So, last month I took a break from tropical travel and returned to my roots. I spent a few days at Walt Disney World. It was the first time I had been in Orlando in nearly two years and I was excited to return to the Happiest Place in the World. (Ok, I guess Orlando is tropical travel, but you know what I mean)
I’ll be quite honest though, some of the shine has dulled in the House of Mouse and I spent a lot of my trip thinking, “Would I recommend this experience to my clients?”
The answer is an unequivocal, “Maybe.”
You see, I had a really great time while I was visiting Mickey and friends. I still loved the atmosphere, we had some great meals and, of course, I got to ride Living with the Land which is my favorite ride. So, it was all good.
But, it wasn’t perfect and it definitely wasn’t the same as it used to be in many ways.
No character meet and greet opportunities
Limited bus service
Limited restaurants open
Must mobile order at many quick-service locations
No Fastpasses (these are being replaced by a paid option)
No Extra Magic Hours (these are returning in limited ways)
TONS of construction throughout the parks and resorts
For me, as a frequent Walt Disney World visitor, these were minor annoyances.
For instance, when I went to play mini-golf at Mickey’s Winter Summerland, I realized I could not get back to my resort without transferring at Animal Kingdom because the busses only run to five resorts from Blizzard Beach.
Ok, fine. I know where I’m going so it was no big deal. For a first-time visitor who doesn’t know the lay of the land, that could be a huge inconvenience and a lot of wasted time trying to figure out where to go.
On this trip I was traveling with all adults so not being able to meet the characters, even at character meals, was no biggie, either. However, for the five-year-old who has been dying to hug Mickey Mouse, this could be a huge disappointment.
I have experienced the parks and resorts at their finest, so the construction was bothersome, but I know I’ll see everything once it’s all put back together. For a first-timer, the endless construction walls at Epcot or the completely blocked tower rooms at the Contemporary would really destroy the experience.
Overall, I had a great time on my trip but there was absolutely some magic missing. For me, it wasn’t a deal-breaker. My mantra was, “It’s not like it’s my first time at Walt Disney World and it won’t be my last, so I’ll enjoy it as it is.”
For repeat Disney guests, Disney World is still a magical place and you will have a wonderful time bopping down Main Street, USA, ears firmly planted on your head, humming the Tiki Room song.
But what if it is your first time at Walt Disney World? What if you saved for years for this once-in-a-lifetime trip and you most likely will not be back?
Then, I would recommend waiting to take your trip until the Magic has been fully restored. Right now, there is too much missing to get the full Disney experience that you are paying for.