If you do go to the most popular amusement park in THE WHOLE WORLD during the busiest times of the year, you will face l-o-n-g lines. It is not Disney's fault. Planning and proper use of Fast Passes (FP) are keys. We went Nov. 28-Dec.3. Each morning we got a FP for the most popular attraction (Hollywood: Toy Story, Tower, Rockin'. EPCOT: Soarin', Test Track- get a personalized Driver's License for only $5. Magic Kingdom (MK): Pirates, Buzz.) Then we went to the second most popular and got on quickly. FP TIPS: You can get more than one/day (time printed on bottom).
We were told the FP is good from the starting time to the end of that day. TIP: with children, don't do MK first or they may think the other parks are boring in comparison. We did EPCOT first, our grandson enjoyed Living with the Land, Spaceship Earth was good and the personalized ending was a cool/fun surprise. Other than the science being wrong, Ellen's Energy Adventure was dramatic.
WARNING: Mission Space has two intensity levels. The more intense (Orange Level) may make you feel sick if you are prone to motion/spinning sickness and I am not kidding. It is very realistic! Disney does warn you, so it's not their fault if you get sick. The easier (Green Level) is very mild on the tummy and still dramatic. TIP: Leave babies/toddlers at home. The need for a stroller should be the tip on who not to bring. Wheelchairs: Disney has done lots to make the parks wheelchair-friendly and I applaud them for that. Again, don't come on packed days.
Guest Relations: We had a need to use it and ** (Norwalk, CT) really worked hard to help us. We liked the Carousel of Progress in MK, relaxed, informative, entertaining, v. short wait. Kids may find it a bit "boring" but a little learning is good for them (Oh no, learning?!). DON'T MISS: Hollywood: Toy Story, Tower, Rockin', the stunt shows were great, no bad seats.
MK: Monsters Inc and Mickey's Philharmagic both very creative. The Hall of the Presidents was inspiring, glad Lincoln still takes "center stage". Don't bother: Stitch. A few Disney guests may feel they are "entitled" to the Royal Treatment. Be reasonable, plan, and have a magical time. Our longest wait was 25min and we did rides over (Buzz 8 times!).
ORLANDO, FLORIDA -- This is more a suggestion for Disney than it is for visitors, but I'll state it anyway in case Disney actually cares enough to read about it. We took the Backstage Tour of Disney, a well organized informative tour. Worth the money. To do so we often had to go "backstage" through doors on the visitor side to the back lot. We just simply followed our guide who, although she had a badge, was never challenged.
There was essentially no security on these doors. Later, when my wife and I were walking around the visitor side, it was obvious we could have just slipped into the back without anyone questioning us. (If fact we had Backstage Tour button on which would have made it easy).
Disney goes through great pains at the entrance to search your bags and scan your fingerprint, but this is a real big security hole, being allowed to go to the back, or people from the back to come to the front. A delivery guy could be a terrorist and come in with a bomb strapped around his belly. I questioned this to our tour guide and was told it "had" to be this way in case of emergency, eg: fire, bomb threat, etc.
This makes sense, but what they should have is electronic doors, and only a swipe card will open them. Doing so ensures Disney employees are opening the doors, and each one is being recorded on a computer somewhere. In case of emergency, cut the power and the doors will automatically open.
On point #2, regarding medical facilities, I was disappointed/appalled that there was virtually none. In the 95 deg/95 % humidity heat in Florida (September) my wife got heat stroke and there was no one around to help us. We asked a park employee for help and were told the medical facility was at the main gate (we were in Toon Town). Not ONCE did I see a medical person walking around the park. I saw no emergency phones and obviously the park employees know nothing about emergency procedures.
I was able to steal some ice from a soda display to cool my wife down enough that she could walk under her steam. We left the park about 4 hours earlier than expected and could not re-enter due to our ticket type. At our local exhibition in the city where I live, there are numerous first aid attendants walking the park in pairs, ready to attend to anyone needing assistance.
I even saw a portable stretcher attached to a motorized scooter, if it were necessary. The guy sitting in it had a radio so that he could be anywhere he was required. Disney did not have this and I'm shocked that they don't. Our park also had city police patrolling regularly. All emergency personnel at our exhibition and fair were available: police, fire, first aid.
ORLANDO, FLORIDA -- We went to Disney World a few months ago and bought the food package thinking it would be a good deal, it was not. We were very limited on where you could eat. It was a complete waste of money. Employees did not know how it worked everyone told us different things you got with the meals. The places we were able to eat at everything tasted the same. We found one good place that we actually liked at Animal Kingdom, but of course we were only there one day!
We spent much of our own money on food just so we could eat at more convenient places, and not run around the parks looking for places "in our food plan". The days we did use them we probably spent an hour of our day planning our day around the place we could use our cards at. We ended up giving away 7 of our meals to a family the day we left, hopefully they got some use of it since I feel we got ripped off. I also did not like that you had to get your deserts within 90 min of your food purchase.
This is not very practical when you have to stand in line for rides. I feel we paid for it we should be able to get it when we want. Other than the food cards I had a great time at Disney World and would definitely go back. Everyone was so friendly and the service was great.
CELEBRATION, FLORIDA -- A February 2010, 4 night cruise on the Disney Wonder left us wondering why we spent so much money for such shabby service and conditions. We purchased a veranda stateroom (one of the costliest categories) and were unable to use the veranda because of two chain smoking neighbors in the upwind cabin. The smell of smoke was there from early in the morning and lasted to well after midnight on each of our four days. Disney had no other similar staterooms available and would not credit us for a veranda we could not use because our kids have asthma.
Their policy allows smoking on verandas which is not the case in any of the other Disney properties. I have come to find out that many other cruise lines have non-smoking verandas but not our kid oriented Disney Cruise Line! Shame on Disney for allowing this policy to stand for the ability to sell more staterooms at the cost of their other passengers safety.
ORLANDO, FLORIDA -- About two years ago, disney world changed the contract you sign when you board your pets at their kennels. It no longer is the typical kennel agreement that you sign when you board pets. It says that you are "voluntarily" signing it and that you are giving up all your rights if the disney kennels negligently or intentionally hurt, harm or even kill your pet. If you refuse to sign it or try to alter it, they will not let you board your pets. At the bottom of the "release agreement" it says:
"I have read this release and indemnity agreement, fully understand its terms, understand that I have given up substantial rights by signing it, and sign it freely and voluntarily without any inducement." Before making your long trip with your pets, be aware that you should make arrangements to kennel outside of Disney World. Before you kennel with Disney World, fully understand the dangers to your beloved pets.
ORLANDO, FLORIDA -- I had heard over and over how wonderful Walt Disney World treats children who are visiting the park because it was their wish granted by the Make-a-Wish foundation. That is a huge lie. My daughter was given NOTHING special, they did absolutely NOTHING for her that they would do for any other guest who asked. She was made to wait 20 minutes to access the handicapped entrance for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride when the wait time for the regular ride was estimated at 15 minutes.
Not one "Cast Member" went out of their way to do anything special for her, she was denied access to the characters she asked to see, she was ignored by staff in favor of pushier people who had more money to spend. I will definitely recommend to any child, handicapped or not, that they visit Universal Studios instead.
We planned our daughter sixteenth birthday party at Disney World. That was the only thing our daughter wanted to do for her Sweet Sixteenth Birthday. We set up our vacation with AAA and saved our money and made our plans to celebrate her birthday. We had dinner reservations for our daughters birthday at Magic Kingdom and they would not let us in for our reservations 1 hour before the park close. We went to guest relations and try everything to get in and they refused.
We filed a complaint with the BBB of Florida and it was a bigger joke like guest relations at the Disney Gate. Disney is too big to file a complaint on. They just don't care if they ruined your entire vacation. They've got your money what do they care. We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge which also turned out to be a big waste of money also. It is a overpriced Motel 6.
Last year my wife and I stayed at a Disney Resort. We had heard so much about how great the Disney experience was. We ponied up the $160 to go into the Wild Kingdom Animal Park (Totally not worth the money). We purchased the tickets at the resort and headed to the park. We arrived as they were letting people into the park. They scanned our ticket and it did not read for some reason. They rudely told us to go over to the customer service line and figure out what was wrong with our tickets. They did not take us their or tell us where to go. They just said get out of line.
So we found the customer service desk and they checked the ticket and said they did not issue the ticket and we would have to go back to the resort and figure out the problem. At this point my wife and I were getting upset because it was not a short trip back to the resort. I asked to speak with someone and the guy basically told me no. He then went on to make a smarta$$ comment which really infuriated me. We had to go back to the resort and have them reissue the tickets.
By the time we got back to the park the day was half gone and we did not even want to be there. It was the worst customer experience I have ever had. I would not recommend Disney to anyone. Save your money and go someplace that will treat you with respect. All Disney wants is your money. I will never step foot in another Disney park and I will tell everyone of my experience.
ORLANDO, FLORIDA -- I visited Disney World Magic Kingdom yesterday [2/21/10] and I was appalled to see that they require the collection of finger prints! I adamantly refused to allow my 3 yr old son to be scanned. At first the ticket lady wouldn't let us through and I seriously considered leaving then and there. But after much venting of frustration on my behalf she agreed to let him through because he "can't reach the scanner anyway". So my question that I pose to you today is why on earth would the Disney Corporation like to fingerprint a child? For what purpose is this unrightful collection of data?
They claim that it is for the sole purpose of keeping someone from stealing your ticket but I don't believe. Furthermore, upon questioning aforementioned ticket lady about what is done with such data and whether it was stored in a database of some sort or what exactly was done with it she responded, "No, it is just used to get in." So, let me say this, how can the info be used at a later date if it is not stored on at least one database?!?!? And so I shall have to say that unless I see a legitimate purpose for my child to be fingerprint, then I, as not only a parent but also as an American Citizen, refuse to allow this to happen!!
This review is a little late in writing but that's just because I'm lazy. In Nov 2009, my family and I went to Disney for a family vacation. Well the flight down was a nightmare (read my Delta review) but I have to say, when I got to Disney, the staff there more than made up for all the pain of the travel. We arrived by 1:30 am with no luggage and no toiletries. When I mentioned this to the check-in agent, he gave us an entire week's worth of amenities.
When I asked if they had diapers back there as well, he said no but went and got the Night Manager. The Night Manager opened up the in-hotel store and got diapers for me. I was amazed. The next morning, Concierge was very helpful in getting me and my family our tickets and permanent hotel key. I love this hotel and will be going back next year or the year after. They have earned both my respect and my loyalty.