How to Avoid Disappointment at Walt Disney World

Anyone who has ever planned a trip to Walt Disney World has probably had a vision in their mind of how it would go.

Warm, sunny weather. All of the advanced dining reservations your were hoping for. Visiting all of the best attractions. Cheerful and kind guests everywhere you look. Your own children, happy as can be.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it usually goes and many people come home disappointed. But knowing what to expect, can help you and your family avoid disappointment at Walt Disney World.

How to Avoid Disappointment at Walt Disney World

How to Avoid Disappointment at Walt Disney World

Those of you who have visited my blog before may be scratching your heads right about now and wondering what I mean. After all, it is no secret that I absolutely love Walt Disney World.

I do love Walt Disney World and I rarely feel disappointed on our trips because I have learned to expect five not so wonderful things on our vacations. I’ve also learned how to deal with them.

Expect the Weather to Be Awful

It will be hot. Maybe if you visit during the winter months, it won’t be too hot. But any other time of the year, it will be hot. And visiting Walt Disney World during the summer months can be brutal. This heat and humidity catches many visitors off guard, but it is totally manageable if you prepare for it.

Then there’s the rain. Florida may be the “Sunshine State,” but it sure rains a lot. Like almost daily in the summer. But, if you are prepared for the rain and accept it as inevitable, you can soldier on and enjoy your day. (As you can see in the photo below, this isn’t always easy.)

Expecting the heat and the rain, can help you avoid a lot of disappointment.

Did I mention it will be hot?

Expect to Miss Out on Some Things You Really Want to Do

Even with the most strategically planned advanced dining reservations, you don’t always get every, single meal you were hoping for. If your party is large or you are picky about when you eat, you may be out of luck at the most popular restaurants. But there are so many dining options that your meals will still be fun.

Then there are the attractions. Chances are, something will be closed for refurbishment while you are there. Fortunately, that is easy to look up before you go so that you and your family aren’t disappointed when you get there.

It’s always a good idea NOT to tell your little princess that she will get to have dinner with Cinderella or your little pirate that he will get to ride Pirates of the Caribbean UNTIL you know for sure that it will happen.

Expect Lines and Lots of Waiting

The FastPass+ system is fabulous. It can eliminate long waits for you and your family at your favorite attractions. But, and this is a big but, it does not eliminate all of the lines or the waiting.

Walt Disney World doesn’t really have a slow season anymore. The level of the crowds varies from month to month, but there are always crowds. (The photo below was taken on a medium crowd level day.)

If you can’t get a FastPass for something, you will have to wait in line.

If there are other people ahead of you in the FastPass return line, you will have to wait.

Will you be eating at a quick service location at any point? You will have to wait in line to get your food.

Hoping for a good spot to watch the parade? You will have to wait there until the parade starts.

We have become so accustomed to instant gratification that we forget that waiting is a part of life. And it’s a part of a trip to Walt Disney World. If you expect that, you will be fine.

How to Avoid Disappointment at Walt Disney World

Expect Other People to Behave Badly

This is a tough one. Walt Disney World is visited by millions of people every year. Millions of people with different ideas about politeness. Millions of people who are hot and/or tired and/or cranky. Not everyone is going to be friendly. In fact, some other guests will be down-right rude.

And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

The only thing you can really do is expect it and not let it ruin your vacation.

Expect the Unexpected from Your Children

When we went to Walt Disney World for the first time as a family in 2013, my boys were five and I had visions of all of the fun character meet-and-greets we would have.

Guess what? My boys wanted nothing to do with meeting the characters. They smiled (somewhat) for photos at the character meals, but that was it. They refused to wait in line, even to meet Buzz and Woody, and I was crushed.

If children are anything, it’s unpredictable. Your child may hate a ride you thought they would love. Your child may want to meet every, single character they can. Or your child may need to be coaxed out from under the table by Ariel. You just never know.

So it’s best not to have too many expectations where your children are concerned.

How to Avoid Disappointment at Walt Disney World

Photo courtesy of Adventurer Mom

Knowing what to expect on your Walt Disney World vacation makes a big difference and can help to eliminate a lot of disappointment. It just makes everything more magical!

Main Image Photo credit: Theme Park Tourist via DIYlovin / CC BY


  1. What in the world? Do you really think people NEED to be reminded that they’ll have to wait in line, might not get to do everything they wanted to do, and that it might rain? Isn’t all of that common sense and to be expected? If it isn’t to be expected, and people are actually surprised by this when they get to Disney, then I have to wonder what this world is coming to! And truthfully, if you raise your children well, they will behave. I tried-once-to whine about not getting a lollipop at Six Flags. My reward? We left the park immediately. I was five, and I still clearly remember this.there was no bargaining, no placating, no nothing. It sent a huge message to me–it doesn’t matter where we are, or why, you are expected to behave as you were taught. Period. I’m still a firm believer in this. I guess that’s why others ask how I get my children to behave so well and to be so polite.

    1. Sometimes, when you’re planning a vacation it can be easy to overlook some of these of things. Especially if it’s your first trip. Disappointment happens, but you don’t always think to prepare yourselves or your kids for it before going somewhere like Disney World. I, for one, appreciate candid articles like this one.

      1. Why would you need to “prepare yourselves or your kids” for disappointments? Ummmmm……disappointments are a part of life. Think about that. Junk happens! Perhaps teaching your kids to go with the flow would be better. Sheesh, I can see you now, kneeling in front of your kids at disney saying, “Billy, prepare yourself. We’re going to be disappointed. It might take an hour to get through this line. No, no, darling, don’t cry. Mommy’s teaching you how to handle disappointment.” Your kids are going to be very screwed up. I bet they end up living with you forever, unemployed, because they can’t handle disappointments without you there to talk them through it.

        1. Not every child finds it easy to “go with the flow.” Not every adult for that matter. This whole post was about knowing what you are going to face when you get to Walt Disney World. Have you ever even been there? And, no, not everyone goes prepared for things that would seem obvious to others. I honestly think letting your child believe they are going to meet Cinderella or eat in the castle when you know ahead of time that it’s never going to happen, is cruel. And if hoping my child isn’t too disappointed on the trip of a lifetime makes me a bad mother, then so be it.

        2. We’re very much a roll-with-punches kind of family. But part of that flexibility is reminding ourselves and our kids to have realistic expectations. It’s not a matter of preparing for disappointment, but more about understanding the situation we may or may not find ourselves in. Talking about what to expect isn’t coddling it’s teaching them to be prepared for th good and th bad. I refuse to set my kids up for disappointment just because life happens. They’ll learn that without any help from me. My job is to teach them how to handle it when it happens.
          But that’s just how we handle things. It’s what works best for our family.

    2. Tammy, what in the world??? Did your mother not teach you that if you have nothing nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all? It is great to teach your children to be well behaved and polite, but in your case I will have to hope the apples fall far from the tree. Please practice what you preach. This is a helpful blog that provides great information and all of us choose to be here reading it. I’ll bet no one expected to read an unnecessary comment from an unhappy woman full of vitriol and sarcasm. I hope whatever you are upset about does not spill over to other parts of your life. Bless you.

  2. One more thing to count on is that there will be unexpected shut downs of rides, whether it is due to lightening or a general breakdown.

    Also, if you use Disney bus transportation, you can count on a long wait, many stops, which probably takes 1-1.5 hours per trip.

    1. Oh yes! I forgot about both of those disappointments. We’ve dealt with shut downs before, but we’ve had good luck with the buses.

  3. Love this! Often times we think that because it is the happiest (or most magical) place on earth, everything should go perfectly. That is not the case. Sadly, things still happen, rides still break down, other people are still rude, and our poor kids are overstimulated and totally off schedule… Great list of things we need to really think about happening.

  4. I am good with setting expectations but at least once on every trip there are park guests that just floor me with their rudeness. My husbands usually has to talk me down and get me to let it go.

    1. That really can be a struggle sometimes. Especially when we witness behavior we have been teaching our children NOT to do.

  5. Love this post! Too high expectations and expecting a perfect Disney vacation can ruin a vacation when problems arise. Rain is a fact of life in Florida. Morning rain means low crowds in the parks and afternoon rain will empty them.So put on a poncho and skip through the puddles. Some of our best memories were made a Disney during the rain

  6. Love this post because I think this is a very important point many don’t consider. We definitely have a fantasy in mind of how the trip will go and our expectations don’t always reach that level!

  7. Good point – I think a lot of people expect their trip to be like commercials and that just not real life. The weather is truly rough. I spent my childhood traveling to WDW in August and now that I have my son I have no clue how my parents did it. Lugging kids around in that heat is no joke. This post is an awesome reality check!

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