My magic filter has an additional layer. When I’m given prices in dollars I can’t take them seriously. I know the amount in pounds is a smaller number and I wildly overestimate just how much less it is.
So I booked the FEA dessert party for $79. It’s like Monopoly money to me. When I got my credit card statement, it came out at about £60. For what? A couple of cakes, a drink, a 15 minute firework show, and a four minute boat ride. Wow. I’m such a sucker!
The FEA dessert party was a REALLY hard one for me to let go! I may even still book it!! But for the cost per adult (again an 11 y.o. is considered an adult?!) the price for our whole family to go is somewhat shocking. But if we don’t do it, we may not get a FEA ride during our trip! The time commitment was actually a factor for me too.
I agree with you totally, and I’ve lamented the same things here (and elsewhere). But then I have to step back and realize: Disney ain’t a charity. In fact, Disney isn’t really MEANT for the impoverished. More and more, Disney is about exclusivity. It is a kind of upscale Golf Club or something where membership has it’s privileges, and only the privileged can afford the membership.
But, truth is, they are allowed to do that. And if there are low to middle-income families that can’t afford to go as a result, that’s allowed. There are, after all, plenty of eateries and clothiers that are far beyond my means to afford. I really don’t have the right to demand that because I used to be able to get a steak for X dollars, that because they are selling out their tables for twice X now doesn’t mean I have a right to eat at the lesser price.
I’m the guy who, despite having a decent paying job in the automotive market, still buys used cars at the lower end of things because I certaintly can’t afford new cars, let alone newer, nicer cars.
In the meantime, I work with underprivileged kids in Central Detroit that will very likely never even step food outside of the borders of Detroit. The fact that I can even THINK about going to Disney every few years makes me realize that I’m blessed to be able to even GO to Disney, no matter what the price they charge.
And, in the mean time, if Disney can provide upscale moments for those who are wealthier than me? More power to them. Because they are employing an AWFUL lot of people, world-wide, not just in the parks, but in the entertainment industry, etc.
So, yeah. They are in it for the money. I wish it weren’t so. But I can’t begrudge them for it.
I cannot begin to fathom how families can afford to go to WDW. Well, in some ways they’re better off. I have to pay for the room all by myself. But then I only have one FEA dessert party ticket to buy. A family of four would pay over $300 and even I know that’s a lot of money!
We will be traveling to WDW next month. The last time we were in the parks, was August of 2011! Before that, we had visited 7 times in 9 years. Our 7 year hiatus wasn’t philosophical, I was unemployed or underemployed for a while and it just wasn’t in the budget.
That said, a lot has changed at WDW and yes, I’m not thrilled w/ having to pay for “more magic” when we often had it for free back then. While I am springing for DAH tickets, I was able to pay for them w/ award money I received from work…and it is dd’s birthday BUT I am also only doing ONE character buffet (1900 PF), for breakfast (less $$) instead of 4 or 5 of them. We are opting to not do the dining plan, and doing more QS than TS than previous trips. I am skipping our usual moderate stay at POR for Pop Century and saving us $300+. I can afford to do all these things, but I can’t bring myself to pay the premium to do so.
I can’t fully weigh in on all of this until after our trip in a few weeks, but I agree that there seems to be a lot of paying for magic.
That is exactly why I am excited to go solo next Feb for Princess Half Marathon weekend! I am going to book all of trhe ADRs that would have been crazy expensive to book for a family of 5 (especially when you know full well that your kids are not going to come close to finishing that $70 steak they ordered). I am actually going with a friend so we will share the cost of the room.
Even this upcoming trip we have streamlined a bit by leaving the 2 grandmother’s at home (they were totally fine with it ) and I can imagine that we will be that much faster getting from point A to point B. Cost wise it will make a big difference. My mom in particular was the worst offender of saying yes to some booking (eg MNSSHP) and then last minute saying she was too tired to go. Non-refundable money completely down the drain! That is one of the difficult parts is that you are not quite sure how 7 people are going to feel from day to day 6 months in advance. You make your best guess but if you are off base then you eat the cost.
I’m going to add this, which will come across as judgmental, I realize. I suppose, in a roundabout sort of way, it is.
But the fact is, most of the people I see posting here are CHOOSING the most expensive options for Disney. Staying on property? ADRs? Paying for Holiday Parties? All of these things make the price of the Disney trip far more.
But try staying off property instead. Rent a condo and drive to the parks. Only eat QS or low-end TS once during the day when possible. Don’t pay more for Park hoppers if you are going 4+ days. Drive (if feasible) and don’t fly.
We have done week-long Disney trips with a family for 7 for under $4000, including hotels and gas money to get there, staying in a resort with full kitchen, 3 bedrooms, etc.
So, while we may lament prices, don’t forget that an awful lot of those prices are by CHOICE.
I don’t pay for anything extra, but my experience is still impacted. MK closes at 6pm during my August holiday because they’ve realised that they can sell Halloween party tickets over 2 months before Halloween. I can’t watch the night time fireworks from the place I used to, because they’ve realised they can charge people to stand there, give them some cookies and call it a dessert party.
It’s not how much I’ve got to spend to have a good time because I’m not choosing the expensive option, it’s that I don’t get what I’m paying for because Disney have worked out how to charge extra for it.
For me though, there will be limits to what I am willing to forgo otherwise it will not be an enjoyable vacation which is the point. Like we will definitely fly. I am being more budget aware about lodging and some ADRs (did not fully consider cost of last time). Really am just trying to find a balance that is reasonable for us. Luckily for us it is not an financial hardship to book certain options but it goes back to even if you have the money to spend do you still want to spend that much money for that particular experience. That in the end is a very individual decision.
I don’t think that is Disney’s doing, exactly. Instead, crowds have grown to the point where NO ONE can get a good view any more without breaking into a fist fight. As a result, Disney wanted to offer people who are willing to pay for it to NOT have to put up with those crowds. If they stopped offering the dessert party, then those reserved places will be just as overrun as everywhere else.
If the crowds weren’t so bad, they wouldn’t have needed to create a reserved area to begin with.
And as far as the Halloween Party, etc. They don’t do those every night. In fact, they only close at 6:00 4 nights for the entire month of August.
Discussing the party season, I refuse to take my family again during party season. We went in September 2016 and there were 3 parties that week, along with one night of no fire works and the park closing at 8pm. We wanted to see MK at night, as I refuse to pay for my family of 5 to attend at those prices, and the park was a madhouse. I had to plan my park days around those parties, which made things more complicated. We just went this past May and it was so much nicer not having to worry about them and being able to stay until park closing at 10pm in MK without feeling like a sardine. End rant.
I realise it’s not every night. But you were saying people who were complaining were choosing to do the expensive things. I’m choosing not to, and so getting a lesser experience. And it was actually pretty easy to get a good view of Wishes without any fist fights. But they still had a dessert party for it. And why do fist fights break out now? Because Disney chose to have a projection show, meaning everyone needs to be (for a good view anyway) in the hub…meaning people are more likely to pay a premium to get out of the crowds. They know what they’re doing.
^ This. When I look back at my plans for HS for my last trip, so many of the attractions we did are history. And EPCOT is just plain tired - Future World is a shell of its former self, and is more of an attraction hospice/graveyard IMO. I remember the first time I went to EP back in 1990 and it was fantastic, with so much to see and do.
Re the original post, I also don’t like the monetization of everything. Merch everywhere doesn’t bother me that much, as I don’t have to buy it (although I think they could put all the space utilized by gift shops to much better use). What bothers me is how you now have to pay for things that used to be free. Used to have a great spot to watch parades/fireworks? Nope, it’s now roped off and you have to pay $$$ for a crappy dessert party to watch from there now. FPs available on the day for anyone in the park, regardless of whether they are on-site or not? Nope, now on-site guests get first crack at FPPs at 60 days out, and off-site guests are fighting for scraps at 30 days. Add on the proliferation of hard ticket parties taking away more and nights at MK (MNSSHP starts in freaking August!) and the increase in “plaid” VIP tours and you have a situation where those with more money to burn are be able to get much more out of their trips. It is turning the whole experience into a haves versus haves-not situation, where it used to be very egalitarian with the only major difference being how nice of a resort you were willing to pony up for.
I actually hate seeing others post about how the magic is slipping, because it confirms to me that I am not imagining things. I still get a chill when I see the castle in the distance on arrival day, I still feel full of hope walking up that hill to the train station at MK, and I still linger a minute before passing through onto main Street, just to imprint that feeling in my heart.
It hurts to be let down by what you assumed would always be, but times change, and the old ways evolve into something new, and not usually into something better. That is why we idolize the past. Often I remind myself that while it would be awesome to take a time machine back to the early days in the park, I would be truly disappointed if it hadn’t changed at all. It’s hard to balance progress with keeping the old ways. There isn’t much of that anywhere these days. Sadly, Disney does appear to be putting profit and growth far above maintaining the integrity of Walt’s ways (In my head, I imagine some young whipper-snapper in The boardroom shouting “What does it matter anymore, he’s dead ! Let’s make some money here!”). Sigh.
I guess I’m less cynical. I think they originally saw that people were complaining that they couldn’t get a good place to see the fireworks/show. So, they oblige folks by giving those who can afford to an opportunity to get a good spot, but offer the dessert party as well to make it seem/feel more value-add even though it really is about the premium view.
Then as technology for projection mapping improved they decide to apply it to the castle. This, of course, brings in more crowds and therefore heightens demand for the dessert party as a by-product.
But I don’t believe they said, “Hey, how can we add something that will make people mad and want to pay us more money?”
One could argue that you can STILL see the fireworks from a distance without paying anything and NOT see the projection mapping exactly the same as you could before. But because there is projection mapping now, people WANT to see it up close. So Disney has given MORE MAGIC, but they are dinged for it.
Oh I think every company in America is saying “how can we turn more of a profit?l”. Paid for ad ons have always been the way. Grocery stores selling candy at checkout, upsell alcoholic drinks at dinner. It’s business 101. Unfortunately for Disney it does seem to be taking away a bit of the magic fir many. I mean, if they want everyone to have a good view let less people into the parks
I have no problem with progress, updates, plussing, and refreshing of attractions. In fact, I want to see all of these things.
Along with everything I said above, there is one addition to EPCOT Center that I think fits perfectly with the theme, and belongs exactly in the land where it was placed:
I hate that we lost Horizons for it, especially given that, as we’re seeing now, there’s still expansion area available. But I think that it fits the Future World theme very well, and is a solid addition to Future World.
I’m a big fan of the Fantasyland expansion. I don’t think anything there is a true E-ticket, but that’s perfectly fine in my book. This is an excellent example of an improvement replacing an area that needed attention desperately - and that should not be a surprise, as Mickey’s ToonTown Fair was not initially intended to be as long running as it went.
All this to say, I’m not opposed to the parks growing, changing, evolving. I just happen to think that the last CEO that understood the parks, and treated them as a production in their own right, rather than simply an extension of the screen media, was Eisner.