All the Bathrooms at Disney World Have One Unusual Thing in Common

published Feb 9, 2023
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As many Florida residents are wont to do, our family has taken advantage of Walt Disney World resident discounts to visit the theme parks on vacation. But it was only on our last day I noticed that, despite the massive crowds that week, I hardly ever had to wait in line to use the bathroom. (If you’ve ever used the ladies room in a place thronging with people, you know what a rarity that is.)

The Disney magic behind those vanishing bathroom queues is one simple detail: They’ve made made bathroom sink mirrors disappear in most of the restrooms across their theme parks. The reason? This no-mirror policy is designed to eliminate a crowd-flow bottleneck.

Whether you’re all about the pixie dust or you cannot fathom the appeal, you have to admit that Disney does things well. From using Go Away Green to make unsightly objects disappear to discretely pumping scents into the air, Disney doesn’t skimp on any detail that might help keep its theme park guests in a happy little bubble. The blissful lack of bathroom lines seems to fall under this category of meticulously thought-out, experience-enhancing design. Although some seem to believe that the lack of mirrors is to discourage vandalism, there does seem to be a consensus that Disney’s conspicuous lack of mirrors over the sinks in most theme park bathrooms is a matter of preserving the flow of traffic—as one Disney custodian (purportedly) anonymously confirmed on Quora.

The bathrooms typically have one large mirror inside near the entrance for guests to use as needed. But by eliminating a the potential bottleneck of people checking themselves in the mirror as they ostensibly wash their hands—getting more guests through the stall-then-sink process more quickly—Disney has attained the not-small feat of nearly line-free bathrooms. (Of course, they also have enough bathrooms—a detail which shouldn’t be undervalued.)

How to Use Disney’s Example at Home

My new mouse-fed wisdom got me thinking of bottlenecks in my own home and life: things that block the flow of traffic, whether it’s physical or figurative.

Here are some sticking points I deal with and how I’m thinking of addressing them:

1. Social media stealing my time, or at least the wrong time

For me, the habit of checking social media when I woke up or even during little down times started to feel like it was subtly siphoning away both my autonomy and my time, and I didn’t like it. I realized that rather than serving me, I was serving it and it was causing me to miss doing things I needed to do (get ready in the morning without having to rush) and wanted to do (turn my attention to the kids instead of my phone while the water was boiling, for instance).

To eliminate this bottleneck, I deleted the my most-checked social media apps from my phone. This is not to say I don’t check them; I do, but I do it either when I’m at my computer or through the clunky route of the browser on my phone. The inconvenience has drastically cut down the time I spend on social media, shrunk it down to what I feel is a healthy level, and my in-betweens are—rather than being filled with a rote picking up of the phone—spent thinking, picking up a book, or noticing something or someone around me.

2. Shoes filling the entryway

We don’t wear shoes in the house. Even though our official place to store shoes is the mudroom, we come into the house through the front door and so naturally, that’s where we take off our shoes. With seven of us living here (although the baby has yet to wear actual shoes), the shoe situation can get out of control quickly.

We have a rack by the front door, but it gets full and we don’t always take the time to put our shoes on it. It’s a footwear bottleneck and I’ve considered two ways to eliminate its causes: I could remove the shoe rack by the front door so that when I have the kids “straighten up the shoes” it really means to take them to their rightful place in the mudroom, or alternately, I could change the flow of traffic by having us go into the house through the garage so that the mudroom is on our way into the house and shoes get taken off in that vicinity.

3. Dish traffic

Getting dinner on the table during the witching hour is hard enough without having to face a sink full of dirty dishes before even dragging out the cutting board. And while it’s easy to laud the beauty of a perpetually clean sink and talk about how cleanliness begets cleanliness and it’s so much harder for everyone to put dirty dishes in a clean sink (I ramble about these things all the time), there’s one thing that can derail the strongest of good intentions: a full dishwasher.

Whether the dishwasher is full of dirty or clean dishes, it’s a bottleneck that blocks the flow of kitchen traffic big time. Because of this, I try my best to have a set time that the dishwasher is run (each night) and then emptied (in the morning). And if the dishwasher isn’t full enough to justify running it at night, I run it sometime the next day and then have to do this novel thing to keep an afternoon dishwasher full of clean dishes from disrupting kitchen flow: I have to empty it before dinner. Remembering that it really takes only three to five minutes at the absolute max helps.

An empty dishwasher means dirty dishes aren’t multiplying in the sink and that when dinner time rolls around, cooking and cleaning as you go can happen without a hitch.

This post was originally published on Apartment Therapy. Read it there: All the Bathrooms at Disney World Have One Unusual Thing in Common