Walt Disney World has made steps in the precise course up to now in 2024, enhancing the visitor expertise in measurable methods with the return of all-day Park Hopping, Eating Plans, and finish of park reservations for many vacationers. There’s nonetheless stuff to repair, and this checklist covers little-but-big methods to perform that.
What we imply by ‘huge little’ issues to repair is the very minor perks or choices that always go unnoticed or are missed by themselves, however make a serious or significant distinction in mixture. These are usually not excessive stage and we don’t get many questions on any of them at this level, however they do matter as a result of all of it provides up.
Frankly, this what Walt Disney World is all about. It’s not simply the little particulars in themed design or placemaking, it’s additionally that consideration to element within the visitor expertise. Going above and past in methods huge and small. Enhancements visitors could not discover in isolation or principally wouldn’t mourn if lacking, however that collectively make Walt Disney World really feel like a well-oiled machine and a world-class trip vacation spot the place each visitor is a VIP. Giving visitors issues they by no means knew they wanted.
Therefore ‘huge little’ issues. That’s why you gained’t discover Disney’s Magical Categorical, free FastPass, or Further Magic Hours on this checklist. And even complaints about shorter park hours, lacking nighttime spectaculars, or subpar upkeep and journey downtime. These are all ‘big-big’ issues about which we nonetheless do hear common complaints and are very noticeable cuts or points. That’s the stuff everyone seems to be speaking about–and for good motive, because it’s both significantly missed or core competencies.
This checklist is extra under-the-radar issues and magical moments that completely may transfer the needle on visitor satisfaction, intent to revisit or suggest metrics, particularly in mixture. However individually, virtually nothing on this checklist is on the stage that even lifelong Walt Disney World followers are usually not reserving journeys or returning because of. The absence issues, however most of this doesn’t actively stand out as being a problem.
Hopefully all of this is smart. On condition that common readers are sometimes longtime Walt Disney World followers who “get” what makes the place particular, I think it’ll resonate. And if not, we will return to grousing concerning the Disney’s Magical Categorical elimination and whether or not Epic Universe will “power” Disney’s hand to convey again a few of these extinct visitor perks in 2025 or past. However for now, right here’s my checklist of huge little issues that Walt Disney World must convey again…
Resort Supply – It boggles my thoughts that this has not returned. Again in my day, Walt Disney World would magically transfer merchandise to procure within the theme parks to your resort for pick-up so that you didn’t have to hold souvenirs and stuff round all day. This free service was a pleasant on-site perk, and a good way to not want a pack mule by the top of the day.
Like different issues, resembling Disney’s Magical Categorical, this “perk” was mutually advantageous. Walt Disney World’s calculation was that visitors would spend more cash on merchandise within the parks in the event that they didn’t have to hold their purchases round all day lengthy. They usually had been right. I’m not even a giant merchandise individual, and I’ve misplaced depend of what number of instances we’ve opted in opposition to shopping for one thing in the previous couple of years as a result of we didn’t wish to lug it round all day. “We’ll simply seize it on the finish of the evening on the Emporium.” (Well-known final phrases that just about by no means come true–not less than for us.)
I perceive why Walt Disney World didn’t really feel the necessity to convey this again in late 2021 (when just about all the things else was going again to regular), as provide chain disruptions resulted in empty cabinets and merchandise shortages. So there was actually no incentive to supply the perk–the restricted number of objects was promoting out, regardless.
Nonetheless, as soon as 2022 rolled round and the bullwhip impact resulted in a ton of overstock…properly, that appeared just like the opportune time to convey again Resort Supply to ‘incentivize’ the acquisition of that merchandise. Perhaps somebody forgot about it? Maybe it was a ploy to extend rental of makeshift buying carts (e.g. strollers)? Suppose somebody at Simon, proprietor of the Orlando Premium Retailers, is paying a kickback to not convey it again to maintain these lengthy traces at Character Warehouse?!
Joking (however are we?) apart, the continued absence of issues like Resort Supply suggests to me that both staffing shortages are usually not absolutely addressed or Walt Disney World is in any other case not firing on all cylinders. Although it’s pitched as a perk, I strongly suspect Walt Disney World is leaving cash on the desk by not providing Resort Supply. As such, I’m considerably sympathetic to the absence of this–however then once more, I assumed the identical factor about Disney’s Magical Categorical…and but!
Lunch & Breakfast at Be Our Visitor – There was a degree when transferring to the identical prix fixe menu for lunch and dinner was the precise transfer for Be Our Visitor Restaurant. Desk service eating was in high-demand, visitors had been spending freely as pent-up demand performed out, and there have been staffing shortages that lowered capability.
That point is over. Be Our Visitor Restaurant is now not as well-liked because it as soon as was. It’s most likely not even among the many high 25 most tough Advance Eating Reservations regardless of an inherent benefit of being an in-castle restaurant at Magic Kingdom themed to Magnificence and the Beast. ADR availability is plentiful, as are spots on the Stroll-Up Waitlist. The final time I dined at Be Our Visitor, the restaurant was lower than half full and the server to visitor ratio was surprisingly excessive.
Suffice to say, it now not is smart to deal with Be Our Visitor Restaurant the identical method in 2024 because it did in 2021-2022. That is doubly true for the reason that counter service restaurant and breakfast ‘scene’ at Magic Kingdom is pretty bleak. Not solely is it dangerous, however it’s busy. I don’t learn about you, however nothing makes a mediocre meal at Cosmic Ray’s or Pinocchio Village Haus extra satisfying than ready in an extended line or having to hunt for a desk.
Not solely that, however bringing again the counter service lunch and breakfast at Be Our Visitor could be enjoyable–memorable meals that will enable extra visitors to step inside Beast’s Fort. Be Our Visitor Restaurant continues to be a winner from a thematic perspective, and experiencing that go away a long-lasting impression on a variety of youngsters and their households. (And whereas we’re at it, convey again the devoted Beast meet & greet for dinner. This smile and wave from a distance stopped making sense 2 years in the past.)
Pandora Rangers – Since its opening, Pandora – World of Avatar in Animal Kingdom has been residence to a few of Walt Disney World’s weirdest leisure. And I adore it for that. It began with these hippie kinda people who had been like tour guides that will showcase the wildlife. Unsurprisingly, these had been very brief lived–I don’t assume these performers made it quite a lot of months in 2017. (Could possibly be fallacious, however I don’t recall seeing them after that.)
One yr later, Disney found out the right answer with the the Pandora Rangers. Particularly, when the Pandora Utility Go well with walk-around character made its debut within the land. That is just like the army AMP Go well with counterpart in entrance of Pongu Pongu, however not evil. As an alternative, the pleasant pilot of this engages in tacky and enjoyable banter with visitors, explaining what he’s discovered on Pandora.
Maybe I’m a sucker for mechs (I’m an enormous Steel Gear Strong fan), however I at all times liked the Pandora Utility Go well with and thought it added lots to the land. Crowds at all times gathered to see this towering performer, which is kind of the sight to behold. This particularly makes the checklist as a result of, for all of its magnificence and recognition, Pandora can really feel (paradoxically) useless in the course of the center of the day.
Whilst each rides put up hour-plus waits and Satuli Canteen is busy, the land itself is quiet and uncrowded…as a result of everyone seems to be in line or consuming. Bringing again the Pandora Rangers would assist give the land extra of a lived-in high quality and assist visitors recognize the fantastic thing about the land itself that they could in any other case overlook whereas racing round doing the rides and consuming the meals.
Brunch at California Grill – I’ll be trustworthy, I don’t assume this issues to 99.99% of visitors. Brunch on the Prime was a really restricted expertise, and I’m fairly assured that it was principally well-liked with repeat visitors. Which means it was excellent, but additionally that fewer new visitors had been having fun with it.
Regardless, Brunch on the Prime at California Grill was our favourite eating expertise at Walt Disney World and we’re amongst this small however vocal minority who would like to see it introduced again. After all, if it does return, it’d most likely go the way in which of Takumi-Tei or Monsieur Paul and have an exorbitant worth enhance that will doubtless make it a non-starter for us. (Even when not, having a brand new child most likely accomplishes the identical.) However we’d prefer to not less than have the choice and realize it’s there.
To make this extra broadly interesting, I’d additionally add eradicating the prix fixe menu at California Grill. That is one other meal service that has outlived its usefulness, and there needs to be a greater answer to the issue of visitors wanting ‘free fireworks’ viewing than this. It was enjoyable for the fiftieth, however it’s gotten previous–and develop into unambitious.
Residents – It appeared like an inevitability given the cuts through the years, however shedding the Residents of Hollywood at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Residents of Predominant Avenue at Magic Kingdom is such a colossal blow now that we’ve felt their absence for therefore lengthy. In each parks, these ‘residents’ are roaming “Streetmosphere” performers who inhabit the doorway space boulevards, giving these streets a way of life.
It’s at all times a pleasure to encounter one of many characters or their random reveals, and the ‘residents’ potential to single out particular visitors and make them really feel particular or like a star was one thing particular. That is the kind of factor that doesn’t present up on visitor satisfaction surveys and is an “simple” lower for administration obsessive about spreadsheets or no matter, however it makes a world of distinction for the folks impacted. These private connections and little moments are an enormous deal.
We at all times liked doing lunch at Plaza Restaurant in Magic Kingdom, hoping that one of many residents would drop in for hilarity or hijinks. Likewise, we made a degree of watching the end-of-day Funniest Citizen “comedy-off” on Sundown Boulevard. These performers is probably not a synergistic IP addition just like the Mirabel meet & greet, however you higher imagine they had been a “model deposit” that embodied the guts and soul of Predominant Avenue at Magic Kingdom and Outdated Hollywood at DHS.
EPCOT Competition Seminars – In all probability an unpopular opinion, however EPCOT Meals & Wine Competition has been coasting for the final 4 years. It has rested on the laurels of its longstanding status, whereas serving up simplified menus and principally crowd-pleasing delicacies–however not a lot else. Final yr did get higher because of the Disney100 cubicles, however Meals & Wine was nonetheless the weakest occasion of the yr at EPCOT. It’s well-liked at this level as a result of hype machine and inertia. Which isn’t to say there aren’t implausible dishes (there are!), however it’s been a shadow of its former self.
That is partly comprehensible because the occasion has develop into a sufferer of its personal reputation, with longer traces and better demand necessitating less complicated dishes that may attraction to extra palates. A fair larger motive why it’s the worst occasion of the yr at EPCOT is as a result of it now not presents one thing further.
Give it some thought–each different competition has meals and. Meals and artwork. Meals and flowers. Meals and holidays. A few of them even have higher meals. However Meals & Wine simply has the meals (properly, and the wine–however that’s a part of the meals). By shedding the seminars & demonstrations, superstar chef appearances, particular meals, merchandise & e book signings, culinary panels, and different low-cost or free occasions, Meals & Wine has gone from the largest-scale occasion of the yr at EPCOT to the smallest.
That is clearly criticism–all the things on this checklist is–however that is one other entry the place I’m keen to offer Walt Disney World the good thing about the doubt. Lots of the EPCOT Meals & Wine Competition choices with upcharges with astronomical worth tags. Disney is leaving a ton of cash on the desk by not doing them, and if there’s something we all know concerning the firm, it’s that they’re huge followers of cash. So their absence suggests to me lingering staffing points or a scarcity of house. Right here’s hoping that CommuniCore Corridor will treatment this (and in addition, that its building tempo is accelerated and the venue is definitely accomplished by this fall).
Aunt Polly’s & Tomorrowland Terrace – One other comparatively area of interest one provided that the primary of those eating places was solely open just a few weeks per yr (I’m guessing a few of you will have by no means even heard of it). The opposite had a perpetual identification disaster and acquired a brand new menu like each different quarter.
Nonetheless, Magic Kingdom wants extra selection on the counter service entrance and in addition extra capability. These two issues would assist enhance the visitor expertise, and lower-traffic places like Aunt Polly’s and Tomorrowland Terrace may have the latitude to serve creative and enjoyable meals, whereas additionally serving to relieve the strain whereas additionally enhancing the park’s delicacies. Two small however significant internet positives.
Oh, and if Pecos Invoice really goes to be redone as Tiana’s Palace (I’m skeptical at this level), Magic Kingdom will completely want extra counter service capability. That’s non-negotiable, until the ‘answer’ is consuming on high of trash cans.
Jedi Coaching Academy – Even pre-closure, it appeared like there was some need inside Walt Disney World to consolidate Star Wars choices in Galaxy’s Edge and reduce the off-planet choices. I by no means fairly understood this, particularly with Imagineering and the Lucasfilm Story Group being so steadfast concerning the guidelines and character integrity (one other rant for an additional day) that means that the land was restricted in who and what it may showcase. Star Excursions was the one huge exception, since they discovered a strategy to make The Sacred Story™️ work with the brand new land.
In any case, it’s completely loopy to me that Jedi Coaching Academy has not returned. The Trials of the Temple interactive stage present was completely adored by visitors, and was a ‘magical second’ for therefore many youngsters and their households who had the possibility to take part. It was the form of trip-defining expertise for a subset of visitors that simply justified its existence. A kind of issues that, when you had the fortune to do, you knew simply how particular it was.
Whilst somebody who by no means acquired to expertise it firsthand or by means of the eyes of my little one, it was simple for me to see that Jedi Coaching Academy was one thing particular. A kind of little ways in which Walt Disney World captured lightning in a bottle and turned a easy factor right into a “Core Reminiscence.” Stuff like this that has a propensity to forge a brand new era of followers is what ought to really be sacred for Walt Disney World. Whereas we’re at it, convey again the paintbrush scavenger hunt on Tom Sawyer Island!
Toppings Bars – You may be considering at this level that Magic Kingdom counter service eating is a sore topic for me. Gee, I don’t know why you’d draw that conclusion, that is solely the third entry on the checklist that pertains to the topic. I may simply rant for just a few thousand extra phrases concerning the sorry state of the flagship fort park’s quick meals scene.
Toppings bars made Cosmic Ray’s and Pecos Invoice palatable. It additionally helped that that they had higher and extra bold menus again in 2019, earlier than slicing corners and switching to meat suppliers that promote regardless of the grade is correct above pet food. This can be a level we already belabored in The Demise of Pecos Invoice, so I’m not going to beat a useless horse (hopefully the meat provider follows my lead).
I’ll simply add that I’m skeptical that is even saving Walt Disney World all that a lot cash. Certain, it reduces visitor abuse of the toppings bar–however the present strategy is rather more labor-intensive, and labor isn’t low cost anymore! There’s gotta be a center floor compromise (staffed toppings bar?), as a result of the present final result is that two of Magic Kingdom’s greatest eating places are serving solely marginally-edible delicacies.
Cinderella Fort Dream Lights – I might argue that this isn’t a ‘huge little’ factor–it did and would trigger followers to e book journeys–however I believe Walt Disney World would possibly disagree. Regardless, I’ll by no means cross up the chance to sing the praises of the Cinderella Fort Dream Lights. These icicle lights had been considered one of our favourite issues about Christmas at Walt Disney World for the decade-plus previous to them being cancelled in 2020. We spent many a late evening on Predominant Avenue, merely gazing down at these resplendent lights, savoring the scene. I misplaced depend of what number of instances we did this through the years–most likely over 100.
For individuals who have by no means had an opportunity to see the Cinderella Fort Dream Lights, they’re nothing in need of spectacular. A few of you cynics would possibly assume such a bodily gentle show is quaint or antiquated, surpassed by the benefit and adaptability of projections. That these of us who miss the Dream Lights are merely clouded by nostalgia and sentimentality, ignoring the daytime visible blight, set up, and ease of the bodily icicle lights.
I wholeheartedly disagree. No projections can match the greater than 200,000 tiny white lights that illuminate Cinderella Fort and rework it right into a veritable ice palace. The Dream Lights would cease you in your tracks, with the resplendent bodily show being an absolute jaw-dropper. Phrases, photographs, and video completely can’t do it justice. I’m not usually one for the flowery language in Disney’s press releases, however even the corporate’s advertising groups undersold the Cinderella Fort Dream Lights. No matter reward you’ve heard concerning the Dream Lights, it’s true. All of it.
And after seeing the underwhelming ‘Frozen Vacation Shock’ (I don’t assume we ever lined this, however how did Disney spend a lot effort and power and find yourself with unanimated projections that had been worse than the short-term ones they did in 2020?!), I’m much more satisfied of this. I’m not a lot for conspiracy theories, however I’d like to imagine that somebody purposefully made ‘Frozen Vacation Shock’ dangerous in order that it’d be simpler to justify slicing it and bringing again the Cinderella Fort Dream Lights. Right here’s hoping!
The Kiss Goodnight – I’m a agency believer that first and remaining impressions matter lots for Walt Disney World, which is why I’m such a fan of the improved arrival expertise and streamlining of bagcheck with these Evolv complete physique scanners. It’s an evening and day distinction for the previous course of–or present one at Disneyland. (Critically, it’s. We complain concerning the dangerous–however it’s additionally essential to reward the great!)
Whereas this isn’t as impactful (figuratively) for as lots of visitors, the Kiss Goodnight is a kind of ‘huge little’ issues that left such an indelible impression on the visitors who noticed it that it may assist flip them into lifelong followers. As soon as once more, phrases, photographs, and even video can’t do it justice. We nonetheless tried, singing its praises in “The Kiss Goodnight: The Biggest Factor Most Visitors Don’t See” and “The Kiss Goodnight, Revisited.” (Two articles about one thing that lasts solely a few minutes–that ought to say all the things that must be mentioned!)
The Kiss Goodnight was a kind of if you realize, you realize magical moments. It was an emotional powerhouse for therefore many individuals as a result of it’s the fruits of a fun-filled go to to Magic Kingdom. Throughout this second of pause, you let your guard down and Disney’s cautious tugging at your heartstrings “will get you” as you’re already concurrently drained and happy on the finish of an extended day within the park. That is Walt Disney World at its greatest, and the form of ‘huge little’ magical second that the corporate ought to acknowledge is rather more essential than it may appear. Particularly if there’s no intention of bringing again Disney’s Magical Categorical, free FastPass, Further Magic Hours, and so on!
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What ‘huge little’ issues would you prefer to see Walt Disney World convey again? Suppose it’s these magical moments and different smaller-scale issues which have a method of constructing each visitor really feel particular or going above and past which are the guts and soul of Walt Disney World? Which of the entries on this checklist would you prefer to see return? Do you agree or disagree with our selections? Any questions we will help you reply? Listening to your suggestions–even while you disagree with us–is each attention-grabbing to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas under within the feedback!