Welcome back Disney fans! I feel like this is the first summer in several years that I haven’t schlepped my family down to Florida in the most excruciating time of year to visit Walt Disney World and it feels so good! Summer crowds are always high and add to that 2 years of shut downs and travel bans and bang! You’ve got mega-crowds. So I’ve been following news and goings on from the comfort of the North Carolina mountains and forming some opinions about things, which we will get into in a moment, but first…trip announcement!
We were honestly not planning to go to WDW this year as we had a June trip to Disneyland Paris (review coming soon) that was a carry over from 2020. We were still feeling a bit salty from our last trip to the Florida parks on the 50th anniversary, which in our opinions, was a huge let down. But then I got an email…one that spoke to me and said, “go, you must!” Specifically, I was notified that Dapper Day was doing a holiday outing in Florida in December, a new event for them. We normally miss Dapper Day because the times of year aren’t convenient for us and have only experienced it once at Disneyland in California. By the way, in case you don’t know, Dapper Day is not officially affiliated with the Disney company and is a delightful event where they invite folks to dress up and come to the parks, get photos, ride attractions, see and be seen. It’s a great excuse to get fancy and go to Disney! The holiday event is happening at Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom December 10th+11th.
So, like I sometimes do when I know there’s no financial commitment, I booked a hotel for those dates using our Disney Vacation points. My mantra is, book first, then discuss with the husband, as our travel plans often depend on his ability to get time off work. He mulled it over and decided it was possible. At that point I decided we had some more DVC points to spare, so I booked us a night at one of the new “resort studios” at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa-a hybrid between a classic DVC studio and a standard hotel room. So as it stands right now, we are staying one night off-property at the Signia Bonnet Creek, then 3 nights at Animal Kingdom Lodge, (our home resort) and one night each at the Grand Floridian and Saratoga Springs. We are flying, so we’re going to try to avoid renting a car and rely on Disney transportation and Lyft. We ordered 6 day park hopper tickets from Undercover Tourist and are doing 2 days at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios and 1 each at Epcot and Animal Kingdom. I came up with a list of some dining I’d like to try while we’re there including Baseline Tap House (Hollywood Studios), Jaleo (Disney Springs), Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge), and the Citricos Lounge (Grand Floridian.) So that is what our upcoming trip is looking like. I will now
obsess focus on our Dapper Day attire for the 2 parks. I’m thinking vintage Christmas or maybe a kilt for my man!
So, while I am excited about this trip and being “home” again to try the new Guardians of the Galaxy attraction at Epcot and ride Haunted Mansion for the umpteenth time, I have some feelings about what has been going on at the Walt Disney World Resort and although Festivus is months away, it’s time to air some grievances. Let’s start with the most irritating thing for this blogger: the eradication of live entertainment in the parks. I understand we’ve had a strange couple of years that has hurt the labor force, but the Disney Company is quite capable of paying their entertainment cast members a healthy wage to attract performers back to the parks. No Main Street Trolley Show, no Citizens of Hollywood, no Main Street USA townspeople, no Fantasmic. The thing that made Disney feel special and unique from other theme parks is no longer there. As a matter of fact, on our trip to Universal Orlando, we saw street entertainment and roaming characters that really added to our experience and made for such a good time, and made me pine for the former Disney.
Instead of live performers Disney thinks you’d much rather pay $45 for the most recent addition to the WDW cash grab lineup-Magicband+, an enhanced Magicband that allows you to interact with elements of the parks and that lights up and vibrates. I’ve seen in YouTube videos what these things do and it’s not impressive. In addition, they need to be charged nightly, or more depending on how much you use the interactive features during the day. This along with Genie+ is just keeping guests on their phones and devices more than ever instead of allowing them to be in the moment, making memories.
While we’re at it, here’s a not so comprehensive list of questions I would love answers to: why was there no nighttime parade introduced for the 50th anniversary? Why did Happily Ever After go away after 3 years only to be replaced with the far inferior Enchanted? Why is the Walt Disney World Railroad still not running after almost 4 years? Why in general are the best things about the parks going away but the prices keep going up? Why is everything a
cash grab dessert party/ after hours event/ add-on to your regular park ticket? These are the things that frustrate me, because, while I will always have a love for the Disney parks in my heart, the changes being made do not enhance the guest experience in any way. Ok, come at me. What do you agree or disagree with?
I’d hate to end this post on a negative note, so I’ll just say this: I love going to the Disney parks. Heck, we’ve even booked a cruise on the new Disney Wish next February and I’m excited as heck! I just hope that going forward, the company remembers why they’re here. Yes, it all started with a mouse, but the guests are the reason they exist. And although people love to point out that Disney is a corporation and they’re only interested in making money; that’s fine, but they can do so while keeping the guests’ happy, and I hope they continue to make magic for all of us for a very long time.