Well, we just got back home from WDW. This year was a change for us - usually we go down in October for the Halloween party. But due to cooler and cooler end of October temperatures, we decided a complete change to the Christmas party. After seeing many TV specials and internet postings about Christmas in WDW, we had to try it. Now, we are not new to WDW, but we’re not been going as long as a lot of you out there. This was our sixth trip within eight years, so we have seen some changes, like most of you have. So here are our opinions, step by step, of our time spent in WDW for Christmas.
Trip plan - 11 days, 10 nights.
Airport to resort: Perfect. Love the Magic Express. No delays, no luggage problems.
Resort: Port Orleans, French Quarter.
We had never been to the French Quarter resort before; the last five times, we always stayed at the Caribbean Beach resort. But, after five times, we were ready for a change. Theme Parks:
High Points: The French Quarter is a very nice resort, decorated very nice for the holidays. It is a smaller resort, which is what we were looking for, coming from Caribbean Beach, which is just HUGE!! Registration went well, although we had to wait a couple hours for our room, which I thought was kind of strange since I did the online check in the day before. Oh well. Room was nice and clean. Resort is quiet. If you have entered your information about your return air trip, the resort will have your boarding pass’s ready the morning of your departure. Very nice perk.
Low Points: First, the food court at the French Quarter is set up in a circle pattern, which can be very confusing, and difficult to navigate when it is busy. The food, all in all, was good. I understand this is a resort set upon the theme of Mardi Gras, but they need a little diversity in the food - it is all a little spicy, and you can’t even get a basic turkey sandwich anywhere. Also, the “desert” section of the court had a worker that worked in a low gear that I did not even know existed. I ordered two strawberry shakes, and it took over 8 minutes. If I had that kind of pattern where I work, I would be out of a job. It also showed by the line to that counter, which usually had 5 to 10 people waiting in it during regular times. Also, one point of the check out system, which I would assume is the same for all WDW resorts: When checking your bags when you are ready to leave, if your airline has a checked baggage fee, you can pay that at the resort..... with a credit card, no cash is accepted. Now, this may sound weird to some, but I do not take a credit card with me on vacation, for two reasons: Security, and over spending. So, word of advice, if this happens to you, you have to take the bags with you, and check them in at the airport. It is not that big of a problem, but another hurdle that could be taken out of the trip.
Magic Kingdom: Again, decorations were beautiful. Also, the “ice” lights on the castle have to be seen in person, TV and internet do not do them any justice. It was good to see WDW doing the Main Street Electric Parade again. That was a treat to see. The Christmas Party was fun, great parade, great fireworks. Downside: By the time we left WDW on Dec. 23rd, we had found it hard to find Christmas items, mainly clothing, left in stock. We were told by a WDW store manager that they put the Christmas items out as soon as the Halloween Party is done, so I’m going to assume that means that Christmas items have been out since Nov. 6th area. So that means that people coming in the week of Christmas probably will not find much, if any, clothing items left. Item sizing is a problem also - a pair of sleep pants we were trying to find we could only find in either XS, or XXL. That’s it. Same thing for the Christmas Party shirts - we rushed all over the park, and found one XL, all the rest were XS, S, or XXL. The same manager as mentioned above stated they were to start pulling in the Christmas clothing by Dec. 24th. I’m assuming to get more of the D40 anniversary items out there. Also, the parades - usually when we come down for Halloween, you can get to Main Street, and get a curb seat about an hour before the parade. Not in December. Some people had their spots on Main Street set about 3 hours before the parade. We had dining reservations at 6pm, so I thought we would have plenty of time before the parade started at 8pm. Wrong!! We finally found a spot on the east side of the circle in front of the castle, and that area filled fast! Space Mountain: Why was it down all that time? It has new “games” to play while you wait, which is nice. Boarding area looks the same, and as far as any new sounds or music during the ride, we never heard it. Construction continues in the back of Fantasy Land. What are they doing at the Haunted Mansion’s graveyard? It looks to be a pretty big project, and they are keeping it all covered - they even had boarding up facing the river, so people on the steamboat could not see what they are doing in there.
EPCOT: My favorite park. Christmas decorations here were, surprisingly, a little less than I would have thought there would be. The Showcase was nicely decorated. Now when we come down in October, it is not usually a problem to get on any ride. This is not true for December. We were there at 9am for the opening of the park, and had to run, with the crowd, back to Soarin’, just to get a FastPass. Within minutes, the standby line was up to 50minutes, and the FastPass tickets clear out fast. This is the same for the other parks high traffic rides. I make all my dining reservations as soon as I can online, but I wanted to do the Candlelight Processional that was tied to the dining package. Little hint: You can’t tie a previously made reservation with the Candlelight Processional - the dining time and the package have to all be made at the same time. And the lines, both the dining package people and the “standby” line were huge. Some people were getting in line for the standby 2 to 3 hours prior to the show.
Hollywood Studios: Only spent one full day in this park. Again, decent holiday decorations. Star Wars is down. Muppets in 3D: For the love of god, get a new movie in there...........Food/Dining:
Pixar Midway Mania is as crazy to get into as is Soarin’. Food in the park is ok at best. We try not to eat in this park. Osborn lights were fantastic!!!
Animal Kingdom: Only spent one day in this park too. Huge holiday tree out front. Yeti was working when we rode EE. Flights of Wonder is always great to see. Since it was cooler than we normally see it there, the safari had a lot of animals out and about - it was the best one we had ever done. I know Disney loves their parades, but in this park, it makes it just about impossible to get around when they rope off the roads.
Magic Kingdom:The Changing of Walt Disney World.................. is this “normal”?
Crystal Palace: Wonderful, love it. Always a good time. Tony’s: Very good food, beautiful restaurant. Workers seemed a little stressed. Liberty Tree Tavern: Nice improvement - they have gotten rid of the catfish, and replaced with glazed ham. Love this place. Go here every time we come down. HINT: If possible, ask for server *****. He was fantastic. We wanted for nothing. And he will spend time to talk with you, if you want, about anything. Highly recommend *****.
Les Chefs De France: First time here. Loved it. Waitress was from France, and was a little difficult to understand a couple times, but very nice. Food is incredible!! Le Cellier: Love this place too. Could not get in here last time, so wanted to make sure we got in this time. Food is first rate, and they will work with you if you need any changes. Nine Dragons: Big restaurant - can get a little noisy in there when busy. Food is great, and staff very nice. Teppon Edo - Love this place too. Food is top! Can be noisy in here too. Each “table” seats eight, and depending on who all sits at the table with you depends on how active the table is. The couple to our left were having fun along with us, but the other four didn’t really seem too into the show. Too bad, their loss.
I wanted to get back to this; There have been some changes to WDW we have seen over the years. Last year, the food quality took a downturn. I think it’s coming back up. But the main change that I have seen over the last eight years has to do with the other vacationers in the park with you. Every year I have noticed that people are getting ruder and ruder, and more pushy. They don’t care if they walk right out in front of you, hit you, or make you stop suddenly. And what ever happened to “I’m sorry”, or “excuse me”? It’s as if people are going through the park on autopilot. Or buried face down in their iPhone/Pad/whatever. Wake up, look around.Employees, good and bad:
And why is it that for some members of the human race seem to think they will go totally deaf unless they are standing side by side each other when walking? And where did the system of one person of a group getting in line for a ride, and once they are close to the entrance, they hop on the cell phone, and call the rest of the family, who then proceeds to push their way up to that one person. That is so rude to the people that have stood in line. Also, I saw this several times down there, and this has to stop: People are renting those handicapped motorized scooters, who have no need for them. I understand that there are people out there who truly need these units, and I have no problem with that. But the rest are renting these because they have figured a way to screw the system, and you and me with it - by rolling up in one of these, they, and their entire family, get to go to the front of the line, for whatever ride they are going into. Where you and I may have to wait two hours to get through the line, they don’t feel they have to, so they abuse the handicapped system. Personally, that also sends a message to me from Disney corp stating that they are more interested in scooter rental money, than trying to enforce a rule to cut this down. Well, here’s an easy rule: The person on the scooter can go to the front of the line, with ONE family member. The rest have to wait in line with everyone else. Abusers will not want to separate their group. I saw one person down in EPCOT, person in mid 40's, rolling around on a scooter, with their dog........ a toy poodle. I thought only service animals could brought into the parks. It’s just being pure lazy.
While on our trek for the Christmas sleep pants mentioned above, we stopped in at the customer service desk at World of Disney in Downtown Disney. We were told, by WDW service rep ******, that there were three Medium pants at the 5&Dime at Hollywood Studios. So on way to Hollywood Studios, we stopped at Caribbean Beach for lunch, and just to stop by. There, in their gift shop at Port Royale, we spoke with *****, and told him what had transpired. He took the information, and headed off to his computer. About ten minutes later, he came back, and told me that not only were there no medium sleep pants at the 5&Dine, there were none in the entire WDW park system, and none online to order. When asked about what **** at DD had told us, all he could do was apologize. So, just for fun, we continued to Hollywood Studios, and at the 5&Dime, not surprisingly, found no medium pants. We spoke with the manager there, and he told me the numbers that **** had given us off the official WDW computer system “cannot be trusted”............ what he means by that are any clothing that is used in a window display is not taken off the computer inventory. And, one employee at Mouse Gear in EPCOT told us they cannot take items off a window display, as that is WDW policy. Another employee told us that there is no such policy, but more likely the persons at Mouse Gear just did not want to have to deal with getting that item. So I just don’t know who to believe. I wish I had a good inside contact in WDW I could talk to about all this. But it just seems that WDW is turning slightly numb to their guests......... which is a dangerous thing to do.
Also, wanted to send a “well done” out to **** at the Magic Kingdom. **** had the job of keeping people in designated areas for the parades. This also meant he had to ask people to move along if they were in areas where they should not be. And in the short time I was waiting for the parade, I saw many people just ignore ****, or just move down a little to get away from him. So, he would have to go to them again, and nicely ask them to move to a safe area. Not a fun job to have, but he did it each and every time with kindness.
So, in closing this section:
***** in World of Disney in Downtown Disney - Stay away from.
***** at Caribbean Beach - Well done, thanks!!
***** at Magic Kingdom, Liberty Tree - Great employee, fun!
***** at Magic Kingdom, Security - Good job.
Just a thought here: We should always be ready to talk to a manager or Guest Services when we encounter an employee that is not acting as they should be, or in a rude or unprofessional manner. But, I think we should also be as diligent in reporting an employee that is doing a good job. Most of the employees we see in the parks are not being paid much more than minimum wage, and personally I think the work they do every day is a lot to insure that we all have a magical vacation. So if you encounter an employee like this, tell them thanks, we appreciate you. Maybe we can make their day a little magical, for only a minute or two.
Well, that’s the end of my rant. Honestly I can say that now that we have done Christmas in WDW, it was fun, but we will never do that again. We’ll probably take a year off, and go back to Halloween in 2012.
So to each of you, I wish a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. See you on the forums.