It’s Time for a Walt Disney World Renaissance

Written by Tim Grassey. Posted in Disney News, Disney Parks, Walt Disney World

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Published on August 05, 2014 at 2:00 am with 143 Comments

As fans of Walt Disney World, we have been among its many problems. While there is no shortage of complaining amongst us, that complaining doesn’t have the same leverage when we continue to support Walt Disney World with our tourist dollars.

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Record numbers are visiting the parks. We complain that the parks have never been worse, yet we continue to renew our annual passes. This contradiction enables the company to continue to exhaust the current resources on property without any efforts to revitalize them. It is time that we as fans take a genuine look at what is actually taking place at Walt Disney World and what truly needs to change to improve our experience.

As fans, we look at the Themed Entertainment attendance numbers as a barometer of success, but they don’t tell a complete story. The area of focus should also include spending per guest, which is deeply rooted in hotel rooms. I suspect that Disney is far more concerned with Universal’s hotel expansion than Transformers, Diagon Alley or King Kong. Historically, Disney was less concerned with guests visiting Universal for a day, as they were often returning to a Disney resort.

As Disney fans, we help enable the Blue Ocean Strategy being implemented by Disney. They choose not to compete with Universal in traditional ways in favor of manipulating guests to stay on property, and we as fans continue to allow this behavior. While fans complain online, they continue to finance these poor decisions. The reality is that the appeal of new attractions helps drive the attendance in the parks and the hotels. Innovative attractions linked to well known intellectual property are the new normal. Despite this, the progress of such additions in Walt Disney World has been glacial.

Since CEO Bob Iger and CFO Jay Rasulo moved to significant positions of power (Jay was originally head of Parks and Resorts), the approach to increasing guest spending has moved away from investing in rides and attractions and towards initiatives designed to keep guests on property. These include:

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Disney Vacation Club: Guests pre-pay for discounted vacations for 40+ years.
Magical Express: Keeps guests on property by eliminating need for rental car
Magic Your Way Tickets: Originally introduced with the concept, “The more you play, the less you pay per day.”
Disney Dining Plan: Guests pre-pay for their food, discouraging them from dining elsewhere.
Fastpass+: Guests are guaranteed shorter lines on their favorite rides in advance of their vacation.

The merits of each of these can be debated, but the motivation behind each is the same: keeping guests on property. These choices were made in lieu of or foregoing new attractions that would otherwise entice guests to stay on property and contribute to the organic growth of the parks.

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The alternative approach of aggressive construction at Universal Studios is a function of the window of opportunity created by Disney to gain market share. While the aforementioned attendance numbers at Disney haven’t been hurt by Universal’s additions, they haven’t been helped either. As the number of guests visiting Central Florida increases, so too does Universal’s market share. What’s more noticeable is the drop in hotel occupancy rates at Walt Disney World.

  • 2007 - 89%
  • 2008 - 89%
  • 2009 - 87%
  • 2010 - 82%
  • 2011 - 82%
  • 2012 - 81%
  • 2013 - 79%

To put it bluntly, guests simply aren’t finding the same value they did even five years ago at Disney resorts. Rather than cheapen the brand by reducing the rack rate across the board, Disney is continuing with heavy discounts on their hotel rooms. Additionally, they are making further changes to lower the average price of a Disney World hotel room without lowering the price of the individual rooms themselves.

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With 1984 new rooms, the Art of Animation resort significantly expanded the amount of value rooms and suites on property. One bedroom rooms start at $110+tax and the value suites start at $266+tax.

The number of non-Disney Vacation Club rooms at Disney’s Polynesian Resort will be reduced from 847 to 483 upon completion. Polynesian Resort rooms start at $429+tax.

WDWMagic user WDW1974 recently indicated that the conversion of deluxe rooms to Disney Vacation Club rooms will continue after the Polynesian Resort. This will decrease the supply of deluxe rooms, lowering the average cost for all Disney rooms, and increase Disney Vacation Club inventory that has yet to be saturated.

The conversion of cash rooms to Disney Vacation Club rooms serves two purposes:

  • Immediate revenue for new DVC sales.
  • Improved hotel occupancy numbers by taking deluxe rooms offline.

Since Comcast purchased Universal in 2009, they have continued to build organically by investing in tangible assets at the resort. They have seen both an increase in attendance as well as guest spending as a result. Comparatively, Disney has chosen not to compete in the traditional sense. They have increased revenue primarily by raising prices and not through organic growth. The initiatives designed to keep guests on property are losing their effectiveness and a return to quality additions is much needed.

I encourage fans to consciously spend less at Disney. While Disney is reacting in some ways, they are still not reacting in the ways that fans desire. Spend less until new innovative attractions debut. Spend less until food quality increases. Spend less until the resorts match their price point.

Disney is operating like an unprepared student before a final exam. The student is willing to do anything to pass… except study. Disney is trying to increase revenue and is willing to do anything… except build new attractions.

As a Disney fan today, it’s easy to look favorably on the aggressive building taking place at Universal. What many fail to recognize is that Universal is finally capitalizing on their biggest competitive advantage: Universal is not Disney.

Universal can build attractions with little fear or recourse from their fan base. Nostalgia doesn’t dominate the dialog at Universal and character infusion is a non-issue. Thematic intrusions aren’t heavily criticized and appropriateness of intellectual property isn’t questioned. These issues all impede the decision making process at Disney World. Universal is not Disney.

The Universal parks are not considered a rite of passage for the youth of the world.

Disney fans view the parks as a cultural Mecca. The parks are sacred, and so too are the philosophies of the parks. Character integration and intellectual properties are heavily criticized if there’s a moderate break from the surrounding theme. Universal does not face the same criticisms. Universal has the luxury of cycling intellectual property as needed to maintain a freshness in their parks that Disney is unwilling or unable to reproduce.

Thankfully, Disney is realizing that Universal is becoming more than just a one day distraction. While they may not match Disney in market share or delusional fan boy narcosis, they are aggressively refreshing their parks. They have that ability because they aren’t consumed with large scale outcries when something changes.

With that in mind, Disney can still compete with Universal from a relevance standpoint and placate the fans. We all know one of the biggest advantages Disney has versus Universal is the “blessing of size.” This advantage needs to be leveraged in order to maintain the park’s relevance.

While investments in Disney World are down during the Iger administration, money is still being invested in the property. The issue is that very little of that investment will drive attendance or guest spending. New Fantasyland added new attractions, but other investments like Next Gen and hotel additions are essentially infrastructure improvements. They’re there to encourage guests to spend money while they’re being entertained. They are not the entertainment.

The answers to so many of the ailments at Walt Disney World are simple: maintain and upgrade what you have and make regular attraction additions to keep the parks fresh. There was a time when Disney had the goal of a new E-Ticket every 3.75 years. They are looking at an 11 year gap between E-Tickets now (Everest to Avatar). Universal Studios was really struggling prior to the Harry Potter additions. It gave the resort a second life and they have taken that opportunity to be aggressive. The most obvious example of this is the Transformers addition. Yes, it’s a clone. Yes, there was a clause in the contract that required them to build it sooner rather than later. But no, it wasn’t really needed.

Disney needs to realize that the old way of thinking is wrong. The parks are not mature. There is still room for growth. Disney needs to realize that Universal isn’t going away. They’re backed by Comcast who is willing to invest more money in their parks than Disney. Disney needs to realize that homogenization is not only cheaper, it feels cheaper as well.

Avatarland. So close, yet so far away.

Avatarland. So close, yet so far away.

There is no excuse for Disney being any less than a year into construction of a Star Wars land. There is no excuse for not having another attraction in Pixar place. There is no excuse for the current state of the Imagination Pavilion or the Yeti at Expedition Everest. Addressing those things would have cost less than half of Next Gen. Disney can talk about all of the revenue growth they want – it’s certainly important. But since 2009, their draw of all guests visiting Central Florida has dropped from 74.86% to 71.18%. During that same time, Universal’s has increased from 16% of guests to 21.59%. The parks that lost the greatest percentage during that time? Sea World #1, Epcot #2.

Disney rested on their laurels. They let Universal up off the mat and haven’t noticed that they’ve been taking stomach punches for the last 4 years.

Disney clearly has the in house talent to produce world class attractions and environments. The problems arise when Disney asks Imagineers to build something around a particular intellectual property, at a certain budget, in a certain building, and using existing infrastructure (I’m looking at you Norway… or should I say Arendele?).

With or without a particular intellectual property, when Imagineers are given the authority to build something from scratch, they are far more successful.

As newly elected Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Thomas said during his induction speech, “There are no shortcuts to success.” Walt Disney World is stale, and it needs new high quality rides to remain relevant. Hopefully change is coming, but change without quality will not fix the problem. In order for Walt Disney World to undergo that much needed change, they need to let the creative people create.

I sincerely hope that, “From the depths of the Dark Ages [will come] the Age of Enlightenment – the Renaissance.”

Steve Seifert and Jeremy Irons contributed to the content of this article. Additional content was based on continued discussions with WDWMagic.com users WDW1974 and ParentsOf4.

About Tim Grassey

Three months before being born, Tim enjoyed his first trip to Disney World. Ever since, frequent trips to Disney World and Disneyland have helped feed the obsession. After a three year run as a podcaster, Tim currently co-owns the Disney information site, WDWThemeParks.com. You can follow the site on twitter @wdwthemeparks or follow Tim directly @tgrassey

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  1. I will be staying at a DVC hotel in September but will be renting a car and spending half of my vacation at Universal parks. Sorry Disney.

    • Personally, I would love it if Universal offered discounts to DVC members. It would be a targeted gesture at Disney’s best customers.

      • Tim you nailed it.
        Magic Kingdom is so far, the king of parks, but the 3 other WDW parks are VERY vulnerable.
        AK, Epcot, and Disney Studios each grew between flat and 2% from 2009-2013.
        Universal grew 17% during the same period.
        It takes YEARS for the guests to realize that WDW has become stale. Many folks only hit WDW every 4-5 years or so. They are just being hit with the reality that they just had the most expensive family vacation they have ever had and the attractions are the same.
        Epcot looks like 80′s Land – very old, with abandoned attractions, and very lame attractions at that.
        It takes years for everyone to see and then realize that WDW leadership isn’t giving you anything new.
        It also takes years for most folks to realize that the Junior Theme Park – Universal, is offering more than ever.
        What we read on this thread is what is happening with the theme park insiders. They are moving more and more time and $’s to Universal.
        The novice theme park folks are beginning to figure this out now too because it’s hard to miss Universal’s Cabana Bay, Potter London, Diagon Alley, Springfield, Despicable Me, Transformers, Hogwarts Express, WWOHP, etc. all in a 3 year period.
        Guests can easily give up AK, Epcot, and Disney Studios for several days at Universal now and it’s beginning to happen.

      • Hey Cap! Welcome back! Been called a troll yet? :p

      • Hey Aaronius, not yet but I won’t be surprised. Good to hear from you.
        I liked your comments from earlier today too.

    • This is my favorite article on MiceChat in a long while. Its advice to spend less at Disney parks in an effort to combat the MBA-induced malaise is superb. Since I’m one of those who finds it difficult not to attend Disney parks, I can certainly cut back on my in-park purchases of food and souvenirs, as well as Disney hotel rooms. Thanks for the prescription to improve Disney parks’ well being Tim!

  2. Yes! You hit the mark with this reasoned article.

    I can really understand Disney’s interest in keeping costs from spiraling out of control with unchecked spending. However, it’s becoming difficult to get as excited about visiting attractions that haven’t changed in 20 years.

    At EPCOT, they don’t need a Potter-like expansion. Simply making updates to Imagination, Energy, and the Seas plus doing something with the Wonders of Life pavilion would make a huge difference in that park.

    At DHS, they should be investing in Star Wars and be ready for the new movie, which comes next year. Something should be in place by summer 2016 at the latest.

    I just don’t get why smart people don’t see the dangers of there current course of action.

    • ^ ^ I get it. The current ultimate goal of the Walt Disney Company is for Bob Iger (a smart person) to make $30+ million a year for as long as possible. Does anyone really want Thomas Staggs or Jay Rasulo replace him?

      The Magic Kingdom continues to draw 17 million visits a year (but people mistake the guy who visits 30 times a year as 30 visitors, correct?), though besides Avatarland, I don’t know why Disney hasn’t invested far more $ and creative energy into the other 3 WDW parks. Oh yeah, Magicbands. And Shanghai Disneyland which is supposed to open in just 16 months, in December of 2015. Even Walt ignored lit his Disneyland Haunted Mansion shell sit for years while he focused on the ’64 NY World Fair.

      If the next Avatar movie is Matrix 2 quality (which I doubt it could be with James Cameron’s involvement), WDW will be in ankle-deep doo doo.

      Why not at least so something to improve or replace the Yeti with a lighter one, add a new World Showcase pavilion to EPCOT, make Future World more spiffy, and add a Carsland-quality Star Wars land to the Studios?

      What are the details of Universal’s right to use some (or all?) Marvel characters in Orlando?

      So how many posts till we hear from a Micechatter in his 20s or 30′s who’s been the WDW every year for the past 12 years (and nowhere else on Earth) who thinks WDW just fine as it is? :) In fairness I haven’t been there for 12 years, but that’s because I haven’t wanted to go. “Jcruise you haven’t even been to WDW in the last 12 years and yet . . .!” I visited during 15 different years from 1972 through 1994, and only twice from 1995 through 2002. Disneyland I’ve visited about 80 times as locals since its Matt Ouimet assisted renaissance for its 50th Anniversary 9 years ago. The WWoHP expansion has finally inspired our family to decide that we want to return to Central Florida. And we will be staying at a Universal Orlando Hotel for 2 or 3 nights and spending more per day at U. than at Disney–happy to reward their building new lands and attractions.

      I don’t think WDW reflects the rest of the Disney Company. Tokyo Disneyland and a Disney Cruise we took to Alaska in 2013 are Disney at its all-time best. Apparently according to a petition to Iger by many Europeans, Disneyland Paris is as stagnant as WDW. I’ve been here three times and really like Iger’s first castle-centered park and the theming of the moderately priced Hotel Cheyenne, but–despite the addition or the Ratatouille area (a ride, a store and a restaurant–not a land)–the Studios park at Disneyland Paris is dreadful–much, much, much worse than anything at Walt Disney World. We’re talkin’ a depressing, ugly celebration of concrete that made me feel stupid for not being in Paris that part of a day.

      Maybe Disney is deliberately letting Waltless Disney World/Walmart World decline so it too can have a dramatic comeback for its 50th in 2021.

      TIM GRASSEY, thank you for writing such an excellent analysis and for including statistics! You are my new favorite Micechat writer. Interesting about the declining occupation rates at the WDW hotels. Does Universal Orlando have any other hotel planned?

      • “Lit” should be “lot,” and Iger’s castle-centered park at Disneyland Paris should be “Eisner’s.” As the sign around the Yeti’s neck and painted on Disneyland’s the abandoned Peoplemover reads, “Please pardon our pixie dust!”

      • Does U. Orlando have any other hotelS planned? The rates of their cool new, retro hotel will increase with demand.

      • I’m sure others can reply more accurately, but Comcast has said that in addition to regular additions annually, they will also be adding to their existing hotel rooms.

      • Thanks, Tim! And again, excellent analysis! I don’t think I’ve described any writings on Micechat analyses before, but it transcended most other commentaries and deserved a different word.

        Confession: I stole the “and nowhere else on Earth” line from TmmyTimmyTimmy’s comment after a Shanghai Disneyland thread.

        I’m looking forward to seen Universal Orlando & WDW’s park attendance #s over the next couple years. If U’s new WWoHP Diagon Alley really is wonderful, word of mouth will raise U’s attendance for more than just a one-year bump.

      • Micechat, please ask Word Press to let us edit our posts after articles. I have typolemia. (“Seeing”–how embarrassing.)

      • The Marvel agreement: Disney has full reign west of the Mississippi, but it can’t touch much east of it. That said, I’m not even sure if Disney’s rights in the west include non-MCU characters at this point.

      • – “the Studios park at Disneyland Paris… a depressing, ugly celebration of concrete that made me feel stupid for not being in Paris that part of a day.”

        That is one of the funniest, and most truthful of quotes out there!. This park looks like a 4th grader’s science project – and if Eisner had give said 4th grader a proper budget they could’ve done much better than what the end product turned out to be.

      • ^ ^ Thanks, Disney Tom!
        –Tom Sinsky

  3. The only new thing that Disney has offered is new ways to up charge guests and offer less to the day guests.

    The Epcot fireworks package, the food and wine party, the Frozen package, Harabame nights, memory maker, the thrill ride tour and countless more.

    Sadly WDW has turned into a cheap cruise ship vacation where the guest has to plan months in advance and pay extra for excursions, otherwise all the guest can do is the dance parties.

    • There was a section of this article that looked at these upcharge events that I removed. I don’t really have a problem with them conceptually, but they reinforce the greater point of exhausting every possible thing out of what they have instead of adding to it. When you further exhaust what’s there it becomes stale that much quicker.

      • Agree with you Tim.
        We quit WDW 4 years ago. Our family walked around Epcot and my wife and I realized that we just spent $500 for the privilege to shop and eat nachos.
        The rides in 80′s World at the front of Epcot are so lame. Ellen is holding a cordless phone, in her film, the size of a betamax.
        My kids are only excited about Mission Space and it makes my wife and I ill.
        We have been annual pass holders to Universal for 6 years now. We love staying at Portofino. The 5 of us can stay in a 900 sq ft suite w 2 full baths, ride beautiful boats to the front of the parks and skip 95% of the lines.
        Or, we can have 2 bare rooms at Pop Century and stand up in a bus, and have a magic handcuff tell us where our appointments are to eat and ride 3 rides.
        We have only visited the Disney Water parks and DisneyQuest (the passes came together and are good on hot or rainy days) in the last 4 years.
        We feel so appreciated at Universal and there are always so many things new which just opened and are under construction too.

  4. Well said! Hope Disney is reading this.

  5. I totally agree with your article. I am not sure that Disney is going to change any time soon. They are preoccupied by short term thinking. They want something that will boost profits this quarter. They seem to make few long term plans as to increase value for the parks. In the theme park business, you cannot think short term.

    Also I believe that not everything has to be built to follow the current trends. Disney has been following fads recently and that has caused money to be spent that only attracts people for a few years. Investing in the right “non fad” idea can pay off strongly for years. Walt spent a boat load on Pirates but it remains one of the most popular rides almost 50 years later.

  6. Great article about all that’s rotten in the state of WDW. With the current management of bean counters I don’t see things changing anytime soon but hopefully when Iger eventually goes we’ll have an MD who understands the potential of the Florida project and brings it up to where it should have been these past few years. A bit of TLC and investment in what they already have rather than spending money buying other companies would go a long way.

    What we need is a return to long term planning. The people at the top won’t spend now to get the bucks tomorrow because they fear or know they aren’t going to be there when the reward comes back, they want their £5 in their hand now rather than £1 a year forevermore. The past 20 years or so of development have been rather unplanned and haphazard but I’m sure with some thought we could return to a ‘whole property as EPCOT’ kind of future planning that Roy and the people after him started.

  7. Written with accuracy and passion – great article and right on the money!!!

  8. Great article. Everything going on there has really diminished my enthusiasm for it and we have no plans to visit for probably several years.

    Even something like increased admission prices show the mentality of getting every last dollar. I have to say that even for DL, even with things being much better than WDW, the cost of admission has become so high that we stopped buying annual passes and haven’t been there for a year and a half which has to be a record for our family. And we live only 20 minutes away.

  9. “While there is no shortage of complaining amongst us…” The most accurate point made in the article.

    If you all hate Disney so much, stop going. Go elsewhere. Nobody is stopping you.

    • I think you’ve missed the cautionary tale being told here, and the observations of many Disney fans of a company getting fat and happy. There is no hate here, only the desire to be great. Look no further than Disney’s own California Adventure for hope and inspiration to a Disney park reborn.

    • We are going elsewhere and we don’t hate Disney, but thanks for “reading.”

    • Tim nails it. However no one hates Disney, they hate mediocrity, and that is a what the article implies. As long has Guests keep coming and filling the park why improve the park with new quality attractions like the 50 yr old Mansion or Pirates. WDW will continue to hold back.
      11 yrs since the last E-ticket ride is clear evidence of this and they will only build if they see a stark decline in attendance. There seems to be no passion at the top to create new E-ticket type attractions.
      Truth be told attendance at Animal Kingdom is down and they needed a new draw.

      Yes WDW did add the new Fantasyland recently. But they did it at the cost of ripping out a classic attraction for a meet and greet. Re themed a kiddie roller coaster in Circus Land. (on the cheap) Moved Dumbo, brought a cloned Mermaid. (however the theming of the exterior was done well), Nothing wrong with clones but they could have fixed all the flaws when they built it in WDW. They built another kiddie Dwarfed coaster, I mean a 7 Dwarfs Mound Coaster and an overpriced Beast restaurant. Oh and a story time with Bell thing.

      kindagoofy – they had to re image California Adventure because it was a failed concept. Maybe failing is what it will take to revitalize WDW.

    • We have stopped going. I used to go every year and now it’s every other year. The admission prices are just too high and they need to be sent a signal.

      • We are heading into year 5 of skipping WDW. We used to buy annual passes and hit it 2-3 times per year and staying on property at Pop Century, Coronado, French Quarter or an occasional splurge at Wilderness Lodge.
        Now we have much more money to spend at Universal and we have annual passes there. With the AP discount we can stay at Royal Pacific or Portofino, which are much nicer than our WDW resorts, for a lot less $’s too.
        We have a first class vacation, skipping lines and riding boats to the front of the parks which are full of new lands and attractions.

  10. Disney only seems interested nowadays in expanding only when it can make a buck. The Disney Village expansion, all the rip-off time-shares, the Club 33 disaster at D-land, New Fantasyland with more restaurants and shopping than rides, expanding the hub so they can up charge for shows, this arm band thing, hotel expansions, and the list goes on and on. They did a phenomenal job with DCA, and I think it was out of desperation. But now that the park is doing well, how long again before we see something big? It really takes them a long time now to build stuff, and I’ve lost interest before a shovel is dug in the ground. At least when Eisner was in charge, they had major stuff being built at all the parks every year. I just don’t see how a company that makes money like it does with success with Marvel, Star Wars, Avatar, Pixar, etc. would be holding back on expanding its parks, especially with neighboring Universal who has now taken Disney’s place as creative innovator. Disney seems to think that renovating it’s roller coasters and slapping new effects on old rides count as new attractions.

    I know I complain about them all the time, but they really need to step up their game! I really want Disney to do well and I want to love them again. I want to be blown away like when I first entered Animal Kingdom, or World Showcase at Epcot. Disney, give me a reason to come back and spend my money!

    • I’d say that, unlike Universal, at least Disney takes the time to flesh out non-screen-based attractions, but then I remembered the new Ratatouille ride in Paris.

    • But we’ve got multiple interactive games in the parks…what more do you want Ravjay? Aren’t you keen on theme park interactive games???

  11. I see it as a double edged sword. Disney doesn’t build fast enough and the fan base cries out that the company doesn’t love their guests anymore. Then, if Disney tries to build new, update, or expand then a lot of the Disney fan base cries out in terror that history is being removed, that what they do isn’t good enough, blah blah blah. So maybe Disney looks at it like “Why should we do this for our guests when all they do is bitch at every thing we do or don’t do.” Disney is screwed either way by the fans. Maybe the fan community needs to embrace Disney and love them into making changes instead of trying to hurt the bottom line and defame the company they say they love so much. Just a thought…

    • That’s the thing though. We complain yet we still go. This year is the first time in 3 years that I won’t have a Premier pass, and the first time in 10+ years that I don’t have a Disney World annual pass.

      We need to vote with our wallets, as well as on message boards.

      • Ever think you’re just burned out? Would you visit any other place year after year after year? Burn out is real and can affect anything you do in excess, work, play or otherwise.

        You say the Disney experience is like Mecca, but that’s a religious site that believers feel lucky to ever visit just once in their lives.

        Visiting Disney is a great trip but if you start having a bad time because one ride is a little off, or some paint is peeling, or the only thing you are thinking about is how long of a rant you’ll write when you get home, is it just maybe possible the visitor is the problem and not the park?

        Saying this as someone who has been doing Disney trips since the 80′s but I’ve also taken nearly a decade break as required. Without some breaks it just becomes too much of the same thing.

      • Usula,

        You may be right. I may be burned out on it, as too may others. But I’m not sure that happened before. The freshness is gone, many areas of the parks are stale. The investments haven’t been there under Iger. As a percentage of revenue, 7 of the lowest 8 years of in park investments have been under Iger. He’s only been CEO for 8 years. He has approved one stateside E-ticket since he took over (admittedly it’s a great one).

        Disney is a great trip now, largely because of who you spend it with. I know my positive memories have always been about something positive that happened amongst family and friends and never about the 35th ride on Splash Mountain, but it’s that 36th ride on Splash Mountain that keeps me coming back. When it’s not properly maintained my mood is worse and my vacation is worse. It may be harder to quantify for the average guest, but because we are so familiar with it, we notice it and we can voice that opinion.

        Thank of Expedition Everest. It’s a fantastic roller coaster despite the $15 million stuffed animal at the end. People get off that ride today and are satisfied, but would they be more satisfied if the Yeti swiped at them? Absolutely. Disney has been about raising expectations and lately they have failed to do that.

      • While I don’t agree with you, anyone who picks their screen name after a character in Dune can’t be all wrong!

    • Nah Disneyland255, this is a false argument. WDW has 43 square miles of land.
      They add new hotels in a year but take 3 years to build a very small kiddie coaster.
      They add Little Mermaid but “have” to rip out Snow White? Nah.
      They have to rip out 20,000 Leagues for stores and restaurants? Nah.
      They have to rip out Mr. Toad for Winnie? Nah.
      They have plenty of space to add hotels don’t they?
      They have plenty of space to add stores and revenue centers don’t they?
      WDW execs are taking the public for being fooled into being held hostage by free (you paid for it) bus rides, meal plans, MagicHandcuffs which lead you from appointment to appointment.
      Universal is trying to earn your $’s with value hotels with suites, lazy river, better theming, full service restaurants, waterslides, bowling alleys, flexible fast passes included w delux resorts, new lands, new unique attractions opening all the time.
      Universal built Despicable Me, Transformers, Springfield and Cabana Bay, while building London/Diagon Alley!
      Before Diagon Alley opened, Universal began building Skull Island.
      Universal also bought more land and a water park which will be redone and used for a third gate, more resorts and a monorail to connect this all to the hub of Universal Citywalk.

      • C’mon, Cap! You’re letting your hyperbole get in the way of facts.

        I don’t know how much land WDW has anymore, but I do know they’ve sold some off. I also know they can’t build on some of it because it’s protected land, part of the deal they made with Florida to get other concessions. And to be picky, I thought that originally it was 42 square miles. Maybe it depends on whether you round up or down.
        You’re actually paying for “free” bus/monorail/boat rides (or did you just mean the Magical Express?) and meal plans? Of course! But those waterslides, fast passes and lazy rivers? Those aren’t free either. You pay for them.
        You’re including restaurants and bowling alleys? Those are upcharges, are they not?
        I also think you went a little overboard with the attractions. I’m pretty sure both Transformers and Despicable Me were finished before they started on Diagon Alley.
        And as far as what’s coming…maybe you should wait until they’re more than blue sky – although they did buy Wet n Wild and more land.
        However, I do thank you for something a little different than your usual cut-n-paste. ;)

      • Despicable Me, Transformers, Springfield, and Cabana Bay were all in various stages of construction during the time London/Diagon Alley, Escape From Gringott’s, and Hogwarts Express were under construction.
        Remember when WDW could build more than a new DVC resort at the same time?
        Remember when WDW could build a kiddie coaster in one year instead of three plus years?
        By the way, Universal broke ground on King Kong’s Skull Island before London/Diagon was complete!
        Anyone with an honest point of view has to admit that this is amazing!

      • Marko, Universal put a code on the outside of the Transformers building during it’s construction that was rumored to be a clue about when King’s Cross station would open as they were under construction at the same time.

  12. I don’t mind paying top dollar for a hotel room. Pardon the cliche, I know I won’t spend my entire vacation in a hotel room but we like what we like. When it comes to the Disney property hotels, I’ll pass. Every year I look into staying on site whether going to the Disney parks or not, but I’m not impressed with the drabbish, dusty dated rooms (Disney Swan, Dolphine, Wildnerness Lodge and Broadwalk especially). The Contemporary Resort is the only one (in my opinion) with the slightest possibility of having me book a week at. With other luxury properties like Renaissance, GayLord or J.W Marriott which is actually cheaper and just the same, if not better customer service. Disney can keep the so called perks that come with staying on their property (resort transport). We like to come and go as I please and step out side the magical world from time to time i.e to see Universal, the malls and etc. I know, due to all of that we may not be the target demographic, but that’s money I’m willing to spend when the quality is there. ***Sighs. As far as the new attractions go, it’s obsurd. One of the reasons my family declines to visit Disney is because we look for new experiences, not the exact same rides and shows from the past six years, enters Universal.

  13. Disney has shown me that they don’t care as of late. Club 33 is a prime example of that. Show no longer seems to be important. We went from having an awesome redo of DCA to a less than Disney show in NOS. I wish Lassiter was in charge because he seems to have what it takes to do the job right.

    • Yeah, but bear in mind Lasseter also pushed a lot for the Monstropolis makeover in Hollywoodland, which would be a terrible idea. Lasseter is also a huge champion of the Cars franchise, which, for anyone, is a tick on their record.

      The man has done great things, don’t get me wrong, but let’s not forget that outside of TS2, he’s hardly responsible for Pixar’s most artistic triumphs.

      • “Yeah, but bear in mind Lasseter also pushed a lot for the Monstropolis makeover in Hollywoodland, which would be a terrible idea.”

        The fanboi’s said the same things about Carsland back in the day as we all know how that turned out…

        Let the creatives be creatives and stopped complaining about everything that doesn’t fit your perfect image of how the parks should be, who knows they may surprise you.

  14. I still almost cant believe what they did in New Orleans square. That was Walt’s last legacy in Disneyland and an example of theme park perfection. Now they added off center windows and details that destroy the theme and forced perspective. Great addition for the 60th anniversary. It seems the only parks that will maintain Walts standards in the future are the ones not owned by WDC like tokyo, hong kong and Shanghai.

    • well spoken danielz6. un…be…leiv able,,,what they have done!!

  15. In 20 days I’ll be going to Universal. Staying in their hotels and not stopping by Disney World. The turn off for me is FP+ I have no desire to visit Disney World. I would
    get less out of my day b/c they removed FP. Maybe my family will be one of the statistic points that gets Disney to change course.

    • I’m curious, Quentin. Exactly how does FP+ mean you get less out of your day? Real, concrete examples, not hypotheticals.

      Our family has gone to WDW three times in the past 10 months, and we’ve used FP+ each time. We ended up using WAY more FastPasses with the new system than we ever did under the old system.

      How was your experience different?

      • Experienced users can certainly benefit from Fastpass+. My complaint is and always will be the implementation of it where it doesn’t belong. It doesn’t belong on shows unless you’re getting preferred viewing. It doesn’t belong on attractions that previously didn’t need regular Fastpass. They put it where it didn’t belong because they didn’t have the attraction lineup to support 3 FP+ reservations per guest per day.

        Now when you look at the advanced booking component, that’s more of a nuisance than a benefit to me. Realistically, only one advanced booking is necessary per park. It’s why I have long suggested 1 advanced booking per day, 1 additional reservation upon entering the park. both can be cycled like you can now once you use up your 3 advanced bookings. This eliminates several problems like the tiers, and would allow them to eliminate Fastpass+ where it doesn’t belong. It would also allow for guests that reserved a nighttime show use of a cycling Fastpass.

        As for the time savings, it has increased the wait at lower demand attractions. While decreasing the wait at some headliners. It’s a trade off more than anything:
        http://blog.touringplans.com/2014/02/19/fastpass-affecting-your-wait-in-line-disney-world/

      • My best friends just got back from WDW and the magic handcuffs were not helpful.
        The family had to reserve their parks and attractions months out and they really regretted the loss of their spontaneity. The families stayed out late a couple of nights and were exhausted the next morning but still had to drag everyone out of bed to make the magic handcuffs appointments.
        They couldn’t exchange ANY reservations because the parks were crowded and nothing was available to change.
        They got fast passes to attractions they did not need them for like Muppet Movie. They couldn’t get more of the attractions in the same Tier at the same parks. They wanted Tower of terror and Rockin Roller but could only have one.
        The old fast passes were available based on your desire of the day.
        They found no benefit to the magic handcuffs except that it tries to control and send the crowds to less desirable, old, outdated attractions where people wouldn’t go.

      • I did like the flexibility of changing my FP reservations on the fly but the bands themselves did nothing for me beyond creating a tan-line and not having to take my wallet out to pay or enter our room.

    • Way to go Quentin.
      Taking my oldest son during his College Fall Break in October which the younger kids don’t get. We are staying at Royal Pacific.
      Planning a May 2015 trip with my wife and all 3 kids staying at Portofino for at least a week.
      No WDW plans at all.
      Haven’t been to WDW parks in 4 years now. Last time we went, WDW was so stressful compared to Universal.
      Skipping WDW gives us A LOT of money to have a better Universal trip and stay longer too.

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