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Is the “Magic” Disappearing at Walt Disney world

2bornot2be

Active Member
Original Poster
I know we are in the middle of a pandemic but it seems that Disney is slowly taking away some of the “Magic” while staying at Disney. I know some items will return but some things seem to be gone for good.
  • Free Parking
  • Magic Bands (At least the free ones when arriving at Disney Hotel)
  • Magical Express
  • Evening Magic Hours
  • Fasspass (May Return, but will it be the same as before)
I just don’t know about the advantage of staying at Disney anymore.
 

StarshipDisney

Well-Known Member
I hate to say it but I agree with you. As things stand now, I would not pay the high cost to stay in my beloved Contemporary resort.

I mean, other than the 30 minute early entry, what advantage is there to staying on property right now? Okay maybe the buss drop off at Magic Kingdom is better than going through the ticket/transportation center. But nothing else that I can see right now.

You once got significant advantages while staying on site with dining reservations and Fast Pass selections. Those days are gone. As you touched on above, so much else has also gone away that I just don't see the magic anymore.

That is not to say that I don't hope to go back this September. But unless things get better then I can see us in a nice suite off site and overall paying less than half of our planned room at the Contemporary. Less magic must necessitate a cheaper vacation.

What will it take for us to go back on-site? At a minimum we need the fireworks and Fast Pass back...along with some more specific advantages to staying on Disney property like it was before. I can only hope that some day Disney recovers to where it was before COVID.
 

eliza61nyc

Well-Known Member
So this questions pops up every now and then especially for return visitors. I'll give my standard answers. It depends on how you define your magic.

First, no mistake about it, perks are being removed. I will not sugar coat it. so the question becomes how do those perks effect ones visit.

Magic express has no bearing on my visit since I've never used it and probably never would and I always upgraded our bands so again the free ones had no value.
I'm a dvc member so I still get free parking but if I stayed off site I would have to pay to park somewhere. I don't do buses.

my magic comes from other areas. I usually stay at the BCV's. I love the walk back from Epcot, with the music in the background and hte lights. it relaxes my soul and makes me feel peaceful. Yes, I will pay an exorbitant amount of money for a week of that. I usually get up early before my family and walk around to the Broadwalk bakery, I get coffee and cinnamon rolls and sit with the ducks, again the quiet, listening to the horns from the boat soothes my soul. We loved waking up at AKL and seeing animals from the balcony of our window. those are the intangibles that are priceless to me (my real life in a high stress job is insane) and my family.

I love the cm's at the beach club, I've never encountered these horror stories or indifferent cm's folks here have.

So yes from a dollar perspective, there are cheaper options out there and always will be. I've mentioned on the other thread, I've stayed off site a number of times and we did not enjoy it. so for my family the question becomes, do we really "save" money if we stay some where else and don't enjoy it? I believe that falls under the heading of "penny wise/pound foolish".
Basically we don't go if we have to stay off site.
 

Ricky Spanish

Well-Known Member
6AEFF816-E1FE-4494-83B8-BDEEEFB7CD03.jpeg
 

GLM

Member
I went to Disney World first in 1973. Yes ,they have changed so much since that time.. most of it was for the better until the last few years.
You can't create a culture of "The Magic" and then not expect your most loyal guests to feel let down and feeling like things are headed in another direction when you start removing things that made your vacation so much better and magical.
" The most magical place on earth"
"That's the power of magic"
"tomorrow is just a dream away"

We've all seen the commercials... so you go, experience it and love it. You want to share this with your children, grandchildren and then great grandchildren. Then you watch as Disney removes free parking at the hotels, free magicbands, no magical express , fastpass+ and destroys EMH. What is going to be taken next?? I am very disappointed in them.. and yes, I had started taking my great grandchildren.
It seems there's nothing for the out of state guest that stays on property anymore.. we can't go back 2 to 3 times a month.. just once a year. When you stay on property, you're immersed in the Disney magic 24/7. But will we go at all?? Not sure right now.

Maybe they should think about what Walt Disney said--"Disneyland is a work of love. We didn't go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money". I believe they can do both... it just takes people at the top that love Disney and what it always stood for and that can also make the correct decisions for it to be profitable. Your first priority should always be the guest experience.. do you really want to become just another amusement park??

Never forget "The Magic"
 

Worldlover71

Well-Known Member
I am conflicted on this issue. While all the losses definitely detract from both value and magic, there are still intangibles that greatly add to the WDW experience. These include the theming of the hotels and the feeling of leaving the real world behind. These are completely subjective. Some people value them greatly. To others, they do not justify the expense. For my next trip, which will be post-pandemic, I will definitely take all the loses of value into consideration. While I have loved stayed onsite for over a decade, I will have to think a great deal about going offsite.
 

NelleBelle

Well-Known Member
I'm more with @eliza61nyc and take the view of if we can't stay on property, then we don't go. We have stayed off-property and VRBO rentals. We last went as a family of 4 + both my mom and MIL (really don't recommend that combo 🤦‍♀️) in 2018. We rented DVC points and stayed at SSR--I didn't mind it, it was a HUGE resort but we were right next to the pool. I have tried for years, to no avail, to get my DH to agree to buy into DVC (we nearly did back in 2003) but given that DH likes to vacation other places and has lost a little of his love for WDW (DLR is another story...that's his new "love"), he is more than happy to rent the points and not be "burdened" with having a DVC resort. But his point is, because we don't vacation at WDW yearly anymore, he will concede to staying onsite renting points for DVC from now on. We have very large teens and a 2-bd works well for us. We don't care for using Disney transportation (I'm probably the only one not crying about ME going away, although I do see its benefit for a lot of people, just not our family). I hate using the buses to get around--I feel they are time consuming and much prefer to rent a car.

I am a little saddened by Disney removing some of the onsite perks that for so long guests enjoyed, especially the evening EMH. We rarely took advantage of the morning EMH and avoided the park that had them due to the crowding it had. But we definitely miss staying at the parks late. The free MB, meh, my DH hated we got new ones every time and rolled his eyes that I wanted to get an upgraded one. I think the onsite parking fee is a bit of tough pill to swallow, still years later. As for FP+, fireworks, parades, shows, entertainment, I can only take a wait-and-see approach to what returns. I have no doubt that FP will return in some form, and fireworks/parades and shows will return when social distancing isn't a requirement.

I'm hopeful some of the magic remains despite this when my mom and I go in April. We are staying on site at YC to minimize the use of the buses (we know we'll have to do it some, but at least 2 parks we have the option to walk). We definitely know it will be a different trip.
 

dsinclair

New Member
I know we are in the middle of a pandemic but it seems that Disney is slowly taking away some of the “Magic” while staying at Disney. I know some items will return but some things seem to be gone for good.
  • Free Parking
  • Magic Bands (At least the free ones when arriving at Disney Hotel)
  • Magical Express
  • Evening Magic Hours
  • Fasspass (May Return, but will it be the same as before)
I just don’t know about the advantage of staying at Disney anymore.
Free parking is part of the magic?

It feels like a lot of complaints about Disney no longer being a magical experience are about value-adds, and have very little to do with the actual theme park experience. When deciding to spend thousands to go to WDW was free parking or a free $10 wrist band really the deciding factor? When looking back do people look at photos of their parking spots over the years and reminisce?
 

Rick 52

New Member
I'm afraid that the people that make these decisions behind their corporate desks have no idea what Disney magic really is. To the average person I believe the magic starts at home when you are planning your trip. Then the look on the kids and grandkids faces when the magic band package finally arrives. Then the yellow luggage tags for the magical express. Now you know your close. It was setting the alarm to get up the first day dining reservations became available so you could score your favorite restaurant or get that coveted fast pass to seven dwarfs or flight of passage. That's all part of the Disney magic. It doesn't start when you check in at your hotel or walk through the gate and down main street. Yes that is magical,however, the magic started a long time before that and now those people that have never felt that magic are removing it bit by bit and pretty soon the average family will just say forget it. Its not worth the money. Listen to the average family and not your corporate wallet so you can fatten your bonuses
 

Weather_Lady

Well-Known Member
There's still some convenience to be had with staying on-site if you're an infrequent visitor from out-of-state who flies into Orlando and is trying to avoid the expense of a rental car -- especially if there's a room or package discount on offer to sweeten the deal -- but that's really about it. A 30-minute head start on the crowds (particularly with truncated park hours all around) is a poor substitute for EMH, touring-wise -- like somebody taking away your Harley and telling you, "no worries, I'll give you this shiny new tricycle instead." [Update: as of April 2021, the early park entry advantage for onsite guests that was announced to be "coming soon" in early January has yet to materialize. I hope this isn't going to be "coming soon" the same way that "Space 220" has been "coming soon" for two years! In the meantime, there's less reason to stay onsite than ever before.]

I wouldn't say Disney's lost all the "magic" or even much of it -- the parks are the reason we go, and they are just as magical to me as they always were -- but the company will surely lose a lot of revenue, by stripping away many of the reasons families like mine used to opt for a week-long, on-property stay (sans rental car, so totally in the bubble). In the past, we've always stayed on property, in more recent years in DVC villas on rented points, and have loved the DME trips that bookended each vacation and the freedom of not having to worry about how to get from point A to point B. We also took advantage of Extra Magic Hours frequently, and appreciated the 60-day Fastpass window. As a result of our decision to stay onsite, our hotel costs and food (no transportation costs, as we fly on points) usually added up to more than 2/3 of the cost of the entire trip, with the remaining component being park tickets.

After this year, our thinking will be:
- If we have to pay for ground transportation from the airport, why not rent a car?
- If we have a rental car and Disney is scaling back on its resort theming (to paraphrase William Carlos Williams, "so much depends upon a bed scarf and some hidden Mickeys"), why not stay at a less-expensive deluxe offsite hotel or rent a house off-property?
- If we're going to be driving back and forth, why not save money and increase spontaneity by dining at off-property restaurants instead of just the Disney ones?
- If we're tooling around Orlando for dining and entertainment and park hours at WDW are short, why not buy a shorter multi-day WDW ticket without parkhopping and just spend 1 day at each WDW park, so we can spend the other half the week at Universal (where an annual pass barely costs more than a 4-day ticket): then we can come back again later in the year for a half-priced Universal-only "bonus" vacation!

It's amazing how Disney's elimination of a simple motor-coach ride and a couple extra park hours can snowball into losing out on over 75% of the revenue they'd otherwise have gained from each of my family's vacations... but it's even more amazing that the corporate types at Disney didn't foresee that consequence, since those perks were designed to convince people to stay on property in the first place!
 
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NelleBelle

Well-Known Member
I'm afraid that the people that make these decisions behind their corporate desks have no idea what Disney magic really is. To the average person I believe the magic starts at home when you are planning your trip. Then the look on the kids and grandkids faces when the magic band package finally arrives. Then the yellow luggage tags for the magical express. Now you know your close. It was setting the alarm to get up the first day dining reservations became available so you could score your favorite restaurant or get that coveted fast pass to seven dwarfs or flight of passage. That's all part of the Disney magic. It doesn't start when you check in at your hotel or walk through the gate and down main street. Yes that is magical,however, the magic started a long time before that and now those people that have never felt that magic are removing it bit by bit and pretty soon the average family will just say forget it. Its not worth the money. Listen to the average family and not your corporate wallet so you can fatten your bonuses
I can see your point as a fellow planner. But not all who travel to WDW are. A lot utilize a travel agent to sets the alarm to make those coveted ADRs at the favorite restaurants (or new to them restaurants) as well as making the FP+ plans, etc. This year, for the first time ever, I turned it all over to a travel agent. I'm on the west coast and don't have the energy to get up and fight for those dining reservations. And you can still get you MBs, the plain ones looked seriously discounted when I looked (they had almost every color, more so than just the 6 or so when I used to get the "free" ones). And I do agree the when ME goes away next year, that will be a big blow to those who use it.

But for all you repeat veterans who have gone for years, what did you do before disney gave you ME, and MB, FP+, and EMH?? Those things weren't always a "given" freebie and part of the "disney magic"!

EDIT: @Rick 52 sorry, this wasn't meant to be a tangent against you 😊
 

dsinclair

New Member
After this year, our thinking will be:
- If we have to pay for ground transportation, why not rent a car?
- If we have a rental car and Disney is scaling back on its resort theming (to paraphrase William Carlos Williams, "so much depends upon a bed scarf and some hidden Mickeys"), why not stay at a less-expensive deluxe hotel or rent a house off-property?
- If we're going to be driving back and forth, why not save money and increase spontaneity by dining at off-property restaurants instead of the Disney ones?
- If we're tooling around Orlando for dining and entertainment and park hours at WDW are short, why not buy a shorter multi-day WDW ticket without parkhopping and just spend 1 day at each WDW park, so we can spend the other half the week at Universal (where an annual pass barely costs more than a 4-day ticket), so we can come back again later in the year for a half-priced Universal-only "bonus" vacation?

It's amazing how Disney's elimination of a simple motor-coach ride and a couple extra park hours can snowball into losing out on 2/3 of the revenue they'd otherwise have gained from one family's vacations... but it's even more amazing that the corporate types at Disney didn't foresee that consequence.
Because renting a car would certainly be more expensive.

As well, I guess a lot of this comes down to why are you going on vacation? We go to WDW, not Orlando. We stay on the monorail loop because of the convenience of being able to walk right up to the dock to head to the Magic Kingdom or walk to TTC to take the rail to Epcot. None of this makes property locations less convenient than the alternative. I do wish MDE wasn't going away, but booking a Mears ticket will certainly be less hectic, less expensive, and more convenient than bringing two car seats, renting a large enough vehicle, paying for gas, paying for parking, and having to drive everywhere.
 

aliceismad

Well-Known Member
But for all you repeat veterans who have gone for years, what did you do before disney gave you ME, and MB, FP+, and EMH?? Those things weren't always a "given" freebie and part of the "disney magic"!
Well, at DLR, we have to rent a car or hire a car to get from LAX (or wherever) to the hotel. MaxPass is a thing, but it's not necessary, nor were paper FPs. I've only been to EMH in the morning there, never at night. And I've never been there with a Magic Band. BUT I've also never spent a week at DLR.

Obviously WDW is a different animal than DLR. To me, the items mentioned feel like nice touches for WDW trips but not essential. Are they evidence of a trend toward nickel-and-diming guests? I'm sure many of us see it that way.
 

Weather_Lady

Well-Known Member
Because renting a car would certainly be more expensive.

As well, I guess a lot of this comes down to why are you going on vacation? We go to WDW, not Orlando. We stay on the monorail loop because of the convenience of being able to walk right up to the dock to head to the Magic Kingdom or walk to TTC to take the rail to Epcot. None of this makes property locations less convenient than the alternative. I do wish MDE wasn't going away, but booking a Mears ticket will certainly be less hectic, less expensive, and more convenient than bringing two car seats, renting a large enough vehicle, paying for gas, paying for parking, and having to drive everywhere.
I wasn't saying that renting a car would be less expensive than other forms of ground transportation after 2021, but the loss of DME means we're weighing the pros and cons of different options in ways we never did before, and it makes an offsite stay more attractive and inexpensive. Of course a rental car and parking will cost more than a shared shuttle from the airport, but if we're saving many hundreds more on hotel and food by staying offsite, we still come out way ahead financially, which is a significant consideration. Are there other intangibles that make staying onsite at Disney attractive? Sure there are, but their value is subjective for every family, and my post certainly made no suggestion that our view is the best or only way of reacting to some of the recent changes. It's just an honest play-by-play of our reasoning, not an argument.

Welcome to the boards.
 
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NelleBelle

Well-Known Member
Well, at DLR, we have to rent a car or hire a car to get from LAX (or wherever) to the hotel. MaxPass is a thing, but it's not necessary, nor were paper FPs. I've only been to EMH in the morning there, never at night. And I've never been there with a Magic Band. BUT I've also never spent a week at DLR.

Obviously WDW is a different animal than DLR. To me, the items mentioned feel like nice touches for WDW trips but not essential. Are they evidence of a trend toward nickel-and-diming guests? I'm sure many of us see it that way.
When we go to DLR, we typically fly into John Wayne (Orange County)--nicer, smaller airport and typically a few $ cheaper when we fly Alaska. We go for about 4-5 days when we go, leaning more on 4 days lately if it's just DH and myself and time of year. We definitely don't rent a car, we take lyft/uber (~$35 including tip). Coming from Seattle where we have horrific traffic, we have no desire to jump into another city's traffic mess when we vacation. 😉 And we always get a hotel that's within a few blocks of either Downtown Disney or the main entrance (our preference). There's pretty much everything we need within walking distance.

I'm generally not a morning person and can't get myself up and at 'em in time to get to EMH, although it is easier at DLR since there's no time zone change to deal with! We only discovered the joy of MaxPass on our last trip in 2019--love it! But have no problems with regular FP and the lines are certainly manageable without either, IMHO, compared to WDW stand-by lines. We've yet to feel the nickel-and-diming from them yet as there are only a few on-property, Disney-owned resorts and since we get fantastic deals through DH's employer for hotels, we stay in the Good Neighbor hotels and get the same perks. I think because you're not "stuck" in a bubble, which I admit I like the immersion when I'm at WDW, you can definitely get some less expensive eats, lodging, etc. and still not feel like you need a rental car.
 

cmwade77

Well-Known Member
I'm more with @eliza61nyc and take the view of if we can't stay on property, then we don't go. We have stayed off-property and VRBO rentals. We last went as a family of 4 + both my mom and MIL (really don't recommend that combo 🤦‍♀️) in 2018. We rented DVC points and stayed at SSR--I didn't mind it, it was a HUGE resort but we were right next to the pool. I have tried for years, to no avail, to get my DH to agree to buy into DVC (we nearly did back in 2003) but given that DH likes to vacation other places and has lost a little of his love for WDW (DLR is another story...that's his new "love"), he is more than happy to rent the points and not be "burdened" with having a DVC resort. But his point is, because we don't vacation at WDW yearly anymore, he will concede to staying onsite renting points for DVC from now on. We have very large teens and a 2-bd works well for us. We don't care for using Disney transportation (I'm probably the only one not crying about ME going away, although I do see its benefit for a lot of people, just not our family). I hate using the buses to get around--I feel they are time consuming and much prefer to rent a car.

I am a little saddened by Disney removing some of the onsite perks that for so long guests enjoyed, especially the evening EMH. We rarely took advantage of the morning EMH and avoided the park that had them due to the crowding it had. But we definitely miss staying at the parks late. The free MB, meh, my DH hated we got new ones every time and rolled his eyes that I wanted to get an upgraded one. I think the onsite parking fee is a bit of tough pill to swallow, still years later. As for FP+, fireworks, parades, shows, entertainment, I can only take a wait-and-see approach to what returns. I have no doubt that FP will return in some form, and fireworks/parades and shows will return when social distancing isn't a requirement.

I'm hopeful some of the magic remains despite this when my mom and I go in April. We are staying on site at YC to minimize the use of the buses (we know we'll have to do it some, but at least 2 parks we have the option to walk). We definitely know it will be a different trip.
Buying is still the way to go and use RCI 9n the years you aren't doing Disney. I mean a week in Times Square a block from Carnegie Hall with a full kitchen for less than 200 points is insane, sometimes as low as 80 points. Just if they aren't waiving the $90 exchange fee make sure your trip.is long enough to justify paying the fee.
 

cmwade77

Well-Known Member
When we go to DLR, we typically fly into John Wayne (Orange County)--nicer, smaller airport and typically a few $ cheaper when we fly Alaska. We go for about 4-5 days when we go, leaning more on 4 days lately if it's just DH and myself and time of year. We definitely don't rent a car, we take lyft/uber (~$35 including tip). Coming from Seattle where we have horrific traffic, we have no desire to jump into another city's traffic mess when we vacation. 😉 And we always get a hotel that's within a few blocks of either Downtown Disney or the main entrance (our preference). There's pretty much everything we need within walking distance.

I'm generally not a morning person and can't get myself up and at 'em in time to get to EMH, although it is easier at DLR since there's no time zone change to deal with! We only discovered the joy of MaxPass on our last trip in 2019--love it! But have no problems with regular FP and the lines are certainly manageable without either, IMHO, compared to WDW stand-by lines. We've yet to feel the nickel-and-diming from them yet as there are only a few on-property, Disney-owned resorts and since we get fantastic deals through DH's employer for hotels, we stay in the Good Neighbor hotels and get the same perks. I think because you're not "stuck" in a bubble, which I admit I like the immersion when I'm at WDW, you can definitely get some less expensive eats, lodging, etc. and still not feel like you need a rental car.
Long Beach is even smaller and closer.
 

UK Disney

New Member
If they don't bring back the 60 day fp option for resort guests, I'll definitely not bother staying on site. I'll use the money saved on special ticketed events, assuming they bring them back.
 

GLM

Member
I can see your point as a fellow planner. But not all who travel to WDW are. A lot utilize a travel agent to sets the alarm to make those coveted ADRs at the favorite restaurants (or new to them restaurants) as well as making the FP+ plans, etc. This year, for the first time ever, I turned it all over to a travel agent. I'm on the west coast and don't have the energy to get up and fight for those dining reservations. And you can still get you MBs, the plain ones looked seriously discounted when I looked (they had almost every color, more so than just the 6 or so when I used to get the "free" ones). And I do agree the when ME goes away next year, that will be a big blow to those who use it.

But for all you repeat veterans who have gone for years, what did you do before disney gave you ME, and MB, FP+, and EMH?? Those things weren't always a "given" freebie and part of the "disney magic"!

EDIT: @Rick 52 sorry, this wasn't meant to be a tangent against you 😊
Parking was free at the hotels, dining cost much less, shorter lines so no fastpass+ needed . Also there was a Disney Magic perk called e ride night. You paid about $13 each for 3+ hours in Magic Kingdom ..only for onsite hotel guests. Cast members were a delight and the park was spotless.
Rick52 is right. Not everyone will see that. We all have different reasons for going. Personally I'd hate to see Disneyworld become just another amusement park.
 

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