As I was putting together this list of Disney “no-nos,” I asked my 9-year-old son what he would add to the list. His top tip is not to eat a churro before riding a roller coaster.
While that is certainly a solid piece of advice for those of us who weren’t born with stomachs of steel, it’s far from the only thing you shouldn’t do at a Disney park if you want to have a good time and be mindful of your fellow Disney citizens.
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These tips should not only help you save money at Disney, but they could also save you from getting kicked out of the park and banned from visiting again in the future — it does happen.
Here are nine things you should never, ever do at Disney:
Take on-ride photos or videos — especially with the flash on
Disney parks are some of the most photographed places in the world … and also some of the most photogenic. In addition to the pastel-painted castles, there are colorful murals, themed lands, costumed characters and larger-than-life props that serve as picture-perfect backdrops for your vacation photos.
With lifelike animatronics and fantastical scenery, it’s hard to resist snapping a few photos on Disney rides or even taking a video to share on social media. What many visitors don’t realize, though, is that taking said photos or videos with a flash on can be really distracting for guests around them, as well as take them out of the fantasy of the moment.
If you happen to drop your device midride, there’s also a pretty good chance you’ll never see it (or the photos you took) again. Disney World has gone as far as banning phones, cameras and other loose items on some of its rides, including Space Mountain.
If you want to snap a quick pic for posterity (on rides where it’s allowed), go for it, but it’s always a good policy to ensure the flash is off first.
Get off the ride when you aren’t supposed to
You may think this one goes without saying, but hopping out of the vehicle midride has become something of a trend as of late. In 2021, a guest jumped from a boat on Epcot’s Living with the Land and grabbed a cucumber from the gardens showcased on the ride. More recently, a guest left their ride vehicle on Spaceship Earth and sat down among the ride’s animatronic characters.
Not only is leaving your ride vehicle a major safety hazard, but it can also get you kicked out of the park and banned for life. This also goes for climbing things that aren’t meant to be climbed (i.e., the Mayan pyramid at Epcot’s Mexico pavilion), hopping in fountains and sticking your feet or hands in the water on Pirates of the Caribbean or Splash Mountain. These are all real things that have happened, by the way.
If your safety — and your ability to visit Disney again in the future – are important to you, remain seated and keep your hands, arms, feet and legs inside the ride vehicle at all times.
Get into an altercation with cast members or other guests
Another bad (and potentially dangerous) behavior that has seen an uptick lately is altercations, both verbal and physical, with Disney cast members and fellow guests.
When you combine the blazing Florida heat with screaming kids and the pressure of executing a perfectly planned vacation, it doesn’t take much to send you over the edge. It could be a Mickey balloon booping you on the nose, a stroller wheel running over your toe or any one of the above-mentioned infractions that instantly turns you into a Disney villain.
Before you let your villainous side take hold, though, take a deep breath and think about the consequences — at the least, you could be asked to leave and your vacation could be cut short. At worst, there could be legal implications.
In fact, a lack of courtesy and kindness has become such an issue that Disney World and Disneyland have added courtesy notices to their websites. Disney World’s notice states, “Be the magic you want to see in the world. You must always remember to treat others with respect, kindness and compassion. Those who can’t live up to this simple wish may be asked to leave Walt Disney World Resort.” Disneyland’s notice has similar wording and directs guests to the full list of rules and regulations.
Break the dress code to get a free shirt
Most TikTok trends involve dancing or dressing up like the Grinch and knocking over your own family’s Christmas tree, but there is one trend that has been catching on because guests hope to get some free Disney swag out of it.
Like other theme parks, Disney has dress code rules that state guests must wear “appropriate” attire and that they “reserve the right to deny admission to or remove any person wearing attire that we consider inappropriate or attire that could detract from the experience of other guests.”
Exactly what “appropriate” means is not spelled out, but after a guest posted a viral TikTok video in 2021 sharing how she was given a free shirt at Disney after showing up in a shirt that was too revealing, others attempted the same “hack,” to varying degrees of success.
Disney is not required to provide you with a complimentary shirt if you get “dress coded.” They could turn you away and refuse to allow you in until you change into something more, for lack of a better word, appropriate.
Leave valuables in your stroller
As you pass through the entrance to Disneyland, there is a plaque emblazoned with a famous Walt Disney quote. It reads, “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.” And, while Disney parks are relatively safe from crime, you can’t let yourself fall so deep into the fantasy that you forget about your personal safety.
Unfortunately, this is one I am guilty of myself. There have been plenty of times when I’ve parked the stroller to get on an attraction and left my wallet, phone or other such items I’d prefer not to lose in the basket of the stroller. I knew there was a possibility of my things — or my entire stroller — being gone when I returned, but it felt like such a slim chance that I let my guard down.
It only took reading a few stories and social media posts of other guests who had valuables and Disney souvenirs stolen from their strollers for me to be more cautious.
On Disneyland’s own website, a planDisney panelist answered a question about stroller safety by advising the guest to try a tracker like an Apple Air Tag or to remove a wheel from your stroller and keep it with you. That’s not something I’ve felt compelled to do yet, but I definitely make sure I only leave things in my stroller that I don’t mind losing … like a box of half-eaten popcorn.
Treat cast members rudely
As someone who spent many years of my life working in customer service, I’m keenly aware that guest-facing staff members are often on the receiving end of anger and frustration at situations they did not cause and may not be in a position to do anything about.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen this happen a lot at Disney. It can be really frustrating when things don’t go as expected during your Disney vacation, especially when you’ve spent a lot of money to get there and even more time planning your trip.
Cast members spend their days trying to make your trip as magical and memorable as possible and when things do go wrong, kindness goes a lot further than anger — for all involved.
Spend money on things you can get outside the parks for cheaper
As much as I love Disney, I would never drive there to stock up on necessities like sunscreen, ponchos and bottled water. While those items are certainly available at Disney if you find yourself in need of them, you can get them much cheaper outside of the parks.
On most Disney trips, I schedule a grocery delivery through Shipt or Instacart for drinks and snacks to be delivered to my Disney hotel room. You can tack on sunscreen, over-the-counter medicines and other items you may have forgotten to your order and save room in your suitcase or you can purchase these items before you leave home.
You can find ponchos at Target and other mass retailers for less than $2. The Mickey Mouse ponchos you can get at Disney may be more fashionable, but they also run upward of $10 each. The same goes for things like flip-flops, swimwear, bubble wands (or other toys to help distract bored kids) and bottled water. You can buy most of these items outside the parks for cheaper. Pack a reusable water bottle that you can fill up at water fountains around the park.
That leaves money for the souvenirs and snacks you really want and can’t get anywhere else.
Put your kid on your shoulders during fireworks or parades
Have you ever found the perfect fireworks spot, only to have someone swoop in at the last second and prop their child up on their shoulders, ruining any chance you had of enjoying the show? It can be a real drag, especially if you have kids of your own who had been patiently waiting to see the fireworks.
I think this is often done with good intentions, and the person doesn’t realize that it isn’t courteous to those around them. They want to help their kid get a better view, but in doing so, they spoil the view for the guests behind them. When you are in a Disney-sized crowd, though, you always have to be aware of who is around you.
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If I want to help my kids get a better view, I’ll sometimes carry them so they are at my eye level or choose a less-crowded spot further from the castle. If you really want to ensure you get a prime spot, you can book a dining or dessert party that includes reserved fireworks viewing.
Wear a character costume if you are older than 14
No matter how much time you spend putting together the perfect Cruella de Vil costume, complete with a wig and faux fur coat, Disney will not allow you into the parks if you are dressed in costume. This applies to costumes with or without masks for all guests ages 14 or older.
This is both for safety and to ensure nobody is posing as a Disney character inside the parks. The only exception to this rule is during special events such as Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, runDisney events and while on board the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.
There is still a way to embody your favorite Disney characters when you visit a Disney park and that is called “DisneyBounding.” One year when we visited during Halloween, my husband and I “bounded” as Robin Hood and Maid Marian. We wore the same colors as the characters and threw on some fox ears, but the difference between what we wore and a character costume is that nobody would have mistaken us for the “real” Robin Hood and Maid Marian.
There are many ways to get creative with your Disney ensembles while staying within the park’s guidelines, so have fun with it.
There is a lot of planning and preparation that goes into a Disney vacation, but one of the easiest things you can do on your trip is to follow the rules and be kind and courteous to those around you.
It will only make your vacation more magical and you may even be making someone else’s Disney trip more magical, too.