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Old 09-08-2010, 10:51 AM   #1561
bunsen382
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I obviously haven't read through this entire thread (all 104 pages of it), so I apologize if this has already been mentioned...

I'm not saying some people have legitimate complaints here, and maybe Disney IS declining, but maybe some of the 'decline' is due to the internet age.

Sites like the DIS, although helpful and offering a wealth of information, can also make you aware of things that you may not have ever noticed before. If you read a post about burnt out lightbulbs on Main Street, you'll probably be more apt to pay attention to them (I, for one, didn't read such posts before our trip ~1 month ago, and didn't notice any of the lights out).

Maybe you read a post that someone had a horrible experience at XYZ restaurant, so when you eat there, you are more critical of anything that may go wrong, turning an experience that you may have rated as 'ehh' otherwise into a 'horrible' experience.

Again, I'm not saying that a lot of these posts aren't legitimate complaints, but maybe we are all just hyper-aware. After all, we all drop huge chunks of change to go there, and want every detail to go right (we are on the DIS after all).

Just my 0.02
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Old 09-08-2010, 12:00 PM   #1562
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I also have not read the 100+ pages of this threat, but I have read some of the posts and do tend to agree that some things have declined over the years. We just got back from Disney last week and it's funny that the previous post mentions burnt out lightbulbs because my son noted the ones that were out at the Grand Floridian and as we took the boat over to the Magic Kingdom, I noticed that there were numerous one out over there too. Now that seems like a small thing, but not something I expected of Disney. Six Flags - Yes, but Disney - No.

We also ran into a few CMs that seemed not to like their jobs and were downright rude as we were getting off of rides. We called them on it, but we never had that experience before.

Finally, to comment on the food. We've taken advantage of the dining plan numerous times over the years (both the free version and paid for) and I've seen a steady decline in not only the quality of the food, but also the variety and the value of the dining plan itself. Initially, it was awesome. You got a lot of bang for the buck and that's exactly what it was designed for. Then they started homogenising the menu, cutting out appetizers, and making the tip extra. For example, we love eating meat and thought we'd give Ohana a try on this most recent trip. After you got past the coolness of having skews of meat brought to the table, the food itself was was not anything to write home about. I think the best things we got were the pork dumplings. Not to mention that the service was far from what I expect of Disney (Slow, forgeting stuff we had asked for, not bringing out bread, and the worst of all -- not offering something as simple as a SMILE). Granted the dining plan was free, but we still had to shell out $40 on a tip (which was less than the 18% - 20% they recommended right on the bill) - We could have done better with counter service , which by the way was great at the Port Orleans Riverside.

From our 7 table service meals we had over the week, I felt only 2 gave us what we expected - Le Cellier & Crystal Palace. I almost wish the moderate resort had a counter service only meal plan option under the free promotion. Perhaps they could offer up the difference in price in another way (package discount, Disney gift card, etc..) I don't really need a table service meal every day and I could have eaten in the Riverside foodcourt everyday (it was that good).

All in all, I do still feel I get a good value for my dollar with Disney. However, if they keep following this path of giving less and expecting us to pay more, they're gonna reach a breaking point where I might not think that way anymore.
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Old 09-08-2010, 12:20 PM   #1563
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Awwwww shucks! Thanks!

Few more tidbits.....

Grand Californian is Californian Craftsmen style. Like the Wildie, there is guest access at most levels overlooking the beautiful lobby. If you have some time, checkout the photo ops from multiple levels. You will find the variety of lamps beautiful...I had a full page in a travel scrapbook dedicated to the lamps at the Cali.

Take a look in the corners near each elevator lobby level. You will find artistic representations of birds which live .... at that level......eagles on the top floor for example.

One MUST DO when you arrive. You will go through the entrance....turn and look back. They are actually beautiful glass doors - beautiful californian scene in the afternoon sunlight.

Next look down.....the floor changes from stone to carpet....but the pattern follows seemlessly. Wait till you see the FIREPLACE....they have storybook readings INSIDE the fireplace in the evenngs for the children. You will understand when you see it. Piano in the lobby like the Grand Floridian and at the holidays the tree is spectacular!

We were there last December. I had just had surgery and was traveling on my decorated scooter with some pretty fantabulous pain pills (yes, all the photos of me had BIG smiles!......frightening thought.....when I take those types of drugs....I become....CHATTY - YIKES). We decided to wander down to the pool for a little break in the sun. THEY HAVE CUSHIONS ON THOSE POOL CHAIRS THAT MAKE YOU......want to slap your mama! Like 6 inches thick ...AND they will bring cocktails right to your pool lounge. (ok, didn't want to sound like the Clampits here). Needless to say, I didn't need a cocktail but DH took advantage of the Budweiser express!!

BIG BIG BIG advantage of staying at the Grand Cali? Direct access to California Adventure....and I mean direct. They have a private entrance. Now that they have added a 30 minute EMH in the mornings, that means you can get in line for WOC fastpasses.....before the non-disney resort guests.

Through the private entrance you are about 300 yards from Sorin...where we began each day.

Oh yes....WOC? I thought you would never ask. World of Color is Fantasmic on steroids....but better. It started a few months ago and is a tremendous hit. Stop reading right now and go to You Tube and watch the show.....about 25 minutes and standing room only every night (why the early grab of fastpasses is such a great deal).

At the Grand Cali you are just about as close as you can get to Disneyland...you actually walk out into DTD. About 7 minutes (including security) and you are standing on Main Street.

If this is a once in a lifetime, please consider Napa Rose. 5 star dining at the Grand Cali. The view from the dining room is beautiful, the entire restaurant is just lovely and food wonderful....even after some cutbacks.

Consider lunch or dinner at Blue Bayou. It's located in New Orleans Square but once you are seated, you realize you are actually sitting outisde (Disney outside) overlooking the beginning of Pirates of the Caribbean.....there are even fireflys.

We stayed 6 nights last time.....with our DVC friends in a 2 bedroom villa overlooking the "da-- bear ride" (Like Kali River Rapids.....good thing, when you get soaked, you are 5 minutes from your room!)

6 nights is MORE than enough time for most people....but we toured the resort, DTD.....and I cannot do as much in a day in a scooter. 6 days is probably too much....but we loved every minute.

If you go in November or December.....they change two rides. Haunted Mansion is converted to a Nightmare Before Christmas theme and Small World turns into Small World Christmas.......two fun changes.

I hope you fall in love with it as we have.

There is a section here on the DIS for DisneyLAND guests......if you have any questions (airport transfers, up to date dining ideas, etc.) ask over there. The guests are very helpful.

I am sooooo excited for you!!!
All sounds good to me.The only thnig on your list we probaably will vary from is the food.We are more of diner food people.No 4 or 5 star restaurants for us.The rest sounds great though thanks again! Flicx
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Old 09-08-2010, 12:28 PM   #1564
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Originally Posted by AKraft View Post
I also have not read the 100+ pages of this threat, but I have read some of the posts and do tend to agree that some things have declined over the years. We just got back from Disney last week and it's funny that the previous post mentions burnt out lightbulbs because my son noted the ones that were out at the Grand Floridian and as we took the boat over to the Magic Kingdom, I noticed that there were numerous one out over there too. Now that seems like a small thing, but not something I expected of Disney. Six Flags - Yes, but Disney - No.

We also ran into a few CMs that seemed not to like their jobs and were downright rude as we were getting off of rides. We called them on it, but we never had that experience before.

Finally, to comment on the food. We've taken advantage of the dining plan numerous times over the years (both the free version and paid for) and I've seen a steady decline in not only the quality of the food, but also the variety and the value of the dining plan itself. Initially, it was awesome. You got a lot of bang for the buck and that's exactly what it was designed for. Then they started homogenising the menu, cutting out appetizers, and making the tip extra. For example, we love eating meat and thought we'd give Ohana a try on this most recent trip. After you got past the coolness of having skews of meat brought to the table, the food itself was was not anything to write home about. I think the best things we got were the pork dumplings. Not to mention that the service was far from what I expect of Disney (Slow, forgeting stuff we had asked for, not bringing out bread, and the worst of all -- not offering something as simple as a SMILE). Granted the dining plan was free, but we still had to shell out $40 on a tip (which was less than the 18% - 20% they recommended right on the bill) - We could have done better with counter service , which by the way was great at the Port Orleans Riverside.

From our 7 table service meals we had over the week, I felt only 2 gave us what we expected - Le Cellier & Crystal Palace. I almost wish the moderate resort had a counter service only meal plan option under the free promotion. Perhaps they could offer up the difference in price in another way (package discount, Disney gift card, etc..) I don't really need a table service meal every day and I could have eaten in the Riverside foodcourt everyday (it was that good).

All in all, I do still feel I get a good value for my dollar with Disney. However, if they keep following this path of giving less and expecting us to pay more, they're gonna reach a breaking point where I might not think that way anymore.
I wish they would just do away with the dining plan.I personally think it is expensive when you add in the 18 to 20% tip.I wish they would just bring back the old way and offer discounts in other ways.
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Old 09-08-2010, 01:01 PM   #1565
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I wish they would just do away with the dining plan.I personally think it is expensive when you add in the 18 to 20% tip.I wish they would just bring back the old way and offer discounts in other ways.
For some people that might be good, but we're a family of 5 that likes to eat. Our vacations area usually planned around where we're eating (at least if there are table service meals involved that need reservations) and this can get quite pricey. I like not having to worry about paying for each meal individually. I'd be so worried about the cost and I certainly wouldn't be buying $20 in snacks each day. True, we could bring our own snacks, but I don't think they would be as good as a Dole Whip or a Carrot Cake Cookie.

Free dining certainly wouldn't be worth it for a small family or couples.
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Old 09-08-2010, 01:12 PM   #1566
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AKraft View Post
For some people that might be good, but we're a family of 5 that likes to eat. Our vacations area usually planned around where we're eating (at least if there are table service meals involved that need reservations) and this can get quite pricey. I like not having to worry about paying for each meal individually. I'd be so worried about the cost and I certainly wouldn't be buying $20 in snacks each day. True, we could bring our own snacks, but I don't think they would be as good as a Dole Whip or a Carrot Cake Cookie.

Free dining certainly wouldn't be worth it for a small family or couples.
Why me and my GF have done it?
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Old 09-08-2010, 02:09 PM   #1567
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AKraft View Post
I also have not read the 100+ pages of this threat, but I have read some of the posts and do tend to agree that some things have declined over the years. We just got back from Disney last week and it's funny that the previous post mentions burnt out lightbulbs because my son noted the ones that were out at the Grand Floridian and as we took the boat over to the Magic Kingdom, I noticed that there were numerous one out over there too. Now that seems like a small thing, but not something I expected of Disney. Six Flags - Yes, but Disney - No.

We also ran into a few CMs that seemed not to like their jobs and were downright rude as we were getting off of rides. We called them on it, but we never had that experience before.

Finally, to comment on the food. We've taken advantage of the dining plan numerous times over the years (both the free version and paid for) and I've seen a steady decline in not only the quality of the food, but also the variety and the value of the dining plan itself. Initially, it was awesome. You got a lot of bang for the buck and that's exactly what it was designed for. Then they started homogenising the menu, cutting out appetizers, and making the tip extra. For example, we love eating meat and thought we'd give Ohana a try on this most recent trip. After you got past the coolness of having skews of meat brought to the table, the food itself was was not anything to write home about. I think the best things we got were the pork dumplings. Not to mention that the service was far from what I expect of Disney (Slow, forgeting stuff we had asked for, not bringing out bread, and the worst of all -- not offering something as simple as a SMILE). Granted the dining plan was free, but we still had to shell out $40 on a tip (which was less than the 18% - 20% they recommended right on the bill) - We could have done better with counter service , which by the way was great at the Port Orleans Riverside.

From our 7 table service meals we had over the week, I felt only 2 gave us what we expected - Le Cellier & Crystal Palace. I almost wish the moderate resort had a counter service only meal plan option under the free promotion. Perhaps they could offer up the difference in price in another way (package discount, Disney gift card, etc..) I don't really need a table service meal every day and I could have eaten in the Riverside foodcourt everyday (it was that good).

All in all, I do still feel I get a good value for my dollar with Disney. However, if they keep following this path of giving less and expecting us to pay more, they're gonna reach a breaking point where I might not think that way anymore.
We just got back too and I agree with all of this except the CM. I'll start by saying WDW is the best theme park around, hands down but it's also the most expensive so expectations are high.

We didn't do any moderate meals other than WCC for DS' birthday and gotcha day We had a great server but the food was very meh. We ate offsite for the first time ever and had a really good meal at Carrabas, Roy's and a so-so meal at BAhama Breeze. The first two were a better value than WCC. I still love the signature restaurants but Jiko and CG were the standouts worthy of the price. For the first time I thought FF wasn't worth it even though we had a really nice meal.

The thing I noticed and thought about on the trip was how often rides were down while we were there. On our first trip to MK, BTRR was down for several hours through the day and Space was closed long enough that we could see inside it all lit up, from TTA. HM was also down during the day. At Epcot, the next day, TT was down for part of the day causing long waits even with FPs. Same with TSMM which opened an hour late. Finally at AK, EE was down for several hours and FOTLK was canceled mid show for us. As a TGM vet, all those downed rides really messed with our touring plans! I would say that was my biggest complaint and where I think WDW has fallen off the most.

CM were still fantastic and cheerful. They were dolls to my kids when they would pin trade and even kept them from trading valuable pins.
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Old 09-08-2010, 02:39 PM   #1568
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Originally Posted by Figment632 View Post
Why me and my GF have done it?
You would have to compare it to other discounts available and see which works out to your advantage. For example, if you were putting 5 people into a moderate resort and paying $150/night, you would get 5 free dining promotions as opposed to putting 2 people in the same room and only getting 2 free dining promotions for that same $150/night. Sometime a room only discount or other promotions (if available) gives you more of a cash value discount. We usually book through Small World Vacations travel agency and they run the numbers to get us the best discount. They only deal with Disney and they don't charge anything extra. For us the Free Dining always works out better.
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Old 09-08-2010, 04:24 PM   #1569
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Originally Posted by AKraft View Post
For some people that might be good, but we're a family of 5 that likes to eat. Our vacations area usually planned around where we're eating (at least if there are table service meals involved that need reservations) and this can get quite pricey. I like not having to worry about paying for each meal individually. I'd be so worried about the cost and I certainly wouldn't be buying $20 in snacks each day. True, we could bring our own snacks, but I don't think they would be as good as a Dole Whip or a Carrot Cake Cookie.

Free dining certainly wouldn't be worth it for a small family or couples.
I can see that to be true. I have crunched the numbers many times and it would never work espacially considering adding an 18 to20% tip to what they considered the meals to cost.Of course we usally eat for less than 50 bucks for the 2 of us each day.
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Old 09-08-2010, 04:27 PM   #1570
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AKraft View Post
For some people that might be good, but we're a family of 5 that likes to eat. Our vacations area usually planned around where we're eating (at least if there are table service meals involved that need reservations) and this can get quite pricey. I like not having to worry about paying for each meal individually. I'd be so worried about the cost and I certainly wouldn't be buying $20 in snacks each day. True, we could bring our own snacks, but I don't think they would be as good as a Dole Whip or a Carrot Cake Cookie.

Free dining certainly wouldn't be worth it for a small family or couples.
I agree with the above. My DW and I are doing the DDP for the 1st time in 9 days. The only reason that we are doing the DDP is it's FREE. No matter how I priced it out, it was never a deal for the two of us. We usually eat CS meals and maybe a handful or less of TS meals. Unless we find the DDP to be better than expected, I doubt we'd ever pay for it.
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Next WDW Vacation staying at POFQ......
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Old 09-08-2010, 04:40 PM   #1571
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I agree with the above. My DW and I are doing the DDP for the 1st time in 9 days. The only reason that we are doing the DDP is it's FREE. No matter how I priced it out, it was never a deal for the two of us. We usually eat CS meals and maybe a handful or less of TS meals. Unless we find the DDP to be better than expected, I doubt we'd ever pay for it.
*
But aren't you paying RACK rate on your resort? I guess they only give one discount, either 40 percent off your lodging or the FREE dining. Now if you had a family of 4 or 5 are you saying that would be a better deal? I'm not sure how that works? What do they charge, say 2 more adults to the price? Anyone know? So, if I went with my DH and inlaws, would it be cheaper than, say just the two of us going? Sorry bout all the questions! LOL!

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Old 09-08-2010, 05:06 PM   #1572
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*
But aren't you paying RACK rate on your resort? I guess they only give one discount, either 40 percent off your lodging or the FREE dining. Now if you had a family of 4 or 5 are you saying that would be a better deal? I'm not sure how that works? What do they charge, say 2 more adults to the price? Anyone know? So, if I went with my DH and inlaws, would it be cheaper than, say just the two of us going? Sorry bout all the questions! LOL!

Brunette
It would be cheaper if you're planning on staying with your inlaws in the same room and thus can spit the cost of the room/park admission package with them. You would then get 4 FREE Dining promotions covering everyone in your room. The more important question is can you handle sharing a room with your inlaws?
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Old 09-08-2010, 05:45 PM   #1573
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brunette8706 View Post
*
But aren't you paying RACK rate on your resort? I guess they only give one discount, either 40 percent off your lodging or the FREE dining. Now if you had a family of 4 or 5 are you saying that would be a better deal? I'm not sure how that works? What do they charge, say 2 more adults to the price? Anyone know? So, if I went with my DH and inlaws, would it be cheaper than, say just the two of us going? Sorry bout all the questions! LOL!

Brunette
Yeah, can only get one discount at a time unfortunately. With the room discounts, it was 25%, 30%, and 40%. Even at 40% off, we would never stay at a deluxe so the free DDP was a better savings for us than the 25%-30% room discounts.
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Next WDW Vacation staying at POFQ......
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Old 09-08-2010, 06:06 PM   #1574
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Originally Posted by brunette8706 View Post
*
But aren't you paying RACK rate on your resort? I guess they only give one discount, either 40 percent off your lodging or the FREE dining. Now if you had a family of 4 or 5 are you saying that would be a better deal? I'm not sure how that works? What do they charge, say 2 more adults to the price? Anyone know? So, if I went with my DH and inlaws, would it be cheaper than, say just the two of us going? Sorry bout all the questions! LOL!

Brunette
It always depends on your resort, how many people and time of year. You really need to do the math and price out all the options. I am staying at a deluxe..2 adults/1 child. The 40% was a better deal for us by far. $1720 savings for 9 nights vs. $855 I would have saved with free dining.
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Old 09-08-2010, 06:11 PM   #1575
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Cool Downhill

I hope this thread is still going when I get back from my trip on 09/17-09/26. I would like to chime in and share if I actually see or experience sub-par services etc. Hmmmm.....
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Next WDW Vacation staying at POFQ......
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