10 Things Dads Need to Know for Disney
Updated: Apr 13
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Have fun at Walt Disney World in 2022
My family got to enjoy Walt Disney World early in 2022. I wanted to share some tips I picked up with my fellow dads to help you get ready for your big trip. Going to Disney World is almost a part-time job, so this guide will help you through some of the questions.
Make sure to download my free checklist, A Dad’s Guide to Packing for Disney. I hope this will help you get everything ready to enjoy your stay at the parks!
Note: I can’t take full credit for this information, the awesome Secure Mom did all of these things for our trip and it was a lot of fun! So I’m passing it on to you in one easy-to-read article.
1) Disney in a Pandemic
Disney's face covering policy has changed since I visited in February of this year. It is now optional. However, I expect that it could go back to a mandatory at any time. I will leave my thoughts on masks below.
This year was the first time I’d visited Disney since COVID became a thing. While it has changed how the parks work and what you can do, in the long run, it’s not that big a deal.
When you are outside, you don’t have to wear a mask. But inside every store, bathroom, and ride you’ll be required to wear one. And if you walk more than 12 inches into an interior space a cast member will gladly remind you to wear one.
I suggest you put your mask on a lanyard. This way when not in use, it simply hangs down from your neck, out of the way. This also makes it much harder to lose in all of the stuff you are carrying around in the parks already.
There are hand sanitizer stations located all around the parks, but they run out frequently. So pack plenty of your own sanitizer and wet wipes for the whole family. It never hurts to pop into a bathroom and wash your hands before you eat, too.
Disney will attract thousands of people during your stay and they’re touching everything you touch. So practice good hygiene not only to avoid COVID but the common cold as well. You don’t want a cold to slow down your fun.
Also during COVID, you won’t see characters walking in crowds or have meet and greets anymore. You will see some characters appear behind ropes and atop attractions to wave at you, but that’s about it.
2) Magic Bands Getting Lost
MagicBands are a pretty cool part of going to Disney World. These RF devices and nestled into a stylish band that you wear on your wrist. The bands do everything from let you into the park to opening your hotel room door. Plus, you use them for Lightening Lanes and purchasing. MagicBands really is the key to having a fun time at the parks.
But what happens if you lose a MagicBand?
A few years back, my wife accidentally lost her MagicBand on the first day at the parks. As soon as we realized there was a problem, we went to guest services where we got a new band and deactivated the lost one. So just like losing a credit card, you can shut them off and get them replaced rather easily.
This year as we pulled into one of the parks my son announced that he left his MagicBand at the hotel. Without any hesitation, my wife knew exactly what to do. If you have an Apple Watch you can load the Disney app to it and use your watch as a MagicBand.
Since my wife was the administrator of our son’s account, she was able to load his profile onto her watch and save the day. She’d scan herself into the park with her MagicBand and then tap her Apple Watch to get my son into the park and onto any Lightning Lanes we used. Using the app on the Apple Watch is a great backup plan that every family should use!
Disney Bonus Tip #1: Amazon will deliver to the main office of your Disney Resort, often offering same-day shipping.
3) Rent a Stroller
If you have a child 6 or under, I highly recommend you rent a stroller. Yes, your kids can walk. Yes, walking is free. BUT kids have shorter legs, less stamina and cry much louder than you do. So a stroller is a great way to let your young ones rest while you move through the parks.
On our last trip, we walked 33 miles. No joke, 33 miles. Can your kindergartener do that? I didn’t think so. My son was very happy to get a stroller. I was a little worried that he might think it was too babyish for him, but he really enjoyed having it.
I can’t tell you how many red-faced crying little ones I saw being drug through the park by the hand. Put your kid in a stroller and they are out of the sun and have a mobile place to nap. Don’t worry about where to park the stroller because there are stroller lots all over the place with attendants.
Do not rent a stroller from Disney. Those strollers are cheap and you’ll regret it. Rent from an outside vendor. We rented from Kingdom Strollers. What was great about Kingdom Strollers is that they delivered the stroller to the bellman’s desk at our Disney resort. And when we were done, we turned it in there too. No need to ever leave Disney to get it. No need to waste space in your car to bring one with you. It was well worth the money.
4) The New Genie+ “Experience”
In October of 2021, Disney rolled out a new app that would help guests navigate and enjoy the park. It’s called Genie+. While this was a welcomed announcement for Disney fans, the app and the motive behind it are not fan-friendly.
If you were a master of the FastPass+ system at Disney then you’re going to find it hard to use this new app. Now you have to be up at 7 am to book your day, you can’t book in advance, you can only book one Genie+ ride at a time and now you have to pay to use Individual Lightning Lanes for some of the most popular rides at the parks.
As an example, my family paid $45 to ride Rise of the Resistance to skip the 2-hour line in the park. Oh and I forget to mention that you have to pay $15 per day to use all of the wonderful extras that Genie+ has to offer.
In short, Genie+ is ruining Disney World.
I hope they will work out the bugs in the system, but we found it to be frustrating to use. The app froze frequently, purchased Lightning Lanes were dropped and refunded with no explanation, and wait times seemed to be inflated.
While Genie+ was sold to us as a new way to enjoy the park, in reality, it’s a way to get more money from families who have already purchased tickets and try to influence the crowds to go where they want. Unfortunately, you can’t really go to the park without the app, so we’ve just got to deal with it for now.
5) Dad Gear
Okay, so that is quite a list up there. What are you going to carry it all in? Enter the High Speed Daddy Tactical Diaper Bag. Yep, I carried this bad boy around Disney for 5 days and 33 miles and it was awesome. Read my full review on it. Do not discount the value of a well-made, easy-to-carry backpack while you visit Disney. So, dads, you can spend a little on dad gear getting ready for the big trip.
6) The Skyliner and Disney Transportation
One of the most fun elements of Disney World is all the different ways you can get around to the parks. There are buses, monorails, steamboats, smaller boats, and the brand new Disney Skyliner.
If you’ve not had the chance to ride it yet, I highly recommend Disney's cable gondola system. These are easy to use and provide you with a smooth, relaxing ride to and from the parks. They feel very safe and offer you a quick way to avoid driving to the parks.
I recommend you stay at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort because the Skyliner hub is located there. From that central hub, you can get to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. The ride to Hollywood Studios from the Caribbean Beach hub is less than 5 minutes. You can also get to Disney’s Rivera, Pop Century, and Art of Animation resorts from the Skyliner, too.
The Skyliner makes getting around Disney easy and fun. On a typical ride, you can experience a slow down or even a stoppage. We experienced both and were back moving in less than 5 minutes. There is a story of guests being stuck on the system for an hour, but we didn’t experience anything like that.
One day the line to EPOCT was down so we were unable to use it. In this case, Disney adds extra busses to cover the Skyliner line. So we walked a short distance to a bus stop and boarded a bus to EPCOT and were on our way.
Overall, the Skyliner is a great way to get around. Even if you’re not staying at a resort on the line, still hop on and ride it around just for fun.
Disney Bonus Tip #2: Maximise your experience by using all of Disney including Resort dining like Sabastian’s Bistro at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.
7) Buy Gifts in Advance
The Secure Mom found a great plan online that talked about giving your kids gifts for every day you’re on vacation. The catch is that these gifts are purchased in advance and come from Target or a dollar store.
This can save you some serious dough. You can curb your child’s appetite for expensive park stuffed animals if you give them a stuffed animal from Amazon the morning before you leave for the park. We did this and it worked great when our son was younger.
I must warn you that you will give in when you see your child rush over to a stuffed Tigger, begin to love it unconditionally, and give you those pitiful eyes. I can’t help you there, man.
8) Out of Order
One continually frustrating part of our most recent trip to Disney was that rides are breaking down. We experienced rides not being open at Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT.
We were also on rides that experienced stoppages like Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story Mania, It’s a Small World, and Pirates of the Caribbean. While we were never in andy danger, I did feel like my life was coming to an end while we were stuck on It’s a Small World.
I’m not sure if Disney has increased its threshold for closing rides, or parts are harder to find, but everyday rides were closed. If you’ve done your best to make a schedule on Genie+ and the ride is closed, then it messes up your day. Especially if you paid for an Individual Lightning Lane for a major ride like Rise of the Resistance.
But Disney will refund you your money, you just have to stand in line at guest services. And there is no lightning lane for that.
9) Disney Security
When you go to the parks you will have to go through a metal detector. While this may seem like a slowdown, Disney is allowing you to speed things up. If you’re carrying in a bag (which you should) place all of your metal objects into a Ziploc bag.
When you pass through the metal detector, security will allow you to hold the Ziploc bag out in front of you and walk-in. Most of the time that worked for me. Only once or twice did security even ask to see my Ziploc bag up close. I did get flagged to be searched once, but it was no big deal. Everyone was nice and I went on about my day.
Disney has some great procedures and technology protecting their guests and employees so don’t worry while you’re in the park. Bags are searched first by Disney security. They have cute little Mickey badges. But behind them are some real Orange County Sheriff’s Deputies.
Disney has a no weapons policy. They are very vague about what constitutes a weapon. Obviously, this means concealed carry guns, cannons, or brass knuckles. In the past, you could carry a small Swiss Army Knife inside, but I wouldn’t risk that now.
You don’t always need to have a physical weapon to be safe, especially at Disney. If you practice situational awareness and have good self-defense skills, then you’ll be just fine.
10) Home Security
Being that this is The Secure Dad I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about family and home security. When you plan your trip, don’t post it on social media. Also before you go, avoid sharing pictures of your MagicBands when they arrive in the mail. And as always, don’t share pictures in front of Cinderella's Castle unless you actually live in Cinderella's Castle.
Posting vacation pictures while you are away is sure to catch some unwanted attention. I know you’re excited, but thieves are just as excited when they know you’re not home. You can post all the pictures you want once you have returned home. For more on this, check out my book Home Security: The Secure Dad's Guide.
I suggest you select family members for texting photos. When we were gone, I was able to burn up some of my excitement by sending my parents pictures. My parents knew we were gone and didn’t share any of the photos. But it was fun to keep them in the loop and pick what pictures to send them every day.
I hope you have a fantastic trip to Disney. While I did talk about some negative aspects that could happen on your trip, I want to be honest with you and help you to have a great experience.