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Winter 2018

Maintaining the Magic: How to Stay Happy at the Happiest Place on Earth

It’s that time—the afternoon slump. The sun is blazing, the sweat is dripping, and the blisters are forming. And, most regrettably, the magic of the Mouse House has dissipated in a poof of pixie dust. But this all-too-common scenario is entirely avoidable—anyone can maintain the magic of the Disney parks all day long. The following suggestions will help you keep the wonder in your wanderings.

Prepare for the parks in advance. A regular walking regimen will get you ready for the challenge of Disney, so once you’re there, you’ll experience minimal foot trauma. Practice is especially important for children who won’t be riding in strollers. You will also want the right kind of comfortable, functional footwear for your adventure. A sturdy pair of broken-in hiking- or river-style sandals, or at least ones with tough, comfortable soles, are great for everyone. They provide support while also drying out quickly after water rides, and they allow your feet to stay cool in the heat.

Take a break from the parks in the afternoon. Seriously. Do it. It can be hard to tear yourself away, but what’s to be gained by powering through huge crowds in the heat? The parks are least busy in the mornings and nights, so take advantage of emptier parks during those times and give yourself some space in the afternoon! The following are surprisingly enjoyable activities:

  • Take a trip on one of the monorails, ride the Disney World bus system, or use the Disney World boat systems for a cruise around the property.
  • Explore one or more of the on-property resorts on foot at either set of parks. Each resort has a different theme and soundtrack—even a unique scent! Experiencing these can be a great way to absorb Disney magic during the heat of the afternoon instead of roasting in the parks. The Grand Floridian in particular is the fanciest resort at Disney World and has a live piano player in the lobby. The Grand Californian at Disneyland is similarly exquisite.

Have more fun at the parks when you must stay during the crowded and exhausting afternoon hours, try some of the following less popular activities:

  • Ride the large-capacity, scenic rides such as the railroad, “It’s a Small World” (assuming you can stand it!), the Mark Twain Riverboat at either set of parks, or the People Mover at Disney World.
  • Watch one of the many large-capacity, indoor shows. Especially beloved ones include the Tiki Room or Hall of Presidents at either park and the Carousel of Progress at Disney World. Also, the shops on Disneyland’s Main Street, USA have old-fashioned nickelodeon machines. Hollywood Studios at Disney World has many theater-style shows and a cinema dedicated to showing extended previews of upcoming films at the end of a walk-through exhibit of Walt’s life. And Epcot has stunning 360-degree short movies in the China, France, and Canada pavilions in addition to a theater that shows classic Disney short films and cartoons.
  • Find a snack, people watch, and don’t worry about getting too much done during this time. You can offer to take pictures of fellow vacationers. It can be extremely rewarding to watch the magic unfold for others.

Escape from the main park and resort complexes by visiting the marketplace districts called Disney Springs (Disney World) and Downtown Disney (Disneyland). Both host street performers and live entertainment, and both include a variety of outside shops and restaurants for a relaxing change of pace.

Above all, have fun—and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do everything. It’s just not possible. Instead, go forth and maximize the magic!

Samantha Bullock