Most people expect that their Disney vacation will be perfect. That the worst things will be heat, crowds, or long wait times. Truth told disappointment happens more that would think at Disney. When you spend money on a dream vacation even a little glitch can put a damper on your day.
Here are common disappointing or unexpected situations and how to make the best of them. This is the biggest disappointment I hear is crowds causing longer than usual wait times.
Crowds are common. This is one lemon you can turn into lemonade. You can still have a wonderful time. Use the MaxPass or FastPass system. Sometimes Disney will run out of MaxPasses/FastPasses for some rides early in the day. My husband and I were at Disneyland the other day for our Anniversary sans kids for the first time in ages. And most of the FastPasses ran out.
We used Single rider lines when possible and looked for things other than rides to do. In cases like this focus on experiences and opportunity. There was a short line for the Carthay Circle bar so we did something new. We had a drink at the Carthay Circle Bar normally we never do. I always suggest if the lines are that bad look for a restaurant, bar, or indoor activity you never tried. With Wine and Dine in full swing many did not care to visit the bar, so we lucked out. Any other day we would wait at least 15-20 minutes if we were lucky.
I recommend you install the Disneyland App and Mouse Waits and find something that does not have a line. Be it a character experience or a restaurant. Find something else to do. Go on rides during parades, fireworks, or at the end of the night when the crowds thin out. If you collect autographs, pressed pennies, or Disney pins use this time to seek those out.
Make sure before you leave you have what you need. You can spend a few hours trading pins with Cast Members. The Disneyland app will tell you what characters are greeting guests and where to find them. Most of the gift shops at Disneyland have a pressed penny machine.
If you hang out in New Orleans Square odds are you will hear live music from either the French Market or the jazz band. You can get Mickey Mouse beignets and a Mint Julep and relax. Ask a Cast Member where there will be live entertainment.
If you grab a churro on Main Street and people watch on a bench, odds are you will have fun. Characters come and go here. You can see them coming out the double door and may have a lot of great walk by opportunities.
If you have kids head to Toon Town or Redwood Creek Trail. Toon Town has a small toddler park and some great photo opps. Redwood Creek Trail has slides and activities. Even on a crowded day bored kids can play and have fun. If there are crowd’s focus on experiences rather than rides like the locals do.
Remember, Disney is typically crowded. The first two hours after Disney opens and last two hours the wait times for rides will be optimal. Spend the rest of the day winging it and trying new things you may miss out on otherwise. You cannot do much about the crowding. So make the best of it.
It is disappointing when a ride breaks. If you were on the ride or about to board, you could ask the Cast Member if they can issue you a blank FastPass. I have been told attractions do not issue blank FastPasses. They have issued me a blank FastPass for two rides. Ask it never hurts. Disney can have the ride up and running an hour later or it may not reopen for the rest of the day. I wish I could give you better advice but the ride is broken and you cannot fix that yourself.
Blisters can ruin everything. Many get blisters and are not prepared. It surprises me how many Disney Guests are wearing shoes that do not look comfortable to walk 6-10 miles in. You must walk at Disney so wear walking or running shoes. Even then a blister could pop up. I suggest covering your feet in Vaseline, foot powder, or Body Glide to prevent blisters. To prevent heel blisters, I recommend trying Kinso Tape for sports injuries. That works better than moleskin. Carry bandages. Prevention is key here. A blister can get worse and make you miserable.
Stop at First Aid if you do not have bandages and ask for an extra in case. I would also pack a clean safety pin and some alcohol prep pads in my park bag if you worry about blisters. Then you can drain your blister right away. Some of my worst Disney Days included getting a nasty blister.
A rude guest can ruin your experience. I have heard horror stories in groups. I have heard stories of other guests telling small children the character was not real. To people swearing and carrying on. I had an experience where a guest threw something and it hit my child in the face. Do not handle a rude person on your own. Report them to the nearest Cast Member and let them handle it.
Try to shake the rudeness off and not let it ruin your day. Most rude people do not even realize they are rude and I feel there is no getting though to them. Realize that it’s not personal and there is no sense in letting them ruin your day. So let it go.
If you see another guest behaving rudely towards a Cast Member and you think it is unfair do something. Please write the Cast Members name and the time, date, and location. Then visit City Hall or email the park and write a compliment for the Cast Member. Tell Disney that Cast Member is great. Spread that Pixie Dust.
Rude Cast Members
Rude Cast Members. I have spoken about this at length in the past. If you feel that a Cast Member is being rude to you write the time, location, and Cast Members name. I do not want you to feel I am trying to discourage you from complaining. I would suggest you think about it before complaining. Since I go to Disney so much I can tell you and I am guilty of this too Disney guests often become frustrated. It could be a long line or a broken ride and then you get mad. Then you speak to a Cast Member and perceive things the wrong way. I have only once in over a thousand visits experienced one rude Cast Member.
I am not saying that a Cast Member cannot be rude. Personally I have seen angry Guests perceive that a Cast Member is being rude when they were not. That is why I mentioned giving a compliment to a Cast Member if you think a guest was rude to them. Some feel entitled. Because Disney is expensive. Or because they purchased a pass, they should be able to do anything. Which is also why you may encounter a rude guest.
The bottom line is give yourself some time to cool down and reassess the situation. If you still feel that the Cast Member was rude file a complaint at City Hall. In life there are rude people pretty much everywhere including Disney. Rude people you cannot do much about. So I try not to let a rude guest at Disney ruin my day.
Kids are funny. Their tastes change. One week they love something the next week they may not.
You visit frequently and one day your child is suddenly afraid of Mickey that can be surprising. Or you planned the trip for months and your kids were stoked to meet characters. Yet hide or cry during meet and greets.
Everything will be ok. Disney is great and gentle with scared kids. If your kids are not feeling a character, do not force them to take part. Trust me it’s best to back off and let them adjust than force a photo. It is disappointing but they will grow out of it.
Same goes for rides. I get it you think they will love the ride but forcing a screaming child onto a ride is never a good idea. Your child may not trust your judgement for the rest of the trip and it can traumatize them.
Ask a Cast Member for rider switch which will allow parents of small children to take turns. This will make the ride experience better for you and everyone else.
It can be very disappointing and inconvenient when your child gets scared. I get how expensive your trip was but remember it is a phase that will pass. Try to be gentle and understanding. Your kids may surprise you on your next trip and be ok with that ride or character.
Cancelled Fireworks and/or Parades
Cancelled fireworks or parades can ruin the day especially if you have kids. Check with a Cast Member usually Disney still plays the music and projections. If it is raining ask when the Rainy Day Cavalcade will make its way down the parade route. Disney will put all the characters they can fit on the Main Street vehicles. Then they will make their way down Main Street. The Rainy Day Cavalcade allows you to still see the characters.
Weather is one of those situations no one has control over and handle the disappointment. I recommend stopping by Main Street and talking to a Porch Potato. Porch Potatoes are people who hang out on the porch and spread Pixie Dust Disney Guests. Or go to the Silhouette Studio. There are so many fun and undiscovered experiences do not let rain ruin your day.
Be flexible. Realize some rides may be closed and you will have to find indoor rides and experiences for the day. Some of the best Disney days I have had were rainy Disney days. I enjoy indoor rides with short wait times and indoor character experiences. Then I relax at restaurants that have no wait. You could always visit the Enchanted Tiki Room and get a Dole Whip. Watch Great Moments With Mr Lincoln. If you get lucky, the characters may have moved inside of the Opera House.
Lack of Pixie Dust
What if Disneyland does not meet your expectations? Disneyland is 63 years old. How many sexagenarians have no wrinkles or gray hairs? I know people feel disappointment when they see chipped paint, or a worn out animatronic. Realize Disneyland is open 365 days a year and some of those days for 18 hours. There are tens of thousands of visitors a month many whom add to the wear and tear. Disney is amazing. Cast Members are in the park making magic 24 hours a day but sometimes things are missed. I am sure even Buckingham Palace has imperfections.
There are those who hear stories about Pixie Dust that extra special Disney Magic that happens every day at Disney. For some that is a balloon. Or a Cast Member who goes the extra mile. My husband and I wore Anniversary badges on that visit I mentioned earlier. The Cast Member who served us at dinner surprised us with a free dessert.
Pixie Dust dust is real but you may not experience it if you have high expectations. Just because you wear a button it does not mean you will get free food or a FastPass. Sometimes being told happy birthday or happy anniversary by wearing the button is Pixie Dust. Others wish you well and that is special. Sometimes getting a few extra moments with a character is Pixie Dust. Pixie Dust is not always about freebies. It may be Buzz Lightyear stopping by your line and waving at you. Or a Cast Member trying to distract your child who is having a meltdown in a gift shop with a sticker.
Create your own Pixie Dust. Buy another guest a Dole Whip or churro. Give a child a balloon or a trading pin. Sometimes the best magic is the magic you make for others not yourself.
Getting Sick At Disneyland
Finally, the worst thing is getting sick at Disney. For, your safety and the safety of others please spend the day in bed. Please do not spread germs. Missing out sucks I know. Most hotels can recommend a good local Urgent Care and now there are House Call apps that work in parts of Orange County. There is CVS Minute Clinic or Doctor on Demand. Seek medical help and resume experiencing the magic when you are no longer contagious please. By trying to spend the day at Disneyland you could exasperate your illness and end up spending more time in bed.
I hope your trip to Disneyland is amazing. Be prepared for the unexpected and maintain a positive attitude and you will have an amazing time. These issues I addressed happen and are common. Any blue word is a hyper-link that will take you to another post where I discuss this issue at length and it can provide you with more helpful information.
Is there anything I forgot to add? Let me know in the comments below.