The Biggest Scams Found At Disney World

Walt Disney World works really hard to make sure that all guests are happy, safe, and entertained during their visit to the park. From ensuring the grounds always stay mosquito-free to creating the perfect environment for a sensory-friendly tip, Disney is all about keeping the magic alive for everyone who walks through their gates no matter what. However, despite how hard Disney's Imagineers — that's what they call the brains behind the design and construction of all the theme parks, resorts, and experiences — work, there are still a couple of not-so-sweet details that happen to slip through the cracks every now and then.

Intentional or not, there's a long list of Disney scams and rip-offs out there that guests need to be wary of. And not only are these generally unscrupulous and disappointing, but they can also quickly turn your much-awaited trip from a dream come true into a frustrating nightmare that's worthy of Maleficent herself. Because, as it turns out, "The Most Magical Place on Earth" isn't always as magical as some people would like to believe.

Whether it's overpaying for your meals, unknowingly purchasing a fake ticket, losing out when purchasing souvenirs you don't really need, or getting the short end of the stick during a traditional pin-trading experience with someone who's pushing counterfeits, certain Disney scams are hiding in plain sight. Luckily, though, it doesn't take much to recognize them — it's just about being a little savvy and quick on your feet in order to successfully avoid them.

Paying less means paying more

Disney trips are already pretty expensive, especially with single-day tickets averaging between $109 and $189 for ages 10 and up, and the average cost of a meal ranging between $19 for quick service bites to $42 for a sit-down or table service experience per adult. With that in mind, it's no surprise that people aren't looking to spend any more than they have to during a Disney vacation — or, in some cases, cut back on costs. However, certain scams out there can make this challenge very stressful.

On one hand, you've got the seemingly trustworthy third-party companies that claim to sell half-price tickets only to try and upsell you on purchasing a timeshare in Florida before you can get your hands on them. Then, you've got the scammers who sell counterfeit or expired tickets online to trick eager buyers into paying the price twice: once for the fakes and again for the real deal after they realize — a little too late — that they've been scammed.

Plus, it's not just outside parties who try to cash in on people's need to save. Disney is guilty of trying to get more out of unsuspecting visitors by using complicated marketing language that tricks them into purchasing more than they need to. That's why you should always, always check the fine print to ensure you're not getting ripped off. After all, that "5-day discount" might also apply to a 2-day trip — they just don't want you to know that.

Other scams inside the parks

Unfortunately, the scams don't stop once you're through the gates. First, there's the issue with Disney Genie+. Less about the money, the real scam here lies in how park organizers will try to control how you move around the grounds through a GPS tracking system that's based solely on crowd flow. So, if an area you're heading to is already at peak capacity, Genie+ will try to redirect you elsewhere, even if it's nowhere near where you want to be, in order to keep wait times as short as possible.

Speaking of shorter wait times, the same can be said about using the Single Rider Lines. Although not technically a scam per se, as wait times can be shorter when you decide to hop on solo, there's always the possibility that you might be left waiting just as long as if you'd queued with your party. Aside from that, there's also the chance you'll get assigned a not-so-great seat, especially on rides like Star Wars: Millennium Falcon — Smugglers Run, where your seat makes a difference in the experience.

Lastly, there's the issue with park souvenirs. From instilling shopping FOMO with limited edition launches that pressure guests into overpaying for souvenirs they don't truly need (or want) to the surge of scrapper pins — aka, knock-off Disney pins that collectors might inadvertently mistake for the real deal — that have been popping up around parks recently, shopping at Disney World can quickly turn into a game of lose-lose.