Home » How to Pull Off the Perfect Disney Parks Proposal

How to Pull Off the Perfect Disney Parks Proposal

Disneyland Paris

Figuring out how to propose to your partner can be an incredibly stressful process. Those who opt for the traditional route are looking at sizing, selecting, and purchasing at least one engagement ring, rehearsing a few heartfelt words, possibly asking the advice or blessing of a family member or two, and practicing getting down on one knee as gracefully as possible. And that’s without the added pressure of coming up with a one-of-a-kind way of staging the proposal, something that has become increasingly popular in the social media age.

For most people, that unique, Instagrammable proposal starts with a unique, Instagrammable location. Back in March, Hitched.co.uk ran an informal study to determine the most popular proposal spots around the world. At the top of the list? Disneyland Paris, closely followed by Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in the no. 2 slot and EPCOT at no. 8. It makes sense that the most magical place(s) on Earth would attract those looking to create some of the most magical moments in their personal lives, too.

As with any proposal, however, preparation is key. (Take it from someone who nearly stranded her fiancé and herself on an island after taking an ill-advised nap just one hour before popping the question.) When the day comes, you’ll want to spend every minute soaking in the happiness that follows one of the biggest moments of your life. You won’t want to have to worry about setting up the perfect photo, timing your question with the Happily Ever After finale, or racing around to find a strong wifi connection to share your news with family, friends, and other well-wishers. While you may not be able to control every last little detail—at least, not until they find a way of suppressing Florida thunderstorms over Fantasyland—a little forethought should go a long way toward easing those proposal-day jitters. Read on, and let’s take a look at a few things you should be checking off your list before the big day…

Visit the parks before you propose.

Disneyland Paris

Image: Heather Cowper, Flickr (license)

Consider this: The more elaborate your proposal is, the more planning you need to put into it. The Internet is a vast, helpful resource, but it’s no substitute for going to the parks yourself and making sure you can work out all the logistics for your dream proposal. If you want a snapshot of the big question when it’s happening, make sure you familiarize yourself with common PhotoPass locations and take note of especially busy times of the day and night. If a character meet-and-greet is central to your proposal, figure out when that character will be available throughout the day so you don’t miss your window. If you want to hold up a sign for a ride photo, do a test run through the attraction so that your sign will be clearly seen by the cameras.

Granted, this is a bit of a tricky tip for those who might not live within easy driving distance of the six Disney parks. If you’re just flying down for a vacation, see if you can get a friend who’s local to the parks to scout out locations on your behalf. Or, if your proposal plan is a fairly straightforward one, peruse the thousands of Disney proposal photos and videos on Instagram and YouTube to get a better sense of how you’d like your moment to unfold. Which leads us to our next point…

Consult with a cast member.

Guest Services at Walt Disney World Resort

Image: davitydave, Flickr (license)

No matter how crazy your plan or how limited your budget, it’s essential that you reach out to a cast member if you intend to propose at a Disney park. They know the parks inside and out, from the layout of Adventureland to the exact times you can expect to run into Elena at Princess Fairytale Hall. Even if you choose to forego their menu of “Enchanting Extras” or custom $3,000+ proposal experiences, they’ll be able to help you figure out where to go, when to time your proposal, and how best to celebrate afterwards.

Once you’re actually in the parks, you might still want some assistance as you get closer to the big moment itself. Assuming that you don’t already have family or friends around to Instagram the moment when you ask your partner for their hand in marriage, try staging your proposal close to a PhotoPass spot and asking the PhotoPass photographer to snap a few pictures. It’s not at all unusual for a couple to interrupt a normal PhotoPass experience with a surprise proposal—just make sure you give the photographer a quick heads up first!

If you’re looking to arrange a more private moment or have any last-minute questions, you can run them by a staff member at the nearest Guest Services or Resort front desk, too… provided that you can discreetly direct your fiancé/fiancée-to-be elsewhere, that is.

Consider utilizing the Disney resorts and hotels.

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Image: Rain0975, Flickr (license)

There’s far more to the Disney parks than, well, the parks themselves. Year-round, the parks are the most crowded, noisiest, and least-private places on any Disney property. That may work for some people—there really is no substitute for popping the question in front of a fairy tale castle, after all—but if you don’t count yourself or your partner among them, rest assured that Disney has plenty of unique, private spots that are just a little off the beaten path (relatively speaking).

As with everything else we’ve mentioned thus far, you’ll want to do your homework here and make sure that the place you have in mind is as private and available as you need it to be, whether you’re popping the question while gazing at the savannahs nestled in Animal Kingdom Lodge or strolling through the manicured grounds surrounding Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

There are also plenty of magical moments to be had at the Boardwalk, Disney Springs, and Disneyland’s Downtown Disney, though none of those options will offer quite as much privacy as the parks’ various hotels. Spare yourself the hassle and stress of coordinating your surprise at an official park and instead arrange it during an upscale dinner, night out, carriage ride, Segway tour (don’t do this), or walk along the beach, if that’s more your style. Some activities, like the carriage rides, require advance reservations, while others can be staged a little more spontaneously.

Don’t forget about everything that comes after the proposal.

Dessert at Chefs de France in EPCOT

Image: Edward Russell, Flickr (license)

Strictly speaking, yes, a proposal only entails the actual question you’ll be asking your partner. But there are still a few details you may want to iron out before and after you do so—details like celebrating with your new fiancé/fiancée and figuring out how best to tell your family, friends, and social media communities, to name a couple.

For example, if you’re planning to propose during Happily Ever After but phoning your in-laws is the first item on your to-do list immediately after your partner says, ‘Yes!’, remember that the fireworks viewing areas remain extremely crowded and loud after the show and you’ll likely lose cell phone service for a brief period of time. Pick a spot toward the edge of the crowd so you can make a quick getaway after the fireworks, whether you choose to test your luck in the nearby Liberty Square or make a beeline toward the lobby of the Contemporary Resort just outside the Magic Kingdom.

You may also want to reserve a table at a favorite restaurant to celebrate the happy turn of events, so make sure you jump on the restaurant reservation window several months in advance of your arrival. Looking for something a bit more extravagant? Provided you can’t score a reservation at Club 33, there are usually a number of exclusive dessert parties to choose from at any time of the year, including Disneyland’s Tomorrowland Skyline Lounge Experience, Magic Kingdom’s Ferrytale Fireworks dessert cruise, EPCOT’s Frozen Ever After Dessert Party, and almost a dozen others.

Have a backup plan.

Wedding carriage at Walt Disney World Resort

Image: H. Michael Miley, Flickr (license)

I cannot stress this last point enough. No matter how picture-perfect your Plan A is, you need a Plan B. And a Plan C. And maybe even a Plan D. You may lose out on a post-engagement reservation for Be Our Guest. Your partner’s favorite prince or princess might not be available for a meet-and-greet opportunity when you need them to be. High winds, rain, or thunderstorms could force the parks to postpone or cancel the fireworks show. You may oversleep on the beach and nearly miss the last tender back to your cruise ship (okay, that one’s just me).

The point is, proposing at the Disney Parks—or any landmark or tourist spot, for that matter—means that some things will inevitably be outside your control. Thankfully, you have a few options in case something goes awry.

First, while you may have your heart set on an exclusive tour, cruise, or dining experience, you don’t necessarily need to line up several of those as a safeguard if Plan A fails. If you’re paying for any kind of Disney proposal experience, you should be able to get in touch with a Disney engagement planner to discuss your backup options. Remember, Disney’s cast members are just as devoted to creating a memorable experience here as you are. They’re not going to leave you high and dry in the event that, say, Fantasmic experiences technical issues or you accidentally let go of the Mickey balloon that was tied to the engagement ring box. (That’s a terrible idea, by the way.)

Second, consider devising a simpler backup plan or two—perhaps something that’s not dependent on a particular show, fireworks spectacular, or character meet-and-greet. Maybe you’ve always talked about visiting Paris with your sweetheart and can find a quiet moment with them by the fountains in the France pavilion at EPCOT’s World Showcase. Maybe you want to wait until the crowds around Cinderella Castle have dispersed so you can time your romantic moment with the ‘Kiss Goodnight.’ There are plenty of creative, cost-effective ways of creating a once-in-a-lifetime experience with your partner, so don’t feel like you have to shell out the big bucks to make it a day worth remembering. With a lot of planning, some luck, and just a pinch of cast member-procured pixie dust, there’s nothing to stop you from creating your own happily ever after.