Disney World is a complex land. At times, its four theme parks act more like a giant corn maze or obstacle course then a one way moving sidewalk. Navigating through them at busy times of the day or year, and remaining uninjured is nothing short of miracle. The following is a list of tourists you are bound to run into that will slow you down.
There is reason why it is now illegal to text and drive. Our brain is just not fast enough to respond to these two things at once. Have you ever been trapped walking behind a texter? Their pace slows to that of molasses flowing, and of course their head is down so they are completely unaware they are slowing families down. You might be secretly hoping, like me, they walk unsuspecting into an oncoming parade and security tackles them to the ground.
If you ever thought there was a shortage of photographers in the world, just head to the happiest place on Earth. Self-proclaimed photographers will stop mid walk to bust out their obnoxiously large and expensive cameras. There will not be warning about when they stop, and usually it will be at the most annoying locations in the park. In a hurry to make the next bus? The photographer will stop exactly in the single-file only park exit point and hold up the 900 people behind her because the light happens to look pretty on the water from that exact location. Two feet forward or backward would make traffic flow better for a thousand people, but it’s more important that the photographer get that exact angle. Now if you’re the guest walking behind one of these frequently stopping photographers, when the unexpected stop happens and you have now just bumped into him, be prepared, because even though he stopped at the narrow entryway to the ride in a throng of moving people, he’ll still give you a dirty look for ruining his shot.
Strollers on a Mission
Apparently the days of small, foldable strollers are gone and have been replaced with Hummer sized stroller made of secret, government, heavy-duty plastic. If you are walking behind these strollers you are safe, but step in front of them and say hello to bruises on your legs. I have not only witnessed, but been a victim of stroller injuries.
Safety in Numbers
I am all for enjoying Disney with friends and family, but a strange epidemic has been taking over our country in recent decades: the need to walk 3, 4, 8, and even 10 people across on a six-foot wide sidewalk has become the norm. Somehow it always seems that when faced with these groups in oncoming traffic, I’m the good samaritan that needs to step aside so their small army can pass. Interesting enough, this is usually the group that takes their sweet ol time walking around the park. Damned if you’re behind them, damned if you’re walking into them. Oh yea, they’ll probably have at least one texter and one photographer among them as well.
So what’s an innocent tourist to do? Here are 3 tips to help you make your way through the Disney crowds and maintain your sanity
1. Always Be On The Lookout
Whenever possible, keep your phone down, put your camera away and look up. Being aware of your surroundings will allow you to spot openings in the crowds. Then you can slither your way through (and usually get in line before them). Keeping you head up also helps you avoid awkwardly bumping into small children. I tend to walk with a heightened sense of urgency in the parks and whoever is in my party better follow suit of get left behind.
2. Take the Path Less Traveled
Most newbies to the Disney Parks are going to stay on the main paths. For the Magic Kingdom, they will proceed down Main Street, hit the castle, and probably head to Tomorrowland or Frontierland. There are less crowded paths directly off Main Street that take you to Adventureland or Tomorrowland. There is a fantastic wooden dock that takes you from Big Thunder Mountain all the way to Liberty Square. It runs right along the river and is hardly ever congested. There are also paths that take you either from Liberty Square to Fantasyland or Fantasyland to Tomorrowland. They run right next to Cinderella Castle. Epcot is full on little winding paths in Future World, but not so much in the World Showcase. There are, however, boats that will take you from one side of the lagoon to the other. If the crowds seem to much, you can always hop on one of these boats to get out of the swarms of people. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, many people are drawn to the Sorcerer hat and then veer left or right. There is a path to the left after walking partially down Hollywood Boulevard that will take you by 50’s Prime Time Cafe and Echo lake. There is also an opening in the Streets of America that leads you directly to Muppet Vision 3D. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a little tricky at times because the way the paths were built doesn’t allow many additional option but to use them, however, there are many spots in the park to step to the side and check out some cool animal exhibits. Sometimes the path less traveled is through the gift shops. Often (like on Main Street) gift shops connect and you can weave your way in and out of Mickey merchandise to get to your destination dealing with a fraction of the people. Careful though, you break it you buy it.
3. If You Can’t Be First, Be Last
In my Rides with Virtually no Lines…Magic Kingdom post, I talked about how Disney offers many “show rides.” I mentioned that for most of these attraction you should not be waiting more than 5 minutes. Once the show concludes, to help avoid getting trampled by fanatic tourists, stroll out at a leisurely pace. Sit for a minute, take your time getting up, and try to be one of the last ones out of the theater. If you can’t be one of the first ones out the door, then take a chill pill. Being in the middle of the masses is not a fun place to be. This idea is also very important when it comes to evening festivities. After Wishes, Illuminations, and Fantasmic, hold tight. Find a park bench to people watch. Take out the rest of your sugar glazed almonds and have a snack. Call a friend or family member that is not with you and try to make them jealous you are at Disney. Once you can visually see the crowds starting to thin, then you can make your way out of the park.
A smart tourist is a happy tourist. Know when it’s time to pick up the pace and put your crowd weaving skills to the test, and when it’s time to sit back and let others do the walking first.