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10 Things TV Shows Get WRONG about the Disney Parks

8. Guests are free to wander off the beaten path.

Tree of Life

Image: Ross Hawkes, Flickr (license)

In season 2 of Sabrina: The Teenage Witch, Sabrina attempts to qualify for her Witch’s License by sourcing and brewing the ingredients for a magic potion that will turn any human into an animal—and back again. Naturally, those ingredients can only be made from the plants at the newly-opened Animal Kingdom, and Sabrina is constantly pestered by her teacher for wandering off the paths to pluck leaves out of the decorative foliage.

Sabrina isn’t the only one tempted to carve her own path through the parks. During Cory Matthews’ desperate attempts to win back the heart of Topanga, he takes a little detour at The Living Seas Pavilion and ends up spilling his feelings while feeding the dolphins with another guest. She mentions to Cory that she wandered away from her tour group and decided to care for the dolphins on her own—definitely not something that would be sanctioned by any cast members had they been around.

These kinds of adventures may appeal to the young at heart, but in a worst-case and far more realistic scenario, they’re also sufficient grounds to get kicked out of the parks. It’s better not to risk the fun vacation you have planned by wandering out of bounds… even if you’re just trying to turn your friends into zebras and back again.

9. If a guest makes a mistake with their theme park admission, they’re still eligible for complimentary passes at the park and date of their choosing.

Disneyland ticket sign

Image: Aaron Anderer, Flickr (license)

Sue Heck has everything planned for the perfect family vacation at Walt Disney World, right down to the estimated crowd levels in Tomorrowland and a full binder of evening entertainment options. When her family shows up at the entrance to the Magic Kingdom, however, they are informed that their tickets are only valid for Disneyland—a cool 2,500 miles away. Frankie begs the cast member for an exception, and the Hecks are eventually introduced to a higher-level CM who admits that this kind of mistake has never been made before. Feeling sympathetic to their plight, he honors the free tickets Sue won and admits all five of them to the Magic Kingdom at no additional expense.

While this may be a comforting fallback plan for those paranoid about misreading their own vacation plans, it’s as farfetched as a fairy tale. Disney can, of course, make “Magical Moment” exceptions to any of their policies, but the likelihood that they’ll take pity on guests who show up at the wrong theme park with invalid tickets is far from guaranteed. It’s always better to double-check your tickets (and hotel reservations and dining plans and FASTPASS selections, for that matter) before you jump in the car and make the 12-hour drive to the Happiest Place on Earth, unless you have a whole wad of emergency cash in-hand for just such a mix-up.

10. Guests can spend a night in the Magic Kingdom… for free!

Main Street, U.S.A. at night

Image: HarshLight, Flickr (license)

Once upon a time, the Disney Parks hosted 24-hour days that lasted from sunrise to sunrise. Past midnight, under the watchful eye of the nearest cast member, you might be able to catch a few winks in the Main Street Cinema or the Enchanted Tiki Room until you found the strength to soldier on till dawn. What you couldn’t do, however, was sneak onto an attraction unsupervised and sleep in the ride vehicles in order to save a few bucks on a hotel room.

Cory Matthews and his best friend/partner in crime, Shawn Hunter, may have gotten away with snoozing in Splash Mountain canoes on a spur-of-the-moment, fly-across-the-country-to-confess-your-true-love kind of endeavor during Boy Meets World, but tiptoeing through the park late at night and trying to stage your own sleepover in an attraction (or anywhere in the park, really) is definitely frowned upon and will land you some pretty hefty consequences if you try to skirt the park’s mandatory curfew. Even if a cast member happens to be looking the other way, you’re bound to get more than your 15 minutes of fame on the security cameras—and chances are, you’ll be met with something far more unpleasant than an unwanted “shower” at the end of Splash Mountain, too.


Did these sitcom episodes enrich your understanding of and appreciation for the Disney Parks? What odd misconceptions did you have about the parks during your childhood?

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