DisneyWorld / Dirty
Disappointing. Big letdown. Tired looking. Dirty.
These are a few words I use to describe our recent visit to Walt Disney World.
Orlando Airport: no signs to direct guests to the Disney's Magical Express, no people there to greet and direct. 45 minute wait for the "Magic" to sweep us to our hotel.
We arrived at the Wilderness Lodge on Saturday, December 4 and were greeted well at the express check in. The Wilderness Lodge is rated three stars by AAA. The exterior and public areas were neat and clean. Our room was neat and clean, but looked tired, old. Upon further inspection, the sprinkler in the bathroom had rust around the outer ring and mold in the grout in the upper shower area. The curtains were old and smelled musty. The housekeeper was good. But for the price we paid to stay at this hotel...well, let's just say, my money could have been better spent elsewhere. Highly overrated!!
Other than the initial check in, we were never warmly greeted by any cast members, anywhere on Disney property. It was all very robotic. We were given pins to wear to show that we were celebrating our anniversary and we were mostly greeted with a forced greeting of "Happy Anniversary."
I had heard horror stories of the bus system and how long it took while waiting for a bus. We did not find the wait between busses to be extreme, however, only one driver was friendly to the crowd and all of the busses we traveled on had trash and dirt on the floors that looked like it had been there for weeks. The inside of the windows had who-knows-what smeared on them. We felt dirty just riding the bus.
On another note with the bus system. Disney should try to implement a para-transit system to transport the growing number of people in our society who utilize scooters and wheelchairs. Most busses could accommodate two to three scooters/wheelchairs, but the time it took to load them into a bus took so long, a second bus would come along to take us to our destination. Most visitors using the bus system commented on the delay and seemed to be frustrated by it.
Animal Kingdom was our first stop. It was nice to walk the trails and see different animals. The safari ride guides were fun and informative and we saw lots of animals and had good opportunities for photos. But the Expedition Everest roller coaster broke down twice in one day & we never got to go on it. We walked over to the Dinosaur ride to find that it was broken as well with no time estimated until it was fixed. We paid how much for these tickets??
Off to EPCOT. The first half of EPCOT was really what disappointed me the most. I was here 10 years ago and it looks like they haven't changed anything! The outside features were in bad need of paint because of sun fading. The inside attractions had only changed one thing. It's supposed to be a prototype of tomorrow, but is more like a history of a cheesy Jetsons cartoon!
The countries in EPCOT were fresher, updated. But one thing that really annoyed me was they were trying to sell you something everywhere you went. Apparel, eateries, pin kiosks. They charge you admission and then try to suck more money out of you once you are there! They had a great band in the Canada section and some entertainment in the China section as well.
The boat system that transports people to and from the two parts of EPCOT was extremely slow. We stupidly waited 40 minutes on a very cold night and ended up walking, as there was no boat in sight. I felt very bad for the elderly couple huddled behind me.
EPCOT is great for scenery and photo shots, but is not very educational and I think children would be easily bored. We paid how much for these tickets?
The Magic Kingdom: OK, not really the place for two older adults with no kids, I'll admit. But in addition to the park hopper pass, we had to pay another $60 to get into Mickey's Magical Christmas Party. For that, you get "exclusive" admission, all the 4oz. cups of hot chocolate you can drink and you get to look at all the decorations. Yes, the lines were not long because everyone else in the park lined up to see the parade. We breezed through Pirates, Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, but seriously, another $60 bucks for two hours of ... what? People, this is not a good value for the price paid!!!
Two "resorts" we visited (Polynesian, Contemporary) were old and tired. They did not have the "feel" we embraced 10 years ago. The Cafe in the Polynesian looked right out of the 60's! "Cast members" were only present, at best.
Downtown Disney? Don't go for entertainment - there is none! It's all about getting more money out of people who have already paid their hard-earned money to be there!
Waiters, waitresses, and cashiers wherever we went were apathetic at best. The food in most of the cafeteria style restaurants was just plain bad! The Wilderness Lodge served me a tuna sandwich where the tuna was room temperature!
The Dining Plan? Don't bother! If you want to eat in a nice restaurant (I recommend Artist Point and the Yachtsman Steakhouse), they take two full meals off your plan. This is the equivalent of $80 each. When you arrive at the restaurant, you are told you can each have one entree and one dessert. A non-alcoholic beverage is included as well. There are no appetizers included, no side dishes. After using the Meal Plan at several restaurants, Disney makes out like a bandit. Had we paid for it ourselves, our $160 spent at the meal plan at the Yachtsman would have come to $129!!! REALLY? If you don't have a snack or lunch every day, it goes unused and Disney keeps the money anyway. My friend was with us with her 11 year old picky eater, and just proved that there is no value for the price paid. Buyer beware!!
I guess since we didn't have a little girl who wanted to dress up like a Princess, or a wide-eyed kid seeing Disney for the first time, as older adults, we had no business being there.
I live in Las Vegas and work at a strip hotel. I costed out what we paid for Disney (hotel, meal plan, park tickets) and how much an equivalent stay at the Bellagio would have cost us. We could have stayed in a suite at a five diamond/five star hotel for considerably less. We would have been treated like a queen and king with staff to give you anything you need or want. There's no free bus system, so we'd have to walk or pay for transportation. But free entertainment? It's up & down the strip! Customer service? Everywhere you go in this town, the employees are genuinely happy to see you and treat you like you are in their homes. You can get fantastic food for less money here. There is definitely more value for the dollar. That's my fault. I should never have let Disney have my hard-earned money. It's a costly lesson for me.
We've been on cruises that have had great customer service. At least act like you are happy to be employed and encourage people so they will market for you by spreading the word and want them to come back. Repeat business is what you are looking for.
I know Disney has to account to the stockholders, but if you don't sink some serious money into customer service training and updating the place, there will be no stockholders to report to. I know for this couple, the Disney family will never see our money again!