Home » 7 Crazy Things People Still Believe About Walt Disney World

7 Crazy Things People Still Believe About Walt Disney World

Despite being one of the top travel destinations on the planet, Walt Disney World in Florida still remains the subject of many popular misconceptions.

In the age of social media and online travel resources, you would think many false assumptions about The Most Magical Place on Earth would have long died out, but it’s still pretty common for Disney fans to hear some crazy stuff in conversations about their favorite vacation destination. I’m not even talking about batty urban legends like that Cinderella Castle can be dismantled during a hurricane (it can’t) or that the Walt Disney company owns The Villages senior living community (they don’t)…

I’m talking about the sort of broad misconceptions that can completely bust a potential Disney trip– things like that Disneyland and Walt Disney World are essentially the same or that both parks essentially center around Fantasyland. It’s the assumptions that Disney parks are only for one type of person or that Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are skippable extras at best.

Some of these misunderstandings are totally understandable—Disney parks aren’t necessarily everyone’s thing, and that’s all right. Some of these misconceptions are so engrained in the cultural conscience that it’s hard to break them when the topic of a potential Disney vacation comes up. However, if left addressed, these misconceptions can skew the narrative around why people keep returning to Disney parks year after year…

The good news is a little research can quickly set the record straight. How many of these misconceptions have you heard before?

1. Disney World is the name of a park

“You just won the Super Bowl! What are you going to do next?”


You don’t have to have the foggiest familiarity with Disney parks to know this statement—it’s become so familiar to our culture that Disney actually has an official Super Bowl parade every year the day after the big game to celebrate the winners. There’s only one problem with the sentence…

People often assume that Disney World is the name of a park.

The assumption makes perfect sense—after all, Disneyland is the name of Disney’s original California park. Isn’t Disney World just slightly bigger Disneyland on the East coast? This perception is even more understandable when you consider what people think when we say “Disney World”. Just type the phrase into Google Images and you’ll be immediately greeted by twenty pictures of Cinderella Castle before you even scroll down. To the average person not familiar with Disney parks, the logical conclusion is that Disney World, like Disneyland, is a theme park surrounding a castle.

The issue is that the park with the castle isn’t Disney World—it’s called the Magic Kingdom.

Walt Disney World isn’t actually a park—it’s a resort and entertainment complex the size of San Francisco that includes four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios), two water parks, a massive shopping/dining district, three golf courses, two mini-golf courses, a sports complex, conservation wetlands, and more than 25 resort hotels. That’s a lot to do in one travel destination!

The Magic Kingdom is definitely Walt Disney World’s signature park, as well as its most popular, but it’s only one park in the sprawling destination known as Walt Disney World, which leads us to another common misconception…

2. You can see it all in a day or two

Disneyland Resort in California covers two parks (Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure) and a shopping district. While some occasions could merit a week-long visit, on most occasions, you can experience both parks in full over a 3-4 day trip.

That is definitely not the case with Walt Disney World.

Considering all that the Walt Disney World resort has to offer, a five day vacation can feel like a squeeze. The reason for this is that most of the parks really need more than one day to fully experience. Even Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which many people used to write off as a half-day park, is now a full day (or multi-day) experience thanks to the arrival of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and the hit-or-miss boarding pass system surrounding Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Adults, families with teens, or repeat visitors who don’t have the nostalgia-bug might be able to experience Magic Kingdom in less than a full day but that wouldn’t necessarily work for a first time family.

In truth, six days is about the minimum that experts recommend for a Walt Disney World vacation—seven to nine days is even better since it will allow you breathing room to explore at a less frantic pace. Each family’s itinerary will prove different depending on what you enjoy, but a general guideline will be two spend at least a full day at each park with extra days spent returning to the parks you enjoyed the most to experience things you missed. Families with kids will likely need two days at Magic Kingdom. Star Wars fans will probably need two days at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Foodies will likely want park hopper access to Epcot, and many fans consider Disney’s Animal Kingdom their favorite park, easily meriting two days. Each vacation is different, but either way, you will need some breathing room on your schedule to really experience Walt Disney World to the fullest.

3. Magic Kingdom is the only park that matters

Tying into the idea that Disneyland and Walt Disney World are essentially similar, we find another popular misconception that can definitely bust a Disney vacation if left unchecked.

I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve had to convince people that Magic Kingdom is not the only Walt Disney World park that matters. Even among Florida residents, this is a commonly held belief, and I’ve seen it result in a lot of lousy Disney trips.

Six to nine days seems like an awfully long time to spend at Walt Disney World, and the budget required to pull off a week-long epic Disney vacation can give even the most stalwart travelers sticker shock. Can’t you just simplify a Disney trip down to a day or two at Magic Kingdom? Why even bother with Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or Disney’s Animal Kingdom? This paradigm usually gets justified by people insisting that the other three parks are skippable: Epcot is written off as boring, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is assumed to be a simple zoo, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios might look too small or teen-focused.

Magic Kingdom is a great park, but it suffers from one fatal flaw—its appeal heavily relies on nostalgia and appeal to kids. People flock back to Magic Kingdom year after year because they want to experience classic Disney magic again and again and share that with their families.

The problem is that if you don’t get the warm-fuzzies from Disney nostalgia, you probably won’t get quite as much out of Magic Kingdom. On the other hand, many Disney fans will quickly chime in that one of the three other parks is easily their favorite.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is probably the resort’s most well-rounded park, offering some of Disney’s best rides paired with excellent dining and ever-changing wildlife experiences (that feel nothing like a zoo). Epcot definitely holds great appeal for adults with their excellent dining selections and the mature appeal of World Showcase, but it’s also a great park for kids thanks to top notch attractions like The Seas with Nemo and Friends and Frozen Ever After. As for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it was already a great park for some of Disney’s most innovative attractions, but the arrival of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Toy Story Land, and the incoming Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway have turned it into an absolute must-visit family destination.

In short, it’s a major mistake to visit Walt Disney World and only visit Magic Kingdom— you’ll be missing out on Disney’s best attractions, themed lands, and experiences for all ages.

4. Summer and holidays are the best time to visit

There are three specific times most families opt to take Walt Disney World vacations: summer, Spring Break, or holidays. This makes perfect sense—after all, these are times when kids are out of school, and Disney encourages visits during these times with heavily advertised sales.

The problem is these are honestly the worst times all year to visit Walt Disney World if you want a low-stress trip.

It’s an unfortunate truth that guests will have to endure higher-than normal crowds if you visit during summer, Spring Break, and most holiday weekends. If you’re visiting on Fourth of July, New Years Eve/Day, or Christmas Day, the situation is even worse, to the point that crowd levels can be so high they can totally bust your Disney day.

Isn’t Walt Disney World always busy? What’s the big deal?

While changing crowd patterns (especially surrounding the opening of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance) have definitely thrown off established Disney attendance calendars, it’s an indisputable fact that times when kids are out of school are some of the busiest times to visit Walt Disney World. There is no completely “light” season anymore, but that isn’t to say that the Most Magical Place on Earth is level-10 busy all the time. Indeed, if you schedule your visit carefully, you can dramatically reduce the amount of time you’ll be waiting in lines and fighting crowds.

The biggest times to avoid are major holidays—Fourth of July, New Years Day, and Christmas Day are the worst offenders as these are the busiest days all year, to the point that Magic Kingdom often reaches capacity. These aren’t just busy days—they’re miserable, and unless you thrive on the thrill of mass crowds, you’re setting yourself up for a busted Disney day. I cannot emphasize enough—unless you are an annual passholder who can shrug and leave when the crowds get tiresome, do not visit Walt Disney World on these days if you can avoid it.

Other major holidays aren’t quite as busy, but you will definitely lose a good chunk of your day to lines. These include President’s Day weekend, Labor Day and Memorial Day weekend, Thanksgiving and Christmas week, and basically the entire month of March due to Spring Break. As for summer, it’s not quite the madhouse it used to be (people started catching on that Florida is busy, hot, and brutally humid during these months), but it’s still busier than other times of year.

Don’t be fooled by sales during these times, either—while Disney aggressively advertises to fill up parks and resorts during these high-attendance seasons, you will almost always find better deals by visiting during the off-season.

When the heck is the off-season though? Your best bet to reduce time spent in line is going to be to visit during times when kids are in school. If you have the option for students in your family to get a pass for excused absences, this is a well-worth-it tactic. Weekdays are almost always less busy than weekends, and the further you can get from holiday weeks, the better. While 2020’s mid-January to mid-February off-season was thrown off by Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, in future years this will likely remain a good time to visit. September after Labor Day weekend has passed also remains pleasantly light. Early November and mid-December offer some pockets of light-moderate crowds. For middle-moderate crowds, we’ve had some luck with late-April and early May, as well as with weekdays in early-October (though this month is getting busier every year due to special events).

If you have to go during a busy season, it’s all right—your trip can still be salvaged. Do some research into established crowd calendars to see what experts recommend as far as which weeks offer the most moderate crowds. Also, take advantage of resources like TouringPlans.com for expert-planned itineraries to make the most of your day.

5. The food sucks

Let’s face it—theme park food is usually pretty awful. Mushy hamburgers, corn dogs for days, pizza oozing puddles of oil… It’s not a pretty picture.

It’s a fair assumption that most people believe Walt Disney World’s food falls into this abysmal category, and the wound is salted even more when you consider Disney’s high prices. Why would anyone waste precious dollars on food you can probably find at Sonic?

In truth, Walt Disney World’s food is actually pretty awesome—to the point they dramatically stands out from their competition.

Disney parks definitely do offer plenty of familiar fast food offerings like pizza, corn dogs, burgers, and chicken tenders. This makes sense as most kids (and many adults) are picky eaters who don’t trust unfamiliar foods. While there are definitely Disney restaurants that are more “meh” than great, the vast majority of their food offerings are surprisingly good.

Walt Disney World actually offers an insane range of outstanding food choices, to the point that dining is actually something of an essential part of a full Disney vacation. There is seriously something for everyone– superb ethnic cuisine, character dining experiences, barbecue, steakhouses, in-universe themed dining, and even fine-dining establishments like Victoria and Albert’s and The Flying Fish that rate among Orlando’s finest. It would take an entire article to list some of our favorite establishments—Docking Bay 7, Jungle Navigation Co. Skipper Canteen, Tutto Italia, The Rose and Crown Pub, Tiffin’s, Jiko, The Biergarten… You could spend an entire trip just trying new foods.

In short, it’s a mistake not to budget to have some meals in Disney parks. If you want to save money, buy your own breakfast and quick snacks at a local grocery store (you can always Uber there and back). Do some research and pick out some must-try locations you want to eat, and plan those into your trip—for sit-down locations, make reservations as far ahead of time as possible.

6. It’s only for kids

I recently had a rather adorable conversation with one of our teenage students who insisted she would never go to Walt Disney World. When I asked why, she insisted that she wouldn’t be caught dead on kiddie rides like spinning tea cups or flying elephants. On a side note, I so intend to get this kid to Disney’s Animal Kingdom someday to change her perception…

It’s a pretty common assumption that Disney parks are mostly for kids—to the point that you might get called a weirdo for wanting to go as an adult. I’ve seen readers straight up lose their cheese on this subject, particularly when it comes to areas like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge where adults are straight up given freedom to goof around and play pretend with cast members.

Walt Disney World is awesome for kids, but there’s a reason that countless adults shamelessly return to vacation there every year…

Sure, there’s some child-at-heart nostalgia involved when many adults visit Walt Disney World, but in truth, The Most Magical Place on Earth has tons of things for adults to enjoy without kids. Most of Disney’s best rides are designed to appeal to adults even more than kids, from Soarin’ to the Tower of Terror even to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. There’s also a certain classiness that goes into Disney’s park designs, especially Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, that adults will undoubtedly appreciate more than little visitors. Dining and shopping opportunities abound for adult visitors, and there are even peaceful places throughout the resort where more mature souls can simply take in beauty and enjoy a vacation, like the World Showcase gardens.

On top of this, its notable that Walt Disney World is one of the top destinations for honeymoons in the world. Couples in love can easily turn a Walt Disney World vacation into a romantic getaway complete with a beautiful resort room (like those available at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Wilderness Lodge, or the Yacht and Beach Club), intimate dinner dates, evening walks on the Boardwalk, and even a trip to Senses Spa for a couple’s massage.

7. The parks are all that matter

We have one final misconception to tackle, and it’s one that even many park veterans fail to realize.

Aren’t parks all that matters on a Walt Disney World vacation?

Remember how we were mentioning all the things there are to do at Walt Disney World? A large portion of the activities guests can enjoy at Walt Disney World resort don’t require a park admission. Indeed, there is so much to do that families can safely plan a day or two without park tickets into their vacation and still not be left bored.

Entire guides have been written on Disney’s outside-the-park offerings. If you’ll be staying at a Walt Disney World resort, you can enjoy world-class pool areas and guest activities. Guests can also enjoy recreation throughout the property like boating, sports recreation, and three pro-quality golf courses. A visit to Senses Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort or Saratoga Springs can melt the stress from the parks right off, while a visit to Disney Springs can give the family hours of fun via dining, shopping, and even access to one of Disney’s best non-park attractions—The VOID, a hyper-virtual reality experience that throws guests straight into a Star Wars, Marvel, or Wreck It Ralph adventure! Guests looking to peek behind the magic can also enjoy a wide range of behind-the-scenes tours and special experiences without a park admission. Even resort hopping can make for a pretty fun afternoon!

In short, Walt Disney World has much more to offer than many might assume. Have you heard any of these misconceptions before?