Home » 5 of the WORST Things That Can Go Wrong on a Disney Vacation (And How to Fix Them)

    5 of the WORST Things That Can Go Wrong on a Disney Vacation (And How to Fix Them)

    Murphy’s Law is everywhere. It stalks the human race, always trying to ruin a perfect moment. The long reach of Murphy’s Law even extends into the Happiest Place on Earth. This entropic touch can even puncture the famous Disney Bubble and ruin a dream vacation. Let’s take a look at some of the doomsday scenarios that can turn Fantasyland into a nightmare. Here are 5 of the worst things that can happen during a Disney vacation along with some tips on how to save the day.

    You lost your wallet, purse, or smartphone

    Think of this scenario as applying to anything lost at Disney. Anything that you’re missing has value to you. You want it back. Alas, some personal belongings are easier to track than others.

    When you’ve lost your phone – and this happens to most people at Disney at some point – you’ll have simple methods to track it down. The Find My iPhone app and Google Find My Device app do the same thing. They provide real-time tracking information about your devices. The same is true of smart tablets.

    Wallets, purses, and other items aren’t as easy. I would suggest using a product like Tile for your most important belongings. This sort of proactive tracker doesn’t help if you’re already at Disney and have lost something, though. In those situations, your best hope is to return to the scene of the crime quickly. You may get back before some dutiful cast member has discovered the item and directed it toward Lost and Found. Always ask for help when you lose something. You may get lucky.

    After a cast member recovers your belongings, these items ship to the specific park’s Guest Services section for the day. You can call Walt Disney World’s Lost and Found department at 407-824-4245 or Disneyland’s at 714-817-2166. Be as precise as possible. Also — and this is just common sense nowadays — you should put a hold on or cancel any credit cards when you lose your wallet or purse. That way, no additional harm can come of a terrible situation. You don’t want strangers buying HDTVs on your dime.

    You get sick or injured

    I hope for your sake that this never comes up. For my family, it happens about every other vacation. The most recent examples are my wife spending three days being nauseous in the room at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort as Cinderella Castle taunted me off in the distance and…okay, this next one sounds crazy. We recently vacationed with my older brother. Seven days before the trip, he had his appendix removed after it almost burst on him. He still went to Disney. I was equally parts in awe of him and terrified on his behalf.

    Convalescing at a Disney park doesn’t sound like fun. People still do it all the time, though. And it usually turns out better than you’d expect. One of the things that theme park tourists know about Disney campuses is that entertainment options abound. When you’re sick and stuck in a certain area, you’ll open your mind to possibilities that you wouldn’t have considered otherwise. In fact, this is an area where Disney absolutely crushes Universal Studios.

    On that same trip, my wife was also sick when we were staying at Hard Rock Hotel. There was virtually nothing for me to do while she slept. I spent part of that vacation watching music videos from the 1980s and 1990s. I can do that on YouTube at home…but I don’t because that’s not much fun. Meanwhile, the constant thrumming of rock music pumped through the walls of the hotel (seriously) magnified the throbbing of her headache. We haven’t been in a hurry to go back to the signature hotel at Universal Resort Orlando for that reason.

    At Disney, I had plenty of shopping options at the Contemporary and also got a history lesson in Disney artist Mary Blair, whose mural anchors the monorail level of the hotel. My wife was able to accompany me for part of this sightseeing adventure and then slept while I did the rest. It certainly wasn’t an ideal situation, but it gave us a chance to do some things at Walt Disney World that we never would have done otherwise.

    My brother couldn’t get in a pool or ride anything made for people over the age of five, but he could still watch all of the Disney shows and attractions. That covers a lot of great stuff that people have a tendency to ignore otherwise such as Frozen Sing-a-Long Celebration, Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage, Festival of the Lion King, and Voyage of the Little Mermaid. All of them are wonderful exhibitions that people generally skip since the exhibitions are time burglars. When you’re ill but dead set on going to the parks, these are the perfect options. You’re admiring Disney storytelling along with some impressive cast member performances and Imagineering tricks, but you’re not taxing your body when you’re less than 100 percent.

    Plus, Channel 75 on Disney’s cable service broadcasts Japanese game shows. Those definitely beat music videos from no longer relevant musical acts. It’s a great emergency entertainment option for us. Your mileage may vary.

    Your luggage is lost

    Image: DisneyEek! This one isn’t good. Even if you have all your money, credit cards, and personal identification on your person, you’re still left with only the clothes on your back. That won’t help you tomorrow, and it won’t even help you today if things go wrong on Kali River Rapids or Splash Mountain. You go through a lot of clothes during a theme park vacation. You need your luggage.

    While lost luggage is at historic lows these days, 6.5 out of every 1,000 travelers are unlucky. Here are some tips on what to do if you’re worried about lost luggage or, heaven forbid, it happens to you. First, you want to break out your smartphone. Take pictures of your luggage, including all applicable bar codes. When airport official adds a tag to your baggage, take a picture. That way, you’ll be able to help them search for your items more efficiently. If something gets lost, you have a tracking number you can give them. While you’re at it, you should also take pictures of all the items you’re packing. That way, if the worst does happen, you can prove what you’ve lost.

    If your luggage gets lost, you need to contact the airport immediately. You should start a claim. Provide all the information mentioned above to expedite the process. If you’re using Magical Express, you should contact bell services at your Disney hotel, too. If they don’t have your bags, contact the front desk. Report everything that you know. Disney has an exceptional luggage tracking system and may find your bags quickly. If not, Disney will take care of you. They have the same liability coverage as most major airlines. In the short term, you’ll wind up wearing a lot of Disney clothing during the early portion of your trip. And, if you’re anything like my family, you were going to do that anyway.

    You’re waaaaaaaay late

    Punctuality is a virtue. Alas, some of us are better at it than others. That’s true in the real world, and it’s even more true in the comfortable confines of the Disney bubble. Sometimes, you just can’t help falling behind schedule. A ride may tear down while you’re on it (my current record is waiting on a ride for 25 minutes…for some people, it’s three hours). Transportation may betray you. For that matter, you may not even realize that you have a reservation or FastPass somewhere until well after the fact.

    These things happen, and Disney’s company policy is to show understanding. The company knows that a lot of the reasons why you’re late are their fault. So, they don’t want you directing the anger toward cast members. Instead, Disney gives its employees leeway to make a bad situation better. You can check in for an advance dinner reservation when you’re an hour late. I know because I’ve done this. Twice. Neither one was my fault, and Disney kindly offered a couple of FastPasses to make up for the lost time.

    That’s your goal when you’re late. If it’s your fault, apologize profusely and try to reduce your footprint. Eat quickly, and be courteous to the cast members who help you. They’re politely overlooking your tardiness, something your school teacher never would have done. If the fault is Disney’s, speak to a cast member at Guest Services (or a Disney hotel if that’s where you are). Ask for a make-good attempt. They do this all the time and as long as you approach them politely with a reasonable request, they’ll try to help.

    FastPass doesn’t work and other annoying miscellany

    Some doomsday scenarios during a Disney vacation aren’t one big thing. Instead, you feel the aggravation of a thousand cuts. Every little thing seems to go wrong, the purest example of Murphy’s Law. When you just can’t catch a break at Disney, it’ll erode your mood until you’re too irritated to have a good time.

    For example, Disney bases most of their park experiences off of the FastPass system. It’s the infrastructure that guarantees every guest an opportunity to ride many of the best things that Disney has to offer. At times, the system isn’t perfect, though. Some FastPasses don’t work right. An attraction may go down, negating the FastPass. You could miss your FastPass window.

    To some people, these issues aren’t a big deal. When you’re inside Murphy’s Law, it feels like the universe is kicking you when you’re down. Similarly, a missing advance dinner reservation or a missed bus/boat can seem irritating on a good day. On a bad day, the frustration is enough to make you want to curl up in a fetal position and cry.

    When your Disney trip is going bad, you have two options. You can meltdown, an experience most have faced over many years of theme park travels, or you can turn aggressive. Rather than being stymied by an inconvenience, the best step is to remember that you’re a grizzled vet of the theme park wars. You can handle anything.

    Turn the negative into a positive. Approach a cast member and explain the situation. If your FastPass didn’t work, employees can offer a replacement. They may even sprinkle some Disney magic into the mix to turn your day around. And what’s wonderful about cast members if that you never know when it will happen. One of the best moments I ever had at Walt Disney World happened after a grueling, largely frustrating evening. I took a boat ride back to my hotel, only to find myself participating in a singalong with all the other riders. The captain of the boat randomly burst into song, and his renditions of classic Disney music were so enjoyable that everyone chimed in. The annoying moments during an extended theme park visit are unavoidable. And doomsday scenarios can jeopardize an entire trip. Cast members know this, however, and they do everything that they can to turn a negative into a positive.