Whether you’re pinning on a RunDisney bib or just heading out for a single day at Disney, picking and packing the right equipment (ie. shoes) makes the difference between happy feet and heartbreak.
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Visiting a Disney park is a bit of a marathon. There’s so much ride, see, and try you’re going to be running in every direction. With a bit of prior planning you can minimize some of the milages you rack up, but even a planning pro like me racks in 15 to 20k steps in a single day at Disney.
That’s the equivalent of 7 to 10 miles.
The good news is that you’ll be having so much fun, you probably won’t even notice. That is unless you opt for the wrong pair of shoes.
Make that mistake and you’ll be in for a world of hurt and blisters well before lunchtime – and nobody wants that. So we put our toes to the test, trying all the best – and worst, shoe choices for your next trip to Disney.
Break New Shoes In
Now before we dive headfirst into our list of favorite products, we’ve got a few recommendations to go along with them. These are our tried and true tips to improve the experience of any type of shoe. And trust me, we learned these the hard way so that you don’t have to.
Say it with me now “no. new. shoes.”
Some things you pack for Disney can, and should be, brand new. Those matching shirts you spent hours picking out, the hand-crafted Minnie ears, and all the toiletries and lotions you can squeeze into a 3-gallon bag. But shoes are not one of them.
Have you ever gotten blisters from a new pair of shoes? It hurts! And I’m willing to bet it happened when you were walking less than 3 miles a day. Heck, I used to get new-shoe blisters while working at my office job.
Literally sitting all day, and still got blisters.
Now, imagine how much worse that would be if you are walking twice or even three times as much. Ouch city.
How to Break in New Shoes
Believe it or not, there’s actually a bit of strategy involved with breaking in new shoes. There’s no right or wrong way, just different methods that work for different people.
As a show choir veteran who spent 6 years dancing on stage in 4 inch high heels, I’ve got a few, maybe unorthodox tricks up my sleeve.
Double Up Your Socks
New shoes are tight, and that’s actually what causes blisters. The sides are rubbing against the delicate skin around your ankle non-stop and there’s no give. After a while the fabrics, which tend to be rugged, durable, and generally uncomfortable, create blisters and if you’re especially unlikely they pop.
Now that you’ve got that wonderful visual in your brain, allow me to offer up a solution.
Wear your new shoes around for an hour a day for 2 weeks, with 2 pairs of socks. (I know you thought that was a no-brainer until the end, right?) Doubling up your socks forces the sides of the shoes to expand more-so (and faster) than they would if you wore just 1 pair. It also provides you with an extra layer of protection to avoid running into the exact issue we’re working against, blisters.
Could you simply wear the shoes for 2 days straight? Sure, if you want to stock up blister bandages. At that point, you’re just getting the process out of the way, rather than avoiding it altogether.
Wearing your new kicks for just an hour a day let’s you gradually break them in and completely avoid any blisters.
Hairspray Your Heels
Okay, okay. I know this one might sound weird at first, but give me a chance to explain.
With the exception of running shoes, most new pairs will have perfectly smooth soles. You know what I’m talking about, the kind that looks like a freshly mixed cake batter so perfect you can’t stand the thought of them touching the filthy ground.
No, just me? Moving on…
While the pristine condition of new shoe soles may look satisfying, they’re actually a bit of a hazard. Especially if you’re prone to accidents (🙋♀️ like me). So, another old choir trick we used was to spray the soles of new shoes with hairspray and rub them together.
You just need a light coat, aerosol works best, and let it set for 5 seconds before rubbing the soles together. What this does is create a tackiness that will give you better traction as you’re walking around the parks. No matter what the surface (concrete, tile, polished wood, or wet walk-ways) you’ll have no trouble gracefully making your way through!
Just Say “No” to These
There are a few types of footwear that I’m 100% never going to recommend for a trip to Disney, ever. At all. Because they are just way too impractical for an everyday trip for most people. Now, if you’re going for a special occasion, like Dapper Day, or for a specific purpose, hello Instagram photo shoot, that’s a different story.
But for the most part, avoid these options like the plague.
Cheap Flip Flops
I’m talking about the $1 bin special from WalMart and Target. The ones you buy ten at a time when they finally drop in the stores mid-spring. They’re perfect for lounging by the pool or quick trip to the grocery store, but worthless for just about anything else.
There are some flip flops and sandals that make the grade and found their way onto our approved list, which you’ll see in just a bit. But it’s super important to go with the brand and model that were suggesting and not a cheap knock-off that looks similar.
Honestly on a day to day basis, I cannot for the life of me understand wearing high heels to any theme park. I’m sure everyone has their reasons, but unless I’ve hired a photographer to document it you couldn’t pay me enough. Here’s why –
- Blisters, popped blisters, for days. Gross.
- Squished toes – ouch
- Sore heels and Achilles tendon
- Hello twisted ankle
- My poor, poor, mistreated calves
- Not to mention the wear and tear on my gorgeous shoes
And for those reasons, there are no high-heels that will make it onto our approved and recommended list.
Cheap Designer Shoes
Something my mother always told me; you get what you pay for. We are always on the lookout for affordable options for all the Disney trip supplies we recommend!
But this old sentiment, for the most part, holds true. The exception is usually athletic shoes.
I say this with caution but, most of the time big-box store athletic shoes will work just fine. That means WalMart, Target, KMart (is Kmart still a thing), etc. In fact, I wore these babies for 10 straight days at Disney World just a few years back and still wear them for Disneyland trips most of the time.
The best part? They were $14. You cannot beat that. On the other hand though are the riding boots, rain boots, sandals, and ballet flats that look adorable but won’t last a full day. So, just skip them and try these on for size instead.
Best Shoes for Women for Disney
Alright, let’s get down to business. We know this is what you came for (ayy oh ayy, ayy oh ayy – Neo? anyone?) Here are our top 4 choices for the best shoes for women to wear at Disney!
The most tried and true and always a great choice are, unsurprisingly, athletic shoes! Why? Well, because they’re made for walking. These shoes are meant to be used and abused. As long as you’re sticking with truly athletic shoes and not mock tennis shoes (looking at you Converse), you can’t really go wrong.
But these are some of our favorites that passed the test, and are super cute to boot.
Sanuk Yoga Slings
These are heaven. If you’re like me and live most of your life in flip-flops you need these. They’re unbelievably comfortable in any situation but absolutely perfect for a Disney trip.
The sole of this sandal is thin but dense, it offers amazing support for your arch, cushions your heels, and stands up over time. The thong and strap are made of a breathable lightweight material which means it will never rub against your skin uncomfortably or promote any unwanted odors.
Not only are Sanuk’s super comfy, but they’re also surprisingly affordable and really freaking cute.
I bought these because I’d heard people raving about them for Disney trips and I wanted to see for myself. They’re now my go-to pair of flip-flops, even replacing the throw-away $1 pairs I used to buy by the cart-full. If you’re still on the fence, take a look at the reviews on Amazon and see what others are saying.
Tom’s have been around for quite a while, and you probably recognize them as that one company that donates a pair of shoes for every pair that you buy. As if that wasn’t reason enough to give them a chance, they’re actually really great shoes.
What I love about Tom’s, in general, is that they are so lightweight and breathable that it doesn’t feel like a tennis shoe. But they still give you all the same great support of one. The Avalon’s, in particular, are great because they run truer to size (which means you don’t find out they’re too small 2 days before you leave for vacation), they have more give and flexibility, and are sturdier than the originals.
These also make up a few extra points when it comes to fashionability because of an amazing trend on Etsy…Custom Toms! And they’re just so gosh-darn adorable I can’t help but show you exactly what I’m talking about.
Kamik Heidi Rain Boots
It’s a safe bet, if you’re headed to Disney World, that it’s going to rain. In fact, on average it rains 75 days a year in Orlando, that’s once every 5 days! Most of that rain comes down in late Spring and through the summer, so this is an especially good option if you’re traveling during those times.
California doesn’t normally see that much rain, but it rained 23 of the first 58 days of 2019 in Anaheim – so it does happen (accueweather.com). What’s worse is that because rain is so rare, Disneyland just isn’t built for it. So if there is rain in the forecast for your trip, you should consider picking up some rain boots as a precaution just in case.
There are countless options for rainboots on the market today, but I really love these for a few reasons. First and foremost – they’re affordable. You might be surprised to find that a good pair of boots can be upwards of $100, which sure threw me for a loop.
The Kamik Heidi Rain Boots are not the cheapest pair you’ll find, because they’re far more comfortable and durable than most.
The slim fit will keep your feet warm and dry, while the comfortable trim around the top protects your legs from the stiff plastic. You’ll most likely need to order a size up, because of this fit, but if you use the Amazon link above there is sizing assistance and of course free returns for Prime members.
I love that you can grab these in just about any color under the sun, almost as much as I love the slip-proof tread soles (remember, I told you I’m a huge klutz).
We Want to Hear From You!
Everyone’s got their two cents, and we want to hear it! Let us know how you liked, loved, or despised our picks and tell us what you recommend!
We’re constantly on the hunt for great products to feature for our readers, so drop us a message in the comments below or by e-mailing Rebecca@ThePixieDustedPlanner.com