Lissa is a huge Disney Parks fanatic, going multiple times a year with her family. She is fascinated by the work of Disney's Imagineers.
Health and Safety at Disney World
Walt Disney World is located in bright, sunny Florida, and takes in millions of tourists a year. Many of these tourists experience discomfort on their vacation—from sore feet and sunburns to dehydration—because they were not prepared for how physical a Disney vacation can be.
While you are there, you are out in hot, humid weather, surrounded by large crowds of people, and under pressure to rush in order to see everything. Visitors will walk a lot—sometimes over ten miles a day—and many vacationers are not used to that much physical activity. The parks are also full of people that may be sick, and it is easy for illness to spread in large crowds.
It is important to stay comfortable and make your vacation a true vacation, so here are some tips for those who are planning a trip to Walt Disney World.
What to Pack for a Day at Disney World
Lugging a bunch of unnecessary things around the parks all day can put unnecessary strain on your back. Pack only the essential things for that day so you can be comfortable and have room for the souvenirs you may buy. Travel-size bottles are much easier to carry than a full-size bottle of sunscreen, for example.
Packing lightly will also help you get through security faster, because they don't have to dig through your bag as much. If you have to buy something big, buy it towards the end of the day so you don't have to carry it around all day. Here's what I recommend packing for a day at Disney:
- Cell phone: to make calls, schedule fastpasses, take pictures, and play special Disney mobile games while you're waiting in line for rides. If you ever run out of battery life in the parks, Disney World has these portable phone chargers called FuelRods for $30, where you can go to one of many vending machines scattered around each park and pick up a new, fully charged charger (you keep the USB cable).
- Wallet: this is self-explanatory. Mickey Mouse demands a lot of cash.
- Poncho: Florida is notorious for its sudden rainstorms, so you don't want to be caught unaware. Bring a poncho for everyone in the party (make them carry their own if possible).
- Sunscreen: read my section on the Florida sun below.
- Medications, diapers, and sanitary supplies.
- Snack: especially for small children, or if you need to eat frequently but don't want to spend too much on Mickey Mouse ice cream bars.
- Autograph books and assorted paraphernalia.
- Wet wipes or napkins: those ice-cream bars can get messy
- Makeup: only bring what you need for a touch-up and do most of it back at the hotel. If you're going to wear makeup, keep it light and breathable, and also waterproof.
- An extra pair of socks: if yours get wet. For small children, an extra set of clothes may also be needed.
How to Prevent Sore Feet at Disney World
When you're going to Disney World, you're going to want to leave your high heels at home. On some days you might walk more than 10 miles in a day, so you should wear comfortable socks and shoes. I recommend moisture-wicking wool socks like the kind you use for hiking, because Florida can get really hot, especially in the summer time, and you are going to sweat. Also, this might be controversial, but Crocs saved my last trip when it rained every day; they are cushioned but lightweight and waterproof, so perfect for riding Splash Mountain and Kali River Rapids as many times as you want!
Make sure your shoes fit well and don't rub or chafe anywhere when you walk, or you will be likely to get blisters. If you really feel like you need to wear sandals, bring a pair that is well-cushioned and fits your feet comfortably. Do not bring brand new shoes; you should break them in for at least a month before your vacation because they will need time to adjust to the shape of your feet. For extra cushioning, you can get some foam or gel inserts for your shoes, just make sure they are not too bulky and you can still fit in them with socks on. There are also blister creams available for you to use if you do end up getting blisters.
Pro Tip: If you think you might be prone to get blisters, bring some moleskin bandages with you, like these bandages from Dr. Scholl's. Moleskin is more durable and more cushioned than regular bandages. To use it, you should cut a hole inside it in the size of your blister and place the bandage around the blister, which gives the blister padding around it and prevents it from popping while also allowing it to breathe.
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Practice Walking Before Your Disney Trip
Before you go on your Disney vacation, I would recommend that you practice walking in the shoes you will wear in Disney World for a couple of months before, a little bit to start with and eventually working your way up to a couple of miles a day. This will get your body and your feet in shape for your vacation, and you will be less sore when you actually go. This will also help you find out if you have the right shoes for the job and figure out how much you want to do while you're there.
If you are disabled or think you might have trouble walking long distances, you can rent a mobility scooter, either on property or off. Renting one from a location around Orlando is probably cheaper than renting one in the parks, where you are charged $50 per day plus a $20 deposit, but it depends on what is most convenient for you. If it is hard for you to walk around all day, this might be the better option for you than possibly injuring yourself.
Where to Get Free Water in Disney World
Staying hydrated when it's hot out is important, as not doing so could lead to heatstroke and other problems. You will see bottles of water being sold everywhere for $3, but there is a cheaper method to hydrate yourself.
Disney World has a number of quick-service locations in each park where you can pick up a cup of free water; for example, you can get water at Gaston's Tavern in the Magic Kingdom and at Pizzafari in Animal Kingdom. At any Disney Starbucks location, you can also pick up a free water if you wait in line, and it will come in a specially decorated disposable Starbucks cup.
Picking up a free water is easier than carrying around a bunch of bottles in your bag that will sweat and possibly leak all over your stuff. It saves you room and money, making it a very useful tool for vacationers on a budget.
Protect Yourself From the Florida Sunshine
Florida is known as the Sunshine State, and once you are out in that heat for a few hours, you will see why. There is limited shade in the parks too, making the heat feel inescapable at times.
The number one reason people go to First Aid in the parks is because of sunburns. Bring plenty of waterproof, high SPF sunscreen with you (at least 70), because you may end up with burns in places you didn't know you had. Be sure to get your face, neck, and shoulders especially, as that's where the sun is going to hit you hardest. Make sure your sunscreen is not expired, and also keep your bottle safe from being punctured because it's really hard to clean up a huge mess in your backpack when you're inside the parks (unfortunately, I know this from experience).
A hat and sunglasses are recommended to help protect the top of your head and your eyes, but don't wear them on rides or they could fly off! For sunglasses, make sure they offer UVA and UVB protection and cover your entire eye area. 10% of skin cancers occur around the eyes, so you’ll want to keep that area safe.
How to Avoid Getting Sick in Disney World
Thousands of people enter the parks every day, and some of those people come in sick, trying not to miss out on the vacation they scheduled months beforehand. Getting sick at Disney World is really miserable, so here are a few tips to prevent yourself from catching something:
- Avoid touching railings in line, and bring sanitizing wipes to wipe down handlebars on rides.
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently.
- When eating at restaurants, wipe down the table before sitting down, as sometimes there are no employees to clean them.
- If you know you have a sensitive stomach, you can bring your own food, as long as it doesn't need to be heated up. If it is necessary, special dietary requests, like food allergies or intolerances, can also be addressed by Disney restaurants.
- Vitamins, particularly Vitamin C, can help to prevent you from getting sick, as they give you the nutrients that theme-park food may lack. You can start taking a multivitamin a few weeks before your trip and stick to it throughout your vacation. Consult your doctor before you do this, though, as I am not a doctor.
- Vacation is fun and it feels like the party never ends, but make sure you get a full night of sleep too, to take the edge off of your soreness and keep your immune system up.
- Allergy medicine is something that you might want to bring, as the trees in Florida may be different from what you're used to and they give off a lot of pollen. If you are prone to allergy attacks, bringing some medicine from home is much cheaper than buying medicine from Disney World.
- Now that there's a pandemic going on, follow Disney's COVID guidelines, wear your masks, and socially distance your group whenever possible! Get vaccinated prior to your trip if possible, to minimize your risk of catching COVID and spending your Disney time in quarantine.
- If you need first aid for any reason, here is a list of Disney World's first aid stations and their locations.
A trip to Walt Disney World can be surprisingly strenuous physically, but if you come prepared, you will experience less discomfort and be more able to enjoy your vacation. How do you keep yourself in good physical condition during a trip to Disney World? Let me know in the comments!
© 2018 Lissa Clason