Disney World @ end of Sept 2013

So I'm just back from my 3rd trip to Walt Disney World (WDW) in Florida and of course I have a few comments.  Some background: I'm a hospitality business owner who was traveling with 7 other adults and 3 children.  I work for a large corporation which competes with Disney on consumer entertainment spending.  I also married into a Disney crazy family that is heavily invested in the franchise in the form of Disney Vacation Club (DVC) memberships.  I like Disney, but I'm not a raving fan.  It's certainly a good thing to do with the kids, they get a lot out of it and Disney works very hard to make the place magical where you really can step away from your regular working life and that's good.  My comments, some of which are negative, are really made with the intent of preserving the investment my family has made in Disney.  I want Disney to do well now and improve in the future so that it continues to be "magical" for my family and particularly my children.

 

Accomodations:

 

We stayed at Old Key West (OKW) in a 3 bedroom, 4 bath, 2 level vacation home and an efficiency unit for 11ppl.  OKW was built in 1991 and I am told the accommodations are the largest Disney offers.  It was very spacious and for the most part well kept, but the mice need to work even harder to keep the 20+ year old property up to the high standards Disney has created for itself.  Reported maint: bad toaster, 2nd floor A/C dead, ice maker flaky, 1 tv remote dead, 2 light bulbs out, all taken care of shortly after reporting.  Stuff not reported: twisted wall sconce, loose outlets everywhere, marks on the wall, housekeeping not up to usual Disney standards, lint on edges of stairway carpet, door to balcony filthy, bathroom fan grate dusty.

 

Oh, and a note to Old Key West Housekeeping:  If I'm checking out of a 3BR 4 bath vacation home after a week long stay, I just might have a few things to load out.  You might wanna not leave a basket of fresh linens for the next guests right outside the front door.  Use your head for something besides keeping your mouse ears apart!  yeesh!

 

Transportation:

 

Disney's resort transportation is considered very good and rightfully so.  Unfortunately we had a bus driver who stopped short twice on 1 trip between OKW and Magic Kingdom.  My son went flying the first time on the abrupt stop.  I reported this at Polynesian, did not request a call back from transportation and never got a follow up even though they had full contact info.  A simple "is your son ok?" followup would have been nice.  [He is fine.]  With an organization this large, there will be the occasional mistake.  I just hope that transportation followed that driver around a bit after my report to make sure that it is not a trend with him.

 

The scooters are everywhere at Disney and after you are there a couple days it gets really annoying.  Especially if you carry a sleeping 3 year old through a park only to have to stand and wait at a bus stop while a scooter is loaded in before you can sit down.  We can certainly have a debate about if guests need scooters for medical reasons of if they are being lazy.  But it is getting so crazy and slowing things down so much at WDW that they need to consider having a whole other transportation system just for the scooter crowd if Disney chooses to cater to that audience.  My personal opinion, not that it matters, is if you are not able to walk 2 miles in 1 walk, you should probably vacation elsewhere.  Unless you use a wheelchair in your everyday life, then come and do what you do with your wheelchair just as you would at home.

 

Dining Plan:

 

We had the Disney Dining plan and I have a love/hate relationship with it.  I love not having to think about money all the time, I've paid in advance, let's eat!  But on the other hand, you have to constantly work to figure out what's covered and what is not, what's quick service (QSR) and what is not, what is a snack and what's a meal.  It gets annoying.  What's QSR, snacks and table service establishment should be clear walking around the park and not necessary to consult map/guide/or smart phone app.  They should rethink rules such as not being able to get an appetizer rather than a desert.  DVC members cannot participate in the "free dining" promotions that they sometimes offer thereby diminishing the value of DVC membership.

 

Dining Facilities:

 

There's a new QSR restaurant called "Be our Guest" in the Magic Kingdom.  It's fully automated with touch screen ordering.  Touch screen not very intuitive.  I don't really want to be a guest of a server that contains hard drives and chips rather than the old fashioned kind with arms and legs.
 

Ohana (in Polynesian Resort) on Tuesday, good as usual, can't miss with plentiful meat on stick.

 

German Biergarden (Epcot) on Wednesday, good but a buffet and there are food safety/hand washing issues with a buffet. If they are charging me for "table service" then I shouldn't have to schlep buffet food like Sizzler.

 

Le Cellier (Epcot) on Thursday, food very good, 1 steak out of 9 overcooked, 2 separate tables: 1 good service, the other lousy.  Complained to manger, no real attention from the mgr other than a passing "sorry this took so long".  Even though the food was good, not sure it warranted a "double table service" charge.  Service at our table really did not.
 

Technology: My Disney Experience

 

In Epcot and Magic Kingdom there is an interactive thing where you can get a device like a cell phone and it guides you to different areas and invites you to do things.  Certain things in certain areas are triggered by the device you borrow to create more interactive displays.  Neat for maybe 1-7 graders, our kids were a touch young.  Ask about it at guest services.

 

Over the Summer 2013, WDW has been working on rolling out the My Disney Experience.   Once it's fully up, they will know pretty much where you are on their property at all times.  It will be good for things like wait times, FastPasses, dining, room keys and possibly even enhanced content at attractions.  I can see "Be Our Guest" that I wrote about above getting to the point where you order your food on your Smartphone, walk in, and the technology freakishly finds you and gets your food to the table somehow.  I think it's a good thing but as they phase it in they are creating this have/have not culture that I wrote a separate entry about. 

 

The My Disney Experience app is too slow on even the latest Smartphone, cut the cute pics and animations and just give me information.  I am in the parks for entertainment, I don't need further entertainment on my phone.