Walt Disney's Magic Touches All of Us

Posts tagged ‘WDW’

Testing the Disney Magic, Part 2

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. WDW Monorail
  • 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.Wishes from Poly
  • 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.Skinny-Mojito-and-Mojito-600x461
  • 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.

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Testing the Disney Magic, Part 1

“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends”. Advice from, Walt Disney, one of the business world’s great marketers. I am a New York resident, so I don’t get to either of Disney’s theme parks in the US very often. Unlike my Mother, who saw the theme parks as only a money making machine (see my previous post “A Mother’s Gift“), I see them as a wonderful escape. So when my job made it necessary for me to travel to Orlando for training, (really, it wasn’t my idea) I was excited to think I would be so close to WDW.

Aerial view of the Magic Kingdom

Aerial view of the Magic Kingdom

But sad I wouldn’t be able to spend time in the parks.  Would today’s Disney Corporation live up to its creator’s marketing advice and lure me there somehow to spend my hard earned money? If so, would the experience be worthy enough to “bring my friends”?

Disneyland Entrance Sign

Disneyland Entrance Sign

My Disney brain was working overtime trying to find a way to take advantage of my close proximity to the “Happiest Place on Earth”. After the smoke cleared a bit, (I think my brain pan needs an oil change) I began to see possibilities. I had to eat, right? And WDW has some restaurants that feel, sort of like attractions, right? My wife was joining me and we planned the trip like many of our vacations (Disney or otherwise)– we plan our days around meals. Since my days were spoken for by my employer from 7am-7pm, the plan was to soak up as much of the Disney Magic at dinner as possible without buying a park ticket. But was food wasn’t going to be enough? Undeterred I pushed ahead.

We decided to pick some old favorites and one new restaurant for the three dinners we were planning. To maximize our enjoyment potential, I felt the Resorts might offer more than just a meal. Even though we were limited to Resorts, there were still many options. Boma was an easy choice. Not only is the resort a favorite, but I love a buffet and the African inspired cuisine is not something you find everywhere (even in NYC).  We also loved our stay at the Polynesian. While Kona has never been at the top of our list, it does have the great tiki-style drinks and sushi, which is hard to find in WDW. For our new restaurant, I had just read that Iron Chef Cat Cora’s Koussina was closing and we had never tried the food, which also offered some unique WDW choices. Now that we had our three restaurants, we were ready to find out if we could make an evening out of it filled with WDW magic.

Boma

kouzzinaKona-Cafe-Polynesian-Disney

Disney Boardwalk

Disney Boardwalk

Koussina at the Boardwalk seemed like a no brainer for things to do before and after a meal. The Boardwalk itself is designed as an entertainment center. There would be stores, busker-like entertainment, a dance hall, a piano bar and beautiful Crescent Lake to look at as we strolled the boardwalk. Hey, maybe, this wasn’t going to be too hard. Buoyed by our first choice, we confidently approached our second meal,

Disney Polynesian Resort

Disney Polynesian Resort

Kona Café at the Polynesian. We had loved watching the fireworks from our room overlooking the Seven Seas Lagoon during our last stay. After a little research, I learned that we could get the same view from the beach near the Volcano Pool. The Polynesian also had the closest thing to an attraction we were going to get this trip – The Monorail. I know it’s a bit of a stretch. But it’s a nice ride that gets us very close to the Magic Kingdom, goes through the Contemporary Resort and would give us a view of the Grand Floridian, all for free. There was some concern when we learned that the lobby might be under construction, but there would always be a nice walk around the grounds if we wanted the tropical feel.

Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge

Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge

Finally we tackled Animal Kingdom Lodge, a Resort that holds many wonderful memories for our family. (Although there was an infamous trip during which we lost, not one, but two digital cameras there). With its soaring main lobby, the African artifacts to see, African music, the Cape Town Lounge, and African animals, it seemed we could make an evening of that meal.

In my next post, I’ll reveal how successful Disney was at making us feel like we were part of the magic and whether Walt would be proud that his creation could “bring us back for more”.

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