How to have happy feet at Disney World

This is a guest post from Stacey Hovey. For information on being a writer for a future guest post, check here. Now, here's Stacey...

The fact that you are visiting this site already shows you intend to plan your Disney trip and get the most out of it! But with all the details you can get absorbed in, your feet can be forgotten until there you are limping to your bus or hotel after a long day of touring wondering, “How am I going to make it through tomorrow?” 

Here are some tips to help your feet both before and during your trip so hopefully that doesn't happen to you.

Before You Go

A Disney trip can be like running a marathon without training, for those of us in less-than-stellar shape. To help lessen the shock on your body and feet, try adding extra steps to your everyday routine as soon as you book that trip. It can be as simple as parking a little further away at the store or making extra trips to bring the groceries in from the car. 

If you don't have one yet, purchasing a pedometer (like a FitBit or Garmin's vivofit) to find out how many steps you are taking each day can be both interesting and enlightening. I, unfortunately, had not purchased mine yet on our last WDW trip, but I did have it for our last Disneyland trip.

In one day at one park, I took more than 26,000 steps (close to 8 miles I believe)!

Shoes

I prefer to wear sneakers for my park touring. Others prefer shoes like sandals, flip flops or even high heels. Personally, I'd never attempt to wear flip flops for a long day of park touring. But everyone is different and you know what works for you. 

For sneakers, I recommend a store called Road Runner Sports. They carry men's, women's, and children's footwear. There are many locations across the U.S., but if there's not one near you, they have a great online store and offer excellent customer service and even online chat. 

I was fitted for Shoe Dog insoles at my local Road Runner Sports. They are made specifically for your foot right in front of you and then an associate will help you shop for the perfect shoe-insole combination. This should be considered an investment in your feet – it doesn't come cheap.

Insoles run about $70/pair and comfortable shoes can be $50 and up. But I still use/wear the very first pair of insoles and shoes I purchased from them 3 years ago, so your purchase should last a good while.

For shoes, I seem to like the Nike Air Pegasus. I've purchased two pairs and each time I feel like I'm walking on air! I also like the Brooks brand.  Do not be afraid to stay and try on shoes until you find the perfect pair. On my first visit, I was there over an hour and I tried on no less than 10 pairs of shoes before I decided. Road Runner also offers a 90-day guarantee, so if you find you do not love your shoes after you get home, you can return them.

I like to use my pink Nikes as “statement” shoes...

..and the blue Brooks to blend in with my jeans.

Moisture-wicking socks were also recommended to me. I was skeptical at first, thinking “How can that contribute to comfortable feet?” Boy, was I wrong! They are amazing! They really help cut down on the friction between your feet and your shoes. When used in conjunction with BodyGlide (see next tip), you almost can't go wrong. I like the Drymax brand, which you can often find cheaper on Amazon than your local running store.

During Your Trip

You may have already heard of, or even use, a product called BodyGlide. This product saved me more than once on our last trip to WDW. You can find it at most outdoor stores or on Amazon. You apply it to any area that can be affected by friction, whether it be your toes, your heel, between your thighs, under bra straps, anywhere. It comes in a stick deodorant-type package and is applied in the same way. 

I've also seen a similar Band-Aid brand product in the bandage aisle in Target. Moleskin is also good at blocking friction. Use your choice, BodyGlide or moleskin, preemptively – do not wait for a blister to appear!  

Do not wear brand new shoes on your trip. If you take the advice above and shop for new insoles/shoes, make sure you buy and break them in at least a month before you leave. If possible, have more than one pair of shoes and rotate wearing them throughout your trip.

If you take all precautions and still get a blister, follow the advice from a Disney fan podiatrist:   

Most importantly RESIST THE URGE TO POP THEM! No you cannot sterilize a sewing needle, paper clip, safety pin etc..... by wiping it with alcohol, running it under hot water or kissing it up to God. You WILL introduce some bacteria which can cause a bad infection. The inside of a blister is sterile and the skin is a protective cover. You can use moleskin around the blister to relieve any pressure from the shoe. The best thing is to cover it with the Spenco Blister Pads. They will usually resolve on their own but if they persist, seek medical attention from a Podiatrist or other medical professional.

The day we left for our trip in September, I really stubbed my big toe good on our luggage trying to get it to the car! By the time we arrived in our room, after about 7 hours of travel, I was limping. I took the evening to elevate my foot and ice the big toe as best I could. I'm so glad I paid attention to my feet! Those few hours resting my foot made it fresh and pain free the rest of the trip.

Remember to treat your feet – they are an important part of what will get you through your trip successfully!

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Jenn

Wear what you are use to. Don’t try to change just for a vacation. If you normally wear sandals or sneaks or flips, just do it. You’ll be happier in the end. But do try to get a little more walking in before you leave. I average 11000 steps a day. But on Disney days it can be up to 25000. Also bring an extra pair of sneakers. We got caught in a down pour at MK and I had to wear soggy shoes to the park the next day. UNHAPPY FEET

Sarah K

Yes, yes, yes to the extra pair of sneakers. I brought birkenstocks on my last trip because they are what I’m used to walking in all summer. But they started bothering me, so I switched into a pair of Go Walk Skechers and I was so glad I had them. They are really lightweight to throw in a backpack and I was really impressed that I was able to walk over 7 miles in them with no feet pain. I have the ones with a sock liner too, so I didn’t even wear socks all day with them.

yodelin' cowgirl

But what should we do when there’s a snake in our boot?? J/k :). Thanks for the article!

Aimee

I’ve got two tips to add. 1. I love my hoka shoes. Max cushioning plus the roomy toe box is what i need for heavy walking days. I like the density of the off-road version. 2. Slap some salon pas on the bottom of your feet at night. Buy in drugstore next to bengay. Cut patch in half if you find it too intense. Ingredients are Menthol and methyl salycilate. Both are analgesics or pain relievers. Methyl salycilate is an NSAID (non-steroidal anti inflammatory drug).

Anna

Is taking teva sandals really the best, or sneakers?

Kelsey

Tevas are the way to go! I took my broken-in universal Tevas with me on my DW trip last June. They were super comfy and my feet weren’t hurting after long days of walking. I didn’t have to worry about them on water rides, or the occasional rain because they’re also waterproof.

Rebecca

Toe socks really help with preventing blisters between my overlapping toes, along with an anti-chafing product (I’ve used all sorts and they work well). Injinji makes quality toe socks that really help with moisture wicking, too.

jennifer

We just got back from Disneyland and we clocked in 10 miles per day for 3 days. I have plantar fasciitis, and despite seeing my podiatrist weeks earlier for a shot, it had worn off by the time we went. I wore my New Balances with store bought insoles (~$30/pair) and we also followed the advice to leave the park in the mid afternoon to rest. Morning, afternoon, and night, I iced my feet. It worked. Taking naproxen was good, too.

I’m sad at the pins telling perfectly intelligent women to swap out their good-sense tennis shoes for cute slides, flats, or sandals because of how they’ll look in the photos. Think about photos later, the priority is family fun.

Taylor Nesom

Thanks so much for this information, i’ve had plantar fasciitis since i was 12.

You can take those cute little fold up slides in your bag and switch if you absolutely have to!!!! Its a small bit of extra weight but if looks is what your into ya know……

Nancy

I’m 59 years old and although my feet suffered a little, by the middle of the second day my calves were super sore (and I’m a walker). The Disney execs need to stop worrying about packing their parks to standing room only and put benches in. I heard a lot of complaints about this from original Mickey Mouse fan club members (us old guys) and I bet Walt would be upset to see the lack of this standard Main Street fixture. There’s no excuse good enough for not having these.

I always pop my blisters. I run the safety pin through a flame if possible, pop the blister, smother it with Neosporin, and put a band-aid over it. I figure whatever bacteria I might be exposed to will be killed by the Neosporin. I’ll take my chances.

My feet need to BREATHE if it’s warm. I always wear sandals at the park. I discovered Sanuks there a few years back and they are so comfortable! Several times I skipped out on the shoes I had intended to wear to go with my Disneybound outfit for the comfort of my Sanuks.

Carrie

We just got back a few days ago and I’m SO glad I took steps (ha!) ahead of time to be prepared. Starting in April, I started trying to add extra steps to my day. I was at an average of 14,000 steps a day when we left, and I still felt like I’d been beaten with a stick most days! I spent the entire month of October wearing my tennis shoes day in and day out, so they were solidly broken in. I’m also so glad that I really insisted my mom, who is a dedicated flip flop wearer and HATES tennis shoes, suck it up and wear tennis shoes the whole trip. Hubs and I each took 3 pairs of shoes. Two tennis shoes to alternate and sandles for trips to the pool. They were a great alternative for short periods of time but I would have been miserable wearing them all day in the parks. I wore them back to MK for just the electric parade and wishes and I really wished I’d gone with tennis shoes.

Tasha

Post trip, I can now say I prefer FitFlops over sneakers for Disney. I started the trip with broken in, yet still fairly new New Balance sneakers and by day 2 I had a big blister on my pinky toe. I switched to my Fit Flops, which I wasn’t planning on primarily using, and it was great from there out! I walked avg 6-8 miles per day in them. And they’re even stylish too 🙂

keely

LOVE FITFLOPS. I have several pairs of them and they are all I wore during our last trip to DISNEY. Now this trip will be in December, so I’m not sure if it’ll be too cold to wear FITFLOPS all day.

Rufushexe

I would also add bring two pair of comfortable shoes to alternate if needed. End your day with a nice body butter for your feet.

Michelle

Be careful with flip flops, I wore them and broke my little toe when someone walked too close to me and stopped in front of me. My foot hit his just right. Spent the rest of my Disney trip on crutches and in a wheel chair. I will only wear sneakers now.

Devin

Sanuk flip flops for me! They are made out of yoga mats and are so comfortable!

Denise Epps

What shoes are recommended for weeklong trip for very small boys ages 3, 5 and 7? We plan on using strollers as none of these boys weigh more than 35 lbs nor are they 44 inchs tall. Thank you!

sara

It’s funny that you post this because our trip isn’t until September and I’m already prepping my feet. I have an appointment with the podiatrist this afternoon for more shots in my feet to alleviate my nerve pain and I’m already looking for good shoes. The Kalso Earth shoes I just got might work, but I need to discuss with the doc because he should know what will work. 🙂

Emily Young

Thanks for a great article! All great advice!! 🙂 I love, love, love Road Runner Sports! I don’t have one near by but love shopping online with them. I found the sneaker that my feet love and have ordered two new pairs for our June trip. My advice is to always take two pairs and alternate them each day. That helps me SO much!!! I am trying to get fit for our vacation and just downloaded your app. Thank you for all of the reminders! Happy Easter!!!

Great article! I will add the socs to my shopping list!

This article brought back memories for me!

When I went to Disney World with my high school marching band, I bought brand new shoes the night before–from Payless, no less. They were the worst shoes I’ve ever, EVER had–by the end of day 1, my ankles were literally cut and bleeding. Because I was a “tough” 17-year-old, I hadn’t brought a personal backup… but I DID have my marching band shoes. Comfortable and suitable for long distances, they were horridly ugly: soft black leather with a bottom sole that wraps up the heel so one can march properly.

Learned that one the hard way.

Nick

Great Advice and Body Glide is a dream! Found it a couple years ago when I spent a week in Washington DC walking the National Mall!

Tiffany Moyer

I definitely think a good pair of socks is the key with tennis shoes. You don’t want thick socks that might bunch up…but instead a thin moisture wicking sock. Also if your shoes get wet, stuff them with newspaper and they will be dry the next day. Amazing trick! And last, I dressed every day as if I were going to the gym…shorts and tank tops. This helped in the heat as I don’t mind sweating if I am dressed appropriately for it. But I hate sweating with “normal” clothes on. This made it much more comfortable to carry little ones around when needed.

Shannon Neiley

One trick we used on our trip in October was to assign the most fit person (me) to be the “runner” for cups of ice, to walk ahead to check out lines, etc. instead of all of us taking the extra steps and energy to get there only to find that it wasn’t worth the walk. I’d get up early and make a breakfast run to the resort’s cafe and do other errands. It saved a lot of steps for the kids (and helped me burn off the Mickey bars!)

Amanda

Hi Shannon and Stacey!

I was wondering if there is an Android version of the Walk the Park app or if one is planned for the future? I have a Samsung phone and I would LOVE to use the app!

Thanks for a great article 🙂

Stacey Hovey

Hi Amanda!

Unfortunately, there currently is not an Android version. However, if the response to the app continues to be positive enough to warrant it, an Android version could be coming soon, as well as additional parks.

Thanks for reading!

Kacie

Another android user that would love a version of the app!

Francesca Gould

Any word on an Android app? We go this October and I am not accustomed to walking more than 4-8k per day! Need to get myself moving so an app would be MOST helpful. 🙂

Amanda

Thanks for your reply Stacey!

My BF has an iPhone so perhaps he will let me try it out for the time being… 😉 At least I’ll be able to get a bit of an idea of the mile amount we’ll need to “practice” with as our trip is about a year away. I’ve always wanted an app like this so I am so happy to know of one now.

Thanks again! 🙂

Shannon Baley

On our last trip in late September, I knew it would be hot, so I bought some Teva sandals. OMG so comfortable!! I didn’t have a single blister, my feet were comfy all day, even after walking several miles, and if my feet got wet, no big deal. I’ve heard good things about Chacos too. Expensive but TOTALLY worth it!!

Melissa

I always wear Teva flip flops every time I go to Disney. They are the only shoes that have kept my feet from hurting after walking all day/all week.

Jon Cohn

Great post! Just wanted to add something about bringing 2 pairs of shoes: DO IT! Last time I was at WDW it was the best thing I did. The first day I was there it was gorgeous we were at the AK rode the Rapids and then that night it rained and my shoes were done for 24 hours. Luckily I brought my 2nd pair of sneakers and were able to wear them on our next day while my shoes were able to dry up in the hotel.

Merrily Harrison

On our trip last month (which was on our 44th wedding anniversary), I walked over 31,000 steps in one day. This exceeded my last record which was also set at WDW of over 27,000 steps last fall. I have a Fitbit.

Meghan

26K steps is 13 miles, so kudos to you. My favorite shoes to wear at Disney are FitFlops, I alternate days with Brooks running shoes and FitFlops, I also use Roadrunnersports.com and the shoe dog will fetch you shoes 🙂 Also wrightsocks are great for blister free day 🙂

Tasha

So glad you mentioned fit flops. I’m planning on wearing mine alternating with sneakers. Did you do anything to break in the fit flops?

Leigh

I definitely prefer sneakers or sketchers go walks at Disney. I have worn flip flops, but that’s typically when I know I won’t be in the parks for a long time.

KateLynn

This was a great article, thanks for posting it! I also like to wear sneakers for touring but hate wearing socks with shorts so recently I discovered sketchers go walk shoes. I got 2 different pairs, wore them at home for a couple weeks before our trip, and then switched off wearing them everyday at the parks. For a 8 day WDW trip I got NO blisters and was comfortable everyday and no aching feet by the end of the week! I think these are great shoes and sketchers offers a wide variety of styles so it is easy to match outfits and personalities!

Kassie

I think I am going to go buy some Go Walks next week to start wearing for my trip in September.

Has anyone tried the Crocs Flip Flops? I like the idea of not wearing socks. My feet get so hot!

Leslie

I have worn my Crocs Flip Flops for the past 3 trips to WDW. Even though I wear them for months prior to our trip, I always get a small blister on the ball of my foot by my big toe. It’s nothing compared to the blisters that I get when I wear sneakers though and overall I find them to be very comfy. A neighbor told me to buy dancers band-aids? I haven’t sought them out yet as our next trip isn’t for 6 months but this year I plan on being really prepared (moleskin, band-aids, and lots of walking in my flops before vacation (definitely will try out the Walk the Park app)! BTW, we are the die-hard family that travels for 12 days and plays hard from rope-drop until midnight!

Kris

What is this “Walk the Park” app and where can i find it?

Amanda

Dancer’s bandaids? What are those and where do you buy them? I get blisters on my feet all the time, and foot care/shoes are my biggest concern at Disney.

jen w

I have done Disney and several other parks wearing Crocs sandals – love them!

Tracy

I wear crocs sandals one day and fit flops the next. Perfect! And when it rains, they dry out fast, unlike sneakers.

Stacey Hovey

I’ve heard good things, but never tried them – I guess I’ll have to try them now! Unfortunately, the last two pairs of Skechers I bought did give me blisters 🙁 But they were not the GoWalk type, they were relaxed fit memory foam…

Staci Patyrak

I have all kinds of different skechers (go walks and memory foam as well as Bobs). For all day at Disney World or any all-day walking the Go Walks are the go to shoe. I too would prefer sneakers for lots of walking, but don’t like wearing socks…especially in the warmer months. Skechers are perfect. They are pretty much the only shoes I wear now and love all of the styles. Lots of good shoes for kiddos too.

Rebecca

Sadly Sketchers does not have the wide size I need, so it isn’t for everyone. I love New Balance Cush shoes. You don’t need socks, they are soft and comfy, and they make you feel faster

nicole

Sketchers go walks do come in wide. I have flippers for feet and its always hard to find shoes. I found them on Amazon.

Sandra Hutchison

I used my Go Walks at WDW in May. By the end of the day I had 2 giant blisters –one on each foot–between my Great toe and my 2nd toe. Not sure why. The lining is not as soft as what I am used to wearing at work which are brown leather Danskos with leather insoles. I will not wear Go Walks again at any time I am going to be walking for a long time. I am going to try FitFlops. I should have gone with my flexible insoles inserted in my walking shoes. By the 4th day I was ready to rent one of those motorized carts. haha

Greg Nevius

Great advice, Stacey! Even though I am an avid walker/runner, I still got blisters at WDW. I will be keeping this article in mind for the future.
Thank you and cool app BTW!

Stacey Hovey

Thanks, Greg!

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