At the end of a day at Walt Disney World do you feel like your feet have been sprinkled with pixie dust, or shoved into a too-small glass slipper? Whether you find yourself dealing with blisters, chafing, or just aches and pains, foot problems make what should be a literal walk in the park(s) feel more like a death march. Walking between attractions, standing in long lines, and speed walking to make your Fast Pass + reservations can put some serious wear on your feet. As a victim of foot issues myself (including plantar fasciitis and an under-pronated gait) I’ve gathered some top tips for surviving Walt Disney World with your feet in good working order.
- Going barefoot was right for Rapunzel, but you need to wear good shoes. This specifically excludes flip flops, which typically have no arch support. Also leave the cute ballet flats at home along with the (do I have to say it?) high heels. As much as I love Chuck Taylors, unless they have inserts for arch support they are not a good choice either. No matter how fashionable your other footwear may be, this is the time for super comfortable athletic shoes. I favor running shoes with orthotic inserts for maximum arch support and cushioning, but there are also great options designed for walking and crosstraining. Make sure your shoes fit well and have enough room to accommodate swollen feet. While you don’t want to wear decrepit shoes with no support, this is also not the time to break in a brand new pair that may chafe in new and exciting ways. Take the time to find the right shoes for your walking-intensive trip and give them a trial run before your vacation.
- Don’t think that hot weather means you should skip socks. Good socks are just as important as good shoes. Avoid cotton, which sops up sweat and stays wet against your skin – a recipe for chafing and blisters. Go for socks made of a dry –fit or wicking material, available in the sports sections of most big box stores. If you have access to a specialty running store check out their selection.
- Before you put on your shoes and socks, wrap foot pressure spots with moleskin or duct tape. Moleskin bandages are readily available at drug stores and protect vulnerable skin from rubbing. Apply them strategically to the areas you know are friction-prone. Duct tape is a cheap way to get the same effect. You might have some funky adhesive stuck to your skin at the end of the day, but it’s a small price to pay for staying blister-free. Some people like anti-chafing balms like Body Glide or powders like Gold Bond, although these are not my preferred solutions.
- Carry a package of Second Skin. This two-part bandage system consists of a sheet of moist gel and an adhesive cover that binds the gel to skin. You can find Second Skin at outdoors stores, some sports stores, and online. Apply Second Skin at the first sign of hot spots or blisters for hours of cool, cushiony relief.
- Take strategic breaks. At Disney World it can be tempting to pack every minute with attractions and excitement, but even ten minutes off your feet will have a big impact on your foot endurance. Grab a Citrus Swirl and rest for a moment. It’s also smart to alternate standing-intensive attractions or attractions with long lines with attractions that allow you to sit for several minutes (in Epcot, the absolute best place to do this is the “Impressions de France” theater). If you have the luxury of staying several days at Walt Disney World, intersperse some rest days between park days. Rest days are a great time to enjoy resort amenities, do water activities (try renting a little boat!), or have leisurely meals.
- Give your feet some TLC. The second you walk into your hotel room at the end of a day at WDW, kick off your shoes, peel off your socks and Moleskin, and assess the state of your feet. Note any raw areas or new blisters that will need to be wrapped in Second Skin the next day. Then give your feet a soak in the bathtub and put them up for a while.
This may seem like a lot of foot maintenance, but it’s worth it. You don’t want to waste any of your Disney vacation in agony or limping behind the rest of your group, so take the time to take care of your feet throughout your trip. Follow these tips and you’ll be as light on your feet as a dancing hippo.