Disney world! The first time we went, I was so overwhelmed (in a good way) by the magic, the customer service, how Disney takes your vacation in charge. For me, Disney was the quintessence of customer service. Then the pandemic hit. Then Disney started to cut everything that made this place so special. At some point, when evaluating all the options, we figured out that we might not go back to Disney. I am not saying we will never go back, but at least not short-term.
Let’s review together what made Walt Disney World so special, what have they cut and why we might not go back to Disney in the foreseeable future.
First, let point that a trip to Disney has never been cheap. Last year, we figured out that a week to Disney World was about the same as a week in Paris. However, although we always knew it was freaking expensive, we always knew it was worth it. As soon as you get off the plane, Disney takes the matter into its own hands to make sure your time in Florida is memorable. Since the pandemic, we feel that all the little details we paid for that made this destination unique are gone.
The latest cut in line might have been the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Disney announced that the magical express, the bus that takes you from the airport to your Disney hotel, will be removed at the end of 2021. The magical express was a stress-free option to get from the airport to the hotel, it was “free”, it was easy and the magic started there.
First and foremost, I want to precise, when I say it was “free”, let’s say it was included in the hefty price tag you pay for your Disney vacation. At some point, the plan is to have some kind of public transportation, like a train, to pass by the airport and Disney Spring. Once passengers are at Disney Springs, it’s not clear if they would take Disney’s regular shuttles, as you can’t get in with luggage or if another service would take them in charge.
Guests always can hire a cab or a Uber. However, the airport being fairly far from the magic, the price adds up to the already expensive week. You can also rent a car, this way, you can take the opportunity to explore Orlando while you are there. Remember, though, Disney has been charging for hotel parking for the last few years.
Shows, parades, and meet and greet
I understand that because of COVID-19, the organization wants to minimize contact between people. Nonetheless, these three features were what distinguished Disney from any other amusement park. Without these staples, what is the difference between Walt Disney World and Bush Garden, for instance? The merchandising and the restaurants, you say? Well, again, I got news…
If Disney’s restaurants are not open, we are not going back
Now, don’t get me wrong, some (most I think) restaurants are open. However, since the parks’ capacity is highly limited, some restaurants remain closed, such as Monsieur Paul, our all-time favourite. Not only some favourites are closed, but most menus have been shortened. Therefore, even if your favourite restaurant is open, your favourite dish might not be available.
Plus, I know that we are kind of getting used to, but the mask policy is quite severe in Disney. Everybody needs to wear a mask, face cover are not accepted, unless actively eating. Meaning that even if you are sitting at your table, waiting for your order to come, you have to wear your mask until you start eating. You might think : well, we have to wear a face cover pretty much everywhere in the world right now, so what’s the difference?
I’ll tell you what’s the difference. We have to wear a mask in closed spaces. Indoors. Not under the sun outside. Disney expects each and everyone to be wearing his/her mask permanently, except for actively eating, and if you are actively eating, you need to remain still. Gone are the days when you could pick an ice cream sandwich and leisurely walk across the park.
Finally, alongside the meet and greet, the parades and the shows, fireworks have also been cancelled, and this is something quite hard to explain. I understand that Disney doesn’t want large gathering, but fireworks can be seen from anywhere in the parks. It would have been possible to track a certain number of people per area and yet maintain the said fireworks.
We are not going back to Disney (yet) because it’s not worth it
There, I said it. With all the magic removed, the magical express, the restaurants’ closures/enlighted menu, the mask policy, we feel that Disney is not what it used to be. Additionally, it’s not like you could go for a discounted price. If with all the withdraws, they adapted their pricing policy, I would seriously consider going, I mean, who doesn’t want to do Flight of passage three times in a row, with no line? However, that’s not the current situation. You are still paying the premium for what I feel is a very light and incomplete Disney experience. Although the prices have always been high, in the past I felt like you were really getting every penny back because of the experience Disney managed to create.
At some point, I was encouraging people and expressing how much you get out of Disney. Now, I am not sure if Disney does all it can to protect people from Covid or takes this opportunity to reduce cost and maintain the prices high.
Because we might not go back to Disney, it gives us the opportunity to explore other parts of the world. We booked a cruise with Carnival to Aruba. It is funny how Carnival is taking the opposite direction, decreasing the pricing and adding free stuff to promote its cruises.
Do you have any travel plans for 2021? While we are waiting for travel to resume, have a drink, stay for a while!