View Full Version : Just back.. and some observations/thoughts

09-07-2002, 12:25 PM
Well, I'm just back from the world (Sep 2-6) and thought I'd post some observations / comments.

A few things first. I went solo! This was my first ever solo trip. I highly recommend it for any Disney fan. I spent quite a bit of time just soaking in the atmosphere and people watching. I also took the time to talk to many cast members. I stopped by City Hall in the MK to register a few complements as well :)
I stayed at the Courtyard by Mariot at Downtown Disney. Thanks to the DIS for posting that $25 per night rate at the top of the boards :) It was a nice hotel. I thought it was nicer than The All Stars for 1/2 the price.. can't really go wrong :) Now, on to my observations...

* Crowds (or lack of) - I arrived on Labor Day (Sep 2) late afternoon. Went over to EPCOT for a few attractions and dinner. Crowds seemed moderate. However, from Sep 3 - 6 the place was EMPTY. I have been going right after Labor Day for the last 5 years or so (except last year). It seems as if the last few years that the off season had been getting more and more crowded. This year crowds seemed unusually light. A few examples. EPCOT only had the first front two parking lots in use. They were not even using the parking lot trams but using these golf cart thingies like they use at the hotels for guests that wanted a ride to their cars. There were no waits for ANY of the attractions.... even Test Track had a posted 0 minute wait time. WOW! Same for MK and the studios. They also were only using the front two parking lots. They were however using the trams at both the studios and MK. The longest wait in MK was for Space Mountain at about 5 minutes. I got an entire boat to myself for Pirates! Studios had about a 5 minute wait for TOT. RNRC was a walk on and you could pick out where you wanted to sit as well. Everything else was a walk on.

A cast member friend of mine mentioned that at one of the deluxe resorts, bookings went from 90%+ occupancy on Labor Day weekend down to just 15% occupancy the day after!!! Things really are slow. I do not blame them for closing CBR and delaying the opening of PC if things really are this slow. I believe that Disney has overbuilt/overestimated the hotel market for WDW.

* Weather - HOT HUMID HOT RAIN HOT... Living in South Florida all of my life, you'd think I'd be used to this. Nope.. now I remember why I don't go outside much from June-September. :)

I wanted to comment on the alleged cutbacks on AC. I did not notice this at all. EVERY store / attraction / restaurant was ICE COLD. Just like I come to expect. They still have all of that wasteful (but magical) AC in outdoor areas (the outdoor queue for RNRC, The open areas of the Splash Mountain queue for examples) One would think that these areas would be the first to be cut if they were indeed trying to cutback on AC usage.

* JII w/ Figment - This was my first time on the newly revamped attraction. Well, it is WAY better than JIYI but still a far cry from the original. If this had been the first replacement I would have still been very upset as it lacks almost all of the whimsical charm and neat special effects as JII. The problem is that they lowered my expectations so much with JII that just about anything would have been an improvement. I wonder if the combined budgets from both makeovers would have allowed for a worthy replacement?
It seems like they just gave all of the Figment fans a bone. ( you said you wanted Figment back and we took this as a wakeup call) :) People didn't just miss Figment, they missed the original attraction too.

* Cutbacks / maintenance - I noticed, on more than one occasion, restrooms that were very "un-Disney-like". Considering how slow it was, I did not expect to see this. Parks were generally clean though. I also noticed quite a few areas of Tomorrowland that were in desperate need of new paint (looks like the original paint from the 1994 revamp is starting to fade/chip/peel in quite a few places.. take a ride on TTA to get a good overview of the situation if you want to see for yourself)
I overheard a few groups of guests complaining about the hours of MK (it closed at 6 every night I was there with no night parade or fireworks). I believe there were nights of joy during my stay but I am not sure about that. I even heard one guest state that the MK should never close before dark ( I had to look and make sure that it was not Barron :) )
I did see a lot of characters though. Random character encounters were the norm and that is a good thing!
One more thing.. Seasonal attractions suck. If the park is open, ALL ATTRACTIONS SHOULD BE OPEN!

* Merchandise - Not really sure I can put into words how I feel about this, but I'll try... You can buy just about ANYTHING with the 100 Years of Magic logo. It seems like Disney is relying on the merchandise/celebrations way too much.. It just comes across wrong to me. It also seems like every store now has much of the same stuff. Even the little Disney Store at my hotel had all the same generic merchandise... It seems like they are "dating" the merchandise just to get you to buy a new one during the next "celebration".. On a positive note, I picked up a really cool Retro EPCOT '82 shirt :)

* Mission Space - The outside of the attraction is completed and looks absolutely stunning!! This may very well be the coolest looking attraction at WDW. I also got to see some of the artwork / murals that they are painting for MS on the studio backlot tour. Quite a bit of blacklight paintings are being done for this attraction. I am guessing that this was for the pre/post show areas. The paintings looked very cool!!

* Guest Surveys - There seemed to be an unusual amount of surveyors at the exit of each park. I took part in one at the MK. They asked questions like how long was my stay, how many times had I been to WDW and what kind of ticket I used. I was also stopped another time exiting the MK... this time they just wanted to know if they could have my email address so they could email me a guest survey... I happily obliged.

* Adventurers Club - I had never been to PI in all of my trips to WDW. I now know what all the hoopla over The Adventurers Club is about :) This place is pure Disney Magic!! I suggest everyone try it at least once! I had a wonderful time and will definitely be back!

Overall I had a great trip! I do believe that some of the cutbacks/problems are starting to affect overall guest satisfaction though. I think , based on my own observations, there are more Car # 3 people than we realize.


09-08-2002, 01:29 AM
Cutbacks, the bad economy, 9-11. I expect that it's adding up still. It all does sound rather bleak.

Thanks for the post, lots of interesting info there. :)

And thanks for your comments about the Courtyard by Marriott. I fully expect us to stay offsite the next time and I'm VERY interested in the Buena Vista hotels. Well, that's sort of offsite. ;)

09-08-2002, 02:03 AM
I don't know about the 9-11 part... I was there Labor Day week last year and I was shocked how it went from vibrant at Noon Labor Day to absolutely dead by 5pm...and it stayed dead but started picking up on Wednesday...the evening I left...I think because of the Night of Joy.

Sometimes these things have to do with the way the calendar falls. I think both this year and last Labor Day was early in the month. That means the kids are back in school (up north) when the cheaper season starts. If the first Monday in September is the 7th you'll get almost a whole week at low rates (and early closing times).

09-08-2002, 09:24 AM
And thanks for your comments about the Courtyard by Marriott. I fully expect us to stay offsite the next time and I'm VERY interested in the Buena Vista hotels. Well, that's sort of offsite.

Your welcome. I was impressed more so by the value than anything else. The resort was clean and the staff was very nice (although they were not Disney CM's). They also had a sit down restaurant with a nice breakfast buffet for $7.95. They offered bus transerportation to the parks with a posted schedule (mostly on the hour and 1/2 hour). I did not use their transportataion though so I cannot comment on it. I drove to the parks myself. The downtown Disney resort area is only about 5-10 minutes away from anywhere in "the world" via car.

Sometimes these things have to do with the way the calendar falls. I think both this year and last Labor Day was early in the month. That means the kids are back in school (up north) when the cheaper season starts. If the first Monday in September is the 7th you'll get almost a whole week at low rates (and early closing times).

I agree it used to have alot to do with the timing of the holliday. Things just seemed to be more quiet than normal this year.
There was a time, years back, when the off season started right after Labor Day and lasted right up until Thanksgiving. That "off season" , over the last few years (sans last year), seemed to be getting more and more crowded as more people wanted to go in the off season to take advantage of the low crowds. I imagine that the internet and guide books had something to do with this as they have all stated that this was the slowest time of the year for Disney. At least thats what I have been observing over the last 5-6 years or so. Even Disney started calling October "regular season" and not "value season" starting two years ago if I recall correctly.

The low rates for the Courtyard were through mid October.
The park hours for the Magic Kingdom are 9-6 every weekday through the last week of the month! They then go to 9-8 for the last week of the September. October goes right back to 9-6 on weekdays for the entire month!

I do understand that Disney is cutting the hours based attendance. However, why is it that EPCOT and MGM can stay open later for Illuminations/Fantasmic and the MK has to be the one with early closings? If you look at the schedule for MGM in October, you can almost tell when it will start getting dark earlier. Starting the second week in October MGM will close at 7:30 and on the last week 7pm with Fantasmic at closing time.

By the way.. I did not intend this to be a rant or flame... just my observations.


09-08-2002, 09:30 AM
Seasonal attractions suck. If the park is open, ALL ATTRACTIONS SHOULD BE OPEN!

Agree. Rehabs everyone understands. It always effects someone's vacation. But we can understand and in the long run appreciate it.

But just be seasonal or off day -- :p
DH and I went Universal Studios Hollywood the Thursday in Memorial week 2001.
We were ticked off because we paid full price for entry, which wasn't cheap. No notice outside that attractions were closed. But once inside, many attractions were closed, shows not presented, only because it was not the weekend! :p :mad:
Think we plan on returning? :p

09-08-2002, 07:28 PM
Hey Space! We were hotel mates!

I checked into the DTD Courtyard from 9/2 - 9/7! :)

My observations are similar. I can't comment on the AC in the stores, because the last time I was there in the heat was so long ago, I just don't remember.

The only thing I have to add is that there is TOO MUCH REFURBISHMENT going on at once. I know that things need to be closed, but the Magic Kingdom was a joke. A HUGE refurb are in front of the castle (not the castle, but something in front of it), a huge area behind (which is where the crane was...the crane that could be seen from anywhere in the park), the crystal palace, and the haunted mansion.....it was too much at once. Epcot was the same way in world showcase. China, Norway, Canada, and Italy all were being refurbed at the same time. TOO MUCH AT ONCE! They need to spread it out a lot more.

09-17-2002, 01:42 PM
I completely agree about the state of the restrooms ( grim! ), and also how good The Adventurers Club is. In fact we bought annuals for PI simply because of this. On my return I e-mailed Disney to give my thanks for all the excellent actors, and also mentioned how dirty I frequently found the restrooms. They phoned me as a follow up, and said that my thanks would be passed on, but there was no mention of the restroom situation!

09-17-2002, 02:01 PM
You know, we were there over labor day weekend, and I saw a couple of rest rooms that just didn't seem up to par to me as well. The first was the public restroom in the lobby of dixie landings, I can't remember where the second one was. Most of the rest rooms were typically clean though. What struck me about the dixie landings rest room was that it just seemed sort of old and run down (I thought "hey, they even themed this like a public restroom in the south.") - it didn't really seem like the sort of thing that a good cleaning would take care of, more structural really, like it should be rehabbed.

I also noticed the paint in tomorrowland while riding the people mover - it wasn't so bad that it was disastrous, but it could sure use some sprucing up.

That said though, we had a great trip and nothing really took away from it. I really enjoyed the new toy store in the village marketplace. We ate at king stefan's but the crane didn't really bother us or anything. I will be glad when it is gone next time though. We didn't have a chance to make it over to epcot center, so I'll be glad to see how mission:space is coming along next time we are there. It sounds cool.


09-17-2002, 02:50 PM
Originally posted by d-r
[B] What struck me about the dixie landings rest room was that it just seemed sort of old and run down (I thought "hey, they even themed this like a public restroom in the south.") -

Must be from all of those Yankees coming down here and not flushing the toilets

09-17-2002, 03:13 PM
psst, just so you know Europa, I've only worked here at Michigan State for the past three years - after I graduated high school in Florida I spent the next 12 years or so in Montgomery and Auburn, AL - when I was a kid we lived a while in TN, too, and my wife is from Chattanooga by way of Atlanta - fwiw I've seen a lot of public restrooms where no yankee has ever tread :)

09-17-2002, 03:51 PM
Which makes you remark even more disparaging....

09-17-2002, 05:02 PM
Europa - you misread my remark. Think about what I wrote.

I was at freaking dixie landings, get it - I wasn't saying anything about the general quality of public restrooms in the south. Heck, some of them are really incredible - take the men's room at the olive room in downtown montgomery. Other's aren't, like the secret one at Auburn's supper club. Most are pretty darn unremarkable. One time I went in to the men's room in a country club in small town in alabama and I was surprised to find there is a door inside there that led to a secret men's bar area with sports on the TV. It was one of the amazing things I've ever seen. Lord only knows what the Lady's room was like.

I was talking about my perception that it seemed more fundamental, like the place needed to be painted and maintained, not just cleaned up - as if it was a "real world" bathroom, when we all expect a little something more than "real world" at wdw -

geez, if you think I was disparaging southern public restrooms there I don't know what to tell you - I hope your just kidding around


09-17-2002, 06:56 PM
Your right I just don't get what your saying. If you say you ment nothing by it then fine.

09-17-2002, 09:12 PM
FWIW, d-r...
I got it.

09-18-2002, 12:02 AM
I misunderstood the bathroom comment at first too but now that you've explained it... I was about to post that I'd seen old and run-down in the north too but of course Dixie Landings (or whatever it's called now! ;) ) isn't a northern style establishment so that would have been a pointless post. :teeth:

I noticed that instead of saying Cinderella's Royal Table, you said King Stefan's. That takes me back. :)

09-18-2002, 07:55 AM
Thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt, Europa, sorry I am not more clear -

09-18-2002, 12:32 PM
Bathrooms in the south? I thought we only had outhouses. Gee, wait till I tell mom