How to Survive Disney World When You’re Not a Fan

What to do in Disney when you don't like Disney World

We spent the last week wandering Disney World. For those who know me, this may surprise you. Chris and I have never been fans of going to Disney World, but I felt a sense of obligation to take the girls, at least once, while it’s still magical for them. I know a lot of our friends feel the same, so I thought I’d write a little about it. If you’ve been or are a fanatic, you may want to skip over and join me tomorrow when I have something tasty to share. Today’s post is how to survive Disney World when you’re not a fan. Let me tell you, it took a lot, but I’m still here to write about it. We survived!

As we drug the girls across the airport to another terminal and waited in line to check in for the Magical Express only to wait in line again my anxiety set in. What had we done? Thousands of people crammed into a humid room all awaiting a ride to the most magical place on earth. We were herded, we boarded and eventually arrived at our resort where many stood in long lines once again to check into the hotel as my text arrived that said “room 3838 is ready for you.” Given it was my 38th birthday and I could avoid the line I thought “maybe this place is magical after all!” That’s my first tip, if you go and stay on resort, check into your hotel online in advance. The front desk staff do not work harder or faster than they have to.

If you plan to indulge your children in a trip to Disney World, you may appreciate my survival tips. If you love Disney, you may no longer appreciate me.

How to survive Disney World when you're not a fan
Don’t be afraid to enjoy the mini bars at Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. When it gets to be too much, go for an IPA with higher alcohol content. We tried several and they were all great!

Remember, you’re there for the sun and warmer temperatures. Vitamin D is good for the soul! 

Catch a movie. They’re a nice reprieve from the chaos along the walkways of the parks and once you get in, you can kick back and relax for a half hour.

Enjoy a show. When the rides become too monotonous {which they will since they only have a few formats that repeat through the parks}, you can enjoy the talented performers. The Lion King Festival at Animal Kingdom was great.

things to do at Magic Kingdom

Stay for the fireworks. I, like my mother, always enjoy fireworks. It was a nice way to end a crazy day of planning and running from one activity to the next.

tips to make the most out of a trip to Disney when you hate Disney
The street performers at the Animal Kingdom were among my highlights {in Harambe}. They have immense talent and often incorporate the crowd. The girls had fun dancing while Chris and I enjoyed a glass of wine. They have back to back shows including acrobats, singers, dancers, etc. 

How to survive Disney World when you're not a fan
Also at Animal Kingdom is the safari. During the day, it’s like taking a truck through a zoo, but to see lions at night is truly magical, aside from the faux sunset. It was a unique and memborable experience.

tips for going to Disney when you
Use fast passes. Life is too short to spend over an hour waiting for a ride that eight times out of ten will disappoint. Using carefully scheduled fast passes we were able to avoid waiting more than 20 minutes in line during our 5 days at the parks. Win.

Magic Kingdom has a street party each afternoon. While it’s nearly impossible to get a glass of wine or beer there, I highly recommend you grab a bottle of water and gather for some of the best people watching you’ll ever see. 

Don’t be afraid to use Uber. Not only is it far more convenient and less time consuming than resort transportation, but they just might entertain your children, too. We had a driver turn on Lion King for the girls and didn’t spend 2 hours of our lives waiting to stand on a bus.

The best way to survive Disney World is to stop and see it through the eyes of your children. That’s where the magic is at.

tips for going to Disney World when you don't like Disney

I’m not sure why we all feel obligated to take our kids to Disney, but I think it has a little something to do with marketing and tradition. Since I went as a child and *think* I had fun, I felt like I should do it for our girls. Though to be honest, I remember very little. If it’s not for you, don’t do it! Our kids have had just as much or more fun vacationing in Bethany Beach, Delaware, the beaches of Michigan, a weekend in Chicago and even the local amusement park. However, if you choose to take your family, I hope my tips and experience helps!

How to survive Disney World when you're not a fan

entertaining expert and lifestyle blogger Julie Blanner

7 Comments

  • Sofia says:

    Great tips! I grew up in southern California so Disney Land was pretty much an annual (or bi-annual or tri-annual) trip. All of my friends and family *loved* it. Past the age of 10, it became boring pretty quickly, but I went more out of obligation to others (other little kiddies included). Knowing all the little Disney secrets helped! Also, at Disney World, they do a light parade at night during the summer that can be pretty cool. At Disney Land, outside of the parks, they have an epic Disney-themed shopping mall. That was usually my go-to place to escape the Disney madness!

    xo, Sofia
    http://www.thecozie.co

    • Julie says:

      The light parade now belongs to Disney Land rather than Disney World. My sister goes a few times a year and I received insider advice from other family and friends, but it felt like another series of amusement parks to me. I don’t regret the experience, but I still dont understand the hype. I am however envious of your California weather!

  • mncold says:

    We never took our kids to Disney World, nor did my parents take my sister and me. We didn’t take our kids there because “my husband had been” lol, there were a fair number of places we [as a couple or a family] did not go because he had been.
    We did go other places though, we had a train vacation – Pennsylvania and rode small local touristy trains and saw some great model railroad set ups and museums; we visited Fort Ticonderoga and the Adirondacks while camping out, we did another trip to Tennessee and visited a bunch of caves. We managed to visit amusement parks in New Hampshire and got to Hershey Park in Penn. We went from Maine to Wisconsin thru Canada and camped out, so they saw Niagra Falls and rode the Maid of the Mist and got to see Canada and their campgrounds, so all in all we didn’t really miss Disney LOL.

  • Leslie says:

    Our girls have been asking to go to Disney for over a year now, and I’m afraid we can’t put it off much longer. The Husband and I don’t care much for crowded places, so I know it’s going to have its miserable moments. Thanks for the great survival tips!

    • Julie says:

      I wouldn’t do the dining plan and would limit 1-2 character meals so that your trip can be a bit spontaneous. Fast passes were really helpful, book them now close together in time and then you can book more after you use those 3 on the app. Enjoy!

  • Emily says:

    It doesn’t sound like you are going again, 🙂 but for anyone still considering a trip I’d HIGHLY recommend not doing a whole week long trip. (We live in NC so we can drive, which I realize isn’t the case for so many people.) But we took a last minute trip this spring with our 5 and almost 2 year old and it was AMAZING. I had been super against going for years, even though my husband is a huge fan. With only 2 days in the parks and a half day at the hotel pool we never had enough time to get sick of any one thing (I hear you on many of the rides being similar in format!) We did pay for the park hopper (babies & 1 year olds are free so we lucked out by literally days with my youngest) and used it as an opportunity to take naps between parks. A little bit of a nap for my exhausted 5 year old was enough to keep us going well past bedtime and make the trip a little more special & fun. Our almost 2 year old just slept in the stroller (if you have a good jogging stroller, bring it!). We also have friends who are travel agents for disney with kids similar in age to our own & their insights were life saving! (My husband & I took turns doing space mountain while the kids did the tram & we had NO wait by following our friends’ advice.) Roaming Mouse Travel is their Facebook if anyone is interested. The rider swap is something most people don’t seem to know about that let my husband and I both have a turn on bigger rides with my 5 year old. Sorry it wasn’t awesome for you. My SIL took her older kids last summer for a week and had a similar experience.

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