I admit it.  Not only am I a Disney geek, but I’m kind of a real life geek, too.  So, it should come as no surprise that I have done all of the things mentioned here and had a great time doing ‘em!  So, embrace your inner geek and start planning.

1. Wear Matching Outfits

Or at least shirts.  I’ll catch an occasional groan or raised eyebrow, but the family indulges me at least one day per trip in this nerdy tradition.  A great gal I went to high school with makes some of the most popular tie-dye tees around the Disney community, so that’s often our team uniform for the day.  Not only is it extremely easy to spot each other, but we always get a fun reaction from characters and cast members.  Geeking it up in matching tees also shows cast members you’re ready to have a good time and aren’t afraid to show it, which can result in getting chosen for special things in shows, games, etc.  Not to mention it looks nice in pictures when everyone is coordinated.


Get Park Wise: Not geeky enough to pull this off?  Consider coordinating colors, don your home team’s logo or have everyone choose a favorite character tee to wear instead.  It won’t be the exact same effect, but you’ll be one step closer to letting that inner nerd shine.

2. Wear Crazy Disney Hats

No, ball caps don’t count!  Buy some ears and Mickey up!  It’s classic.  It’s tradition.  Just do it!!  If Mickey ears don’t appeal to you, consider a goofy Goofy hat, a sparkling Minnie ears headband or partner up and go with Chip and Dale toppers.  Yes, you’ll look silly, but so will the other ten thousand people running around with cartoon animals on their heads.  Disney is no place to be self-conscious, so pick your favorite lid, and wear it with pride!


3. Participate

If Cinderella engages you in a conversation about your Prince Charming, don’t brush her off.  If her step-sisters ask if you’re eligible, give them an emphatic yes and enjoy the result.  When the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party rolls down Main Street, don’t play it cool.  Let the music move you and shake your bootie!


No one remembers “that one time at Disney when mom was perfectly dignified.”   You’re not going to see most of the people around you again, so who cares if you look like a total dork?  Give into the fun and let loose.  Those are the moments we remember (and hopefully someone catches on film for blackmail later)!

And pose like a dork when the photog asks. We’ve been laughing about this picture since October. We’re looking at…nothing!

How do you geek out at Disney?

  • I have a soft spot in my heart for Mickey Ear hats. My prized hats are from the Disneyland 50th anniversary (also the day I first met Fishbulb) and my Club 33 Ears. I always play along with the characters on the rare opportunity that I just run into them in the parks. The are always uniformly wonderful.

    But I draw the line at matching outfits. Oh, wait, we do that every Gumball Rally. Never mind. I love the matching outfit thing when done with a sense of fun. Though, I’ve seen some families who just end up looking sort of creepy. 😉

    • Aww! So sweet, Dusty! And, yes, the matching can look sort of creepy at times, but as long as the creepers are enjoying themselves. 😉

  • DobbysCloset

    If being a geek means having fun and lettlng the inner child shine through, we need more geeks in the world. You are lovable, Jessica, and so is your family.

    As a solo park visitor I have never had the chance to wear a matching outfit but when I visit with Dobby, I plan to dress us up in style He already has ears, and quite expressive ones. When I wear my VoluntEar hat in the house the dogs react as if I’ve alerted them to something important. It is precious to me because I earned it rather than bought it.

    However, for Disneyland, I have a battered old Safari Hat that I made ride-proof by adding an adjustable cord that can be tightened. One doesn’t want to lose one’s hat along with one’s cookies.

    • You’re too kind! And we’ll most definitely need to see pictures of you guys all decked out in Disney!

  • amyuilani

    People can only make fun of you if you give them permission, right? By embracing it, you’re having fun with yourselves, instead of being made fun of. I love it. I think people should embrace their inner kiddiness and dorkiness. Most of us are not likely to do it because we care too much about what other people think. When we look back at the moments and memories we missed out on because we allowed ourselves to be overtaken by what someone else thought, we have to wonder if it was worth it. I don’t think you’ll have that problem. Kudos to you for living in the moment and milking it for all it’s worth.

    • CCS

      Very well put! And Amen to it. And as an admirer of Eleanor Franklin, your paraphrasing of her famous quote is well taken.

    • Absolutely!! Believe me, I do have those moments where my inner grown-up says “You look totally ridiculous!!” Luckily my inner child is a lot louder. Really, though, if you can’t dork it up at Disney, where can you?

  • Hank McCoy

    Totally agree on the shirts point. On our last trip, Christmas 2012, the whole family went, with my brother and sister and their families with my mom. So there were 16 of us, on one of the days, we all were shirts that my wife had made. They were basic gray T-shirts each with a Disney Cat painted on the front, in theme with the person that wore them. (My brother, for example is a banker, so he got Prince John). It was so much fun and we got several comments from cast members, which of course made my wife’s already awesome Disney Day even better.

    • As the geek organizer, I totally know how your wife felt! Way to go to everyone for playing along!

  • StevenW

    Those are not the geekiest things to do.

    1. Wear a lanyard with the full adornment of Disney pins. Don’t forget to bring your binders full of pins to trade and especially to show off to strangers for no apparent reason.

    2. Matching shirts or clothing isn’t queeky enough. You have to wear matching Disney vintage shirts. You can’t buy them off-the-rack. They must be special event shirts or even better if they are expensive polo shirts. Add matching Disney jackets, which are best if employee purchased.

    3. While in line, do a fun Disney trivia game. Show off your Disney knowledge. No one knows Disney as much as you do.

    4. Go a Disney parade. Be extra prepared in the front of the curb. Show people that you’re the master. Show off your Disney blanket, your Disney snacks, you Disney drink cups, your Disney hats, and your Disney outfits.

  • BradyNBradleysMom

    Oh, this column gave me the giggles. You really outdid yourself (again!) Jessica. I don’t know how you come up with such silliness. Boy is it appreciated on this cold day, though.

    What I like about you and your family, as you share it in these columns, is how you really know how to let loose and have fun. That’s so incredible to me. I try to be like that, but I get timid in public. I don’t like people looking at me. I see pictures of you dressed like Snow White and I wish I could do that. Right now I am heavy, though, and I would feel people would make fun of me. I wish I could be like you and have my husband and boys dress up like characters and we could go out in the parks in costumes like you do (not actual costumes, but like how you had the clothes that looked like Snow White without being really Snow White).

    I am going to try to do things more “Jessica Ma’ilo Style” in 2014. You are a real inspiration for me and I want our family vacations to start being as fun as yours seem. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us. You help more families than you will ever know.

    • What Would Jessica Do (WWJD). A lot of folks would be happier if they lived that way. We adore Jessica and think she’s an amazing example of a fan doing things the right way to enjoy the parks for many years to come.

    • You’re too sweet!! I know it’s easier said than done, girl, but just do it! I’m obviously no skinny Minnie (see what I did there?), and I don’t give it a second thought. If people make fun of you for having a blast and enjoying a great time with your family, they’re the ones with the problem. Please don’t ever hold back on fun with your family because of what someone might or might not be thinking.

  • Amy VandenBoogert

    I have a small collection of Mickey ear hats, but I usually never wear them in the parks. I do have a couple pairs I’ve blinged out in rhinestones that I’ve worn a few times (and people ALWAYS stop me to ask where I got them, then are floored when I tell them I made them myself), but they’re kind of heavy and I’m always worrying about rhinestones falling off, so I don’t wear them much.

    I’ll be the first to admit I am a total DORK when it comes to the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! street party (or as I like to call it, “The parade that’s not a parade”). I know the dance the performers do as they come out of the parade gates by heart and will do it along with them from my spot on the curb. So many times I get asked if I’m a cast member on my day off. Nope… just a bog old DORK! 😉

    • I’ve been contemplating the rhinestones! I saw some cute ones on Pinterest, but I don’t know if I have the patience. Haha!!
      I might or might not know a few of the moves myself. 😉 Something about that parade gets me going, though. I don’t know what it is, but I can’t help it!!