Disney World is the place to let go if you wanna become a kid again (yes, sometimes we get more excited about seeing Mickey than our kids do).
But, there are still a few rules that you have to follow in the parks! That means no running, no jumping out of ride vehicles, no stealing your siblings’ Dole Whips, and the like. (K, maybe we made up that last one, WE’RE ONLY HUMAN!)
While we all know the basic rules of theme park etiquette, there are still a LOT of things most people don’t realize you cannot do in Disney World anymore!
Don’t worry, though — we’re going to give you the run-down on some of the biggest things that you’ll have to skip doing in the parks!
Swim in the Disney Lakes
Years ago, guests were able to swim and spend days at the beach at Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon (beach day!!). Although many people enjoyed kicking back, relaxing, and splashing at the resorts, these areas were sectioned off and no-swimming signs were put up. Why you ask??
Well…because it’s downright dangerous to get too close to ANY natural waterway in central Florida. Disney does their best to control alligator populations but, at the end of the day, they’re in the middle of Florida swampland and mother nature wants to do what she wants to do. As long as the alligators are not in a guest-populated area, Disney can’t ensure total containment of them, hence prohibiting guests to swim in open waters.
There are also certain bacteria that could be dangerous or lethal if ingested (YIKES). One boy unfortunately contracted a fatal case of amoebic meningoencephalitis supposedly from the lake (Bay Lake) where Disney’s River Country used to be. While taking a dip in the lake and lagoon might seem like fun at the moment, Disney is just trying to do whatever it can to protect guests and employees.
Even though you can’t take a dip in Bay Lake or Seven Seas Lagoon, there are still SO many awesome pools at the resorts, water rides in the parks, and Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach to visit if you want to cool off in the Florida heat!
Who wouldn’t want to float in a lazy river, eating a Dole Whip?? OK, OK, you can’t do that either. Gotta eat your Dole Whip BEFORE hopping in!)
Smoke in the Disney Parks
The smoking policies in Disney World have seen some pretty major changes over the years. At one point, Disney switched to having designated smoking sections throughout the parks so people who smoked or vaped had a spot that wouldn’t affect other guests. However, they weren’t allowed to smoke anywhere else in the park.
But, in 2019, the Disney Parks changed their policy to a totally no-smoking environment while guests are in Disney World or Disneyland. However, there are still some places that guests can smoke during their visits!
The Disney Resorts and Disney Springs have smoking locations set aside for guests to use. Plus, you can also smoke in specific areas near the entrances to the parks.
Wear Masks…Well, Kind Of
Disney has actually had a mask policy for quite a while now. If you’re 14 or older, wearing any sort of face mask is actually prohibited. Younger children are able to wear them in Disney World, BUT the mask must provide unobstructed vision, the eyes should be fully seen, and the mask shouldn’t cover the whole face. (Though it seems like those Kylo Ren or Stormtrooper masks that don’t really fit the set guidelines are definitely tolerated, if not outright allowed!)
Older aged kids, teenagers, and adults are prohibited from wearing masks or full costumes on regular days in the park, BUT they CAN wear costumes in Disney World when they are attending special ticketed events, like Boo Bash After Hours! There are still restrictions to keep in mind about what costume pieces are allowed (Edna Mode is just really opposed to capes, you know).
However, Disney’s face mask policy has changed just a little bit in light of the current situation. Nope, you can’t sport that adult Darth Vader mask in the parks and call it “wearing a mask,” but they ARE allowing (and, in fact, REQUIRING) certain masks in the parks. In the name of health and safety, lower-face coverings are required for guests and employees while indoors and on transportation in the parks, and masks must cover guests’ mouths and noses completely.
So it may not be that full-face Halloween mask you were hoping for, but if you plan to visit Disney World soon, you’ll need to mask up for you and everyone in your family over the age of two!
See the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
Now, believe it or not — this is a question we get a LOT around the holidays. No, you cannot see the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights anymore (we’re still MEGA sad about this).
The 80,000 glowing lights in Hollywood Studios covered the Streets of America (which are also gone) and brought what seemed like all the Christmas cheer in the world into the park. The spectacular Christmas lights show would light up and strobe along with the holiday music. And, boy, was it COOL!!
Although Magic Kingdom was hosting Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party each year (the party has been replaced this year by Disney Very Merriest After Hours), the Osborne Family Lights were THE sight to see in Disney World during the holidays. They lasted from 1995 to 2016, bringing in guests from all over the world to watch them. Plus, the magic of snoap filling the air as you held hot chocolate and a gingerbread cookie really made you feel like you were walking in a Winter Wonderland.
Although Disney World switched their Hollywood Studios Christmas show to Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! in 2016, it was never the same.
While we can’t see them in person anymore (sigh), they will live in memory through our photos and the spectacular videos of the Osborne Family Lights you can watch online. We DID get Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in its place sooo, maybe it’s not SO bad??
Take Off Your Shoes
Unpredictable weather and unforeseen circumstances happen on your vacation — we totally get it. Sometimes your shoes break, your sneaks get waterlogged from Splash Mountain, or you keep sliding around in your flip flops on Main Street during torrential rain. But, taking off your shoes and walking around in your socks or barefoot is frowned upon in Disney World.
You will most likely not be allowed on rides or in stores or restaurants if you’re barefoot. Not to mention a Cast Member will probably ask you to put on a pair of shoes to be able to continue visiting the parks.
That’s why we think it’s a great idea to pack a pair of extra sandals in your backpack just in case of an emergency. Be sure to check the forecast before you visit to try and plan accordingly too! And, if worse comes to worst, you can always have another party member buy a pair of shoes for you in one of the gift shops.
Speaking of flip-flops, the one time you ARE allowed to take them off is during Soarin’ in EPCOT! You can leave them in the pouches underneath your seat or on the ground before you take off.
If you ask us, it can be strangely relaxing to have your legs dangling barefoot as you soar around the world!
Buuut, even with all the things you CAN’T do, there are even more ways you’re actually able to make wonderful memories with your family and friends in Disney World! (Yes, even when it’s pouring rain. 😉 ) We love Disney World for the stuff that it LETS us do, so the couple of things we can’t aren’t a big deal to us! Smoke outside the park limits, leave that full-head replica mask home, and enjoy yourself at the Disney World parks!
Want to see even MORE things you can’t do at Disney World? Watch our video below!
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Did you ever get to swim in the lakes or see the Osborne Family Lights? Let us know in the comments below!