We may not always like them, but rules are in fact absolutely essential to our daily lives. Not only do they serve to give us some much-needed guidelines and established boundaries, but when enforced with the best intentions, they end up benefitting everyone mutually. The Walt Disney Company knows and understands firsthand how both establishing and abiding by some given rule sets may enhance the overall magical experiences of all Guests visiting Disney Parks and Resorts the world over. And that is why they’ve put into place several key dos and don’ts for visitors to be mindful of.
Some of the rules in place by Disney are common sense protocols to follow, which are clearly defined and understandable to most folks. Others, however, may seem a little odd until you really stop to consider them. Here 10 examples of some seemingly weird rules that are in place at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and the reasoning behind why they are enforced.
10. Dress Up is Only for the Kiddos
While the Disney Adults of today have pretty much proven time and again that Disney isn’t just for kids, the concept of dressing up like your favorite Disney Character still is. That’s because there is an official policy in place that states no Guests ages 14 or older may wear costumes in any of the four theme parks, water parks, or even at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. There are several reasons why this is a thing, the most obvious one being that Disney hopes to avoid any instances where a convincingly costumed Guest may be mistaken for an actual Character. Safety is another key concern, which ties into the Disney Dress Code and why some long, hanging, obscuring wardrobe options just aren’t up to par with visiting Disney Parks.
There are some exceptions to the no-costumes-for-adults rule, though. During special ticketed events, like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Guests of all ages are permitted to don their favorite getups and have a good time. Still, safety limitations are in place for these events as well, with clearly defined guidelines that prohibit full masks, replica weapons (with the exception of lightsabers and toy swords in most cases), and long materials that drag on the ground. Capes may not extend past the waist either.
9. No On-Premises Soliciting
It may be a seemingly innocent gesture on your part, especially if you’re a driven business-minded individual who is ever mindful of promoting yourself and your company even while on vacation. But passing out/leaving a stack of business cards or handing out/hanging up flyers while within the limits of Disney Parks is strictly prohibited. While one strike may only get you an initial warning, repeated or overly distracting offenses may result in being banned from the Park altogether. So do practice restraint before sharing your Avon Representative card at Harmony Barbershop or advertising your custom T-shirt business as a low-cost alternative to buying Disney apparel right outside of the Emporium.
8. Don’t Hang Clothing from Disney Hotel Balconies
It’s understandable that you may want to dry off wet towels, swimsuits, or even everyday wear that got pelted in one of those sudden rain showers Central Florida is famous for. But hanging any item over the railing at your Disney Resort hotel balcony is not permitted for a number of reasons. First, there are obvious concerns in Disney’s disclaimer that they can neither be held accountable for Guests’ property nor assist in replacing lost items. Then there are safety concerns as well. Any items that may fall from a higher-up location pose a risk to anyone walking below. And if a sudden wind gust moves in, that’s another problem to contend with. If you are staying at a place like Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, this can be even more concerning, as rogue items that either fall or are blown about may make it into animal habitats and can possibly be a choking hazard!
7. No Plastic Straws or Balloons at Animal Kingdom
In continuing on with considerations to safety and Disney’s permanent animal residents, it’s also worth noting that neither plastic straws nor balloons are permitted at either Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge or Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. In fact, you will not find the aforementioned being sold at either location. Even if Guests purchase one or both items at a venue where they are sold (note straws are largely unavailable throughout all of Disney World now), any person arriving with such items in hand will not be admitted.
While the reasons are pretty self-explanatory, it’s worth reiterating the fact such items can lead to hazardous liter that may even pose a direct health threat like choking. The threat of popping balloons can also be distressing to the animals.
In addition to balloons being prohibited from both Animal Kingdom Lodge and Animal Kingdom Park they are also off limits at both Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach as well as the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Again, safety reasons are cited as the main reason.
6. No Food or Drinks Allowed Around Characters
If you’ve ever approached a Disney Character for a Meet and Greet while holding a food or drink item, then you will probably recall the attending Cast Member telling you to put said item(s) aside before it is your turn. That’s because there is a Disney World rule that prohibits Disney Characters from coming in contact with such items. There are two reasons why this is so. First, there is the obvious need to keep Characters tidy, pristine, and presentable. So as to avoid any potential, accidental spilling and soiling of a Character’s presentation, Disney decrees that attending Guests forgo approaching with any edible items in hand.
There is also a secondary reason that deals with unintentional product endorsements. As most Meet and Greets include a photo opt, if there were ever an instance where a Guest is holding a branded food or drink product in the same shot as a Disney Character, it may appear that Disney is directly endorsing that item. So aside from Character Dining, which is prepared for Character-Food interactions, consumables must be omitted from all other in-Park Meet and Greets.
5. There Are Strict Photography Practices in Place
While on the topic of photography dos and don’ts, it’s worth mentioning that Disney has quite a couple of picture-taking policies Guests need to be made aware of. Going back to the days when photos were primarily taken using cameras rather than phones, the no-nos of flash photography were already put into place. And they are still enforced, even in these current times where phone cameras are the norm.
As they are in many crowded public venues these days, selfie sticks are prohibited from Disney Parks. The reasons are all obvious by now; these extending sticks pose many hazards and can even cause injury to Guests in so many ways.
Because Disney is all about preserving the magic, and there are some heavily guarded trade secrets that must remain hush-hush, it’s also a given that absolutely no backstage photographs must ever be taken. This rule is of course in place for Cast Members who can readily access those areas that are largely off-limits, but the rule also applies to those lucky Guests embarking on any behind-the-scenes VIP tours as well.
On one final note about photography rules, it should be pretty obvious to most folks not to bring drones into the Parks. Not only is there an endless array of hazards a flying drone can pose, but they are also considered potentially invasive when used for capturing the right photographic moment. How would it be if a drone is hovering around a Disney Parade float? Or how about getting up close and personal with the fireworks during a Nighttime Spectacular? For these very obvious reasons and at least a dozen more, drones are not permitted in any Disney Park.
4. No Folding Chairs
This may be surprising to some, but did you know that the folding chair you were planning on bringing with you for parades and shows is prohibited? That’s right, they too may pose a hazard. From unfolding improperly and causing harm to yourself or those around you to being a bulky setup to lug around all day, too much can go wrong. The only exception to this rule is for folks who have cane chairs or walkers that include a seating component.
3. Don’t Bring Wagons
A Disney World Park on a crowded day is no place for a wagon. In fact, Disney is pretty much opposed to most contraptions on wheels (including skateboards, rollerblades, etc.), particularly those you are pulling along behind yourself. Sure, it’s understandable that you may be lugging plenty of bags and possibly children along, but wagons are far too big and bulky. And again, if you are pulling from behind, you have less visibility and control. Disney also bans the use of stroller wagons as well and has strict sizing standards in place for those strollers they do allow. These strollers must be within the limits of 32 by 52 inches.
2. Characters May Not Assist in Marriage Proposals
For better or worse, Guests may not intentionally involve Disney Characters in an in-Park marriage proposal. There are strict rules in place that prohibit Disney Characters from holding up banners, presenting flowers and balloons, or even holding an engagement ring. The rule is also in place for other major milestones or announcements as well. In the event that a Character is caught in the crossfire of a randomized event, they are under strict guidance to move out of the way and be unattached if it can be helped. Having a Character in an awkward photo situation in the unlikely event that all does not go well would be embarrassing for all parties involved.
On another interesting note, Disney Wedding policies make it a point in mentioning that Disney Characters like Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse may not serve as Best Man or Bridesmaid at any onsite weddings. You can still invite them and other Characters, though.
1. Gifts Must Be Unwrapped
In continuation of celebrating milestones at Walt Disney World Resort, another rule that would benefit Guests to know is that any presents you bring into Parks must either be unwrapped or easily unwrappable. This is standard protocol at Security Checkpoints, where all items being brought into Parks must be inspected. So, if you have a birthday celebration scheduled for an in-Park restaurant and hope to bestow the Guest of Honor with a gift, it may be best to bring a gift bag and tissue paper because if it’s nicely wrapped up in a box, it’s going to be opened by security upon entry.
As you can now see, there are methods behind the madness in some of Disney’s seemingly stranger rules. And in the long run, these rules serve to benefit everyone and allow all Guests to have the most magical experiences possible when visiting Walt Disney World Resort. Disney rules were meant to be followed, so do your part and carry on accordingly.