The appeal of Disney parks

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 1:57 PM

I'm doing it because the wife wants to do it while the kids are still (relatively) young and the finances happened to allow it this year.

If I go to the shore for a week I dont need to make dinner reservations a year in advance, I book a place to stay and order some half priced bracelets from Morey's around Easter, maybe some half priced tickets for Castaway Cove and I'm done.

I think you're spit shining the amount of planning required for a WDW junket.

Last edited by billb7581, Tuesday, June 14, 2011 2:00 PM
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011 2:17 PM

I don't think I am at all. I just don't think it's stressful or a pressure situation.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011 2:30 PM

The only planning anyone on this board has to do is dining. You should know the major rides from mass media and be able to plan how to attack a park from there.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011 2:34 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

Jeff said:
I honestly believe that anyone who finds that going to WDW is a stressful experience is doing it wrong.

I'd say that's true for people who visit repeatedly.

This is truth! I feel the same way about Universal now after a few visits. We can let the experience come to us now. If it's too hot or busy we can just go to the bar, or WALK back to the pool and come back later a couple hours before the parks close. I love it.

On Disney, I don't have kids so anything I say is most likely null and void for those with a family. My wife and I planned a weekend trip the Monday before leaving on a Thursday night. Had dinner and lunch at awesome places without having reservations. Any plans we did have were thrown out the window after the awful flying experience Thursday night. We honestly didn't have the greatest trip because we tried to do way too much—I hope we learn from that mistake—we still had an amazing time and did not want it to end. Just go with the flow. If the kids are being cranky go back to the pool for a few hours and go back to the park later that night when it's cooler and a little less crowded. And don't park hop.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011 2:42 PM

Not sure about other people here, but I've had a hot-and-cold relationship with Disney over the years. As a kid, I loved WDW. Didn't really engage Disney for over 15 years. Once I became an enthusiast (around 12 years ago), I ended up with a cheap Disney pass thru work, and enjoyed the FL parks. After a year or two, found it wasn't really giving me sufficient "bang for my buck". Then, ended up at DLR during a coaster event in...'04-05ish, and really *got* the magic all over again (even with Space being down for rehab).

Forward a couple more years, and ended up with a pass for my nieces' first visit to WDW. Since then, I've not been without a Disney pass in my wallet, and even though I'm now paying what amounts to more than two CF Platinums for my one annual pass....just can't see myself without one. Once I step foot on grounds, even at the first tram pick-up, I'm transported to a time and place where the stress of everyday life just isn't part of the experience. I'm getting whatever Walt intended for me to get...and I'm SO glad I do! :)

gator, happy consumer of the Disney-brand Kool-Aid.... ;)

Last edited by rollergator, Tuesday, June 14, 2011 2:43 PM
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011 2:46 PM

Jeff said:
But several of you also tap into the real problem, and that's heightened expectations. The parks are massive, and there's a lot to do. It's not realistic to do it all, in my opinion.

If there's one remote flaw to what Disney does, this could be it.

I can understand the mindset that thinks, "It's costing me $XXXX to bring my family here, I'd better be able to do it all!"

It's not that you're not getting your money's worth, but knowing you didn't get to 'take it all in' when you drop that kind of cash can give the perception of getting ripped a little.

I mean there's an entire market devoted to 'helping' you get the most of of your visit to WDW. There's definitely pressure felt if people are willing to pay for this kind of info/service.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Tuesday, June 14, 2011 2:49 PM
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011 5:05 PM

Touchdown said:
The only planning anyone on this board has to do is dining. You should know the major rides from mass media and be able to plan how to attack a park from there.

And as someone who is engaged in this proccess, currently, it's a huge pain in the ass... all the good places are booked solid., so now I'm already a little pissed that I'm looking at 2nd tier restaurants.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011 5:16 PM

If you sit down and people bring food to you, and it's in the Reedy Creek Improvement District, it's unlikely that I'd call it "2nd tier." Try Marrakesh in the Morocco pavilion. Service has been questionable, but the food is delicious. I've generally never had issues getting into the Japanese restaurant (in the front, not the hibachi joint), even during Illuminations. Yak & Yeti at Animal Kingdom is delicious (only sit-down restaurant there). Ate at one of the places in Grand Floridian, really liked it.

There are solid choices all over the place, and they don't require five months advance booking.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011 5:18 PM

The problem is, Jeff - when someone is searching for a reason to be miserable, there's really no convincing them otherwise.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011 4:17 AM

I'm in the early planning stages of putting a trip together for February 2012, and so far it seems like the planning at least is going to be a little stressful. The place is just so big and offers so much that even just reviewing what the various offerings are seems to be a big time consuming process. The fact that no package pricing is listed past the end of this year isn't helping either, since I'm already very borderline on whether or not I can afford it.

My only previous experience with WDW was a 1 day park hopper my friend had left over from a previous trip (before they used the finger scanners) which is certainly not any way to do the Disney "experience". I do suffer from the "trying to do everything" complex, so I hope that I'm able to relax and just enjoy the experience.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011 5:38 AM

My short-list advice for a relative first-timer at Disney.

  1. Request the Vacation Planning DVD and the free customized park maps. Both can be found here.
  2. Accept as others have stated that you can't do it all in one trip. I tried it once, and it leaves you exhausted and stressed.
  3. Remain flexible, and go with the flow.
  4. Find a good friend that has been a few times, so you can ask questions and bounce ideas off of them. I helped a co-worker with their first trip last year, and the support didn't end when they left home to go on vacation. The first day or two I traded a number of text messages with him when 6 months of planning didn't pan out the way he expected on day 1.
  5. Use the internet! allears.net, mousesavers.com, wdwinfo.com are all resources my family has used. Millions of people have gone to Disney, and many have shared their tips for a successful vacation on these and other sites.
  6. If flying, fly into Orlando, stay on property, use the magical express, and don't bother with a rental car unless trying to do other things in the area (re-read #2).
  7. If you need a rental car after you get there, Alamo has an office on Disney property and has a shuttle that can pick you up. Their rates were about the same as other companies in Kissimmie, and any Disney hotel front-desk can get you their direct phone number.
  8. It's a vacation. Relax, turn off the real world, and have fun.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011 9:17 AM

Chris: 2012 packages and room rates went live just the other day. Right now only AAA and military discounts arevavailable, but others should be coming for anything other than a holiday. Keep an eye here: www.mousesavers.com

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011 9:54 AM

Japanese food is a no go, I have no idea what Morracan food entails. The 3 "cant miss" places that were mentioned were La Cellier, Ohana, and Via Napoli, and you cant get into any of them for lunch or dinner, so forgive me for being slightly irritated.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011 10:39 AM

Just eat at the McDonald's outside of Animal Kingdom, or one of the many counter service restaurants in the parks, or somewhere at Downtown Disney like Planet Hollywood. Their are some many places to eat, just because you can't get reservations for the really popular places doesn't mean that you need to be frustrated.

Reservations everyday? Try making reservations at just a few places throughout you stay instead of for every meal. There are plenty of meal choices that do not require reservations at Disney, and even more if you have a car and can drive outside of Disney property.

You will not go hungry; promise. Just go and enjoy yourself.

I repeat, just go and enjoy yourself.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011 10:40 AM

Keep checking the website. People reserve multiple times and cancel once their plans are set. You don't need to book a vacation to make reservations, you can book multiple dinners on the same day, and there's no penalty for cancellation, so people let them go all the time.

My kid wanted to do Chef Mickey's last time we were there and it was totally booked. I checked every few days and found a good slot that opened up a few weeks before we went. I've never not gotten in to a restaurant that I wanted.

YMMV, and it's hit or miss. That reservation that opens up at 9am might be gone at 9:05, so bookmark the page and check randomly.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011 11:17 AM

And if its a place in a park you really want to eat at, when you go to that park for the day, check with the places early for any cancellations that might have happened in the morning or shortly after they opened. At EPCOT, check with Guest Services right past Spaceship Earth on the left side (as you're walking into the park, right if you're heading towards the gate). That can save you a trek out to World Showcase just to check on dining. But really, in the Showcase, even the counter service can be really good (you must try the Mango Green Tea smoothing from Joy of Tea in China, and I don't even like tea!).

When my mom came down to Orlando for my birthday last year I wanted to take her to Primetime 50s in the Studios, and I knew it would be tough to get a walk-up, but possible. We went there about an hour before we actually wanted to eat (late lunch) and got a spot for about 45-1 hour out. Now 2 is usually is much easier to do that with than 4 or 5, but it is very possible to do a lot of your dining that way, you just have to be open to maybe not getting the "premier" places like that. But like others have said, when it comes to Disney, there really isn't 2nd tier with table service. Sometimes the resorts have less crowded dining with the same food you wanted to get in one of the parks (obviously not with the World Showcase ones though).

Basically, just know your options and be open, don't be so dead-set on dining somewhere that you let it ruin your trip if you don't get to.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011 12:06 PM

billb7581 said:
Japanese food is a no go, I have no idea what Morracan food entails.

Then you should stay at home and go to Applebees. I really believe you're going to have an awful time, because you've already decided that you will.

I agree on the point about the DVD. I got that a few years ago and it really did give a nice overview of everything that goes on. I thought I read somewhere that you could get it streaming on Netflix as well.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011 12:08 PM

billb7581 said:
Japanese food is a no go, I have no idea what Morracan food entails. The 3 "cant miss" places that were mentioned were La Cellier, Ohana, and Via Napoli, and you cant get into any of them for lunch or dinner, so forgive me for being slightly irritated.

We didn't go to any of the 3 "can't miss" restaurants and our trip to Disney was good. I didn't get the impression that dining was high up on your list of priorities for the trip. So I wouldn't fret dining options too much. As others have noted, Disney does food very well. All of our table service meals were very good. None of them were 5 star restaurant good but I understand you are not looking for that anyway (neither were we). All the quick/counter service meals were good too and they processed people through the lines very quickly and efficiently. Service everywhere we ate was very good (as it was pretty much everywhere on our stay).

Seems to me that you can follow what others are saying here and check back periodically for cancelations before your visit. And you can check with the parks on the day of your visit. But my guess, from what you have said in this thread and the dining thread, is that you will view all of that as too much of a PITA. And I don't necessarily disagree with that. So why not just look at menus online for other restaurants that are available and select those that have food that you think your family will like and be done with it? Chances are you will have a very good (though maybe not great) meal. And the same is true of the 3 "can't miss" restaurants which aren't available. And if the meal isn't what you want or hoped it would be, you will have 3 more the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that, etc. Life is too short.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011 12:27 PM

Jeff said:
I really believe you're going to have an awful time, because you've already decided that you will.

I wanted to say something like that too. Your boldness is always impressive, Jeff.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011 12:28 PM

If you are looking for a little more traditional fare, there are a few places that I've enjoyed that sometimes get overlooked.

Liberty Tree Tavern in the Magic Kingdom serves up family style, with carved beef, turkey, pork, mashed potatoes and veggies.

Trails End at Fort Wilderness is a buffet for dinner, and is testing a lunch menu now. The co-worker I helped last year had to switch dining last minute, ended up here for Thanksgiving Dinner. He said they did an impressive holiday spread that pleased his family.

Boatwright's at Port Orleans might be a little cajun/creole, but definitely worth a look.

I haven't personaly eaten at Whispering Canyon, but when we stayed at Wilderness, we all thought it smelled incredible every time we were nearby.

Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge are both short boat rides from the Magic Kingdom, so either of them could serve as an out-of-park meal for a day there.

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