It’s hard not to assume Walt Disney World is only for certain types of people…
The child at heart. The social butterfly. The gregarious extrovert. The daydreamer. These are the sorts we expect to gleefully flock to the Most Magical Place on Earth—people who thrive on crowds, the nostalgia of youth, and happy parents looking to experience a little magic with their kids.
What about people who don’t fit that mold, however?
Disney overall just a better fit for certain personality types? Why would an introvert enjoy one of the busiest tourist destinations in the nation? Why would a concrete thinker entertain an entire resort based on the fantastical, or why would a go-getter want to waste their energy standing in lines? We’ve talked at length about why Walt Disney World is a great destination for single travelers and families without kids, but what if you just don’t feel your personality is a good fit for Disney parks, whether you have kids or not?
I’m a solid introvert, and I’ve had many people ask me why I like Walt Disney World—isn’t it too loud and busy? I’ve taken other introverts along for visits and learned we all like totally different things. One introverted friend loves Magic Kingdom and Galaxy’s Edge but thinks Epcot is dull. Another was utterly stressed out by Disney’s Hollywood Studios even on a quiet day but couldn’t stop raving about how much they loved the World of Pandora. I’ve even known extroverts who thrive on crowds who found their first visits painfully boring until they were given some directions on which parks might better fit their style.
Personality “types” are not an exact science— they help us understand more about how we think, but every single person is wonderfully unique within any personality grouping. Even widely accepted concepts like introversion (being drained by social interaction and stimuli) and extroversion (being drained by the lack thereof) exist on a broad spectrum with most people falling near the middle. Personality groupings simply help us identify things we may have in common with others in how we experience the world, and those traits can definitely affect how we enjoy a place like Walt Disney World.
Is Disney only for certain types of people? We don’t think so. Indeed, what makes Disney parks so magical is that there really is something for everyone. What makes Disney so special to people with totally different takes on life? Here’s what we found.
1. The Extrovert
The quintessential extrovert is the exact type of person we expect to love Walt Disney World—the social savant who loves interaction, lively activity, and doesn’t mind crowds or tons of stimuli. That’s just one version of extroversion, though-- extrovert cover a WIDE range of people who share the common trait that they get a charge from social interaction and sensory-engagement, to the point they feel drained without it. They come in many different varieties-- they’re not going to all be thrill-seekers, for example. In general, the sheer energy level at Walt Disney World can be a charge for many extroverts, and they might be less likely to be intimidated by crowds.
At the same time, a Disney vacation can turn dull quickly for an extrovert who feels like their core need for meaningful interaction isn’t being met. They might get bored quickly on dark rides that don’t engage their specific interests and senses, or they may not have as much fun travelling solo unless they make opportunities to meet new people. They also may not enjoy experiences they feel they aren’t sharing with others in a truly-connective way.
For the extrovert who falls in love with The Most Magical Place on Earth, Disney becomes a haven of shared wonder—a symphony of the human experience. Both cast members and characters can prove an exciting source of engagement for extroverts, especially in places like World Showcase where you can meet people from different cultural backgrounds. The opportunities for social stimuli and meeting new people are practically endless at Disney parks, and that can be wonderfully liberating for an extrovert who is constantly told to “dial it back”. When it comes to attractions, finding experiences that match your interests will be key—some extroverts will prefer a more adult environment like Epcot or Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Others may thrive on shared nostalgia in the Magic Kingdom or like the extensive opportunities for interactivity in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Most of all, extroverts will appreciate opportunities at Walt Disney World for meaningful, enriching interaction with friends, loved ones, and new people—just “spending time in the same space” might feel shallow and unsatisfying as opposed to truly growing, bonding, and learning more about each other. Make sure to incorporate experiences into your vacation where you can really get to know people around you. Eat at some restaurants with shared tables like The Biergarten or Oga’s Cantina. Stay at a lively resort like The Dolphin, The Contemporary, or The Polynesian. Make new friends on the Skyliner or monorail. Most of all, have fun the way you know how to, and don’t be afraid to press into the excitement of a crowd sharing awe and wonder underneath fireworks after a long day.
2. The Introvert
My very first article for Theme Park Tourist was actually a guide to Walt Disney World for introverts. It’s often assumed being introverted and experiencing social anxiety are the same thing—they are not. Introverts aren’t necessarily anti-social—we just generally prefer quality in our social interactions over quantity. We can even be “outgoing” in measured doses. Like extroverts, introverts can appreciate meaningful social interaction, but unfortunately, even the best interactions can drain us, as can too much stimuli. Ours is the superpower of processing, noticing the details, and enjoying time to reflect and recharge in solitude.
Solitude may seem a virtual impossibility to find at Walt Disney World, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Introverts might need to stay cognizant of crowd trends when planning a Walt Disney World vacation, but that isn’t to say the parks have to be totally dead for an introvert to have a good time. We just have to manage our time and energy a little differently.
For the introvert, a trip to Walt Disney World is an invitation to let your mind drift—it’s an escape from the stress of day to day and an opportunity to daydream. Disney is full of intricate details that can prove a sensory delight to introverts who appreciate noticing the small things. They may prefer to stay away from parade and firework crowds, but every attraction becomes an adventure for the mind. They may even enjoy bursts of meaningful social interaction followed by periods of reflection and recharging.
While solitude may be challenging to find on Main Street or Hollywood Boulevard, the introvert can actually develop a radar for quiet nooks and refuges for peaceful reflection at Walt Disney World—places like Tom Sawyer Island, the courtyards of the Morocco pavilion, the shores of Echo Lake, or the aviaries of the Maharajah Jungle Trek. The PeopleMover becomes a private sanctuary while The World of Pandora becomes a garden of wonders to be explored. Even Galaxy’s Edge is astonishingly introvert-friendly with subtle secrets hidden in every corner. Heck, you can even spend the whole time hiding behind your phone and still be taking in the magic.
For the introvert, take the pressure off that a trip to Walt Disney World has to be a frantic social event—take breaks from your party to explore if you need to. If you’re staying on property, take recharge time in the afternoon to return to your room if necessary. Enjoy a quiet walk. Slow down and enjoy the little experiences that others miss. Savor dark rides, thrill rides, or whatever other adventures feed your soul and creativity. Speaking of which…