My husband thinks I’m the craziest, most loyal Disney fan out there. He has no idea that I don’t even hold a candle to some Disney fans!
To be fair, not all of our vacations are Disney-related. We’ve visited California and Florida on trips without stepping foot inside a Disney park. In reality, many of our family trips don’t involve Disney at all.
However, there is just something special about a Disney vacation. Disney knows how to cater to people of all ages. If I add the word “Disney” to any vacation, I just know it will bring happiness to my kids’ faces.
The truth is, I’ve been in a relationship with Disney since I was a baby. And some habits are hard to break.
However, we are now feeling some pressure to “cheat” on Disney with its competitors. This has really made me start to over-analyze our future vacation choices.
I’m blaming the Nickelodeon TV Channel for this one. My son watches one show on this channel, and every day he sees a commercial for Universal Florida. You see, over all these years of going to Disney World, we’ve managed to keep the existence of Universal hidden from my kids. Until recently. Darn you, Nickelodeon!
Here’s the thing: My husband and I spent two days at Universal before we had kids. This was before the Harry Potter stuff was there. And, we did not care for the two parks. Most of the rides were too extreme for us! And now, it seems like many of the rides are set in front of a movie screen, which makes me feel motion sickness.
It’s not that I don’t think the Harry Potter stuff would be cool. I have no doubt it’s amazing! What really bothers me about Universal is that you have to pay extra for fast passes or stay at an onsite hotel to get them. So un-Disney-like!
We are looking at spending two days in Universal parks. To experience the Hogwarts Express, we have to buy park-to-park tickets. The cost for my family of five for two days two parks (not including the new water park) is $1347.20. The price is comparable to Disney World, and wouldn’t be horrible if we could use points to stay offsite.
But the kicker is that we can probably only visit during peak times with my kids’ school schedule, and lines will be long. If we buy the fast passes for two days, it adds another $1000 to our ticket price, bringing our total to $2358.85. For $177 more, we could save our points and stay in an onsite hotel with ticket package that includes fast passes. Darn you, Universal!
This one is on me. I’m tempted to book our next cruise on Royal Caribbean instead of Disney Cruise Line. Why?
It comes down to two things: Price and Amenities.
The price of Disney Cruise Line has increased at a much faster rate than inflation and its competitors. For example, back in 2012, my family sailed on DCL for 5 nights in June, with “double-dip” stops at Castaway Cay. We paid around $3700. That same itinerary, same ship, same week is available in 2018 for a price of $7982. More than double the price!
Over the past 6 years, we have managed to sail during the off-season and during a special “Kids Sail Free” promotion to keep down the price of our Disney cruises. But, our luck is running out.
In the future, it will be hard to pull the kids out of school for more than a couple of days at a time. So, we’re stuck with cruising during Spring Break, summer, Thanksgiving or December school break. All peak times!
Royal Caribbean is appealing to me because, next to Disney, it seems like the cruise line most geared toward families. The newer ships have awesome onboard recreation, like ice skating rinks, bumper cars, slides, wave riders, etc.
And while the price of Royal Caribbean is not dirt cheap, it’s a little easier to swallow during peak times. During June 2018, the same week as the 5-night Disney cruise for $7982, we could sail for 7 nights on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas for $6716 in a family oceanview room. It’s cheaper, and has more days!
Of course, the hours of the kids’ clubs are not comparable to Disney Cruise Line. And, some things that are included on Disney (like soda) are not included on Royal Caribbean.
If It Aint Broke…..
So there’s that saying, “If it aint broke, don’t fix it.” Our Disney vacations are not broken. They are awesome. Expensive, but awesome. Disney just has the magic, coupled along with outstanding customer service. I’m not sure that I should even consider cheating on Disney.
On the other hand, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” If we try Universal and Royal Caribbean, we may fall in love with a different product and kick ourselves for not trying them sooner. It could happen.
I don’t have to decide anything immediately. We can always book a trip to Universal with little notice. However, we will be on a Disney cruise ship in a few weeks, and I need to decide if I will do an onboard booking for 10% off.
Have you tried a new brand and regretted it? Or, have you tried something new and regretted not trying it sooner? What factors would cause you to stray from your trusted travel brand? If you are a die hard Disney fan, have you ever considered cheating on Disney with the competition?
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.