Walt Disney World (FL)

Traveling with a Disney Curmudgeon

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Photo - Pixar.wikia.comThey live among us. They look just like you and me. They are….the Disney Curmudgeon.

Disney Curmudgeon (Dis·ney cur·mudg·eon): noun. 1. A person who possesses a strong dislike or disinterest of all things Disney.

I know my fair share of Disney Curmudgeons. In fact, I live with one. My husband, Michael, doesn’t share my obsession and love of everything Disney. He is a great sport (He dressed up as Smee and Mickey Mouse for me, so he must be!) and there are some aspects of Walt Disney World he really does enjoy. However, whenever I bring up a future Disney trip, his eyes say, “Really? again!?,” but his mouth smiles and says, “We can see about that honey.”

Although it may be in my nature to throw the book (and by book, I mean the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World) at him and spend hours explaining why Disney World is the best place ever, it would result in a negative outcome on both sides. Instead, working with him and catering a little more to his needs can reduce the stress and make our vacation much more enjoyable.

Disclaimer: These are mere suggestions. Feel free to pick and choose the ones that apply to your situation. Also, if you DO choose to throw the book at your Disney Curmudgeon, the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World has a section all about this under, “Special Tips for Special People.”

Understand their hobbies

When planning your trip, think about their hobbies. From there, enter activities into the itinerary that they would enjoy. Does your Disney Curmudgeon (or DC, for short) like to golf? Arrange a few rounds at one of Disney’s golf courses. Does she appreciate healthy eating and agriculture? Book the Behind the Seeds tour, which goes behind the scenes of the Living with the Land attraction at Epcot. Does he love being on the water? Rent a boat or go parasailing on Bay Lake! Think outside of the box when it comes to selecting your experiences. Help your DC see that the Walt Disney Company is not defined by its theme parks (which are incredible), but by a diverse world full of endless possibilities.

Let them take part in the planning

Since TouringPlans brought you to this article, I’m assuming you’re a manic planner when it comes to organizing your Disney vacation. Try handing over the reins (or at least one rein) and let your DC take part in the planning. As I write this, I just agreed to let Michael plan one whole day for our future trip next year. Can I turn off controlling-trip-planning-Angela? I better start practicing now! Start with one aspect (such as dining or finding a hotel) so as not to overwhelm him or her. Give them options and be patient. As I mentioned above, show them features that cater to their hobbies and interests. For example, Michael loves cars, so we made an appointment at the Exotic Driving Experience. He had a blast driving in a lamborghini and still talks about the experience to this day. Getting your lovable DC involved in the trip planning may adjust their expectations and allow them to look forward to your Disney vacation.

Stay somewhere quiet

When selecting a hotel on or off Disney property, choose a quiet resort. When I make room reservations, I pick a resort where we can enjoy some peace and quiet after a busy day. There are several to choose from on site, but Michael’s favorite is Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter. We enjoy walking through the beautiful courtyards and listening to the soothing jazz music as we relax by the pool. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Consider timing 

Because Disney World is such a wonderful and popular vacation destination, crowds and lines inevitably accompany you on a trip to the parks. However, there are weeks throughout the year when park attendance is lower than usual. If your schedule allows, try to plan your vacation around those times. We try to visit in late January/early February between runDisney events when I know there won’t be a peak in crowd levels. Once on your vacation, limit how much time you spend at the parks. I’m a true believer in a mid day siesta. After a morning at the parks, my family heads back to the hotel for some down time before hitting it hard the rest of the night. It breaks up the day and gives you time to rejuvenate!

Photo - Clipartonline.netStart Slow

If your Disney Curmudgeon is an introvert like my Michael, then exploring a large park with thousands of people is not only exhausting, but very frustrating. If he knows our first day in Florida will be spent at the parks, he will most likely go in with less than positive expectations. Your first day of vacation, spend limited or no time at the four major parks. Try Downtown Disney, a nice meal at one of the resorts or even a trip to a water park. Keep it Disney-related so your DC gets use to that magical Disney atmosphere, but doesn’t get overwhelmed. Another tip (if you have the time) is to stagger park visits throughout your stay. Spend a few hours at the parks on day 1 and an entire day on day 2. Again, this will give him or her time to adjust to the atmosphere and surroundings.

Spend some time off Disney property

Let me just say, it’s not easy for me to come to Florida and not spend every last minute on Disney property. However, I will be the first to admit that there is plenty I’m missing out on. There are so many different attractions to experience in Florida: Kennedy Space Center, Sea World, Gatorland, a day at the beach. Breaking up your vacation with a day off property may be just the thing to press the reset button and turn that Negative Nancy (Or Ned) into a Positive Patty.

Take a time out

After days of constantly being around people, your DC may be down right exhausted. I’ve realized that when I notice Michael getting crabby, it’s because he needs alone time. I’ll send him to the ESPN Club to watch the latest game or let him nap or read alone in the room. Sometimes we’ll sit by the pool and enjoy a drink and leisurely swim. Although I love the parks, I will say that it’s nice to just sit and exist some times. Broken record Angela will again repeat: Siestas are the best thing ever.

Travel to a park-free Disney destination

A trip to the Disney parks might be just too much for your Disney Curmudgeon to handle, but there are plenty of other ways to get your Disney fill. Go on a Disney Cruise. Visit a Disney-owned property like Hilton Head or Aulani. Experience an Adventures by Disney tour. There are many other Disney vacation destinations to sink your teeth into that involve no time in the parks.

Cut them a break

This is the hardest one for me. I so badly want Michael to be having as much fun as I am. I’ve been known to annoy him to death during our trip by constantly asking him, “Are you having fun? Isn’t this fun honey? Isn’t this so great?” The fact remains that no matter how hard I try, I have to accept that he’s never going love Disney as much as I do just like I will never love football the way he does.


Our differences are what make us interesting. So while I rock my Disney side, you Disney Curmudgeons rock whatever side you choose!

Do you know a Disney Curmudgeon? What tips do you have for traveling with them? Let me know in the comments!

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Angela Dahlgren

Angela is cohost of the TouringPlans Podcast and regular contributor to the TouringPlans YouTube channel. When she's not talking about the happiest place on earth, she spends her time entertaining her own little Minnie and Mickey Mouse. You can find her on twitter @AngelaDahlgren or via email - angela@touringplans.com

11 thoughts on “Traveling with a Disney Curmudgeon

  • You had me at grumpy old guy from Up. I love this!!! Sometimes we forget that not everyone is completely in love with the idea of all things Disney (gasp) and not completely jump in the air, arms flailing excited at the idea of a Walt Disney World Vacation (faint). My friend Bart Scott wrote a book, “Ears of Steel: The Real Man’s Guide to Walt Disney World.” It speaks to this, too. It’s another great tool in talking curmudgeons into a Disney trip and has a few tips for them directly. Maybe you should slip it into their stockings this Christmas. Haha. Good luck to all of you guys that deal with Disney curmudgeons. With tips like these you might survive LOL And actually most of these tips are just great for anyone. I love the presentation though. I’m pretty much cracking up.

    • I really appreciate the comment Mousecoachjenn.

      Michael’s avatar on the My Disney Experience app is good old Mr. Fredricksen. I just couldn’t resist putting him in the article. It’s just too fitting!

      Definitely going to check out Bart Scott’s book. Thanks for the recommendation!


  • Thank you for an article that respects both Disney fan and curmudgeon. I really enjoyed this and I’ll share it with friends.

    • Thanks DisneyDad!

      Us Disney fans and our curmudgeons have to stick together!


  • Love this article, and have used all of the above recommendations when planning trips with my husband. I know that his love for me indulges my love of Disney, but it doesn’t hurt that Star Wars and Marvel are now apart of that world. For years, we had more misses than hits when going to Orlando, but a few years ago we went during the holidays. This was finally the common ground I had been looking for, because little did I know my husband was a sucker for all things holidays. He loved Osborne Lights, fell in love with the projection show at the castle, and at Universal the Grinch show. We then took a trip during the Mickey’s not so Scary, and he fell in love the parade. Now, it’s not a hard sale, and he trusts me to fill our plans with as much holiday fun as possible. For him, it’s less about the rides and more about the shows, parades, and fireworks. Your recommendations for patience and understanding is for me, the best advise out of all, because there may be a hidden “Disney side” hiding in the most committed curmudgeon.

    • Laclairebear,

      I showed Michael this comment and told him, “See?! There’s hope for you too!” He, like your husband, may one day find his “Disney Side.”

      Thanks for reading!


  • What really won me over was looking at WDW from an engineering point of view. Once I started learning how they did it I was hooked! Now, I am in it for the magic as well as the science.

    • I agree Angel!

      There are SO many layers to explore with the Walt Disney Company. It’s not all parks and movies. Disney truly caters to every interest and hobby.

      Thanks for the comment!


  • Great article Angela! My DC is more likely to be excited about an upcoming Disney trip if we stay off-site. He likes to be able to leave the Disney behind for a few hours a day. He’s also gained an appreciation of Disney without kids through runDisney events.

    • Thanks Lizbeth!

      I’m trying to get Michael interested in doing a runDisney event with me. He would probably agree, but then that would mean I would have to train outside in the MN weather. BRRRRRRRRR!



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