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What We Love/Hate about Disney World (Blogger vs. Blogger)

Leana and I are on the same page about most things (except for Hyatt vs. IHG). However, we could not be more different in how we feel about Disney World. Hear us out.

What We Love and Hate about Disney World www.milesforfamily.com

Nancy: What I Love about Disney World

It’s family-friendly. From the Baby Care Centers to the Rider Switch option, Disney World caters to families with young children.

First trip to Disney World, age 4.

Even the ride queues are entertaining. Unlike standard amusement park metal maze lines, the lines for most rides in Disney World are part of the theme of the ride. The queue area for the Dumbo ride is half the fun!

You can feel like you’re in a different world. The theming is so great at both the parks and the resort hotels, you can hardly tell you’re still at Disney World. When I walk the quiet path around the lake at Caribbean Beach Resort, I feel like I’m in the Caribbean. Inside an art gallery in Epcot, I feel like I’m in Morocco.

A peaceful walk at Caribbean Beach Resort.

It brings feelings of nostalgia. I’ve been going to Disney World since I was a baby. I vividly remember when I visited in 2nd grade, 5th grade, 8th grade and as an adult. When I go on a ride with my kids, I remember going on the same ride with my parents. Priceless.

Disney World is constantly changing, and no visit is ever the same as last time. Unless you’re a local who visits Disney World every week, chances are you will experience something new on every trip. Disney is constantly adding and changing rides and shows. On our next trip, we will get to see the new Pandora, The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom. And of course a few years later, we will have to go back to see the new Star Wars Land. Darn you, Disney, for creating reasons for us to keep coming back!

 

Leana: What I Hate about Disney World

Let me start by saying that every family should visit Disney World at least once. It is impressive and your kids will go crazy for it, guaranteed. That being said, if you are a family on a budget, you have to understand that it’s CRAZY EXPENSIVE. Let me repeat it again: CRAZY EXPENSIVE. There is just no way around it. Are you OK with paying $5 for an ice cream cone inside the parks?

Sure, you can use travel rebates or bonuses, but it’s not like you can’t utilize them elsewhere. Heck, even a Disney gift card from Disney Visa can be resold (though admittedly, at a loss). At least consider a short (non-Disney) cruise from Cape Canaveral or a trip to the beach with your sign-up bonus windfall.

The point is, the park admission, the overpriced food and on-property hotels, those things will quickly add up. So, yes, you should go, but count the costs before you do. I live in Florida and have access to discounted  multi-park ticket options. In fact, I thought about taking my kids to Disney this year.

But nope, we have too many things planned already, so Mickey will have to wait. We might take my parents to Epcot if they come to visit us at the end of 2018. Till then, we are opting for an annual pass to Legoland.  Cheaper and just as good.

OK, maybe it’s like comparing apples to oranges, but still…

Another thing I hate about Disney is how crowded the parks are, especially Magic Kingdom. I know you can get a Fast Pass, but since we don’t stay on-property (too expensive), the most popular rides are already reserved by the time we enter the park.

Magic Kingdom is just not designed for the type of crowds it gets on a daily basis. If you go around holidays or during spring break, you will be competing with thousands of people for a handful of decent rides. Good luck. You are gonna need it. Bwahahaha! 🙂

Readers, where do you stand on Disney World? Love it, hate it, or tolerate it?

Check out our other recent posts on Disney World:

Easiest Path to Disney World for Miles and Points Newbies

Using Discounted Disney Gift Cards for a Disney Vacation

10 Tips for First-timers to Disney World

Should I Get the Chase Disney Visa for our Disney Trip?

Six Orlando Area Family-Friendly Resorts You Can Get Via Hotel Points

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Author: Nancy

Nancy is a contributing writer for Miles For Family. She enjoys traveling to the beach and is a big fan of Disney. Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids.

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35 thoughts on “What We Love/Hate about Disney World (Blogger vs. Blogger)

  1. We took our kids to Disney World in Florida last year, and we’ll probably never go again. It’s overpriced and not even close to worth it. There are theme parks a few hours from our home in Indiana that are half the price and a lot more fun. Disney is comprised of mostly places to buy stuff with a few mediocre rides mixed in. No thanks.

    • @Holly We live in Florida and rarely go to Disney. Though kids are constantly begging us to take them! Occasionally I give in, but it’s not my first choice. I love Legoland and hope you guys check it out while vacationing down here.

      • @Nick I highly recommend Legoland for younger kids. I don’t think you’ll regret going. The only issue is that it’s a bit of a trek from Orlando, but not too bad. I would stay in Orlando resort and do Legoland as a day trip. There is plenty to do in the area without going to Disney.
        As far as weather goes, winter, late fall and spring are best. Late September is still pretty hot in most of Florida. If you go, keep an eye on discounts. McDonalds frequently runs “buy adult ticket, get child ticket free” promo, you can pick up a coupon inside any Florida restaurant. You can also Google it or check this page for latest discounts https://www.retailmenot.com/view/legoland.com

  2. Just got back – my 5yo daughter asked when we could go again and I said when she’s 10. It was fun but it’s exhausting so expensive. Gonna go for the (non-disney) cruise next year hopefully.

    • @Hilary I saw some photos of your trip and it looked fun! I’m glad the vacation was a success. But yes, I agree, “exhausting” and “expensive” are two words I associate with Disney. I’m certain your daughter will love a cruise.

  3. I think there’s a misconception that one simply has to buy some
    Tickets and show up to
    Magic Kingdom and they will promptly be whisked away on Aladdins magic carpet and prance around with Disney princesses and ride incredible rides and eat exceptional food. I mean no disrespect! The commercials definitely push this view, and Disney is not particularly forthcoming that each of its tickets should come with a warning label akin to what you see on a pack of cigarettes, the difference being that Disneys crowds, prices, and long waits can be hazardous to your health and marriage.

    But the key to a Disney world trip is that it is both marathon and sprint. Don’t listen to the people who tell you it’s a marathon and you just grind out long waits in lines and patiently navigate crowds with zen like serinity. Nor should you buy the assertion that you have to be the Usain Bolt of Disney world and run around the park like you are trying to get that next Nike endorsement. But like a marathon, you have to prepare well ahead of time. And like a sprint, you have to get out of the blocks fast.

    Have a plan. Have your fast passes selected well ahead of time. The morning is for Sprinting. We typically get about 5-7 rides in the morning before the crowds get too bad. Then we hit our fast passes from 11-2 when the crowds are at their worst. Then we either go back to the resort or we switch to marathon mode where we take our time around the parks exploring, or riding rides with short waits, and watching any any number or shows around the park, doing character meetings. We then transition into evening time activities with a few more fast passes and dinner. But after 11 or 12, we are pretty chill for the remainder of the day.

    As for expensive food, we bring in our own food to snack and eat. We’ve done full on homemade meals that have had people asking us what restaurant we went to, but you could just bring fruits, nuts and a sandwich.

    • @Cheapblackdad–that’s great advice and very similar to our strategy at the parks! We are early risers, though, so it’s not too much trouble for us to be there at park opening and get on those rides before the crowds arrive. On my last big trip with my extended family, the rest of my family (parents, brother, sister and their families) didn’t arrive at the parks until around noon. We were on total opposite schedules. But, they enjoyed sleeping in and staying really late, which I couldn’t pull off with my kids.

    • @CBD, I totally agree with your points. I would add that the parks are huge and you should plan realistically according to your family’s style/stamina. Especially at Magic Kingdom, don’t feel like you have to do everything in one day to get the full value of admission. You’ll just be exhausted and likely disappointed. Pick your priorities and ideally schedule a day at the pool to relax between park visits.

  4. I forgot to mention this in the post (how could I forget this?) My husband and I got engaged at Disney World. While we were dating, we suffered through a time share presentation in East Texas. The reward for attending the presentation was a 3-night trip to Disney World (flights for 2 and 3 nights at this total dump hotel). Totally worth the hassle, because he proposed at Cinderella’s Castle on that trip! Part of my nostalgia for the park.

  5. The key differentiator between WDW and other parks is the theming and exquisite attention to detail. The designers of WDW have gone OCD to create the immersive environment and have likely considered every aspect of your experience in the park. That’s why it feels so much like you’ve stepped into a “bubble”. WDW is a true theme park while other places like Legoland, Busch Gardens, Six Flags, etc. are amusement parks. Sure, they may have themed areas, but it is very seldom to the level of detail as Disney. As an example, Disney spent more on the theming of “Seven Dwarves Mine Train” than most parks spend on a premier roller coaster without theming. Universal didn’t “get it” until they upped their game and created Diagon Alley with its Disney-level meticulous theming.

    In my view, WDW is perfect for families with elementary-aged kids that have crossed the 40 inch height threshold that allows them to go on the vast majority of the rides. The kids are still young enough that they really feel the “magic”, especially meeting their favorite characters for the first time, and the rides at Disney tend to be on the tamer side of the thrill scale (older middle/high school kids who have experienced some of the top thrill rides at other amusement parks might be disappointed). Yes, there are crowds, but it is very manageable if you have a good plan. We’ve been to Magic Kingdom on high “9-10” and low “3-4” crowd days and still had a great time with minimal waits (and we did stay off site but got to the park early at “rope-drop” time). It’s all about advance planning and having a strategy.

    I guess it depends on your budget priorities and the experience you seek. If you simply want to experience a bunch of carnival and thrill-seeking type rides, most amusement parks will fulfill that requirement at a lower price point. If you want a truly immersive experience, the Disney parks and, to a lesser extent, Universal, are pretty much it. That experience does come at a higher price, but consider that they do have higher operational costs and capital expenses. They can also charge higher prices simply because the demand is there and they have economic scarcity/uniqueness (it’s not like every state has a park that’s elaborately themed just like WDW). I think it is more of a sad commentary on the US economy that admission prices have become a stretch for many middle class families, but you could also say that about many other things. If pricing reaches a point where demand drops at Disney or Universal, they will adjust. It’s basic economics.

    • @Erik I think you nailed it when you mentioned that Disney pricing is what it is due to supply vs demand. Simple law of economics. They certainly have no problem filling the parks even with current exorbitant rates. And I agree, the designers have gone OCD and attention to detail is unmatched. Well, except for old screens and shows at Epcot. I don’t know if they’ve replaced those, but they should.

      I definitely think all families should check it out at least once, but wait till the kids are a bit older. I have seen so many miserable families with an infant and a toddler, while strolling Magic Kingdom. I don’t get it. To me, it’s like a cruel and unusual punishment to bring two or three tiny kins and try to navigate the maze that is Disney World. But maybe the parents themselves wanted to go, who knows?

      Disney is definitely out of reach for many middle-class families and they have admitted it themselves. They now target upper-class, well-to-do families, because that’s who can mostly afford it. I don’t have a huge issue with it, Disney is a business and they want to make money, period. They will charge as much as the market can bear. Of course, being in the miles and points hobby opens up all kinds of ways to reduce expenses. That’s a wonderful thing! If a family is dreaming of visiting Disney but can’t afford it, I’m thrilled to help them turn the dream into reality. But I want them to be aware of some drawbacks.

      • Yeah, I forgot about some of the older stuff at Epcot, but I understand that park is slated for an overhaul soon. We’ve not spent much time there because it seems a little more adult-oriented than the other parks and I was honestly turned off by some of the inebriated behavior that I observed on our last visit. Have you ever received a brochure in the mail from “Adventures by Disney” which offers guided family vacations to various destinations around the world? They have some interesting itineraries, like https://www.adventuresbydisney.com/europe/norway-vacation to see the locations inspired by Frozen, but my jaw dropped when I saw the price per person. OMG!

      • @Erik–I have no doubt that those Adventures by Disney trips are over-the-top awesome. But yes, my jaw drops every time I look at the price tag for my family. Yikes!

    • @Erik Yeah, I think you’ve mentioned that Frozen tour before. Forget upper class, they are targeting millionaires, the one percent of one percenters. 🙂 Ridiculous, but I’m sure someone pays those rates.
      I actually like Epcot quite a bit, but I’m not sure it’s worth $100. If we go, we’ll probably get a multi-day ticket for Florida residents. Those work out to be around $55 per day. Of course, it’s a lot of money once you multiply it by 4.
      But we’ll just hit all the parks and give the kids their Disney fix for several years. Also, Epcot has that new Frozen ride, and my daughter loves the movie. So, I’m definitely going there eventually if our budget can handle it. But I figured it makes sense to combine it with my parents’ visit.

    • I think Disney has some sort of algorithm that identified us as people who have the potential to do adventures by Disney. We’ve gone so many times they must assume we can afford those prices.

      I live that they have a children’s price for those things. Like it’s 5200 for an adult and 5000 for a child. I was waffling until I saw I could save $200 on my kid.

      I’ll have to do a guest post where I blog on how to travel hack your way into one of those.

      • @Cheapblackdad LOL Feel free to contribute a post on how to travel hack your way into Disney Frozen tour. But on one condition: You have to change your name to FancyBlackDad

  6. We took our kids to Disney World and it was the 1st trip for all of us. The kids loved it and the adults not so much. We stayed at Pop Century and the ease of transportation along with the meal plan was an added bonus. Even though we went in October it was still crowded. We still stood in line for rides and we came home more exhausted than before we left for vacation. It is definitely a once in a lifetime experience for our family. We don’t regret the trip and made some great memories. We will stick to cruises, resorts, and quiet Montana cabins from now on.

    • @Kelly–I totally hear you on the exhaustion part! We no longer do long trips to the parks. I like to sprinkle in a day or so before or after a cruise (which of course makes it more expensive per day).

  7. As locals, we love our annual passes. Ok, so maybe my husband is sick of Disney.
    Anywayss!!
    I can’t even fathom how much people spend on a week at Disney. I have never stayed on site at a Disney resort but i’m sure its a blast. We’re staying at Holiday Inn on property in a few weeks via a gift card and an anniversary night. And the cost of the food alone is giving me minor anxiety.
    We’ve also learned the cheap and easy ways to eat around disney parks, but its also just the two of us so we know where to split a good size entre. Annual Passholder discounts help a lot too. And we know the fast pass system well and can snag the last minute openings, get last minute dinner reservations when someone cancels, and go during the slow seasons. All of that adds up to a much nicer Disney experience.
    That all being said, I don’t know if we would ever come to Disney if we were not local.

  8. We love Disney. We went in 2011,2013,2014,2015,2016 and we are going in August 2017. Its expensive, but worth it. When people ask us how we afford it, we point to the fact that our home is 1400 square feet, whilst most of our peers have large homes with huge mortgages. Thus, We spend less on material things to spend more on travel and experiences.

    • @Natasha–We made the same choice to spend less on a house and more on travel. Sometimes I get house envy, I admit…but travel is so important to me.

    • @Natasha My house is 1400 square feet too! I’m originally from Europe where most have tiny apartments, so to, me it seemed huge when we were building it. I find it more than adequate for our needs.
      I can see why you love Disney. Many people do. I must say, I’m getting a little excited about that new Avatar ride.

  9. Leana and Nancy,

    I have mixed feelings about WDW. I worked for WDW for 7 years so I had my fair share of visiting the parks – for free 🙂
    I think WDW is overrated because of the price. For a middle class family going to Orlando became a 6-7k affair. The ticket prices are outrageous. I agree with Erik. But the parks are packed every single day. Disney does an incredible job creating the magic so I can see why Nancy enjoy. She has memories of her childhood and sharing with her children must be a great feeling.
    I go every year to Orlando for my son to visit his dad and I always remind myself how privilege and lucky he is to have family in the area. I could imagine myself bringing a toddler to WDW. My personal opinion is to wait until the kids are older than 6-7 years old so they can enjoy all day (no cranky toddlers without naps), understand the value of the money and be old enough to remember.

    BTW: I am looking into Legoland tickets for June. I found tickets with Citi points. Is it worth it?

    • @Tania–Yes, Disney ticket prices are sometimes the most expensive part of the trip! Regarding Legoland….I think it depends on the age of your son. In my opinion, Legoland is best for kids ages 4-10.

    • @Tania Thanks for your comment! I feel the same way you do. For those on a super tight budget, it might be best to wait till the kids are older, so they can get their money’s worth. I think 6 is a good age, though many would disagree. It does depend on a child, of course. Full disclosure: we did take our kids when they were younger, but only because my in-laws were coming with us, and the fact that we got a special deal on tickets.

      The price of Disney is out of control, but like I told Erik, I can’t say I blame them. They will charge whatever people are willing to pay.
      It’s similar to this crazy toy Hatchimal. My daughter wanted one, but it was sold out in stores. Amazon had some from third-party resellers for over $100. The commenters were livid and telling these people off saying how dare they charge so much! They said the kids were begging them and they couldn’t afford it. Well…its a business, the resellers don’t care that your child is begging for it and you can’t afford it. As long as someone pays the price, that’s what they will charge. And It’s not like it’s a life-saving medicine. BTW, we finally bought that stupid Hatchimal for $65, still too much. End rant.
      P.S. I agree with Nancy. Legoland is best for kids under 10. Even that may be a bit old. I would say 4-8 is ideal. Oh, and don’t buy your tickets through Citi. Google for latest promos and see my earlier comment to Nick. You can usually find “buy adult ticket, get child ticket free” code or coupon.

  10. We’ve taken our kids to Disney World, Disneyland, and Legoland (in California) and all of us love Legoland the best. The kids haven’t asked to go back to either Disney, but they beg to go back to Legoland all the time–so we went back again last month. We love the Legoland Hotel, and I think it’s worth the crazy price for at least one night. We’ve only gone to Legoland on Thursday and Friday during the school year so we’ve never had to wait in line for anything. I just don’t have the patience for the Disney crowds or the tolerance for expense. We are trying out a Disney cruise in the fall though, so maybe Disney will win me over there:)

  11. @ Cynthia Yay for a fellow Legoland lover! I really enjoy that park, and so do my kids. It’s actually relaxing for parents, something I can’t say about Disney. Of course, Disney is still at the top of a food chain for my children, but Legoland is a close second. I’ll take it! I think you would enjoy the one in Florida as well. They did a fantastic job, and I’m so glad they kept the beautiful landscaping from the previous park. My son is begging us to stay in Legoland hotel, but that price! Yikes. I saw some specials, but they are all on school nights, of course. We may do it for just one night if we get our annual pass, though it’s likely to be at the end of the year. We have too many plans for next 10 months.

  12. I love miles and points, but when it comes to Disney just call them and find out about specials and pay cash…I mean credit! I’ve written this before, on one of Nancy’s posts, but once again…

    I paid $2079 to go to DW with my son. It included RT air from MN, 4 nights hotel, 4 days of park, transportation, 2 quick serve meals per day, 1 sit down meal per day, and 1 character dining.

    That way I wasn’t worried about $5 ice cream cones. I earned some miles on the flight, and with payment if the bill. The only extra money spent was on a set of ears. And it was not stressful, it was 100% fun. It was magical actually. Hate to be so cheezy! But it was!

    I know a family of 4 would spend more, but then just go for 1 day and move on. You can justify the expense with all the free travel you’ve earned elsewhere!

    If you’re going to do Disney, just do it and enjoy it. 🙂

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