Tidewater Traveler - December 2009


Magical Miscues at Walt Disney World


George W. Sellers

   You all go on and do it. I’m not waiting in that @*&$^#$% line to see some @#%&@#*$ @#$%#%# kid’s cartoon. I’ll just sit here on the bench and watch the people. Macho, farmer’s tan, tough guy, leather jacket – not me, buddy - it’s too juvenile. But after much persuasion, Norman the truck driver was convinced to join the rest of the group and together we queued–up to await admission to the Little Mermaid Theatre at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly called MGM) in Orlando.
    Forty minutes later - %@^#%!!! That was amazing! I’m going to see that again! Anybody want to go back in with me? Did you see those special effects? The stage lighting was incredible! Did you feel the wetness in the air during the underwater scene? I just can’t believe how they did all of that! That was amazing! Who is going back in with me?
    Too often, for too many reasons, someone decides that a line is too long, or an attraction is too juvenile or may not be interesting enough. Parents regularly make the decision for their children that they will not be interested, their attention span is too short or that they (maybe the parents) might be bored.
    I once heard an adult say they would not take their two-year-old through the boat ride at It’s a Small World in Magic Kingdom because they did not want that tune stuck in their head (the parent’s head) for the rest of the day. Skipping attractions is just one of the Magical Miscues that folks make every day at Walt Disney World. (By the way, the grandmother took the child through the attraction later in the day, and it turned out to be his favorite thing of the whole trip.)
    A trip to Orlando and a day in the park is an expensive venture, and you should make every effort to maximize the value of the day. Lines, for example - if you think a line is too long, consider talking to the guests who are exiting the ride or attraction and ask them how long they really had to wait; and ask them if the wait was worth the experience. Quite often you will learn that the actual wait-time is much less than the official projected wait-time posted at the entrance. And almost always they will say the experience was well worth the wait.
    If you are visiting the theme park on a busy day, consider getting a Fast-Pass, which allows you to skip the existing long line and receive an appointment time for later in the day when you can return to a much shorter express line.
    Avoid the tendency to judge attractions that you have not personally experienced based upon what you see on the exterior or based upon what you think you know. “Oh, you won’t enjoy that” was spoken at the entrance of the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. But the young boy to whom the pronouncement was made had already read the book and seen the movie at least six times, and would really have enjoyed seeing the words of the author come to life in ways that he could see, touch and remember.
    More Magical Miscues . . .
    Approach the day without a plan. Visiting Disney World is a BIG job, and maximizing your time there requires some advance thought and data gathering. Talk to folks who have some experience and pick up literature such as maps, show times and special events. Approach each day with a plan.
    If you want to encounter longer lines and longer waits, eat at regular meal times. Otherwise, make better use of your time by eating earlier or later than when everyone else in the world needs to be fed.
    Travel the same way all the time. Everyone who has been to Walt Disney World knows about using the famous monorail train system to transfer to Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Guests at the Disney resort hotels have become all too familiar with the massive bus network to reach theme parks and shopping areas. But did you know that three of the four theme parks, as well as the shopping and entertainment areas at Boardwalk and Downtown Disney, are connected by waterways and a variety of types of passenger boats? Even within Epcot, water-taxi is a convenient way to move across the World Showcase Lagoon.
    Another Magical Miscue features guests arriving at Orlando International Airport to claim their luggage at one side of the terminal in order to haul it all the way to the farthest corner of the other side of the airport terminal to meet the free Magical Express bus to Disney World. It hardly makes the free transportation worth it. Oh no! Pay attention! If you have the right kind of tag on your checked luggage, a Mouseketeer will pull your luggage for you at the airport and you will not need to touch those bags until you see them in your resort room. Meanwhile, you head directly from your flight to the free bus. Oh, you didn’t get that special tag, nor did you hear about the free bus? Perhaps that is because you have cleverly executed another Magical Miscue – the one where you think it’s cheaper to stay at one of those hotels out on the highway.
    Granted, there are cheaper rooms and very nice rooms to be had outside the fifty square miles of the Walt Disney World Resort. But before making the cost-saving decision to stay off-site, you should really consider the total cost. Staying on-site in a   Disney Resort affords the following advantages: free transportation from and to the airport; free luggage handling and transfer directly to your room; free check-in for your return flight at your Disney Resort; access to transportation throughout Disney World; specified mornings and evenings (Extra Magic Hours) when you can enter a theme park early or stay later; and much, much more. And consider further disadvantages of staying off-site, such as very limited bus transportation into and back from Disney World; waiting in slow traffic to enter the parking area or drop-off point; not being able to conveniently return to your room for a mid-afternoon nap or rest period before resuming into the evening; driving back to the hotel with three screaming kids at the end of the day when you are total exhausted. When you pay as much as you do for a day at a theme park, why spend a good portion of that day waiting in traffic?
    It’s too expensive! Cost of a vacation is both relative and personal, but don’t let the belief that a Disney trip is too expensive to stop you from checking it out. Especially in the past couple of years, Disney has offered some remarkable promotions. Even without a promotion, did you know, for example, that a 5-day park pass can be extended to a 6-day pass for only about three dollars?
    A major Magical Miscue is to believe that Disney is for kids! Oh my – don’t you believe it! Some of the world’s best golf courses meander throughout the central Florida vacation kingdom. Premium dining, spas, shopping, and world-class entertainment are but a few of the reasons to take a Disney vacation without the kids.
    Have a Magical Day!

George Sellers is a Certified Travel Counselor and Accredited Cruise Counselor who operates the popular travel Web site and travel planning service SellersTravel.com. Comments or suggestions about Tidewater Traveler articles may be directed to George@SellersTravel.com.