If you’ve listened to the show at all, it will be obvious quickly that I am a Disney mark. Not only do I appreciate the storytelling that the company has long been known for, but going to Disney World is a way that I can emotionally connect with family now with going to the parks as a child with my mom, dad, and brother. I am reading more and more about how the Disney experience has changed since the pandemic. And listen, it’s silly not to acknowledge that the pandemic has changed so much about what “normal” feels like in our society. Most of what I keep reading casts the Disney experience in a negative light. So, when we took a trip down in April of 2022 for my 50th birthday celebration, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

The trip, like every trip was filled with both good and bad. Most of the things that I love about Disney were still there and still provided that bridge to my childhood that I appreciate and love to share with my kids. We tried some new experiences that we enjoyed. Some we’ll do again, some were fun to do once and probably leave it at that. My kids missed the interactions with the characters, for sure. And no, it wasn’t fun to wear masks on the buses. Thankfully, because of the Skyliner, we only had to take the buses on one of our days. Not a huge deal. I’m very excited for what they are doing with Epcot. But, in the meantime, the construction does take away a bit of the luster. But, again, not a big deal. Progress is a part of the Disney parks. They were never meant to be a finished product, so that’s just a part of a visit.

The answer to my original question is No. The magic is still there. It’s a wonderful place to visit with your kids and have a good time and make those memories that they’ll never forget. This is not to say that I don’t have concerns. Cost. The fact is, the cost of a Disney vacation has priced many families out of a visit. The problem of cost, however, isn’t an easy one to fix. I’ve heard many people say that Walt Disney himself would be upset with how the parks are being run now and the cost associated. That may very well be the case. But, let’s walk down this road a minute. What if Disney suddenly made the announcement that the cost of a park ticket was $45 park. Setting aside the business aspect of that for a minute, the crowds that typically are the second complaint most make about a Disney park would only swell. Then it really would be almost impossible to get into the parks and then be able to enjoy anything. Getting back into the real world, there is then the fact that Disney is a publically traded company that does have an obligation to it’s shareholders. Boy is that a fun argument to make. I get the disconnect between the head and the heart on this one. Truly I do. but that is the reality of the situation. Put down whatever you’re wanting to throw at the screen for a minute. Does this mean that I’m down with the ridiculous prices of just about everything once you’re in the parks or how high the prices on some of the resorts are right now? Absolutely not. Disney is not going to say this, but they watch very closely how much families spend once in the parks. They want those numbers to be high. They can be less concerned about the number of people in the parks, if the people that are in the parks are spending more and more money while there. Disney does, however, still let you bring food in the parks, unlike most other amusement or theme parks. So there are ways to mitigate what you spend on food at the very least.

All of this is meant to say that there are no easy answers to either the cost of a Disney vacation or the crowds at Disney. I hate that some families just won’t be able to afford to go in the future and totally understand the frustrations associated with high crowds while you’re there. And no, the amount of money you are paying does not entitle you to this or that. I hear that a lot. Honestly, I’ve heard those words form in my own head. But when you go, if you go, you have to accept certain things about the trip. It will be expensive, it most likely will be crowded and you will be waiting in line. There are ways to mitigate cost and I encourage, as selfish as it sounds, I encourage the use of a travel agent to help you save some money when and where you can. But if can accept those things, and save room in your suitcase so you can pack a lot of patience, you can still experience that Disney magic that keeps people coming back year after year.

If you are looking to plan your next Disney vacation, I would love to help you navigate the beaultiful complexity that is a Disney vacation. Email me at rjones@starstufftravel.com and let me help!

Rob

P.S. One thing I would say to Disney. As much as I enjoy the storytelling and the immersion in those stories, the thing that makes a Disney vacation special is the people that work at Disney. All companies want their employees to “buy in” to what the company is doing. Disney employees do that to an unheard of extreme. They are the ones that make or break most people’s experiences.
Special shoutout to the young lady working the Frozen ride that had to listen to five minutes of my dad humor and smile the whole time like I was actually funny.