Growing up in southern California, I knew that Disney catered to locals. It used to be true here in Orlando, from what I've heard and hoped would be true. But since moving to Windemere with backdoor access to WDW, I've noticed a disturbing trend, which Sentinel
reporter Scott Joseph articulated so well in his review of Citricos.
Well said, Scott.
As frequent Disney guests, we notice the second-class treatment just because we're not staying on-site. It's been especially apparent since the promotion of the pervasive "dining plan." It's even worse if you're adults without children, which was not always true. I loved how Scott highlighted these points. No wonder we've discovered since moving here we'd rather come in from out-of-town and stay on-site--so maybe that's their plan. But with that Disney mindset, aren't they missing out on a ready-made, lucrative business segment from locals? Maybe they don't need our money.
It's often difficult to gain access to the resorts if you're not a guest. If you're dining at one of the resort restaurants, it's a bit easier, although sometimes we just want to have a drink at the bar and soak up the atmosphere. The good news, though, is that the Disney Dining Experience card now includes bars, lounges, and all sit-down restaurants in their plan and, therefore, you can use the valet parking. This greatly enhances the local experience.
In the end, being a local at Disney is a mixed-bag. And while in our early days of visiting Disney on day trips we seemed to solicit a knowing grin when we said we were "locals," today it just seems awkward. So, instead of using the "l" word, maybe we should just say we're from "fill-in-the-blank." It might go over better with those used to reciting a Disney script.