Friday, February 10, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of Disney World

So I’m back from my trip to Disney World and, as Goofy says on the Magical Express video “I need a vacation from my vacation.”

Don’t get me wrong I had a blast, but Disney World is not exactly a relaxing vacation. It’s more of a fun vacation.

Every time you go you always find something new to love, and every time you go, you always forget the horrors and things that annoy you most about the park. So before I forget, and so I can warn some of those who may be going in so you don’t make some of these same mistakes.

So I give to you the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Walt Disney World.

The Good

Okay let’s start out positive. I love the new Haunted Mansion Queue. When Walt Disney created the original Haunted Mansion in Disneyland, Imagineers, Marc Davis and Claude Coates debated over whether it should be funny or scary, and ultimately decided it should be both. Walt himself said the exterior should be unassuming.

When they re-did the attraction for Florida, the Imagineers wanted to give a bigger clue to the fact that there were going to be scares involved so they made the exterior more intimidating. However, they kind of eliminated the fact that this would be kind of a funny ride.

Fast forward to this past spring when a whole new additional queue was added, interactive bookshelves, a player organ, and more fun goofy busts as you walked in. It added a bit of lightness to the ride, so kids wouldn’t be so intimidated, and it is great.

Granted there are faults (the Poetess’s microphone doesn’t quite work as well as it could.) but over all it’s great.

Secondly, the new Star Tours is AWESOME! 54 different combinations of adventures, smoother than the previous ride, and C-3PO is much less annoying than “Rex” the previous “pilot”. Plus the 3-D advancements really add to getting you into the excitement.

We went to Hollywood Studios twice, and so we could see as many of the different scenarios as possible. We rode Star Tours seven times within those two days. Yes, seven times.

Star Tours is now easily a top 10 attraction for me.

Finally, we tried a few new restaurants. We were able to get reservations at Le Cellier, and it was still VERY good, but honestly it was probably the third best meal we had all week.

You truly do need to go out of the parks to get the truly awesome stuff.

We ate three restaurants out of the park Cape May Café, at the Beach Club, O’hana, at the Polynesian and California Grill at the Contemporary.

Cape May Café was good, but it was pretty much standard seafood buffet, good, but nothing great.

O’hana was fantastic. Our view was perfect (right across from the castle after closing time, but it was still lit up) and ot seemed to me that each course got better and better.

A little synopsis on O’hana is that it’s an all you can eat family style Hawaiian buffet where they bring the food to you.

We started out with the salad with a fantastic Honey Lime dressing, and a great peanut sauce. (Both of which we obtained recipes for and now have places in our refrigerator.)

This is followed by a Honey Coriander Chicken Wings and Pork Potstickers, which were amazing.

Third course was amazing skewers of steak, shrimp, pork and chicken, served with Udon Noodles and Broccoli.

Let me just say this, you know the food is good when I still have Chicken Wings left and I am opting to eat the broccoli.

This is followed by a phenomenal banana bread pudding.

If gluttony is a sin I pray for forgiveness, because I was never happier to be so sick.

A few nights earlier we had our “romantic dinner” at California Grill, on top of the Contemporary resort.

We had a great view, from the Wine room, over looking the back of the Bay out to the entire resort, with views across Orlando. Truly romantic.

We started with Flatbread made with Sopresseta Salami, Provolone and caramelized onions.

Mrs Potato Head followed this up the signature goat cheese ravioli, which was fantastic; I had a Dungeness Crab Stack with avocado, cucumber and tomato ginger vinaigrette. I can easily say that this was the sweetest crab I have ever tasted, with not a hint of fishiness to it. Fantastic.

The main course followed. My wife had a very good Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Goat Cheese Polenta, and honestly the polenta was the best part of it. I opted for the excellent Jumbo Scallops with risotto. The scallops were soft and tender, and the risotto was creamy and not at all over powering. I perfect accompaniment.

The dessert course followed. I’m not going to lie, I had read the fall menu and was kind of hoping they would still have the Apple Bread Pudding with Bacon ice cream, but alas, that was gone 4 months earlier. Oh well.

Instead I opted for a Winter Trio of Pear Napoleon, pear and marcona almond rice pudding, and pumpkin panna cotta. Very good, but it was no bacon ice cream.

We finished just in time to watch Wishes from a terrace on the other side of the building. Simply beautiful.

We actually had great views of all the fireworks that we saw. In total we saw Wishes three times, and Illuminations in Epcot once.

In addition to our rooftop view, we also stood right by the Walt Disney statue on our first night and later about ten feet from the curb in front of the castle. And yes….Magic Memories and You did make me cry.

Illuminations were great too, the show is what is it is, but from our dinner at Tokyo Dining it made for the most awesome pictures:

Now unfortunately there is some bad and some ugly.

Bottle Necking

First of all, the one thing that Disney can control that I hated was bottle necking. I understand trying to keep the theme of the attraction but there were so many attractions that we went to that basically had way too few doors and way to many pushy idiots.

All of these rides must do something about this problem:

Haunted Mansion (The one thing I hate about the ride.)
Tower of Terror
Stitch’s Great Escape (yes, I was FORCED to go on this and yes, it was as awful as everyone says it is.)
Turtle Talk with Crush
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor (not as bad as some of the rest)
Test Track

Whether it is yelling at people or creating another door, I don’t care but it’s a claustrophobics nightmare when you are trying to get into one of these things, and this is coming from someone who doesn’t mind standing on a crowded bus.

Rude Ass Entitled Jerks

Disney does provide exceptional service, and it is a nearly flawless company, as far as the running of the resort goes, that being said things are going to go wrong. I can accept that, which is why my complaints about the actual park are so brief.

Other people however, cannot accept that.

I agree with the business adage that the customer is always right, however it is important for us, as customers to realize that things are going to go wrong and not blow a gasket when things do go wrong. We also have to realize that just because we are guests in the park we do not get to do what we want.

The shorter, not as nice way of saying this is: “Shut up and stop acting like an ass.”

The first incident of that of this happening was on our first night there. We had reservations at the Crystal Palace at 5:45, we put our reservations in and their system went down. Were we hungry? Yes, of course we were. However, we were surrounded by people who could not accept that there could be a malfunction.
This picture has been added to lighten the mood of people being Pooh.

Let’s get this straight. You have a system that runs for 24 hours a day (assuming we are talking about the system that actually takes the reservations) 7 days a week, 52 weeks of the year, for let’s say the past 40 years. (With obvious technical advancements over the years.) And you don’t expect something to go wrong every so often? Yeah…does your power ever go out? Do you throw a hissy fit about it? Yeah, you’re an ass.

Not to forget the fact that this was a BUFFET! If you sit down and you are hungry you can get up and get more food!

People also throw complaints around when the table is not ready yet. I’m sorry, we should just kick the paying customer out of their seats because YOU have a 3pm reservation. The only time I think this might be appropriate, is if there is a price increase involved in your seating. If dinner costs twice as much than lunch and you are an hour from that price increase, you should be worried about the timing.

I do have to give high marks to one of the young hostesses at Le Cellier. There was a wait when we were there, and to quell the tensions she was legitimately cheerful, playful, had guests participate in Disney trivia. She just generally made for a much pleasant wait.


The second incident of this really just moves into the second thing that just irked me during my trip...teenagers.

I used to feel bad because I was annoyed by the South American Tour groups that basically took over the park at all times. “Tia Eliane” is probably the one most recognizable to people because they are usually the largest. I always was worried I was being a xenophobe, or maybe even a racist. I realized that it wasn’t the cultural differences that I was annoyed by it was the teenage entitlement.

I don’t think I’ve ever liked teenagers. Even when I was a teenager, most teens, including myself, annoyed me. I realize that I was an ass, and probably at a lot of times obnoxious.

Let’s get this straight for all teenagers who may be reading this. We know that you “love” your boyfriend or girlfriend, but we don’t need to see you hanging off them at every moment. We don’t need to see you walking while your arms around awkwardly wrapped her, and we definitely don’t want to see you making out with each other while we wait for a ride. I’m going to let teenagers know one thing…statistically, in this day and age, its most likely not going to last.

Granted, I had a small graduating class, but of the many different combinations of “couples” in my class. There is ONE that got married. ONE. So going by that statistic, out of 64 kids, that’s 3% of the class. Seriously, give it room to breath.

I remember riding Star Tours I think on our third or fourth run through and there was a group of three teenagers, two guys and a girl and one of the guys just was constantly just hanging off of the girl. It was to the point where I thought they were going to sit in the same seat, and it REALLY was to the point where they were sitting down, and when the Cast Member said to put on your “Pilot goggles” they mentioned they didn’t know they needed them.


You mean the 5 trays of glasses you passed on the way in and the 40 other people around you either holding or wearing their glasses already weren’t a big enough clue? Really?!

Oh but I know, cultural differences and all…yeah, these kids were Americans.

They also end up acting like asses on the rides themselves. During our last day we just barely beat a large tour group to getting on Splash Mountain. The person seating people asked if we wanted to sit in the front or the back, we chose the back and ended up riding in the same boat as six South American teenage girls. (You can bet I didn’t ask for a ride photo that time.)

The girls we were with were fine. They were having fun, but behaving, they were at Disney World and they were happy.

However, apparently some of their peers were behind us and were a bit annoying.

Constantly we are in the ride and here them announcing overhead ‘Please stop splashing, Keep your hands and arms in the boat….back row put your shirts back on.”

Excuse me?

At least we knew they weren’t talking about our boat.

As it turned out the boat they were apparently talking about had guys in the back row, as I noticed them as we were coming off.


The Colors…the Colors

However, I’ll give them an inch. There might have been a language barrier. But then there were the people on Pirates of the Caribbean.

Okay let’s get this straight, when they tell you “no flash pictures” there is a reason for it 1) It takes you out of the experience
2) Your pictures are going to turn out horrible.

The thing is, these were Americans (or Canadians, not sure), these were adults. You are taking pictures of your kids blank expressions of a ride that you can’t tell what it is, and you’ll probably get off the ride and realize that the pictures were pure crap and figure out you’re an idiot. (But you probably won’t.)

That was the last straw. After 8 days, and tons of fun we were done with the people and decided to say goodbye to the parks.

Maybe it’s the immediate impact of the bad experience, but as of right now our next vacation will most likely be somewhere quiet, with few people…. Siesta Key again?

But then again, in Early December you’ve got low crowds and Disney Christmas lights…