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

4. Embrace moments of connection with your loved ones

Mom smiling while daughter uses Magic Band on resort room door

Image: Disney

We discussed this in our recent article about if non-Star Wars fans have any reason at all to care about the arrival of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Sometimes the best part of a vacation is seeing the joy experienced by someone you love.

If you will be visiting Walt Disney World or Disneyland with your child or with a dedicated Disney-fan, embrace moments to see the parks through their eyes and just participate in something they enjoy. You might not care about meeting Kylo Ren, but your Star Wars super-fan spouse might be giddy with joy over the idea. Have fun watching their reaction—maybe even film the experience. Little kids make this so easy. I was not a huge fan of Magic Kingdom until we took my four-year-old niece for her first visit. It completely altered my definition of what fun at Disney World could look like, and so much of the enjoyment came from just watching how she experienced the parks.

It’s better to give then receive, and this applies to a Disney parks vacation. Yes, you should plan some things that you will enjoy as well—you don’t need to just endure while everyone else in the family has fun doing something you aren’t into. However, there is a wonderful unexpected happiness when you connect with your loved ones by participating in something that means a great deal to them, and this definitely applies to a Disney vacation. Embrace it!

5. Think outside the box—don’t follow trends

Couple has sushi at California Grill

Image: Disney

One of the most common reasons why people end up not liking Disney parks is because of the tendency we all have to follow trends. There are certain things you’re just supposed to do on a Disney vacation, right? Ride It’s a Small World even if you don’t have small children? Spend most of your time at Magic Kingdom (which may be a half-day park at best if you’re not a Disney fan or if you have teenagers)? Eat corn dogs and Mickey Ice Cream bars even if you’d rather be having sushi?

To these expectations, I say, “Bah.” You may safely stick out your tongue and make pbbbllllt noises at them.

The most important step to planning an enjoyable Disney parks vacation—especially if you’ve never had one before—is to make it your own.

Yes, if you are visiting the parks with loved ones who like Disney, you will need to make some compromises. You may stand in some unpleasant lines and ride some rides that just aren’t your thing. However, you don’t have to plan your entire trip around the same ebb and flow of every other tourist. For example, if you are staying at a Disney resort, you will have access to Extra Magic Hours—an extra hour of park time an hour before or after one of the parks opens. Extra Magic Hours are an awesome way to get on rides that may otherwise have a long line.

3 women enjoying food and wine festival

Image: Disney

However, for odd psychological reasons that Disney experts can’t fully explain, whatever park has Extra Magic Hours also usually ends up being the busiest park that day. If you’re not into crowds, don’t feel like you have to follow Disney’s schedule for what park to visit on what day. If you have a park hopper pass, you can even hit Extra Magic Hours in one park then zip over to another one with less crowds. Plan smart rather than following the crowd.

There really is something for everyone at Walt Disney World. I recall a few dear friends who couldn’t stand the parks but ended up going with family (during the busy season—eep!). They had zero expectations for a good trip, but we gave them some tips and tricks to make the most of their time. They ended up reasonably enjoying themselves, but one of the things that surprised them the most was when they discovered how helpful Disney is to visitors with special diets. They both had special dietary needs and had a great time eating at the parks because of this extra care on the part of Disney cast members. It opened up a whole new world of possibilities for enjoying Disney. On their next trip, they found all new things they enjoyed even more.

Think outside the box and take time to research everything Disney parks have to offer. You may need to go off the beaten path, but go ahead and do so. The trick to enjoying a Walt Disney World (or a Disneyland) vacation, even if you have always hated Disney, is to find ways to make it your own. Embrace the possibility that you might just end up enjoying yourself and find ways to defy expectation to make it happen.

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