The gridlock in Congress (still no budget, as of this writing) seems like a strange topic to bring up on a Disney fan site, but I think there are parallels to the online world of mouse-fandom. In both Congress and in the Disney fan community, we seem to have reached a point of speaking completely different languages. I think ultimately the problem is that we as a nation seem to have forgotten how to disagree with each other civilly… and I see echoes of that national problem right here in our own little pond of Disney fan sites.

I started internally musing on this topic last week when I saw a comment on my Meet Minnie report that expressed some disdain for Disney once again rolling out a new character interaction. I realized several things right away:

  1. Part of me wanted to politely reply that Disney has good reason to offer such character interactions – there are audience segments that really love this stuff.
  2. But I also recognized that the commentator had an absolutely valid point: Disney has offered so few E-Ticket rides lately, while the competition up the road has been seemingly unstoppable. Disney looks like it’s standing still.
  3. A visitor to MiceChat might see the exasperation of such comments and think we’re a bunch of whiners and complainers.

And that’s when I realized: we already have that reputation among some Disney fans, and even some podcasters and webmasters. Naturally, I don’t think of myself as overly negative. I try to be honest–if something is good, I say so (the Meet Minnie addition), even if it comes one week after noticing some bad (the declining conditions at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party).

Not at this year's party
Not at this year’s party

I don’t think it’s contradictory to be full of praise one week and lamenting the next, since these are two completely different elements of the Disney park experience. In fact, the opposite is true. I think having ANY knee-jerk reaction is a bad thing.

GREAT tributes on this addition at Meet Minnie
GREAT tributes on this addition at Meet Minnie

Unfortunately, and ironically, having a knee-jerk reaction about other Disney fans and websites seems to be a growing fad. I see it in my Twitter feed. I see it in my Facebook feed. I see it in comments on websites and discussion boards. I’m not going to get into specifics, but there is a fair amount of it. And it seems to be flying in all directions–by no means is this just about me.

On one hand, you have those who staunchly defend Disney, and see no wrong no matter what Disney does. On the other hand, you have those who think Disney has slipped irretrievably and can now do no right.

Sure, it’s a classic “he said / she said” situation. But it also points out that some folks want to view reality as a simple canvas painted with just ONE broad brush. Everything is black and white. “If you’re not with me, you’re my enemy” said the soon-to-be Darth Vader in the more recent Star Wars movies (now a Disney property!), which everyone back then understood as George Lucas’s political critique on George W. Bush’s presidency and his take on terrorists that hide in other countries. But this kind of thinking seems to permeate today’s Disney fan culture, too.

It occurs to me that the partisan fights in Washington are at least partly due to the fact that no one seems to know how to get along together anymore. Time was, senators and representatives would disagree with each other loudly in the chambers of Congress, but then have drinks together that same evening like civil beings. They don’t do that anymore. Battle lines are drawn. It’s complete gridlock, with positions just becoming more entrenched all the time.

A touch of that has crept into the Disney fan universe. And it’s a shame. There is all sorts of room for us to disagree with each other, and I think it’s healthy to have the debate. Let’s disagree with each other. Loudly, even! The debate is how we actually get to the heart of the matter–often the truth lies between entrenched positions. But let’s leave the name-calling out of it.

And let’s all go get a drink together afterward. This *is* about our shared fascination with Disney, after all. One hates to quote Rodney King since it’s done so much, but the plaintive question has a certain appeal to it. Why CAN’T we all just get along?

Oh, and let’s try to steer clear of divisive politics in the comments. I think it’s possible to restrict the metaphor to “Congress in general” rather than identify EITHER political party.

Chase VISA Lounge in American Adventure Corporate Sponsor Area

Last year during Food and Wine, Chase VISA opened a tiny lounge with free sodas in one corner of the Festival Center. It was packed! So this year, they moved to the 3rd floor of the American Adventure – an area normally off limits to mere mortals, it’s the “corporate lounge” that most pavilions in Epcot have for when they have a sponsor.

Once again there was free soda – this year, it was TWO Freestyle Coca-Cola machines – and this time plenty of space to stretch out and flop onto sofas. The place was still crowded, though, and has a line to get in. Maybe this is because they allowed you to bring several (was it up to ten?) guests for each Chase VISA card you have.

I loved the view from up there out the front windows. And it was just fun being in some place I’d never visited before. Enjoy the photo tour!

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american adventure corporate lounge 2013-09-28-9943

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  • Tielo

    I was and always have been a theme park fan. The scale of the parks and what is offered in Orlando is beyond anything I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world. I never got it why people only liked Disney. The other parks have so much to offer and at some points are equal or better. With Disney lacking behind and Universal and Sea World are making some amazing rides and shows it’s tough to support them.
    Now Disney is doing more and more things I don’t understand I’m frustrated as a fan. I want to keep visiting all the parks but the once biggest and best attraction and show creator in the world lost it’s mojo long ago. The last fact is the opening of the Minnie asylum at the studios. That building was once the birthplace of some very mediocre handdrawn movies but unlike fixing their story telling skills they closed the studios. They closed their original bread and butter, the thing that replaces it is a meet and great that doesn’t come close to the original house of Minnie at MK. It makes me said and angry at Disney they keep that building that once made dreams and reuse it in an awful cheap way. I can’t get excited about the little details, I can only see the big picture and it’s not a nice one.
    Next in line, Marvel. Opening a 4D simulator that almost every theme park has these days looks pale in comparison of what Universal did with the license 14 years ago! They opened an island with 2 e ticket rides, 1 awesome coaster and 1 darkride that is still on the top of the list of best dark rides in the world. As with the amazing ip of Star Wars that was gathering dust on the shells at Disney with only 1 d ticket ride I just don’t believe anymore.
    Thankfully I can be sure Universal took over from Walt taking me to places and letting me experience new things I just can’t wrap my head around. The can make me fly again and I love them for that.

  • composerboy

    I can tell you why Disney fans don’t get a long. And yes, this is a generalization and there are exceptions to everything, but whatever. You’ll get the point. In my experience (notice the qualifier there?), many of the type of fanatics that frequent fan sites like this and others and consider themselves fans, fanatics, experts, even discerning consumers of all things Disney are not the most sophisticated bunch of people. Their lives are consumed with constantly updating or being updated with minutiae regarding something that – in the end – really doesn’t stack up to any sort of intellectual enrichment. Sure, Disney merchandise, parks and other entertainment offerings are fun and offer a certain amount of pleasurable distraction to a broad demographic – it is just that – a distraction. Analogies to the recent government shutdown have already been made, but I’ll offer another: Garbage in, Garbage out (also – you are what you eat). If all you do is consume commercial media and internet forums regarding commercial media, it should come as no surprise to anyone that these people would start behaving in a way that mirrors their consumption. In today’s media landscape, everyone has an opinion, and the TV and internet say it’s OK to shout it at the top of your lungs without any regard to anyone or anything, Giving people the ability to do so ANONYMOUSLY gives them even more power and license. Mass commercial entertainment does not give people (especially young people) the tools and skills to think critically, consider other’s opinions and certainly does not offer the opportunity to actually empathize with other people and what their experience might be. Recent scientific studies have shown ( ) that people who read literary fiction as opposed genre fiction are significantly better at understanding other people’s emotions. I think that’s what’s happening – Disney is the “genre fiction” here. Now I love Disney as much as anyone, especially the Parks. My feelings for the Parks are deeply emotionally and intellectually complex to the point that the design and production of themed entertainment is my passion and my livelihood. But if all I did was go to theme parks and blockbuster movies, I would quickly become creatively barren and unable to create compelling, nuanced and EMOTIONAL experiences for guests and myself. I think if people got out and challenged themselves intellectually, emotionally and pushed outside the boundaries of comfortable and familiar obsessions, you’d have a much more civilized discourse. Read quality literature, or even poetry (!), go to museums, watch some TED talks, travel (not to a theme park) heck – go to Burning Man! You’ll be surprised at how much all that minutiae about things like paint on trash cans at Disneyland starts to become noise and fades away. And you’ll be much better off for it.

    • poohmeg

      Great post! I love Disney and theme parks in general as much as the next person, and enjoy reading this site and others for news and commentary – but if I spend to much time, I can get sucked into the negativity and minutiae. I think Disney movies, parks, etc. are a great complement to all of the other things I enjoy in life – and I appreciate them more when they are an occasional thing. Spending time on this site has made me realize that if you get too much into the nitpicky stuff with anything, it’s not fun or entertaining anymore. Balance is the key!

    • Gregg Condon

      Fantastic post!!!! And I agree. Once your “hobby” becomes your “life” then it’s all downhill. My philosophy has always been to go to the parks, have a great time and that’s it. I don’t go looking for issues. If I’m doing an update on a park I may find some, but I don’t go specifically looking for them.

    • TheBig2na

      You Just won the internet. Congrats. This post applies to every debate on the internet and shows just how far society has declined since the birth of the internet. I can call you what I like, when I like and you can’t do anything about it so that’s what people do. If you could walk up to a bank machine and take money out of someone else’s account with no consequences, many people would say it is wrong but still do it. Once you insult one person, you can insult them all and if there view is different than yours than you must attack full on. Human Nature at its lowest… The internet.

  • CaptainAction

    composer boy,
    That’s a broad brush you are painting with there. You assume that everyone here has NO other interests or a life worth living?! You read people’s posts here and decide that is all there is to their life?! YOU are the only “intellectually complex” person here who can create “compelling, nuanced, and EMOTIONAL experiences”?!
    Wow, you need to get down off your horse, sir.
    In my job, I teach surgeons how to perform minimally invasive surgical procedures with laparoscopic techniques so that patients aren’t sliced open with 12-16 inch incisions but instead have 3-4 small quarter inch incisions. These procedures are used to improve the lives of patients who need colectomies, appendectomies, hysterectomies, pulmonary resections, etc. I’ve never explained this on a website before but you are so proud of yourself and insulting to others that I thought I’d drop this in.
    I’ll bet that most folks on here HAVE excellent, fulfilling lives and contribute much as they also enjoy theme parks. They might even do things which have more value to humans than “creating nuanced and EMOTIONAL experiences”.

    • composerboy

      Right at the top, I admitted that I was painting with a broad brush. If your life is fulfilling, then I struggle to understand why you’re insulted. If you took the time to read and comprehend my post, rather than post your knee-jerk reaction (which – amusingly – the main article was addressing) I didn’t describe MYSELF as intellectually complex, rather I was describing my relationship to the Parks. I wasn’t proclaiming from my high horse that I am superior to anyone. I was merely suggesting a cause for and suggesting a solution to a problem.

      • composerboy

        Obviously many if not most people on these boards are not the people I’m talking about. I was talking about the kinds of people that Kevin was referring to. I’ve been on this board since day one and others before that (and usenet before that) and I think it’s fair to say that many of the people who regularly contribute here fit the profile I described.

      • CaptainAction

        It isn’t wise to describe what a person and their life is like and how worthwhile they are from a few posts on a certain subject.

  • CaptainAction

    Thanks for the thoughtful post.
    I think the reason many of us have become upset with WDW is because we have seen how WDW has become all about money instead of all about the guests. If you prioritize the guests then the money will follow. Over the last 10 years WDW has showed their preference for the $’s over the guests.
    Mugs to prevent a guest from getting a sip of coke they may not deserve, closing the park in the evenings and reopening and offering less and less, building restaurants, shops, snack stands, and meet and greets, instead of rides, etc. Taking 3 years to build simple attractions when the whole MK, monorail, and monorail resorts were built in less than 2 years. Putting one Dumbo ride next to the other Dumbo is not creative but lazy.
    All this doesn’t create a knee jerk reaction but a slow thoughtful movement of many WDW fans to Universal. You never hear of any Universal fans moving to WDW.
    As this trend continues you just might see Universal beat AK, D Studios, and Epcot in 2015.
    Some WDW fans really hate when someone points out these things and take the easiest path and attack the messenger rather than WDW execs.
    I think that these die hard WDW fans would love to have the attention from WDW that Universal is giving to their guests. So, they lash out at the Universal fans.
    If WDW ever changes, they can thank their friends at Universal and the Universal execs because WDW isn’t going to change unless they are forced to.



    • Over-the-top sarcasm aside, well said, Kevin. Sadly, I think composerboy is at least partially on the money with his explanation. However, if you venture out into online communities on any subject, you’ll find similarly galvanized and polarized positions, even in topics that typically appeal to intellectuals.

      I “argue” for a living, and I’m frequently told by older colleagues that there has been a significant erosion of civility in recent years–this is clearly not just an online thing.

    • holierthanthoutx

      Wow, you’re both bitter and incredible misguided. Disney parks have had corporate sponsorship since day one. It’s how things get financed. Walt himself sought sponsors for Disneyland. How is Chase different than the Bank of America sponsorship on Main Street USA in 1955? How about Carnation? Maxwell House? All on Main Street USA in 1955, all sought out and approved by Walt.

      Second, no one forces anyone to get a Chase credit card or drink Coca-Cola products. There was no one at Epcot holding a gun to anyone’s head and making them sign up for a credit card, or pouring Coke down anyone’s throat. We’re all responsible for our own choices; no corporation “forces” anyone to do anything.

      Third, posting in all caps is extremely rude.

  • ScottG

    Why do fans argue over Disney?
    One word explains it; PASSION!

    • That’s exactly it of course. Folks are defensive of whatever they are passionate about. For some it’s cars, or dolls, or travel, or . . . Disney. The problem is that some don’t see the difference between discussing and attacking. There are a few Disney bloggers on other theme park sites who are so wrapped up in attacking us and others that you have to wonder why. If you express a legitimate concern about something in the parks, they blow up like a mother dog protecting her pup. Their inability to see real issues discussed has become violent.

      I don’t understand the anger that comes from a differing opinion (or even from simple reporting of facts we see in the parks).

      • Dizzey

        I like this intellectual discussion – Disney as a microcosm of society as a whole! Dusty I think Composer Boy answers your final point… at least partially. It’s the anonymity of the blogging medium that creates this adamancy. Humans have evolved to get along by surveying emotional cues that come from live, face-to-face conversations, and by including consideration of the “whole person” to whom they are speaking. We don’t often get right into our neighbors’ faces and start shouting when we disagree with them (spoiled athletes excepted). I’ve had plenty of people get personally insulting right off the bat on the internet, though. They don’t know the fine parent, community servant, supporter of the arts, polite person that makes up who I am 😉 Obviously I must be a total jerk with no redeeming value whatsoever.

        This is what we have with modern media, though. It’s quite easy to find a news service that agrees with our preformed opinions, and tells us specifically who the “others” are and why we should hate them. This attitude spills over here on occasion. If we switch off, we’re better off.

  • CaptainAction

    I’m just referring to the Disney can do no wrong folks here. I think they would feel better if they could just be honest and say that they wish WDW would treat them as well as Universal is attempting to treat their guests.

    Rather then just trying to tear down WWOHP, Hogwartz, New London, Transformers, Despicable Me, the new resort, the other resorts, theming, Simpson’s Land, wrong color tracks on a coaster, etc. All these things will have been accomplished by Universal in the last 2-3 years and any open person would have to admit that is amazing.

    If folks really have a problem with these things but can’t see any neglect from WDW in the last 10 years then I think they are riding the Jungle Cruise in De Nile.

    I guess it’s easier to attack the messenger or the better partner than admit faults of something they love so much.

    • a-mad

      But the problem is, Captain – that there are people out there that are definitely not in the “WDW can do no wrong” category, but still enjoy WDW for what it is – despite the fact that Universal has over-spent them for the last 5 years, or whatever.

      You have obviously had it with WDW in general – that much is clear (you let us know that every single day). That has certainly been your experience, and I am not denying the fact that you are bitter, and feel very strongly about it. But in reading your posts, to you, Universal “can do no wrong” – which is exactly what you’re accusing WDW fans of. If Universal came out tomorrow and said they were putting a freeze on all capital expenditures for the next 5 years, I wouldn’t be surprised if you ended up defending them for that action plan (just like the die-hard WDW fans you describe).

      I am an infrequent visitor of WDW, but do try and make it there every few years. Amidst all the doom and gloom that seems to be spewed forward on the comment section of this site (note – not the articles themselves… but the comments) – I fully expected our recent experience there to be disappointing.

      Nothing could be further from the truth. We loved our stay at WDW, and it compared very favorably to our prior visit. Everyone in our group (33 people, ages 1 – 71) loved New Fantasyland, raved about its dining, attractions and theming, and there was no “this is it??” complaining among them. We did not see disrepair in the parks… we did not see cranky cast members… we did not see poor operations. We went during the “off-season” and the parks were PACKED!

      We also went to Universal, and while I can say that we were extremely impressed by WWoHP (and IOA in general… which I’ve been to before, and absolutely love), our experience there by no means surpassed anything we experienced at WDW. Our kids were bored with USF by mid-day, and the adults in our party complained that there was hardly anything to do there as a family, except for movies/simulators (in which some still had a height requirement). Our experience at IOA was much more positive than USF. The parks (both) were sparsely attended and nearly everything was a walk-on (except for WWoHP).

      There are so many intangibles to take into account when visiting parks that are difficult to measure through polls, bar graphs and spreadsheets. Sometimes the services offered by parks just outshine comparable experiences, despite how new, shiny and expensive those experiences are.

      I’m not saying that to say that “WDW BEATS UNIVERSAL” (or vice versa) – which I feel is such a common refrain, that you are either required to be in one camp, or another if you decide to make a comment. I’m saying it to make the point that millions will visit both resorts, and millions will most likely have a great experience that isn’t influenced by whether one park has outspent the other in the last 5 years. Unless you quiz them all individually on whether one experience outshone another – you can’t make blanket comments like “if they could just be honest and admit…”

      I’ll be honest, and admit – that for me, despite all the capital improvements expended by Universal in the last five years, my experience at WDW surpassed my experience at Universal. I can easily say that nearly all (if not all) in our extended party feel the same way (even more so…)

      • CaptainAction

        I understand your comments. I get where you are coming from.
        I don’t classify myself as bitter. I’m more trying to wake people up. Instead of defending status quo at WDW let’s expect them to improve and grow not sit and count money. Ever have a friend or relative waste a bunch of potential? It’s sad to see. Well WDW has left Walt’s hard work ethics and creativity behind for trying to squeeze every penny out of a guests pocket, in my opinion.
        Sure it’s possible to have fun at WDW but WDW execs have become lazy the last 10 years and are in a “good enough”, why improve, mode. I think Walt would have fired the guys that put Storybook Land Canal homes into scenes with real guests like Beast’s Castle and Rapunzel’s home.
        When it takes 3 years to build a kiddie coaster, something is wrong. When WDW fans are excited about a new themed restroom, well, this makes my point.

        To really appreciate a Universal vacation, you really need to stay on property. You need an annual pass discount on the 4-5 star Portofino upgraded for free to a 900 square foot suite with 2 gigantic full baths (with the Loew’s First program including a $100 restaurant credit with every check in) for about $30 more than a single 280 square foot room at Pop Century. Then take the boat through the beautiful mile long canal to the front of the parks instead of standing up on a bus. Then use your room key pass to skip all but 2 lines at the parks. All this for $188 per night! Well, that feels like you are appreciated, not taken for granted.

        If you drove over to Universal from WDW then you really aren’t comparing apples to apples.

        Maybe you stayed on property, but if you took advantage of all these perks and then added all the new attractions Universal has and is adding, it’s pretty amazing. This all makes you realize how much the King, WDW, could be doing for their guests like Walt used to.

        WDW is losing a lot of fans to Universal but Universal isn’t losing any fans to WDW.

      • a-mad

        Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Captain… I actually agree with a lot of what you said.

        While I don’t necessarily agree that WDW has been overtly lazy the last 10 years (I think they’ve spent a lot of $$ in several different ways…some more effective than others – just not as much in attraction expansion and development as compared to Universal) – I do agree that they can’t become complacent or even the casual park visitor will begin to notice.

        For the record, when we visited Universal, we didn’t stay at WDW and drive up… we actually stayed in a Universal “good neighbor” resort. Our hotel stay was fine… and I’m sure Portofino is fantastic (I actually went running through the resort both mornings we were there, and I loved the theming of the Portofino). We wouldn’t have needed the resort privileges on the days we were there since the parks were practically empty – with exception of WWoHP (which we were able to get early entry for staying at a good neighbor resort).

        Still, no matter how nice our resort stay was, (or would have been… at Portofino), you still can’t ensure an ideal visit to the parks… and I would put our visit to USF dead last among the six parks we visited (MK, Epcot, DHS, AK, IOA and USF). I would put IOA probably 3rd. That’s not to say I didn’t have a great time at USF… I most certainly did (I’m a huge theme park fan, and so I can have a great time at just about any park). I do think that USF – with Transformers, Simpsons upgrade and Diagon Alley is truly headed in amazing directions… I just wish there were more attractions for families of all ages to do together. My 4-year-old truly didn’t do much that day we were there…

      • CaptainAction

        Yeah, I thought one of the differences we had was the age of our kids and Isaw that confirmed in your last post. When our kids were younger, ours are now 18, 16, and 11, we loved all the simple little rides like Snow White, Peter Pan, Winnie, etc. We were really hoping for New Fantasyland to be at least copy Disneyland’s Fantasyland by adding Mr. Toad (I know they closed theirs here), Alice, Casey Jr, Storybook Canal, etc. When the wife and I went and saw all the restaurants, rocks, stores, rocks, snack stands, rocks, etc, we were just very disappointed. Then we saw the Dumbo next to the other Dumbo and we just couldn’t imagine Walt ever settling for that lack of creativity.

        You may find, as we did, that as your kids get older they roll their eyes about riding these simple rides and are ok doing Haunted Mansion and Pirates once or twice. We never enjoyed AK except for Tough to Be a Bug and Everest. The wife and I can’t ride Mission Space but the kids can and we’ve all gotten bored with the other Epcot rides.

        The kids have been more and more drawn to Marvel and the super heros, Jurassic Park, now WWOHP, MIB, Shrek, Mummy, the 3 big coasters, Transformers, Transformers and super hero photo ops, MIB, Simpson’s, and soon the Diagon Alley, Nocturnal Alley, Gringot’s Coaster, Hogwartz Express, etc. They and we love skipping the lines.

        So, as your kids grow up they may start to think, like my kids, that Universal is really cool.

        If you can go back some day and buy one annual pass to Universal and use it for an annual pass discount on Portofino your family may really enjoy the place. Riding the boat to the front of the parks and skipping the lines becomes really cool.

        I do wish Universal had a Fantasyland type area with dark rides like Disneyland. They know it’s a blind spot so let’s see if they come up with more for small kids.

    • billyjobobb

      this past February we spend 10 days in Florida. We barely went to Universal.

      We’re already planning our next vacation. Only this time we just might start at Universal. We’ve already decided to completely skip Animal Kingdom and may well skip Hollywood too.

      But it might turn out that we spend more time at Universal. Sorry, but I can’t get all excited by a new meet and greet. They hyped the daylights out of New Fantasyland, I kid you not, I was looking for the path to the rest of it. Coming from Disneyland I was already over the Little Mermaid, and what did that leave? We couldn’t get reservations into Be Our Guest and we even went back there early so that we could at least see the restaurant, we saw a lobby.

  • CaptainAction

    Universal has a nice lounge which has been open daily for the last 2-3 years. It is an AMEX lounge. It doesn’t have soft drinks but does have bottled water, kettle chips, granola bars, etc. They are all free and you can eat as many as you like and even take a few when you leave.
    The lounge is in the open and on the ground floor between Shrek and Donkey and Monster Cafe.
    It isn’t hidden on the third floor of an area most folks wouldn’t find.
    The Universal Studio Lounge also offers Concierge service as well.

  • DannyeF

    Hi, Kevin! Thanks for the article. I am a once-a-year visitor to DLR (sadly, I don’t live near any Disney parks). I read these posts because I LOVE Disney. SO much. 😀
    I have a couple of thoughts to share.
    1. Web posters definitely complain a lot. I completely believe them when they say that they do it because they love Disney and want the park to be at its best. Me, too! However, as a once-a-year visitor, I sometimes regret having my attention called to peeling paint or motionless animatronics, where I would not have noticed it before. But I get why you do it–those things should be fixed!

    2. On the other hand, web posters also complain a lot about non-refurbishment type stuff. For example, I remember someone somewhere making fun of the new Photopass photo op by the Matterhorn that has guests holding up big picture frames. I happened to love that when we got to do it. That picture is the desktop on my computer. So at first I felt dumb for being one of the tourist types that find that sort of thing fun, and then I stopped feeling dumb and started to wonder whether the people who complain about each and every Limited Time Magic offering can ever have any fun anymore at a Disney park.

    It’s my choice to read Disney articles on the web, of course. And so I just ignore the complaining most of the time because I like all the updates and everything else, including the many positive reviews I find, and the way the bloggers are always supportive of the front-line cast members. But from where I’m sitting, yes, it’s a lot of complaining, and only some of it is making the park better.

  • solarnole

    Disney has changed when I was a kid it was all about state of the art rides (splash mountain, rock n roller coaster etc), now its timeshares, character meets and only builds safe slow lame rides. Blizzard Beach even opened with the worlds tallest water slide.

    Universal is making the state of rides that no one else will try that push the industry. Living in Orlando you learn that the same sub companies make attractions for both Disney and Universal. Disney could easily get back in the game but it seems content to just let Universal embarrass them. Disney also embarrassed itself with a billion dollar magic band boon dongle that does nothing that an iphone app cannot do. When Walt was challenged by other parks he built a state of the art mountain thrill ride and a sub lagoon.

    Disney went from building the future to just persevering the past.

    • CaptainAction

      Well said. That’s why I say WDW is becoming a museum of theme parks showcasing old stand-bys.

  • The Lost Boy

    It’s not so much a “bunch of whiners and complainers” it’s the same whiners and complainers and their hackneyed grievances.

    • CaptainAction

      Same 2 WDW can do no wrong folks too. Come back with some substance some time.

    • The Lost Boy

      Pop goes the weasel.

  • BradyNBradleysMom

    I think Kevin Yee is one of the best writers on Disney around…and I agree with about 80% of what he has to say about the Disney parks. Whenever I disagree with Yee it’s usually because I think he as an Orlando resident and regular visitor in the parks has a different take on things than people who only get to the parks once a year (or more infrequently than that). I think some of Yee’s gripes (the “this year’s Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is not as good as last year’s) comes to mind) are really specific to the very small niche of people who are lucky enough to live really close to the parks, and who can compare today’s experience to yesterday’s and the day before that’s…and I don’t think it’s the same sort of expectation that I have going to the parks (once a year, comparing this year’s trip to last year’s instead of every day to a day before for the whole year).

    One thing I’ve noticed amongst Disney fans is a big push to say that Universal is wonderful and Disney is terrible…while overlooking a good many bad things that Universal does. For me the biggest glaring thing is that Universal fans pretend that all the exposed steel on the rollercoasters doesn’t exist. They just overlook that, and overlook things like the paint always fading in the Seuss area or the other stuff that Universal only did to “good enough” or “bare minimum” standards. Yes, Universal is spending a lot of money right now…but Universal was in pretty sorry shape before all the spending. Harry Potter is wonderful, but it still has exposed steel rollercoaster tracks done on the cheap. Transformers the ride gets rave reviews…but they cheaped out on the exterior of the building and it looks junky.

    I think Disney is judged by a fan standard where it’s hard for them to be awarded a star for doing anything right…while Universal is graded on a curve where none of their fumbles (like that exposed steel tracks) gets mentioned. Fans seem to want to give Disney a “D” or “F” and award Universal an “A”…and it seems like there’s emotion behind that push. Like, they get their jollies by sticking it to Disney and doing some icon-toppling.

    Reminds me of when someone divorces their husband and enjoy talking smack about him, even though us friends can see the new guy they are dating does worse things than the ex husband ever did. But because this person is new, the person overlooks all that because it’s so much fun to take potshots at the ex husband.

  • The Lost Boy

    In the style of Captain Louis Renault, I’m shocked, shocked, to find that pot stirring is going on here!

  • solarnole

    I live in Orlando and I go to all the parks. I want all the parks to do well because it keeps my taxes low.

    Disney is not the same experience that it was when I was a kid and they actually charging people more for less which makes me upset.

    Universal and Seaworld are giving people far more for their money and typically do not try to price gouge their customers as much. I can actually use a ticket instead of a money sucking band GPS which only some people get.

    Also they do not let closed attractions, half built hotels, and water parks rot in the sun for decades because that is bad show. It is much worse then exposed steel supports on a working thrill ride. Disney fans should not overlook those blights and give them a pass.

    My favorite years in Orlando were the late nineties when Disney would actually compete and try to one up Universal or Seaworld. Every park got better and I got the exposed steel that I love but sadly River Country was closed and left for dead.

  • Golden

    I have to agree, Miceage is full of whining and complaining. I find it hard to stomach quite often. It ultimately is quite often coming back to an attitude problem. I think a lot of these people are creating the environment by which they don’t enjoy their own experience, and thats a shame for them but then it gets foisted on the rest of us and affects us all.

    I definitely think there are things to be called out – for instance, leaving rides in very bad states of affairs for years at a time. There is no ‘good’ flipside to that – there is no value to anyone, there is no understandable reason for it (even taking budgets into account). It is simply poor decision making.

    I’m in neither the “Disney can do no wrong” or the “Disney can do no right” camp. I am, however, of the view that the vast majority of decisions made by Disney have two sides of the coin. While one person may feel negative about an announcement, another feels positive about the same announcement. This is, unfortunately, where things seem to go wrong a lot around MiceAge. Instead of framing things as an opinion, and instead of understanding that the casual visitor’s enjoyment is a critical part of the Park’s doing business, the negativity is often framed far more as an objective view of all the park is doing wrong – and that objective view is frequently incredibly slanted to the perspective of a very regular visitor.

    This is not surprising given the demographic of this website is for Disneyphiles. But it is an unbalanced view which frequently is of very little value to anyone beyond the individual getting their own grievences off their chest.

    A great example of this is the reactions in yesterdays Star Wars/Tomorrowland information. Disneyphiles worry about the concept of Tomorrowland, make jokes about how it should be renamed Star Wars Land, moan about Disney’s consumerist approach to life, and ask why the plans still don’t call for the People Mover to come back. Anyone entering Tomorrowland for the first time today, though, finds an incoherent experience with a number of great elements and a number of utterly uninhabited, underutilised and barely themed internal spaces. Anyone entering Tomorrowland after the construction would find something more coherent, and almost certainly something more immersive and far more frequented by guests.

    There is no way this is objectively a bad thing – to Disney as a corporation, or to theme park going guests as a whole. Nevertheless, the reaction on this sight is almost overwhelmingly negative, even before the plans are in any kind of form for public consumption, let alone the thing is actually there to see.

    This is justified on the basis that ‘we just want it to be perfect’. But it doesn’t help to make things perfect. One person is negative the continued existence of something. Another will be negative about the removal of that same something. This kind of negativity is not serving perfection, it’s serving your own perspective and opinion of what you want out of the theme park only.

    If negativity was filtered through the lens of ‘am I trying to make the park an objectively better place, or am I trying to make the park for aligned with my own view of what it should be’ and then the first was reported as objectively negative, and the second only as subjectively negative, (eg “I will miss the Court of Angels, I really liked going there” as opposed to “The choice to make the Court of Angels the entrance for club 33 proves that Disney have no soul and are going to ruin the park entirely in their corporate greed”) I think we would be about right. This is the piece of advice I’d give Kevin, or anyone in a similar position.

    It is a reflection of western culture today, though. Kevin is 100% right – it seems as though most of the western world has forgotten the difference between a subjective opinion and an objective fact, and in all facets we seem to want to force everyone else to make sure the world works the way we want it to work. It’s me focussed. And it isn’t a helpful, constructive or important angle on life. It’s just a way to make everyone more angry, stressed and depressed.

    • CaptainAction

      I think you’ve not described the point correctly. WDW is from the same company which Walt created. His company served the guests with the idea that as long as there is creativity, the parks would never be finished, and boy did the guests come.

      Today, many of us think WDW (not so much Disneyland) has decided to squeeze every cent from the guests rather than continue the creativity with new attractions that are better than the last. The Mermaid attraction doesn’t draw a crowd like Peter Pan or Winnie, and is almost always a walk on. The guests have spoken quickly by saying they are willing to wait in longer lines for older attractions rather than walking onto Mermaid. The Dwarf train is a D or C ticket, is 3 years in the making so far, and WDW was almost forced into building it by upset guests because New Fantasyland had one C ticket ride and was all stores and restaurants.

      Walt built ALL of Disneyland with technology from the 50’s in less than 18 MONTHS!. When Walt gave guests a land, the land had E ticket attractions and VERY creative attempts at others. WDW’s MK was built in less than 2 years including monorail and the monorail resorts.

      It isn’t “depressing” to point these things out. It’s depressing to see how WDW has left Walt’s creativity, hard work ethic, and legacy behind.

      They are both successful corporations but one put the guests first and the new one is seeing how little they can do and seeing how long the suckers will keep spending top dollar.

      Some of us went through this depressing realization and moved to Universal because they really couldn’t be doing much more for the guests in E ticket rides, lands, etc. all at the same time. Everyone who is really honest admits that WWOHP and Diagon Alley are better themed than anything WDW has done. These new lands have E ticket attractions unlike any guests have had before.

      Some of us are not going to wait around and get excited for themed restrooms while some guests are going to wait around and get excited for themed restrooms.

      • Golden

        I think I have described my point correctly, and I think you have missed it entirely.

      • composerboy

        I think he missed my point as well, or our points have hit rather close to home…

  • Micah

    Maybe as the American Dream seems to be slipping away, in so many different ways, Disney represents a remaining bastion of traditional Americana that people want to find refuge in; and so I think this might add a sense of heightened tension about every decision and every detail at Disney parks, etc., because there is a dread and a worry that this too will be wrecked, will decay, will lose its innocent splendor, its reputation for being special, for being an experience par excellence, with attention to every minute detail being given, in order to create magic.

    It kind of hurt in a way, the day the last Space Shuttle was grounded, and I realized that our American astronauts would have to hitch rides with the Russians for the first time since before JFK. It kind of hurts in a way, when our nation which is supposed to be a beacon of Liberty, a city shining on a hill, an example to the rest of the world, betrays those principles which made it good and made it great. As minor as something like a Disney park might be in the grand scheme of things, I think its success is still important to the American psyche; and it just kind of hurts to contemplate yet another cherished institution losing its sparkle.

    So, although there are always the spoiled folks who are ready to complain about anything and everything, I think that a lot of people just have an extra layer of concern and worry in their lives, which seems to be the current atmosphere in the world in general; and sometimes that comes out in the wrong way, when our worries take our attention away from loving our neighbors in how we speak and act.

  • AaroniusPolonius

    Regarding the defender-negator aspect of the online fan, there’s a recent marketing study on brand loyalty, and they found that Extremely Loyal brands (or those that created an emotional resonance and connection with the consumer, versus those brands frequently bought,) not only demonstrated high positive emotions and attitudes in consumers towards their brand of choice, they also had high levels of negative emotions towards the main competition of their preferred brand…and that even if their competition offered a better product or service, they wouldn’t buy that product or service, and would go out of their way to trash it while defending their preferred brand’s offerings. Moreover, they would view any critique of their preferred brand as a lie, or delivered with less than truthful substance.

    …and so, in many ways, in both politics and theme parking, the passion that the advocates for each side feels trumps any empirical data to the contrary.

    Using Apple as an example, those passionate advocates wait outside for hours to buy the latest ‘innovation’ of the pod, phone and pad…and will feel that it’s worth it to do so, while also trashing your mp3 player, Nokia and Kindle Fire.

    It’s an emotionally built response (and notably, it’s something that Disney encourages across all their product platforms…specifically for this “can do no wrong” aspect in their most ardent fans and consumers,) that can’t be readily explained or dismantled.

    To use politics as an example, try explaining to a Tea Party advocate that the language they use is strikingly similar to the language of the seceding South in the Civil War and you will have a massive verbal fight on your hands…despite the fact that the language IS strikingly similar (federal government telling us how to live, trumping states’ rights, etc.)

    It is to Disney’s tremendous marketing credit that they’ve been able to create this base of consumers so intense in their advocation of the Disney brand, and it’s clearly served them well through the last couple of decades where they, at least at WDW, stepped back off the investment and traded in some brand equity for profit.

    And it’s to Universal’s tremendous ride development department that they’ve been able to create an amazing theme park (IOA,) upgrade that theme park with Potter, and transform the park next door with some pretty dazzling, amazing ride experiences. CaptainAction is 100% correct in his ongoing assessment that Universal has put much more time, energy and effort into their theme park experiences than Disney has over the past decade or so. They deserve the attention and attendance that they’re getting…

    …but, like in politics and in theme parking, all that doesn’t matter. Trash Disney and all you’ll do is make their passionate advocate fan base defend their choice more…and purposely NOT go and check out the new stuff at Universal. Psychologically, the act of pointing out a negative creates a defensive posture in the passionate brand advocate. Neither does assuming a place of superiority, which again, closes off psychological roads that might lead to Universal, that might lead to a swifter adoption of the offerings over there.

    Also, like politics, you see this use of distortion of facts, anecdotal evidence as evidence, and differing standards. Here are some examples:
    WDW is losing visitors each year (totally not true to the extreme: WDW is gaining or maintaining visitation, with the three ‘lesser’ parks garnering 2-3 million more visitors per year than the Universal parks, and MK going to the ‘more than double’ place)
    Everyone I know hates Universal (some 7-8 million people per year clearly don’t know you.)
    Half of New Fantasyland is just a repurposing (as is 2/3 of the rides at Harry Potter, or The Simpsons ride, for that matter.)

    So, collectively, it’s not REALLY a conversation or a debate when you aren’t debating the right things. Which is to say, instead of debating on whether or not Disney is shedding visitors (they’re not,) debate why, with less development, they are retaining or expanding visitors. Instead of trashing the opposition, offer a positive wrapped around the critique and maybe you’ll have a conversation instead of a typed screaming match.

  • solarnole

    I honestly want to see Disney compete again and make state of the art rides. Cars land is just a slower Test Track with talking cars. Rock N Roller coaster and Tower of Terror were the last rides that they really thought out of the box on and used completely new technology to make one of a kind attractions that still hold up today.

    Personally I go to theme parks for the attractions. Dining and shopping can be done at any mall or downtown area. Plus local shops and restaurants are more unique.

    • CaptainAction

      I agree with you Solarnole. I’m afraid Current WDW leadership has made it pretty clear the last 10 years that this is good enough and they can count on the money coming in without giving the guests much more than meet and greets, themed restrooms, and stores.
      I think the only thing these execs are going to “hear” is guests spending their money other places like Universal.
      The best friend these current WDW execs have are the “WDW can do no wrong” folks. Then we all see status quo at WDW the rest of our lives.
      If Universal can put a scare into the execs by beating AK, or Epcot, or DS in 2015 then we can shake their little world and get the attention the guests deserve.
      It’s all a shame really.
      That’s why I appreciate Universal doing immersive theming which is actually better than anything at WDW. That’s why I’m spending my money where new technology never seen before at Gringot’s, Forbidden Journey, and yes, even Spiderman and Transformers are better than anything WDW has done.
      The only thing close to WWOHP and Diagon Alley theming at Disney is Carsland at Disneyland. WDW has othing to compare.
      Pretty good for the second place company, I think.

  • BornOnTheMatterhrn

    Kevin — would you like some cheese with your whine?

    • CaptainAction

      There is a defense which is hard to refute. Very thoughtful, thank you.

      I know you have the tough side of the debate but can’t you at least say, “I like all the new rockwork” or something?