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So You Can't Stand Disney Parks... but Your Family Wants to Go...

Mickey poses next to suitcases and Magical Express bus

“Disney parks are just… seriously, the worst.”

It’s a phrase that may make Disneyphiles cringe. It’s no secret that we love Disney here at Theme Park Tourist—both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. However, we wanted to touch on a subject that many superfans don’t usually care to talk about.

Not everyone likes Disney parks, and that’s okay

Different people enjoy different things, especially on vacations. There are dozens of reasons why people may end up with negative feeling towards Disney parks. Maybe you had a bad experience on a trip as a child. Maybe the expectations of friends and family who idealize the Disney experience are just annoying. Maybe you can’t stand crowds or the whole experience just felt “phony” or overpriced. Some of these issues may be based on misconceptions rooted in a bad trip, but they aren’t all necessarily that case. It’s reasonable that some people just don't consider Disney parks their cup of tea.

However, what is a non-Disney fan to do if your family or loved ones really want to take a Disney vacation with you? What if that special someone is your spouse or child, or what if the family has planned a trip and it’s looking like you’re going to get swept up in it?

The good news is that it is possible to redeem a looming Disney vacation, even if you couldn’t stand Disney parks in the past. You may even end up enjoying yourself. Here are five tips how…

Note: While most of these tips will work at either Disney resort—Walt Disney World in Florida or Disneyland Resort in California—we’ll be putting most of our emphasis on Walt Disney World since it offers more possibilities for non-fans to find enjoyment outside of the normal Disney parks craziness.

1. Plan wisely

Mickey standing with suitcases next to Magical Express Bus

Image: Disney

Planning can make or break a Disney vacation. It’s not impossible to enjoy a poorly planned vacation, but it will be harder. If you get a chance to participate in planning your family’s Walt Disney World (or Disneyland) vacation, resist the temptation jump on the first sale you see. A lot goes into planning a Disney vacation, and some simple choices really can make all the difference in setting the stage for a more pleasant trip.

Crowds are one of the number one reasons people hate their visits to Disney parks. Who wants to spend all day waiting in line with a bunch of strangers or being shoved about by a Mouse-ear-wearing mob? While you can’t completely avoid crowds on a Disney vacation, you can mitigate them substantially by planning when you visit carefully. Avoid holiday weekends (and weeks) at all cost if you can, especially 4th of July, Christmas, and New Years Day. Magic Kingdom and Disneyland get so miserably busy on these days that they sometimes even reach capacity and have to turn people away.

If you really want to avoid crowds, aim for times when kids are still in school. If you have the option to take your kids out of school for a half-week to a week, do so (it can be a great motivator to keep their grades up and do their chores!). While crowd trends have fluctuated wildly in the last few years, the best times to visit are currently:

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