What Shoes Should You Wear to Disney World?

Written by Jessica Ma'ilo. Posted in Disney Parks, Features, Park Wise

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Published on March 13, 2014 at 3:00 am with 46 Comments

Nothing can make or break a long day in the parks faster than your chosen pair of kicks. After all, Cinderella is proof that the right pair of shoes makes all the difference.

First, let’s take a moment to realize just how much torture our feet are in for during a typical park day. Popular theory suggests that the average Disney Park visitor will log 8-10 miles per day in the parks. So, for this article’s sake, let’s pretend you’re an average park goer who will be on your feet most of the day. That’s 8-10 miles mostly in the sun and on hot, hard concrete. Good for walking off those Mickey waffles, not so nice to your tootsies. Now, once you get where you’re going, chances are there’s a line. I don’t know about you, but it’s almost worse on my feet to stand still on a hard surface for an extended period. All that taken into consideration, if you make the right footwear choice, you’ll be sitting (or standing) pretty!

What shoes should you wear to Disney World? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

Tennis Shoes

This seems to be one of the most popular options around the parks and for good reason. A good tennis shoe has a great fit, is supportive and may even offer a little cushion. There is one caveat, though, to this universal pleaser. Please, please, please make sure you’ve worn them around town for a while before you debut them at Disney. Nothing like a long day traipsing around the Magic Kingdom in shoes that, it turns out, are about a half an inch too narrow (or wide or short or long). Break ‘em in before you break ‘em out! This, of course, goes for all types of shoes you may be considering taking on your Disney vacation.

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Get Park Wise: Even if your tennis shoes fit like a dream and make you feel like you’re walking on clouds, a splash through the briar patch or a tour of Kali River can soak your socks and make you miserable in an instant. If you choose the tennis shoe route, consider packing an extra pair of socks or flip-flops if you’re planning on water rides.

Flip-Flops

Maybe you want a breezier option on a summer day. Flip-flops are a very tempting option – easy to put on, lightweight and, not gonna lie, I kinda love that fact that we’re usually asked to leave them on the ground at Soarin’ and float through the California skylines barefoot. Of course, that’s also why I only sit on the top row. Feet just aren’t a pretty visual. But back on track here. While it can be easy to don your shower shoes to the parks, be aware that they’re not typically the best option. I will admit that some flip-flops are great (in fact, I have a couple of pair of Crocs and Nike flip-flops that have been very kind to me in the Florida heat), but they do offer less support than a tennis shoe. Additionally, flip-flops can be a slippery mess should you get caught in an extended afternoon downpour. That said, I have had happy feet with a mix of flip-flops and tennis shoes over the course of a week.

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All-Terrain Sandals

Full transparency: Although I’ve tried these on, I’ve never made the commitment to them, so I’m going solely on the opinions of my expert panel. These seem to offer the best of both worlds boasting both a breezy, breathable structure of a sandal while offering the support and stability of a tennis shoe. I couldn’t get over the fact that they looked like my little mouseketeer’s toddler shoes, but if you’re not as silly as I am, these may be a contender for your trip wardrobe.

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Crocs

You know these were coming. I see them all over the parks and even for sale in the gift shops. I’ll admit to having a couple pair of flip-flops from the popular brand, but I’ve never been able to completely throw fashion to the wind and buy the clogs. I’ve tried them on, and, yes, they were ridiculously comfy, but I just couldn’t do it. Again, relying on my expert shoe panel, Crocs can get a little slippery, as well, so if you choose these be sure to step carefully after your run through Grizzly River. The comfort and breathability apparently make these rubber-like shoes a nice choice for the parks if you can get over the aesthetics.

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Get Park Wise: If you’re sporting Crocs or flip-flops in the parks, don’t forget to slap some sunscreen on the tops of your feet. I’ve seen some fantastically hilarious tan “lines” on Croc-clad feet, so make sure you protect that skin, too.

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What’s your footwear of choice when it’s time to stroll the parks?

About Jessica Ma'ilo

Jessica is a special education teacher by day and blogger and Fairy Godmother Travel agent by evening. When not supervising play dates or sleepovers, she can be found creating, sewing or singing. She loves hitting the Disney Parks, and she and her family escape to the World and Land as often as they can. She can be contacted at [email protected], and you can also check out her family blog, Magic, Memories, Mayhem.

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  • tgdiver

    Keen sandals all the way! I have arthritis, so my feet are extremely sensitive. I’ve gotten to the point where even running shoes are too restrictive, but my Keens are great. Nice and wide, good arch support, and they are year-round (yeah, I wear them with socks when it’s cold, ok?). Totally agree: whatever you wear, make sure they’re broken in first. And ladies, heels may look fine on the dance floor, but they look stupid as all getout in a theme park. Sorry.

    • KENfromOC

      I had something similar to Keen on our 2005 trip to WDW when it would rain every afternoon – for me they were horrible as I did not wear socks and got huge blisters from the inner seams. Wet feet and blisters! They may or may not have been Keens, but they looked exactly the same. I ended up buying cheap Mickey flip flops and wore those !

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      I have to laugh when I see heels in the parks, too. I have a friend who always wears a small heel because of some foot issues, but it’s definitely interesting to see a pair of stilettos making their way through the parks, especially on uneven or cobblestone/brick surfaces (hello, Main Street USA). If you can do it without complaining, though, more power to ya!

  • Shark Bait

    Usually I wear Toms to the park. They’re lightweight, not super uncomfortable when wet, and have some padding. When it’s especially hot (and when I know my pedicure looks nice), I wear my Rainbow flip flops. When it’s cooler and I’m wearing yoga pants, I wear my cute Nike running shoes.

    What all three have in common is that I’m used to standing/walking around in them for hours at a time, so I’m not sacrificing comfort for fashion, or the other way around.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Toms were another shoe I was wondering if I’d see come up here in the comments. I know I’ve seen them marching through the parks quite a bit.

  • Mr. Disney

    For my last trip to Disney World, I was fine with classic TOMS, Sperry Top-Siders and a pair of nice flip-flops that I could carry around on a small backpack and used when the rain got heavy, and I was fine.

    Crocs and Nike’s were never an option (I’m not a fan of those…) . You should do a “How to Dress for the Parks in style Column!” :)

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Style is just so subjective, so it’s really up to each person to decide what works for them.

  • Murrie567

    I love my teva sandals for when I got to Disneyland! I wear flipflops pretty much all the time, but I reized they were terrible on my feet in the parks. I really don’t like sneakers, so they are the perfect compromise. Comfortable, but I dont get that nasty squishy shoe feeling I do after riding water rides in sneakers.

    • snookers

      I am in the Teva camp as well. My last summer trip to WDW I did not even bother packing another pair of shoes (risky, I know). The pair I use (Teva Dozer model) have a closed toe cover (to protect from those stroller wheels) but don’t lose their grip when wet. The extra arch support keeps my feet from being sore and the open design keeps them from getting uncomfortable in the Florida heat and humidity.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Great suggestion!

  • Stormy

    I’ve got a Daisy Duck foot, wide toes, narrow heels. I’ve tried on a zillion different types & brands of park shoes & have come down to UnderArmour flip-flops for sunny days and Merrell walking shoes for cold days.

    I always make sure to put sunscreen on my feet when I wear the flip flops, although I admit to a slight, permanent tan line since I pretty much live in flips most of the year.

    For days when I wear the Merrells, I spray antiperspirant on my feet. I always wear ‘Smart Wool’ sox, either light or heavy ones. Yes, wool, even on a warm day. Smart Wools really breathe and wick the moisture away.

    Someone somewhere recommended changing shoes mid-day. Great idea!

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      You guys are cracking me up with your character feet. :) I have that near-permanent tan line, too, but mine is mostly because my tan never fades. I’ve just now lost last summer’s tan line…just in time for spring! Haha!

  • Tinkbelle

    I wear flip flops! Or at least when the weather is warm/hot. Wearing closed toe shoes around the parks just makes me hot and my feet get sweaty and feel like they are suffocating. I also can’t stand riding a water ride and getting my tennis shoes wet – that makes for a very uncomfortable rest of the day – and I don’t want to bring along a change of shoes. I have a very comfortable pair of flip flops by Reef called Stargazers. They are stylish and soft under my feet. I can do a full 2 or 3 days in them without discomfort.
    In colder weather I’ll wear Sketcher Mary Janes (but these sometimes bug me because the velcro straps tend to come undone every so often), or my Nikes, or my cozy boots if it is a very chilly day. I’m up for better solutions for cold weather, but my Stargazers are staying.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      I’m a flip-flop fan, too. I’ve played with Reefs but never actually bought them. I may have to try out a pair.

  • CCS

    Aw, come on. Don’t tell me there’s nobody else out there teetering through the parks on five-inch stilettos and wearing micro-miniskirts!! (tongue firmly in cheek). Seriously, I don’t know how those women do it. They must love the attention they draw. I’ll stick to tennies and socks, thanks.