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  • [Question] Has Spontaneity at WDW gone the way of the Dinosaurs?

    I posted this on another forum and would love to hear what MiceChatters think, especially DL regulars...

    With the Dining Plan pretty much eliminating the chance for day of, walk up reservations, and now talk of advance Fastpasses, is spontaneity almost a thing of the past at WDW? Back in 2006, we booked our 12 day WDW trip with the DDP. 90 days out, we booked all our reservations and got everything we wanted. When our trip rolled around, we found that while we loved all the food we ate, we hated the fact that our dining was so regimented, dictating what seemed like every move we made. Some times we ended up in a park on a rainy day that we never would have gone to, due to our dining reservation. With Disney doing surveys about advance Fastpasses, I feel that a Disney trip in the future is just going to be like one big scheduled day at work. While some advance planning can be fun, I don't want to have to decide whether or not I want to go on Killamenjaro Safari in November for a day in February. It's hard enough deciding what to do the morning of any given day. All these reservations are just s__________g any spontaneity, still remaining, out of the Disney experience. What do ya'll think?

    Longing for the WDW of the mid-seventies.....
    WDW-'73,'76,'77,'78,'79,'80,'81,'82,'86,'91,'95,'96,'9 7,'99,'00,'01,'02,'03,'05,'06,'07,
    Jan'08,Feb'08,Sept'09,'10x3,'11x5,'12x4,'13x4,'14x 2
    DL-
    '79,'81,'84,'91,'05,'07,'10,'14

  • #2
    Re: Has Spontaneity at WDW gone the way of the Dinosaurs?

    I'm trying to look at this from both side of the coin. I prefer spontaneity more. I think it's asking too much for people to plan their Disney vacation years in advance and expect everything to go smoothly. I get REALLY annoyed that I can't eat at any table service restaurant without a reservation and some restaurants won't have a free table even if I reserve it months early.

    However I'm starting to see that the crowding situation at the Disney Parks is what's making it much more harder for spontaneity to work at Disney especially on days when Disney will keep open as few rides and restaurants as humanely possible. It would be easier for Disney to redo it's Dining Plan and find a solution the crowd situation in rides and restaurant instead of relying on guests to manage through the system. But you know that won't happen. The suits will prefer what they can spend less on and get the most profit from.

    This new system they have planned just might turned people away from Disney World and then they'll find themselves in quite a mess.

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    • #3
      Re: Has Spontaneity at WDW gone the way of the Dinosaurs?

      Its been 5 years since my last trip to WDW but I never really had a problem with the dinning plan. However, the whole new "scheduled" idea is something I am completely against. Vacations are supposed to be leisurely and relaxing. It doesn't strike me that there are people out there who could have fun looking at their watch every minute saying they need to make their time for this ride or that. I never have a plan as to which ride I'm going on or what day, and I barley have an idea as to which park I'll be going to which day. And what if you are onboard with this but you find you don't like a ride as much as you thought/remembered? Can you simply remove it from your list? What if you find that you like one more? Can you add it? These are just a few problems I have, there are certainly more. I really hope they'll rethink this. Or else the desire to go back will now be totally gone.

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      • #4
        Re: Has Spontaneity at WDW gone the way of the Dinosaurs?

        Spontaneity is definitely becoming extinct at WDW and it's not just because of the dining plan. The execs want to know what their guests are doing, where they're going at ALL times... and to do this, they have created a system where they can do just that.

        Look at Magic Mornings and Extended evenings. They're not really magical or extended any more if the majority of park guests are going to those. Evening spectaculars like the fireworks, fantasmic!, and illuminations are all scheduled so that you don't really choose which one to go to... it's either the time they give you or you don't see it.

        You end up fighting every other park guest to see the same shows, go to the same parks (because they're open longer), and go on the same small amount of rides.

        Parks close their shops early only to force you over to Downtown Disney.


        Any spontaneity there is, is just where you eat and what ride you do and which park you hop to during the day. Taking part in the dining plan will only further limit your plans.


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        • #5
          Re: Has Spontaneity at WDW gone the way of the Dinosaurs?

          ORDDU: The Fastpass system was the first element introduced to the parks that made guests have to compete with each other in ways that took the magic out of a day at Disney. But management doesn't care. They look at their guests with only dollar signs in their minds. Walt would be apalled by how things have changed. If Disney management continues to run their parks as though their guests were a bunch of stepford wives, the tide will eventually turn against the company. It may take years, but it will be a difficult and negative reputation for the company to reverse.

          ORGOCH: Well, that's what they deserves!! I don't feel sorry fer NONE a them stupid goomers runnin' the parks these days!

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          • #6
            Re: Has Spontaneity at WDW gone the way of the Dinosaurs?

            Living here in Florida, and going every other week to the parks-I still, consistently, see spontaneity.

            Because I want to.

            It's difficult, one must understand, to give people a one-of-a-kind experience when everyone else in the world is visiting Disney World at the same time as a that person. Schedules can assure it. I cannot think of another way, other to just run rough-shod and just go first-come/first serve. Some structure had to be developed.

            However, I look at it akin to this--would I not schedule time when I go to Paris? London? Rome? Of course I would. But without one, over-arching corporation over those cities, it's hard to blame our hardships on anyone but ourselves. So we didn't research this little alley where the tour ended--and there's not a place to eat. Hmmm.....who's fault is that?

            I think the owness needs to come on part of the guest who does attend Disney World. If you want to have a fun time, you will, period. And if you think you won't, I doubt one will.

            Death is a strong word. I like to think a structured day in my work schedule doesn't mean my work will be rote.

            It's all in how you look at it.

            Peace,
            Roo
            husband, petowner, wordsmith, imagineer, martialist, playwright, traveller, ardent, wit, critic, barista, Taoist, superhero, fortuneteller, reader, fidget, teacher, dreamer, author, blogger, ghosthunter, voter, patient, bear, gourmand, Floridian, friend

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            • #7
              Re: Has Spontaneity at WDW gone the way of the Dinosaurs?

              I agree a bit with Roo here. Our family is extremely spontaneous, and when we went to the parks in '09, we had almost no plan of what we were going to do. Yes, we did do the normal thing of getting fastpasses for the rides we absolutely knew that we wanted to ride in the early morning, but that didn't affect what we did in the times around the fast pass times. One good thing I will say about the fastpass system is it gives you a loose time slot that you're allowed to do something in, so if something takes a bit longer than expected, you can still use it. Also, we actually have gotten into the Coral Reef restaurant just walking in before. That's a pretty hard restaurant to get into, but we went at a early supper time and got in fine.

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              • #8
                Re: Has Spontaneity at WDW gone the way of the Dinosaurs?

                Spontaneity still exists in WDW. The week after Labor Day. For Locals. That have annual passes. That know how to work the system.
                -Bill

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                • #9
                  Re: Has Spontaneity at WDW gone the way of the Dinosaurs?

                  I can't imagine anyone (except perhaps first-time visitors on a tight schedule, particularly foreign visitors) enjoying a Disney-regimented vacation at a Disney theme park. What kind of fun is that?

                  To Disney management's poll-inspired, focus group-tested, MBA-titillating groupthink, however, "fun" is an abstract and "spontaneity" is strictly string theory. They've invented a product -- the Pre-Planned, Tracked and Data-Mined Corporation-Controlled Vacation Event -- and obviously think they have a demographic to whom they can sell it at a nice profit.

                  Bon appetit.

                  "Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because
                  it combines fantasy and history, adventure and learning,
                  together with every variety of recreation and fun,
                  designed to appeal to everyone."

                  - Walt Disney

                  "Disneyland is all about turning movies into rides."
                  - Michael Eisner

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                  • #10
                    Re: Has Spontaneity at WDW gone the way of the Dinosaurs?

                    Spontaneity is hard to quantify, but as a regular visitor and vacationer to WDW I can tell you that the park experience definitely *feels* less spontaneous than it used to, especially at the MK. Diminished attraction capacity and hourly through-put, Fastpass, EMH, the Dining Plan, transportation headaches (thank you Magical Express)... are all contributing factors.

                    When we spend a week at WDW, we now have to plan *every* day's activities well in advance, like a precision military operation. Xpass will only add one more layer to the complexity.

                    For some, hyperactive planning and execution may be pleasurable on vacation... but I can tell you our family is seeking out other vacation options this fall.

                    WDW just doesn't *feel* as spontaneous, fun or relaxing as it used to.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Has Spontaneity at WDW gone the way of the Dinosaurs?

                      I did notice a lot of families on my last trip who were very agenda-oriented, to the point where they didn't look like they were having any fun at all. But maybe they were just the ones I happened to notice.

                      It made me kind of sad to hear a lot of mothers go on about how great it was to have the scheduled meet-and-greets with Mickey and the princesses because they could "get it over and done with." If it's so much of a chore, maybe it's something you should reconsider doing.

                      There were also a lot of parents who wouldn't take time out of the day to give their kids naps when they clearly needed them.

                      I think it has a lot to do with money. WDW visitors tend to be people who've traveled a long way and may not be back for a while. I think they figure they HAVE to hit all the bullet points on their list or all the money they spent on the trip will be wasted.

                      I did plan an itinerary for one day on my last trip, but it only lasted until just after lunch when the rest of my party started to get cranky. At that point, it ceased to be worth it.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Has Spontaneity at WDW gone the way of the Dinosaurs?

                        I'm one of those people who likes to plan out my vacation as much as possible, especially when I'm going to a disney park. But then once I actually get there, I almost completely ditch any planning I made and just enjoy myself. If I'm forced to do everything the schedule says, it gets really tiring. Say you're supposed to go from the Jungle Cruise to Space Mountain, but a parade is going on. I'd have to make a mad dash, looking for a way across, otherwise, I'm forced to skip that ride unless I scheduled a second riding. That doesn't sound a lot of fun to me, and I doubt it does to a lot of people, even the ones who try planning as much of their vacation as possible.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Has Spontaneity at WDW gone the way of the Dinosaurs?

                          The more I read about this X-Pass thing, the more I think that my next vacation to Disney World may be further away than originally planned. I definitely want to wait until all of Fantasyland is finished. I haven't been there since 2009. I planned less on that trip than normally, and I had a nice time. We did only one priority seating, and that was on the last night of our trip. Our Ohana dinner was all the more special, because it was "one of a kind". Not just another dinner that we had to get to, but rather, a special dinner we looked forward to.

                          So, I'll sit and wait, and read about what's happening at Disney World. Hopefully, things will turn around, and I'll be reading about new and great things.

                          There are some things on a Disney World vacation that definitely need to be planned out in advance. However, there's something to be said, about slowing down and "smelling the roses". I won't become someone who finds herself saying, "what roses?" because she's too tied to a schedule.
                          BarbaraAnn

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                          • #14
                            Re: Has Spontaneity at WDW gone the way of the Dinosaurs?

                            Disney wins no matter what. They're able to fill up their parks despite the negative reaction. They can't serve their guests properly so they resorted to forcing customers to schedule their day.

                            For myself, the parks are less enjoyable. The food is substandard for the price paid. The attractions are frayed. It is good for what it is.

                            If you want spontaneity, don't force yourself to do it Disney's way. Be a contrarian.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Has Spontaneity at WDW gone the way of the Dinosaurs?

                              The bottom line is, that as fans and guests of the park, we need to educate ourselves on the way things are being done. Then we can better figure out a way around things, so as to make our vacation as much fun as it should be.
                              BarbaraAnn

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                              • #16
                                Re: Has Spontaneity at WDW gone the way of the Dinosaurs?

                                I definitely agree that WDW has lost its spontaneity to a certain extent, and the DDP and Fastpass are definitely to blame. Another very large part of it though are the tons of discounts and promotions that have all but eliminated the "off seasons" that used to be so pleasant. Personally, I'd love a return to no fastpasses, no dining plan, and "day of" dining reservations only, but we all know that will never happen.

                                Regarding XPass, the interesting thing to me is that anytime anyone gets word on it from a "highly placed" source, it usually comes with the reassurance that you'll still be able to enjoy WDW without XPass and that XPass won't impact the people who choose not to use it.

                                I'm not sure what to think of that. It could be true, it could be company spin. Disney loves to spin Fastpass as being only a plus, but we all know that it punishes those who don't know how to or don't want to use it. But maybe the way XPass works will be totally different?

                                For all the hype and worry over XPass, we still don't know exactly what it is. I'm wary about it, but I'm withholding judgement til we know more about it. If XPass eliminates Fastpass and somehow manages to not exacerbate lines the way Fastpass did, it'll be a plus in my book. If it forces you to plan out your entire vacation and FPs months in advance, it's an abomination IMHO. Time will tell.

                                One thing I will say though: It's mindblowing to me that TDO would rather sink so much money into NexGen queues and XPass systems to make things more efficient and increase your "enjoyment" of waiting in line, rather than just investing in more attractions and dining locations to increase capacity and better handle the amount of guests they now receive. I guess they thought that would just be too easy?
                                I knew if this business was ever to get anywhere, if this business was ever to grow, it could never do it by having to answer to someone unsympathetic to its possibilities, by having to answer to someone with only one thought or interest, namely profits. For my idea of how to make profits has differed greatly from those who generally control businesses such as ours. I have blind faith in the policy that quality, tempered with good judgment and showmanship, will win against all odds.
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                                • #17
                                  Re: Has Spontaneity at WDW gone the way of the Dinosaurs?

                                  Originally posted by PSUMark View Post
                                  ...It's mindblowing to me that TDO would rather sink so much money into NexGen queues and XPass systems to make things more efficient and increase your "enjoyment" of waiting in line, rather than just investing in more attractions and dining locations to increase capacity and better handle the amount of guests they now receive.
                                  I think it's because in concept, development and execution, NexGen/XPass is compelling to Disney corporate management. Psychologically and creatively, as well as business-wise, it is a perfect fit for them, and they are perfectly cast for it.

                                  Neither showmen nor visionaries, Disney's MBA management are purely marketeers. Product innovation, in the sense of the body of work created by the original Walt Disney Company, is something that today's Disney Corporation hires out or acquires (Pixar, Marvel, Muppets), and then exploits via their marketing machine. In contrast, the core of the NG and XP concept is marketing: re-packaging, re-purposing, promoting, distributing, tracking and otherwise manipulating (a.k.a. "adding value to") pre-existing product, with the goal of maximizing customer throughput ("enhancing the customer experience"), and thus maximizing profits -- all with a minimum investment in new physical plant.

                                  It's no wonder that Disney corporate management is so excited about NexGen -- besides the projected ROI, it is, in effect, an expression of their creativity. Its core concepts are a perfect fit for ratings-oriented TV programming executives like Bob Iger, longtime Chief Financial Officers like Tom Staggs, and the hierarchy of marketing-minded executives who work for them.
                                  Last edited by Mr Wiggins; 08-01-2011, 04:53 PM.
                                  "Disneyland is often called a magic kingdom because
                                  it combines fantasy and history, adventure and learning,
                                  together with every variety of recreation and fun,
                                  designed to appeal to everyone."

                                  - Walt Disney

                                  "Disneyland is all about turning movies into rides."
                                  - Michael Eisner

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Re: Has Spontaneity at WDW gone the way of the Dinosaurs?

                                    Originally posted by Coheteboy View Post
                                    Look at Magic Mornings and Extended evenings. They're not really magical or extended any more if the majority of park guests are going to those. Evening spectaculars like the fireworks, fantasmic!, and illuminations are all scheduled so that you don't really choose which one to go to... it's either the time they give you or you don't see it.

                                    You end up fighting every other park guest to see the same shows, go to the same parks (because they're open longer), and go on the same small amount of rides.

                                    Any spontaneity there is, is just where you eat and what ride you do and which park you hop to during the day. Taking part in the dining plan will only further limit your plans.
                                    At least Illuminations and fireworks play nightly, but Fantasmic is a great example for sure. Want to see one of Disney's premiere nighttime spectaculars? You'll see it when Disney wants you to see it, not when is ideal for you.

                                    Totally agree on magic hours. I find the early hour pretty much pointless. At least the evening hours can be beneficial, particularly in hour three and/or a particularly late evening. If you can stay up late, nights where the Magic Kingdom is open past midnight are pretty sweet.

                                    When I went to WDW last year, it took some time and effort to plan where I'd go every day, and the need to fit in dining reservations added to the challenge. I didn't mind too much, planning is part of the fun, but I worry there will soon be too much planning involved.

                                    Booking meals is enough of an effort as it is, I don't want to also book my attraction times.

                                    There also needs to be some ability to get a dining reservation, even at a popular location, without booking exactly six months out. On my last trip, I decided I didn't really need a second day at the Studios. However, since I wanted to try Sci-Fi Dine-In I had no choice but to return, on the day I had booked it for, as it was impossible to change my reservation.
                                    My Micechat cruise trip report, Part 1:http://micechat.com/14795-disney-wonder/

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                                    • #19
                                      Re: Has Spontaneity at WDW gone the way of the Dinosaurs?

                                      Originally posted by PSUMark View Post

                                      One thing I will say though: It's mindblowing to me that TDO would rather sink so much money into NexGen queues and XPass systems to make things more efficient and increase your "enjoyment" of waiting in line, rather than just investing in more attractions and dining locations to increase capacity and better handle the amount of guests they now receive. I guess they thought that would just be too easy?
                                      As my Grandma would say, "Penny-wise and pound-foolish."

                                      I will admit that some of the non-spontaneous things were nice on my last trip. Fastpass was useful on some of the long-wait rides (I'm looking at you, Soarin') and, despite some hassle, without the Dining Plan and ADR I probably never would have gotten to some of the great dining experiences I had. I guess its like most things, where you have to strike the right balance.

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                                      • #20
                                        Re: Has Spontaneity at WDW gone the way of the Dinosaurs?

                                        The spontaneity of Disney World is definitely deteriorated. Even as a local I have to make reservations at some of my favorite restaurants weeks or months in advance. I see on a daily basis families that are trying to adhere to an itinerary that Mom or Dad prepared back on the home computer. They all walk around with these sheets of papers with maps and times and all. I see them trying to take a picture, you know the kind with everyone squishing together and the camera holders arm extended out, so I ask them if they would like me to take the picture for them and they say they don't have time they have a reservation to get to. Then there is the family waiting on the monorail platform at the Contemporary nervously looking at their watch and trying to see if the monorail is coming because they have that 1900 Park Fare reservation in 5 minutes. and then there is the family that is getting ticked off because the parade is postponed a few minutes as a brief rain shower passes by. Now their whole timetable is gonna be messed up. And finally there is the family where the planner is literally crying because the attraction that was scheduled for a 3:30 ride is closed due to technical difficulties and now their whole trip, to them, is ruined because it was the ONLY ride they HAD to ride in the whole park and now they are going to miss that opportunity because their schedule won't allow for a return later in the day- or in 10 minutes- when the ride reopens.

                                        In the old days there was no fast pass, no ADR's, just same day reservations and all was cool. As a local as well, it is a shame that I can't wake up in the morning and decide I want to have dinner at 'Ohana or LeCelliar, or even Trails End tonight. I could do that at some Orlando's other fine restaurants.

                                        If there was no fast pass, I doubt very much the line for Soarin' would reach 90 or more minutes.

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