Updated for 2016!
Did you realize that you can walk from 8 to 12 miles each and every day on a Disney World or Disneyland vacation? That, my dears, is a lot of walking, and many hard-core Disney park travelers walk more miles than that each day. If you have ever worn comfortable shoes that didn’t really match your outfit to a theme park, choosing function over high fashion, then you just might be a Cheapskate Princess.
Most Disney vacation veterans know to wear comfortable shoes during their trip. You’ve been there; you’ve walked that Mouse walk. But many first time visitors, and there are a lot of you out there planning your first Disney vacation right now, will try to dress nicely for the event rather than dressing for the battle. Battle? This is a vacation, right? Several days spent walking through Disney parks become miles upon miles of battling through aching legs, sore feet, and possibly even blisters.
The wrong shoes can cost you money and lost time having fun.
Here’s our Cheapskate Princess quick and easy tip to saving money in the Disney theme parks:
Wear the right shoes.
Disney is really not the place for a shoe store fashion show. Unless you are in the park for a dinner date or a show, dressed in a pretty dress, there is no need to wear high heels, except if you normally walk five, ten or fifteen miles a day in heels. Fashion models, while you may be OK in your Christian Louboutin six-inch fashion statements, the rest of us would be in real trouble.
This sounds like a joke, but it’s crazy to see the shoes people wear into the parks.
- Cheap Flop flops
- House shoes
- High heels
- Brand new shoes
- Bedroom slippers
- Crocks with no socks
Julie noticed the same thing. “I always find it entertaining to be sitting in a Disney park watching people walk by with super high heals on. So many people do it. The other clothing thing that cracks me up is pants and full make up in August. Those folks tend to wear heals too.”
The right shoes can make or break your vacation, and even then, your feet can still wind up exhausted.
Let’s see what our readers suggest for proper footwear, starting with an item on my crazy shoe list.
Sandra, “Oofos flip flops are the best and comfiest flips in the universe. I wore only my Oofos flips on a nine day WDW vacation last February, and my feet were in heaven (well, as close to heaven as is possible when walking 15+ miles a day). I used to wear Crocs flips for years, then tried the Oofos, and they are similar but MUCH more cushy on the feet, so a higher comfort level. I think they also have much better arch support than the Crocs. For me, Oofos are the perfect walking vacation footwear choice.”
Jennifer, “Once I discovered Crocs Capri flips flops on a trip several years ago when my feet could take no more of being confined in sneakers, I was walking on clouds! One of my feet does tend to swell due to an injury many years ago, so crocs flip flops are the best for my feet when doing a lot of walking. I prefer the Capri style for use walking around parks, shopping etc., and at home in the warm months when I go out. For in the resort room, pool side and at the water parks, I prefer the Athens version which is all plastic (or whatever that material is) even the strap over the top of the feet so if it gets wet, it dries very quickly. I don’t like to wear the Athens around the parks however, since in the heat the top plastic strap can start rubbing my skin too much after hours of wear. The Capri style does not rub my skin like that since the strap is suede.
Now when visiting in the really cold months (yes, it can get pretty chilly in Nov – Feb.) I prefer to wear regular crocs- the lined version, with socks on. These are not only comfortable but keep my feet toasty warm when it is cold out walking around all day.”
Shelby, “For this past trip I had gotten Chacos, which are meant for hiking, so I assumed they’d be good for walking around the parks. I refuse to wear tennis shoes, and I didn’t want to wear flip-flops so I went with them. I immediately regretted spending the money on them. My feet were constantly hurting, and I had huge blisters on my feet. Halfway through the vacation I ended up wearing my old navy flip-flops, and that was so much better.”
Melanie, “I have to say that I am a croc flip-flop wearing gal. Last Sept. I had worn tennis shoes for the first day or two, and my feet just got way too hot, so I switched to my croc flip-flops and haven’t looked back. Went again this Sept. and wore them the whole time, not one blister. Just mad I wasted the space in my suitcase for my tennis shoes.”
Bri, “I’m a WDW vet, and it’s Croc Flip-flops all the way. They’re the perfect on-your-feet-all-day must have.”
And then there’s rain…
Jan gave her two shoe cents, with a warning about those flops when t gets rainy. “You are soooo right about footwear! As a WDW traveler many times, (and going in just 15 days again!), let me also give a SHOUT OUT about footwear. I, too, wear flip-flops all the time. And, you’re right, your feet do get hot from tennis shoes and socks, so I opted for the flip-flops. Then it RAINED. Walking in those puddles (ugh), caused me to have the WORST BLISTERS I have ever had in my life! I could barely make it to the room with my family, and my grandkids were pulling on me and saying, ‘hurry up, GranJan!”’the whole time. I had taken a few band aids but they wouldn’t stay on. I was miserable the rest of the time since I hadn’t packed tennis shoes that time. When we leave in 2 weeks? YOU GUESSED IT! I’ll be wearing TENNIS SHOES. Because , just like here in Alabama, it rains almost EVERY AFTERNOON in late summer/fall in Orlando. So, fair warning: Rain and flip-flops don’t go together!”
Another reader encountered that issue. “The same thing happened to me! I LIVE in flip flops, and was fine in WDW until it rained. After the rain, I developed quarter sized blisters on the ball of both feet. It was miserable. I’m a Bama girl, too! Between Birmingham and Montgomery! I wanna be a Gulf Shores girl though 🙂 Just can’t talk the hubby into moving. Booo! Haha.”
Kathy says not to count out the Crocs just yet,” I have probably been to the parks 50 times in the past 10 years and have worn nothing but my Crocs (both regular and flip-flop style) without any blisters or tired feet. I’m not saying we’ve not been tired at the end of days – we wear a pedometer frequently and most days are in the 15 mile range – but that’s not because of feet problems. I agree that you should wear what is comfortable for you and what you have already broken in. My hubby, all four grandkids and I are Crocs all the way.”
Melanie also sports her Crocs, “I have to say that I am a Croc flip-flop wearing gal. Last Sept. I had worn tennis shoes for the first day or two, and my feet just got way too hot, so I switched to my Croc flip-flops and haven’t looked back. Went again this Sept. and wore them the whole time with not one blister. I was just mad I wasted the space in my suitcase for my tennis shoes.”
Some park go-ers are quite accustomed to walking in flip-flops and Crocks, but upwards of ten-miles a day? If you can’t comfortably walk five to ten miles each day in each pair of shoes you bring to wear in the parks, you could find yourself in the car (gas $) or a cab (fare $) finding the nearest mall to purchase more comfortable walking shoes (mucho $). Wasted time, wasted money, and now princess, you have blown your souvenir budget. So I’m not saying you should not ever wear flip-flops, because even I wear flops for short periods of time, especially in the mid-afternoon when I want a break from stuffy socks. But walkers beware of the cheap flops with little arch support.
Planning a quick trip to the park and then back to the hotel for a rest? Flip flops will be fine, but new shoes, heels, or any type of shoe that can rub or cause a blister over a long day of walking is just asking for trouble that can skyrocket the cost of your already expensive vacation.
Can your children comfortably walk upwards of five to ten miles a day in crocks with no socks, glittery princess shoes, or flip-flops? Picture yourself in the car, driving in an unfamiliar city, looking for a shoe store, when you could be riding a Doom Buggy in the Haunted Mansion, and you can visualize why you need to plan ahead.
Some type of athletic shoe worn with wicking socks, well broken in sandals, and a couple of band-aids just in case – these are the tools the Cheapskate Princess needs to survive the Disney park battle.
And ladies, you better get those guys dressed in the right footwear as well. You, the kids, the men…get those laces tightened up and head out for some fun.
Ellen agrees that you see a rainbow of footwear at Disney, “As an annual pass holder on and off for the past 20 years, I’ve seen it all and worn it all for footwear. I wear Sperry boat shoes a lot to the parks with no issues, and Keen sandals are awesome since I’m an anti-sock girl. If I’m going to be at the parks less than five hours, Clark’s flip-flops are fine. But each person’s feet are different. I hate to see small kids in flip-flops when their bodies are still developing and many times they are still struggling to walk. If you are bringing a stroller, maybe being a spare pair as a precaution.”
Marsha had a terrible experience at Disney with the wrong shoes. “I’m a seasoned Disney Fan-addict but, I went one year in a cute pair of Keds with Winnie-the-Pooh on the side. I ended up going home with a stress fracture in my foot. I was in a cast on bed rest for three weeks! My orthopedic doctor said Keds are one step up from a pair of slippers. Who knew?!”
And what about the teens in your group? Fourteen-year-old Caitlyn left us a comment about her Disney shoe experience.
“I always wear flip-flops at home. I live in south Mississippi so summer starts in April and stretches till November (give or take), so I only wear tennis shoes in the winter and then I don’t do that much hardcore walking. Most of the walking I do is in the summer in flip-flops. Our last trip to Disney was in February, and I knew it was probably going to be cold, so at my family’s advice I didn’t pack one single pair of flipflops. Our first day in Magic Kingdom, I came back to the hotel with five blisters on one foot and three on the other, simply because my feet were not used to walking long distances in tennis shoes. On the second day, I had major trouble walking and had to sit down frequently because my feet were killing me with blisters. That afternoon, my mom went down to the gift shop at our hotel (Polynesian that trip) and bought me some flip flops. My feet were fine for the rest of the trip. So even if flip flips or sandals aren’t the best walking shoes, if your feet aren’t used to walking in whatever your take, it’s still going to come around to bite you. My advice would be to try to start going walking in the shoes you plan on taking maybe a couple of months before to get your feet used to them before you go.”
And how right Caitlyn is, because sitting on a bench suffering with blisters is definitely not the best use of your Disney time, and time at Disney = money!
And if you have to stop your vacation to purchase new shoes…same deal. You could be enjoying a character meal for the cost of new shoes.
However, even the best shoes can cause blisters, so what can you do?
Kris offers this tip when blisters do develop, “Don’t bring band-aids for blisters; they can make them pop and hurt worse (more material to rub on.) Instead, bring moleskin and small scissors. I always bring this on any vacation with lots of walking (okay, yeah, mostly just Disney) and this has saved us!”
Elizabeth offers this tip, “Bandaid make a blister bandaid the work better than moleskin! They stay on for about three days and fall off on their own.”
Chris, “If you use one of the creams or sticks on the market to stop blisters, it really helps. Here in Mississippi we have high humidty and rain. My sandels are also water shoes and are really comfortable except for one spot that rubs if I wear them for a long time. These creams have stopped the rubbing.”
How many miles will you walk on a Disney vacation? We asked our readers how many miles they walked, and the answers may surprise you.
Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you on a bench, watching the four-inch heel wearers totter along on their way to a Disney fashion show!
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Amanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.
Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast.
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