Every Walt Disney World fan has a bucket list, but the smart ones also have lists of things we’ll never do again. This isn’t like our list of easy first-timer mistakes. Rather, these are things we’ve done and said to one another: “Wow, that was a stupid move on our part. Let’s avoid that at all costs in the future.” (Updated November 27, 2022.)
Truthfully, there are very few things at Walt Disney World that we’d never do again. Our bucket lists far longer than our “never again” lists, because most things at Walt Disney World are worth of a second chance. Menus at restaurants change, hotels are overhauled, and attractions are tweaked or re-imagined over time.
In fact, since we originally published this a few years ago, a lot has changed. Perhaps we should take the immortal words of celebrated thinker Justin Bieber to heart and “never say never.” Thankfully, Walt Disney World tends to listen to guest feedback and correct mistakes and experiences that score poorly on guest satisfaction surveys. Over the years, we’ve had to remove several things from this list because we’ve done them again (sometimes inadvertently or not by choice) and had dramatically different–and better–experiences…
To that point, the 2022 update to our list removes four different entries from the list:
Dinner at Chef Mickey’s – With the family style dinner apparently sticking around for the long haul, the cuisine quality at Chef Mickey’s has taken a notable step forward. Sure, there’s less variety–but the food is actually edible. That’s a big win!
Pay to Stay at Grand Floridian – The price is still absurd, so it’s likely we won’t be doing this much (especially given that we can use DVC points instead). With that said, our reason for not paying to stay at Grand Floridian was the mid-tier Marriott caliber rooms. Those are currently in the process of being transformed into something far, far nicer.
Genie+ at EPCOT – At this time last year, paid FastPass was fairly useless at EPCOT, not including Frozen Ever After or Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. It does now.
New Year’s Eve at Magic Kingdom – We did this last year, and it was far better than expected. Of course, things were weird last year with limited reservations amidst a huge wave of cases from the Delta variant, so perhaps this was the exception rather than the new rule? Either way, it’s off the list (for now!).
Another thing to note is that this list only covers things that are within our control to never do again at Walt Disney World. Over the years, the company has made the “choice” for us, by eliminating a lot of things that we’d otherwise love to do again. For example, we’d love to see a night parade or winter icicle lights on Cinderella Castle, but it seems that Disney might deny us the opportunity. We’ve also now taken our final ride on Disney’s Magical Express and redeemed our last FastPass.
Those are things we will technically never do again at Walt Disney World, but are very much not in the spirit of this list, which is more like “NEVER AGAIN!” What won’t we do again at Walt Disney World? Here are the top 10 things…
10. Wait for Busy Buses to or from Coronado Springs – Longtime Walt Disney World fans likely have horror stories about the buses. I know we do, with long-lasting scars from waiting at a resort for a Magic Kingdom bus for (literally) over an hour while seeing a half-dozen pass for Animal Kingdom. Many fans still avoid buses as a result, always using a rental car, Uber, Lyft, or Minnie Vans.
In large part, I think the poor reputations of Walt Disney World’s bus service are relics of the past, an inaccurate reflection of reality on the ground right now. Throughout 2022, our experiences with buses have been very, very positive. For all of the things Walt Disney World is currently doing wrong, bus transportation is absolutely not one of them.
The one exception to this is Coronado Springs Resort. In the last year, we’ve stayed there more than anywhere else, and have had issues with long lines and packed buses early and late in the day. This isn’t a new thing and I’m also fairly confident our negative experiences are not outliers. (The dead giveaway that this is a common issue is Coronado Springs being the one resort with an ‘overflow’ queue at the Magic Kingdom bus stop–see above.)
The big issue is that Walt Disney World added Gran Destino Tower without expanding bus capacity. The end result is many more hotel rooms, but not more bus service–meaning more people crammed into the same number of buses. The thing is, even this is not always a problem. When Gran Destino Tower is primarily being used for conventions, those visitors are less likely to visit the parks and there aren’t issues. When there are no events and it’s booked by normal guests, the strain all of those rooms puts on the buses is significant.
One solution that has worked for us is heading to the parks very early in the morning, waiting until midday, and leaving the parks super late. If the bus returning to the hotel is packed, another is getting off at the first stop and walking to our building–that’s almost always faster (or at least more pleasant) than riding the full route.
9. Pandora or Star Wars Lands Midday – There are a few components to this. First is crowds, which are always chaotic and take away from enjoying the details that define both Pandora – World of Avatar and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. These two lands absolutely beg to be explored, and stressed out crowds and people going in every which way impede anyone’s ability to truly soak up these lands. The environments and layers of lived-in detail and storytelling are so key for appreciating both. Plus, the long lines during the middle of the day certainly don’t help. We’re not fans of triple-digit wait times for anyone.
Second, you’re running a risk if rain is in the forecast. Both lands are huge, but also have few indoor areas that are large and easily accessible if the weather takes a turn for the worse. Adding insult to injury, they are a bit isolated from the rest of their respective parks (or in the case of Galaxy’s Edge, right next door to another popular land with very little covered space). In short, if it starts raining in either and you’re not already inside, you will get wet. Your options for quickly ducking indoors are limited if not nonexistent.
Finally, there’s the simple reality that Pandora and Galaxy’s Edge are better at night. In the case of the latter, there’s a practical side of this, as there’s a total lack of shade in the Star Wars land. That can made the midday sun feel doubly unbearable (fitting for Batuu) and those afternoon rain showers even more soaking.
More importantly, both lands take on new dimensions once the sun goes down. Pandora’s bioluminescence and organic life comes alive in the evening, and it truly feels like another planet. The setting is enchanted, and evokes what I can only imagine an alien forest is like. At night, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has a spooky and serene sense to it, except in the marketplace where a variety of beautiful light fixtures give added texture and depth to everything.
8. Summit Plummet – Despite my claim for years that I’m good on this, when we visited Blizzard Beach this year, I did Summit Plummet again. Almost as soon as it began, the realization washed over me like water that I had made a terrible mistake. To borrow the immortal words of Roger Murtaugh: I’m too old for this slide.
This is the only attraction on this list, and the reason for that is that we think people should judge attractions for themselves, because everyone has different preferences. (For example, there are probably a few of you who don’t like Country Bear Jamboree. That’s fine–some people don’t like masterpieces like The Godfather and Citizen Kane, either.)
For me, Summit Plummet at Blizzard Beach water park is something that’s moderately enjoyable and I’m glad it exists, because it looks really cool and is a great water slide concept…but once was enough. From the insanely long line to the feeling of pure terror to the crazy wedgie, I’m good on it for one lifetime. Actually, I’ll probably do it when I’m 65, against my better judgment once more, just to feel young and reckless again. 😉
7. “Improperly Pack” – This is somewhat of a blanket statement because it’s a mistake I’ve made repeatedly in different ways. Basically, I have a propensity to simultaneously under and over-pack, and bring clothing for the weather I want rather than the weather that’s actually forecast.
For example, I have a tendency to pack shorts and polos for winter trips–a mistake I’ve made as recently as last year, even despite having written our Winter Packing Tips for Disney. For early fall trips, I’ve been known to bring jeans and button-downs, even when the weather is still sweltering. Beyond that, I leave behind practical items I end up missing to avoid overpacking, while bringing pointless stuff “just in case” that I never use.
Unfortunately, I don’t have an elephant-caliber memory…or I try to convince myself that “it’ll be different this time” (for reasons unknown), only to have history repeat itself. In other words, I say this is a mistake I’ll never make again…but I almost certainly will. Fortunately, there’s now a UNIQLO at Disney Springs, and that store has bailed me out many times!
6. Food & Wine Festival on a Weekend – We want to start out by saying that we really enjoy Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival…but we don’t love it on weekends. Ever been to a UCF frat party? Well, if you answered “no”, it’s not too late!
Weekend evenings are prime time for college students with disposable incomes to descend upon the Festival to get sloshed. For them, it sure beats drinking Old Style in a dank basement (like we did in college), but that atmosphere plus the huge crowds can make this the least pleasant time to be at Food & Wine Festival.
Weekdays during the festival are far more enjoyable. It’s also far more enjoyable to attend Food & Wine in mid-November when the temperatures and humidity are more bearable, but we invariably attend in September because that’s usually when we visit for Halloween.
BONUS: If not “required” for the sake of research, we’d never do the Italy booth at any festival ever again. The kiosk is notorious for high prices, elementary school cafeteria-inspired cuisine, and just a startling lack of ambition. If you enjoy paying $10 for a sample-sized version of microwaved TV dinners, Italy is a great option. If not, stay far away.
5. Rainforest Cafe – How this restaurant still has multiple locations around the United States, much less multiple locations in Walt Disney World, defies logic. The food is awful, and the ambiance reminds me of 1980s-relic ShowBiz Pizza Place, but “modernized” for the 1990s and devoid of character/charm.
4. Midday Standby at Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – Wait time inflation at Walt Disney World is a real thing, and we think it has gotten worse with the launch of Genie+ and Lightning Lanes. Whether that has nefarious motivations or not is a different debate for another day. For now, we can safely say that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is notorious for having the least-accurate wait times in all of Walt Disney World.
Quite often, especially around park opening and late in the day, the wait times are significantly inflated. We’ve experienced posted wait times that are more than double the actual wait times we’ve experienced. (There have been instances of triple posted v. actual wait times!) However, that is not always the case.
One thing we’ve learned is that doing Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance via standby during the middle of the day is playing with fire. This is especially true when the posted wait time is over 120 minutes, we’ve found. The reason for this is because the Galaxy’s Edge headliner–and #1 attraction in all of Walt Disney World–is still prone to breakdowns. The longer the line, the higher the likelihood of a ride breakdown.
But that isn’t the only issue. After all, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance has been unreliable since opening, so you’d think that Walt Disney World could build a ‘cushion’ into posted wait times to account for the downtime to some degree, right? (They do. That’s precisely why the wait times are often significantly inflated!)
The real problem is that Disney sells Individual Lightning Lane access to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, and that does not take downtime into account. Meaning that when the ride reopens, there is a huge backlog of guests who have paid $20+ per person to skip the line at the attraction. And guess what? They are still entitled to that, resulting in a Lightning Lane to standby ratio that is way more skewed to Lightning Lane than normal. This causes the actual standby wait time to skyrocket…and that’s on top of whatever downtime you might’ve endured.
There are two takeaways here. First, don’t do Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance during the middle of the day when wait times are the highest as you’re betting big when it comes to ride breakdowns. Second, if the ride does go down while you’re in the standby line, get out unless you’re very close to the front of the line (you’ve already spent at least 30 minutes in the caves). Don’t make yourself a victim of the sunk-cost fallacy! For more advice to doing the attraction with lower wait times, see our Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Ride Guide.
3. Genie+ at Animal Kingdom – This replaces Genie+ at EPCOT, which I still wouldn’t purchase or recommend to the vast majority of guests due to the ridiculous amount of backtracking it requires (and among attractions that are incredibly spread out). However, the inclusion of Frozen Ever After or Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure does remove it from ‘worst things you can do at Walt Disney World’ status.
I’m now setting my sights on Animal Kingdom, where Genie+ was equally useless before. The key difference is that nothing of value has been added to paid FastPass there over the course of the last year and the price has gone up! On top of that, it’s incredibly easy to beat the crowds at Animal Kingdom: Early Entry, regular rope drop, or staying late all work! Animal Kingdom opens extra early, is still viewed by most guests as a half-day park due to its lack of real rides, and doesn’t have a nighttime spectacular. Unless you arrive at 10 am and leave by 3 pm (which is what most guests do!), you can still beat the crowds without Lightning Lanes.
2. Leave Early – Nighttime is when the parks come alive with beautiful lighting and enchanting ambiance. It’s also when the weather starts to cool and lines start to die down. From a practical perspective, nights are now more advantageous than mornings, with lower wait times in the last couple of hours of the night than in the first couple hours after rope drop.
On top of that, one of my favorite “attractions” is strolling through World Showcase after Epcot’s fireworks end, just soaking up the ambiance, listening to the music, and seeing the stunning architecture. I’d rather do this for an hour than spend 8 daylight hours in the park. Same goes for wandering along the Rivers of America in Magic Kingdom or being bathed in the neon glow of Tomorrowland.
BONUS: Sleep In – We stress this so much on the blog that it’s probably becoming cliche. However, it’s good advice–especially if you’re staying on-site and are eligible for Early Entry. There’s no better way to beat the crowds at most parks (see our Top Time-Saving Strategies for Walt Disney World for a rundown of the best & worst ways to avoid long lines.) Basically, we would never not be tired at Walt Disney World again. Well, that’s not true–midday naps are a game-changer if you can manage them.
1. All Stars During Youth Events – This is another big change, as it used to be no Value Resorts when the Pop Warner Championship is in town (first weekend of December). That event draws literally thousands of teen football players and cheerleaders…but it’s been moved to Universal Orlando for at least the next several years.
Now, we expand our parameters to any major youth sporting event at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. While Pop Warner was worst, the Cheerleading Worlds and Dance Worlds are also bad. Basically, if you’re thinking of booking a Value Resort between February and May, consult this calendar–it can be a planner’s best friend and help “save your sleep schedule.”
Assembling this many under-supervised teens in one location is like feeding a Gremlin after midnight. There’s some sort of chemical or hormonal “thing” that happens, and then all hell breaks loose. Due to the reputation and complaints over the years, Disney security has done a better job in dealing with the teens in recent years (impromptu midnight practices are quickly broken up so I no longer have the need to literally yell “get off my lawn” to the kids), but this is still a scene to be avoided.
Beyond a couple of other restaurants that are blacklisted (for now), attractions we avoid for personal reasons, and lands that are dead to me *cough*Dino-Rama*cough* that’s about it. Hopefully you can learn from some of our mistakes…or find solace in knowing that we have made these same mistakes as you. Think of this as a support group for those who have been awoken at 2 a.m. at All Star Sports by a cheer practice or who have dropped $200 on a family “dinner” at Rainforest Cafe. Share your own “NEVER AGAIN!” items in the comments–venting can be therapeutic!
What things at Walt Disney World would you never do again? Is any restaurant, resort, or ride beyond redemption for you? Any time of year you’d never visit? Do you agree or disagree with our list? Would you do any of these things again? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!