In my previous post, Testing the Magic Part 1, I explained my challenge to the Disney Company. Unable to go to the theme parks, could I still get my Disney magic fix by only going to WDW resorts and having dinner? So in the final analysis, how well did the Disney magic hold during these visits to Disney Resorts and Restaurants?
On the plus side:
- The high quality Disney service was no different. From the gate security to the front desk personnel who answered our questions we felt very well taken care of.
- There was plenty to entertain us in all 3 locations. A ride on the Monorail got us pretty close to the action. And there’s very little that can beat seeing African animals up close (if you get the chance, check out the night vision glasses option near the pool). And you’d be amazed what a pleasure it is to take a boat ride from the Boardwalk to the Yacht and Beach Clubs on a warm evening and wander through the resorts without feeling rushed to be somewhere. Finally, watching Disney fireworks is always a treat. Nobody does it better night after night.
- Having a car means no complex combinations of busses and Monorails to get from resort to resort.
- From the time we entered the resort until we left; there was no question we were in WDW. Theming, cleanliness, music and atmosphere were all around us.
- Resort specific and Disney World souvenirs can be had at Resort gift shops. You can still take home a piece of WDW, and some of the items can only be found in the resorts.
- Since we were not exhausted from a day of attraction hopping, we could relax, enjoy our meal and take in our surroundings.
- We could explore and enjoy Deluxe Resorts even if we didn’t or couldn’t to pay the price
On the minus side:
- Disney has homogenized some of its menu items. For example, we noticed that the special cocktail menu was the same at all the restaurants, even the bar at AKL. Part of the fun of trying different restaurants was having the whole experience be unique to the location.
- There are many great restaurants that require a park admission to enjoy.
- Unless we wanted to pay a high taxi fare, a car was required.
- As with all offsite hotels, the magic ended when we left the Resort or restaurant.
- There’s so much fun food not found in the Resort restaurants like Turkey legs. Dole Whips can only be found at the Poly. You’ll only find fancy caramel apples in the Magic Kingdom and hand dipped ice cream sandwiches are only available at Beaches and Cream. You won’t see a giant cinnamon rolls unless you’re in AK and there, no real exotic choices like Restaurant Marakesh or Akershus or experiences like the Living Seas or San Angel Inn.
- Some rain forced us to find cover just before Wishes started. Fortunately, it stopped long enough for us to find a good spot to sit. And For some reason, we could not hear the Wishes soundtrack from the Beach at the Polynesian. It did detract from the experience, but I would still do it again.
Over all I think Walt would be pleased at how welcome we felt at WDW, even outside the parks. One of his biggest regrets when building Disneyland was not having any control over what the “neighborhood” became once you left the park. He said he was planning WDW because he wanted to do it better. Better is a relative term and Walt set a very high standard for himself and his projects. He carried over all of the good he achieved with Disneyland, but was able to take advantage of WDW’s size to create a cushion of magic around the theme parks in the form of shopping and resorts. There’s a smile on every Cast Members face and they go out of their way to make your “stay” enjoyable. We were never once asked if we were staying at the resort. A lot has been written about how the Disney parks were (are?) different than anything the public had experienced. Walt himself said he was creating a different kind of entertainment. The Disney Company continues to fulfill the promise of Walt’s entertainment vision, without becoming a stale money making machine. Don’t get me wrong, it makes a lot of money. But in the final analysis, I’d say that even a trip like this seemed to make it easier to part with my money without feeling ripped off.