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Practical tips for Walt Disney World travel
WDW New Year's Resolutions
By now the Christmas lights have most likely been put away until needed some time later this year, the Chia Pet you received in that Yankee gift swap has found a niche in the closet, and most importantly that treadmill you bought to help you lose that weight may have actually been turned on a few times.
It's that time of year again for everyone to sit down and make their New Year's resolution lists. Why should Walt Disney World be any different?
In this session we'll look at some resolutions that could serve well on both sides of the Walt Disney World turnstiles. The purpose here is to look at win-win situations and not a one-sided wish list that caters to guests only at the expense of the resort.
This resolution list may not be endless but it may have a few ideas worth discussing.
Admission Media Simplification
It seems that most first-time guests are frustration by the different admission media offerings of the Walt Disney World Resort. Although it's easy to argue that giving guests many different options caters to guest needs the many choices also leads to a lot of head scratching.
So here's our first New Year's resolution. Simplify the admission media choices.
First limit guest to two choices: Multi-Day Passes and Annual Passes.
The multi-day pass allows the guest to define how many admission days he or she needs - purchasing only that number of days. The more days purchased, the lower the cost per day. The only other option is to purchase a premium flavor, which adds in water parks and maybe Disney Quest.
Annual Passes remain as is...Regular and Premium.
This simplifies the choices and makes it easier for the guest to decide the best option. Think of the relief of the guest who now knows that the only decisions to make are (1) how many days and (2) whether or not water park and Disney Quest admission need to be on the pass.
This simplification also helps the employee: there is no longer a need to spend about ten minutes describing all the options available, hoping not to overlook any detail.
Sometimes you hear of an idea and you say, "I wish I had thought of that one!" This is one. It is the brainchild of Sue Pisatauro of Small World Travel.
Sue's idea focuses on Fastpass and she suggested that a Fastpass Central could be placed in each theme park. This centrally located Fastpass station will allow guests to secure a Fastpass to their favorite attraction without having to trek all the way over to the where the attraction is located in the park.
This idea has great merit. First this is a big time saver to the guest. This station will list the distribution times for all the Fastpass attractions and give the guests a real-time indication of which attraction they need a Fastpass for at that time. Sometimes the greeter boards are a bit off, especially when it takes time to get from the greeter boards to the attraction. Yeah the board said 15 minutes waiting time...but when you get there it's now a 45-minute queue.
How does the resort gain from this? Well, the centrally located Fastpass station hastens the guest's ability to put off standing in line idly instead of doing some shopping or grabbing a snack. It's a win-win situation and brings the Fastpass concept to a new level.
Nice thinking Sue.
Alternating Nighttime Spectaculars
This idea stems from the evolution of Disney/MGM Studios from its first year to the present. In the early 90's MGM offered "Sorcery In the Sky" for it's nightly fireworks spectacular. As the Millennium approached, so did Fantasmic. As always you'll find guests who prefer one to the other. But what about those guests who would like to see both?
This resolution calls for MGM Studios to consider an alternating schedule for Fantasmic and 'Sorcery In the Sky". By alternating these shows the theme park offers guests the opportunity and choice to enjoy both events.
An alternating schedule may mean goodness from the theme park's perspective as well. The assumption here is that by limiting the number of Fantasmic performances the park could very well see a cost savings. My guess is that Fantasmic is the more expensive of the two shows. Fantasmic involves many performing cast members who could very well be performing in other parts of the resort during those nights that "Sorcery" is being shown. Then again, if they were not "on the clock" that night, wouldn't payroll be lightened? I guess it would come down to which of the two shows is the most costly.
So it's possible that moving to an alternate schedule of Fantasmic and "Sorcery" would offer guests more entertainment choices and possibly save some operating expenses for the theme park. Seems like a potential win-win situation to me.
We all know about the many different "behind the scenes" tours offered at WDW but there may be a different type of tour that is just begging to be offered to guests. This resolution, also credited to Sue Pisatauro, calls for the resort to consider offering hotel tours to the Disney owned resorts.
This idea stems from the constant debate about staying offsite versus onsite. If guests, who have never experienced an onsite resort, got the chance to see first hand what some of these resorts are like, wouldn't there be a chance that a percentage of these guests would more likely try an onsite resort for their next vacation?
These hotel tours can be offered for the basic hotels and can originate from the parks.
From the guest standpoint, they are given a chance to see what their hotel room and amenities would be like, while from the resort's standpoint, it is an opportunity to do a little marketing and maybe help convince a guest to really consider staying onsite.
Restaurant Hopping Card
I've often wondered why the Fantasmic Dinner Package surfaced. I can only wonder that the reason behind this MGM offering is to entice guests to dine more often at the park's restaurants.
If that is the case, then why not offer guests an opportunity to "earn" a free meal at a Walt Disney World theme park restaurant by offering an "Around the World Dining Card" in which guests can earn a free meal?
Here is how this could work. A guest dines at a park restaurant that is part of the program. At the end of the meal the guest's card is stamped to indicate proof that the guest has eaten there. After so many stamps the guest is entitled to a free meal at one of those restaurants on the program.
This works for the guest because it gives an incentive to eat in the park. For the resort it encourages guests to eat in the parks and may actually increase the number of restaurant patrons that the resort currently enjoys.
So will these resolutions join others on the heap pile and just be a good thought that never comes to fruition? You never know. It is always good to think about what changes would be welcomed by all involved. It is those changes that offer a win-win situation that deserve a chance.
So here is a challenge to you. What resolutions would you like to see made by the Walt Disney World resort? Remember, it's the win-win resolutions that should be considered.
It's time to take a mid-winter look into Mike's Mailbag.
Photos on this page by Brian Bennett unless otherwise noted
Here's a list of the trip reports that Mike has written that are part of MousePlanet's archives!
Also, don't miss Lani Teshima's column, "The Trip Planner" for more travel planning information!
The first Disney trip report that I ever read was a report by Mike Scopa that I downloaded from the America Online travel library in late 1994. The report was a detailed description of the Scopa family's trip to WDW in the summer of that year.
As soon as I was done reading it, I was hooked.
I picked my own brain and documented my own trips and the things I'd learned from my own experiences. Then, in 1995 I actually wrote a report as the trip unfolded. I took a laptop with me and spent some time in the evenings documenting what had happened that day. (I've repeated that process for my own reports ever since.)
In July 1996, I started my Disney trip planning Web site. Besides including my own reports, I asked for permission from the authors of several other reports and added them to the offering. Since then, the number of reports has expanded greatly. In 1997, I added an information summary for each report to make it easier to sort through the reports that are available.
I still 'blame' Mike for hooking me on this Disney habit.
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