How to keep your cool at Walt Disney World

We were going to write about how to keep physically cool at WDW, but since our society seems to be getting a tad more angrier and less patient- we thought we would address how to keep your patience at WDW.

Now some of you may think, what’s the big deal? Well, let’s start with the first one. We have seen it happen so many times where we are standing in line, and everyone is hot, and tired..and then one person says those words that nobody wants to hear “My party is waiting for me ahead in the line.”  It happened to us at Toy Story Mania this past summer, and we knew we could handle it one of two ways. The first way is to say “No,  I’m sorry, you can’t go ahead.” Keep in mind that this person will not only be irritated, but is now stuck behind YOU for the entire rest of the line. We get it, you want to stand your ground, but it has to be worth it.  We have heard the stories, one person holds the place in line, and 10 people show up. In that circumstance, call over a Cast Member and let them know what’s going on, let them handle it and stay out of the firing range!

If you don’t want to deal with possible snide remarks the entire wait, you may want option #2.  We decided to let the person by, for the very reason to not have to deal with this person while our children were standing there.  We don’t condone it, but sometimes you just have to turn the other cheek to keep the happy mojo of your family and your line area.  We have seen what happens when people “out” someone for trying to get to their family ahead…the person was mortified and then was angry the entire time. The feel of the line went from excitement for the ride to VERY uncomfortable.

Next we have the food service lines. The scenario:  you have been walking all day, your stomach is growling, and you start to hallucinate of sitting in air conditioning with a large cold something in your hand. Cosmic Ray’s is in the distance, and you sprint ahead to hold a table for your family while they order.  There is always debate on this, but we have always sent Carl to order the food with my oldest, and the youngest and I sit and hold the table.  If my entire family is going to be eating at this establishment, we have every right to a table. Some feel that no one in your party should sit down until you have all of your food. The problem with that? Now you have Bob, Kathy, and all their kids in line, making the lines longer, and also making it harder for Bob and Kathy to keep an eye on the kids, show them where to sit, oh and balance the many trays.  My point? There is nothing wrong in holding a table if you plan on eating there while someone is ordering. Now, if you brought food from outside the park and you are looking to eat inside one of these places, I feel that using one of those tables during the busy meal times IS looking for trouble. If the place is empty, go ahead and sit just for the heck of it, but be courteous of those around you that may need your table.

Another line that sadly seems to get heated up are the Character Greetings. When you get in line and the Cast Member says “I’m sorry, but Pooh and Tigger have to go inside for a while but will be back in 20 minutes” don’t take it out on the CM-they are just doing their job. They know that your child has lived for this moment, so instead of losing it, we suggest to wait for them to return, or contact Guest Relations for their other possible locations.  Yes, we know it’s disappointing when you are IN the line and again they walk away, and you wait some more. This is AGAIN a chance to practice keeping your cool and finding something to pass the time with your family. Evaluate if this is even worth waiting for, or to find your Disney friends another day.  Once you have finally gotten to THE moment of truth, have your camera ready, kids ready, and autograph books out with pen ready.  Enjoy the moment while keeping it quick so that others may enjoy them as well; this helps OTHERS keep their cool with you!

Rope Drop. If you aren’t familiar with this right of passage that every Disney patron needs to experience once, it is when you have gotten to the park before opening, they corral you at a certain point where the “rope” is, and then they “drop” it at opening time.  If you plan on being a part of this, it will be your first experience of the day where you get to test your patience.  First off, remember that EVERYONE is there for a reason… to head to a certain ride without the long wait.  If you always keep in mind that you are no special than anyone else, you will do just fine with not only rope drop, but with your entire vacation.  Once that rope comes down, walk with the crowds, don’t run, keep your family together, and everyone will be fine. There WILL be those who feel they need to run ahead…just let them go. Running is very frowned upon by the Cast Members and it is just plain dangerous.  No one wants to spend their Disney vacation in the hospital, so keep your cool, and keep your ENTIRE party together when you get in line. If you would like to fast pass first, you will need to stand aside, let one of your family members get all of them, and then you all get in line if you wish.

Speaking of fast passes- we had a situation last trip where we headed with the crowd to Toy Story Mania, got in line to FP it first, and the FP machine BROKE DOWN! If this happens, breathe, call over a Cast Member, and explain the situation.  The CM took our cards and went to another FP machine and returned with our FP’s and all was well, but if you panic or walk away, the Cast Member won’t be able to do much now that you have walked away from the machine and the line.  Also, if you are using the fastpass line and you hear others grumble that they don’t know why YOU get to go ahead, we suggest highly to either ignore them or nicely tell them why you ARE in that line.

The sun has started to go down in that beautiful Florida sky, and you have found a cozy spot on the curb for the Spectro Magic parade. The family has left to get the traditional hot dogs from Casey’s for dinner that night, and you anxiously await their return.  You sit on that pavement, the family sitting with you now for over an hour to save that very spot. Then it happens.  The lights are turning off in the park, the music starts up…you are FILLED with anticipation..and someone has the nerve to sit right in front of you.  We can’t count how many times this has happened to us, and we have handled it differently every time.  Most of the time, we ask the family or person to please move and that we have waited there for over an hour for that spot. It usually works,  but some have felt entitled to try to stay with no avail, when Cast Members come over and let them know that they cannot indeed sit on the street itself, and they move.   We will never tell you to find another spot unless it looks like things will get heated up- always be the bigger person and show your family that it isn’t worth the fight.

“Please move up to fill in all available space.” You will hear this line announced at attractions such as Test Track and the Haunted Mansion by the Cast Members. It isn’t a suggestion, it is a request to make more room for others.  We always seem to be the ones who fill in the area and get the stink eye from others like we are trying to jump ahead. If you are one of those who feels filling in is some kind of “cutting” you need to just let it go.  Keep your cool, go with the flow, and you will get on the ride like everyone else.

The day is done, the Mickey ears have been worn, and all you can think about is that comfy bed.  Exiting the park can be just as adventurous as leaving any show or attraction; it takes the greatest patience of all.  If you insist on leaving with the masses, keep your family together- lock arms, hands, whatever to know who has who. Use your manners, and if people start to push, get out of the way and move to another area of walkway as best you can. If you are pushing a stroller, please watch other’s ankles- we have been hurt more than once by parents who weren’t paying attention.

We suggest waiting, finding a table near Casey’s or Noodles, and allow the crowds to go by while you listen to the awesome after “Wishes” music while the castle turns colors.  The freedom of walking down Main Street with your family, no one elbow to elbow, is worth the half hour wait or more… plus the monorail isn’t as crowded as well.

Since this was a lengthy posting, I will sum it up for anyone who needs to refer to it.

  • Only get in line when you entire party is ready, don’t send someone ahead.
  • If you have Fast Pass machine problems, contact the nearest Cast Member to help you, do not walk away.
  • Be prepared when visiting the Characters with book, pen, camera, and family ready.
  • Avoid confrontations if someone sits in front of you at a parade; contact a Cast Member.
  • Pay attention to what Cast Members are asking of you in lines.
  • Wait for the crowds at the end of the day to pass by before leaving the park.
  • Saving tables isn’t a crime unless you brought outside food and others who are eating in said establishment need your table.

We want our most memorable moments to be truly memorable, not melt downs. Taking the time with each decision you make on your vacation will not only keep your head cool, but those around you as well.

4 thoughts on “How to keep your cool at Walt Disney World

  • You are heaven-sent and I love you!! I am currently a cast member, and I cannot begin to tell you that if every guest who came to WDW or Disneyland read this article, the parks would be a happier, safer, better place for everyone!! Especially when it comes to the character meet and greets. I work with Winnie the Pooh, and the kids get so excited sometimes that they shut their books just as their handing them to the characters. Personally, I think it’s easier for the adults to hand the books to the characters.

  • so we tried to save a table while DH ordered food for us at Cosmic Rays on our last trip. I had my 2 year old in a stroller…they wouldn’t let us in to the seating area WITHOUT our food! Of course we complied, but I was a little annoyed, I asked how was I suppose to carry food and push the stroller, etc. Anyways, just a tid bit!

  • My one piece of advice about visiting WDW that I offer whenever asked (and some times when no one asks) is . . . Waiting in line is part of each attraction. Make the most of it. Talk to people around you. Look for hidden Mickeys. Plan what you are going to do next. Drink water. Eat a snack. SMILE!

  • I assume they do this for many character meet & greets, but at Pluto’s on Town Square I saw a Cast Member stand at the end of the line and tell folks that Pluto was about to leave. They did not allow anyone else to get in line because it would be fruitless. Folks were disappointed, but much less than had they stood there in the heat just to be eventually turned away.

    Your point about the mood of those in line around you is well taken. Mostly we think about how to deal with the situation of “line breakers”, but the mood that remains afterwards is critical to overall ride enjoyment. Thank you for that perspective. Your mood can be contagious, so make it good!

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