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Vote of the week: What kind of shoes do you wear when you visit a theme park?

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Published: August 19, 2010 at 8:13 PM

What's on your feet when you visit a theme park?

There's no common answer in my family. My daughter steps out in her flip-flops, to the disbelief of her mother, who carefully dons white socks and sturdy athletic shoes before each theme park visit. Laurie often gets a nasty heat rash on her lower legs and ankles when she spends too much time walking around a park, so she always covers up now, in an attempt to prevent that.

Brian and I typically opt for sandals, though if I'm working at the park, covering a press event, I'll usually wear more business-like attire, such as my old "Disney look" black leather dress shoes and long pants.

A bad choice for footwear can ruin a day in the parks, since you're spending so much of your time on your feet. You want something that helps your feet to feel comfortable. But while some people need the support of athletic shoes, others prefer more lightweight and cooler options.

So what do you wear? Let's restrict the voting to what was on your feet on your most recent visit, instead of what you think you typically wear. And if your most recent trip to a park involved, working, select the character/dress shoe options (unless you get to wear sneakers or sandals at your workplace - I got to wear sneakers on Tom Sawyer Island, one of the reasons why I liked working there so much!)

If you've got any interesting, funny or horrific stories about shoes and theme parks, please share 'em in the comments. And thanks, again, for reading Theme Park Insider!

Update: Are Crocs sandals or flip-flops? I don't know! If that's what you wear, though, pick which of these categories you feel best describes that footwear.

Readers' Opinions

From 207.200.116.131 on August 19, 2010 at 8:42 PM
I wear my hiking boots. They are really comfortable.
From Brian Krosnick on August 19, 2010 at 8:48 PM
Toms. :] Not the best support, but they're airy, light, and comfortable.
From Anthony Murphy on August 19, 2010 at 8:56 PM
Crocs because they can get wet, allow coolness to get to the feet, and are pretty confortable. I have worn sandals and sneakers and been fine. Flip flops are not a good idea! Too many blisters!
From Hermione Potter on August 19, 2010 at 9:02 PM
Solid white sneakers when I have to and an old pair of Vans flip flops when I'm there as a guest. Flops are by far the most comfortable option as long as they've got no skid bottoms.
From 216.175.67.47 on August 19, 2010 at 9:15 PM
Sneakers with socks are the best for a long day at a park. I wore flip flops once and my ankles were very sore. But flip flops would be great for water rides and playing in fountains.
From Michael Owen on August 19, 2010 at 9:57 PM
Good old reliable Adidas Samba.
From William Brach on August 19, 2010 at 10:05 PM
I usually wear a pair of old lawn mowing shoes - I like to go on the water rides and don't care if they get wet.
From duncan henny on August 20, 2010 at 1:16 AM
usually i wear crocs as they are comfortable and dry quickly when i've been on water rides although one time walking quickly up the dudley do rite line i stepped in a puddle and slipped and fell ouch was quite funny though i steered clear from puddles after that not much traction
From Will Chilcote on August 20, 2010 at 2:43 AM
I wear walking shoes with really good insoles. I have flat feet and if I don't wear good shoes I am lame the next day.

Crocs or sandals are great for the water rides. I usually take an pair of sandals or aqua-shoes for the water rides in a backpack.

From Becky Lee on August 20, 2010 at 2:53 AM
I wear Crocs because they are so comfortable & they can get wet. Even though I usually wear them as clogs, I can get away with wearing them on rides that don't allow slip-ons or flip flops by moving the strap from the top of the shoe to the heel position.
From 24.152.241.188 on August 20, 2010 at 4:44 AM
Crocs, my buddy talked me into a pair at the pop century in 2008 and if I'm not at work I'm in Crocs. Easy to take on and off for airport and if your feet get tired just pop them off for a few seconds to let your feet breathe.
From amy lockland on August 20, 2010 at 5:44 AM
I usually wear sneakers, but I throw flip flops in my bag and change before getting on a water ride.
From Anthony Murphy on August 20, 2010 at 6:04 AM
By the way, Crocs make a variety of shoes, but I know everybody is thinking of a plastic-y covered shoe. They also make a canvas one and a flip flop version (which is nice!). Disney also has their own with Mickey holes!
From 208.54.90.70 on August 20, 2010 at 6:08 AM
I wear flip flops ALL the time. They have to be well worn flip flops though and comfortable. If they are new or not sturdy, that is when your feet hurt and you get blisters. I find that Sketchers makes the most comfortable flip flops at a decent price. They are comfortable for all day wear and are great for the water rides :-)
From Victoria Jurkowski on August 20, 2010 at 6:20 AM
i used to wear flip flops but i left them on on what i thought was a tame coaster once and lost a shoe. had to wear my moms flip flops that she had brought along for the water park, and got horrid blisters and ankle soreness. so now i wear velcro sneakers, cuz i like being barefoot on dangling coasters and the velcro is easy to get on and off
From Thomas Caselli on August 20, 2010 at 6:33 AM
Unless I have to dress up, the only thing that I ever wear on my feet are New Balance running shoes. I have never worn sandals or flip flops. I can never understand how anybody can wear flip flops all day, but I do need something with good support.
From April C on August 20, 2010 at 6:41 AM
When going to Disney, I wear sneakers.

I usually opt for flip flops when I head to Universal, as I usually just see the shows and catch just a few rides, so I don't do too much walking and my flip flops are quite comfortable.

From Tiffany Alfonso on August 20, 2010 at 6:59 AM
In a park where there are water rides (Disney park or not), I wear water shoes - they allow me to ride rides that require me to dangle my feet (like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and B&M inverted coasters) and have breathable room thanks to the mesh. A growing number of them have arch support, allowing me to wear them with no socks.

In one where there are no water rides (Disney or not), I wear either water shoes or sneaks - it depends on mood.

From Amanda Jenkins on August 20, 2010 at 7:06 AM
When my mom and I decided to leave my dad and husband behind for a "girls only" trip to Disney World, we had some interesting foot problems. My mom decided to buy some cheap little slip on ked sneakers. I had my heavy duty athletic shoes. After attending both early morning extra park hour at Epcot then heading over to Magic Kingdom for their extra evening hours, my mother began to have cramps in her feet. We never thought of going back to our resort and fixing the problem. It had poured down rain while at Epcot, thus causing her lovely shoes to shrink. Now I wear one size larger than my mother, but being the good daughter that I am, I gave my mom my shoes and took her already too small ones. I might as well have been one of Cinderella's evil step sisters trying to squeeze this huge foot into a tiny slipper. I walked like a person in a state of torture in those tiny things, which caused my mom to laugh. This was before Disney carried the crocs everywhere, so there was not a shoe around save for the Mickey houseshoes. Around midnight that night, I couldn't take the shoes anymore, took them off and walked the rest of the way to the resort buses barefooted. Someone of course decided to throw their lit cigarette on the ground, and my bare foot just had to step on it. Not only did I have blisters from my mother's tight shoes, but now I had a nice long burn in the middle of my foot. Through it all though, we just had to laugh about it. We ended up staying awake until 4am laughing about our poor feet. My mom had packed a spare pair of shoes that she found once back in our room. That was many years ago, but it still brings tears of laughter to our eyes at my trying to walk in her tiny shoes.
From Kristin Archibald on August 20, 2010 at 8:10 AM
I tend to wear Crocs or my Crocs flip flops. I used to see people walking around with these shoes and I thought they were hideous and looked so heavy. My mom's physical therapist then recommended she try them on a trip and she swore by them. So while we were at WDW, I bought a pair and they've become my go-to whenever I have to be on my feet for any length of time! They are light and comfortable...most days, my feet don't hurt even after a long day in a park.
From Evelyn D on August 20, 2010 at 8:20 AM
I LOVE to wear my FitFlops! They are not only cushiony and comfortable, but if they get wet, they dry quickly. I also find that wearing these helps me walk a whole lot more throughout the day - more so than with my "espensive" tennis shoes. I 100% recommend these to everyone, and to my surprise, Disney now carries these FitFlops in their stores with the Mickey Mouse logo on them. Too Cute!!
From Pyra Dong on August 20, 2010 at 8:29 AM
Definitely sneakers. Gimme something I can walk long periods in, dangle on a roller coaster (without losing its partner), and something that still looks great with a short skirt. Yep yep-- gimme me white sneakers

I would vote crocs too (like all y'all) but dang... it just doesn't match well with my mini skirts.

From Bryan Fear on August 20, 2010 at 8:43 AM
Boots of the police/military type. Hi-Tec or Thorogoods. Something with a lot of cushioning for the feet and strong ankle support. Sometimes I'll throw in one extra set of insole cushions before a theme park trip. It's like walking on air.
From Alex Gamso on August 20, 2010 at 9:31 AM
Lately I have been wearing a nice pair of Vans slip-ons with socks. They don't rub to much because the have a smooth back on them. The are very light, and with socks, I don't notice my feet getting hot. They don't seem to slip much on rides either which makes them perfect. They also doen't have much material to them so they dry fast. Also every now and then I will wear a nice pair of Pumas. They are very comfortable and airy, and I don't have to worry about them slipping.
From Steve Ottinger on August 20, 2010 at 1:06 PM
I wear my Vibrams Five Fingers in the park, which are "barefoot" running shoes. I always get looks and comments, but they're plenty comfy and are great for a day in the park. They'll dry quickly if wet, don't cause me any leg pain, are light and breathable, are fine for those quick-jogs from ride-to-ride, and make you feel like you're barefoot on a ride when you're well-covered. No need to take them off on the inverted coasters like sandals or crocs either. I think they're becoming more popular too; I'm seeing more of them. One significant drawback - While it great to feel like you're barefoot everywhere you go, I will NEVER get use to feeling like I'm barefoot in a park bathroom. EWWWW! :P
From Joshua Counsil on August 20, 2010 at 2:29 PM
Either Columbia hiking shoes, not boots, or DC skate shoes (think sneakers, but cushier, fatter, and looser - you can just slip them on).

I try to where something that I would wear out in public, usually nice shoes, khaki/cargo shorts, collared t-shirt, and a baseball hat. I'm uncomfortable wearing wife-beaters, sandals, swimsuits, or other casual attire in crowds that large. I like to appear somewhat presentable.

From 69.227.169.46 on August 20, 2010 at 7:08 PM
Tennis shoes are always best. If you are going to be walking around a theme park all day long, tennis shoes is the way to go. For a water park, sandles, of course. If one plans to be wet a lot in a regular theme park, sandles might be your best bet but hopefully the wet rides won't be too far apart. For winter time, tennis shoes will probably be best.
From isaiah mercado on August 21, 2010 at 4:09 AM
i wear my Chucks(converse). they are comfortable and cant fall off wen i go on suspended coasters. but since i go on the water rides, at the end of the day, they smell...
From Scott B on August 23, 2010 at 5:18 AM
I thought Crocs were for toddlers and the elderly? I kid, I kid.

I have been intrigued by Crocs, but since I wear size 14 shoes, I have never seen them in my size. So when I go to a theme park, I wear a nice pair of broken in sneakers. I may bring a change of socks with me too if I can remember. You know, for those times you ride Popeye at Islands of Adventure but don't have enough time to get your shoes off. It happens!

a few years ago I was at the Islands of Adventure with my brother-in-law who wore some new Adidas sandals (the vinly / rubbery kind). By the end of the day he was walking around barefoot because he found it more comfortable, that is how bad the sandals got. I'm telling you, sneakers are the only way to go.

From Jennie Lea on August 23, 2010 at 7:17 PM
Last time I went to a theme park I wore trainers (sneakers I guess) but I really should've been wearing welly boots! It poured it down!
Out of curiosity since we have the trainers/sneakers thing do welly boots/wellies have other names other places?
From 71.62.99.53 on August 23, 2010 at 8:01 PM
We wore Keens (Mom and Daughter) which gave us a nice cross between support of tennis shoes but breathable like sandals. They also dry fast on the water rides.

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