the time, you will get kindness and patience in return.
8. Toddlers in the parks devoid of routines, schedules and naps
Don’t ask perfect strangers what ages your kids should be before you take them to Disney. You know your children better than any member of a Facebook group does. And if you decide to take them when they are young, know that 12-hour days in the parks minus naps and schedules will most likely have negative results beginning on day 2. Don’t let this scenario ruin your trip. Be smart. Babies and toddlers are simply too young to spend an entire day in the parks, especially without napping. (Stroller naps don’t count.) If you have little ones with you, you may enjoy things more if you try doing the parks in shifts, rather than in days. Go back to your resort in the early afternoon and give your little ones the chance to take a nap. Rest can help Mom and Dad too. After naps, head back to the parks, if you like.
If you aren’t traveling with young children and you’ve forgotten what that was like, or if you are easily annoyed by children in general, a trip to Disney—especially in the busier months—might not be for you. But if it is, visit the parks later in the day, when many young families have retired to their resorts for the evening. Another thought is to visit Disney during non-peak seasons.
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This evil villain lurks in the parks, just waiting to make his attack on an unsuspecting Guest. He especially likes to frequent the parks in the summer months, but he can pop up at any time of the year. Remember that you are doing a lot of walking in the parks. In the warm months, you can become overheated very easily. Florida offers a two-for-one special on heat and humidity. That combined with rigorous walking and failure to drink enough water can open the door to dehydration. Severe dehydration can land you in the hospital. So don’t let this happen to you. Be prepared. Know your limits and drink your water. Water is available in the parks at every quick-service restaurant. Just ask for, and a Cast Member will be happy to get it for you. Drink up, and don’t let dehydration drain all the fun from your time in the parks.
6. Grumpy (adult) Guests
Even at the most magical place on Earth, some people are still cranky and irritable. Perhaps they’re just naturally cranky. Perhaps their shoes are too tight. Maybe they’re sour about waiting in long lines for attractions. There are a thousand reasons someone might be grumpy, but at Disney World, those grumpy Guests can sour the experience for their own traveling party—as well as other people in the park. You know the type—a man who is tired of the lines and the heat, the wife who wants others in the queue to know why she’s mad at her husband, as if she were trying to rally support for her cause, that older couple who can’t stand children and are seated near little ones at Beauty and the Beast—Live on Stage. What are we, as the happy and joyful Guests in the parks, to do?
The first thought that comes to mind is this: if you can’t stand children, you are sealing your doom if you head to Disney World. I can’t think of another place in the country where you will find so many children in one big place. It’s Disney! Second, if you find yourself near others who are grumpy and frustrated, try your best to tune them out—you’re not on vacation with them! The most important thing to remember is this: don’t let a disgruntled Guest make a grumpy Guest out of you. Negativity is contagious, but so is positivity. Be that bright spot. It’s amazing how well it catches on.
5. The queue to nowhere at Flight of Passage
In 2017, Disney’s Animal Kingdom welcomed the addition of Pandora. Two attractions opened in the new land as well—Avatar: Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. Both attractions have been so wildly popular that FastPass+ times are hard to get if you don’t reserve them 30 to 60 days before your trip. And without a FastPass+ for Flight of Passage, you and your family will wait in the stand-by queue for what seems like forever. The line is so long at times, that you can’t see the end of it, and you start thinking the queue must go on for miles. But rest assured, it doesn’t. However, those wait times can be anywhere from 100 to 295 minutes, depending on the crowds in the parks. And that is scary!
If you just can’t fathom waiting that long, and you weren’t able to get a FastPass+, you might try getting to Animal Kingdom 20 or 30 minutes before the park opens. When it does open, make a beeline for Pandora, and don’t stop until you get there. There will be other Guests doing the same, but even if you’re one of the first 100 people to get to the queue, your wait time won’t be so scary, and you’ll actually be able to endure it. The payoff is spectacular!
4. Refurbs at the attraction you’ve waited all year to enjoy again
If you are one of the millions of Guests at Disney World who doesn’t live near the parks and you can only get to the most magical place on earth once a year, it can be frustrating to arrive at the parks and see that your favorite attraction is closed for refurbishment. Disney has always stood for quality, and when it comes to rides and other attractions, that means scheduled dates for upgrades, repairs, maintenance and the like. Don’t wait until you’re at the parks to find out you can’t ride Soarin’ or Pirates of the Caribbean or Tower of Terror. Visit Disney’s website at www.disneyworld.disney.go.com, before your trip and check to see if any of your favorite experiences are undergoing a refurbishment at that time. No, you can’t ask Disney to halt the refurb until after your trip, but you’ll know before you go, so the refurb doesn’t sour your experience in the parks.
3. Main Street U.S.A. during peak season
Ugh! This is the worst! Main Street U.S.A. is a symbol to Disney fanatics—especially to those fans who only get to visit the parks once or twice a year. It means they are finally at home in their favorite place on earth. But during the first week of January, the summer months and the last two weeks of December, Main Street U.S.A. could be called “Mayhem Street U.S.A.” Peak season always means huge crowds in the parks. And since Main Street is the primary thoroughfare once you enter Magic Kingdom, it functions like a bottleneck for the front section of the park—hundreds of families crowding into the street, each one rushing to the first attraction they want to enjoy. Guests squeezing through groups of families, kids meandering underneath adults, a few Guests using their bodies as bulldozers—these can make for a frustrating scenario—and all during the first few minutes you’re in the park.
Have no fear! A solution is here—next time you visit Magic Kingdom during peak season, head for the train station instead of Main Street U.S.A., and board a Walt Disney World Railroad car. You can ride the train to the Fantasyland Station, and you will completely bypass the mayhem on Main Street!
2. Inability to score dinner at Be Our Guest, a drink at Oga’s Cantina, or breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table
You marked your calendar so you would know the exact day the 180-day window opens for dining reservations. And when that day came, you were on the phone calling Disney early that morning. Yes! Finally, you were going to get that breakfast reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table. But after spending what seemed like forever at your desk, you got through to a representative, only to find that all the reservations for breakfast on the date day you hoped for have been booked. And you had the same experience when you tried to book Oga’s Cantina and Be Our Guest for dinner.
These dining experiences are the most difficult to book. Cinderella’s Royal Table and Oga’s Cantina are smaller venues, which doesn’t help when they are already the most sought-after restaurants at Disney World. And though Be Our Guest is a large venue, Guests all over the country (and in other countries) are playing the same game of “Catch the Dining Reservation.” What can you do? First, try booking on the next day of the reservation window, or try booking for another time of day. If you still can’t get the reservation you want, there are other great restaurants in the parks that offer exciting dining experiences as well. (Note: if you were hoping for the princess experience at Cinderella’s Royal Table but can’t get in, try the Akershus Banquet Hall in the Norway pavilion at EPCOT. Several princesses make rounds to Guests at their tables. It’s a nice alternative to the Royal Table if you’re not able to book it.)
1. The last day of valid admission on your ticket
There’s no nice way to say it, and sugar-coating doesn’t help either. Maybe it’s not so scary to know it’s your last day in the parks, but it is sad. The remedy—once you’re home, start making plans for your next trip to the parks. What? You haven’t even thought about your next trip yet? Now that’s scary!