Finding the best shoes for Walt Disney World and Disneyland has become one of my theme park white whales. In that pursuit, I have learned that “perfect” footwear does not exist. Nevertheless, I’ve gained a ton of experience and worn out dozens of soles in the process, and thought I’d share my findings with you here.
Again, there is no such thing as “perfect” shoes for Walt Disney World. Like footwear itself, there are two parts to this. The first is that there is no one-size-fits-all dream shoe. Personal preference, individual comfort, and the unique contours of your feet and body are huge factors. If they weren’t, the scientists would’ve just perfected footwear decades ago and there’d be one pair of shoes everyone wears. Instead, there are thousands.
Second, it’s all about tradeoffs. This has been a difficult lesson that I’ve learned when chasing my other theme park white whale, which is photography. No lens, camera body, or tripod is perfect–they all come with compromises. With shoes, those include weight, cushioning, responsiveness, breathability, support, dryness, and so on.
We’ve been around the block a few times with shoes, and both typically wear Nike Free Runs as everyday shoes. Sarah also wears a variety of sandals, but Nike Free Runs are her go-to shoes the vast majority of the time. She typically sticks with the Flyknits, which they haven’t changed since the 2018 model. I also really like the newer Next/Nature updates, whereas Sarah does not.
I originally started using Nike Free Runs ages ago to improve my mechanics, alternating between these for lighter use and Brooks Glycerins for longer runs or days when I’d be on my feet a lot. (No complaints about past pairs of Glycerins, but I’ve tried other styles of Brooks in the last few years and wasn’t as much of a fan.)
A few years ago, circumstances were such that we were not traveling at all and most of our walking was limited to a few miles around our neighborhood or, once the parks reopened, laps around EPCOT’s World Showcase. Even after things got back to normal, those marathon park days were less common as locals, so Nike Free Runs became my sole soles.
Once we resumed traveling, I was quickly “reminded” of the need for better cushioning and support when logging tens of thousands of steps day in and day out. That restarted my quest for the perfect shoe, which led me to a couple of very different options…
The first fruit of that quest is the Crocs LiteRide 360 Pacer Sneakers. Over the years, this blog has had a love-hate relationship with Crocs. I think the normal clogs are hideous, but the comfort is undeniable. (I also love a lot of the over-the-top Walt Disney World Crocs designs–might as well lean into the ugliness of the footwear!)
For me, these have all of the normal upsides of Crocs without (most of?) the hideousness. They’re certainly not going to be spotted during Milan Fashion Week, but they’re far less eye-catching. They don’t stick out in person or in photos, instead having a neutral or ‘invisible’ appearance that disappears or blends into the background. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so let’s instead talk performance.
I’ve now field tested the Crocs LiteRide Sneakers extensively on multiple days on both coasts and absolutely love them. For those familiar with Crocs, the foam insoles are super-soft, incredibly light, and springy. The Crocs LiteRide Shoes offer sink-in softness while putting a bit of pep in your step, with the characteristic comfort of Crocs. (Meaning that if you think normal Crocs are comfortable, you’ll also like these; if you find normal Crocs uncomfortable, these won’t be what wins you over.)
That’s exactly how I’d write a succinct review of Crocs clogs. So not really anything earth-shattering–they’re exactly what you’d expect of normal Crocs. The difference, from my perspective, is that these are normal shoes. As much as I love the comfort of Crocs, I can’t do a full day clocking 20k steps in them. They’re not as responsive as regular shoes and my feet have a bit too much freedom in them, with the end result being blisters.
The Crocs LiteRide Shoes are the best of both worlds–the comfort and springy steps of Crocs, coupled with the style and structure of shoes. One thing that’s also very important to me in a shoe is speed. This may not matter to many people, but I want to be able to power walk through the parks, accomplishing a lot during Early Entry and knocking out as many rides as possible at the end of the night when wait times are low. Regular Crocs are too loose-fitting and casual for that. The LiteRides are not–they are speedy shoes.
When it comes to Walt Disney World, another huge selling point is how shoes handle heat, humidity, and storm season. Part of the reason I like Crocs–and all more breathable shoes–is because my feet have an unrivaled ability to produce appalling odor. This might be TMI, but after wearing most regular shoes for a full day during the summer at Walt Disney World, my socks are essentially toxic waste. That is not an issue with Crocs.
Equally as important, Crocs are quick-drying. Afternoon showers can come out of nowhere at Walt Disney World, and even though we’re diligent about watching the weather radar and avoiding spontaneous storms, we still get caught in them from time to time. I’ve had pairs of shoes totally ruined as a result of the one-two punch of my stinky feet and getting (and staying) wet at Walt Disney World. (In fact, this is how/why most of my shoes have been “retired” over the last several years.)
With the Crocs LiteRide Shoes, I simply swap out my socks after an afternoon storm and am ready to roll. (I have friends who wear the LiteRides without socks; more power to those who can do that, but I can’t!) This is a really big deal to me and the main reason the Crocs LiteRide is now my go-to Walt Disney World shoe for the months of May through October.
With that said, I still won’t wear the Crocs LiteRide on consecutive full days in the parks. It’s not that I’ve tried and have had negative results, I’m just not willing to risk it. There are areas of the uppers where the fabric meets the mesh that looks and feels to me like it’d be a recipe for blisters if worn too frequently or without socks. Your mileage may vary on that, though. I don’t wear regular Crocs without socks, either.
I also don’t currently plan on wearing Crocs LiteRides for November through April. I think Crocs LiteRide Shoes are the most well-rounded footwear for Walt Disney World, but all of the aforementioned qualities are not always needed. Other months of the year, there are more comfortable options that work better for me.
Currently, select styles of Crocs LiteRide 360 Pacer Shoes (for Men) and Crocs LiteRide 360 Pacer Shoes (for Women) are 50% off on Amazon. I don’t know that this is actually a sale, as this deal was available when I bought my first pair a few months ago. Regardless, this is the cheapest price I’ve seen and we just picked up a pair for Sarah to test out. As always, we receive a small commission from Amazon from your purchases, so buying through these links helps support the site. However, neither the price you pay nor our recommendations (or lack thereof) are impacted by that.
For the other days when I don’t need the Crocs qualities, I’ve gone in a totally different direction: Adidas Ultraboost. I had heard people singing the praises of the Boost foam for years, but frankly, found the brand’s shoes a bit ugly and was skeptical that Adidas could actually deliver. Fast forward to last fall and I finally pulled the trigger on a ‘pop-culture’ pair of Boosts that I thought actually looked good…mere days before the affiliated designer finally and fully went off the deep end. Perfect timing.
Nevertheless, the comfort of the Boosts was immediately apparent and I opted to wear them during our month-long trip to Japan. The best way to describe Boosts is springy yet soft. The shoes offer a tremendous amount of cushioning and are plush as a result, but somehow also offer responsiveness and speed. They are perhaps the most paradoxical shoe I’ve ever worn, like an extremely exaggerated version of Crocs.
After logging at least 20,000 steps per day in the same pair of Boosts over the course of an entire month, my feet still felt great. For their part, the shoes also still looked great—they’re durable and grippy in addition to being bouncy. I’m now a Boost believer, and completely get the cult-like following.
I’ve had other shoes that ‘borrow’ from the Boost playbook, including the Nike React Infinity and ZoomX, as well as Brooks running shoes with their DNA technology. Those are all great shoes, but none even come close to rivaling what Adidas has accomplished with the Ultraboost. The offerings from Nike and Brooks are strong–and I definitely favor Nike Flyknit material–but the comfort did not compare.
All of the shoes I’ve had between those two brands either skewed towards softness or responsiveness. They didn’t do both like the Boosts. (Totally different style, but about the only shoes I like as well as Boosts are Nike Air VaporMax Flyknits. Unfortunately, someone has said she won’t go out in public with me if I’m wearing those.)
With that said, there are some drawbacks–at least for me. My Boosts are heavy and clunky, and even with the more breathable primeknit upper, they’re still too hefty and thick for me to wear to Walt Disney World in the summer (when the Crocs come out to play). Not all Ultraboosts are like this–many have a sleeker profile and use thinner material for even better breathability.
Speaking of which, this has been the dealbreaker for me with Hoka. I’ve heard nothing but good things about those shoes, and a seemingly ever-increasing number of Disney fans swear by Hoka. I don’t doubt the chorus of praise for its comfort, but the thicker upper makes them a tough sell for me. The Florida heat and humidity paired with my feet’s awful ability to sweat and produce odious odors is simply too much. On Clouds is another similarly-styled up-and-coming brand that’s also potentially worth checking out. I hope both offer varieties with Flyknit style uppers at some point soon; I’d love to give them a shot.
Ultimately, as should be obvious here…or from customer reviews…or simply the range of footwear available in different styles and shapes…there is no perfect shoe solution. However, I’ve been incredibly satisfied with the Crocs LiteRide 360 Pacer Shoes, and frankly a bit surprised at how well they combine the strengths of Crocs and regular shoes, while eliminating many of the drawbacks at a relatively reasonable price.
At least for me, that makes them close to the perfect shoes for Walt Disney World, with the best balance of qualities and compromises for visiting the months of the year when Central Florida is hot and/or wet. (Read: most months!) Given how many Disney fans also seem to love Crocs, we figured sharing a heads up about this new-to-us shoe line from the popular brand was worth sharing. For those who are vehemently anti-Crocs, hopefully some of our other recommendations and thoughts on shoes that work best for us at Walt Disney World and beyond proved useful to you!
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
What are your favorite shoes for Walt Disney World or Disneyland? Do you opt for specific footwear that offers added comfort, support, or springiness when doing the parks, or just your ‘normal’ shoes? Have you tried the various varieties of Crocs in the parks? Did you like or dislike their performance? Do you prioritize function over fashion, or vice-versa? Any options that perform particularly well in the hot, humid, and wet weather of Central Florida? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!