Even the most Magical Place on Earth has rules!
If you’ve ever browsed the list of Disney World’s rules and policies, you would probably spot several unsurprising additions — for example, weapons are prohibited, as are illegal substances. But what about some of the more unexpected rules?? Let’s take a look at eight of Disney World’s weirdest rules…and why they exist!
No Costumes for Guests Age 14 and Up
Yes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…but you may want to leave your Cinderella costume at home! Disney’s official rules state that costumes may not be worn in the theme parks, water parks, or ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex by guests ages 14 or older.
There are some exceptions to this policy — during select after-hours events including Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and the Villains After Hours events, all guests are allowed to wear costumes that follow Disney’s guidelines.
No masks, replica weapons (lightsabers and toy swords are considered acceptable under normal circumstances), or long, dragging materials are allowed for the safety of the guests (Disney specifies this includes princess dresses). Capes may not be longer than waist length.
These limits also apply to any costumes for kiddos 13 and under, who are allowed to wear costumes outside of special events! The exception is children MAY wear certain costume masks as long as their eyes are clearly visible and vision isn’t obstructed.
In 2020, Disney also allowed guests to wear costumes in Magic Kingdom all Halloween season, since the parties were canceled. And we saw some seriously awesome guest costumes this year!
This leads us to the “why” behind this rule — Disney doesn’t want guests to mistake other guests in costume for actual characters. It can be an easy mistake to make, especially for the kiddos. But seriously, some INCREDIBLE costumes could even fool us, adults! Can you believe this isn’t the real Belle in that gorgeous gown??
If a child runs up to Belle for a photo, Disney wants to be able to ensure it’s the real Belle, not Susan from Oklahoma who bought a slammin’ costume online. That can be confusing for a guest, especially in the current times where protective masks and social distancing is required. A rogue Belle or Cinderella could pose a serious health and safety concern if guests insist on approaching.
Some costume limits come down to safety concerns (like tripping or costume parts hitting other guests inadvertently), while others help Disney preserve the magic. Besides, glass slippers DO NOT sound like comfortable park shoes anyway!
No Balloons Allowed in Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Balloons are one of the iconic souvenirs associated with Disney World. And they’re allowed in the other three theme parks, so why not Disney’s Animal Kingdom??
Balloons aren’t sold in Animal Kingdom and guests aren’t even allowed to bring in balloons that they bought elsewhere. This is for the safety of the animals that live in the park. If a balloon were to float off and land in an animal’s habitat, it would present a serious choking hazard.
Balloons are also prohibited at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge for the safety of the animals that live on the savanna.
Guests are also not allowed to bring balloons to the water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, or the NBA Experience, since they could present a safety hazard to other guests as well.
If a guest is unaware of these no-balloon zones and they try to bring one in from another location, Cast Members can hold the balloon at the front of the park or in the baggage area of the hotel.
No Food or Drinks Around the Characters
This is a good rule to keep in mind whenever character meet-and-greets possibly return. When guests approach a character for a picture, they’ll be asked to put down any food or drinks that they’re holding.
There are several reasons for this rule. The first (and maybe most obvious) is to prevent guests from spilling food or drinks on the characters. Elsa can’t be meeting guests with a coffee stain on her gown, right?? That’s a tough save with a dress THAT white!
But there’s another reason behind the policy as well. Disney doesn’t want it to look like the characters are promoting any particular products. If you’re holding a bottle of Coca Cola or a bag of Lay’s Potato Chips, it might look like the character is “endorsing” a specific brand.
To keep the character’s image clean, both literally and figuratively, guests also can’t be photographed with characters while wearing clothing with lewd language or images.
In most cases, guests wearing clothing with inappropriate messages will be stopped at the park entrance and asked to either flip their clothing inside out or cover it up. But Cast Members working as character attendants also keep a sharp eye out for anything that might have slipped by!
Characters Can’t Help You Propose
While we’re on the subject of character meet-and-greets, let’s talk proposals. The characters can’t hold engagement rings, posters, balloons, etc. So if you’re planning to pop the question in Disney World, you’ll have to do it without the help of Mickey!
If a guest does try to propose in front of a character, they will quickly move out of the way so they aren’t part of the action. Disney doesn’t allow characters to be involved in proposals (or other major life announcements). If it doesn’t work out, Mickey or Minnie would be a part of a possibly awkward photo memory! There are certainly times that guests have been quick and managed to get a character in their special moment, but the policy is for characters to politely step aside.
And FYI, characters also can’t hold babies or children (or…any guests for that matter), but this one is strictly grounded in safety. So don’t try to hand the kiddos off for a photo or jump into Gaston’s arms, no matter how strong they look.
No Climbing on the Scenery
Climbing on rocks, statues, walls, etc. presents an obvious safety hazard to the guests. Plus, it could damage the set pieces that Cast Members work tirelessly to maintain.
But what makes this rule weird is that some places that are pretty obviously NOT meant for climbing do have warning signs that specify “no climbing.”
Unfortunately, in some cases, signs had to be added after a guest did attempt to climb an object. Case in point — the pyramid in EPCOT’s Mexico Pavilion had a “no climbing” sign added several years ago after a guest attempted to scale it.
Other unauthorized climbing instances in recent years include a group of guests attempting to climb the Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom and a guest hopping on stage at Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress.
There are plenty of awesome attractions at Disney World, there’s no need to create our own by scaling the scenery!
No Clothes Hanging From the Hotel Balcony
This is one of the rules that we do see guests breaking semi-frequently. Disney World’s policy states that hanging any clothing, towels, bedding, or similar objects over or on balconies at a Disney World hotel is prohibited.
This is another rule that has several reasons behind it. First, Disney can’t be responsible for guests’ property, and they won’t be able to assist if items are lost.
Plus, any items that fall from balconies could present a safety hazard to those on the ground. This provides another notable hazard at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, where items could blow into an animal’s habitat and create a choking hazard.
In addition to the concerns for safety and loss of property, this rule could also tie into aesthetics. Disney works hard to create an immersive atmosphere at each of the hotels, and items hanging from the balcony can impact the stage that they’ve meticulously set for their guests.
Next time you want to let those ponchos dry out or bathing suit drip dry, hang them somewhere inside your room!
No Selfie Sticks
Disney World is a prime place for photos, so some guests might be caught off guard to find that selfie sticks are prohibited from the parks.
Selfie sticks can actually present a pretty serious safety hazard. Just imagine if a guest were to pull one out on a ride like Expedition Everest!
Even outside of the attractions, selfie sticks can be dangerous to guests navigating the parks. People could easily overlook a long, skinny stick protruding out into the walkway and end up strolling right into an outstretched selfie stick.
Not to mention, selfie sticks also present a distraction to the person using them. A guest operating a selfie stick is likely to be less observant of their surroundings, and they could injure themselves in addition to other guests!
No Photos Backstage
Since Disney World is designed to provide guests with a fully immersive show, anywhere behind the scenes is referred to as “backstage.” And Disney doesn’t allow photos to be taken in backstage areas!
This rule most commonly applies to Cast Members, since many jobs require at least some amount of work in backstage areas. But there are instances where guests can find themselves backstage. And in those cases, this rule absolutely applies to them as well!
Guests are able to get a peek backstage as part of many of the VIP tours offered around Disney World. Plus, guests are occasionally routed backstage during special events, when rides are evacuated, or when an attraction queue is diverted. But even when they are able to step behind the curtain, Disney still doesn’t allow guests to take photos of backstage areas not normally intended for view!
Backstage photos are prohibited to help Disney preserve the magic of the parks. Since these areas aren’t normally supposed to be seen by guests, they’re home to plenty of not-so-magical things like undecorated space, set pieces that are out of commission for repair, pallets of food and merchandise waiting to be stocked, janitorial supplies, etc.
Save that space on your camera roll for plenty of pretty pictures on-stage in the Disney parks. Because even if you happen to be routed backstage, your camera’s gotta stay off!
Disney World has a solid list of rules and policies aimed at ensuring everyone stays safe and the Disney magic still sparkles. Even the most obscure rules have a reason behind them. So leave your selfie sticks and glass slippers at home…and please don’t try to climb the attractions!