I am, admittedly, a total germaphobe. And while Disney is a very clean vacation destination, your fellow vacationers may not always be models of good hygiene. Proceed with the following article at your own risk. If you aren’t a germaphobe now, you may be by the time you’re finished reading.
Disney Germ-Fest: 7 Tips to Help You Stay Healthy on a Disney Vacation
1. Pack antibacterial wipes or Clorox Bleach-Free Hand Sanitizer
I can’t tell you how much money I’ve spent over the years on these things, and I spare no expense on my Disney vacations. I prefer the wipes that are individually wrapped, as they are easy to put in my Disney touring backpack. These are great for quick clean ups when running to the restroom isn’t convenient. Some people prefer products like Purell, but unfortunately viruses like norovirus (which causes something commonly known as a “stomach bug”) aren’t killed by alcohol (the main ingredient in many hand sanitizers). I like Wet-Ones brand wipes (they have been shown in lab tests to kill a large number of common bacteria) but they also WILL NOT kill norovirus. The Clorox Spray will.
2. Give your room a good once-over upon checking in
While the hotel rooms are thoroughly cleaned by Mousekeeping between each guest, there are certain areas of a room that are not generally disinfected. We always pack Lysol or Clorox wipes with the intention of wiping down certain areas of our room before we settle in and unpack. Doorknobs, handles (like on the fridge or microwave), the telephone, the TV remote control, and the countertop on the bathroom sink are all areas that the hundreds of guests before you have touched. Most of these surfaces are never cleaned. And while the bathroom sink is something that would be cleaned by Mousekeeping, it’s also an area where you might be placing your toothbrush or other personal care items, so it couldn’t hurt to give it another thorough wipe-down.
3. Don’t eat ANYTHING without washing your hands first
This may seem like a no brainer, but it’s something that people tend to neglect on vacation. I’ve seen so many families get off a ride like Toy Story Mania (after touching the firing mechanism that has been touched by goodness knows how many people before them) and immediately dive right into a snack like a pretzel or popcorn with their bare hands. Yuck. Pull out your handy-dandy anti-bacterial wipes or spray (see my tip above) or better yet, find a restroom, before grabbing that snack. If you are completely and totally unable to clean your hands before eating, avoid touching the food directly by eating out of the wrapper or a napkin.
4. Know where the germs lurk
Did you know that surfaces like restaurant menus, salt and pepper shakers, and door handles are among the germiest things around? Think about it. A restaurant menu may be handled by hundreds of people on a daily basis and most likely NEVER gets cleaned. Containers on restaurant tables like salt shakers and ketchup bottles are another hot spot for germs. And goodness knows what sort of pathogens you might find on the average door handle, which is another surface that is unlikely to be cleaned regularly (if at all). If you touch any of those things and then pick up your burger or fries to eat them, you’re transferring all of those germs directly onto your food and then into your mouth. So please, do yourself a favor and wash your hands after you handle menus prior to eating. As far as the ketchup or salt, I wrap them in a paper napkin when using them. And yes, it looks a little strange, but it will keep those germs off your hands! Other germ hotbeds around Walt Disney World include, but are not limited to: any surface on any form of transportation, serving utensils at buffets, and handles or restraints on rides. These are places that are not routinely cleaned or disinfected.
5. Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, or nose
There are a host of things that you might not think twice about doing at home, but that must be discouraged when you are at Disney (or anywhere in public, for that matter). Have you ever licked your finger to get something off of your child’s face? Do you make a habit of fixing or removing your contact lenses while you’re out and about? These things are not advisable while in the midst of Disney touring (unless you’ve just washed your hands, of course).
6. Try not to share drinks or utensils
This one can be tough, especially when you have young children. But germs are obviously spread quite easily this way and you may end up infecting an entire family with an illness. If you have to split a drink, try to make sure that everyone at least has their own straw to use. And when splitting a meal or snack, give everyone their own portion on a plate with separate utensils.
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7. Stay hydrated and protected from the sun
There are two potential illnesses that can strike a Disney vacationer regardless of how clean they keep their hands. These are dehydration and severe sunburn (also called sun poisoning). People who live far north of the equator don’t realize how intense the Florida sun can be, even when the temperatures don’t feel extremely warm. Do yourself a favor and invest in some really good sunscreen and a hat. Also, be certain to drink LOTS of water, particularly when the temperature is above 80 degrees. Touring Disney can be a pretty intense cardio workout, with lots of miles of walking on sometimes uphill terrain. You can carry water bottles with you, or get a free cup of ice water from any quick service vendor in any park. Be certain to drink more than you think you need to. Symptoms like headache, irritability, and thirst (obviously) are signs that you may need to get some extra fluids.
BUT I DID GET SICK ON MY DISNEY VACATION! NOW WHAT??
If you do get sick at Disney and require medical attention, there are a few options available. Each theme park and water park has a First Aid Station which is staffed by nurse and can provide single doses of things like Tylenol, or a bandage if needed. If you need to see a doctor, Disney will provide complimentary transportation to a nearby immediate care clinic. There is also in-room medical care available through a local company. You can call the front desk in any Disney Resort Hotel for help arranging either of these services.
Do you have any other tips for avoiding illness on your Disney vacations? Leave us a comment below!
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best price for your vacation, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!