Walt Disney World Resort is often hailed for being the most magical place on Earth, but it certainly isn’t perfect. At any given time even the most contested Disney fan can easily spout off a whole host of complaints about Disney World. And the current—still growing—list of complaints is skyrocketing. From familiar burdens that are nothing new to problems that have only recently come about in direct response to modifications from within the Walt Disney Company as a whole, here are some of the biggest complaints at Disney World right now.
This is perhaps the most common and timeless complaint of all. Disney World visitors are forever lamenting the expenses that come with a Disney vacation. But it cannot be denied that the standard for what was considered “too expensive” just a few short years ago pales in comparison to the all-around skyrocketing prices none of us are too thrilled by today. This includes pretty much everything, from the theme park tickets themselves to the cost of food and merchandise. Even the prices for paid extras have you paying more now than previously.
Rides Breaking Down
Again, this is not an altogether revolutionary new complaint, but within the last year, in particular, many Disney World Guests have begun to bemoan a noticeable increase in such instances where rides and attractions keep breaking down. But the increasing complaints of this nature are not unique to this location alone. Other Disney theme parks, including Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Disneyland Paris, and several others have also reported an increase in sudden, impromptu closures due to malfunctioning or weather-related damage.
Ironically it is because of the Company’s constant striving to enhance the Disney experience that leads to so many construction projects. Normally such occurrences are only minor, temporary inconveniences at best—a “pardon our pixie dust” sign here or there, or a rerouted pathway that doesn’t make any significant difference. But in recent years it’s become both distracting and detracting, not to mention frustrating just how many holdups there are all around.
Prior to the 2020 closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Disney had several irons already in the fire, so to speak. But all that was abruptly halted when everything shut down for several months, including all the construction work at Disney World. Yet, let it be known that the pausing of construction-related projects was never mandated by the state of Florida; it was decided by the Walt Disney Company not to move forward and carry on accordingly at a time when they really could have. Some projects were even abandoned altogether! Their lack of perseverance and diligence resulted in a lot of wasted time, delays in completing certain ongoing projects ahead of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary celebrations, and those still-present eye sores.
This one is a bit surprising since the Disney Company has always been known to keep up with the most impeccable quality standards. But within the past few years, Disney goers have been taking notice of the fact that all those previously pristine restroom facilities just aren’t up to par with the way they used to be. Some have speculated that staffing shortages are to blame. Whatever the cause, there’s no denying that Disney Guest Services have seen a rise in reported instances where facilities have been found to be unclean and lacking such necessities as soap and toilet paper.
Downgraded Dining Quality
During the phased reopenings of various different restaurants around Walt Disney World, many Guests took note of the reduction in menu offerings at some venues. Others have commented on the decline in overall taste and food quality. And still, others have lamented the discontinuation or modifications of Disney Character Meals. While Disney Springs restaurants haven’t been subjected to too much ridicule since reopening, those found directly onsite of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts seem to garner the most complaints.
When buffets restarted, for instance, most of those previously favored all-you-can-eat options were omitted altogether, switched out by fixed family-style menus. Sure, they were still offering an all-you-care-to-enjoy experience, but in many instances, they were not offering the same items they were once known for. I’ve heard many complaints about Chef Mickey’s in particular scrapping some former options in favor of bizarre replacement downgrades.
While the slow-but-steady return to previous experiences is still ongoing, some complaints continue. One disappointment many Guests keep mentioning is the fact that some establishments that were previously praised for breakfast engagements no longer offer them. Those mentioned by name include the Bon Voyage Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, and the brunch offerings at California Grill.
Still No Disney Dining Plan
Continuing on with Disney dining dilemmas is the fact that there is still no return of the Disney Dining Plan anywhere in sight. We’ve been assured time and again by everyone, from friendly Disney customer service representatives to former Disney CEO Bob Chapek, that Disney Dining plans have not been entirely scrapped but are only temporarily suspended. Everyone keeps saying they will return “soon” leading us all to wonder just what their definition of “soon” really is. Once upon a time, we were even given a tentative timeline denoting that Disney Dining would return sometime in 2022. Here we are in 2023, and still no Disney Dining Plan!
Too Tech Dependent
Back in Walt Disney’s day, there weren’t any cellphones or smart devices, and visiting a Disney Park was a simple pleasure that folks of all ages could delight in. But with our ever-increasing tech-dependent lifestyles, Disney Parks have also taken on more tech-exclusive adaptations. This is particularly aggravating to folks of older generations who may only just now be getting into the swing of using their flip phones for basic calls when necessary to do so. It’s almost altogether impossible to plan a Disney vacation these days without a My Disney Experience online account. And let’s not even get into Genie Services, Lightning Lane Purchases, etc. (those come later). In short, for the folks seeking to do Disney via the former, simpler methods, let it be known that “simpler methods” are no longer simple and initially come with more difficulty than ease.
A Less G-Rated Atmosphere
This can be said about the Walt Disney Company as a whole; things under the Disney brand just aren’t as squeaky clean as they used to be. You see it in Walt Disney Entertainment and their increasing, oftentimes controversial pushes for inclusion—sometimes going so far as to even incorporate content that directly challenges Disney’s traditionally G-rated nature.
Some folks claim that the current scene around Disney Parks these days has also significantly declined in serving as the epitome of a family-oriented kid-friendly destination. Between the increased instances of in-Park fighting, ongoing breaking of dress code among folks, and overall rampant misbehaving in general, there have been many moments throughout the last several years where parents have been cautious about what their children may potentially be exposed to. The oftentimes immature antics of Disney Adults and increasingly woke atmosphere—such as no longer referring to children as princes and princesses respectively—have also served to foster a rise in complaints among the more conventional-minded Disney fan base.
No More Extra Magic Hours
Many moons ago, Disney offered something called Extra Magic Hours. The way it worked was that Guests staying on location at a Walt Disney World Resort accommodation were permitted additional time to visit Disney World theme park locations. Every day a different Disney Park would open either an hour prior to the official opening time or remain in operation hours past closing to the public for the sole enjoyment of Disney Guests and those staying at select Good Neighbor Hotels.
But Disney World has since done away with Extra Magic Hours and, instead, replaced them with a rather underwhelming advantage for Disney Guests to enter Parks just 30 minutes earlier than non-Disney Resort Guests. Additional Extended Evening Hours are sometimes offered for Disney Deluxe Resort Guests, but this is still a downgrade from the advantages that used to be mutually offered to every Disney Resort Guest.
That Dreaded Park Reservation System
You didn’t think I’d leave this one off the list, did you? This is definitely one of the biggest points of contention among Disney World visitors right now, especially among locals who look back fondly to the days when impromptu weekend drives over to Disney World were a common occurrence. As it goes, the Park Reservation System was initially called on as a population capping method in order to control crowds once the phased reopenings were underway. Yet going on three years later, they’re still in place. While no longer used to keep crowds low, per se, the flimsy argument to defend the Park Reservation System is that now it serves to help redistribute Park attendance at a given time, in order to prevent overwhelming staff and supply. Disney is even claiming that this system actually improves the in-Park experience in the long run. But for who? The Guests who are frustrated with having just another aggravating step thrown into the process of planning a Disney Vacation? Or for the Walt Disney Company, which may have ulterior motives in the kinds of crowds they want to attract and cater to?
Park Hopping Limitations
Coinciding with the loss of spontaneity in being able to attend Disney Parks by just riding up and purchasing tickets onsite without making an advance reservation is the now more restrictive nature of how Disney Park Hopper services are conducted. While those of us who can’t limit our Disney experience to just one Park a day are grateful that Park Hopper is still around at all, the fact that you cannot Park Hop before 2 p.m. can be extremely inconvenient. I remember well those days as a Polynesian Resort Guest when I could ride the Monorail over to Magic Kingdom Park for the morning, maybe ride “it’s a small world”, Jungle Cruise, and other shorter-line attractions, then hop back on the Monorail for the track bound for EPCOT and still make by my 12 p.m. lunch reservation at the Garden Grill.
The Discontinuation of FastPass+
The old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” has never been more relevant. The reasoning behind why Disney would scrap its beloved FastPass+ services in favor of a paid alternative that pales in comparison to its predecessor is beyond the comprehension of many Disney World loyalists. Not only was FastPass+ free, but you had the convenience of reserving up to three attraction times a day well in advance during your vacation planning phase, helping you to better organize your itinerary and plot out dining reservations and other nearby must-dos in conjunction. But now we have Genie+, a mess in and of itself that comes with an ever-growing series of hiccups and burdens, in addition to being a massive headache of a learning curve to tackle. But hey, it does force you to cough up even more cash in order to “buy” an experience you were so longing for. Just be sure you wake up bright and early for when the reservation windows open, as you can now only snag experiences the day of. All the same, we may not like it, but Disney’s Genie services definitely constitute a win for the Walt Disney Company. It is, after all, just another way to squeeze money out of faithful fans forever at its mercy.
Because we do not live in a perfect world, we should never expect Disney World to encapsulate all that is perfection. If we set our sights too high and hold Disney to impossible standards to live up to, we’re bound to be disappointed and start finding even more to complain about. Disney Parks and Resorts, like everything else, have been subjected to plenty of unforeseen hurdles in recent years. But it’s that persevering spirit to keep moving forward that Walt Disney himself ingrained into the company he started that we need to keep in mind. So, even when tempted to feel that Disney is headed for continued downgrades and disappointments all around, just remember the prospect of “a great big beautiful tomorrow” waiting in the wings.