There are plenty of things about Disney World that are critique-worthy. Some don’t like the new FastPass+ system. Others don’t like the long waits for Disney buses. Many are unhappy that old favorite attractions are sometimes closed in favor of newer, more popular experiences. Here are 10 critiques, however, that may not be warranted. You may hear guests who are less familiar with Disney World holding fast to some of these 10 misconceptions:
10. Theme park food is bad.
Yes, Disney does have some typical theme park food offerings, like hot dogs, burgers, chicken fingers, and fries. They also have lots of other choices- sandwiches, salads, seafood, barbeque, international choices, sit-down meals, world-class dining locations, amazing desserts, and specialty theme dining. While a bad meal isn’t completely unheard of, Disney certainly isn’t serving up lousy theme park food. On the contrary, most of the food is very good, and there are surely a variety of choices to please everyone.
9. The dining plan definitely saves you a lot of money.
While the dining plan is a fantastic value for some, it’s not always a money saver. Check out “Disney Dining Plan 101: 8 FAQ’s” to help you decide if it’s likely to save money for your family. If you are likely to have an entree, drink, and dessert at every meal, it might be worth it to you. However, if you don’t often order dessert, and sometimes drink water instead of ordering fountain drinks, you may be spending more money on the dining plan than you would paying as you go. Of course, if there’s a “free dining” promo, go for it!
8. You only need to go once.
Unless you are planning a month-long trip or do not care about experiencing most of what Disney World has to offer, you will surely want to visit Disney more than once. There’s much more to Disney than just rides.
7. If you go during the busy seasons, you’ll have super-long waits for everything.
This one’s definitely not true, if you are willing to get up early and you plan your day well. It doesn’t even take an annoying amount of planning to be successful. Basically, you have to arrive when the park opens, ride the most popular things early, and use FastPasses if you are going to arrive later or to ride other popular favorites later in the day.
6. It’s just for kids.
Walt Disney dreamed of a park where children and adults could have fun together. He did not want children playing and adults sitting on the sidelines merely watching. Disney parks epitomize Walt’s dream. What adult can’t use a little bit of magic in his or her life? Adults have plenty to enjoy in the parks, from fine dining to more “childlike” activities like riding Dumbo and having a picture taken with Mickey. Disney is full of experiences that adults and children can have together.
5. A Disney vacation is completely unaffordable.
There’s no doubt that a vacation can be expensive- any vacation. Airfare, gas, tolls, rental cars, food, lodging, and entertainment- it adds up. If a vacation is not affordable for you at the moment, don’t take one. But if you are considering a vacation, Disney is not necessarily any more expensive than any other comparable trip that you might price out.
There are ways to mitigate the cost of a Disney trip. You can stay in a value resort. Does your family like to camp? The campground is very reasonable. Bring some of your own food into the parks or just skip the super-pricey dinners. Choose non-park hopper tickets. Get souvenirs at the official Disney outlets. Skip the photo packages and bring your own camera.
Disney also runs promotions fairly often. Some notable examples: Up to 30% off your resort stay and free dining. Take advantage of any promotion you can get your hands on. Also remember to look into other discounts- military, teacher discounts, AAA, etc.
4. Disney World is way more expensive than other theme park.
People tend to think that Disney World is more expensive than other theme parks. Check out these prices for one-day, single park admission: One day in the Magic Kingdom will set you back $99; $94 for Animal Kingdom, Epcot, or Hollywood Studios. Universal Orlando charges $96 (for one park- not both). Six Flags theme parks charge approximately $70.
Based on simple math, is $99 more than $70? Yes. However, The $29 additional dollars you pay to get into Disney is easily justifiable by the marked increase in food quality and choices, the level of service received, the family atmosphere, and the quality and quantity of not just rides, but entertainment options. In addition, consider that FastPass+, though not an unlimited or perfect system, allows you to ride popular attractions with little wait for free. Universal charges $35-$60 in addition to park admission for their Express Pass option, and Six Flags charges $45-$110 to use their Flash Pass system. This leads me to my next misconception…
3. You have to pay for FastPass.
Not at Disney, you don’t. “It must be nice to have the extra money to pay to cut all the lines.” Have you ever heard that comment as you walk briskly past the people waiting in the standby queue? I’ve heard it more than once. Even though it is widely publicized, many park guests mistakenly wait all day in lines, not knowing they are able to use FastPass+.
The only truth to the “paying to cut the lines” comment at Disney World are people who do the VIP tours; they don’t have to wait in line, and yes, they paid a pretty penny for their personal tour guide experience. You may go on an entire Disney trip and never see a family using a VIP tour guide, so this is not the reason that your wait for the Seven Dwarves Mine Train is 80 minutes.
2. Having to decide on FastPasses and dining reservations in advance isn’t worth it.
Understandably so, many Disney guests are unhappy about having to reserve so much in advance. Advanced dining reservations is one thing that people can more readily accept, but FastPass+ has been harder for people to get on board with. However, assuming you are planning your trip at least a few months in advance, making reservations isn’t really that bad. It’s fairly easy to do online and equally easy to change and adjust said reservations. Take a look at a list of rides in a certain park. Within 30 seconds, you could probably decide which ones you are most excited to ride. Great! You’ve selected your 3 FastPasses for the day. You can change it later, should you change your mind.
Would it be really neat to be able to go to the attraction you want to experience and walk right on with no line, even if it’s the most popular thing in the park? Absolutely. Would it be amazing to choose which signature dining restaurant you’ll have 7pm dinner at at 6:30? Of course. This, however, isn’t reality. I think it’s far more fun to be able to experience and eat what you want, even if that means planning it in advance, than to miss out. This brings us to misconception #1…
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1. Planning too much takes the fun out of a trip.
So you like to “wing it”, do you? Disney is making a bit harder to do that. I can understand the idea that deciding what you want to ride in 6 months might be frustrating. As I said in misconception #2, I think that pre-planning is worth it if it means you get to experience your favorite attractions and dining locations with little to no wait. Planning also allows you to know when to arrive at the parks to avoid long waits and helps you waste less time standing around looking at a park map or times guide. There’s a lot of good to be said for thoroughly planning your trip.
As far as planning taking the fun out of the trip, I disagree. Admittedly, I am a planner by nature and love having an itinerary. Whether you enjoy planning by nature or not, I think you can make planning a very fun part of the trip process. Doing a bit of research and planning a few times a week leading up to your trip will not only help you be more prepared and waste less time figuring things out when you are there, but it can also be great fun. You can include your family members and talk about the things you may see and do and where you might eat. Advance planning can help build anticipation, which can be a big part of the fun.
What misconceptions have you heard about Disney World? Do you agree with our list? Do you try to talk people out of their misconceptions? Let us know!
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Photo courtesy of Disney Photo Snapper