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Disney Downers, Party-Poopers, and Scrooges: How To Get Them To See The Light of Disney

by Jennifer Marx, Author of PassPorter Travel Guides

Does your dear husband roll his eyes when you talk about your upcoming vacation? Do your kids hound you to stop reading the PassPorter Boards so they can use the computer? Are your co-workers ready to relocate your desk to the storeroom so they don't have to hear another word about The Mouse?

You're not alone. Many planners find it challenging to get their family and friends into the spirit of organizing a great vacation at Walt Disney World. Those who seem most reluctant to plan usually have misconceptions about Walt Disney World. We're sure many of you have heard these excuses before:

"What will I do there for five days? It's just Disney World."
"We don't have kids and I don't like roller coasters. Why bother?"
"It's all for little kids. There's nothing for me to do."
"It's too expensive. We can't afford it for four more years."
"This is your vacation. You're the Disney expert. You decide."

You know and we know that there is something for everyone at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Perhaps you've even mentioned this to your family or friends. Maybe you showed them pictures, maps, and videos. But as the old proverb goes, "Tell me, I'll forget. Show me, I may remember. Involve me and I'll understand." It's time you involved your family and friends in planning that perfect Walt Disney World vacation! We offer these tips and tricks for converting all your skeptics, grouches, and martyrs.

You may enjoy hunting down the names of all the snack carts at the Magic Kingdom, but it's a good bet no one else in your party does. Can your family and friends find answers to their questions easily? (No, being available to answer their questions doesn't count.) Put out all your Disney guidebooks, guidemaps, brochures, and videos where folks can get to them easily. Sneak a few into the bathroom. If you share a computer, make a list of favorite Disney Web site links in your browser, or even set your start page to

"My husband did not even know there was more than one park at Walt Disney World 'til I clued him in!" -- DisneyDoll

You love Disney, but what do your family and friends love? Golf? Shopping? Sunbathing? Scuba diving? You'll get a different reaction to "Honey, we're spending a week at Walt Disney World!" than you'll get to "Honey, you can shop 'til you drop!" Find out what turns them on, then turn them on to doing it at Walt Disney World.

"Think about what he loves to do for leisure, and then find the Walt Disney World versions of those things. Golf lover? Four fabulous championship golf courses in Walt Disney World and a dozen more in the Orlando area. Thrill rides? Plenty of them in Disney and Universal. Night life? Pleasure Island and Universal Citywalk, not to mention plenty of places in Orlando. Shows or theater? More in WDW than you can shake a stick at, plus a half-dozen or more great dinner theaters just off Disney property. Sports lover? Disney's Wide World of Sport complex. NASCAR? Richard Petty driving experience, and there's a NASCAR Cafe outside the Universal parks. See, it's all in the marketing. Walt Disney World has something that appeals to everyone; all you have to do is emphasize the parts that appeal to your hubbies and they will start to show a little more enthusiasm." -- WillCAD

Smiley Face Over the Magic Kingdom
Smiley Face Over the Magic Kingdom

Sit each person down with a guidebook, map, or web site and instruct them to make a list of anything that sounds fun. Be careful to match the individual with the information. Got kids? Try a copy of Birnbaum's Walt Disney World for Kids, by Kids. Teens may feel more at home on a web site. And we hear from our readers that reluctant spouses enjoy PassPorter guidebooks for their concise information. Once you've got their ideas, you've got them involved.


Almost everyone is familiar with Disney's characters, even if they haven't been to Walt Disney World. Ask each person to choose his or her favorite Disney character, and then together you can find ways to incorporate that character into your vacation. A Belle fan may enjoy a visit to Fairytale Garden at Magic Kingdom, while a Martin Short fan (hey, he's a character!) will get a kick out of "O Canada" at Epcot. Encourage your kids (or kids at heart) to make their own autograph books featuring their favorite characters and those of their family and friends.

If worries about money are keeping your companions from getting excited, make a special effort to budget and save money. If appropriate, let them know about the great deals you're finding... it could go a long way towards relieving their stress.

"I think a lot of men especially worry about the cost and it makes it hard for them to get excited." -- mrsmaup

Speaking of characters, wouldn't your kids love to get mail from their favorite Disney character? If they still believe in Santa Claus, they'll have no problems becoming pen pals with a giant mouse or princess (and you'll have a ball playing that mouse or princess). Just find some appropriate greeting cards or stationary and send a letter to your child, signed by the character. Encourage your child to respond and share his or her trip plans. Even older kids may appreciate a "see you soon!" card from their character before their trip. E-mail works too, especially if you can create an e-mail address with the character's name in it (how about or

It's hard for most people to think about a vacation until it's almost upon them. To encourage advance planning, set out a suitcase or box in a central location and have everyone add some things they'd like to bring along. It's a daily reminder of the upcoming trip, plus it's fun to see what gets put into the suitcase. We know some families that start a "Disney Chest" as soon as they decide on a trip, tossing in everything from pocket change and Disney Dollars to books and magazines they want to read.

Have everyone pick one eatery or the first attraction of the day, and appoint them as hosts of their respective events. Encourage them to learn something fun about the attraction (or restaurant) that they can share with the group. Who knows? Once they have "ownership" of a small piece of their vacation they may be eager to plan an entire day (or evening) on their own.

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Schedule a weekly planning meeting with the whole family or group. Watch a Disney video, crank out some Disney tunes, or play a Disney game to get in the mood, and then gather around the table to discuss your vacation plans. Spread out the maps, open your guidebooks, and attack one small part of your itinerary. Keep it short, keep it light, and wind things up before everyone gets antsy.

"This summer I thought what the heck I'll order the Disney video since we started talking about taking a trip to warmer climes in January-February. I got the video and one Friday when there was nothing on TV and he was too tired to protest I popped it in. His eyes perked up when he saw Epcot and Animal Kingdom and with the golf preview too. 'Well,' he said 'Okay let's take a look at this and see what it is about.'" -- Charlie

The Secret Mickey game is a great way to involve all the members of a large group and put them in a giving mood. Here's how it works: Put everyone's name into a hat and let each person take turns drawing a name, becoming a "Secret Mickey" to the person whose name they've drawn. Their job? To find ways to make their secret buddy's vacation a little brighter with magical notes or small gifts, without giving away their identities. Hold a Secret Mickey Party at the end of your vacation and have each person guess the identity of their Secret Mickey.

Make sure your plans are accessible to everyone at all times. Use the computer to e-mail itineraries, or create a Web site. Put up notes on a bulletin board or refrigerator door. Use a PassPorter to record your plans and keep it in the living room or near the phone. Encourage everyone to comment on the plans and make suggestions -- put a feedback form on a Web site, a sheet of paper on a bulletin board, or a page flag on the PassPorter's Notes page.

"I'm the planner for most of our trips (Disney and otherwise). And it's not 'cause I'm more organized.... 'cause I'm not. I just love planning vacations. My wife is more than content to let me go crazy with it 'cause she's got veto power on everything... doh!" -- Matt

So you've tried all the tips on your unsuspecting spouse and just don't feel like you've made an impression. Never fear. Disney weaves its' magic in subtle and imaginative ways. Chances are very good your reluctant companion will have a ball at Walt Disney World!

"My dear husband never acts excited about an upcoming trip. Then when we get there he tends to not want to ride the rides and wants to wander off and take pictures.  Then when the trip is over, he tells me he had a great time and it was the best trip yet. Some people just have different ways of expressing happiness." -- MinnieMary

Of course, you can probably plan your vacation all on your own. But when you involve your companions, you're not just getting a helping hand or a little less grief -- you're helping to make their vacations that much more magical. And just think -- all these little tricks and tips you use today may become the grand traditions and stories of tomorrow's trips.

"My husband was never into planning vacations either. He didn't fully appreciate Disney until we were on other vacations then he realized not every hotel has a snack bar and restaurant in it. He'd listen to my kids say 'Oh it was okay, but it wasn't Disney.' And 'When are we going back to Disney?' I finally told him to face the fact that Disney World is the ultimate vacation spot as it has everything you could want or need while on vacation. I guess he agrees because he agreed last month to purchase points in the Disney Vacation Club! I still can't believe it! And he actually is requesting me to make priority seatings at some of his favorite restaurants for our upcoming trip. And the biggest shock... I caught him reading my PASSPORTER!!!" -- gymnuts

About the Author: Jennifer Marx is the co-author of many PassPorter travel guides, including the bestselling, award-winning PassPorter's Walt Disney World guidebook.

What Do You Think? Discuss It Here:
Is Anyone Married to a "Disney Downer"?

This article appeared in our November 26, 2003 newsletter and was updated on February 23, 2008 -- subscribe to our popular newsletter today for free!


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Updated 02/23/2008 

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