Tips for Taking a Disney Skeptic to Walt Disney World

Have you ever visited WDW with a Grumpy lookalike?

Let’s face it–if you are reading this post, you already love Walt Disney World.  Maybe you haven’t even visited yet, but you know you want to.  If you’re anything like us, you spend significant amounts of time planning, researching, and counting down to your next trip–whether it is your first or your fiftieth. But, hard as it may be to believe, not everyone views the world through mouse-colored goggles.

Some people don’t ever want to go to WDW. I know. I used to be one of them. And since I’ve come over to the mouse-side, I’ve also brought two different Disney skeptics to the parks with me. Thus, I feel entirely qualified to offer some tips on how to best introduce the Disney skeptic–or, worse, Disney hater–in your life to the joy of WDW.

Start Small

It’s probably not advisable to plan a ten-day epic Disney trip when visiting with a Disney skeptic. My first trip with my skeptic mother was only four nights; when I brought my skeptic friend (who we shall call Deb for the purposes of this post–that’s not her name) she only visited for two half days and one night.

But wait, you say, I love WDW and I want to visit for as long as possible! Yes, yes, I know the feeling. But trust me–when visiting Disney World with a skeptic, it’s best to keep the trip short.  In the worst case scenario, you only have to put up with a Grumpy lookalike for a short period of time.  In the best case scenario, you’ll return again and again with your newly created Disney fan.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Of course, this is the first commandment of WDW vacations in any case; however, it is even more important when you are traveling with a Disney skeptic. If you’ve managed to get your skeptic to accompany you to the Parks, you’ve won the first battle. Don’t start a second by expecting them to take part in the planning process. You’re going to be on your own for that.

After Planning, Stay Flexible

When I brought my mom to WDW for the first time, I had a minute-by-minute plan for everything we’d do. I tried to maximize the trip and include as many amazing opportunities as possible. But halfway through the trip, I could see that my mom was exhausted. So we ditched a dinner reservation and headed back to the resort to enjoy the pool. Was I sad that I missed my meal at Bistro de Paris? Sure. But I needed to keep my goal in mind–convert the skeptic. That’s not something that’s possible when said skeptic is hot and exhausted.

Similarly, when my skeptic friend came to Epcot for the day, I ran around doing magical things with Fast Passes to try and secure two different Fast Passes–with my one ticket–so we could both enjoy Soarin’. After much walking and several trips down into the depths of the Land Pavilion (because, after all, I wanted to ride at least once by myself first) I was successful; I was the proud owner of two Fast Passes that could have been used by both of us at the same time once my friend arrived. But once my friend arrived she had absolutely no desire to ride anything–she wanted to walk around World Showcase the whole time. So that’s exactly what we did.

Always remember your goal–make the skeptic happy. Because a happy skeptic isn’t much of a skeptic at all.

Know Your Audience

Every Disney skeptic is a skeptic for a specific reason; those reasons are as varied as the reasons people list for loving Disney World. Figure out your skeptic’s issues and then work with them. For example, my skeptic friend Deb had an aversion to places crowded with screaming children and did not like the overly commercialized nature of all things Disney. So instead of taking her to the Magic Kingdom–the Park featuring the highest density of screaming children–or to Hollywood Studios–a Park that celebrates all of the movies she hates–I took her to Epcot. To World Showcase. Where there is alcohol. Which she likes. A lot.

Don’t Despair

Despite your best efforts, you may not be successful in your Disney skeptic conversion. Remember my friend Deb? While she did have a good time drinking around the world (and hitting on some ‘actual Irish men’ in the Rose and Crown pub), she was not impressed by Illuminations and nonplussed by an early morning trip to Harambe on Kilimanjaro Safari. I don’t think she will be returning to Disney World, well, ever. But that’s ok. I’ll hang out with her in other parts of the world.

However, my other Disney conversion was successful beyond my wildest dreams–my mother has returned to WDW three times since that first trip; once with her husband, again with me, and once on her own. Her next trip is something like twelve days from now; she will be staying in a one-bedroom suite at the Boardwalk to spend the week of her birthday at the Food and Wine Fest. Why? Because she has DVC points at both Saratoga Springs and the Boardwalk Villas. Yeah. Conversion successful.

Have you found it necessary to bring a friend or relative over to the mouse side?  How did you do it?  Were you successful?  Share your tips, tricks, and stories in the comments below.

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