Recently we had a family vacation planned for St. Louis with brief pop over to Marceline, the town where Walt Disney spent much of his youth. Days before we were to leave an unexpected heat wave hit St. Louis pushing temperatures around 125° F with the heat index. In passing, I told my wife if I was going to sweat I would rather sweat at Disney. Somehow Orlando was is considerably cooler than St. Louis. She said, “OK!”, and we threw together a last-minute trip in 48 hours. Fortunately, we had a relative’s condo to use for lodging. Since we are used to planning these trips for months, this was no small feat, and we don’t live within driving distance of Orlando. We went and had an amazing time and don’t regret if for a second. Some people look at the tale with envy while others with a look of absolute confusion. They are utterly bewildered by our choice, and often share their complaints about Disney. So, let’s look at the top 10 complaints Disney fans hear from non-Disney folks and I’ll give you some things to consider.
- The hot sun and Florida humidity are too much
Well there are twelve months in the year and you don’t have to go in June and July. Our first three trips as family were in June. It is the most convenient for many families with school age children. I would suggest if you have kids in school you should consider going during Fall Break, Spring Break, or look in to long weekend. We have gone during Fall Break and found the heat is considerably more manageable.
- The crowds are unbearable
Is Disney crowded? You betcha. According to my research the capacity for each park is as follows:
Magic Kingdom: 100,000 guests.
Hollywood Studios: 75,000 guests.
EPCOT: 95,000 guests
Animal Kingdom: 60,000 guests.
That is a grand total of 330,000 guests per day.
Some would look at the number and say, “Exactly! This proves it is too crowded!” I choose to marvel at Walt Disney World’s ability to handle that volume. Walt Disney World’s incredible “cast” is able to transport all those guests, feed them, keep most of them very happy, and in my experience, go out of their way to make magical moments. I would also point out the modern marvel that is the FastPass and Magic Band system. Forget any memory you have of just showing up and going to the park. Those days are gone, but if you use the Magic Band system correctly you can really maximize the amount of time you are having fun. With our most recent trip to the Magic Kingdom we only waited in line for one ride all day and road twenty rides including all the big E-ticket, or most popular, attractions and coasters. That was in late July. Our previous trip was in the Fall. We road every ride in the Magic Kingdom, and were back at our resort by 5 pm for dinner and some pool time.
- The overeating and junk food is just too much.
There is some truth to everything on this list, and this is no exception. Can you overeat at Disney? Yes. Is there a lot of junk food? Yes. Here is the crazy part, you don’t have to eat it all. My family might pick one treat a day, and sometimes we share it to avoid overeating. Bonus, if you can limit the sugar intake you can avoid overstimulating the kids, a common cause of those classic Disney meltdowns you see. You don’t have to eat the junk food. Disney has some truly stellar dining options with world class cuisine. You don’t have to eat chicken nuggets and burgers for four days. The best option is to not change your usual diet. If you eat salads, do the same at the park. If you don’t eat a lot of junk food, don’t do it at the park. You will feel better and save some money. There are lots of time I might let my child have a sugary treat, but I chose to forgo as I know my body and diet. All the menus are on the Disney World website (https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/) with prices. They are great with allergens and gluten issues. I have been told by friends with these issues it is the one week when they can relax and just enjoy food without worrying about constantly making checking for ingredients that would cause an allergic reaction. Some third-party websites can help you further look at things like calories and carbs if those are things you would like to consider. We generally have plan of where we will eat on each day, and we know what we are going to order.
- The whole experience is just unbridled consumerism and spending money
Will spend money at Disney World? Yes, it is unavoidable. You can unequivocally break the bank depending on your length of visit, ticket options, hotel level, restaurant choices, and souvenirs. The website Vacationkids.com (https://www.vacationkids.com/Vacations-with-kids/bid/273282/How-Much-Does-A-Disney-World-Vacation-Cost) estimates that a family of four budget for a six night/ seven day vacation to Disney World with hotel, park passes and food will spend on average about $3,485, or divided by 4 = $871 per person. There is no way around this one, you will spend money at the parks. The key is t control and planning. Pick the hotel that is best for you. I will always suggest staying on property. It is so easy, carefree, and cheaper in my opinion. If you want some down time at the hotel go for the higher end, if you plan on being in the parks most of the time maybe the amenities don’t need to be as fancy. The meal plan can be economically advantageous or a waste depending on your children’s ages and what you plan to eat. The definition of a good transaction is one where both parties are happy with the results. Disney is glad to take my money and we are happy to exchange it for the fun memories and quality time. I have read that statistically speaking, on the average day, 75% of the attendees at Disney World are repeat customers. That is a lot of customers satisfied with their transactions.
- The rides that are not as thrilling as other attractions at theme parks.
Yes, maybe the local Six Flags type park may have more thrill rides, but Disney World was designed as a park where the whole family can ride together. Disney Imagineers compensate for the lack of white knuckle thrills with mind blowing technological innovations, gorgeous theming, and incredible details. There are a variety of rides that offer a diverse range of experiences from breath-taking, to spooky, to thrilling, to nostalgic. There are not a lot of rides at traditional parks that grandma and a four-year-old can ride together with the whole rest of the family.
Until next time…