Keep Your Feet Happy at WDW

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On my recent trip I really did a number on my feet. I tried to wear cute rather than functional shoes and I paid the price with huge (and I mean huge) blisters. Have you done this before? Or maybe you are a Disney newbie wondering what would be the best kind of footwear for your trip? Well, I’m here this week to offer some advice on keeping your feet happy during a Disney trip! Not only will I talk about proper footwear, but I’ll suggest some tried and true blister prevention techniques! So, let’s get started shall we?

The biggest piece of advice I can give is to wear great shoes. For me the term “great shoes” is usually associated with really high heels, but when it comes to Disney it means sneakers. While I normally hate wearing gym sneakers or running shoes when I’m not working out, I make an exception for Disney trips. They provide the most support for the miles and miles I walk each day and generally keep me blister free.

I made the mistake of swapping out my gym sneakers for cute sneakers on my December trip. I didn’t last a full day before the rubbing became too much to handle. When I got to my room and took them off I discovered I had given myself enormous, nasty blisters in the name of fashion. I see people wearing these sorts of shoes all of the time in the park and thought I could handle it, but boy was I wrong! I wound up limping around the parks for the rest of the trip due to my failed shoe experiment. Don’t make the same mistake I did!

I also see folks wearing flip flops around the parks which I never quite understood. Now don’t get me wrong I love flip flops just as much as the next girl, but I don’t think I could handle wearing them in the Disney parks. Their thin sole offers very little support when you’re hauling yourself around all day. The average guest walks several miles each day (it is over a mile just around World Showcase) and without the proper support your whole body may ache.

Now that we’ve discussed shoes, let’s not forget socks. Wearing decent, cushy socks can really help you stay comfortable all day long. I have many friends who are runners and they like to wear their running socks in the parks! I am not a runner so I don’t go that far, but I do like to wear a nice pair that will absorb sweat and keep my feet dry and happy. Don’t cheap out on your socks!

Proper shoe selection isn’t the only step you can take to ensure comfort during your trip. There area few products out there that us WDW veterans swear by so I thought I’d share them with you.  I typically wrap both of my pinky toes in band-aids every day when I’m at WDW. This tends to be a trouble spot for me so I find providing a bit of extra protection usually keeps blisters at bay. Sometimes, I will also put them on my heels to decrease friction there too. Moleskin provides similar protection where ever you might apply it. Friction Block is another favorite among some of my Disney commando friends. This stick is rubbed on the skin much like a stick of deodorant would be to prevent rubbing and friction from your shoes. Body Glide can be used in a similar way to avoid blisters while you’re trekking through Epcot or the Studios.

Using these products may feel like you are preparing for battle rather than a day in the parks, but as they say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You don’t want to be like me buying a sewing kit from at the resort so you can pop your unbelievably large blisters (I wouldn’t normally, but I was desperate). Nor do you want to find yourself hobbling around the Magic Kingdom grumbling under your breath about having to walk all the way up Main Street. Take care of your feet and you will be on your way to having a great trip!

If you do wind up with foot problems the first aid offices in each park will be happy to help you. Consult a park map to find one in your respective park where they are eager to provide band-aids and other basic treatments. I’ve had to pay a visit to these offices on a few occasions and they’ve always been nothing but helpful and nice. Don’t be shy! They see people with seemingly silly injuries all of the time.

How about you? What are some of your tips for keeping your feet happy while touring Walt Disney World? Let me know in the comments!

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Posted on January 11, 2012

33 Responses to “Keep Your Feet Happy at WDW”

  • ‘If you do wind up with foot problems the first aid offices in each park will be happy to help you.’
    I wanted to second how nice they are at the First Aid places! I walked in to ask where we could buy some Tylenol since one of my girls came up with a headache right before we were about to get in the long Fantasmic line for the night. They had it there, gave her some, checked her out and sent us on our way. I really appreciated not having to run back to the resort!

    I’m all about using the moleskin. It works!

  • i have the opposite experience. because i rarely wear tennis shoes in my daily life, wearing them for an all day outing at Disney makes me miserable. i find that i am much more comfortable and able to get around just fine the whole week when i wear my birkenstock sandals.

    • As a software professional since the ’70s, I find it hard to leave my Birkenstocks behind when touring. I take two pair, and wear them on alternate days. Giving your Birks a day of rest makes them last almost forever, too. Oh, and I average 6-7 miles a day in the parks.

  • I think the key is shoes with good support and ventilation. For me it’s a pair of quality running shoes and socks. With those I’ve never had the slightest foot problem even in the middle of August.

  • Whether Disneyland or any park, I might wear flip flops to one or sneakers to another BUT what I do do is pack Tylenol or Advil!! Because no matter what shoes, my legs hurt after all the walking. And also I pack Tums, and Gas-x ;) because you never know!

  • I agree, great shoes are a must. I love flip flops and am one of those crazy people that you see in the parks flopping along. I have found a brand of flip flops that was designed by 3 guys that used to design running shoes – OluKai. The support is amazing, much better than any sneaker I have every owned. I also swear by the moleskin over bandaids. The bandaids tend to sweat off throughout the day, but the moleskin hangs strong.

  • Great post, Kristen! I would normally agree with you with the whole sneaker thing, but there are two reasons why I personally avoid them. For travelers that head down in the summer months, we have become accustomed to the “3pm Monsoon” that happens every afternoon in Central Florida. I absolutely despise wearing wet socks and wet sneakers. I almost always prefer flip flops in these situations. Once my sneakers get wet, I blister very easily.

    Also, I have developed a lovely bunion on my foot these past couple of years. The constant rubbing against my sneaker is agony.

    This is why I choose flip flops over sneakers. However, I am very particular about the flip flops I wear… they must provide support.

    Thanks for a great post! Rosanne @ The Disney Point

  • After years of going to WDW with tired feet after day 2, and trying to compensate by switching between my good Nikes and my good New Balances, I finally gave up and bought Mickey Croc flip-flops. It seriously changed my life. Although it pains me to put my usually high-heeled foot in such a granola, grandma shoe, I can walk all day and all night pain-free. We recently spent 4 full days in the park with friends (trying to convert non-Disney folk), and I was the only one who didn’t complain of blisters or sore feet at all. They look ridiculous, but it feels like I’m walking in a bouncy castle all day long. :)

  • One tip I’ve learned is to bring several pairs of shoes and rotate through them. In past trips, my family was all about Crocs, but we’ve moved over to running shoes and flip flops. I wear some amazing Fit Flops with tons of cushion and my husband wears Croc flip flops. I typically bring 2 pairs of running shoes, my Fit Flops and a pair of Crocs (just in case). If a blister starts to develop with one pair, I switch over to another pair and it helps a bunch!

    • I totally agree with bringing at least 2 different pairs of shoes. Spenco also makes some awesome temporary gel pads to put between your blister and a bandaid. The pads cool your open blister and provide cusion and lubrication. I prefer them much more over the bandaid blister pads.

  • Since 2007 there has only been one type of shoe that I wear when I go to Disney World, my Keen waterproof sandals. Comfortable, great support, and waterproof. (They also make a waterproof sneaker for people who don’t like sandals in what passes for winter in Florida.)

    • +1 for Keen sandals! I have pairs of the Naples style in brown and black, and alternating between the two pairs daily has worked great for me at Disney parks. They’re fine with jeans, shorts, or pants and passable (just barely!) with casual skirts, which is handy for meeting Signature restaurant dress codes. They’re pricey but worthwhile on a cost-per-wearing basis, at least for me.

      • I don’t wear the sandals, but I have add my agreement for Keens! I wear the lace up shoe ones and they are better to me than tennis shoes! Love love love Keens!

        • Thanks for backing me up on the Keens, Martha and Laura B!

          • I totally agree with wearing Keens. Both DH and I wear them everyday. I take a couple of different pairs with me and sometimes switch off. I really don’t have to though because I have never had any problems wearing my Keens. We go for atleast 14 days at a time and are in the parks from opening to close.

  • Awesome post Kristen! I paid the price heavily as did you about 2 years ago. I spent no less then $15-20 a night limping into the POP’s gift shop for bandages, first aid tape, etc etc…I had so many blisters and wrapped my feet so heavily so to make it day to day. My daughter was convinced I was losing it LOL However last year I wore a pair of Dr. Scholl’s sneakers and had literally no issues whatsoever…so I learned a HUGE lesson!

  • I want to 2nd the “James D.” comment. I take 2-3 pairs each trip but end up spending almost all my time in my Keen hiking sandals. They offer amazing support, fit snugly without rubbing, and most importantly, dry very quickly (and aren’t uncomfortable wet). I cannot suggest them highly enough.

  • As a Floridian who abors normal shoes. I like my sandals :) I have some clarks sandals that are awesome.

  • I never go to WDW without my Clarks! They make the best flip flops and walking shoes. Try them! You won’t be sorry!

  • Can’t do Disney in anything but flip-flops and if I could, I would go barefoot. No shoes I have ever owned give me the right kind of support for a long enough period of time to make it through a Disney park. Barefoot walking is the most natural motion for me and I find flip-flops come the closest to not messing with my natural stride and support.

  • Crocs Crocs Crocs Crocs Crocs Crocs Crocs Crocs Crocs Crocs Crocs Crocs Crocs Crocs Crocs Crocs

  • Think not only of what shoes you wear, but be prepared to “be the grownup” with your children’s choice of footwear. Can I say how many little girls in princess dresses with hard plastic shoes I see being carried all day barefoot plastic shoe clutched in hand? Be smart, be the grownup. Remember, you may want to wear flip flops, but they leave little toes exposed to being crushed by grownup feet in a crowd or in line- we put my son in tennis shoes every time, and after listening to other children crying about their toes being squashed (and noticing they were wearing flip flops) all day, he remarked that they should have worn better shoes (he’s 5, it must have been big for him to notice).

  • For me, it’s my normal pair of running shoes. I never have any foot problems whatsoever. The legs might be whining, but the feet never are. As for the summer rains — I carry a pair of flip flops in my bag and switch out if necessary. I usually don’t have to, though. And glad for that, because when I’m wearing the flip flops, I miss the running shoes!

  • My #1 Disney World tip (and DisFam lives by it) : a new pair of socks for everyday we are at the park, there’s nothing that is more envigorating than that, hitting the parks is Sooo much be’tah’n

  • by Debbie from Chicago on January 11, 2012, at 7:06 pm EDT

    ok…show this is going to make me sound old, but I wear new balance with custom orthodics. For a sandal I wear chacos. My six year old wears saucony gym shoe or ecco sandals.

  • I brought really good quality walking shoes and my expensive running socks. I definitely worked to keep my feet blister-free, but I found my feet swelled up A LOT. I found bring a pair of flip-flops and switching out for 30 minutes or so, provided a lot of relief.

  • I like Asics. I bring 2 newish pairs with me and switch out each day, especially if it’s been really hot. But we normally stay at a Disney resort, so we go back in the middle of the day for a swim or nap, so our feet get a midday break. Never had a problem.

  • Enjoyed this article! A few years ago I made the mistake of buying cute flipflops rather than sensible shoes for a trip to WDW. I ended up with blisters that became so bad, I had to take antibiotics when I got home!
    Since then, I’ve worn Havaianna flip-flops while in the World – which do not rub my feet at all and I find very comfortable :)

  • As a sidenote, if you’re wearing sneakers, make sure to break them in! Make sure you’re comfortable in them before bringing them to the World.

  • My Dad picked up a tip from a friend several years back – use duct tape on the bottoms of your feet. It works! Go heel-to-ball and then a second strip across the ball of your foot, taping the back of your heel too if you tend to chafe there. It really does work. We’ve done it for 3 whole trips to WDW (average 10 days each) with no ill effect, and it’s cheap. Just make sure you get a good-brand duct tape. I think Scotch makes some that’s decent.

  • I have worn flip-flops in the parks. I usually do it to give my feet a break. During my last trip, my feet were a mess. I used the same shoes I normally do, but had purchased new socks. BIG MISTAKE. Anyway, flip flops were the only thing my poor feet could bare after a while.