My Disney Top 5 - Unwavering Walt Disney World Opinions by Chris Barry
Chris Barry stands strong on his opinions regarding Walt Disney World.
Read it here!
My Disney Top 5 - Unwavering Walt Disney World Opinions by Chris Barry
Chris Barry stands strong on his opinions regarding Walt Disney World.
Read it here!
"But, every plan we made on that trip hinged on dining reservations and when and where we were eating."
Wait wait - how does this go away because you're not using the dining plan? My experience is this problem exists no matter what if you want a reservation at a restaurant, and though it's made worse by the existence of the dining plan - the only way to change that is for Disney to stop offering it.
I can personally do without the hopper -honestly, when we have it, we'll use it once on a trip - most days we spend the morning at our hotel and the afternoon/evening in a single park.
We drive to florida, so we already have our car. Sometimes we'll use disney transportation, but mostly we'd rather go at our convienence. I'm ready to go to the park now - not whenever the bus shows up. Also we don't mind the additional exercise of walking the parking lots.
But I'm completely with you on 1 & 5.
The interesting thing about a Disney World vacation is that it can be so many things. We love staying on property. It carry's the Disney theme back at night and it's there in the morning. However, we have stayed off property as well and had an equally good time. Sometimes it's nice to enjoy the parks and then head back to a place that is completely different. I've always felt Disney doesn't have the hotel thing down just right and staying at a place that does can make all the difference. We never get the dining plan because we just don't eat that much and usually stay in a condo whether on or off property. We love downtown Disney. Pleasure Island is no longer there in its old form and the changes that they have made are fun and welcoming. There is music its lively, and just strolling through the area is a nice alternative to the parks. I have to agree that park hoppers are essential. We rarely stay in one park all day. We enjoy one park in the morning, enjoy the hotel mid day, and then head someplace in the evening. We have had a car several times and I have to say, there are some great reasons to have one. Freedom to go off property to get a great meal, visit other attractions, mini golf, (Disney's mini golf courses are pretty sad), or even drive to a park when you just don't want to deal with the buses.
I think it all depends on what you want out of your trip. Total immersion with nothing to care about outside the WDW bubble, then staying on property with no car is a no brainer, however, if you want to be able to explore all that Orlando has to offer out side of WDW, and there is a lot, then having a car and staying on or off property is great alternative.
There's so many different ways to go about things down there. I like the idea of a casual morning at the hotel, then a park later in the day. We've done that as well. But I'd always prefer to have the option of multiple parks in one day open to us. Once again, it keeps the spontaneity alive for us.
Thanks for reading and responding.
I'm hoping that Disney Springs turns Downtown Disney into what I'd like it to be. Time will tell. But still, there's something about the chaotic parking lot, the chain restaurants and movie theater and the high rise hotels visible nearby that just pops my Disney bubble every time. I have felt slightly different about it staying at Port Orleans and approaching by boat, but then once I get there...sorry...I still want to leave.
I also feel that if I'm going to see what else Orlando has to offer, I'll stay off property and see all the things off property and not go to Disney at all...but that would be pretty tough knowing its right there!
Back to opinions...I'd have to disagree with you that Disney doesn't have the hotel thing down right. Every time we stay in a hotel anywhere else, we comment on how superior the Disney hotel experience is. I think they do it wonderfully right and better than most.
Nice article, Chris. I agree with most of what you've written. I don't feel as strongly about Downtown Disney as you - I get it regarding Pleasure Island but the Marketplace never struck me that way. Different strokes and all that.
I still love the Disney hotels and wouldn't think of staying off-site while doing Disney, but there has been a noticeable decline in some of the "amenities" over the years. I remember staying at a deluxe resort just 5 years ago and getting turn down service in the evening and a free USA Today under the door each morning. In recent years the newspapers were relocated near the elevators (no more room to room delivery) but this last visit (just 3 weeks ago) we were staying at the Boardwalk and no free newspapers were to be found (unless I missed the memo as to where they can now be gotten). And turn down service, while never a necessity, was a nice added touch (along with the character chocolates on your pillow) after a long day of parkstorming. We haven't experienced it in quite awhile if it even still exists. Perhaps now only at the concierge level....maybe someone could let me know...
We loved Pleasure Island (we were especially big fans of 8 Traxx) and the WDW Marketplace back when they first opened but I agree with your assessment of what DTD has become. It's no longer a must do for us except for that rare occasion when we have an ADR at Fulton's or Paradiso 37. And even then we "get out of Dodge" and back to our hotel ASAP. We are not big shoppers to begin with and most of these stores can be found in our local malls and shopping centers.
We always get park hoppers as we rarely have our evening meal in the park where we've spent most of the day. And we always leave the transportation to Disney. We did the DDP once when we got it for free but we weren't impressed. We also prefer to go for the room discount and pay for food out of pocket. Just works out best for us. All in all, Chris, we pretty much agree totally with your unwavering Disney opinions. Keep 'em comin', my man!
I am with Steve on DD as well. We go there, usually in the evening, for a good meal, a really good adult beverage, and then the dancing at the marketplace stage. We rarely go over to the west side, and that usually for meals only. I do agree with you on the rest though. We did the dining plan once as well, but since becoming DVC members, and going down more often, we always buy the TiW. We also park hop pretty much every day that we are there, but we use our APs for that. We are also with you regarding Disney transportation. I drive every day at home, and I do not want to drive on vacation. We use the Magical Express from the airport, and Disney transportation while we are there. We really like staying in the Disney bubble, and would not even consider staying off-site to do a Disney vacation.
My DD is a DVC member, so we always stay on-property. She flies down & takes the ME to our resort & since I live only about a 45 minute drive from WDW, I drive down, park my car & don't get in it again until it's time to go home. We usually make at least one trip to DTD, if for no other reason to get a sandwich from Earl of Sandwich. Although we usually do some shopping, too. We always get the DDP because we like to have as much as possible paid for when we get there. We put money on a Disney gift card for gratuities & other incidentals. We know that we will be in each of the 4 parks, at least one day of our trip. We decide which restaurant, in each park, that we want to eat in, on that trip. If we know we want to eat at Liberty Tree Tavern, in MK, then I'll try to get reservation there for, say, Monday. If that's not available, I'll try for Tuesday. And so on, for each park. I usually start with the restaurant we would most like to eat in. And that decides which park we will be in on each day. And it doesn't make any difference if it's the 1st day we're there or the last day. We fill in with resort restaurants on the rest of the days. If we know that, no matter what, we want to eat at 'Ohana's, I'll make that reservation 1st. My DD & I both have an AP, so park hopping is available, if we want to use it. Sometimes we do, & sometimes we don't. I think whatever makes YOUR trip the most pleasant, is what you should do.
downtown Disney is a joke PERIOD the only good thing is the boat ride from the port Orleans resort . why would I want to go to a mall on vacation .
5. Completely agree on Downtown. It's out of the way with no restaurants that seem worth visiting. At Disneyland, it's right inbetween the parks, so it can be visited easily, plus the World of Disney store si sooo much better than the small Emporium inside Disneyland. At WDW, the MK has a large Emporium with everything you could want, so a trip to the FL Downtown doesn't make sense - thus the reason we haven't hit it our last 4 trips.
4. Disagree. The Dining Plan IS worth it. At least, it is for us. We like to eat. In fact, we love to eat. I really like the idea of a table service meal at least once each day when I'm in WDW. I'll admit that there's some days I'd like to just have one big meal and then eat ice cream and pop corn for the rest of the day. The sit down meals take up a lot of park time. But I see it as a time to relax IN the park instead of wasting time busing back and forth from the resort. And when the dining plan is free, we're all in. That deal is worth far more than the 20-25% I save at the moderates we stay at.
3. Agree! I can't imagine why anyone would rent if staying at a Disney resort. Even if you brought your car, would you rather wait in line at the end of the day for the second bus to arrive, or would you leg it to your car and then sit in traffic trying to get out for the next half hour? Plus, I hate trying to find new places. I never have to do that at Disney World. Just get on the bus that says X, and go!
2. Disagree somewhat. I remember when I used Park Hoppers - before kids! The first two trips we had them and we bounced all over the place. It was fun. But once the kids arrived and we had to haul strollers and diaper bags and backpacks onto the bus, it just didn't make sense to do that more than once in a day. Maybe if I were filthy rich and was able to stay at a monorail resort, it would make sense. And now that we've not done the Hoppers for the last 4 trips, I've come to love the idea of staying in one park all day and really "feeling it". Again, at Disneyland, the Hopper makes sense - the parks are 200 yards apart. At WDW, if I can avoid another wait of 20 minutes for a bus to arrive during a day, I avoid it.
1. Agree. I can't imagine a trip to WDW without staying on property. Yes, it might be cheaper by a little. But I go to WDW to "escape" reality. When you're on property, you've escaped. Just talking about all this makes me want to book a trip!
Working for Disney. No, no. Working (in a Modesto office) for (the money to take a trip to) Disney (World/Land)
WDW Trips: June 2002, Feb 2004, Dec 2006, Dec 2008, Jan 2010, Feb 2011, Dec 2012
Disneyland Trips: Feb 2006, Nov 2013
Pretty much agree with you with slight differences.
We usually visit Downtown at least once on a trip to go to the Disney Store and we are big fans of Raglan Road. Other than that there are plenty of better places to visit.
Never used the dining plan, we have always been spur of the moment folks which can drive some people crazy and never made reservations. Since we normally go on off periods we don't usually need reservations for the type of places we like. For instance our last trip this May we walked up to Sci-Fi diner and had a 30 minute wait which turned out to be ten minutes.
Last time I had a car at WDW was early 80's when I was stationed at GA and we drove down. Since then we have never had a car there in the 2000"s and have told friends the same thing that you really don't need one.
Never been there without a park hopper and have always used the hopper numerous times during our trips.
During the 80's we stayed off-site since it was so much cheaper back then. But again during the 2000's we stay on resort. Now as a retired military member we do stay at Shades of Green which used to be the Disney Golf Resort. We don't get the Disney Express but it really doesn't cost that much more to get a towncar or van from the airport to SoG. Also SoG has its own buses which will get you to the main parks or the ticket center and then we can catch Disney transport from there.
"Although we think it's DOPEY that Pluto has been downgraded to a dwarf planet, which has made some people GRUMPY and others just SLEEPY, we are not BASHFUL in saying we would be HAPPY if Disney's Pluto would join us as an 8th dwarf. We think this is just what the DOC ordered and is nothing to SNEEZE at."
Excellent article as always, Chris. I only flatly disagreed with one of your points -I'd generally agree with you, although I don't feel strongly about it. I like to eat at different WDW restaurants, and some good ones are in DTD, like Fulton's or Ragland Road. But I'll generally have dinner and then just mosey on to somewhere else.5 – Downtown Disney is Very Un-DisneyI think some folks have found a way to make it work for them. But as a single park stormer, I get much more value out of the discounted room. And the one time I tried it I didn't like the added layer of regimentation, the feeling that if I skipped a meal I'd be losing money, etc.4 – The Dining Plan Is Not Worth ItThis is the one I completely disagree with, Chris, although I can sure see how some folks like to leave the driving to Disney. For me, I just can't stand hanging out at the hotel waiting for the next bus, when I could just hop in my car and BE THERE already. I'll still use the bus sometimes, like when I know I might be partying a bit much that evening. Most of the time, though, I'd much rather be independent and drive myself around.3 – Don’t Rent a Car. Use Disney TransportationI feel very strongly in favor of this one. With WDW parks closing at different times, it would kill me to, say, go to DAK on a day that the park closes at 5pm, and then not be able to go anywhere else for the evening. I do as you do - hit one park in the morning, go back to the hotel for an old guy nap, and then hit the park of my choice for the evening. If it's the same park, fine. But I want the option to go wherever I want for the evening.2- Park Hoppers Are The Only Way To GoFor a long time I was on the other side of this one. Then I did my first on-site stay, and that intangible difference is a very important one. A few years back I stayed off-site due to budget constraints. The hotel was fine, and the location was fine, just past DTD. But that short distance being outside of the envelope really sucked, and took away the magic of the vacation. I know it almost always costs more to stay on-site, even at the value resorts. But it's money well spent for me.1 – Staying On Property Is Essential
Thanks again for posting!!!
1. Love DTD. Love it more than the one in California. It offers some unique shops we do not have here in Colorado. Plus some fun Disney shopping. We always eat at Earl of Sandwich and Wolfgang Pucks walk up. It is certainly not for everyone. Parking is a nightmare now a days though!
2. Never done the dining plan. Even when free it costs more to stay on site without a discount and use their tickets, rather than book both separately, tickets via Undercovertourist. We just don't eat enough or snack enough to make the plan worth it. Plus we are also spur of the moment location eaters.
3. I can totally see using on-site transportation if you do not plan on going anywhere else. If you plan a day at the beach, another park outside of WDW or the like, then a car is totally needed. We love our car. No waiting in long lines with crabby people for the buses at night. If I were to go alone and not need off site transportation, I might do the buses. Probably. Maybe.
4. Love park hopping! Love. It! But if budget is an issue or kids are very very small then skipping hoppers is tangible.
5. Staying on site. Love it! However, I like staying where there are good places to eat or a good food court. We do have access to my in laws time share and did a split stay between the condo and Beach Club last summer. I love the condo for it's home like qualities and being able to not trip over one another. There was 5 of us. Kids got a room, hubby and I got a room and we had laundry in room. I hate WDW laundry facilities. They either don't work or only have one or two machines. I mean come on really?? Love on site pools verses condo pools for sure! If I could afford the family suites, I would totally choose that because it closely resembles a condo.
Have a Disney Day!
You don't have to walk on water, it's how you walk on land.
I agree with #5 and #4; however, #5 isn't a deal breaker. Downtown Disney is supposed to be that way. I like the urban atmosphere as a change of pace, but this issue of being different is going to be less so with the remodel. I preferred CityWalk over Downtown Disney for being more lively.
#3 Disney transportation. I hate it. Sorry. I prefer to drive myself. It is useful for visiting other places in Orlando and going to the supermarket. If you didn't like Disney Dining, why not get your own food? Take advantage of the in-room refrigerators.
#2 Park Hoppers are an added expense. If you have a family, it adds up in prices. $50 per person is a lot of money. Consider not having it if you have a young child. Staying in one park is more prudent.
#1 Staying on Property has its perks, but it depends if it suits your situation.
3. Disney transportation.
-As for the walking, other then Magic Kingdom (due to the monorail & ferry), I've found it to be less of a walk to the shuttle que, then from the shuttle to my car. I save more time and walk less when I have my own car. I also am able to park near my room, again saving me more walking. I can grab cheaper food in the area as well. Now using the transportation when I want to drink is a nice thing, but I'm not a big drinker.
2. Park Hoppers
-Depends how you visit. When I visit I tend to stay all day, or as long as my feet will last. I can't justify the extra hour or two lost to go back to your hotel for a break (usually taking at least 2 hours with the transportation system), when I can just have a nice long sit down lunch in the park instead. It also forces me to make one day shorter then the others (Animal Kingdom closing earlier then the other parks generally). Some people say take your time at the parks, but isn't park hopping counter to that? Having just one park a day, forces me to enjoy and focus on the one park. Even when I've had park hoppers I could never get myself to leave and change parks.
1. Staying on Property
-Staying on Property is nice, but I rather stay in a Time Share, where my car is feet from my door. Where I have my own kitchen, and laundry. I was annoyed to find the budget Disney Hotels didn't have a spa to rest my feet in after a day of park wandering. And a budget Hotel in the area is half the price, and will most certainly have a spa. I'm sure traveling with kids and all the kid stuff offered on Property is useful for some, not for me.
I am very new to the Disney Park thing.. But I have been there 2x in the past year, and will be going again in a little under 3 weeks..
In my limited experience, I don't know how anyone who flies there would do anything but use Disney transport.. I wouldn't want the hassle of driving. I don't know the area, and would rather leave the driving to someone who knows the lay of the land.
As far as the dining plan goes, the sit down dinners were as much a part of the vacation as going to the parks. I really enjoy it. On our next trip, however we won't be getting a plan, and probably won't have more than 1 table meal, and the QS DDP does not save you any money.
I liked the time we spent ad DDT last year, but didn't go this time, and didn't miss it. We will be staying at SSR this time, so we will probably go there since it is right there, and the Earl of Sandwich is a good place to eat.
Park hoppers are nice, but I could take or leave them. I like the flexibility of having it, but in reality, we rarely used it, so it isn't a big deal for us.
I've never stayed off site (and my wife was in DVC when we got married, so I don't think we ever will), but sticking with the why not use Disney Transport, is the savings worth the hassle?
As I said, I'm basically a Disney rookie, so my opinions may evolve over time.. but that is where I am now..
One of my unwavering opinions: There are almost no restaurants on Disney property anywhere in teh world with food good enough to be worth the hassle of pre-committing to them. In the general the quality of Disney's good food is way overstated. That is not to say it is bad but it is rarely above a mid-level chain restaurant and I'm no more going to decide three months in advance that I want to eat at Primetime Cafe or Storytellers than I am to do that for eating at Claim Jumpers or Macaroni Grill.
So I'll wait until the day arrives and decide what I want within the context of my day and live with the chance that I won't be able to have it and end up eating chicken strips on the dock at the Poly or something.
(That's actually part of unwavering opinion #2: The more I pre-plan a vacation the less I'll enjoy it. The last time I was at Disney World I didn't even know how many days I would be there or which parks I would see until I was headed home. That, for me, is a good vacation. Sadly, everything Disney is working on is attempts to prevent spontaneity.)
As for driving, I do prefer it not so much for on property issues, but because if I'm goig to be there for any length of time I will want to get off property at some point.