We’ve all been there, forced to travel with friends or family members whose enthusiasm for Disney is — shall we say — somewhat less than yours. How can you salvage what you consider to be the full Disney experience when you’re faced with such a suboptimal situation? I have a few ideas (and I would also like to apologize in advance to anyone named Nancy)…
Game of Thrones
If you’re traveling with a group that is willing to hand over the reigns to the resident Disney expert, you absolutely must take advantage of the situation. Ideally, this needs to happen as early as possible so that you can avoid FastPasses being booked for attractions like Enchanted Tales with Belle (typically a short wait time) and focus instead on optimizing the daily strategy in accordance with the ages of those going. But maybe you have a Nancy know-it-all in your party who isn’t willing to abdicate the throne just yet. What do you do? You might not be able to fix the planning phase, but you can absolutely still rescue your party from certain doom — doom in this case being an awkward two-hour wait for Peter Pan during which everyone pretends that they don’t loathe each other.
First of all, Nancy, “Do you even have the app?” If the answer is no, then this revelation will almost certainly promote you to leadership status above Nancy as everyone recoils in awe of your superior technological skills and your casual wielding of an iPhone 5. Nancy will slink away muttering some nonsense about “finding Diagon Alley,” and your trip will proceed with minimal interruption. Don’t worry, though, if Nancy responds in the affirmative, this gives you an opportunity to show her (and everyone in the immediate vicinity) that your knowledge is based on logical facts and that wait times clearly ebb and flow in predictable ways. But maybe Nancy isn’t interested in facts because “Climate Change is a hoax, gosh darn it!” In that case, use the geography of the park to your advantage and calmly point out that moving through the attractions in a particular order and obtaining any new FastPasses with this in mind will save a great deal of time. Since the maps on the Disney World app are bright and colorful, Nancy should be able to comprehend what you’re saying and will eventually give in to your superior knowledge.
If going your own way is an option, do it. Quite simply, when you’re at Disney, you’re in it for yourself. If the party you are traveling with is willing to split up and go about their business in their own ways, it will free you from the burdens of their inexperience and total lack of urgency. You can slyly suggest the split as well, especially if you booked your trips separately, and it’s super easy if you’re like us. Let them know that you will be definitely-not-running to a popular attraction at rope drop and then hitting as many attractions as possible until your first FastPass. Suggest a meeting time and place (a meal works best) far enough in the future that you can knock out some stellar attractions while they’re still bumbling around pointing at inanimate objects. (A statue of Walt and Mickey?! Named “Partners”?! That’s amazing!) But remember not to brag when you inevitably meet back up for meals. Save that for your Instagram stories. Splitting up can also be easily accomplished if there are children of different ages in the party, so use whatever excuse you can muster to break off from the group and do your own thing. People will be more inclined to do whatever makes their children happy (i.e., not fussing), so they’ll probably be on board with your suggestion. And if anyone gets tired and needs a break, even better…
Very young children and older individuals will need to take breaks during the day, and there are a few ways that you can use this to your advantage — assuming you aren’t a member of one of the aforementioned categories. (Actually, if you’re an infant reading this blog post, that’s kind of fascinating in its own right…) There are two different scenarios that could occur if members of your party need to take breaks, and they work even better if you suggest them.
The first is the break inside the park. Whether it’s to cool off, rest the legs, or let a baby catch a nap, the break inside the park is ideal because it allows you to casually suggest being elsewhere without actually being too far away. If you notice that Nancy’s young child is looking a little hot and/or tired — or maybe he or she is just a vile demon baby straight out of The Omen — you can use your extensive knowledge to suggest a few great rest options (such as this one and this one, provided for free by the ZADD Crew!). You can then bounce around the area and maybe knock out an attraction or two while Nancy is preoccupied with young Lucifer. If you are traveling with the elderly, politely suggesting a break will likely be met with warmth and gratitude at your thoughtfulness, so don’t ditch Grandma and Grandpa right away. Suggest it after you’ve already taken a break yourself — like pausing for a Mickey ice cream — and then let the grandparents extend the break a while longer in a comfortable, air-conditioned spot while you hit a few nearby attractions. (This also works with attractions that are themselves breaks, such as Carousel of Progress, Hall of Presidents, and Mickey’s PhilharMagic. They can enjoy a show while you hit another ride.)
The best case scenario, though, is the resort break. You might not be this fortunate because it pretty much requires your party to be staying on property, but the resort break is essentially like getting time alone in the parks because the other members of your party head back to their rooms. Subtly suggesting that some time in the room might be beneficial to Nancy’s exhausted spawn could be all it takes to prompt an immediate return to the resort. The post-lunch and pre-dinner window is especially appealing because young children are typically tired and, during much of the year, it is quite hot. You can tell the other members of your party that this is the perfect time to take a break — or a dip in the pool — and still make it back in time for fireworks. Added bonus tip: when they tell you they are heading back to the parks, that’s the perfect moment to grab a popular attraction with a bit of a line.
“Hey, we just made it back to Magic Kingdom!”
“Oh, OK, well I’m almost to the front of Big Thunder, so I’ll meet up with you guys a little later.”
Traveling with a group can be fun and rewarding, but as Disney pros we can sometimes feel a bit held back by their lack of enthusiasm or complete and total incompetence. A few well placed suggestions could be all it takes to turn a lackluster day in the parks into a wonderful and fulfilling Disney experience. And who knows? You might even convert a few members of your party into the Disney way of life that we all enjoy so much.
Except Nancy. No one likes a Nancy.
Rad Dad, out.
Thanks to @mickeys_photographer, @thezipadeedoocrew, and myself for the great photos!