Walt Disney World Vacations – Let’s Agree To Disagree

Cinderella Castle ~ Photo taken by T.M. Brown
Cinderella Castle ~ Photo taken by T.M. Brown

I get it.  Not everyone  is going to like Walt Disney World (WDW) and many will go to great lengths to complain incessantly about the changes being made over time in order to justify their dislike.   The new FastPass+ system is inconvenient.  The cost is too much.  It’s too crowded.   The Cast Members are rude and don’t care.   At some point or another, sure, those are all going to be true.   The company is run by humans, is it not?   However, since our very first family vacation to Walt Disney World in 2007, I have been smitten with this vacation destination and I honestly cannot find another place on earth I would rather make special memories with my family – and we have been coast to coast as a former military family.  I have grown to appreciate the streamlined FastPass+ system (and other changes), understand that it costs to run such an enormous resort and have made some amazing friends in some of the Cast Members . In all honesty, I have found it is all about the mindset you create when you go on vacation to WDW.   Do you want to have a good time?  Are you expecting others to provide that for you or are you ready to create that yourself?

So, I heard a friend of mine griping about FastPass+.  Let’s talk FastPasses for a second.  Yes, in recent years, Walt Disney World has changed their FastPass System.  They have gone from paper tickets one could obtain right outside the attraction, giving them an hour-long window in which to return for the ride, to giving the Guest the ability to schedule their favorite attraction times up to 60 days ahead of their vacation.  Sure, we were actually skeptical at first.   Why would anyone want to “schedule” something on their vacation? Doesn’t that take away from the spontaneity?  Will it cut down on the number of attractions Guests can enjoy?  As we experimented with the new system, we found that it actually saved us time and ended up being more efficient in the long run.  We don’t have to stress over whether the paper FastPass is going to hold us hostage until 10 PM just to experience that particular attraction.   We have even managed to coordinate and manipulate our own schedule in order to enjoy every ride we want and still have time to watch the Citizens of Hollywood at Disney’s Hollywood Studios or have an impromptu conversation with a Cast Member at Magic Kingdom (this is one of my favorite things to do!).

The cost is too much.  Yeah, I hear ya.  Times are tough and the point is that everything costs too much these days.   If going to Walt Disney World Resort is a priority, however, it is important to learn how to research vacation packages, plan vacation dates around resort deals, schedule during the off-season or, if possible, join the Disney Vacation Club (DVC), which has been the biggest plus for our family.  Of course, DVC is for those who KNOW they are going to be spending a lot of time at Walt Disney World destinations over the years.  There are many offers that go out in the spring and fall, sometimes up to 30% off resort costs and others offering free dining.   The Disney Dining Plan may be financially beneficial for your group.  Military families can even take advantage of discounted tickets through Shades of Green (one of a few options).   Another way to cut cost is to realize that there is no hard set rule that you have to eat three meals a day in the Parks.  We often bring our own breakfast items to eat in our room, eat a table service lunch and then snack it for dinner because we are usually so full from our mid afternoon meal.   Bring your own snacks!  We have a child with food allergies, and, though Disney has the most amazing and accessible options for those with dietary restrictions, we like to make sure that our little guy has something on hand at all times.  Fortunately, Walt Disney World Resort allows outside food to be brought into the Parks, unlike some other Florida theme parks (though I admit that is what I’ve heard, not experienced).  See?  It’s all about how you plan.

Paola and Bryan - WAT. Photo taken by T.M. Brown
Paola and Bryan – WAT. Photo taken by T.M. Brown

Now, to address the complaint regarding Cast Members.  People, people, people.  Cast Members are human, too, and yes, there are those that present less than magical attitudes, particularly during more stressful times of the year.  Those attitudes are certainly not to be excused.  Guest Services should obviously be notified if a Guest has been mistreated by a Cast Member.  At the same time, we have to refrain from allowing our experience with one Cast Member to cloud our opinions of so many others who go above and beyond to provide Guests with the most magical and unforgettable of experiences.  Over the years, our family has met so many Disney Chefs and Cast Members who have filled our hearts with some of the most precious of memories.

Ellen is a Cast Member at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.
Ellen ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown

We have even developed some close friendships with Cast Members because we all took the time to say hi, ask questions, notice their smile, let them know we appreciate them, et cetera. Being the one who is kind first does go a long way….and we have seen it pay off.

The point is vacations normally need to be planned.   Just because a business increases its rates or changes a few things does not have ruin it for the Guest.  It’s our responsibility to do our research, to know our limits and abilities.  The options are out there.  It can be done people.  Of course, don’t forget that it is all about mindset, too.  If you go solely relying upon them to make you happy, you may very well end up disappointed.  If you go knowing you have a responsibility to make the most out of anything that happens,  there is greater potential to experience more pixie dust than you could ever imagine.

Until the next step….

Disclaimer: I completely understand that some only have one chance in life to enjoy a Walt Disney World vacation and that sometimes that one time is not as magical as it should be.  My heart truly breaks for those individuals and I pray that, somewhere along life’s journey, some pixie dust comes along to fix it.  This article, however, was written as a response to those who have visited WDW repeatedly and simply find complaining about their experience more entertaining than the vacation itself.  Please, for your sake, I pray you find the perfect vacation destination for you and your family.  I truly do. ~ T

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