"The Imagineering Story", or How You've All Been Doing Disney World Wrong

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.


You get the duration (up to 14 days I believe - but it might only be 10)

You get to make 14 days worth at 60 days out.

If you are going for more than that, you can book the 15th day of FPs the next day (at 59 days out) and the 16th day of FPs the next again day (58 days out).



Considering the overall theme of your trip, maybe staying offsite is a good choice? 60 days FPs are great for optimizing plans and avoid staying in line, but so much of Imagineering happens on queues, and having no schedule might help with being spontaneous and smelling the roses. Also, the pressure to optimize and do as much as possible will feel different if you are paying $90/night vs $250/night for sleeping.

Probably my favorite moment in WDW was FOP’s queue (it is so pretty, and you can hear the drummers and people watch). At my second, super optimized trip, I went 3 times in a day with FPs, but that magic was lost.

About food, if you have more days, you won’t need to optimize every meal for “specialness”, you will have time to waste on some not-so-special meals. And, for me, a quick service restaurant at off-peak times using mobile ordering can be really special :smile: (Satu’li, Docking bay 7, Bread service at Nomad’s, Cpt Cook’s, small bites at the Brown Derby lounge - you will research and figure out exactly what QS will feel special for you).


I agree with you.

None of my favourite things at WDW are rides, although Dumbo and PP may be exceptions to that rule.

  • walking through Harambe, Main Street, Frontierland and Liberty Square
  • queues for Splash, Kali, Jungle Cruise, Under the Sea, PP, Star Tours
  • Bay Lake and riding the boat around
  • the geyser and lobby at WL
  • listening to the band and pianist at GF
  • Victoria Falls lounge and some of the activities at AKL
  • Citizens of Hollywood
  • Dapper Dans and Casey’s pianist
  • and of course my happy place, World Showcase

You miss an awful lot of the queues with fastpass, you go past everything without being able to read the little signs and spot the cute things.


I went to DW twice with my family before going to DL on a school trip when I was 18. Now, both parks are very different since that time, but back then I preferred DW. I loved MGM Studios and the Cinderella castle. One exception was Space Mountain. Much better in DL.

We aren’t ones to run from attraction to attraction all day. We have talked to the Citizens of Hollywood, which was hilarious, and one of my kids played checkers with the Country Bears. We also enjoy the restaurants and just people watching. Do we do a lot of attractions? Yes. But do we neglect the other fun parts of DW? No. We also don’t really do a lot of upcharges either. We did do the dessert party last trip for HEA, but it was not the best thing about our trip. This next trip, our “upcharges” are parkhoppers and doing the photo session that is $50.

Someday though I would like to go back to DL. It’s changed so much and my DH wants to do Marvel land. Universal is part of the plan for about 2 years from now hopefully. We just can’t afford to do both DW and Universal in one trip for our family of 5.


I am, but not because you told me to


Some of us have known it’s not all about the rides for a while now!

Welcome to the club!


If you can go for 14 days, why not go for 16 or 17 and do 2 or 3 days in Universal? How about maybe 9 days on (WDW) site, one night at a universal hotel and a 7 day off site rental?

A new possibility is emerging.

I’ve always said that when that dark day comes when I bid goodbye to Calvin, I’ll jump straight on a plane and head to Disney World.

The problem with taking, say, a two week trip is that it’s a long time to leave Calvin with someone else — both for him and for them.

So perhaps the date of my next trip will be determined by Fate.

Whoa…that got dark. :confused:


Whenever I’m planning a Disney trip I have to think about Calvin and what arrangements I’ll need to make. I’m really attracted to a much longer WDW trip, but I think that may be impractical because of Calvin.

But a time will come when that won’t be a consideration, and perhaps that will be Fate’s way of telling me my next trip is due. A trip I really won’t be able to plan in advance. (But which I may well have the funds for by then . . .)

Despite the wailing and rending of garments of the joyless strain of Disney Twitter, that’s greatly overstated. For every Mister Toad’s Wild Ride there was an If You Had Wings. Horizons, the touchstone (and shibboleth) for that group, I never thought it was that great. If you put it side-by-side with Flight of Passage of Smuggler’s Run it would be, in the words of R. Peck, like pistol whipping a blind kid.

For some of us, that’s always been the case. I realize as a degenerate local and thus a destroyer of all things good and sacred, I never have the same press of time as those for whom it’s a much more occasional trip. But for me at least, and fair to say a number of my friends, it’s been about a time we can share together.


I forgot about that. Of course you wouldn’t want to be away from your closest family member for that long.

Here’s hoping that long trip won’t be for awhile (for Calvin’s sake).

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Meow :heart:


Yes! We go to DL enough to do that. Even with a kid, we slow down and enjoy the atmosphere. Frequently not even going on rides. On our first trip to WDW in January, we had a day of some frantic, getting on rides, but we realized that we didn’t like the precision scheduling. (It also helped that it was a last minute trip, as we booked 3 weeks in advance. That took all of the planning out of it.) It was great. Take in the atmosphere, food and just enjoy it for what it is.

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Can’t you do both? Plan a long trip for 2021, in which you will have to find a place for Calvin to stay, and set some money aside for an emergency WDW trip on the - hopefully very far away - day you say goodbye to Calvin. Maybe you can even make it into a DLR trip.

(whistles nonchalantly)

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Thanks for the tip. Glad you are feeling a little better :wink:

i like it. i plan on going much more relaxed for my rescheduled trip.