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June 01, 2012

Four Reasons Why I Hate Walt Disney World


Walt-disney-world-orlandoI recently took my family to Orlando's Walt Disney World, our first visit to the "House of the Mouse." For my two kids, this was certainly one of their trips of a lifetime, and they're itching to go back for more. The whole place is an incredibly impressive experience, and the Disney memory-making machine is certainly a well-oiled success. In 2010, almost 17 million people visited the Magic Kingdom alone; the company's worldwide parks and resorts generated a mammoth $11 billion in revenues in 2011. Big numbers aside, though, there were some areas where I left feeling a little disappointed. Here's why.

Food Fit for a Princess? Hardly.
I wasn't expecting gourmet food and knew that everything would be theme-park prices, but the food we had at both the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios was a huge letdown. We even tried dinner at the Animal Kingdom Lodge's more upscale Kidani restaurant and left feeling that even its more exotic menu was dumbed-down for mass consumption. Given the huge demand and global clientele, I think Disney's missing a trick in introducing bolder, more imaginative flavors to its theme-park fare. Yell at me all you like about tasting the food at Epcot, but why can't this be a resort-wide focus? Perhaps then I might feel less aggrieved at parting with $40 for lunch for a family of four.

See a photo gallery of scenes from around Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom theme park

Crowded House
This is more of a personal failing, but the Disney crowds took their toll on this family. We hit the parks at opening time each day, but by lunchtime it quickly became apparent that we needed to be more meticulous and ruthless in our planning. The lines were beginning to snake back into 60-minute wait territory, while just moving from ride to ride became an ordeal. These were rookie mistakes, no doubt, so pay heed to all the online advice and tips for ways to maximize your time in the parks. Take advantage, too, of the Disney FastPass program, but be strategic about where you're going to pull your "fast" one (as there's a time window on how often you can exercise the privilege). On the upside, though, heading back to our resort in the early afternoon meant we had lots more time to enjoy less-crowded amenities like pools and waterslides.

Mickey Doesn't Do Green?
Walt Disney World Resort has made a pledge to minimize "its overall impact on the environment as it encourages and inspires environmentally responsible behavior on the part of its Cast Members, Guests, and business partners," though from my perspective, this commitment was not easy to spot once you entered the resort campus. A fleet of over 270 buses, making it the third-largest transportation fleet in the state of Florida, racks up probably thousands of trips every day, yet not a single of these buses was running on clean fuel as far as I could see (I even asked one driver, who told me they'd experimented but it was too costly). Recycling bins were available throughout the parks we visited, but the recycling and other conservation efforts at our resort hotel seemed half-hearted at best. I don't consider myself an eco-warrior by any stretch, but I didn't leave Walt Disney World feeling inspired to take any environmentally responsible behavior.

Enough With the Lectures
Kids will be kids. They will also get cranky and require the guiding hand of a parent when tiredness or hunger hits, for example. During our visit to the Magic Kingdom, my son was beginning to act out under the glare of the midday heat, prompting my wife to give him a stern word to keep it together. At which point a passing Disney "cast" member had the nerve to tell her "not to spoil the magic and save it for when we got home." Talk about swallowing the company line (not to mention crossing a line). Walt Disney World's fabric of fantasy, magic, and imagination is an achievement of epic proportions—generating a gazillion smiles and happy memories around the globe each year—but I personally think it's OK to acknowledge the realities and wrinkles of everyday life wherever one may happen to be vacationing.

Photo Credit: Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom (Alistair Wearmouth)


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Related Topics: Disney Vacation · Family Vacation · Travel Rants

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I worked in Disney's Aminal Kingdom for about 5 months, and I really enjoyed working in such a magical place.
1) First of all, I feel really offended by all of the comments that state that Disney employees are rude and disrespectful. We always try to do our best, all of the people I worked with were really nice, and tried their best to make YOUR stay as magical as possible. And I mean it, when you work for Disney, YOUR LIFE IS Disney. you have probably no idea of the amount of people who are rude to you in ONE day. I was a parkgreeter and have a lot of bad memories of guests being incredibely rude to me, and yet I had to smile at them and be nice. That takes a lot of effort trust me. Furthermore, you cannot judge the entire Disney World Staff just because one of them told your kid to behave. We are supposed to make everyon's stay as enjoyable as we can, and this is a very hard thing to do. I also know by experience, that nice guest always get the most out of their vacation in Disney. We sometimes offer Magical Moments for our guests, and WE, cast members, are you ones who pick who is going to get the Magical Moment. Be nice, What goes around, comes around. That's as simple.
2) And I know you are all tired of lining up for the attraction, but that's just because there are so many people, it's practically impossible to avoid lines. Go to the attractions during Parade times and show times. While everyone else is out there watching the firework or the parade, the waitline will be shorter.
i don't really know for the other parks, but if you go to AKingdom, there will be less people at around 3 pm.
3) And here is another tip, don't buy water in Disney World, just go to a food cart or any food place (like Peco's bill) and ask for a glass of water, they will give it to you for FREE. No employee working in a food cart can deny you a glass of water, be sure to tell them ' glass of water' or they'll just give you a regular 4$ water bottles.
As for food, I know it's expensive, and that cafeterias dont offer more than ok tasting food, but there are plenty of not so expensive restaurants in Disney.
I could talk abot Disney for hours, and I have so many things to say. What yous hould remember, is that, you need to PLAN your vacation , and if you need help, there is that place called GUEST RELATIONS, where they will help you with WHATEVER YOU NEED. They are lovely people :)

My wife is meticulous to say the least. She had each day planned out to ride schdule, food schedule, etc. Thogh we joke she has major OCD issues her way make our Disney trips awesome!! We've now been ther 3 times int he past 6 years and yes, there are times we're in lines, and yes, there are times we eat counter service, and yes, our kids have lmtdowns like all others, and no I don't think abot the environment while I'm there. However, if you take the time to plan your trip then most of these issues go away. We stay on the monrail, period, no if''s, and's, or but's. it makes life SSSOOO MUCH easier. So my pieces of advice: Don't do Disney until you can do it right (aka. save your bucks), not worry about lines because that's like worrying about ants in the jungle, and yes, your kids will have meltdowns. So do what i do, I watch everyone else's kids meltdowns and laugh!! lastly, put a plan together before you get there (allears.net) it makes a Disney world of diffference (ok, that was awful). Oh, and 1 more thing, eat at Epcot. Pick a country other than france (food is AWFUL there) and eat. It's alot of fun! Enjoy!

Mickey not green? Good. A dumb mouse not falling for the green fraud is smarter than all libs.

I have been to WDW three times and after a four year hiatus am taking my teenage boys back again next year - a fact they are thrilled about. As far as the author of the article goes, my advice goes more towards his writing ability than the content itself. Initially he states that he left a "little" disappointed, but the remained of the piece colored a much more extreme view that makes the reader think he hated it, (which I tend to agree with). Editors, take note.

As far as the commenters go, those who are hateful, ignorant, spiteful creatures probably already know it in some way and if they don't, they won't learn it from me or anyone else. Enough on that.

Finally, WDW is a fantastic, magical place but it requires ample preparation equivalent to the cost. Do your homework and you'll have a wonderful time. :)

To JPX posted on 8/6 and 8/2: should they ot allow the "too urban" crowd in? You are gay but think it 's okay to discriminate against other groups. And yes,I know what you meant, bigot! You are a hippocrite!

These are very lame reasons to "hate" anything. Ridiculous.

Wow -- I'm sorry you had such a bad time, but my family has been three times and we don't feel the same way that you do. First, we feel they put a lot of effort into the food. The going green part -- jeez, are you just looking for something to nit-pick about? And the lectures? You can't hold Disney World responsible for an individual comment made by some nosy cast member. Believe me, we've had to discipline at DW many a time and we didn't have the same experience. The only thing I can agree with you about is the crowds. But when you find a good thing, you can't expect to keep it all to yourself. That's just the way it is. My only complaint about DW is the buses. They need handicapped-only buses added to keep things flowing more smoothly. You wait 15 minutes, your bus comes, it takes another five to get folks on, then you find you can't fit on because there are so many people in wheelchairs on the bus that you have to wait for the next one. That's really my only issue -- that and the cost of food, but that's par for the course. I still enjoy DW and want to go back soon

I kind of agree...

Disney is an overpriced tourist-trap type place. (well to be fair, all of Orlando, FL is a giant tourist-trap).

Yes, the parks are a lot more than a 6 flags-type theme park. But if you are looking for adrenaline-rush type rides, you won't find many at Disney.

The food is overpriced for the quality, Yes, there are some really nice restaurants, but those are grossly overpriced with the Disney surcharge. If you get 'fast-food' at the theme parks you should expect fast-food/concession stand quality food. However, even their cafe type and medium priced (by Disney's pricing scheme) sit down restaurants are mediocre at best.

One of the professional organizations I am a member of hosts its conference at a Disney resort about every other year and I dread going. The hotel is extremely overpriced. More than a standard city conference Hilton/Sheraton price, yet the room is usually a small, low quality, motel-style room. Once on Disney property, you are a captive audience and the only food available is the aforementioned over-priced crap. And heaven forbid you forget something like shampoo because there is not a drugstore in sight and you have to go to the resort gift shop for terrible selection and high prices. In addition to the grievances previously listed, Disney has the nerve to offer conference attendees a park pass that is supposedly at a 'discounted' rate, but you cannot enter the parks until after 2:30 and the pass still runs at least $75. No thanks.

If I had kids I might take them a couple times, but definitely not every year, and definitely not until they are out of a stroller and old enough to remember and appreciate the trip. No point in taking a 3 year old that won't remember the trip 6 months from now, and who will probably end up crying for hours because of the lines and the heat.

My family has been to DW about 27 times. We have learned to get up early and go to a breakfast buffet at the Sizzler or some place like that and eat a bunch. The night before freeze juice boxes so you can put them in you backpack along with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The juice boxes will keep things cool for a short while. Go back to room around 2:00 till 5:00 for nap and shower. Eat again in room. Use the same parking pass that you used in the morning. Stay in park until parade. By doing this we have kept from killing each other for 42 years.

The food is horrendous. Staying offsite provides you with much more space and better meal options. Disney kid meals terrible. My sympathies to anyone who has to feed that junk to their child for a week.

WDW needs more attractions. Plan of attack is required for each park. Considering the price of Disney vacations, it is ridiculous that they haven't invested in more rides.

We went in July, but rode all the top rides first thing in the morning. We also had a backpack of ice cold water. Saves money and time wasted standing in line for a drink.

Oh and one other comment. When we last stayed at Disney, speaking of green. There was this ick undefinable smell by the bushes between the hotel-restaurant and the pool area with some extremely healthy shrubs. There was a sign that read, something about the food is reprocessed for the plants by some underground system, Kinda green, don't ya think. What about the Monorails? The boats? Taking the bus to and from leaving 85000 cars sitting-green again.

Wow. I love Disney. I wanted to go ever since seeing Mickey Mouse club as a child-the original one. We'd all get out ears on and each of us were the the kids in the club. I didn't go until I went to Disneyland in the 70's. Once, from Michigan to Disneyland and we did have fun. We got married and took our kids to Disney World. We stayed at a Disney hotel-a major convenience. It came to the grandkids, and in 2004 we took the fam on the Disney Wonder and stayed at Disney World before and after at one of the budget friendly hotels. Eating at Cinderella's Palace-well I don't know what sort of snob that the writer is, but we hade a very nice meal. Same with all over the park. Maracech (sp) was great as well as entertaining And in Animal Kindgom there's a great walk up for a quick great meal. The meals at the hotel (the one with the Big Dalmation) were fine as well. And the cruise, my gosh, entertainment abounds, characters all over, and the food was exactly what we wanted AND the kid entertainment geared toward the ages was great. (although the most fun was playing ping pong on deck with the kids on a rather gusty night). Again in 2006 we came back, got the food plan again. We were not disappointed. We also researched the restaurants before coming and made reservations long before leaving. I guess it is the expectations by some who consider themselves above all that. I consider myself a kid at any age and I can guarantee you, we will return again. Soon it's Dollywood, and Dixie Stampede and national parks with 3 of the 4 grandkids. I need the mountains this year, but my husband said as soon as we get back we will plan another Disney trip. Thing is when we go to Disney, it isn't just Disney. It is Disney and every National Park in its path. I wouldn't doubt that even when I'm 90 I will still take the kids of whatever generation to ride the tea cups and Dumbo. Tradition.-that and this years 4th gen Smoky Mountain photo at the same spot.

Good try, but you missed some important details:

1) There is no Kidani restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Sana'a is the Indian fusion restaurant at AKL's Kidani Village. Great food's available at Disney if you want it, although it's true that some restaurants have "simplified" things for less culinarily-skilled guests.

By the way, the food is expensive, but no worse than anywhere else that's tourist-heavy. See what a burger costs you at Kennedy Space Center, or in Honolulu!

2) As long as you do your big rides first thing, you can spend the rest of the time enjoying everything else at the park. A productive morning is the key to Disney bliss, even during busy seasons.

3) Are you aware that Disney collects awards for green lodging like park guests collect blisters? While their buses may not seem green, they are amazingly environmentally friendly in terms of getting people out of cars. Their hotels are so green (eg, motion sensitive thermostats) that some guests complain about them.

4) OK. That's a tough one.

Before you return, learn a bit more about the place. You would have found out the secret to avoiding crowds, where to get excellent food and how to use Disney Dining Plans or Tables in Wonderland to lower the cost, and learned a great deal more about Disney's support for the environment.

As a native Floridian, I refuse to visit Disney and contribute to the
destruction of more land and water in the name of the almighty dollar. Notwithstanding the excitement for children, I would much prefer to visit a beach area, rent a hotel room for a few days, swim
as I please in either the Gulf or hotel pool and visit locat restaurants
of my choosing. Save money and enjoy more to my likeing.

It's fairly obvious that the person writing this article A) Did do the correct amount of prep and homework and B) expected "fast food" fair to be 5-star at Disney. Let me dispel both of these. 2 Years ago I took my family (Myself, Wife, 2 8 year olds) to Disney World. I booked at the Caribbean Beach Resort in a pirate room 11 months before our expected date. I researched for the best time to go (Near Halloween, middle of October) and booking this early allowed me to pay cash for the whole thing! Next, I added the magic your way dining package - deluxe! Well worth it. Averaged out to about $50/meal for the family, but we got SIT DOWN meals for all meals. We even hit the Hawaiian dinner show. We ate at some fantastic restaurants including Narcooses, Jiko, the Japanese restaurant in Epcot and other top end restaurants. Finally, we planned everything out ahead of time on a spreadsheet. What parks to hit what day. What parks had "extra magic hours", when the fireworks and parades were, etc. Our visit - in large part due to our planning - was excellent! Take the time to do the work before you get there. Don't just think you can drop in and handle everything on a moment by moment basis, and get the deluxe meal plan. Our meals regularly came out to $100-$150 for the four of us, but our cost with the meal plan was nothing. Dividing the cost of the meal plan up each meal only cost about $40-$50 for the four of us.

I love Disney. Yes it was crowded and the lines were long but it was fun. As an older gay man, me and my young companion were made to feel quite welcome which made the visit much easier.A pleasant lack of homophobia. I do wish they would screen the guests a little better because the crowd was a little to "urban" if you get my drift.
Still the food was good and the rides were fine so we will be back!

How about a Beastiality Pride Day?

wow, reading these comments was sure entertaining....
first, all you homophobic posters - I sure hope none of your children are gay, because, it is not a "life choice" - ask yourself, why would anyone choose to be gay & have to put up with people like you?? Gay Day is really one day, you could take your children any of the other days, you're just too cheap most likely.
second, all you complainers, just stay home, who wants to go to Disney with people moaning & groaning about things they didn't care enough to check into before they went?
third, I agree with some of the other posters - no Disney employee told the author's wife not to spoil the magic & save it for later. Didn't happen. Wouldn't happen.

LOVE Disneyworld. This is nonsense - food was fine, we split entrees, didn't get food plan, stayed on property (Pop Century), rode transport to/from and to/from airport. This is our 5th trip. Love Epcot and Magic Kingdom. Secret hint: order kids meal you get a beverage and a couple of sides for half the price of an entree. I was tempted to order a cup of coffee!! We spent about $15 a day on food for two 54 yr olds.
I am not concerned about if they are green or not.
If you were chewing out your kid so much that a cast member had to step in - it must have been ruining the magic for others and I applaud the cast member.
I agree about the scooters but not all were obese, my mom had used a scooter before her death and if it could have provided the mobility for her to see the parks I would have been happy for her. I bore no ill will to the guests in the scooters or kids in strollers, or toddlers walking slowly.
Vacation some where else that is green and has perfect people with snobbish fine cuisine.

Twenty six years ago, I worked in Guest relations at Epcot/Walt Disney World. It was an amazing experience for a young person as Disney was Magic. It was amazing all the work that went into details, planning, and making everything Disney Perfect. When discussing the movie in the French pavilion, we loved to say how Disney more than likely made the French government wash every single window before filming. Back then, there was no equal to Disney!
The last time I visited was 10 years ago and I was disappointed. The entire Walt Disney World has become so big that the special touch got lost. I remember fondly the old days and what it used to be. My children have been there but they really got tired of the crowds and the long slow moving lines. They really preferred Sea World which is so funny as we, Disney employees, would make fun of them a quarter decade ago.
Anyhow, 89 dollars for a one day ticket is insane!

I actually can't stand places like 6 flags, but I LOVE Disney. We go every year. Every problem encountered could have been avoided, as one poster pointed out. We go in July, and yes, it's crowded, but again, if you plan accordingly, it's manageable. The food is absolutely fantastic. (And I work in NYC were we know food) That's if you pay attention when booking, and make your reservations early. Unless, yes, you will be eating the cafeteria food. The only down sides to Disney, 1) I have to wait a whole year to go back, and 2) I pack on the pounds with the food and dining plan.

@Chuck Allison: So stay HOME then.

Oh, and quit reading the "focus on the 'family'" crap.

" went for the first and last time with my son and my son said he will never go back.
It was Disney's Gay Day and we did not know it. My son had a gay guy dance his groin in front of my then 8 year old son's face. My son kicked him in the cajones. The gay ADULT guy then tried to press charges on my son and was even screaming at the top of his lungs "Hate Crime". He wanted my son locked up and then claimed I told my son to kick him in the cajones.
We spent 6 hours in "detention" while the Disney cops decided what to do with my son.
We were escorted off the premises with a free days pass. In front of the Disney Rep my son tore his up and said "never again".
Never again is right."

Yeah right, that never happened. You are just looking for a way to justify your homophobia. If your son was detained he deserved it.

5. The parks are overrun with morbidly obese people in electric carts. In the old days the obese would be forced to stay at home but with electric carts they have taken over and they are an absolute nuisance. They kept bumping into me and getting in the way. They slowed everything down.

You have got to be kidding. Bulleted in the format you used, I will explain why you are terrible planner and have only yourself to blame.

1) Food Fit for a Princess? Hardly. - Disney food is WORLD renowned. From expensive choices such as Le Cellier, Artist Point, and Victoria and Albert's to medium range treats such as Nine Dragons, 50's Primetime Cafe to Coral Reef, choices are abundant and delicious wherever you go. Signing up for the Dining plan is imperative. This restaurants can be hard to get into, but Disney books them out 180 days in advance so you need to be prepared. If you order food a la carte, expect what you would get anywhere else. If you don't have reservations, do not plan on eating at the top-notch restaurants Disney has to offer.
2)Crowded House - A planning fail to say the least. If you go during 'Off-Season' September, October, January, and February, not only are the prices cheaper on lodging, but the crowds are so reduced you will NEVER see a line more than an hour. As a frequent Disney visitor, I made the mistake once to go in August and I will NEVER make that mistake again. I have neither used nor required a Fast Pass in any of my three most recent visits since 2009.
3)Mickey Doesn't Do Green? - Okay. Maybe. The fleet of buses is a necessary evil to cart the astronomical number of people who visit. As a former chemist who distilled recycled ethanol to power e85 vehicles, I can tell you that this is an extremely expensive venture, and not very realistic for an operation this size. (Also the reason the rest of America is not doing the same.) We all need to find ways to reduce our Carbon footprint, but government subsidies need to help promote this instead of some of our other ridiculous socio-economic spending.
4)Enough With the Lectures. - Really? This is an isolated bad decision by one employee to stick their nose in your family business. Hardly a reason not to return.

You should consider taking another trip with your kids who obviously really enjoyed it and suck it up. As a parent, isn't that what we're supposed to do anyway. With a little bit of planning you too can have a good time at the happiest place on Earth. You sound like a real fun person, so don't take offense to the thousands of smiling people you will undoubtedly see on your trip. They aren't doing it to spite you. :)

Cant stand the place, there is nothing magical about it. We have been lucky enough to take some great family vacations and spend our time making truly happy memories, (hiking and finding waterfalls, rafting, snorkeling, discovering all there is to do and love about a different place/ culture, etc.) and to us Disney did not add to these great vacations or memories. Not to mention it was one of the most expensive. We left feeling as though we had wasted our time and money and were very frustrated with the overall "brainwashed" attitude of its employees. If I had a dollar for every time I heard " have a magical day " or "it's just the Disney way " I may have had enough to pay for our twelve dollar turkey sandwiches for lunch.

If you have never been and are thinking of going, I would suggest that you ask yourself what you really want out of a vacation. If spending time in lines (hour or more in many cases) doesn't bother you or if planning your "attack" on the park sounds like an adventure or if you know when you may want to eat dinner 3 months in advance sounds like your idea of planning a great vaca then this is your place.

I would rather chew my arm off than go to Disney World, however for years, I did. Being the only one brave enough to drive my best friend and my youngest child to this mad house of a place, I suffered through bad food, crowded lines, heat and rain and smelly people because my two com-padres loved the place. Thankfully, they have outgrown that phase of their lives, and I do not have to make the annual trek in that direction any more. And funny, I sort of miss it.

I think there are theme park people and non theme park people. During the height of their intoxication (tongue in cheek for those who wonder if they were using some sort of illegal substance-not) I watched in awe as these two ladies, one over 60 and the other under 15, talk and plan their days. The considered which park, which ride or exhibit, and whether to fast pass or not. They contemplated Mickeyhead ice creams on a stick, how to get into the control pod of the mono-rail, and whether to go back to the room for lunch or not. They talked strategy in how to traverse from one park to another and the benefits of getting up early or staying late.

In retrospect, I had a lot of fun, and even though I am not compelled to ever go back myself, I do miss those wonderful excursions taking those two Mouse aficionados south.

To Josh: Most people become annoyed when a parent is not a parent but tries to be a friend, since that is easier thatn a parent. When you cannot control your children, and an employee states a comment, you be embarressed and pick up on the hint. As far as saying you wil floor them, go ahead and show the good parent you think you are. You will leave a pretty picture with your child, possibly arressted, and be laughed at by all who are around you. Now that is good Fathering techniques.

My God, and I will say that! Fraudulent passes when your not disabled? I'm a military dis-abled veteran and refuse to urilize a pass. if your spending 10K, then you have a serious issue. Hoiw you spend to get there is no different then someone who has a low income and saves for years to go just once. What goes around, comes around. It's an amusement park. Long lines, long waits, fast food, abnormal soccer mom parents, high prices for the mechanics of what you do and see, irrate employees who have special visas from Immigration to work and then complain..it is an amusement park! If you don't like it, then do not go back and write a letter of complaint. If you continue to go and complain, then that is yourfault. Don't use your children, they are children, and they are raised by you, so they will act like you. They can be spoiled, tired, or normal. if the Mousetells you stay cool, which means CONTROLLED, then blame yourself. Thereare thousands of places to go and if you do not like one then chose another. if your upset, ask for a refund and leave. The airport is not that far away. I hate whiners, especially when they are grown up's. WAAAAAA

Our family has been to Disney World several times over the years. We consider ourselves blessed to have been able to visit even once. Along with all the "magic", we also experienced our share of not-so-magical moments, so I can sympathize with many of the difficulties the author of this post experienced. We also had an experience with a difficult "cast member" who was just trying to do their job. But with each visit, we learned as we went and then did our homework before the next visit.

While I am by no means an expert, here are some tips I can offer:

Accommodations: optimally, you want to stay at one of the in-park resorts, if you can afford it. This is especially true if you have small children who need an afternoon nap! We were fortunate to have relatives with a nearby timeshare/condo with similar amenities.

Food: eat a big breakfast and take snack food for lunch. Save your money for one of the excellent restaurants in the park - especially in the countries of Epcot. I was surprised to hear about the bad food experience. With all the choices, you are bound to find something you like. If you have to eat at one of the fast-food-type places, try to be strategic with entrees and side dishes that you all can share.

When to visit: The best time we found to visit was mid-October. The crowds are manageable, and the weather is great. If you must visit during the holidays or busy times, remember that the parks usually open earlier and close later. Save the busy rides and attractions for meal times, parade times, fireworks times, or just early or late in the day.

If you don't celebrate a holiday, or if you don't want to be there during some other "special event", then do your homework and avoid that date.

Oh...and if you can, go on or near your birthday and tell them about it. You get a special name tag, and everyone is especially nice to. You may even get a special message from Mickey or one of his friends.

I went for the first and last time with my son and my son said he will never go back.
It was Disney's Gay Day and we did not know it. My son had a gay guy dance his groin in front of my then 8 year old son's face. My son kicked him in the cajones. The gay ADULT guy then tried to press charges on my son and was even screaming at the top of his lungs "Hate Crime". He wanted my son locked up and then claimed I told my son to kick him in the cajones.
We spent 6 hours in "detention" while the Disney cops decided what to do with my son.
We were escorted off the premises with a free days pass. In front of the Disney Rep my son tore his up and said "never again".
Never again is right.

I honor the blacklist of Disney World due to the Gay Pride Day hosted at Disney. There is no way I will ever allow my children to be indoctrinated into believing that sexual deviance is normal.

Aside from the fact that I respect everyone's right to live as they choose, I am not required to honor mandated acceptance. I don't force my belief set onto others and I don't respect those that seek to shove their belief sets down the throats of innocent children.

Disney Gay Day? No thanks!

Terrible article, worst commenters. Between the undereducated, underprepared author of the article and the high class individuals faking disabilities for their children so they can skip the line. Delete, delete, delete. Ack! Hope this article doesn't get dinged in a Disney planning search. I feel dirty commenting on it! Out!

Please don't think it is ok to fake a child having special needs in order to not wait in lines. People can tell themselves all sorts of lies to make it ok but they are fooling themselves.

It's a pathetic thing to do. Its sad what some people due based on a false sense of entitlement.

Just remember, karma was created for selfish jerks like those people.

I am so glad you didn't like it - please stay away. When I visit WDW I like low crowds. I think some of the comments are not truthful at all. If people read this and believe it they really have no common sense.

This will be the last time I visit this site. This blog really shows how you are willing to not be truthful and for that I will not be visiting here anymore.

Sandra, you are trash.

So it sounds like you poorly planned your trip, didn't budget for better food so ended up eating hotdogs, then beat your kids out of frustration in public and had to be confronted by Pluto and Goofy. Nice.

Wow I would never go back to that horrible place called magical. Fussy people should stay at home to leave more room for the lovers of the mouse house:) try six flags

MY HUSBAND AND I ARE IN OUR MID 70,S . WE HAVE BEEN GOING TO DISNEY WORLD AND THEIR OTHER DISNEY PARKS FOR THE PAST 23 YEARS. I BELIEVE IT HAS BEEN ALMOST 100 TIMES NOW. WE ALWAYS BUY PARK HOPPERS TICKETS. WE WAIT IN LINES AND GO ON ALL THE RIDES EACH TIME WE GO THERE. WE GENERALLY GET THERE AT 10 AM AND STAY UNTIL AFTER THE FIREWORKS. WE LOVE MAIN ST. , THE BUILDING DESIGNS AND THAT HAPPY FEELING OF JUST BEING THERE. WE JUST BOUGHT 7 MORE PARK HOPPER TICKETS. I WON,T GO ON CRUISES NOR FLY.. THIS IS THE ONLY VACATION PLACE THAT WE WANT TO VISIT. WE HOPE WE ARE ABLE TO CONTINUE TO DO SO FOR MANY MORE YEARS. WE LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT IT.

Couple thoughts: We've lived in South Florida 3 years where it can be brutal in the summer if you're not used to it (although no worse than NYC in August and far less humid). We've been to WDW 2 times. Once in December and once in August. We much preferred the summer for this reason: Most people are so overwhelmed by the heat and sun that incredibly, while there's arguable more people in the parks, the lines are much shorter, because most of the people are passed out on the benches with hand fans to keep them cool or inside trying to stay out of the sun. My 4.5 year old son was on his feet from 9am until 8pm and it was the two parents who were flat out exhausted by day end.

During the December trip, the lines averaged 1 hour or more. The summer trip, more people, the lines averaged about 15 minutes. Fluke? Perhaps. But we're going back this year during the summer again, hoping like last time the heat knocks everyone else out and keeps the lines short.

Buy one (or two) of those fans that have a water bottle attached that mists you down. Take breaks. Plan the fast passes well.

The one problem with the December / January trips too is that it actually can get cold here in FL. Last winter we hit the 30's. When we went to WDW 2 years ago in December, we didn't really think it would be cold and only brought shorts and t-shirts. Weather was in the mid 40's to mid 50's and that too, combined with the insane lines, really dragged down the experience.

(and yeah, the food sucks at WDW).

Wow! I guess you should do some research before you do anything. My family and I have been about 8 times to DW and loved every trip. Always go after Thanksgiving, except for this last time went in early April and still a blast with short lines for the most part. The greatest enjoyment is we do everything as a family and this last trip my boys were 18 and 14, plus took my recently widowed father, he did not ride everything, but greatly enjoyed being with his son, daughter-in-law, and grand sons. In fact, will take the family again in December for my wife's and my 26th anniversary, since I was overseas for our 25th. Love Disney and it truly is a magical place.

I've been 3 times. Once when my own kids were about 5 and 8, once when my daughter was 11, and a few years ago with my 10 year old grandson who was six at the time. The most stressful trip was the first one. I had read one of those books about "how to do Disney" and I tried to follow everything. This iinvolved hurrying everyone up in the morning to get there super early, and then we would go back and forth to our hotel so we could eat and rest. Then we'd go back. We did have a good time, but expectations were so high and we had to drive all the way from Texas, so the anticipation was almost unbearable. We did okay on lines, and okay with our kids on most things, but I nearly lost it when my 8 yr old refused to get on Space Mountan after standing in line for 45 minutes. We had to walk all the way back, "the walk of shame" and I fussed at him so much that later I felt so guilty. I should have left him alone about it. I was way too wound up. The second time, just my daughter and I went as my husband had taken our son fishing in Alaska. She and I had a ball, even though we stayed in a wretched hotel. It was overcrowded, ice machines ran out, etc. We weren't on any kind of schedule and just rolled with the flow. We made a game out of the line situation (this was before Fast Passes). If there was a big line, we'd say, "oh, GREAT line! This is a good one!" and we'd rank the lines according to how many turns we had to make before getting to the ride. It made us laugh as we joked about it constantly. We saw and did everything and had a great time. The last trip, when I went with my grandson, we also had with us his mom, my sister n law and her son, also aged 6. We ended up going our separate ways a lot because she was very inflexible about her "schedule." If she wanted to go to point A and then point B, then point C, but then it turned out that A was way too crowded at that time or something, she'd get to frustrated and just couldn't regroup. We would say, "oh well let's go do this instead," and she just couldn't go with that. So we'd go on and let our day happen, rather than trying to force it to happen a certain way. She wouldn't allow her son to spend time playing in any of the play areas, like "It's a Bug's world' playground or the Dinosaur playground. Those places were great. My grandson thoroughly enjoyed being let loose there. Fast Passes worked well for us, and also staying at Pop Century Disney Resort allowed us to have special passes to stay past regular operating hours, and it was much less crowded. We did go back to the hotel once or twice to take a dip in the pool and just rest. We had a lot of fun but my sister in law ended up extremely iriritated for a lot of the trip. She started out with such high expectations as she'd never been, and I think that is what happens a lot. My daughter in law and I laughed at everything that wasn't perfect, but when we'd say "where all your dreams come true!!" she was about ready to slap us by the end of the trip. Of course part of her reason for losing it is that her son was still pooping in his pants at least once every day or so, and she'd have to leave and take him back to the hotel. And, I have no problem at all with parents having to fuss at their kids, but some people take it to the extreme and cuss at them or get so verbally loud and almost abusive that it's embarrassing for everyone, and upsetting. My sister in law is that type and did it more than a few times over stupid stuff like when the boys would get a little antsy in line and do something like mess with the chain between the line poles. Once when her son sat on the elevator floor at the hotel, I thought she was going to take his head off. Not cool.

We went last month. My kids had a blast. I did a bunch of research before our trip. I installed an app from Touringplans.com on my Droid phone, and we were able to navigate the park on some busy days and not wait more than 10-20 minutes for most attractions. It also had menu prices and were able to find the best food deals in the park using the app and info from other websites. Next trip we do will be in a September in a few years. They usually offer a free dining plan for those who book a trip in advance in the fall and the lines are short. The cast members were all very accommodating to us everywhere we went last month. We had an issue with our first hotel room and they promptly moved us to another room.

I agree with Mary. Getting a Guest Assistance card when you don't technically qualify for it is pretty disgusting Sandra. Everyone has spent a lot of money to vacation at Disney. And by getting a card when you don't need it you are making things harder for the people that actually do need it. At our last WDW trip we did get a Guest Assistance Card for our daughter with Asperger's. We got it to have on hand just in case but with the use of Fast Passes and strategic planning we never needed the card & never used it. And we never waited more than 45 minutes for any ride. Did I mention we were there the 2nd week in June? All that aside, yes Disney's food isn't amazing and there are crowds. I don't go to DIsney for the food...I go for the memories with my kids. And there are lots of ways to avoid the crowds. For example, never go between Christmas & New Years. We did once & left Hollywood Studios because we could not handle the crowds. We have gone several times in October & loved that time. And the 2nd week of June was surprisingly not bad. I am not accusing the author of lying about the over eager Disney Cast Member but I will say I have been to WDW close to 10 times with 1-4 of my children and have lost my patience with my kids on numerous occasions and have NEVER had a Cast Member say anything to me about my parenting. WDW is not the place for everyone but if you like theme parks it is the best. We also visited Universal & Islands of Adventure on our last Orlando trip and they could learn a thing or 2 from Disney about customer service.

I worked at WDW. And yes a cast member would indeed say "To not ruin the magic". As annoying as it is it's drilled into our heads. We are told to try and "defuse" situations. It's stupid and I also feel it was out of line. It's like a lot of other stupid things they expect underpaid workers there. For instance we can't answer the question "How many mickey's do you have out in the park at any given time?" To "Keep the magic" we have to say "Sir/Mam, there is only ONE Mickey Mouse!" As for it being the most magical place on earth. Did you know in the 5 months I worked at WDW there were 9 college program cast member suicides? 9. I'm not joking. I enjoyed the parks (when I got to go), I could live without the lines and the high prices (and I got a discount...) but I can't say I didn't enjoy them. My personal favorite was Hollywood Studios. The best explanation of the "Magic Kingdom" was out of the mouth of a seven year old He said, "I don't wanna go to Magic Kingdom! It's for babies and little girls!" I thought that was adorable. Anyway I have bittersweet memories of disney. It's a love/hate thing, but I fully intend on taking my daughter (when she's old enough to enjoy and remember the trip. Nothing annoyed me more when I'd see someone with a NEWBORN at the park. It's not my business and whatever but 1. It's WAY to hot during the summer to have a baby (3 days old was the youngest) out there. 2. That baby will not remember nor be able to enjoy the trip. 3. Someone has to stay with that baby at all times and you don't really get to enjoy the place 4. THE STROLLERS ON THE TRAMS. We have to tell people over and over and OVER to "take the baby/child OUT of the stroller and HOLD them in your LAP. One father we told him numerous times and he ignored us. Well the tram only moves 12mph BUT concrete is unforgiving. While on the tram he tried to move the stroller and ended up dumping his maybe 6-8 month old baby out and the baby fell off and split his skull wide open on the concrete. The father was pissed at us but how many times did we ask him to please hold his child in his lap? His fault, not ours sorry.) Yes I will be taking my daughter, but I know the inner workings and I'm planning for 2015 (she'll be 8) in mid to late September. You just have to know what you're doing and plan better. Also learn the "people-dodge" as I called it, it helps alot with the crowds.

I have lived in Orlando and lived close enough to visit whenever I wanted after I got married. My kids know the park like the back of their hand. We used to go that often. Every park has one place where you can feed a family of 4 for $20. At least you could in 2009 the last time we went. MGM is the Backlot Cafe. DW is casey at the bat. I don't do animal kingdom its a zoo and an expensive one at that only go on a half day trip using a park hopper pass.

Expert tips: Use Fastpass for premere rides.
Winter is your friend except Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks.
If you live close go immediately after a hurricane park will be mostly empty. I arrived 2 hours after opening and still parked in the front row. Rode 3 mega rides in an hour.
Kids like WDW parents like Epcot.
Its not cheap but the Living Seas reasturaunt is incredible as is the Canadian Pavillion's Steakhouse.
Look for the hidden Mickey's while waiting in line it will give you something to do, almost every ride has one somewhere.
Get a guidebook for a library and plan your trip like a pro.
Epcot flower "show" is not to be missed if you happen to be there at the correct time. 6 million additional flowers put out that week.

Have fun, be a kid at heart, enjoy the magic; the real world will be waiting for you once you get home.

Hum? Did you go to Disney World for you, or for your kids? Hopefully you got enjoyment from them having a good time. That was the point of going, right?

Anyplace full of people, kids, heat, humidity is going to be a challenge and one needs a tremendous amount of mental and physical preparation and endurance, and/or a good amount of time to rest and recover.

I don't wait in lines, so I miss a lot of the attractions. But the sights, sounds, entertainment, even (especially) people watching, makes it an adventure. Not a relax under the umbrella with a cool one vacation, but a nice break from outside reality into a different kind of fantasy reality.

Real travelers don't complain or whine; they go with the flow, knowing that there will be problems, and enjoy anyplace, anytime when things go good. After all, when you get home, boasting about how absolutely wonderful, fantastic, awesome your trip was makes others green with envy. Nobody wants to hear about your trials and tribulations; no fun in that.

If your kid doesn't have to wait, neither should mine. Disability access means EQUAL access, not better.

So no, I have no guilt about doing what I do.
At least I'm not one of the people who sell the GACs on Craigslist!

Your post is pretty idiotic in general. If you want to have Disney time with your kids, suck it up.

That's a great tip, Sandra! Why wait in line when you can fake a disability for your child to skip the lines because you are the only one dropping a lot of money to take your family on vacation. It's also a great lesson to teach your kids instead of teaching them patience and respect for other people, especially for those who actually do have "special needs". You obviously don't know any families who would warrant a Guest Assistance Card, otherwise you wouldn't abuse their privilege instead of using it for your perfectly healthy kids who just don't want to wait.

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