6. Park-hopping is quick and easy, and wait times are never long for popular attractions.

300-minute wait sign

Image: HarshLight, Flickr (license)

Perhaps the most tantalizing bit of misinformation—and the one that’s most likely to appear realistic to a first-time parkgoer (unless you fell for the whole “million-year-old Neanderthal bones are buried in Animal Kingdom” thing in Sabrina: The Teenage Witch)—is the idea that getting around the Disney Parks is both effortless and quick. For the Tanners and Winslows and Hecks, it might be, but those who can pack full itineraries at 2-3 parks a day with no signs of excessive fatigue always fall into one of two categories: actors and travel brochure stock models.

Obviously, showing characters standing in lines for hours on end doesn’t make for laugh-out-loud television, so it makes sense that every Disney Parks-based sitcom episode cuts to footage of various attractions and resorts as quickly as possible. In real life, however, family vacations aren’t quite that seamless. Especially at Walt Disney World, which spans a terrific 1,100 acres among its four parks alone, it takes significant time to arrange transportation, enter and exit the turnstiles, walk from attraction to attraction, and power through long lines at even the parks’ least-popular rides.

If you have the dough or the clout to hire a “plaid,” a colloquialism for Disney’s expensive concierge service, you might get to cut a few lines in order to maximize your time at each park. Or, as Dre bragged to his coworkers when he took the entire Johnson family to the Magic Kingdom, you can arrange to experience the parks “Disney World VIP”-style. Without a plaid by your side, on the other hand, you’ll spend a significant part of your day waiting around like the rest of the crowd.

7. Cast members can ad-lib their attraction spiels—or hand the reins to a guest!

Jungle Cruise

Image: Disney

Sure, we all dream of the day when we get to tangle with a booby-trapped temple and a runaway boulder during Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular or take the wheel from a Jungle Cruise skipper and build up to the ride’s most thrilling reveal: the backside of water. Unlike some of the “Magical Moments” cast members are authorized to arrange for guests, though, handing over the controls to an attraction or show just isn’t allowed, as it directly compromises the safety of every rider and audience member in attendance.

If you thought otherwise, it might be because you have a keen memory for the plotlines of every sitcom that happened to feature the Disney Parks over the last several decades, where Jungle Cruise skippers went way off-book (“There’s lots of plants and stuff,” one skipper told his passengers before relinquishing control of the boat to a guest), cast members played matchmaker on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Harvey Kinkle ran his own comedy special aboard Kilimanjaro Safaris, and the overeager Jake “Flash” Gordon convinced management to let him fill in for Indiana Jones at MGM’s stunt show, lest a little boy end his vacation in tears after missing the performance.

The bottom line: Cast members undergo rigorous training for some of these roles, and they aren’t about to risk their jobs (or the well-being of every other guest they’re responsible for) just for the sake of letting loose or giving a random guest an unexpected thrill, even if they fit the costume perfectly.


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