The appeal of Disney parks

BullGuy's avatar

I guess it escapes me.

I last visited Disney World when I was 10 in '96. I can't recall anything memorable from that visit. I remember being excited for the visit, and leaving very...meh. Disney gets a lot of love over here, and so I'm wondering- why?

Off the bat I'm expecting responses concerning dining, room, theming of otherwise mediocre rides, etc.

Never Has Gravity Been So Uplifting.

ApolloAndy's avatar

I think you hit Disney at exactly the wrong age. Younger than that and you actually believe the magic. Older than 20 or so, and you willingly suspend disbelief because reality sucks and you're not trying to be "too cool for school."

The appeal for me of Disney is exactly that. I can completely escape reality for a few days and be immersed in a fantasy. I don't think it's one thing in particular that Disney does that creates that "magic" but things like cleanliness, attention to detail (like obstructing sight lines that go into other themed areas), consistent theming, the fact that rides are much more about a narrative and an experience than "how high can we make this thing?"...all contribute to my ability to escape.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

So... you visited 15 years ago when you were only 10 and can't recall anything memorable? Maybe you should go back.

BullGuy's avatar

I first visited Busch Tampa in '94 and that was a very memorable visit. I have a remarkable memory.

Andy: Perhaps, but isn't that why we visit any park? I'll eventually return, probably when I have children of my own. I'm thinking that the magic is taking the kids to an overpriced playground that also caters to adults in the form of dining and an above average room to stay at while you do that.

Never Has Gravity Been So Uplifting.

ApolloAndy's avatar

When I go to my local Six Flags, I have moments of escape (when I'm actually on the ride) punctuating long periods of pleasantness on a good day and long periods of frustration on a bad day.

When I'm at Disney, I have more or less 8 hours of non-stop escape from the moment I set foot in the park until I leave. I feel like a kid in a candy store. The ride experiences are just the icing on the cake (to mix metaphors).

Last edited by ApolloAndy,

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

BullGuy's avatar

ApolloAndy said:

I feel like a kid in a candy store..

That is what I'm trying to understand.

When I first went to Busch in '94 we spent two days there. I remember seeing Kumba from the parking lot, and my dad trying to get me to ride it that day. I went on Scorpion, Python, and Phoenix, but not Kumba. The next day I sucked it up and rode. Today I think Kumba is the epitome of what a looping coaster should be, but I wonder if I only think that for sentimental reasons... Disney didn't have any of that.

Never Has Gravity Been So Uplifting.

LostKause's avatar

I visited Disney once when I was three-years-old, and then many times in my Twenties and Thirties. I love it, mostly for the same reasons that Andy says.

Since we are comparing, I first visited Busch Gardens in Tampa in my late twenties. I love it too, for different reasons. I don't know if any of my love for these two parks have anything to do with nostalgia.


"CoasterBuzz - It feels like home" :)

Tekwardo's avatar

If you go to parks for thrills, coasters, and what not, Disney isn't going to be the place for you regardless. My first trip to a Disney Park was when I was in my 20s. I just went to Disney World for the first time at 30. Personally, I love the parks and want to go back now.

It's the overall experience. I keep trying to tell my parents that it's not like any other amusement park, it's Disney.

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Jeff's avatar

My wife was just shy of 40 on her visit. She loved it. In fact, she cried a little when she saw the Christmas lights at the studios.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

The Disney parks have always had an appeal to me. When I was younger it was that everything was larger than life and sooo much different from the regional parks that I had been to. Now as an adult that appeal has changed. It has been the attenion to detail, the storylines, the family atmopshere, the whole leaving the real world behind to world of make believe. Most importantly the look in my kid's eyes meeting mickey, cinderella, seeing figment, hugging winne the pooh, and the awe in her eyes from watching the night time parade then seeing Tinkerbell fly before the fireworks.

Magic Kingdom is my favorite park, even more than parks like Great Adventure and Hersheypark.

Even though I'd really like to see a major thrill coaster added to one of the WDW parks, I still manage to have an awesome time every trip to WDW.

Besides many of the rides being so different than the typical park rides, I really like how the parks are some of the few where everyone in my family has plenty of rides to choose from compared to a park like Great Adventure that has literally no rides for some people in my family.

Personally, the appeal of WDW for me comes in the fact that I can escape reality and just have fun in so many different ways. I can walk down Hollywood and Sunset Blvds. taking in the atmosphere, or walk around the world enjoying a crepe, german pretzels and chocolate, and bbq pork buns. I can get lost in late 1800s/early 1900s America with some great street entertainment, or watch a fireworks show laying in a hammock on a beach. I could take a 45 min. safari as often as I wanted to see the baby elephant/rhino/whatever animal I was interested in, or hopping around the resorts and relaxing.

Now admittedly I was just a 10 min. drive from any spot on property when I was off work, so I didn't really care about the attractions as much as a typical vacationer. But still, I would thoroughly encourage someone who has a hard time "getting" Disney to try and slow down their vacation a bit (don't the do the hyper planning stuff), or just take one day to do whatever and lounge around the resort and do stuff at your leisure. Don't focus on the attractions.

Original BlueStreak64

birdhombre's avatar

Eh, I had a rambling post written up but thought I'd just whittle it down to the basics. We all have different aspects of amusement parks, theme parks, etc. that appeal to us, and the Disney experience is just one more set. No one says we 'have' to be nuts for the mouse, and at this stage in my life, I'm trending more toward thrill rides. The two times I went to WDW (for a week when I was 18, for a day when I was 19), I enjoyed it but I think a lot of it had to do with the people I was with -- their enthusiasm fueled mine. So for my money's worth, Disney isn't in the cards, but that's not to say it wouldn't be in the future as my tastes, income, etc. change.

Last edited by birdhombre,

I think you hit Disney at exactly the wrong age.

This. I've gone through several stages in my relationship with Disney.

Early on, as a younger kid, it was fantabulous.

In my tween/teen years, it basically sucked, because---let's face it---the coasters suck as coasters, and there isn't much else in the way of a thrill ride. (Tower of Terror is a big exception, but that didn't exist when I was in my "Disney sucks" phase.) I dug Mansion, Space, and a few other things, but would have rather have gone to an amusement park instead.

There was a point in college or so when a Disney park was "okay", but mostly as a self-parody rather than as some special or unique experience.

It wasn't until I had kids of my own that it really made sense again. Especially for those with kids of a variety of ages/thrill-tolerances, a Disney park is a pretty nice compromise that for the most part allows everyone to stick together most of the time without being bored/scared stiff. There are also a wider breadth of "experiences" to sample vs. a "regular" park, which also helps with a longer family trip. However, there are some "regular" parks that also pull this off; Dolllywood comes to mind.

But, a Disney park isn't really (just) the attractions. It's the environment that they create. It's some really very good shows. It's a lot of the little things that make a day just a little more pleasant, little courtesies from the employees, etc. Lots of other parks have some of these features some of the time, but Disney is better than just about anyone else at the whole package.

Then, there is WDW specifically vs. Disney generally (so far, I've been to Anaheim, Orlando, and Paris). WDW is just a different beast than anything else, because it's a city-sized thing that is entirely leisure-oriented. I didn't really appreciate this aspect of "the Disney experience" until I was all grown up, but the ability to seamlessly provide a HUGE variety of leisure activities---golf, boating, biking, halfway-decent dining, *together* with a theme park environment---all without the "outside world" intruding, is hard to replicate anywhere else. I've done a trip with just my wife, without the kids, and it was a completely different sort of trip, but wonderful just the same. I've even done a solo trip (thanks to winter breaks that didn't line up) and spending a week at Boardwalk Villas, within walking distance to Epcot and the Studios, with all the Epcot-area resorts' dining and entertainment options, was a pretty nice break from my regular life.

In fairness, Disney is not the only place we go, and it's not the only place we enjoy. We still have passes for Cedar Point, and enjoy our day trips/weekends there. (And, staying on-peninsula has its own immersive charm.) We also take other family vacations to the usual sorts of places: the Smokies, the Dells, Williamsburg, Washington DC, Alaska, the Colorado Rockies, etc. We have Flagstaff/Grand Canyon and Hawaii on our get-to list, as well. But, Disney (really, WDW) is a reliable member of our family vacation rotation.

I know what you mean. We're getting the whole Disney thing out of the way this year, so the kids can say they've been there. I've been to Orlando a couple of times to golf and stuff because the parents had a timeshare but Disney was always secondary to that. As a kid my father offered to go there once or twice but my sister and I wanted to go to Wildwood.

Jeff's avatar

I think if you continue to speak of it as something to "get out of the way," you're setting yourself and your family up for disappointment.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

I could enjoy a day at a Disney park without getting on a ride. I can't say the same for just about any other amusement park, except perhaps Sea World.

At Disney my entire family can have fun together and never have to separate. At most any other park the kids can have fun, or the adults can have fun, and there are a handful of rides we can enjoy as a family.

I love seeing my kids interact with the characters and there aren't any characters in ANY other park that get my kids as jazzed as Disney Princesses, Mickey and Friends, and even the Pixar and more modern Disney classics.

Disney stage shows and nighttime entertainment is better than everyone else and I think, except for maybe Halloween they do special events/holidays better than anyone else.

I would say Disney food is generally better than most other parks (except Dollywood). And, I find Disney food is a better value than most other parks (again, except Dollywood and maybe the Busch parks).

If I judged things by what I thought about them when I was 10 years old then I would think naked ladies are overrated.

We never really had that problem except for when my kids were very little. Maybe it's because my kids are tall and would go on anything as soon as they were tall enough. My son was 48 inches when he was 5. Third coaster he ever went on was Twister. First time we went to Knoebels that was the first ride we happened to stumble upon (after someone who was leaving sold me 50 dollars worth of tickets for 25)

I was kind of the same way, after I rode a basic Flitzer, I wasn't afraid of any coaster. Loch Ness Monster was my first real coaster after riding all of the little coasters in Wildwood and OCNJ. (Golden Nugget, City Jet etc... )

I have friends who love Disney and this is probably the reason, their kids are 7 and 13 and dont go on any big rides. They have family out in Shamokin but dont go to Knoebels that often. They dont understand why we like to go there annually.

Last edited by billb7581,
LostKause's avatar

I'll disagree that Disney World doesn't have good thrill rides. Tower of Terror, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, The big drop on Splash Mountain, The jets in Tomorrowland (because they are high), The drop on the AK rapids ride, Dinosaur, Test Track, The Maelstrom dark ride / backwards water ride, Mission Space, and I know that I've missed something. Plus I think that a lot of teens will find a lot of pleasure in riding Toy Story Mania if only for the video game aspect.

Then take a look at the Disney water parks. Some of those slides appear to be pretty thrilling.

Of course they don't have Cedar point or Six Flags thrills, but most people that I speak to who have been to Disney in Orlando speak about how thrilling some of the rides that I just mentioned are.



"CoasterBuzz - It feels like home" :)

rollergator's avatar

^ Thanks for mentioning MY Toy Story ride...but I think you missed Space Mountain (and Big Thunder, to a lesser extent). :)

Last edited by rollergator,

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