Disney+ has finally made it to the UK and I’ve just started watching The Imagineering Story. (If you’re in the US and you haven’t watched it yet then you should be ashamed of yourself and your membership of this site should be revoked.)
I’d held off watching it for a week or two because I wasn’t sure I was ready to immerse myself in anything park-related. I’ve mostly avoided these forums and I’ve muted the various groups and blogs I follow because it was just too painful to be reminded of the reality of what’s going on. My late June trip (which I’ve cancelled) was so perfectly planned and was going to be so magical that it’s just, well, a bit heartbreaking if I think about it.
But today I bit the bullet and watched the first episode.
It was fascinating — of course — but it made me realise a few things.
First, I really want to go to Disneyland. I’d never really understood the hero worship of Walt Disney until now, because I didn’t know the history. Disneyland was his park and he went there and walked down Main Street and that makes it special.
Second, I almost feel like the Disney parks are not as good as they used to be. Watching the old footage made me think that they’ve maybe lost some of the original excitement and wonder. Have they lost their way a little? And what is their fate now that Bob Chapek is running the show. (I mistyped “running” just then and it autocorrected to “ruining”. Hmm.)
Third, it’s made me rethink my entire touring and visiting strategy.
I’ve been aware for some time that I’ve had a tendency to rush from one attraction to the next and I’ve kept promising myself that I’ll try harder to stop and smell the roses. I even posted a thread last year about how my philosophy was changing.
I feel even more strongly that the temptation to see WDW as a collection of rides that you must get through as fast as possible must be resisted. There’s so much richness in the detail you could surely spend a wonderful day at any of the parks without even going on a single ride.
I think the temptation to turn WDW into a hyper-planned, military operation arises from the sense that time at WDW is precious and limited, and this leads me to my first idea: I need to take a much longer trip.
WDW sells 14 day park hopper tickets (which include the water parks and Memory Maker) to UK residents. I currently have two of them sitting in my MDE, independent of any package or other booking. I really think my next trip should be a 14 day trip so that I can relax about “having” to get it all done. Or worrying that I’ll lose a day — or two! — to rain or even a hurricane.
In terms of flights and park tickets, a 14 day trip costs no more than my standard six or nine day trip. What does cost more, obviously, is food and accommodation. So what’s the strategy here?
I do like staying on-property. I do like the convenience. And the theming of the resorts, though I’ve never taken the time to enjoy the ones I’ve stayed at as I’m always on a mission to get to the parks and stay there till bedtime. And, yes, there is the FPP advantage. I love the convenience that Pop offers now that it has the Skyliner. And the price isn’t crazy. I’d love to try ASMo, now that it’s been refurbished. And I really enjoyed my stay at CSR — I’m keen to go again. A split trip, perhaps?
(Question If I did, say, five nights at each, would I get the full FPP advantage for the entire length of my three stays, or only three five night booking windows?)
What about food? No (free) dining plan for me if I don’t book a package — which I don’t want to do because I already have park tickets. Paying out of pocket requires discipline and clever choices. I’m not a huge fan of counter service, not least because the table service restaurants often have a theming or character advantage which is the whole point of a smelling-the-roses trip.
And what about UOR? I know many of you won’t even countenance even a side-trip to the place, but it’s magical to me. Adding it does add significant cost, however. But that’s partly because I always insist on things like Express Passes and VIP tours.
So here’s where my head’s at.
A fourteen park day trip in 2021. (Of course I’d like to go sooner but there’s just too much uncertainty. I don’t want to book and plan something, only to be disappointed again. And I need to be clear where my finances are.)
A trip that’s focussed on imagineering. And that as far as possible avoids the insane demands of FOMO (“If I don’t ride Tron, the trip is a disaster!”)
A trip that avoids the “need” for upcharge. If I have fourteen nights, I’ll surely figure out a way to watch HEA without paying for a dessert party.
A trip that is planned — in the sense of being researched — but not (over) scheduled. I love the idea of waking up and thinking, “Hmm. I think I’ll go to AK today.” Or playing bus lottery. And I love the idea of playing ADR lottery: “I’m hungry. I wonder what restaurants have reservations available in the next hour.” And if there are none, well the counter service restaurants can’t all be bad.
A trip that I’m excited about, which gives me something to work for and look forward to, that I enjoy researching (I’d rather say that than “planning”) but does not obsess me and drive me insane. There’ll be no jumping on MDE at 7AM EST at 180 days for the 28 ADRs I’ve meticulously scheduled. There may even not be a spreadsheet!
Yup. I’m feeling like I’m ready to start thinking about Disney World again.
As for UOR, it can be done cheaply, if you’re smart about it and prioritise. Maybe I should try that.