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Observations from a Disneylander's trip to WDW

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  • Trip Report Observations from a Disneylander's trip to WDW

    First, some background. My family and I have visited Disneyland almost annually for over 30 years (we live in Utah; it's a matter of convenience). That said, WDW is our favorite of the park/resort experiences. It's a combination of factors: the space, the variety of resorts and parks, the environment, the people. Prior to last week, our most recent trip to WDW was 2008-ish. So while I'm not a WDW newbie, I'm not totally up to speed with everything going there. Also, it's tough for me not to compare the two properties in observations.

    Now, context. We are a family of 4 small children ranging in age from 2-13. We took the Magical Express from MCO and stayed 5 nights at the All-Star Music resort. Being on a budget, we rented a car for 1 day from Alamo at the Car Care Center to make a grocery run to Wal-Mart. Here are my observations:

    Magical Express
    On previous WDW trips, we stayed off-property and rented a vehicle for the duration of the stay. While I love driving in FL (absolutely beautiful state), this can be extremely stressful and expensive. Tolls, GPS errors, parking fees, etc. So this time we tried the Express. Wow! It was quick and painless. The best part was checking our luggage at the resort after checkout and letting them store all of our carry-ons while we played for several hours before our flight. Staff was helpful, professional, and fun. We'll be doing this for all trips from now on!

    Alamo and Car Care Center
    I've never had a better rental experience in my life-- and working for an airline, we travel a lot. Shuttle picked me up at All Star Music. No line for the rental. The rep didn't give me crap about not insuring the vehicle. I had reserved an economy car for $20 and they gave me a Jeep for that price. Returning the car was just as smooth. Not enough good things to say about this experience.

    Transportation in General
    Eh, not so impressed. First, it seems like the All Stars get short shrift with the buses. I didn't take serious note, but it seems like their stops are further from the parks and buses run less often. The buses were packed. PACKED. Every leg of every trip. I'm not sure I ever got a seat. On one trip to Downtown Disney from Music, we waited about 45 minutes for a bus. One morning we boarded a bus to DAK and arrived at DHS. The driver was very apologetic (he usually drives the DHS route and spaced it), but it wasted a good half hour of our day. Not sure why-- and again, I didn't take serious note-- but the drive between the All Stars and MK seemed to take forever. Usually I don't mind, but it gets a bit frustrating as I'm standing and holding a baby for the whole ride. We've done the buses on previous WDW trips and I've never seen them this packed. Thumbs down on transportation this time.

    MK Crowd Control Fails
    We spent several days in MK, one being the day (last Friday I think?) when the park was open for whatever reason until 3am. They were filming something on Main Street that day and they mentioned that there was some cheerleading event there. Needless to say, the park was packed. Being Disneylanders, we're very accustomed to this. So are the CMs there. The CMs at MK seemed extremely frantic and stressed, like they've never dealt with crowds like this before. Crowd management was shoddy with mixed messages coming from various CMs. I saw a serious lack of cool and professionalism in some of them.

    That night during Wishes, they started almost trying to make people exit the park, herding people toward the exits via backstage routes behind Main Street and Tomorrowland. We were looking for a place to view the fireworks but couldn't stop (and frankly they wouldn't let us). They had some canned line they were yelling but that nobody could understand: "Fireworks viewing blah blah blah blah blah PARK EXIT!"

    So we found ourselves being witlessly shuffled backstage from Adventureland to the gates by the fire house, which was pretty cool because I've always wanted to see what's back there. But by the time we got back to Main Street, the show had ended. I couldn't help but compare the experience to DL where overcrowding is regular. CMs there are cool, cohesive, and coherent. Their MK counterparts could take a few lessons from them.

    Castle Lighting Ceremony
    My baby girl loves Frozen, so she loved this show. The lighting effects are absolutely amazing. I love that castle! The lighting ceremony was slightly too long, and I noticed they went to great pains to avoid mentioning Christmas, instead using the generic "holidays" numerous times. I get it-- gotta be PC today. I'm no evangelist, but Christmas is a big thing to a great many visitors to DL. No need to dilute it or dance around it. I'm glad Christmas itself is acknowledged and widely referenced elsewhere in the parks (especially the nativity scene in DHS).

    Electrical Parade
    Disneylanders are still pretty hacked off that MK stole this parade. Y'all had (have?) Specromagic, but that never held a candle to the Electrical Parade. It pains me to visit DL and not see this parade because MK has it for some reason. So you can imagine how glad we were to finally see it the other night! Some of the floats looked original and characters were speaking original lines, but I noticed that the Baroque Hoedown theme has been re-recorded and the parade significantly shortened.

    Vintage Attractions
    One of my frustrations with DL is their propensity to change things and ditch well-loved attractions. Country Bears, People Mover, Swiss Family Treehouse-- the list seems endless. It was nice to experience these attractions this week in all their vintage glory. And very glad to see that the Tiki Room's "new management" has been sacked.

    Attraction Comparison
    I'm not going to say anything you haven't already heard, but I gotta mention these. Space Mountain is very, very different in MK than DL. Totally different queue. DL's has better upkeep. The "stars" in the ride are brighter, it's darker with less ride infrastructure visible to the rider. It's got the music playing throughout. MK's Space Mountain was pretty disappointing.

    Pirates at MK is so much shorter than DL, although MK's indoor queue is much better. MK Pirates needs upkeep. Audio mix and volume was way off in most scenes prior to the village. I could barely hear the mermaid song or atmospheric music, couldn't understand Blackbeard's spiel at either the beginning or end. Jack Sparrow's end spiel was barely audible. If I hadn't read about the mermaids swimming underwater at the beginning of the ride, I would have never noticed the effect. DL is meticulous about all this stuff. It doesn't seem like MK cares so much.

    Splash Mountain seems longer than at DL. I think maybe the logs flow slower. And there are some very different scenes at MK. I really liked that.

    FastPass+ and Wristbands
    We did the wristbands and used the app to get FPs when we could. I love that the wristband can make purchases, unlock my room, and acts as FPs, admission, etc. That was awesome. But these things are pretty flaky. The sweet spot is too small, which backs things up at admission and FP lines.

    I'm not sure what to think about the new FP system. First, the app was horrible. Very confusing, buggy, and froze up all the time (and we were using it on various devices). There is some confusion about what can be done after all FPs are used. A CM at the kiosks said new FPs can be added, but only at the kiosk. The app just displays an error and does not stipulate how you can get additional FPs. We were halfway thru the trip before the CM clarified on this. All of this resulted in us getting way fewer FPs than normal. Am I crazy to think that was one of the goals of this new system?

    CMs Overall
    In general I loved the WDW CMs. Aside from crowd control (see above), they were very laid back and genuine. Good vibes.

    Ok, that's it for now. I may chime in with a few more thoughts, but I'd love to see what you all think about these observations!
    Last edited by JungleBumCT; 12-12-2014, 08:14 AM. Reason: Formatting

  • #2
    Re: Observations from a Disneylander's trip to WDW

    nice review, as a quick aside for the future, instead of renting a car for a day to go to a store using an online grocery company would have saved you a fair bit of hassle and more likely then not some money as well. I did that my last trip and am without a doubt now hooked.

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    • #3
      Re: Observations from a Disneylander's trip to WDW

      Thanks for the suggestion! We wondered about that but never really looked into it because we feared it would be a hassle and a lot of extra $$. If that's not the case, I'll totally consider that next time.

      Since we had 4 kids with us, we justified paying extra for the resort stay by eating cheap. That meant pop tart breakfasts, PB&J sandwiches packed for lunch, and very late crock pot dinners at the hotel. We'd load up the crock pot in the morning and feast after the (25 minute standing, holding on for dear life with a screaming baby) bus ride home. If online grocery delivery is practical for that, I'm in!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Observations from a Disneylander's trip to WDW

        Originally posted by JungleBumCT View Post
        Thanks for the suggestion! We wondered about that but never really looked into it because we feared it would be a hassle and a lot of extra $$. If that's not the case, I'll totally consider that next time.

        Since we had 4 kids with us, we justified paying extra for the resort stay by eating cheap. That meant pop tart breakfasts, PB&J sandwiches packed for lunch, and very late crock pot dinners at the hotel. We'd load up the crock pot in the morning and feast after the (25 minute standing, holding on for dear life with a screaming baby) bus ride home. If online grocery delivery is practical for that, I'm in!
        big time practical for that trust me. all you have to do is place the order and say when you want it delivered and you can pick it up from luggage services right when you check in. no paying for rental cars or taking time out of your day to drive around or anything, obviously you will get a better price at wallmart, but the convenience factor plus not having to pay for gas and a rental car all add up. biggest savings I found actually wasn't from something you mentioned but from simple water. instead of buying hugely overpriced drinks at the parks getting a case of water and taking a bottle or two to the parks helped a shocking amount on costs, and its so much healthier then consuming a ton of soda like you would be inclined to do if you didn't have it.

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