The Do's and Don'ts of Traveling to Walt Disney World with a Muggle

by Margie Binder, contributing writer

What's a Disney geek to do? We love our husbands, our wives... but we also love our Happy Place. Maybe you allowed "must willingly go to Walt Disney World with a smile every year" to be unchecked and married that person, anyway. We want to share our favorite vacation destination with our beloved without causing a rift, so here are some do's and don'ts for traveling to the Walt Disney World with that special "muggle"* in your life.


Consider these do's:

Do introduce the idea early

Introduce the concept of visiting Walt Disney World earlier in the marriage, and find out how often (or how many times) a trip to Walt Disney World can be done

The answer might be zero, but more likely, you will get an agreement of at least a trip or two. This commitment can change, but better to have an understanding early on than a battle every year.

Do plan other vacations

Plan other vacations with your spouse's needs in mind. Has there been a golf vacation on the wish list? Maybe a desire to visit a favorite relative 2,000 miles away? Figure out a way to make these things happen—with a smile—and you will have a more supportive partner for your Disney dreams.

Do plan specifically for your partner

Plan activities or meals specifically for your partner. This could be a favorite type of restaurant, a special activity with just one child, or a recreational activity outside the parks such as golf, horseback riding, or fishing. If you are traveling with children, use one of the childcare options available in Walt Disney World and plan a quiet date night.

Do offer to provide some alone time

The hyper-stimulating environment of Walt Disney World can exhaust the most ardent fan, but it can put a muggle over the edge. If you have not scheduled in alone or quiet time, watch for signs of Disney fatigue—cranky, tired, whiny—and encourage your muggle to spend the afternoon at the pool or to go take a nap, guilt-free.

Do leave your muggle home at times

Consider traveling to Walt Disney World on your own, or with one or more of your children. I have done this for the past five years with our three kids (12, 10, and 9) and it has been wonderful for everyone. I get my Disney fix, the trips are less expensive and easier to plan, the traveling child loves the one-on-one attention, and my husband is happy because he knows I am happy (and he probably gets to put in some guy time while we're away).


And then there are some don'ts:

Don't use guilt to motivate

Consciously or unconsciously, if you are telling your spouse, "If you loved me, you would be happy to go to Walt Disney World," you will guarantee a tension-filled trip and a foundation of resentment.

Don't run your spouse ragged

Accept that this will be a different trip than if you were traveling with someone who loves to get up early, ooh and aah at all the right moments, bask in the glow of all things Mickey, and happily collapse at the end of the day excited about doing it all over again in the morning. It's not going to happen, so plan accordingly by slowing down the pace, or making sure your spouse has time to slow down and relax.

Don't leave yourself out of the fun

While you make grand plans with everyone's needs and wants in mind, don't forget about yourself. Your spouse is not likely to enjoy the parks with your children while you go shopping, but you can certainly hang out at the pool, playground, or room for an hour or two so you can recharge. Just don't spring it on him. Give your spouse fair warning that you'd like a little time to yourself. If the bulk of the trip is planned with your family in mind, your brief excursion will most likely be supported.

Don't try to change your muggle

Try to avoid harboring a preconceived notion that your spouse will learn to love Walt Disney World. If it happens, great, but planning a trip with the hope that your work will be appreciated and the light bulb will go on in your spouse is not realistic. Plan the trip for the smiles it will bring to you and your loved ones, not because you secretly hope your spouse will come home ready to plan the next one.

Don't forget to be thankful

Sharing a trip to Walt Disney World with your loved ones is a great joy and often a dream come true. Ideally everyone in the family is on board with your love of Disney, but if not, don't despair. Use these do's and don'ts to communicate and compromise and your spouse may have more fun than he expects. Your primary objective should be the long term health of your marriage, not the short term fun of a vacation.

Perhaps the most important, I saved for last—start with gratitude. Gratitude that you have the means and opportunity to travel to one of the great destinations in the world and gratitude for all the non-Disney attributes you love about your spouse. And when you return home, express gratitude to your spouse for going outside his comfort zone and sharing the experience with you. Who knows? The next trip might not be as far away as you think.

[*Muggle – A word in the world of Harry Potter to describe an ordinary human, a "muggle" in this case can mean someone who doesn't believe in the magic.]



  1. By bluebayou

    The term muggle has to do with Harry Potter so I don't think it is applicable here especially since you do not mention the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal Orlando resort. Either acknowledge that Universal exists or don't use the terminology associated with it.

  2. By carolinakid

    I agree. I thought the use of the word muggle to describe someone who's not into Disney was stupid.

  3. By disnut8

    I disagree. I got the association right away. In fact, I practically spit out my drink because I thought the word was perfect for the non-magical Disney people. My mother-in-law LOVES Harry Potter but she's a Disney Muggle. So is my brother-in-law. Both will watch Harry Potter films over and over but they don't have that Disney magic. It's a Disney forum, of course the word "muggle" meant non-Disney people.

  4. By stu29573

    Yep, using "muggle" is fine. It gets the point across.

  5. By jms1969

    Don't quite get the ruckus over the use of the word "muggle", which conveys the idea of the article very well to a vast majority of people. As Disney fans, are we really that sensitive about Universal Studios, which has done WDW fans a great service by providing competition and pushing Disney to keep improving and expanding the parks instead of being content with what they have? I enjoy visiting Universal Studios and appreciate what they have, but this doesn't diminish in any way my love of WDW.

    Regarding the article itself, I think it makes some good suggestions. I'd add one more, partially based on the idea above. There's no reason a trip to Florida can't consist of some extended time at WDW and some time at other places that might appeal to others. If someone is into amusement/theme parks, but not Disney, there's nothing wrong with spending a couple days at the other area attractions (Universal Studios, LegoLand, etc.). If they are into science, it's only a short trip to Cape Canaveral, and an even shorter trip to Sea World (which combines science with an amusement park atmosphere). If they want to just relax on the beach, there are many choices within a couple hours of WDW. While I may sound like a Florida Tourism commercial, I think the sheer amount of different things to do in the area is one of the major reasons that I'd recommend an Orlando vacation to anyone, even if they were not Disney fans.

    Bottom line - despite the fact that many of us would prefer to stay in WDW for our whole vacation, there's nothing wrong with making a trip to WDW much more appealing for a "Muggle" by planning some days outside the park, and be sure to fully embrace the time spent together as a family. By planning a trip that meets everyone's interests, everyone is happy!

  6. By Roan Poulter

    Seriously? I thought the term Muggle was appropriate and a little tongue in cheek. Some of you need to get your sense of humor checked. It does bring up a good question though, what is the term for someone who doesn't love Disney? Surely we can't live in such denial, so as to believe that everyone is as enamored with the Magic Kingdom as ourselves? 'Non-Disney' seems too clinical, 'Mouse-Phobic', or maybe 'Grumptastic'. Anyway I appreciated the mixed metaphor; and will do my best to perpetuate it until someone comes up with something better. If you're a Lawyer for Universal's Wizarding World, sue me.

  7. By DwarfPlanet

    Yeah I figured Muggle was exactly the right term to differentiate between those who are into Disney magic and those who are not.

    Be glad you didn't talk about Marvel that really would have confused the Universal folks

  8. By tappenfeat

    I really loved this article!!! Muggle or no muggle really hit "home" and how I feel about annual Disney trips. The do's were what I actually accomplish and have traveled w/o spouse on some trips.

    The don'ts...very well written and I will keep them in the back of my mind.

    DH loves Disney, he's ok with an every so many years trip..I'll call him "Grump-a-lump-a" A term used lovingly. Hey, he has is baseball trips that I support with a smile.

  9. By stan4d_steph

    The term "Disney Muggle" has been used on this message board long before WWoHP was built or even conceived.

  10. By jcruise86

    Thank you for the thoughtful article!

    My wife had never been to a Disney park, so for our first date I took her to Disneyland. If she had hated it, it might have been a deal breaker. I try to hit restaurants in the parks she's likely to enjoy, and I respect her motion sickness.

    My kid and I have Disneyland AP's and my wife joins us via other deals 3 or 4 times a year, usually near a birthday, and we have one secret date there once a year. My daughter would freak if she learned we ever went without her.

    We're going to WDW for my 50th birthday, and we might take a Disney Cruise (my daughter's dream) to one of her favorite places (Alaska).

    The seven Harry Potter books are not Shakespeare, but they are classics, and I sometimes encounter surprising Harry Potter references in the mass media. Many of the best and brightest kids have been growing up reading H. Potter books. The last four are 734, 870, 652, and 759 pages long--that's a lot of Harry Potter passing through millions of minds.

    --Tom Sinsky

  11. By jcruise86

    P.S. Editing option closed. Typos: should be APs, not AP's, and "her favorite places" contains a pronoun without an antecedent. "[H]er" refers to my wife.

  12. Discuss this article on MousePad.