When Did WDW Become An Extended Vacation Destination?

Raineman

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
So, we all know that for the first 11 years of existence, WDW was only one park, which increased to 2 when Epcot opened. My question is, when did most people start to consider it a place to take an extended vacation, ie more than just 2-3 days as part of a general vacation to central Florida that would normally include other local attractions as well? Was it at that point when DHS opened, or did it take adding DAK as the fourth park to entice more guests to visit for a week or more? Did the additions of Pleasure Island/DTD and the water parks have an effect as well?
 

Schweino

Active Member
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The minute it got expensive. Mindset changed to "Well if were gonna shell out this dough to go, might as well go for an extended time and come back in 6 years" LOL. Just me though ;D
 

JIMINYCR

Well-Known Member
Multiple advances in the property. When it was expanded enough to make it enough to sustain guests attention without getting stale for that many additional days. Adding on parks with more attractions, more restaurants to dine with varied menus, events to attend, all contributed to building the interest of guests wanting to go back repeatedly with additional days. It also helped when themed resorts started to appear which allowed further guest immersion into the Disney trip. I think at the point where the resorts, DHS and AK had been added, peoples incomes had increased, cash and savings were being designated more towards pleasurable expenditures. Mass advertising also did a good job of planting the idea of a Disney trip being the ideal destination for families.
 

Heppenheimer

Well-Known Member
For our family, it was 1984, our first visit after Epcot opened. Prior to that, our stays on property were usually 5 days or less, and usually included a day trip to Cypress Gardens. That was enough time to see everything at the Magic Kingdom at least once, and visit River Country, Discovery Island and what was then called Lake Buena Vista (now Disney Springs). Once Epcot opened, 5 days expanded to 7. We still stayed for 7 days once Disney-MGM Studios, Pleasure Island, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach arrived, but River Country, Discovery Island and Cypress Gardens were dropped, and we only visited one of the other water parks per trip. We didn't expand to longer stays mainly due to the limits on my dad's vacation time.

I had a 12 year gap between our last family trip and the first one I paid for as an adult. My first trip back since Animal Kingdom opened was a last minute 4 day visit, and I quickly realized that to have the same kind of thorough but not-too-rushed trips that I enjoyed as a kid, Disney World now required 10 days. It's been 10 days for me since 2011. Unless they add something substantial that isn't a just replacement for a shuttered attraction, I will probably remain at 10 days. Only a 5th gate would likely keep me there longer.

I grew up in the Philadelphia area, so a Disney trip was a multi-day drive. It wasn't a yearly trip, but usually every 2-4 years. Of the small handful of other kids I knew growing up who also visited regularly, I seem to recall that their trips followed a similar expansion over the years, ballooning from a few nights in the 70s to a week or more by the mid 80s-early 90s.
 
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MickeyLuv'r

Well-Known Member
Magic Your Way tickets was a big turning point. Pricing to add days 3-7 dropped significantly (at least for park tickets).

Even when it was just MK, I visited FL for 5+ days. I just didn't spend all of it at WDW/Orlando.

Even before MYW tickets, I did WDW/Universal combo trips that were 5+ days.

For that matter though, I have also had many short trips to WDW. In 2019, I had a 1 WDW day trip. In past 3 years, I also had a trip where I only came to WDW property for 2-ish hours, just DS. The rest of the weekend was at Universal.
 
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MickeyLuv'r

Well-Known Member
In 2004, all tickets were park hoppers. Only price difference was if you bought at WDW, or not-WDW. (I think AAA was an option for lower prices, so was Disney store- including MCO, mail order, and maybe some offsite hotels). Child price = ages 3-9:

adult 1 day =$54.75
child 1 day = $43.75

Adult 4 day = $202 (not-WDW) and $219 (gate price) = $50.50/54.75 per day
child 4 day = $162 (not-WDW) and $176 (gate) =$40.50/44 per day

Adult 5 day = $230 (not-WDW) and $249 (gate price) = $46/49.80 per day
child 5 day = $184 (not-WDW) and $200 (gate) = $36.80/40 per day

Adult 7 day = any ticket over 5 days was a park hopper plus (plus = water parks, mini golf, Disneyquest)
Adult 7 day = $316 (not-WDW) and $342 (gate price) = $45.14/48.85 per day
child 7 day = $253 (not-WDW) and $274 (gate) = $36.14/39.14 per day

Days 6 and 7 still cost $43 each.

AFTER MAGIC YOUR WAY:

adult 1 day =$59.75 (non hop)
child 1 day = $48

Adult 4 day non-hop= $185 = $46.25 per day
child 4 day non hop = $148 = $37 per day

Adult 5 day park hop = $217 (not-WDW) , or $193 non hop/expiring =$43.40/38.60 per day
child 5 day = $184 (not-WDW), or $155 non-hop/expiring = $36.80/31


Adult 7 day park hop= $223 (not-WDW) and $199 non-hop/expiring = $31.85/28.42 per day
child 7 day = $186 (not-WDW) and $160 non-hop/expiring

Adult 10 day park hop/expiring = $232 =$23.20 per day
Child 10 day park hop/expiring = 193 =$19.30 per day

Adult 10 day NON-hop, NO expire = $308 = $30.80 per day
Child 10 day NON-hop, NO expire = $267 = $26.70 per day

Adult 10 day hop, NO expire = $332 = $33.20 per day
Child 10 day hop, NO expire = $293 = $29.30 per day


Notice the difference between 5 days and 10 days is just $15 total, or $3/day! ($232-$217)

You could also split a 10 day no expire ticket into 2 five days trips and that equaled $166 per 5-days ticket.

In this era, if we went for less than 10 days, we often bought the extra days/no expire option, and used the leftover days for short trips, because then we'd get 1 day for just $31. I pretty much just always kept some leftover tickets on hand.

In this era, we also got in the habit of going to the parks for just a few hours on arrival days. Where we would have previously spent arrival night at the pool or Downtown Disney, we'd go into a park for a few hours instead. So technically, we didn't add a full day, more like 4-5 hours.
 
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JustAFan

Well-Known Member
The minute it got expensive. Mindset changed to "Well if were gonna shell out this dough to go, might as well go for an extended time and come back in 6 years" LOL. Just me though ;D
It's not cost for us as much as it is number of things to do and distance from home. The cost actually shortens our stay if anything.
 

Giss Neric

Well-Known Member
Universal is in the process of that stage right now with them adding a new park and building hotels here and there.

So I guess it's the same as Disney. More parks, more international visitors, more hotels built.
 

Club Cooloholic

Well-Known Member
So, we all know that for the first 11 years of existence, WDW was only one park, which increased to 2 when Epcot opened. My question is, when did most people start to consider it a place to take an extended vacation, ie more than just 2-3 days as part of a general vacation to central Florida that would normally include other local attractions as well? Was it at that point when DHS opened, or did it take adding DAK as the fourth park to entice more guests to visit for a week or more? Did the additions of Pleasure Island/DTD and the water parks have an effect as well?
It was always a 4 or more day trip for us because it's so far. Trust me, back in the day, a trip to central florida was all about Disney with maybe a side trip to Gatorland.
 

NelleBelle

Well-Known Member
My very first trip to WDW was in 1995 for my senior class trip. We drove straight-through from Ft. Worth, TX and stayed off-property. We got 3 reg. school days off and 1 educational school days off. So we went to MK day 1, Epcot for our "educational" day, Cocoa Beach day 2, and I think MGM studios for 3rd day.

But when I went with my parents in 1998, we went for 7 days--we had park hopper tickets and did everything from mini golf, to DisneyQuest, to Pleasure Island (loved that place)! It was that trip that did it for us. We had to spend at least 7 days or it wasn't worth going for us.

Taking my own family, we tend to do 10 days as we generally like to add Universal days as well as hang by the pool with 1/2 days in the parks.
 

techgeek

Well-Known Member
Summer of 1984 was my first trip to Orlando. We did a split stay, 4 nights at the Contemporary, 3 off-property. 4 day park passes, we divided MK and Epcot into 2 days each with some afternoon pool time. 5th day was River Country / Discovery Island, 6th day Sea World. After Epcot opened, 4 full days was pretty much the minimum recommendation from the planning guides and travel agents, and it was easy enough to make a week out of it with the beach or secondary attractions.
 

Jon81uk

Well-Known Member
My first visit was 2001 so this is speculation rather than experience.

But I think 1989 was the turning point. The addition of Universal Studios and Disney-MGM really made Orlando a long-stay destination. Also the addition of Caribbean Beach resort opened up a slightly more affordable way to stay on property.
Then the addition of Port Orleans and the All Star resorts in the 90s, ending with Animal Kingdom and Islands of Adventure. Eisner really pushed to make WDW a resort destination with options for everyone.
 

JIMINYCR

Well-Known Member
Our first trip was in 95 and we knew at the end of our first day, we would be back with more days added onto our next trip. Weve never had a trip lasting less than 10 days, usually its for 14. Upon retiring one day it will increase even more. I also know lots of people who were... One and Done. Depending on how they planned or failed to plan, how they were handled by CM's, tolerated bus waits, lengthy lines, and how they felt the vacation met or didnt meet their expectations. Thats why its so important for Disney to commit to giving their best in pleasing guests and providing experiences that come through. At times theyve failed that.
 

Disneyfreak Jen

Well-Known Member
My first visit was in 1986. I was 11. We drove down from NJ and stayed for a week I believe. That included MK, Epcot, Cypress Gardens, River Country, and pool time at the Best Western.
 

MickeyLuv'r

Well-Known Member
I remember someone I knew going there for their Honeymoon - when there was only one park. But I suspect that they made day trips to places that don't exist anymore, such as Cypress Gardens, etc.
I remember Cypress Gardens from when WDW was just MK. Over the years FL has had many fun places to visit. Some have been a bit quirky, and many are long gone, but there's always something unique.

There's just too much to list, everything from natural parks/beaches to historical places, museums, shopping, glimpses of the uber-wealthy.

I feel bad for people who never vacation beyond the theme parks, because FL just has so much to offer that is special.
 
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Heppenheimer

Well-Known Member
Did anyone who wasn't local ever add Circus World to their trip? I remember looking at the brochure (favorite activity at the state welcome centers!) and thinking it looked like a rather unremarkable theme park.

I have fond memories of Cypress Gardens, but in retrospect, it seems like the kind of regional attraction that couldn't possibly survive today. Maybe it lasted as long as it did because it long predated Disney World and was already well known by the time WDW opened.
 
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