Just back from WDW to hurricane central. My part of the Florida, the Fort Lauderdale area, suffered its worst damage since 1947. There is widespread damage. My neighborhood, my home, is no different.
I hope that doesn't color my trip observations, but I want to add perspective. While venting about certain things at Disney may be cathartic, it in no way equals real pain in the real world. We go to WDW to escape and I tried ... it doesn't always work.
So here's the good, bad and ugly:
(OK, this one is great) Dinner at the California Grill. The undisputed leader in incredible cuisine at WDW. Unlike other places where quality ebbs and flows up and down with changes in chefs, area managers, GMs etc ..., the CG never disappoints. So what if the tamarind BBQ filet was $26 a few years ago and is $35 now? Man. That is great eating.
Dinner at Tony's Town Square (OK, this won't be all about food), but I hadn't dined here in about 3-4 years and it never was really more than OK in the past, but the Chicken Florentine I had was to die for quality. Really, really good. Now, I do have a complain about the place, which you can read about below.
Contemporary and Polynesian renovations are coming along quite nicely. These two resorts will be the places to stay at WDW again when the redos are completed.
MNSSHP. Just a fantastic event. Well worth the price of admission, which likely means Disney will raise the prices again soon. This is Disney at its best AND it got even better this year with Hallo-Wishes (a great fireworks treat) and the Boo To You Parade (which is so much better than the regular daily parade it's not even funny). Disney even did its best on a rainy Sunday night with a hurricane closing in to keep the event on and put on the fireworks (albeit without the perimeter ones) and the parade when the first major squall had cleared the area. CMs were friendly and gave out oodles of extra candy to any/everyone and thanked guests for coming out. VERY GOOD SHOW all around.
FOOD AND WINE FEST: Didn't spend all that much time munching around the world, but the portions actually appeared to be larger and more fairly priced then in years past ... but maybe it was the plum wine and Fiesta Margaritas that had me in such a good mood. I did see a few drunks, but overall Epcot is so much more festive when things like this are going on.
UPKEEP: Walking through the WL late at night and seeing the floors cleaned, while outside they were pressure-cleaning the pavement like Disney USED to do all the time in its parks. ... Haunted Mansion had the soundtrack fixed in the graveyard for the first time. ... MK looked cleaner than it had in August.
GELATO AT BEACH CLUB: While not nearly as good as what you can get at the major Vegas resorts, it's still quite yummy and reasonably priced. Great addition.
POST WILMA: Disney got MK and Epcot opened by 1 p.m. Monday. They also pretty much let anyone in ...at least at Epcot, they weren't even checking tickets so I have the feeling that anyone with any old Disney ticket media could have walked in for free. Managers and CMs were out trying to get things opened up under very blustery conditions. I've never been in Epcot in the afternoon where you couldn't see hardly anyone ... very weird. The folks started to show up by 3-4 p.m. ... At the resorts, characters paid visits in the lobbys and even the bar at Port Orleans was up and running at 11 a.m.
***PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL OF THE ABOVE IS FOR FOLKS WHO BITCH THAT I NEVER HAVE ANYTHING POSITIVE TO SAY ABOUT WDW!***
OK, here's what you've been waiting for ...
Da Bad (and Da Ugly too!):
HOUSEKEEPING: at both sections of Port Orleans was simply unacceptable. I know most WDW guests don't care if their rooms are clean so long as they get animals made out of washclothes or see their plush posed all around. Well, I do.
At Riverside, it appeared as if the table beside the bed had NEVER been cleaned. There was such a layer of dust on the radio I wondered if had been years since someone thought to clean it.
At French Quarter, I have serious doubts as to whether or not the sheets had been changed from the prior guests. There were stains and hair on the sheets. I called after the first day and requested a change. No change. I called after the second day and requested a change. No change. I finally went down the third day and demanded a change and they were. BAD, BAD, BAD!!! And this is a running theme with Disney Resorts. I don't believe most housekeepers are trained properly and/or give a damn. I know one of them had a 'he caught me' look when she was obviously on a personal cell phone call, while on the clock.
NO LATE CHECKOUTS WITH STORM: Yes, I was refused a late checkout with Wilma pounding Central Florida. The answer 'we're not giving any' ... when I pushed further regarding the safety issue of sending folks out in the storm instead of letting them stay in their rooms an extra 1-4 hours until the storm passed, I got a very snotty response. I was told I was free to extend my stay. At a distressed traveler's rate I asked? HAH! I wound up staying in my room until 1:15 when it was safe to leave. I can't see how it cost Disney anything as they put towels on the doors and left everyone a message at 10 a.m. saying there would be no housekeeping. Just very bad show and attitude considering the dire weather conditions.
$19 ... for pasta? in a theme park?: Yes. That's what a plate of ordinary spaghetti will cost you at Tony's Town Square and yes, I know that is obscene ... and another likely factor in Disney's choice to push their dining plan.
DINING PLAN/RESERVATIONS: Clearly the plan is pushing more folks into Disney's full serve establishments. The first question they ask you when you check in now is "are you on the Dining Plan?" ... I had to wait 20 minutes to reach the podium to check in for a late lunch WITH PS at San Angel Inn this weekend. ... Then you see a family of four at the California Grill and they ALL order appetizers and they all order filets and they all order desserts ... yeah, it's not having an effect. sure.
TOSTITOS? YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING: Nope. Since they sell them at the Mexico pavillion, San Angel feels that it should go with what the WalMart guests are used to from home. So now instead of serving fresh, hot, homemade tortilla chips and freshly made salsa, you get bags of Tostitos emptied into a basket with some of that horrible Frito Lay salsa. This ruined what would have been a good meal. If the local Mexican joint in a strip center here can give me fresh chips and salsa, well, so can Disney. VERY BAD SHOW! Hey, Norm Noble ... are you listening? If you are, you might also tell San Angel (and those folks at Yakitori House) that mixed chicken mystery chunks don't belong being served at WDW. You can get real white breast meat at KFC ... knowwhatImean?
ORLANDO LEGAL: Someone call Shatner and Spader. I guess some parent either had a child drown at WDW or have an accident because Disney has now installed gas-generator powered lightstands near its pools at PO and WL ... they are incredibly loud and bright and have no purpose there ... except the lawyers likely pushed for them. People will sue, guys. It's the price of doing business.
UPKEEP: Shouldn't see the same box of cigarettes sitting on a walkway at PO three days in a row. How many CMs past it every day? ... Lots of areas at Epcot really are starting to need paintjobs ... China comes to mind. ... Beach Club hallways already look quite beat up and carpeting quit filthy and it was all replaced within the past 18 months or so. ... Buzz Lightyear's cars are embarrassing.
POOH"S PLAYGROUND IS: Pooh. Period.
MK SHOPPING: Just gets worse all the time. Frontierland is a joke. First we had one shop become all candy, then another become all pins. Now the leathermaking shop at the entrance has become yet another timeshare shilling booth. Didn't buy a thing at WDW. Typical.
I'm sure there's more I'm leaving out, but I spent the whole day chopping trees and picking up pieces of my roof, so I'm a bit spent. I'll add to this if I think of anything.