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Was Disney World better years ago? Your thoughts.

Was the Disney World of yesteryear (the 1980s to mid 2000s) better?


  • Total voters
    151
It wasn't better, it was different. Back in the 80's you didn't have animal kingdom or hollywood studios. You didn't have all the hotel opportunities. Downtown Disney was a lot smaller. On the other side, the crowds were smaller and I miss the voyage under the seas ride. Change is good, not better.
 

Heppenheimer

Well-Known Member
I prefer the selection of attractions now than back in the 70s and 80s.

But, a year or two ago, I was watching home movies of a summer trip we took in 1989. My dad had the habit of filming almost every detail of the parks, so he left a pretty comprehensive time capsule to us. Anyway, a few things that struck me:

1) The parks were much less crowded. I could clearly see this illustrated from a portion he filmed from the old Skyway. Despite being late morning in July, the amount of people walking around looks surprisingly small compared to today.

2) Us watching the Main Street Electrical Parade- we were standing on Main Street, and the closest other people were at more than arm's length distance. Scanning the crowd (it's a little hard to see, given the limits of a mid 1980s betamax video camera filming in the dark), I couldn't even make out any kids sitting on their parent's shoulders. It looked like there was ample room for everyone who wanted to watch the parade.

3) You don't need to look closely in these videos to notice people smoking any and everywhere.

4) There seemed to be a lot more live music in all the parks. Steel Drums in Adventureland, Fife and Drums in Liberty Square, fiddlers and guitar players in Frontierland, etc. It might be just my perception, but these still seem to be much more common at Disneyland. I haven't run into any live musicians in my last two trips to Disney World.

So, good and bad.
 
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lindawdw

Well-Known Member
I've been traveling to WDW since 1975 and have witness the enormous growth of "The World" since then and I have to say that although there is a lot more to see and do since that first year, I miss the clean, peaceful, innocence that was once at my beloved WDW. I am a DVC member and visit 4 times a year but my love of all things Disney has waned quite a bit since Bob Igor took over and now with Chapek at the helm, my Disney days just might be numbered. IMHO, these two Disney leaders have taken this once great company and flushed it down the toilet.
 

yankspy

Well-Known Member
I would also say yes and no. I think Epcot was better. For me, it had a world‘s fair feeling, optimistic, bright. Even the pavilions reflected this with big wide open spaces with huge windows that let the light in. Crowds were less. More entertainment. Lake Buena Vista was charming, peaceful.

however, now you have more parks, more hotels, and one thing that almost everyone forgets, DINING!! Food was mediocre back in the day. one of the best things about Epcot Center were the restaurants in WS.
 

Heppenheimer

Well-Known Member
I would also say yes and no. I think Epcot was better. For me, it had a world‘s fair feeling, optimistic, bright. Even the pavilions reflected this with big wide open spaces with huge windows that let the light in. Crowds were less. More entertainment. Lake Buena Vista was charming, peaceful.

however, now you have more parks, more hotels, and one thing that almost everyone forgets, DINING!! Food was mediocre back in the day. one of the best things about Epcot Center were the restaurants in WS.
Definitely agree with this. It's quite ironic that as the food offerings at Disney World have generally improved over the decades, food at the World Showcase has become more bland and mediocre, whereas at one time, these were the stand-outs.
 

Mark Dunne

Active Member
Well yes and no, I’ve been lucky enough to visit a few times , 1993 was my first, yes it’s easy to get carrried away with higher ticket prices and all the changes that are coming, years ago I think October / March was kinda the quiet months, no month is quiet now, I did like the old fast pass ticket system , that was fun, until they ran out on space mountain( but the interaction with MD App was great, to book fast passes in advance very good, but look at the rides now, Pandora, black spire outpost , toy story land , Tron , GOTG at Epcot, ratatouille, it’s crazy how much we are all getting, so I think that now is amazing, we are all lucky to be honest , although I think the old shows like spectromagic are missed a lot, I’d love that to come back .
 

Mark Dunne

Active Member
It was unquestionably better in my opinion. Yes, there have been a lot of recent enhancements that I am grateful for and would not want to lose, such as Rise of the Resistance, and lots of improved infrastructure and streamlining and whatnot. But aside from additions and growth, nearly every category has declined other than perhaps food quality, which has improved significantly.

Ignoring things like the fact that service and upkeep are nowhere near what they used to be, crowds are bigger, more pre-planning and hassle is required, crowds are bigger, you're paying a lot more for less now and being nickel and dimed, etc...

The single biggest difference that is gradually killing my lifelong enthusiasm for me is the ever-growing push for corporate synergy. For the first 30-35-ish years, the WDW experience was largely NOT about constantly being bombarded by the Disney brand. Yes, it's always been prominent, but you went to WDW before because it was a high quality experience and escape at what were originally relatively reasonable prices. You'd meet the characters and there were some IP attractions, but more attractions than not were non-IP based and if they were, it didn't feel like Disney trying to market to you. It felt like a place that didn't need the Disney brand to exist because it was so impressive, cohesive, high quality, and unique that it would be a draw on its own.

My first visit was as a 9 year old in 1994. Even at that age, I remember being apprehensive about going because the perception many people had back then was that WDW was for small children only, corporate tackiness, and all about hugging the characters and rides like the teacups and dumbo. I was already in a state of mind to not want that. Then, to my surprise, we get there and you could largely ignore the character stuff if you wanted to. I distinctly remember feeling like this place was family friendly but "mature", it wasn't pandering to me or kids smaller than me. I was in total awe that a perfect, massive scale place like this seemed like it shouldn't exist, but did. I became a lifelong fan after that.

Now I know that not everyone agrees and many think that the Disney branding is an integral part of the WDW experience. But the difference is that before it could largely be kept in the background if you weren't as interested in it. Since the early to mid 00's they've continued to dial up the IP and corporate synergy. Now, with Chapek, it's reaching the absurd levels that 10 years ago we would have joked about as hyperbolic examples. The irony is that WDW today is so much more like what naysayers assumed it was like all along - being marketed to and bombarded by the Disney brand at every possible opportunity.
Yes I guess your right ref IP flung in your face, and mr chapek is a different CEO, mr Iger was Disney through and through, he was a little like Walt ,also throwing in a big kid approach of Eisner, he bought us my dream land in Star Wars, Pandora, flight of passage my favourite ride ever , just love it, question is does mr C want to be remembered as the Scrooge of Disney or the giver, I still think Disney has a quality that universal will never have, the characters that have been in our memories for years , they won’t have that, even with Mario world coming. So let’s all take a deep breath and see what the next few years hold, you never know , in the end it may all come together and we will all love still going there, I miss it like crazy from the Uk, and miss you guys from across the pond , be safe , 👍🇬🇧
 

Elfinko

Well-Known Member
I've only been going to WDW since 2014 and it's only gotten more chaotic and more expensive with every trip. We haven't been there since 2018, because our 2020 trip was cancelled.
 

jloucks

Well-Known Member
It was pretty nice back in 2012 (and back in the 80's for that matter), then just went down hill. My big complaint can be distilled down to one thing.... Crowd levels too high!
 

SirWillow

Well-Known Member
As long as the current management prefers to cut CM hours and staffing levels...
As long as they continue to cut upkeep budgets, meaning less maintainance and "spit shine" in the parks...
As long as they overwork the current CM's and cut their support...
As long as they continue to cut services and standards that used to make them the model and envy of the industry...
As long as Bob Cheapskates continues to strive to live up to his nickname...
As long as they focus on only squeezing out money short term and don't care about the long term...

They won't return to what they used to be. Even when I worked there in the mid 2000's you could see some of that writing on the wall and efforts being made along those lines. It'll take some major changes in leadership style and vision to see things return.
 

SirWillow

Well-Known Member
Concur completely. I once could plan a trip and reserve the best rides in advance and know that I would enjoy the trip. Now, with Genie+ and if I want to get best use out of the system, I must be up early every day at 7 AM with a phone in my face and then spend most of the day with a phone in my face. What a crap shoot every day will be.

I wonder what you would have done before fastpass every existed? Or under the original fastpass system? :)
 

Deanieb59

Active Member
As much as I like each new addition I do miss the old days. There is no spontaneity to todays trips. Everything is planned down to the minute it seems-god forbid you have to go to the bathroom. Hope thats scheduled. It is hectic in the parks but now its so staged-you can't wing it anymore. I'll always love it but its changed--both good and bad.
 

StarshipDisney

Well-Known Member
I wonder what you would have done before fastpass every existed? Or under the original fastpass system?

Probably much better than with this Genie+.

Like I said, now Disney has turned away from planning to an everyday crap shoot. From 7 AM on for every single day you are there, it's all a matter of continuously working the Genie app on your phone. And lets not forget that to use Lightning Lane for any of the best rides will cost even more. Genie+ is nothing more than a ticket upgrade that will offer you even more ways to pay.
 

SirWillow

Well-Known Member
Probably much better than with this Genie+.

Like I said, now Disney has turned away from planning to an everyday crap shoot. From 7 AM on for every single day you are there, it's all a matter of continuously working the Genie app on your phone. And lets not forget that to use Lightning Lane for any of the best rides will cost even more. Genie+ is nothing more than a ticket upgrade that will offer you even more ways to pay.
In the days before fastpass+ there wasn't this advance planning like you're thinking of. No ride reservations, approach it as you go. Genie will actually bring back a lot of that.

I'm guessing you also haven't used MaxPass. I've only run into a couple that used both that didn't like MaxPass at Disneyland much better than fastpass+

It's ok to not have to plan your day down to the minute 2 months ahead of time and be locked into a schedule at the parks. really. :) That's actually one way that the parks are much worse off than they had been in the past.
 

StarshipDisney

Well-Known Member
In the days before fastpass+ there wasn't this advance planning like you're thinking of. No ride reservations, approach it as you go. Genie will actually bring back a lot of that.

I'm guessing you also haven't used MaxPass. I've only run into a couple that used both that didn't like MaxPass at Disneyland much better than fastpass+

It's ok to not have to plan your day down to the minute 2 months ahead of time and be locked into a schedule at the parks. really. :) That's actually one way that the parks are much worse off than they had been in the past.

Your outlook is obviously rosier then mine. I will await the reviews once this Genie thing comes online. We shall see.

I don't doubt that I will be forced to use it if I want to ride anything good. That is totally Disney's plan. Get more $$$ out of me.:mad:
 

CP_alum08

Well-Known Member
Probably like most things in life, but WDW just seems unnecessarily complicated at this point. From that alone I say yes the parks were better years ago. Say what you will about cost or quality of attractions or cleanliness, etc., the fact that I (more or less) have to plan my vacation down to the minute several months in advance is a big turn off.
 

GuyFawkes

Member
I liked around 2009,2010. Crowds were low and prices were a lot less then now and I was the one paying the bill for 4 people.

The real estate market crashed, people just didn't have the money to go to Disney so everything was much cheaper then today. Less crowded and much of what is there today was there back then. If another crash of some type happens, that is the time to travel, everything gets much cheaper. Right now everything is really high price wise.
 

Goofyernmost

Well-Known Member
In my opinion, No and yes, early on it was not better in the sense of things to see and do, updated technology and so on. It looks better now then in 1983 when I first went. That was just after Epcot opened and frankly Epcot had little to see and a took a long time to see it. It improved within a year or so. There were some interesting things that no longer exist like 20K Leagues in MK and Horizons in Epcot, but today it is far better in terms of quantity and technologically advanced shows.

Enjoyment, however, started a steep decline at an exact time. That moment that Fastpass was created. The attitudes of visitors dropped like a rock while stuck in long, hot, stagnant lines. That was followed not by adding new things but by psychologically transforming an everyman's park to a elitist location. Spurned on by higher prices for everything and more and more complicated requirements just to ride what had been whittled down to mostly 7 minute rides. To make matters worse they attempted to justify creating the reduced experiences by saying that people didn't like those longer rides. Right, just like the cereal companies saying that the public wanted large boxes with less product in them.

So the answer is... as far an enjoyment is concerned the older WDW was far more enjoyable, less stressful and fun. The new one is just a place to go to say you went as it has become an unjustified right of passage. A place that implies child abuse if you don't go into massive debt to take them there.
 

spock8113

Well-Known Member
Really, when you think back to the old "A-B-C-D-E" tickets system, Disney is attempting to go Back to the Future
 

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