Most Americans and many foreigners have heard of Walt Disney World in Florida. Still, most people have never been there, or maybe went once many years ago. That doesn’t stop many from forming an opinion about the “Vacation Kingdom”. Certainly, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but many things you hear are simply not true. As someone who has been going regularly to Disney World for 25 years, here are my Top 10 Lies about Disney World. Feel free to add your own!
1) It’s just for kids – This is one I get often when my friends find out I’ve scheduled yet another trip for me and my wife. “I thought that place was just for kids!” Oh how wrong they are! At least half of my trips through the years have been without children (mine are now adults). Certainly, Walt Disney’s original plan for Disneyland in California was to have a place for children and parents to play together. Disney World fits that bill! On the other hand, there is plenty for adults to do. Hey, it’s OK for an adult to ride Dumbo or go to a character breakfast, but there are plenty of adult activities. Dining at Disney’s fabulous restaurants, strolling around World Showcase, shopping, relaxing at your Disney resort hotel, viewing live animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, taking a boat ride around the resort, golfing, and the list goes on and on!
2) Theme park food – When you think of theme park food, you probably think of burgers, hot dogs, ice cream and funnel cakes. Yes, you can get those at the Disney parks. However, there is much, much more to whet your appetite! Walt Disney World has dozens of fine restaurants, both quick-service and sit-down. All the Disney restaurants are well-themed and specialize in certain types of food. From ethnic foods in Epcot’s World Showcase to character dining buffets to dining with a view of an African savannah, Disney has a dining adventure for everyone!
3) It’s too hot! – OK, I’ll give you this one, sort of. Yes, summer in central Florida is hot! Actually, it’s the oppressive humidity that will wear you down. If you have school-age children, summer may be your only option. Fortunately, there are things you can do to beat the summer heat. Tour the parks early and late in the day and spend the afternoon swimming and resting back at your resort. Or, if you are willing to take your kids out of school (or don’t have children), consider going between October and March. The temps are pleasant and Disney offers several special events during this time, such as The Food and Wine Festival in the fall and The Flower and Garden Festival in the spring.
4) Too crowded – This is another one that is true to a certain extent. When planning your trip, consider the school calendar. Basically, if school is in, the parks will be relatively uncrowded. Good times to visit with low crowd-levels are January, September, early November and early December.
5) It’s too expensive! – If you consider all that you get with a Disney vacation, you might just change your mind about this. Disney excels at two things: world-class entertainment and exceptional customer service. Still, there are several things you can do to stay within your budget. Disney has hotel accommodations from value to moderate to deluxe. The more days you stay and play, the cheaper your theme park tickets will be. Did you know a 7-day base ticket is only about $40 per day? Disney also will allow you to bring food into the parks to save on dining. In addition, some of the Disney hotels have kitchens that will allow you to prepare your own meals. Finally, consider using a travel agent to help you find any applicable discounts.
6) 3-4 days is enough – People who have never been will have a difficult time understanding the full size and scope of Walt Disney World. Picture in your mind a large US city, with roads and highways. To get around, you must have some sort of transportation, whether it’s your own vehicle or Disney’s buses, boats and monorails. To go from your hotel to various places around Disney World may take as much as 45 minutes! If you want to enjoy your hotel, the theme parks, maybe a waterpark, you really should consider a week-long trip. Otherwise, you will have to make some tough choices. The Magic Kingdom and Epcot require two days each to experience properly.
7) Not enough thrill rides – When you think of Disney World, you might imagine Dumbo the Flying Elephant, It’s a Small World and Cinderella Castle. If you have teenagers in your group, those probably won’t cut it for them. Rest easy! Disney has some spectacular thrill rides! The daredevils in your family will love Tower of Terror, Rock-n-Roller Coaster, Expedition Everest, Space Mountain, Dinosaur and more. In addition, Disney has several “medium” thrill rides for the beginning thrill-seeker, such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, Soarin’ and Test Track.
8) Senior citizens won’t have fun – I never cease to be amazed at the number of senior citizens enjoying Walt Disney World. I hope to be one of them in about 20 years! Many seniors still enjoy the thrill rides, but there is so much more to enjoy. Disney has at least a dozen shows, both inside and outside the theme parks. Plus, there’s the “edutainment” at Epcot, the Disney studios and Animal Kingdom, where entertainment and education intersect.
9) Animal Kingdom Lodge is too far away from the theme parks – This one is very specific, but I have heard it many times. The Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of Disney’s most exotic and beautiful resorts, but it is tucked away in the far western corner of Disney property. It’s even in another county (Osceola) from the majority of Disney property (Orange). Nevertheless, as someone who has stayed there many times, I can assure you traveling time to the theme parks is not excessive and compares well to other Disney hotels.
10) You can book a room in Cinderella’s Castle – Between 2006-2007, Disney had a campaign called “Year of a Million Dreams”. Selected guests were awarded various prizes at random times during their trip. The ultimate prize was an overnight stay in the Cinderella Castle suite in the Magic Kingdom. Unfortunately, the castle suite is not available for nightly rentals. There have been rumors that Tom Hanks and his daughter stayed there, so if you know Tom personally… The good news is, you can dine with Cinderella for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
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Jimmie is a retired school teacher from Texas, who has been going to Disney World for 25 years. He has experience in taking large groups to Disney, in addition to taking his own children and grandchildren. Jimmie and his wife Rhonda make annual trips to Disney World, Disneyland, and sail on the Disney Cruise Line.