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Grading Walt Disney World Throughout the Decades

disneyflush

Well-Known Member
So here's an interesting question. I think it's more philosophical than actually expecting a real answer.

How do you reconcile your going to wdw with the past with going now?

What I mean is this, IMO there is no going back. to anything. We are never going back to 99cent/gallon gas, to Mcdonald's being cheap, a time without cell phones or Walt Disney of the past glory. I simply don't have the hope you guys do that it will achieve the "greatness" that it did back in the pre Iger days or if that is even a good thing.

So going forward what do you do? do you continue to go and snap pictures of overflowing trash cans and post that it's going downhill?
Can those that have these issues accept that Disney for the foreseeable future is, what it currently is? I think when Star wars opens, you will see the same gripes then that we've seen when TSL opened. how it's not "imaginative" etc etc.

I think it's an interesting problem. Now I have always admitted, I'm a cynical NY'er. I don't think there is any return to the glory days simply because I don't think that is what John q public outside of a small minority here want or care about. as someone said, the new generation is perfectly A-ok with the state of offerings, it's comfortable and well known.

how do you reconcile your wishing for the old days to acceptance of what it is now? or does that even matter?

There is going back though. By stating there is not then you give any company a free pass to continue a particular behavior. You group all of societal change into a giant basket and omit the part in life where focus can be used in smaller amounts than ALL OF EVERYTHING IN TOTALITY. Of course people will gripe about Star Wars when it opens. Its the yen and the yang of theme parks. For each person thrilled with a new land there will be someone on the other side despondent over larger crowds. Its inescapable. Ever. This isn't logic behind a rationalization, its just life.

You continually reference 'only been going for 18 months I admit' and then lay out some opinion about long-time posters historical views being off-base and acting like these views somehow discount your personal feelings. No one is trying to tell you that WDW isn't deserving of your adulation any longer because it used to be better. Go 10 times next year, it doesn't matter. You don't matter. I don't matter. At the end of the fiscal year we are all just a part of a bottom line that gets judged by Wall Street. An overflowing receptacle statement would be a lie or exaggeration until he posts a picture and then the picture becomes an indictment of his vacationing protocols and he is framed as someone only looking for negatives and trying to make Disney look bad instead of just being a picture of something WDW needs to work on. WDW doesn't need you to rescue it from online forum posters. Its just fine. It makes record profits, has record attendance, and has zero feelings to get hurt from a thread like this.

If you have no room in your thought processes to accommodate for anything close to a non-glowing review of current WDW then just move on to another thread and let the grown people talk about this historical view. Your 18 months experience isn't pertinent in this one.
 

eliza61nyc

Well-Known Member
There is going back though. By stating there is not then you give any company a free pass to continue a particular behavior. You group all of societal change into a giant basket and omit the part in life where focus can be used in smaller amounts than ALL OF EVERYTHING IN TOTALITY. Of course people will gripe about Star Wars when it opens. Its the yen and the yang of theme parks. For each person thrilled with a new land there will be someone on the other side despondent over larger crowds. Its inescapable. Ever. This isn't logic behind a rationalization, its just life.

You continually reference 'only been going for 18 months I admit' and then lay out some opinion about long-time posters historical views being off-base and acting like these views somehow discount your personal feelings. No one is trying to tell you that WDW isn't deserving of your adulation any longer because it used to be better. Go 10 times next year, it doesn't matter. You don't matter. I don't matter. At the end of the fiscal year we are all just a part of a bottom line that gets judged by Wall Street. An overflowing receptacle statement would be a lie or exaggeration until he posts a picture and then the picture becomes an indictment of his vacationing protocols and he is framed as someone only looking for negatives and trying to make Disney look bad instead of just being a picture of something WDW needs to work on. WDW doesn't need you to rescue it from online forum posters. Its just fine. It makes record profits, has record attendance, and has zero feelings to get hurt from a thread like this.

If you have no room in your thought processes to accommodate for anything close to a non-glowing review of current WDW then just move on to another thread and let the grown people talk about this historical view. Your 18 months experience isn't pertinent in this one.
Lol uhmm that's why I asked questions.
:rolleyes:
Oh that's right grown folks don't like it when they are questioned they know sooo much
I'm more then happy to let you play.
Oh I said Ive been 3 times in 18 months. Ive been a dvc member for over 15 years with almost annual trips
 
Last edited:

ParentsOf4

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
So here's an interesting question. I think it's more philosophical than actually expecting a real answer.

How do you reconcile your going to wdw with the past with going now?

What I mean is this, IMO there is no going back. to anything. We are never going back to 99cent/gallon gas, to Mcdonald's being cheap, a time without cell phones or Walt Disney of the past glory. I simply don't have the hope you guys do that it will achieve the "greatness" that it did back in the pre Iger days or if that is even a good thing.

So going forward what do you do? do you continue to go and snap pictures of overflowing trash cans and post that it's going downhill?
Can those that have these issues accept that Disney for the foreseeable future is, what it currently is? I think when Star wars opens, you will see the same gripes then that we've seen when TSL opened. how it's not "imaginative" etc etc.

I think it's an interesting problem. Now I have always admitted, I'm a cynical NY'er. I don't think there is any return to the glory days simply because I don't think that is what John q public outside of a small minority here want or care about. as someone said, the new generation is perfectly A-ok with the state of offerings, it's comfortable and well known.

how do you reconcile your wishing for the old days to acceptance of what it is now? or does that even matter?
The most common response to your question is to use a sports analogy.

You mentioned you're originally from NYC. Have fans stopped cheering for the Yankees because they've won only one title in the last 18 years? This from a team that used to win multiple World Series each decade? Do fans abandon them because they just fell apart and lost 4 games to their arch rival Red Sox?

I've been a fan of WDW since (possibly) before you were born.

I don't stop cheering for my team just because the owners raise ticket prices and trade away the best players.

Like a true fan, I call talk radio or post online to let others know how I feel. I even contact the front office directly and express my displeasure. ;)

Even if I attend fewer games than I used to, I don't give up on the team.
 
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HauntedPirate

Sheltered-at-home Park nostalgist
Premium Member
what is this? This makes no sense

I feel the need to defend Bob. He saved DCA by investing 1.2 BILLION in it. Furthermore, he spent 5 BILLION on SDL. They're investing 5 BILLION in WDW. Another BILLION in SWL at DL. And another fortune on DLP. He's spending money. It's not all going to WDW all the time, but he's investing.

Stock buybacks for TWDC from FY2010-2016 :: $31-33 billion (reminder that Iger and dozens of execs have tens-to-hundreds of thousands of stock shares/stock options, more than 1 million in the case of Mr. Iger)

TWDC net income from FY2010-2016: $45.86 billion

From what you listed, rough guess at the investment in US theme parks from 2010-2016 :: $3.5 billion (We'll give Pandora and FLE a $1 billion price tag each, just to keep the math simple, and excluding spending on MM/FP+). Maybe this number is off a little, but outside of a few reskins (Soarin', FEA), there wasn't much money flowing into DL and WDW.

Investing billions (spread out over 5-ish years) now does not excuse the lack of investment from 2005 thru 2016.

Still want to defend him?
 

geekza

Well-Known Member
When I was a kid, I couldn't wait to go back to WDW because there was always something that added to the previous experience. In the mid-90's when I went, I noticed a subtle change. There was a homogenization starting to take place in the stores. I noticed visible trash. Attractions that needed upkeep weren't getting it. When I went back in 2006, I thought, "They sure have taken a lot away and haven't replaced much of it with anything on the same quality level." Here and there were bright spots, but there was a definite lessening of quality and care. I'm heading back this year for the first time since then. For me, it's trip to experience what is left of the "golden years" before it goes away. I don't know that I'll be back after this trip because 1) it has gotten too expensive and 2) what they are building now are things that aren't appealing to me. I hope that I'm wrong and have a great experience. I'm certainly still looking forward to going, but I've become very aware that it isn't the top-tier experience that it used to be.
 

RaveOnEd

Well-Known Member
When I was a kid, I couldn't wait to go back to WDW because there was always something that added to the previous experience. In the mid-90's when I went, I noticed a subtle change. There was a homogenization starting to take place in the stores. I noticed visible trash. Attractions that needed upkeep weren't getting it. When I went back in 2006, I thought, "They sure have taken a lot away and haven't replaced much of it with anything on the same quality level." Here and there were bright spots, but there was a definite lessening of quality and care. I'm heading back this year for the first time since then. For me, it's trip to experience what is left of the "golden years" before it goes away. I don't know that I'll be back after this trip because 1) it has gotten too expensive and 2) what they are building now are things that aren't appealing to me. I hope that I'm wrong and have a great experience. I'm certainly still looking forward to going, but I've become very aware that it isn't the top-tier experience that it used to be.
We just got back on Saturday from our 4th time going (last times were 2006, 2008 and 2010). While we still had an amazing time, we did notice that some things were not at the amazing level they were even in 2010. We noticed bathrooms that looked to not be gone through all day, lots more trash (some trash cans were full to over capacity), even floors in waiting areas that had trash around (including someone's tooth flosser!)

I still want to go back and probably will sometime, however we did a day at Universal for our first time on this trip, and some of the little things Disney has stopped doing or doing less of are still being done at Universal.

I honestly don't know what's been cut in the park budgets, but with the price increases there, I would think you could keep some more maintenance and cleaning people on hand and keep food quality at a better level in some areas.

For us, the things that declined a bit were: trash pickup and bathroom cleanliness here and there, QS and CS food quality, some attractions' lines being handled by Cast Members who were not able to really work between stand by and FP (no reason for 5 or 6 boats full of FP people for Jungle Cruise, and holding the stand by people to wait for more FP people to fill a 7th, for example).

These were not things to completely keep us away, but it was enough to see other parks that are still doing those little things that Disney excelled at.
 

pax_65

Well-Known Member
I wouldn't agree with the people set expectations low at all. I can't measure Disney to some 1980's standard because I wasn't there so all I can do is measure Disney to what is available today out there in Vacation land in 2018

I think Disney counts on people like you who don't know what Disney used to be. And honestly, they are probably happy to replace people like me with someone like you. The parks are too crowded for all of us, and you will be much easier (and less expensive) to satisfy than I will be. (I wish they would build more parks/attractions/resorts and keep the quality and value up high so we could both still go often, but somehow that doesn't seem to be the direction they're headed.)

When I first went to WDW in the early 90s, it was so far superior and unique to every vacation I had ever taken that comparisons were ridiculous. You didn't really compare WDW to Universal back then, and definitely not to any other theme park. Disney prices were higher (and you recognized that they charged more just like a stadium or tourist area would) but the value you got for your money was so high, and the service you received so outstanding that you still got tremendous value for what you spent.

It's the loss of that service and value that makes me sad. I still go to WDW and I still enjoy it (and yes, it's still impossible to find another vacation experience quite like it), but it's definitely not the same as it once was.
 

pax_65

Well-Known Member
The most common response to your question is to use a sports analogy.

You mentioned you're originally from NYC. Have fans stopped cheering for the Yankees because they've won only one title in the last 18 years? This from a team that used to win multiple World Series each decade? Do fans abandon them because they just fell apart and lost 4 games to their arch rival Red Sox?

I've been a fan of WDW since (possibly) before you were born.

I don't stop cheering for my team just because the owners raise ticket prices and trade away the best players.

Like a true fan, I call talk radio or post online to let others know how I feel. I even contact the front office directly and express my displeasure. ;)

Even if I attend fewer games than I used to, I don't give up on the team.

Should people have LOYALTY to Disney the same way a fan has loyalty to a sports team?

I agree, you shouldn't give up on your team... and if you do, you shouldn't call yourself a fan. But Disney is a corporation that provides a service, they are not a sports team. If I have a favorite restaurant that I am very loyal to, I have a certain expectation to them to provide excellent food, service, etc. If I feel I've been overcharged or have received poor food or bad service, I'm going to complain... and if they don't make things right with me, eventually I will stop going as often (or maybe stop going entirely).

Does that make me disloyal, or does it just mean the restaurant let me down?
 

wannabeBelle

Well-Known Member
Should people have LOYALTY to Disney the same way a fan has loyalty to a sports team?

I agree, you shouldn't give up on your team... and if you do, you shouldn't call yourself a fan. But Disney is a corporation that provides a service, they are not a sports team. If I have a favorite restaurant that I am very loyal to, I have a certain expectation to them to provide excellent food, service, etc. If I feel I've been overcharged or have received poor food or bad service, I'm going to complain... and if they don't make things right with me, eventually I will stop going as often (or maybe stop going entirely).

Does that make me disloyal, or does it just mean the restaurant let me down?
Well said. Marie
 

Sirwalterraleigh

Premium Member
You mentioned you're originally from NYC. Have fans stopped cheering for the Yankees because they've won only one title in the last 18 years? This from a team that used to win multiple World Series each decade? Do fans abandon them because they just fell apart and lost 4 games to their arch rival Red Sox?


I’ll handle this...

“Yes” the fans should abandon them...cause Yankees suck.

And remember: it’s cost about $3 or so billion in players for that one title...and the “Star” was the biggest steroid cheat in history.

No problem clearing that up for you ⚾️
 

Sirwalterraleigh

Premium Member

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Sonconato

Well-Known Member
Now that I've had a chance to experience Toy Story Land, it's time to update my "Walt Disney World Historical Grade" chart for 2018.

Using a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 meaning "absolutely fabulous" and 0 meaning "it's a dump and should be closed", I graded Walt Disney World (WDW) for each year since its opening in 1971. Ultimately I decided to grade WDW against itself, using WDW's best years as the Gold Standard.

It's an arbitrary chart based on my opinion of WDW's quality and value over the decades. It's not based on real data. You might very well have a different opinion.

Without further ado, my latest chart:

View attachment 300592


WDW was by no means perfect when it opened in 1971. The Magic Kingdom was a work in progress but still managed to blow the competition out of the water (only Disneyland was better) with an unflinching commitment to making its Guests happy.

Things only got better from there, with classic attractions such as Pirates of the Caribbean (POTC) and Space Mountain (SM) opening in the mid-1970s, River Country in 1976, followed by Big Thunder Mountain (BTM) in 1980.

WDW peaked with the opening of Epcot in 1982. Quality remained outstanding while total ticket price decreased. Previously, admission and attraction tickets were sold separately. Concerned about using that pricing scheme at Epcot, Disney leadership created a combined ticket, discontinuing attraction booklets. I recall many being upset about it but as someone who simply wanted to ride attractions all day long, the new tickets were perfect!

That perfection continued for a few years until Michael Eisner became CEO. One of his earliest actions was to increase ticket prices by double-digits. Those upset with the 1982 ticket change were furious with Eisner's massive increases, which continued from 1984 to 1988.

Attitudes greatly improved with the opening of Disney-MGM Studios and Typhoon Lagoon (TL) in 1989. Disney-MGM Studios got off to a rough start; there simply wasn't much to do. However, by the end of the year with the opening of the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and Star Tours, Disney-MGM Studios finally felt like a theme park worthy of the Disney name. Typhoon Lagoon was amazing, unlike any other water park in the World. It made the quaint River Country seem amateurish. By 1990, the anger resulting from the price increases had been largely forgotten. With 3 theme parks, 2 water parks, a shopping district, and a nightclub district, WDW finally felt worthy of a week's vacation.

By the early 1990s, the wood was starting to rot beneath the glittering façade. Disney’s Strategic Planning unit began to micromanage theme park decisions. Gone was the uncompromising commitment to excellence, superseded by a cost-benefit-analysis of every aspect of the resort. Year-by-year, quality slipped, replaced by a "good enough" attitude. Many devoted frontline Cast Members remained but senior management was forced out, supplanted by those "sharp-pencil guys" Walt Disney had warned about decades before. Externally, all was well. Internally, Disney’s Old Guard was fading, never to return.

Still, the 1990s experienced many exciting additions. Splash Mountain (SM) opened in 1992. Arguably WDW's best attraction, Tower of Terror (TOT), opened in 1994, followed by Blizzard Beach (BB) in 1995. To the casual Guest, it was a glorious decade.

Perhaps WDW's last gasp of true greatness occurred with the opening of Disney's Animal Kingdom (DAK) in 1998. It should have been WDW's high-water mark. Instead, DAK opened with too few attractions and struggled with an image problem. (Remember the 2001 "Nahtazu" campaign?) Hardcore Disney fans were disappointed.

The slow decay continued as Eisner was under increasing pressure by Wall Street to improve margin, yet WDW still was an excellent resort, still the best in the World.

The vacation industry took a nosedive after those horrific events of September 11. WDW was not immune. Projects were cancelled, hotels were shuttered, Cast Members were laid off. Operating expenses were slashed and, for many, declining quality became visible for the first time.

After the initial shock, Disney took steps to correct its downturn in business, primarily through deep discounts such as the "Buy Four, Get Three Free" campaign. WDW's affordability improved even as the economy struggled.

WDW experienced another uptick with the introduction of the Magic Your Way (MYW) ticket in 2005 and the opening of Expedition Everest (EE) in 2006. Using an a la cart pricing scheme, the MYW ticket improved WDW's affordability for those seeking an entry-level theme park experience, while EE represented WDW's last great attraction to date.

The late 2000s arguably represent WDW's low point. Even though Strategic Planning had closed shop in 2005, budget cuts continued as corporate Disney increasingly nickel-and-dimed its Guests. Worse, for the first time in its history, capital expenditures were not keeping up with depreciation. The parks were aging yet Disney was deferring basic maintenance. It showed, with each year getting a bit worse than the year before.

Opened in 2012, the New Fantasyland (NFL) represented a change in direction, expanding WDW's most popular land in the World's most popular theme park. Yet ultimately it added only 2 attractions, replacing 2 that had closed. It was a small improvement but with much unrealized potential. NFL could have been so much more. NFL should have been more.

WDW held steady in the years following the opening of NFL. There were several modest improvements yet also more cost cutting and price increases, largely cancelling each other out. The net effect was a WDW no longer in decline, but not yet on the mend.

With the addition of Pandora, 2017 was a step upward. The entire land is well-themed and some consider Flight of Passage to be one of WDW's best attractions. Na'vi River Journey is immersive even if it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. The Satu'li Canteen offers bold (for a theme park) food selections.

Sadly, Toy Story Land (TSL) was not enough to continue this upward trend in 2018.

2018 saw some of WDW's biggest price increases in years. Rack rate for a Standard room at All Star Sports was up 8.0%. The popular 4-day base ticket was up 8.5%. Annual Passholders got nailed with a 9% increase! Plus Disney started double-dipping by (for the first time) charging for hotel parking, something that previously was included in the room price for WDW's first 46 years!

One of my bellwethers is the water parks' Sand Pail. I was disappointed to report a large increase to $13.99 last year. This year, they avoided a price increase and, instead, dropped volume from 36 to 24 oz while still charging the same amount:

View attachment 300593

Added together, 2018 became a horrendous year for those shopping for a (relatively) inexpensive WDW vacation.

Meanwhile, theme park attendance continued to climb, meaning Guests were waiting in longer lines even as they paid more. TSL had to deliver a lot to justify these increases. Sadly, it missed the mark by a wide margin.

In some ways, TSL is exactly what WDW did not need: an overhyped, modestly themed land with 2 low-capacity kiddie attractions in a theme park where multiple high-capacity attractions were permanently closed.

Let's recall how we got here. The Great Movie Ride closed. The Backlot Tour closed. Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground closed. Perhaps worst of all, the crowd pleasing (and mega capacity) Osborne Festival of Dancing Lights is gone. (And, on a personal note, one of my favorites, Starring Rolls closed.) Combined, these nearly returned DHS to its dire state after its May 1989 opening. At that time, many WDW fans were furious with what they (justifiably) felt was a ripoff of a theme park ticket. DHS will improve once Star Wars Galaxy's Edge and Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway open but, for 2018, TSL may have made DHS even worse by attracting crowds that far exceed its two attractions' limited capacity.

Don't get me wrong; TSL is nice. Some dislike it but theming is consistent with the existing Toy Story Mania. Slinky Dog Dash (SDD) is a fun little coaster. Yet Alien Swirling Saucers and Woody's Lunch Box are disappointing. All three are vastly inferior to their counterparts at Pandora.

And throughout my visits this year, I saw sights like this far too often:

View attachment 300594

Higher than normal price increases. Increased crowds. Insufficient added capacity. A new land inferior to last year's Pandora. For these reasons and others, WDW took a step backwards in 2018.
Thank you for taking the time to write this. It puts what I have been thinking for a while now into words and pictures.
 

mandstaft

Well-Known Member
Now that I've had a chance to experience Toy Story Land, it's time to update my "Walt Disney World Historical Grade" chart for 2018.

Using a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 meaning "absolutely fabulous" and 0 meaning "it's a dump and should be closed", I graded Walt Disney World (WDW) for each year since its opening in 1971. Ultimately I decided to grade WDW against itself, using WDW's best years as the Gold Standard.

It's an arbitrary chart based on my opinion of WDW's quality and value over the decades. It's not based on real data. You might very well have a different opinion.

Without further ado, my latest chart:

View attachment 300592


WDW was by no means perfect when it opened in 1971. The Magic Kingdom was a work in progress but still managed to blow the competition out of the water (only Disneyland was better) with an unflinching commitment to making its Guests happy.

Things only got better from there, with classic attractions such as Pirates of the Caribbean (POTC) and Space Mountain (SM) opening in the mid-1970s, River Country in 1976, followed by Big Thunder Mountain (BTM) in 1980.

WDW peaked with the opening of Epcot in 1982. Quality remained outstanding while total ticket price decreased. Previously, admission and attraction tickets were sold separately. Concerned about using that pricing scheme at Epcot, Disney leadership created a combined ticket, discontinuing attraction booklets. I recall many being upset about it but as someone who simply wanted to ride attractions all day long, the new tickets were perfect!

That perfection continued for a few years until Michael Eisner became CEO. One of his earliest actions was to increase ticket prices by double-digits. Those upset with the 1982 ticket change were furious with Eisner's massive increases, which continued from 1984 to 1988.

Attitudes greatly improved with the opening of Disney-MGM Studios and Typhoon Lagoon (TL) in 1989. Disney-MGM Studios got off to a rough start; there simply wasn't much to do. However, by the end of the year with the opening of the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and Star Tours, Disney-MGM Studios finally felt like a theme park worthy of the Disney name. Typhoon Lagoon was amazing, unlike any other water park in the World. It made the quaint River Country seem amateurish. By 1990, the anger resulting from the price increases had been largely forgotten. With 3 theme parks, 2 water parks, a shopping district, and a nightclub district, WDW finally felt worthy of a week's vacation.

By the early 1990s, the wood was starting to rot beneath the glittering façade. Disney’s Strategic Planning unit began to micromanage theme park decisions. Gone was the uncompromising commitment to excellence, superseded by a cost-benefit-analysis of every aspect of the resort. Year-by-year, quality slipped, replaced by a "good enough" attitude. Many devoted frontline Cast Members remained but senior management was forced out, supplanted by those "sharp-pencil guys" Walt Disney had warned about decades before. Externally, all was well. Internally, Disney’s Old Guard was fading, never to return.

Still, the 1990s experienced many exciting additions. Splash Mountain (SM) opened in 1992. Arguably WDW's best attraction, Tower of Terror (TOT), opened in 1994, followed by Blizzard Beach (BB) in 1995. To the casual Guest, it was a glorious decade.

Perhaps WDW's last gasp of true greatness occurred with the opening of Disney's Animal Kingdom (DAK) in 1998. It should have been WDW's high-water mark. Instead, DAK opened with too few attractions and struggled with an image problem. (Remember the 2001 "Nahtazu" campaign?) Hardcore Disney fans were disappointed.

The slow decay continued as Eisner was under increasing pressure by Wall Street to improve margin, yet WDW still was an excellent resort, still the best in the World.

The vacation industry took a nosedive after those horrific events of September 11. WDW was not immune. Projects were cancelled, hotels were shuttered, Cast Members were laid off. Operating expenses were slashed and, for many, declining quality became visible for the first time.

After the initial shock, Disney took steps to correct its downturn in business, primarily through deep discounts such as the "Buy Four, Get Three Free" campaign. WDW's affordability improved even as the economy struggled.

WDW experienced another uptick with the introduction of the Magic Your Way (MYW) ticket in 2005 and the opening of Expedition Everest (EE) in 2006. Using an a la cart pricing scheme, the MYW ticket improved WDW's affordability for those seeking an entry-level theme park experience, while EE represented WDW's last great attraction to date.

The late 2000s arguably represent WDW's low point. Even though Strategic Planning had closed shop in 2005, budget cuts continued as corporate Disney increasingly nickel-and-dimed its Guests. Worse, for the first time in its history, capital expenditures were not keeping up with depreciation. The parks were aging yet Disney was deferring basic maintenance. It showed, with each year getting a bit worse than the year before.

Opened in 2012, the New Fantasyland (NFL) represented a change in direction, expanding WDW's most popular land in the World's most popular theme park. Yet ultimately it added only 2 attractions, replacing 2 that had closed. It was a small improvement but with much unrealized potential. NFL could have been so much more. NFL should have been more.

WDW held steady in the years following the opening of NFL. There were several modest improvements yet also more cost cutting and price increases, largely cancelling each other out. The net effect was a WDW no longer in decline, but not yet on the mend.

With the addition of Pandora, 2017 was a step upward. The entire land is well-themed and some consider Flight of Passage to be one of WDW's best attractions. Na'vi River Journey is immersive even if it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. The Satu'li Canteen offers bold (for a theme park) food selections.

Sadly, Toy Story Land (TSL) was not enough to continue this upward trend in 2018.

2018 saw some of WDW's biggest price increases in years. Rack rate for a Standard room at All Star Sports was up 8.0%. The popular 4-day base ticket was up 8.5%. Annual Passholders got nailed with a 9% increase! Plus Disney started double-dipping by (for the first time) charging for hotel parking, something that previously was included in the room price for WDW's first 46 years!

One of my bellwethers is the water parks' Sand Pail. I was disappointed to report a large increase to $13.99 last year. This year, they avoided a price increase and, instead, dropped volume from 36 to 24 oz while still charging the same amount:

View attachment 300593

Added together, 2018 became a horrendous year for those shopping for a (relatively) inexpensive WDW vacation.

Meanwhile, theme park attendance continued to climb, meaning Guests were waiting in longer lines even as they paid more. TSL had to deliver a lot to justify these increases. Sadly, it missed the mark by a wide margin.

In some ways, TSL is exactly what WDW did not need: an overhyped, modestly themed land with 2 low-capacity kiddie attractions in a theme park where multiple high-capacity attractions were permanently closed.

Let's recall how we got here. The Great Movie Ride closed. The Backlot Tour closed. Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground closed. Perhaps worst of all, the crowd pleasing (and mega capacity) Osborne Festival of Dancing Lights is gone. (And, on a personal note, one of my favorites, Starring Rolls closed.) Combined, these nearly returned DHS to its dire state after its May 1989 opening. At that time, many WDW fans were furious with what they (justifiably) felt was a ripoff of a theme park ticket. DHS will improve once Star Wars Galaxy's Edge and Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway open but, for 2018, TSL may have made DHS even worse by attracting crowds that far exceed its two attractions' limited capacity.

Don't get me wrong; TSL is nice. Some dislike it but theming is consistent with the existing Toy Story Mania. Slinky Dog Dash (SDD) is a fun little coaster. Yet Alien Swirling Saucers and Woody's Lunch Box are disappointing. All three are vastly inferior to their counterparts at Pandora.

And throughout my visits this year, I saw sights like this far too often:

View attachment 300594

Higher than normal price increases. Increased crowds. Insufficient added capacity. A new land inferior to last year's Pandora. For these reasons and others, WDW took a step backwards in 2018.

I couldn't agree more with everything you said!
 

Big Phil

Well-Known Member
Maybe the 1990s were the best decade perhaps? DHS opened in 1989, Animal Kingdom in 1998. Lots of new things to experience.

1970s would have been pretty good too. Everything was new in 1971, it was fresh and it introduced the park to a whole whack of people on the eastern coast. It had to have been an exciting time, even though there was just the MK until River Country in 1976. My dad was in his 20s in 1973, took a friend and his parents (my grandparents) to Florida and one of their stops was Magic Kingdom. So I think it mattered a lot in Florida.
 

ParentsOf4

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Several have commented on WDW's cost.

One thing to keep in mind as to why WDW scored so high immediately after the opening of Epcot in 1982 is the price of a ticket.

I paid $35 (including tax) for my 3-day ticket in May 1983, at a time when minimum wage was $3.35/hr. At minimum wage, this ticket represented about 10.4 hours of work.

Today, a 3-day ticket with tax costs $394. With minimum wage at $7.25/hr, today's ticket represents an incredible 54 hours of work.

Think about that for a moment. Even adjusted for wages, today's WDW is five times more expensive.

(Median household income was about $20k in 1983. Today it's about $60k.)

Some might suggest that it's not a fair comparison. Today's WDW has 4 theme parks. To this I counter, the Magic Kingdom generally is viewed as WDW's best theme park while the Epcot of the 1980s is superior to any of the other parks (including today's Epcot). I wouldn't hesitate to immediately shutter DHS and DAK if it meant a return to the prices of the early 1980s.

Several have commented on how great the 1990s were. With additions constantly being added, it certainly was an exciting time.

But also recall that from late 1984 to 1989, ticket prices increased by more than 50%. The value was not the same as it was in the early 1980s, which is why WDW "only" scored in the mid-90s during that decade.

Adjusted for inflation, that 3-day ticket would cost about $85. Having lived through the era, I can tell you that today's equivalent of $85 was thought of a lot of money for an amusement park. Heck, even today, I can get a season pass at my local Six Flags for under $60. But, considering that a 3-day ticket cost the equivalent of $85 in the early 1980s, today's WDW will never come close to matching the value offered during those pre-Eisner years.

All things considered, my current score of 86 for WDW is fair, perhaps even generous.
 
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Smiley/OCD

Well-Known Member
Disney used to be held as a standard for a well run ship.

It’s not anymore.

That standard is now Apple. Rightly or wrongly, love them or hate them one thing that Apple has revolutionized is the experience with a customer. Now almost every company looks at what Apple does and this is to say nothing of the supply side of Apple’s operations which is nothing short of astonishing. How do I know this? I worked for Apple for ten years.

How does this apply to Disney? Once Walt left the bean counters took over and what we see in the parks now is because of that. The attention to detail failing would have never happened while Walt was alive.


2 things...have you ever waited at the Apple store for customer service? I don't think it's that great...all they do is say your phone needs to be replaced after waiting for an hour. Secondly, you stated "Once Walt left, the bean counters took over" First off, Walt didn't leave, he passed away...BIG difference. If you stick by your logic, since Walt passed away BEFORE WDW even opened, I guess the world has been inferior since day one.
 

Smiley/OCD

Well-Known Member
Actually, many experiences are better today than in the "old days".

Music concerts are better. Sports arenas are better. Movie theaters are better.

That's what makes WDW so frustrating. Even as other premium experiences have stepped up their game to justify price increases, Disney has let their game slip.


Music concerts are better? Sports arenas are better? The technology has improved, I'll give you that, what with auto tune and lip syncing, some modern day artists would get dragged right off the stage after they sang the first bar of their opening song...don't get me wrong, I've gone to many concerts with my 2 DD's and still enjoy them, but it's really all about the quality of the artist & music, not just the dancers and video screens. As far as the sports arenas go, same thing...it's all about what's actually going on on the field, not the parties, half time shows and jumbo trons.
 

ParentsOf4

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Music concerts are better? Sports arenas are better? The technology has improved, I'll give you that, what with auto tune and lip syncing, some modern day artists would get dragged right off the stage after they sang the first bar of their opening song...don't get me wrong, I've gone to many concerts with my 2 DD's and still enjoy them, but it's really all about the quality of the artist & music, not just the dancers and video screens. As far as the sports arenas go, same thing...it's all about what's actually going on on the field, not the parties, half time shows and jumbo trons.
I'll rephrase what I wrote earlier...

More money is being invested today to turn concerts, sports, plays, movie theaters etc. into larger productions than was invested in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

The point is, producers of these experiences are spending more to justify their increased prices.

As others can attest to, I closely monitor corporate Disney's financials and can emphatically state that, until recently, Iger was spending less on WDW even as prices spiraled ever higher.
 

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