How To Convince Someone To Visit Disney
Convincing someone who doesn’t like Disney to go to Walt Disney World or Disneyland is no easy task. Many people have negative preconceptions about Disney, had a bad experience at some point, or have some other reason for disliking Disney. I think any Disney fan will tell you that they receive comments on a regular basis along the lines of, “Why do you like that place so much, it’s so [insert pretty much any negative attribute here].”
These negatives run the gamut from expensive to commercialized to fake and more. In fact, if you run a Google search on “hate Disney,” you’ll come across an incredible number of results presenting laundry lists of reasons why Disney theme parks are awful places. Many of these articles are from journalists and academics (the top professions predisposed to disliking Disney based on our highly unscientific research–lesson for Disney fans: never date a journalist or academic), not just online trolls spewing vitriol.
The good news is that if you search “love Disney,” you’ll come across even more articles extolling the virtues of the Disney theme parks. Moreover, these pieces are written by a range of individuals, from students to moms to world travelers to highly intelligent professionals. Despite what naysayers may have you believe, people from all walks of life do like Disney theme parks. They aren’t just places where parents reluctantly take their children as a rite of passage, or places frequented by unrefined adults who are too dense to comprehend that they’re being “duped.”
Point being, regardless of the background of the person you’re trying to convince, it is possible to convince them to go and (more importantly) for them to have a good time. You have to know how to approach the trip and convince them to go in with an open mind. Although this is (fortunately) not a problem Sarah and I have had since we share a passion for Disney, we have encountered many people with what we call “the problem of the reluctant spouse.”
Here are some of our tips for convincing your spouse, or anyone else, to take a Disney vacation.
Pick The Right Location
In many cases, a person’s dislike for Disney might be so deep that getting them to come around and take a trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland is going to be a long road. Fortunately, Disney is ubiquitous. Find the “Disney destination” that you think is most likely to break their preconceptions about Disney and go there.
Many of you are probably approaching this post from the perspective of convincing someone to visit Walt Disney World, and that’s fine. Walt Disney World alone is so vast that there’s truly something for everyone. However, if a person loves Yellowstone National Park, maybe your hook is the Adventures by Disney “Winter in Wyoming” trip, rather than staying at Wilderness Lodge and doing dinner at Artist Point. If your spouse is really into European history and culture, spending extra time in World Showcase might convince them, but your odds are probably a lot better if you take an actual trip to Europe with a couple of days at Disneyland Paris.
Working to optimize your chances of success are the name of the game here. Obviously, budget is going to be a factor, too (an Adventures by Disney trip or a vacation to Europe aren’t quite the same cost as visiting Walt Disney World), so adjust accordingly. The important thing is that you compromise enough to increase your chances of making converts out of them.
Here, compromise doesn’t just mean doing enough persuading to elicit a “yes” to a trip. It means planning so that the trip has things you’re both likely to enjoy, even if you’ve already gotten a yes. A reluctant yes isn’t the same as an enthusiastic one, and if your goal is to get them to actually like Disney, you’re far better off with the enthusiastic yes, even if it means further compromising even after you’ve secured the yes to exactly what you want to do.
Regardless of where you end up, Disney guest service and attention to detail is (more or less) the same all over. That winter Adventures by Disney trip may be worlds away from your ideal of sitting on the beach of the Polynesian relaxing under the rays of the Florida sun, but a positive experience on that winter trip may break down some of their preconceptions about Disney and make an enthusiastic “yes” for a Walt Disney World trip much more likely. In other words, that one winter trip to Wyoming might lead to years of relaxing on the beach of the Polynesian. When you look at it that way, the sacrifice isn’t that great, is it?
Plan Around Their Hesitations
Let’s say you’ve convinced your significant other, and gotten a “yes” for a Walt Disney World vacation. Now you need to figure out why they don’t like Disney and minimize all of those things to the greatest extent that you can.
If they say that the crowds are bad and lines are always long, plan to go when the parks aren’t as crowded and focus on attractions that don’t have significant waits.
If they say everything is for kids, keep them away from Fantasyland and show them the more adult side of Disney. Do attractions like Hall of Presidents, American Adventure, and Impressions de France. Do tours like the Behind the Seeds Tour at Epcot or The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour. Take them to counter service Walt Disney World restaurants that serve food beyond burgers and fries, and table service restaurants that appeal to foodies.
If they think Walt Disney World is too commercialized, zoom through gift shops and don’t buy a single souvenir on the entire trip. Avoid places like The Emporium and Downtown Disney.
This just covers a couple of common complaints about the Disney theme parks, but you get the idea. Find out what they don’t like about Disney, and then go to the planning board. Highlight examples of things that fit the profile (regardless of how you feel about common Disney stereotypes, there is at least a kernel of truth in many of them, so you will be able to find things that fit the profile), and determine how you will avoid these things. Then, think of things that disprove these stereotypes, and add them to your plan.
Oh, and finally, regardless of whether they bring it up, go when the weather is most likely to be nice. Florida humidity makes everyone cranky, which only exacerbates other complaints and makes them less likely to have a good time. There are no guarantees, but January-February and October-November are generally good months in this regard and in terms of crowds (just plan around any holidays that include school breaks, as those spike crowds).
Your Version of Fun Isn’t Their Version
A common mistake Disney fans make when trying to convince others to share their perspective is keying in on the things that made them passionate about Disney.
Everyone has their own preferences, and just because you really like something doesn’t mean they will really like it. If that were the case, you wouldn’t be in this predicament in the first place! There are justifiable reasons why people really like Disney, and there are justifiable reasons why people really dislike it.
Convincing someone who really dislikes Disney is not as simple as taking them to the parks and allowing them to suddenly see the light. In some cases, it will be that simple. A lot of people do arbitrarily dislike Disney and become converts once they let their guard down. However, this doesn’t describe everyone, or probably even the majority of people who dislike Disney.
Instead of just going to Walt Disney World and doing things your way because “how could anyone possibly dislike Walt Disney World once I’ve shown them the parks?!,” do things their way.
If they dislike thrill rides and the dark, skip Space Mountain. Even if it’s your favorite attraction and you don’t see how anyone could possibly dislike it. If they’re an outdoorsman who loves fishing, book a fishing excursion on Bay Lake. Even if you think fishing is gross and The Seas with Nemo and Friends is as close as you ever want to get to fish. If they love craft beer, do research and find out the best places serving craft beer on property, and take them to those spots.
Here is just a (very) partial list of things very different from “regular” Disney theme park offerings that appeal to targeted interests:
- Richard Petty Driving Experience
- Dolphins in Depth
- Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian
- Fishing Excursions on Bay Lake
- Watersports (para-sailing, wakeboarding, water skiing, and more)
- Miniature Golf
- Surfing Lessons
- Segway Tours
- Horseback Riding
- Cirque du Soliel
- Jogging/Running Trails
- Private/Event Dining
- Wild Africa Trek
- Carriage Rides
Again, you get the idea here. The great thing about Walt Disney World is that it’s so vast that it features a form of entertainment that will appeal to virtually anyone. Whatever your significant other’s interests are, chances are there is some way to cater to those interests at Walt Disney World. Even if you don’t know it yet, it’s there’s a good chance it that at least something exists. To find out what, plug in “[interest] + Disney World” into Google. If it exists, chances are some dork like me has blogged about it! Do plenty of research, and put together an itinerary that they will enjoy.
Don’t Overdo It
If you’re a hardcore Disney fan who reads Disney blogs like this one on a daily basis (my apologies!), you may think there is no such thing as too much Disney. I agree with you. We are in the very small minority. Let that sink in. This much enthusiasm for Disney is not normal. (Then again, most people lack this much awesomeness, but I digress…)
Your idea of a perfect Disney vacation might involve 7 consecutive days in the park, going commando from park opening until the very end of Extra Magic Hours every single night. In 99.9% of situations where you’re bringing the reluctant spouse, this kind of touring will not do you any favors if you’re trying to get them to come around from the dark side.
It’s going to vary from reluctant person to reluctant person, but we think a good rule of thumb is doing one day of activities outside of the parks for every day in the parks. Whether this means a strict on, off schedule or a hybrid vacation that takes you to Walt Disney World for 5 days followed by 5 days exploring in the Everglades or Daytona Beach, is up to you.
For this same reason, staying in a non-Disney hotel (there are excellent luxury options on Disney property, and other options off-site) to give them some “Disney downtime” might be pragmatic. You know your significant other better than us, so only you know whether this is really necessary.
No matter what you do, our overarching advice is to compromise and not force it. While we firmly believe that anyone can enjoy a Disney vacation, we also firmly believe that not everyone will enjoy a Disney vacation. There are a variety of reasons why not, and even the best laid plans may not make a difference.
At the very least, gauging the situation and following this advice as applicable will put you in a better position for success. They may never end up sharing your love for Disney, but maybe they will see why it appeals to you so much. That in itself is a small victory!
For Walt Disney World trip planning tips and comprehensive advice, make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide and related articles.
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While we’ve listed a lot of things suggestions for those trying to convince someone else to visit Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or some other destination–BUT, we’ve never had this problem ourselves. If you have, we’d love to hear suggestions you might have to offer, or your own “Reluctant Spouse” anecdotes. Even if you have no personal experience but have ideas for what might work, we’d love to hear them! If you have other comments or questions, please leave them in the comments!
I truly hate to be that person but this article could use some updating! The Richard Petty Driving Experience has been gone a few years, and the Sammy Duval water sports are recently gone since the man in charge retired! I’d hate to see one of these strike someone’s fancy only for them to be disappointed!
Several critical strategies facilitated my Disney tolerating DH to genuinely enjoy alternating an annual visit to WDW with a DCL cruise:
-Quality and fun dining and tour experiences
-Prioritizing his limited Disney interests
I pre-plan to the nth degree, maximizing Extra Magic Hours if staying on site and obtaining FastPasses to avoid long ride lines. I know that standing in line for a long time is torture for my DH and will turn him into a hater before we get on our first ride.
I exploit lunchtime table service meals as an opportunity to take a break from the crowds, heat, stimulation and stress, sitting down for a while while a nice server replenishes our cold beverages repeatedly. Standing in another line and fighting for a table, when lines and crowds have already worn down my DH’s resilience, will deplete his amiable goodwill towards Disney vacations. I’m all over Advance Dining Reservations so that our selections make logistical sense and are appealing.
When reasonable, I also link a table service meal to preferred seating and viewing areas for various events or reserve a special interest tour, especially one including a meal.
We already rely on table service meals to buffer our experience so, for us, this strategy gives us more bang for the buck. I have to remind myself when making these reservations that it’s not the meal or experience alone that we’re buying, but reduced stress and increased time resulting from avoiding crowds lines.
We schedule in down time, ideally in the afternoon, to return to our lodgings, decompress and maybe nap. I don’t lobby DH to become a park commando, something he will never be or enjoy. Consequently, when I was giddy over staying past MK closing time to experience “The Kiss Goodnight,” my DH was willing to wait on a bench (since he was wholly uninterested), until I was ready to return to hour hotel — and come back to WDW again.
I also try to slip in one fine dining and one themed dining experience in our Advance Dining Reservation strategy, to make our overall vacation dining experience more uniquely appealing. Most Disney dining is lackluster and we pursue value strategies as much as possible for many of our meals, except when the meal contributes to a larger goal.
This should go without saying, but my DH’s Disney interests are limited. Consequently, I ask him what attractions, restaurants, etc. he would enjoy and prioritize those things in my planning, while also trying new things that I think he would like.
I should mention that my being respectful of my DH’s lack of Disney fandom, combined with his own good nature, has facilitated my DH trying things he thought would dislike only to be pleasantly surprised. And, he was willing to go on a tour of the Walt Disney Studios and even to D23 with me — once. My next milestone will be our going to one of the overseas Disney parks, but that may be too much to ask of this dear man. 🙂
Our first trip to Disney was in January 2016. My partner was nervous at first-He was not sure if he would like the overall atmoshphere. I took charge of planning the trip. I booked the meal plan (which works better for him-as having a all inclusive vacation feel means he feels like he does not have to worry about money when we were there). I booked fast passes based on what he would like-and we really enjoyed things like the World Showcase and Carasol of Progress. Needless to say my partner loved it. At first-it was a once in a lifetime vacation for us-with focusing on other places in the future. But now it is one of our biggest vacation priorities. We have so much fun there. We went back in May 2017-and loved it. We will go from November-March for now on though-as Canadians May in Florida is way too hot for us. January was honestly the perfect temperature. Now we are planning a Disney Cruise in 2019, And Disneyland (and Southern California) in 2020. So yeah: Successfully converted my nervous partner to a Disney Fan who now collects pins, watches Disney related videos on youtube and wants to collect art books. Im happy that I get to share this with him. Now we just have to convince my sister in law.
My dad has worked as an electrician at an amusement park for 35 plus years. My husband and I want to take him to Disneyworld very badly bc we feel he would be blown away. His response is that he works in an amusement park, he doesn’t want to vacation at one. He doesn’t like crowds or lines. We are thinking beginning of September would be best. Are we crazy thinking he is going to love it when an amusement park has been his whole working life??
Right now, you can count me amongst those who are in the midst of planning a trip to WDW…and hating every minute of it.
Simply put, I am overwhelmed. From trying to decide where/how I/we want to eat a year or two from now, to where we want to stay, to what we want to do…it’s all ridiculous. It’s 8:36 p.m., and I have no idea what I’m going to eat tomorrow or where I’ll work (I can telecommute when I want or need to). I’m not even sure what I’ll wear if I do go into the office. I’m seriously supposed to make those kinds of plans more than a year out? Pffft.
Thru it all, I am trying to keep in mind that this trip is not for me – it’s for my walking, talking, tax deductions. That still takes zero pain or frustration out of the planning process. As a matter of fact, it probably makes it worse because I’m trying to be a good dad/husband and help my wife – the consummate vacation planner – get this thing off the ground. The fact that she is as overwhelmed as I am scares the living ish out of me.
Yeah yeah yeah…I know…”But there’s something for everyone at WDW.” From what I’ve been able to get thus far, a bed in an air conditioned room is what WDW has in store for me. As far as I’m concerned, my wife can take the kids and do whatever it is they want to ride/experience/hug/whatever. From everything I’ve managed to stomach about planning a WDW trip, I am amongst the less than 1% of the population who doesn’t “get” the WDW thing.
If you stay on the boardwalk side you will feel so adult, they have wonderful bars and restaurants and you can walk to Epcot (the countries side). The dolphin hotel is walking distance with nice bar.
If you look at it as how wonderful an operation it is, you will be amazed. Disney world is the size of San Francisco and has best golf courses there are! You can also rent a pontoon boot, waterski, fish, movie theatre, stay at pool, do a show at Disney springs which also has superb restaurants and shops!
I am trying to convince my brother and sister in law to go for my moms 80th this January and they are saying same thing as you! They have been when kids were little and think it’s just for kids because we did kids things there then! But I cannot explain enough there is such an adult side to Disney, and yes it truly is magical, and it’s OK to go feel good in the parks as well and let go! Honestly, there is more to do there than anyplace else. I have been on many vacations and this by far has become my favorite feel good place!
I hope you research and see and please go with an open mind or you will talk yourself into a lousy vacation! And your wife will be happy if your happy!
Thanks for the reply, Christine.
Unfortunately, your thoughtful response actually drives me a lot further away from actually wanting to do this. I’m not a drinker, so the bar scene isn’t a lure for me, and due to personal health reasons, I strictly limit the number of times I eat out so I can control things like sodium and carb intake. I’ve never been a golfer and have no use for the game, nor am I an outdoorsman who enjoys fishing or spending time on/in the water (pools included). I’m your stereotypical husband in that I despise shopping for “retail therapy” vs. needs. I’m not immune to it, but I can course correct those tendencies MUCH faster than my better half. This has been the source of many disagreements under my roof in our 13 years together in marriage.
Literally the most appealing item to me of those you shared is the movies/shows…and I have to seriously question the cost/benefit of that kind of entertainment…simply because it’s “Disney” branded. My suspicion is that you’re paying a premium for an experience you always knew you didn’t want.
Like I said – an air conditioned room & a bed are all that seemingly await me (assuming we ever get this planned)
Tom, I read your blog regularly and love all the bits of information I pick up along the way, but this one really stuck with me. I can totally identify with it. Right from when our first child was born, I declared to my husband that we would have to take him (and any further children) to Disney. We now have 3 kids and have planned our Disney trip for 2018. Six weeks of (mostly) Disney – Disneyland, WDW and Disney Cruise Line. A bit OTT perhaps but we live in NZ so if we’re going to fly to the other side of the world, may as well make it a good holiday.
Anyhoo, my husband has grudgingly agreed to the trip but I do have concerns about how he will enjoy it. He has never done Disney before, doesn’t like crowds. We live in a small town of about 1500 people. He is not an overly excitable sort of person. I know this sounds like a potential train wreck but I think taking on board some of your suggestions may well help him to have an amazing time. I think he will be blown away by the sheer size and scale of the Disney experience (and hopefully in a good way), and perhaps the kids can help spread some enthusiasm. Fingers crossed.
Anyway, thanks for the article and look forward to reading plenty more.
I don’t understand this article. There are people that don’t love Disney?!?!?
Great article, Tom – it’s generally spot on. One minor thing: my fiance and I are heading to WDW in July for our honeymoon (my 7th trip his 4th). We both love all things Disney and . . . we’re both academics in the UK! I totally get your point – our colleagues think we’re nuts! But rest assured – not all academics think Disney is awful(!)
By the way, great blog!
The idea of doing “other things” at Disney to “avoid Disney” does not make sense on a financial basis. Disney is already extremely expensive. While Disney offers these separate activities (horseback riding), they are not cheap. They cost significantly more than the off-site locations. Thus, I recommend they rent a car and take a day or two and visit off-site attractions.
Let the Disney novice plan some activities. You know what they like or dislike. Let them decide on some attractions.
This article is pretty awesome, but I need advice on how to get my guy to stay on property.
My guy is the over-saturated type, so sick of going to Disney World. He has family in Florida and they usually do a family day at Disney at least twice a year. Because of this, he thinks its kinda boring and done.
I, on the other hand, went for the first time in 15 years, stayed at a deluxe resort with four friends, and was completely absorbed by the Disney bubble.
Now, while he’s cool with going to Disney World this winter, he thinks that the Disney resorts are a “rip off” and we should just drive down there and stay with his family. I am having the world’s worst time explaining to him how amazing it is to stay on property and not have to get into a car to go anywhere. But, no, Disney tricked me into thinking I had a great time to steal all my hard earned money the last time according to him lol.
Has anyone ran into this problem before?
I should say that right now, I’m planning to stay at a moderate resort for this trip (not deluxe-even though they’re pretty cool, they’re a ton of money!)
I think your best option here would be to rent Disney Vacation Club points. If his primary hang-up is cost, you can show him there’s a way to get a great deal while still having a nice resort. Or, perhaps go during “Free Dining.” If that goes well, then you can ease into staying on property in general.
Here are our tips for renting DVC points: https://www.disneytouristblog.com/renting-disney-vacation-club-points/
I just got back from a Disney World adventure with my family and it was everything you’d hope for when experiencing a Disney vacation.
Case in point, here’s a little video I made: http://youtu.be/rgVX0Z_ppmQ
Im writing this from my Wilderness Lodge room while my family recovers from a nasty virus we picked up in the parks. We had to cancel our flights back to california and extend our stay till my daughters fever goes down. With the amount of money this trip has cost us compared to the other 9 trips over 15 years I would never convince anyone to come to any Disney park. We had a wonderful time while well,but have never delt with crowds like last week,even the locals said its crowded most of the time. We are certainly not getting the same value we did years ago and am thankful we are happy with three fast pass rides per day,but it is becoming less spontaneous and with magic bands dinner reservations you cant cancel at the last minute it makes you feel on a forced Disney march.The cast members all need a refresher on what it means to be a cast memeber of disney. It means you are part of a show and as good cast members know you are acting ,you may not feel like being kind and helpful but thats part of the job you were hired for.When I was younger I worked at Disneyland and that was the philosophy behind a cast role in the parks. With the prices you spend you expect curteous service with a smile. So will I come back yes but not with the same enthusiasm and never convince another to go, but would be happy to help anyone make the most of their plans. Both parks in ca and florida are slipping in areas from the past while other areas improve but bottom line,you can never know fo others what they feel the parks are worth, this trip will end up costing us close to 9 thousand dollars!