We at Touring Plans like October as one of the best times to visit Walt Disney World. It tends to have some of the lowest crowds of the year, the weather is slightly more tolerable than the surface-of-the-sun heat you can experience in the summer months, and there are unique events like Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival that can really enhance your experience. With that said, October can also be challenging, in that the potential for a zombie apocalypse increases dramatically during this time of year, as the chart to the right shows.
There are a couple of reasons for the spike in zombies in October. First of all, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party takes place at the Magic Kingdom most nights during this time frame, which is one of the few times a year that all guests are invited to dress up in the parks. Zombie outbreaks happen when zombies are allowed to infect others and grow the size of their army of walking dead at a rate faster than they can be addressed. On regular park days, Disney security are able to easily spot zombies and deal with them before they can infect others; during the parties, however, zombies will blend in with the masses and infect others before anything can be done, and that’s when problems have arisen. Additionally, many guest visit Universal Studios on their Disney trips, and this provides a prime opportunity for cross-pollination from the zombie regulars at Halloween Horror Nights.
With the foregoing in mind, I wanted to provide some of my favorite tips and park locations to put yourself in the best position to deal with hordes of the undead slowly shuffling through the parks. Join me after the jump!
Know Thy Enemy
To get some insight upon the unique challenges presented by zombies, I once again went to the true authority on the subject: Zombie Squad. Zombie Squad is a group advocating disaster preparedness with the notion that if you are prepared for a zombie apocalypse, you are essentially prepared for anything. Here’s what I learned:
In terms of ideal location, Zombie Squad advises that we are looking for “self-sufficient sites with a very strong set of entrance points. I don’t care how many zombies you have coming your way, they aren’t going to get through a solid steel blast door. If you wanted to go a bit more old school then I would go with a castle. Humanity has used castles to repel invaders for centuries and a zombie horde is just a really slow siege army that is terrible at climbing walls.” In addition to castles, it was suggested that something akin to the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, which is more or less a wholly-encapsulated underground city, would be a great place to use as a home base.
- Zombies have several advantages over us. They require no sleep or food, have no fear, are ambivalent to casualties, and provided they are physically able, they never stop coming. Psychologically, this provides them with an edge over parkgoers, and it also means that for most routine obstacles — doors, walls, windows, etc. — they will eventually get through them. Moreover, you have to attack zombies in a very specific way to kill them. Finally, they have the benefit of ever-growing numbers — their army grows as they infect others and absorb their victims into their ranks.
- Zombies are not, however, without weaknesses. They are not particularly smart, and can be led into simple traps or outsmarted fairly easily. They are also clumsy, slow-moving and not particularly agile. Also, zombies are actively rotting as they continue their shuffling assault, so if you can wait them out long enough, they will eventually decompose and you can escape.
With this framework in mind, let’s go over the ideal locations to make your stand when zombies overtake Walt Disney World. Because the only thing worse than being devoured by a legion of walking dead is a lifetime ban from Disney parks that can result from being in backstage areas without permission, however, we will confine our discussion to areas that are open to the general public. It’s a shame, because the Utilidors beneath the Magic Kingdom seem tailor-made for this sort of thing but then again, rules are rules.
Obviously, zombie outbreaks are fairly rare at Walt Disney World, and you don’t want to devote too much effort to dealing with a problem that is significantly less likely than, say, an afternoon rainstorm. With that said, given the grave consequences, if you’ll pardon the pun, of being unprepared for a zombie apocalypse, not preparing at all would be foolish. Thankfully, Disney Parks do include some baked-in opportunities to prepare without disrupting your vacation. We recommend that you start your day by experiencing Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Toy Story Midway Mania, or even just the Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade to get some target practice. While firearms are not allowed in the parks so you won’t actually be called upon to shoot zombies, doing something like this to fine tune your hand-eye coordination will go a long way when you’re in a fight for your life with wave after wave of deadites later in the day.
Remember, when a zombie outbreak occurs, it’s not just important to have a good location to go to, you have to get there alive. Accordingly, pay extra attention to your footwear and make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes that you can run in if need be. Flip-flops may seem comfortable, but as Jennifer Anderson of Bloomington, Indiana unfortunately learned the hard way back during the ‘09 outbreak, they don’t offer the ankle or arch support you need when screaming and running for your life to a safe house.
Finally, it’s a great idea to keep extra supplies on hand this time of year. Bottled water and protein bars are great options while hunkered down waiting for an army of zombies to decompose so you can escape. If you’ve got a child in a stroller, you’ll have plenty of storage for this sort of thing, but if not, you might consider renting one from an offsite vendor just to carry your gear.
Bonus tip: particularly as it gets closer to dusk, consider grabbing a few turkey legs and carrying them around with you. If you get into a bind, you can throw one away from you and watch as the zombies chase after it, giving you an opportunity to make your way to a safe location — and if you don’t need them for bait, hey, turkey legs!
The knee jerk reaction of most everyone reading this would be to head straight to Cinderella Castle because, you know, it’s a castle and castles are a great way to keep anything at bay, as noted above. Unfortunately, unlike most castles, Cindy’s is actually designed to be inviting and easy to access. The moat that flanks the front of the castle will funnel all zombies approaching from the south into two groups advancing up the ramps that you can deal with with a bit of a height advantage, but the north side of the castle provides way too many points of unsecurable access to dispatch the zombies in any orderly way. In addition to the exceptionally broad pathway between Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel and the entrance to Cinderella’s Royal Table, wandering souls can also reach the castle from Liberty Square via the pathway starting at Sleepy Hollow Refreshments, or even from Tomorrowland via the pathway that starts at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe and Fairytale Garden and then passes by Cinderella’s Wishing Well before arriving at the Castle. That’s just a lot of fronts to have to manage.
Another popular strategy might be to head to Tom Sawyer Island, and there is definitely some logical appeal to this approach. The water surrounding the Island is a natural obstacle that will significantly impede the zombies’ progress, and there are plenty of great vantage points from which you could keep a lookout and deal with zombies as they approach. The concern is that while the water is indeed an obstacle, it is not necessarily an insurmountable obstacle and even if it happens just by virtue of the zombies dragging themselves along the bottom of the Rivers of America, they can’t drown, so they’re going to make it there eventually. Once they do, you might have to deal with a large volume of walking dead at once coming at your from multiple angles without any easy means of egress.
While intelligent minds can disagree on the absolute best location, for me and my family, we make a beeline for the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover upon the first zombie sighting. Why the TTA? First of all, as an elevated omnimover, I’m on an attraction that never stops and keeps me out of the zombies’ reach for probably 95% of the ride. As for the area that they can access, i.e., the loading area, it is a moving sidewalk combined with the spinning loading platform, and experience has shown that both of these things are tough for the slow-moving walking corpses to navigate. Worst case scenario, you’re forced to deal with 3 or 4 zombies that actually manage to put themselves into the right position to attack you on the platform — and they’re usually off balance at the time — and then you’re back to surveying the park as you’re peacefully transported above and through the Tomorrowland attractions.
Bonus tip: The zombie apocalypse also has the potential to really transform the TTA experience as well. If you happen to be armed, the TTA could take on a Buzz Lightyear-esque vibe, as your elevated ride track and view of Tomorrowland transforms the ride into a moving shooting gallery. Fend off zombies on the loading platform, pick off zombies from above while on other parts of the ride, and repeat on continuous loop until the zombies decompose or you are presented with an opportunity to escape. Given the relative infrequency of zombie attacks, however, we at TouringPlans.com are unable to advocate bringing firearms into the park as a matter of course, as it would violate Disney’s weapons policy.
Epcot is fairly open and spread out, and you’re going to have a tough time finding a location where you can hunker down into a safe defensive position or mount much of an offensive. There are very few spots where there is a natural choke point into which you can funnel the zombies, which means that you open yourself up to being attacked from behind or having to fight off more than you’re able to manage. Moreover, there are very few places that provide any sort of elevated view or position that you can use to your advantage. There is, however, one noteworthy exception. Upon hearing the first groan while at Epcot, we make our way directly to Monsieur Paul in the France Pavilion.
Monsieur Paul has a few qualities that make it ideal for dealing with zombies. First of all, the entrance is very non-descript — it is on the back side of Les Chefs des France, and if you’re not looking for it, you might not realize there’s a restaurant there at all. I know of people with advanced degrees that were looking for it and still couldn’t locate it, so zombies, with their limited intellect, tend to overlook the place entirely. Moreover, it is one of only a handful of Epcot locations that is upstairs, and of those places, its stairway is the most narrow. This will provide you with one of the few elevated spots where you will have a manageable number of zombies to contend with at once.
Finally, it’s a simply awesome restaurant. You could be there for a while as you wait for things to calm down, and if you’re going to be stuck somewhere, being stuck at a place that serves Maine lobster in a creamy black truffle bouillion is the right way to do it.
Bonus tip: Since you’re in France, swing by Les Halles Boulangerie & Pâtisserie before you go upstairs and see if they have any day old baguettes. They are delicious fresh, but after a day or two, they make great makeshift clubs!
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
When zombies descend upon the Studios, we head to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Play Movie Set Adventure. Because it is essentially a playground that is designed to keep small, energetic children contained, it has a single, fairly narrow walkway as its sole means of ingress and egress. This same design feature makes dealing with the army of walkers far easier, because you only have to manage one front.
Moreover, if you do become overwhelmed at the entrance, you can retreat to the large rope crawl. Because of their limited dexterity and mobility, zombies have an extremely difficult time finding their footing on the ropes, and even if they do reach you, they are off-balance and ill-equipped to mount much of an offensive. Further, any parent who has lost their child on this oversized play area can confirm that the area is chock full of places to hide, many of which require some level of agility and flexibility to access. All of these features give you a distinct advantage when dealing with these meandering cadavers.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Like Epcot, Animal Kingdom contains a lot of open space, providing ample opportunity for you to become surrounded if you’re not careful. It also has a limited number of indoor attractions or restaurants that will allow you to manage the flow of zombies through a single door.
One option is to just set up shop in The Oasis. This beautifully themed area at the front of the park is chock full of exhibits and animal habitats, but most guests rush past it to get to the park’s headliner attractions in Africa and Asia. Zombies were once people too, and if you’re lucky, you will be able to just watch as they drag their corpses by you to make their way towards Expedition Everest or Kilimanjaro Safaris, as do most guests. Once they’ve made their way onto Discovery Island, you can just walk out the front of the park and escape. As Ralph Montague learned back in ‘07, however, sometimes they do notice you, and then you have a bit of a problem.
For those not wanting to leave that to chance or who are otherwise looking to mount more of an offensive, Yak & Yeti should be your first choice. Like other locations we’ve recommended, the door at Yak & Yeti funnels the zombies through a small and manageable opening, making them easier to deal with. It also has a second floor, from which you can scout out the zombies as they approach. Perhaps most importantly, however, Yak & Yeti is the only spot in all of Walt Disney World that I’m aware of where the general public can actually arm themselves in the event of a zombie outbreak. Yak & Yeti features authentic artwork, sculpture and other decor directly from Asia, including several full-sized statues of warriors, deities and supernatural beings — and many of these statues are holding swords, spears and the like. Grab a sword and prepare to stand your ground for as long as it takes. Also, if you end up stuck there for a while, the food is good enough to tide you over.
No doubt about it, a zombie outbreak during your vacation is an inconvenience, and a pretty serious one at that! With that said, it doesn’t have to ruin your trip. With a little bit of advance planning and some common sense, enduring an onslaught of reanimated corpses could well end up being something that you and your family wistfully tell stories about for years to come!
As always, we love to hear from our readers! How do you deal with it when there is a zombie outbreak during your vacation? Do you have any favorite spots for hiding or even going on the offensive? Leave your comments below!