Dealing with Disappointment at Disneyland

Disneyland can be a roller coaster of emotions (pun intended). You plan and prepare for this trip more than other destination and you want everything to be perfect. Reality: It won’t be perfect. Being thoroughly prepared is your best protection against disaster, but disappointments are inevitable.

Knowing how to deal with frustrations at the park helps. Here are some tips on how to prevent and deal with the disappointments:

Know About Ride Closures & Height Restrictions Before You Arrive

Disneyland is known for LONG refurbishments, however, they’re usually good about keeping the public up to date. Ride closures are planned out many months in advance.

Unless an attraction breaks down, you should know prior to your visit exactly which rides will be under refurbishment during your visit. Find those on my Refurbishment List, which will be updated as changes are made to the schedule.

You can also check the Disneyland website. Follow the instructions below for a quick look at your travel dates. Pin this on your Pinterest board for easy access:

rideclosures copy

Upon walking into the resort, just before bag check, you’ll find an updated list of that day’s ride closures. This will include all planned closures and any unexpected ones, too:


So, in theory, ride closures shouldn’t be a surprise to you during your visit. Plan ahead and know what to expect before you arrive. However, if your treasured attraction is closed down – as planned or due to unexpected issues – this can certainly be disappointing. Try to re-focus your group and either return to the attraction at a later time or re-route and find an alternate attraction.

For example, if the Tea Cups are broken down, try Alice in Wonderland. Or, if Snow White’s Scary Adventures is closed, try Mr Toad’s Wild Ride. While these attractions are not identical, the experiences are similar.

Researching which rides work for your group can help deter disappointment, too. Disneyland lists all height restrictions on its website. Know which rides your children will be able to enjoy prior to arriving so that you can prepare them for which ones they cannot. They’re isn’t much worse than watching a child line up to see if he’s tall enough and to learn that he’s not.

And, if you need a quick fix, review my picks for the Best of Disneyland and California Adventure. All of these attractions are good and can hopefully ease a disappointed kid.

Be Ready for the Crowds

Disneyland is crowded. You should know this going in. If you’re traveling during the summertime, expect the crowds to be at their heaviest. But, even at the busiest times, your visit can be successful.

Review my post, What to Do When Disneyland is Crowded, and bookmark it on your phone so that you can use it at the park. I’ve included a map that shows low wait times at both parks, too.

DLR Busy Line Map copy

DCA Busy Line Map

If the parks are too busy for your liking – specifically mid-day when the heat is at its peak – leave the park. Explore Downtown Disney or go back to your hotel for a swim. Don’t feel obligated to spend every second in the park.

Set the Example

So often, our children’s attitudes are direct mimics of our own. I’m guilty of melting down in Disneyland when my kids were misbehaving. The result? More meltdowns.

Try to keep your cool when things don’t go your way. Keep perspective and make the best of your situation by focusing on the positive. Any day at Disneyland is better than a day at work!

And, even though you planned the entire trip….researched air fare, found the hotel and more….do what you can to keep everyone’s spirits up. You know what works for your crew. Set the example with a positive attitude and go the extra mile to keep kids happy.

Rallying little ones when they’re upset is part of the deal. For mine, it was the Ergo that saved the day. My kids loved being carried. At age two three four. Don’t judge me.


Ask a Cast Member

If you simply cannot find a solution for your disappointment, ask a Cast Member for help. Perhaps they have info on the attraction you’re interested in. Or, maybe they’ll be able to point you in the right direction for whatever your goals are.

For extreme situations, visit City Hall and ask for help. Disney wants your experience to be a great one.

Disneyland Cast Members go above and beyond normal customer service. They impress me every time I visit.


Know the Art of Re-Direction

Recently, I took my daughter to see Elsa of the Frozen fame at the meet-n-greet in Fantasyland. We arrived prior to opening and I sent my teenager through the park to stand in line immediately to cut down on wait time. My daughter had woken up singing “Let It Go” and was decked out in her new Elsa dress. I created custom shoes for the occasion and bought the cape, too. We were READY for Elsa.

Upon arrival to the Frozen house, we learned Elsa wasn’t there and wouldn’t be there at all that day. My first reaction was, “Where’s the back up Elsa? How is this even possible? Give me the dress. I’ll do it!” After a few minutes of panic, I kept my cool and re-directed the situation with the best of my ability. I told my daughter that this was actually the perfect set up because now SHE could be Elsa and meet her sister Anna! She was decked out just like Elsa. It all made sense.

My daughter was disappointed, but kept her composure, too. And, while I was busy giving myself a big pat on the back, I realized that Disney did an even better job of re-directing the situation. Anna went on and on about how she couldn’t wait to tell her sister about the dress she saw on my daughter and that Elsa would adore seeing the photos taken. Bravo, Disney, bravo. It worked like a charm.


My most popular post yet describes mistakes I made while planning and visiting Disneyland. Take a look at that post to learn from my mistakes, including how I expected everyone to be happy all of the time. It’s simply not realistic and you’ll be disappointed if you have the same expectations I did.

So, in summary. You will experience a range of emotions at the happiest place on earth. I hope so much the good outweigh the bad and that you can turn around any disappointments.

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