Walt Disney World is bigger than one vacation. Even guests who stay for several weeks at a time find they can’t possibly fit all there is to do at Disney World into a single trip.
Given finite resources of time and money, choices must be made. But how do you make those choices?
One common way to curate your vacation is to consult the many sources of “Must Do” lists for Disney trips – adding recommended items to your plan. For example, at TouringPlans we have rankings for every attraction, restaurant, and hotel that give information on our readers’ favorite park elements. Just select the top items and you’re good to go, right?
Even more common is to just accept the looming advice of friends and family. Your next door neighbor took her kids to Disney World last year and she hasn’t stopped talking about how YOU MUST EXPERIENCE SPACE MOUNTAIN. So YOU must experience Space Mountain, right?
Or maybe not so much.
While consulting rankings and recommendations is a decent starting point for Disney World trip planning, I’m here to tell you that everything is on someone’s list of absolutely essential trip components. And conversely, you might adore something that doesn’t make the lists of popular attractions. It’s important to balance Must Dos with Must Don’ts – thus removing things from the universe of possible activities.
Begin crafting your Must Don’t list by asking yourself a series of questions about physical sensations you want to avoid, budget caps you don’t want to exceed, and entertainment themes you find unappealing — assess what you don’t like rather than what you think you must do.
Examples of these could include:
- Am I prone to motion sickness? If yes, eliminate spinning attractions.
- Do I prefer attractions that feature characters I know? If yes, eliminate attractions like Carousel of Progress or Journey into Imagination that are not based on well-known intellectual properties.
- Am I afraid of heights? If yes, eliminate attractions with elevations or drops.
- Do I dislike loud noises? If yes, eliminate rides and restaurants known for their volume (goodbye Rainforest Cafe).
- Do I dislike a particular cuisine or style of food? If yes, eliminate restaurants featuring those foods.
- Do I have a limited budget? If yes, eliminate signature dining, and possibly all table service dining.
- Do I enjoy musical theater? If no, eliminate show-style attractions based on Disney musicals.
- Due to COVID, do I want to avoid indoor dining? If so, eliminate indoor-only restaurants.
- Do I enjoy Star Wars/Princesses/Avatar/etc.? If not, eliminate attractions featuring those franchises.
- Am I a strong introvert? If yes, eliminate highly interactive experiences such as meals at 50s Prime Time Diner or anything with audience participation.
- Do I dislike the feeling of things coming toward my face? If yes, eliminate the 3-D movies.
If you’ve codified park elements that are not right for you, you’re much less likely to cave to peer pressure or spend your time doing something just because “everyone loves it.” Space Mountain, for example, ranks high on many “Must Do” lists, but if being in the dark and going fast are on you “Must Don’t” list, then it’s not likely to be a winner for you.
Why does this matter? What’s the harm in experiencing Space Mountain even if you’re unlikely to enjoy it? In the abstract, there’s nothing wrong with this, people do this all the time. But let’s circle back to the limited resources of time and money.
Eliminating just five or six attractions from your Magic Kingdom to do list might mean that you don’t have to go back to the park for a second day. Removing that half a day of park touring could save you hundreds of dollars by eliminating the need for Park Hopper tickets, by reducing the total number of admission days you need, or by reducing the number of hotel nights you require.
Or let’s say that money is no object (if only). Skipping a few attractions that are unlikely to appeal to you could free up several hours for more enjoyable activities. Would you be happier sitting by the pool with a cocktail than getting bashed around by Rock n’ Roller Coaster? Would your time in the park be more pleasant if you were able to stroll slowly, admiring the design and architecture rather than racing from attraction to attraction?
Deciding what you don’t want to do is as important as deciding what you do want to do. Protecting your boundaries will result in a more enjoyable and possibly less expensive vacation.