Yes, it is rather frustrating while planning our (early!) December trip that for a decent HEA view I have the choice to battle CL8/9 crowds or pay $260 for my family to attend the dessert party. There are parties on FOUR nights of the week in December! I’m with you there…that whole situation almost makes me want to skip HEA and MK on non-party days altogether.
I have a number of advantages when it comes to WDW.
As a relatively new convert to the cult — my first proper visit was last August — I don’t miss things that are gone, because I never knew them. I’ll never know if HEA is a catastrophe compared with Wishes because I never saw it. I just know that HEA was amazing.
Oddly, perhaps, I’m not that into Disney — I don’t watch the movies, and hardly know any of the characters — and I hold no particular candle for Walt Disney. So I’m not bothered about changes in tone or atmosphere or ideology. I take WDW as it is, and it’s pretty great.
I’m single and childless, so I have a reasonable wad of disposable income and I don’t have to worry about the fact that four tickets for the HEA dessert party is just an unconscionably large amount of money to spend on an 18 minute firework display slash projection show and some OK cakes.
All this being said, I think a pretty wide range of budgets can be accommodated at WDW. You don’t have to stay on property, but if you really want to, the All-Star resorts are not crazy money, and you do get free airport transfers for your whole family. If you book a package you can even get some meals thrown in, too.
There’s a wide variety of food options, up to and including bringing your own. They don’t bar you from doing that.
I think charging hotel guests for parking was a pretty outrageous move. It didn’t affect me — they’re not charging UK guests yet, and I won’t have a car on property anyway — but I do stay in hotels that charge for parking in the UK, even though it really irritates me.
If Disney started charging resort fees, I’d be very annoyed to the point of being put off staying on property altogether. They’re just a scam.
As for ticketed events and dessert parties. I think they’re a legitimate way to offer something extra to people who are willing to pay. I’m certainly glad of the dessert parties. Lots of people seem to like MNSSHP and MVMCP. Sure, it means shorter opening hours, but then they’re short during the non-summer seasons anyway. And they’re not every night. You just have to plan a bit. And there are three other parks.
I agree. The $35 NFL game ticket I paid for in 1996 is now $125 and instead of going to all 8 games, I go to one a year now. Instead of going to Disney once every 2 years, it will probably once every 3 or 4 now. And honestly, in my opinion, being able to afford to go every year/multiple times every year sure seems like the “money grab” really doesn’t factor in. But I guess everyone has their own situation/opinion.
Aren’t they building gondolas?
That counts for something.
Having said that…
What you have said about the lack of attractions, with the max theming resonates with me. When avatarland opened, my first thought was, “just two rides in all that space? Really?” And same with ToystoryLand, and SWland.
I have always kind of marveled at how nifty Fantasyland is, in that one can ride so many rides, and see shows, and meet & greets in such a small area, whereas in, say, Epcot, there seems to be miles of walking and a lot of empty space to see half that many attractions. Sure the scope of some of them might be a little larger, but… there’s a LOT of… space… in Epcot.
Also, I will never understand the mindset that says, “We’ve opened the stores exclusively for [AP holders, DVCers, resort guests, other special people]”, as if having exclusive access just to buy stuff is some kind of special thing.
Having said that…
I deeply appreciate the attention to detail in the theming everywhere, and I sincerely hope that never stops. I like that merely eating a meal can be an attraction (SciFi or 50s Prime Time in HS come to mind). That’s a cool thing compared to other “ordinary” theme parks, and WDW has set the standard. Yes, there’s a price to match, for sure. But it’s also what makes WDW special.
Great post, well-written, and thought-provoking.