Besides figuratively getting “lost” in Disney, which I’m strongly in favor of….. if this is either your first visit to a Disney park or you have an internal compass (like me) that gets a little fooey sometimes, Disney parks can be overwhelming in size. Don’t let it deter you! Instead, allow Mouseketrips to help! There are many options on how to find your bearings in Disney both before and during your vacation. Here are a few tips on how to “find yourself” in Disney:
Go onto any one of Disney’s online sites at disneyworld.com or disneyland.com before your trip and get familiar with each park you’ll be visiting. Both sites have maps galore which you can explore and print out ahead of time. If your vacation is not a surprise, do this with your travel companions (and especially kids). This is a great way to build excitement with them for your upcoming trip, and help them recognize where the Lost and Found areas are in each park!
Have a smartphone?? Get an app!
Before your vacation begins, find a smartphone app that offers maps and wait times. You don’t need to spend a dime to do this! Apps can be a little iffy sometimes, so stick to a free app. If you’re traveling to Walt Disney World, add the My Disney Experience app to your smartphone. It’s free and offered directly from Disney, you can even link all of your reservation information (if your a resort hotel guest) to the app or online at startyourdisneyexperience.com. Then you’ll be able to have all of your reservation information, resort, dining and FastPass+ selections right at your fingertips!
Disney does offer free WiFi in all of their theme parks, so you should be access your smartphone data anywhere in the parks. However, don’t be surprised if your phone gets a little “glitchy” from time to time. It’s not always super reliable.
During Your Trip
Paper Park Maps!
Besides your smartphone app, when you arrive at each park there will be plenty of opportunities to find and grab a paper park map. These are available as you enter the park (in multiple different languages) and at most cash registers throughout the park. You’ll want to grab both a map and a schedule of events brochure, this will tell you exactly when shows, parades and fireworks are happening (this is also available on the My Disney Experience smartphone app), so it’s a great resource to have! Plus, a paper map never gets “glitchy.”
Ask A Cast Member!
Wait……what’s a Cast Member? A Cast Member is Disney’s official name for their employees. All Cast Members will be wearing a badge and are more than happy to help answer questions or point (with 2 fingers) you in the right direction. Some Cast Members may even be carrying park maps with them, so never be timid in asking a Cast Member for help! That’s what they’re there for!
Another great tip……if you’re travelling with children, when you arrive introduce them to a Cast Member. Show them what their badges look like, and let them know if they (God forbid) ever get separated from you, to find a Cast Member right away! Cast Members are extremely trained in what to do if a child is lost. If you yourself, cannot find your child, immediately report your missing child to the closest Cast Member so they can alert other Cast Members to be on the lookout for your child.
Find A Landmark!
If you have a hard time remembering which section (or “land”) of the park you’re in, find 1 landmark in each land to memorize. This will help you when you decide to take a stroll in Frontierland then somehow end up in Fantasyland. “What just happened here…..??” And when all else fails……..each of Disney’s theme parks in Walt Disney World and Disneyland have one main landmark that symbolizes that park and most are centrally located (kind of) in the middle of the park. These are:
Walt Disney World:
- Magic Kingdom park – Cinderella’s Castle
- EPCOT – “the big golf ball” or Spaceship Earth
- Animal Kingdom park – Tree of Life
- Hollywood Studios park – Sorcerer Hat (soon to be removed)
- Disneyland park – Sleeping Beauty’s Castle
- Disney California Adventure park – “grizzly bear mountain” or Grizzly River Run
If you’re an adult, sometimes it’s actually kind of fun to get lost in the Disney parks! Wandering around the parks is probably one of my favorite activities! Not only is it great “people watching” but it’s also (in my opinion) the BEST way to get to know the parks. There are so many amazing details that Disney adds to it’s parks that get easily missed in the hustle and bustle of a Disney vacation. Sometimes just slowing down to take it all in can really cement in your mind where everything is located, and not only that, but you get to really immerse yourself in the Disney experience. “Getting lost” can have it’s advantages too!
Happy “losing yourself” my friends!