My Disney Top 5 - Observations From My Most Recent Walt Disney World Trip:Summer 2022 Edition

by Chris Barry, contributing writer
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Welcome back to another Disney Top 5.

Well…it finally happened. If you've been paying attention to my most recent articles here on MousePlanet, you may have picked up on the fact that I was super excited to finally be returning to Walt Disney World after a three-year, COVID-inspired hiatus. Truth be told, super excited is putting it mildly. The pandemic blew some big holes into all of our lives. It kept us away from each other and from the things that we love to do. My first time back at a concert was liberating. My first time back on the ski slopes felt the same way. Those moments are like home to me. I've pretty much gotten back to doing everything I used to do before March of 2020 except Disney World. So, it was time and it was long overdue.

One of our sons was accepted into the Disney College Program for this Fall. So we figured that we would combine moving him into the program with a nice week of family fun beforehand. We booked a river view room at Port Orleans French Quarter using the Disney+ discount and planned on 5 days in the parks before his arrival day, then another two days and two nights while he was going through the settling-in process. All said and done we had 7 days in the parks and 8 nights at the resort. That's some quality Disney time, enough to do whatever we've been missing out on for the past three years for sure.

Even typing "three years" since we were last there is pretty remarkable. We were essentially yearly visitors since 2003. We skipped a year in 2015 for some reason but there were other years when my wife and I went down for a long weekend without the kids and then came back four months later with the kids in tow. In 2018, I chaperoned a school trip to Disney and then was back there a few short months later with my family celebrating my 50th. One year I went down by myself helping represent MousePlanet at MouseFest after having just been there with Diane and the kids a month or two beforehand. You all get the point. We were there a lot. Enough to know the place pretty darn well. Three years would have been an awfully long time to be away under normal circumstances. But consider the last three years and all the mayhem they have brought upon us all and all of the huge changes that have taken place at Disney and it made this last trip all the more significant.

Let's consider a few of those changes. Magical Express is gone. FastPass+ is gone. Free Magic Bands are no longer a thing for resort guests. Park reservations are here to stay it seems. Park Hopping only starts at 2:00 pm each day. Extra Magic Evening Hours are only for Deluxe Resort guests. Genie, Genie+ and Lightning Lane are the new FastPass. Most of Epcot's Future World is behind construction walls. France expanded. Remy's Ratatouille Adventure, Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind have all opened. Illuminations and Happily Ever After both went away and were replaced by Harmonious and Disney Enchantment. I must be forgetting a few things but that's quite a lot of changes, isn't it? So, the question beckons…what did I think? What was it like to be back? What do I like and what don't I like? Let's explore with my Top 5 observations from my most recent Walt Disney World Trip.

5 - I Miss Disney's Magical Express

The first two times we went to Disney World as a family, we took a taxi from the airport. The next year we were taken by a beautiful Disney's Magical Express coach bus with Mickey emblazoned on the side in his driver's cap. They played a short movie on the screens getting us all excited for our trip. They brought us to our resort and even picked up our luggage at MCO and delivered it to our room at Port Orleans Riverside…all for free. From that moment on, I was a huge fan of Magical Express. I didn't mind the stops. I can actually remember that first ride stopping at Pop Century and Old Key West. Sure, it was a delay but I got to see two resorts I had never seen before, so I felt like it was all part of the Disney experience. Only once were our bags delayed and that was apparently due to one of those classic August afternoon lightning storms so prevalent in summer down there. Aside from that one glitch, I thoroughly enjoyed Magical Express for all of these years. Free transport to and from the airport and you'll handle my bags? And you weren't going to charge me? Sign me up.


I truly miss the sight of these buses on Disney property. Photo by Chris Barry.

So, how was getting back and forth to the airport now that Magical Express was gone? All things considered it wasn't so bad. We booked the Mears Shuttle. It was $16 a person which I thought was very reasonable. We had one stop at the B Resort & Spa in the Disney Springs area. The bus was comfortable, air-conditioned, and was an all-around pleasant ride. So, why do I miss Magical Express? I guess it's the whole "Disney difference" thing. There was something extra special about being picked up in a Disney themed bus and watching the video on the way there, getting me all psyched up for arrival. It felt like the Disney bubble that I enjoy being in so much now started at the airport. I always felt like once I tapped my Magic Band at the Magical Express counter, I had arrived and had left the real world behind. That's no small task at an airport. I loved that I never had to go to the baggage carousel and wait for my bags because Disney was taking care of it for me. It made me feel extra special. Plus I was a big fan of checking in my luggage and getting a boarding pass for departure at my resort. I never understood the Magical Express detractors. They were out there and I never could follow their complaints. Mears was just fine. In reality, they were the same buses without the Disney wrappings and video. But to be honest, I really missed the wrappings and the videos. It's those little things that I miss. I hope it comes back. I doubt it will, but it would be nice.

4 - Genie+ Works Well…But I Wish I Didn't Have to Pay For It

I was always a big proponent of the FastPass system at Walt Disney World. If you used it wisely and frequently, it could save you hours of precious park time. I always felt like I was being the savvy park-stormer when I would either hand over my paper FastPass back in the day, or when I tapped my band and was able to cut a line. There were some rides and attractions at Disney that I only ever used FastPass for. One of my all-time favorites, Peter Pan's Flight, is a great example. I adore this ride, but there's no way I'm waiting 60 minutes for it. FastPass was always the move, just about every single time, unless I was on it right after rope drop or late at night when there was no line. So, yes, I was an avid user of the Disney FastPass system. That said, I was always pleasantly surprised that it was, in fact, free of charge. People who were new to Disney would say things like, "I'd go, but I hate waiting in long lines." To which I would always reply, "They have a system called FastPass down there which helps you substantially shorten your time in line. " The next comment was always, "Yeah…but that costs extra, doesn't it?" Everyone was always surprised when I'd tell them it was free to any guest.

As someone that likes amusement parks and water parks, I would always be so impressed when I found out that pretty much every other park charged a fee for some sort of line cutting service but Disney never did. It also made me realize that one day Disney would catch on to that and start charging. So that day came and went. FastPass went away and now we have to pay at Walt Disney World for something that we always got for free in the past. Disappointing? Yes, to a certain extent, but also…no. Here's the thing, and I almost don't want to put this in print for fear that someone in charge of things will read it. When you compare it to other theme parks, Genie+ is pretty cheap. I chaperoned a trip to Hershey Park this past spring and was shocked to see that their line cutting service added about $100 to the cost of your ticket. A week later, I chaperoned another trip to the local Six Flags and realized the same thing. The big competitors down the road, Universal Orlando, also charges around $100 for their Express Pass. Granted, these passes typically let you use the pass at each and every attraction once per day. With Genie+, I doubt that's possible, but still, our family of four paid $60 per day for Genie+ on top of our tickets, not $400. On our first day, park hopping between Magic Kingdom and Epcot, we were able to get on Big Thunder, Splash and Space Mountains, Buzz Lightyear, Test Track and Soarin' using Genie+ and we got a late start. We considered that a pretty successful day.


Genie+ works well if you use it wisely and properly. ©Disney.

So here's the bottom line. We used Genie+ for our first four days. That way we hit each of the four parks on four consecutive mornings and then park hopped each afternoon somewhere different. Once we made sure we were able to get on the big rides and attractions important to us over those four days, we stopped buying it. Over those four days, we were able to get on just about everything we wanted to using Genie+. It added $240 to the cost of our overall trip. All things considered, that's not too bad. We did buy Individual Lightning Lanes for Guardians of the Galaxy and Rise of the Resistance to make sure we experienced them. That added about $130 more to our overall trip. So for about $370 we were able to do everything we wanted to as far as attractions on our 7 day trip. That's still less than 1 day at Disney's competitors.

Despite having to wake up every day at 7 a.m. – which I'm no fan of – I still liked it better than being shut out of FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance. That used to happen to me quite regularly with the old system. And contrary to many online complainers, I did NOT spend all of my time staring at my phone while walking around the parks. I made my reservations and put it away. As I said above, I still wish I didn't have to pay for it, but I did find that Genie+ worked well.

3 - Port Orleans French Quarter is Now My "Go To" Moderate Resort

Way back in 2004, my wife and I took our 5-year-old daughter Samantha for our second family trip to Walt Disney World. Our first trip the year before was spent at Caribbean Beach, and we loved it. To the best of my recollection, we wanted to try something new, so we ended up spending a little over a week at Port Orleans French Quarter. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves there. It was smaller than the Caribbean Beach and seemed much more relaxing. The following year, my wife was in a triathlon being held at Disney, and they offered athletes and their families $89 per night rooms over at Riverside. It was on that trip that we realized that once we started bringing our twin boys with us, we would need the Alligator Bayou rooms at Riverside because they offered a fifth bed. That trip began a long love affair with Riverside that lasted for four or five years. After that we started splurging on Deluxe rooms which also had a fifth bed like the Polynesian, BoardWalk Inn and our all time favorite, the Yacht Club. This time though, our daughter couldn't make the trip, so we opted to save some bucks and returned to the French Quarter after an 18-year absence. We were so happy we made that choice.


The view of the Sassagoula River from our room at French Quarter was even more beautiful at night. Photo by Chris Barry.

i'm not going to lie. French Quarter is not the Yacht Club. We missed walking into Epcot. We missed our nightly drinks on the balcony. We missed Stormalong Bay, the greatest hotel pool anywhere we've ever stayed – and that's not just on Disney property, that's anywhere. But the Yacht Club has made a giant leap in price since reopening after the pandemic. Even with the Disney+ deal, it was quite a bit out of range. So why has French Quarter won me over? Several solid reasons. The main one is its size. As far as a Disney resort goes, especially in the Moderate class, French Quarter is downright small. We stayed in Building 6 right on the Sassagoula River. It was about a two-minute walk to the pool and a five-minute walk to the main building for the front desk, food court, gift shop and bus transportation to the parks. All things considered, you're never too far away from anything at this resort.

The other major positive is the bus situation. In 2019, the last time we went to Walt Disney World, my twin boys and I spent four days and nights over at Riverside. I still love Riverside for its beautiful grounds and atmosphere, but we found the bus transportation to the parks to be almost an ordeal. One morning, it took us 30 minutes to circumnavigate the huge resort, make all the bus stops, load on all the passengers and then and only then, we were on our way to the Magic Kingdom. That's just too long. Riverside is huge and has twice the amount of rooms as its neighbor French Quarter, and getting all of those people picked up and onto a bus takes quite a while. The same thing goes for the return rides from the parks. On just about every instance, we noticed that the bus lines for Riverside at the end of the night when the parks closed were huge. French Quarter's bus was never too crowded. Even in the middle of the day when the two resorts sometimes start sharing a bus, French Quarter is always the first stop, so you'll get home first and faster.

French Quarter was tranquil. The pool is great. The food court was good and never too crowded. The beignets are to die for. The cast members were amazing. All in all, it was a really wonderful resort experience. We took the river boat to Disney Springs one night. I couldn't care less if I ever go to Disney Springs again, but the ride down there in the boat is beautiful. We walked over to Riverside a few times, once to have dinner at Boatwrights – the jambalaya is still excellent – once to hang out and listen to Yehaa Bob and once to just walk the grounds and reminisce about all of our past trips. But we were always thrilled to return to our home at French Quarter and I imagine that any time we're staying Moderate from now on, this is where we'll be.

2 - Rise of the Resistance is Just Extraordinary

When you go a place like Walt Disney World as often as we have, it's a rare occurrence to get more than one new ride or attraction to experience at a time. Considering my boys and I hadn't been there in three years and my wife hadn't been there in four years, we were all in for quite a treat because we had 4-5 brand-new attractions to experience. In 2019, the boys and I were blown away by Galaxy's Edge. In my last 'Observations" article after that trip, I wrote the following line;

I've been waiting for something like Galaxy's Edge to be built for the past 42 years of my life ever since I first saw the Millennium Falcon scream across the screen when I was 9. Walking into Batuu on our last trip with my boys, that wait came to an end and it was well worth the wait. To me, it felt like Star Wars.

Keep in mind, at that point Rise of the Resistance hadn't opened yet. So, if I thought this new Star Wars land was incredible back then, it was going to be that much better now that it's complete and the star attraction is open. I was in no way disappointed. In this writer's humble opinion, Rise of the Resistance is the best attraction that the Disney Imagineers have ever come up with.


My inner 9-year-old will never forget the first time I walked into this room on Rise of the Resistance. Photo by Chris Barry.

As a Star Wars fan, I was completely blown away. I have wanted to walk into a Star Wars film ever since 1977. With Galaxy's Edge, I felt like I had finally been given that opportunity to walk around a planet in the Star Wars universe. With Rise of the Resistance, however, I finally feel like I have been an actual participant in a Star Wars adventure. I haven't felt this way since my best friend Louie and I "played" Star Wars with our Kenner action figures back in the summer of 1977; only this time, the Imagineers brilliantly brought my Star Wars imagination to life. If you've experienced it, you know exactly what I mean. If you haven't yet…then you really need to. If this is the future of Disney attractions, then we are in for an amazing ride.

1 - The Magic is Still There

Three years is a long time for a Disney fan to be away. Slap a global pandemic into that time span and all the misery it brought all of us, and it seems like an even longer time away. I've needed a Disney trip for a long time now, but I have to be honest, I wasn't exactly sure what I was in for heading back this time. The Disney fan online universe can be brutal. I'm actually not talking about MousePlanet and its awesome readers and writers. There are other discussion boards out there that are chock-full of negativity. It's always been that way and it's one of the big reasons that I have been here on MousePlanet for as long as I have; we tend to stay away from the negative. Is Walt Disney World perfect? Of course not. Does it deserve the bashing that it gets out there online? I really don't think so.

People seem to be beside themselves that Disney is still using the park reservation system. Now, considering that we seem to have left COVID restrictions behind, I expected that the park reservation system would have gone away by now, but it seems that Disney wants to keep this in place. I have to be honest, it didn't bother me at all. We had reservations for each day and we used them. It did keep us a little more organized on our trip, and we actually did make a few changes while we were down there and it was pretty simple to do so. People seem to forget that back when we were all making FastPass+ reservations 60 days out, we were essentially booking ourselves into a specific park at a specific time anyway. So I don't see this new way as being all that different. Online Disney fans also seem to be incensed that you can't park hop before 2:00 PM. Once again, our family has just about always been to a park early in the morning, and then we are out around 2:00 PM that day headed back to the resort for a swim or some chill out AC time in the room. Then we will hop to a different park for the late afternoon and evening. So, this new rule didn't affect us in the least.

As I mentioned above, I'm certainly lamenting the loss of Magical Express and I'm not all that thrilled that I have to pay for Lightning Lanes and Genie+. But is this enough to make me not want to go back? I keep seeing posts on other Disney fan message boards from people who "won't go back as long as Disney is doing things the way they are doing them." "The magic is gone." So…is the magic gone? I can emphatically respond, "No, the magic is nowhere near gone."


How could this view not make you feel magical? Photo by Chris Barry.

We all had an amazing week together as a family. We loved being at French Quarter. The cast members there went out of there way several times during our stay to assist us and make us feel like we have felt countless times before on our past trips. I got choked up during the nightly fireworks show at Magic Kingdom, Disney Enchantment. We were all blown away by the newest attractions, the aforementioned Rise of the Resistance, Ratatouille, Runaway Railway and my god is the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction amazing! From the looks of things we weren't the only family all wrapped up in the Disney magic. I saw lots of smiling faces, everywhere I looked. After the last few years, we need experiences like these more than ever and from what I witnessed a week or so ago, Walt Disney World was still delivering on its promise to be the most magical place on Earth.

It was a long time coming and it was truly an awesome week down there. We missed our daughter for sure on this one. There's always a hole when she's not with me on a Disney trip. However, we are all planning on a swift return because we came back from Orlando one twin lighter. Our son Casey stayed behind at the Disney College Program, and he's already started training at his new job in Animal Kingdom, working at the Flight of Passage attraction in Pandora - The World of Avatar. What does that mean? It means we need to go and visit him, of course! His brother, Alex, has already applied for the upcoming spring semester, so with any luck, we'll have to go and visit him too! Based on this last magical trip, that's just fine with us. It looks like we have a big Walt Disney World year ahead of us and you can't tell right now, but you can probably guess I'm smiling from ear to ear!

That's all for this time. As always, I'd like to hear what you have to say. Click on the link below to share your thoughts. Stay safe and I'll see you next time with another Disney Top 5.

 

Comments

  1. By maxbuffmelvin71

    I am glad to hear you made it back to WDW.

    5. DME - I liked DME, but it was such a time waster between waiting in line for the bus at MCO, stopping at other resorts, taking the slow route between MCO and WDW (always Route 417 instead of Route 528), and ridiculous early return time to MCO from WDW on the return trip. I stopped using DME years ago when I started renting cars on WDW trips. I was amazed at how convenient and time saver having a rental car. I am a big Disney bubble person like yourself and was an anti-car rental on WDW trips, but now I highly recommend a rental car. Although the rental car is an extra expense, you will save on airport transportation tickets, get between MCO and WDW within 30 minutes, and not waste unnecessary time at MCO on the return trip. It's convenient to commute from the resort to DHS, EPCOT, AK, or other resorts (although I recommend bus/monorail/boat to MK rather than drive). You can listen to Disney music on YouTube while driving to retain the Disney bubble feel still.
    4. Genie+ has drawbacks, such as cost and dreaded use of cell phones during a park visit, but I like it overall. I like Genie+ better than FP+ because I was not too fond of booking attractions 60 days in advance and being tied down. We are rope drop people, so we have no problem with the 7 AM booking. Genie+ was a must-have at MK or DHS but not AK or EPCOT. I refused to pay for LL attractions.
    3. Both the POR resorts are beautiful. Either one is my go-to for moderate. I hope to visit there to try the beignets and chicory coffee.
    2. I still haven't done RoR because I don't want to pay for LL or wait in a long line. I will do it at some point when the wait times are reasonable. I am not a Star Wars fan, so I'm in no rush.
    1. I have plenty of complaints and grievances about the company's direction and recent decision, but I agree the magic is still there at the parks and the resorts.

  2. By Dave1313

    I'll open with stating your #1 is the most important thing. As long as it still feel Magical and you enjoy the trip, it's a great trip! So I'm glad you and your family enjoyed your return. Hopefully your daughter gets to visit with you as well in the near future.

    5) DME. While I never took it personally, I will miss it when I hopefully do an extended family trip in the not too distant future. Even though I always rent a car (or mini-van in the case of the previous extended family trip), that won't cut it when we are talking about 6 people plus all of our luggage all at the same time for the trips from/to the airport. So for the previous trip, everyone but me took the DME (with their luggage ) and they thought it was convenient and a nice way to get from/to the airport. It won't be the end of the world, but we will have to figure out a plan to deal with that aspect of the trip. Possibly a Mears shuttle (or those new ones with the Steam Train wraps, if they stick around - I forget their name at the moment), or some split of some of us in the rental car and some in a regular taxi of some sort.

    4) I'm with you on the cost aspect, Genie as challenging (I say that as someone who has not yet actually used it, but watched lots of videos about it) as it may be, is not too bad as a cost adder. I had an "oops" moment in this regard when I planned my Universal trip last fall. While it was not a terrible "oops" since I was a solo traveler, I neglected to account for the varying cost based on the day for the Universal Express Pass (totally my fault for deciding a Saturday was the "right" day to go to Universal - I am sure a weekday would have been at least a little cheaper). I just looked up my receipt, I paid $191 for the actual park hopper ticket, and a whopping $170 for the Express Pass. Again, totally my fault for picking what was not the smartest day (re: ticket cost, at least) to go... but I was only going to Universal for one day, so I wasn't too upset with myself for the errant planning.

    I do find myself curious if your good experience may have been based on lower crowd levels (I know you obviously can't say since it was one visit, but I'm thinking out loud here)? Did the parks seem extremely busy to you when you visited? I think we've all heard that for the longest time this year, there didn't seem to be any slower times at all due to people making up for cancelled trips when COVID was more of a concern. I think in the last 2 weeks or so (so right around the time of your trip) I've seen some reports that the crowds have actually dwindled at least a little bit as schools prepared to re-open for the fall.

    I'm sure I will try Genie+ whenever I next go down, though I thought FP/FP+ was much easier. I'd pay $15 a day to go back to the old paper tickets you had to run around to get rather than this. I know there is no risk of that ever happening though .

    3) I've been off site more recently (basically since Disney added the parking fees to resorts in 2018), but I liked POFQ the one time I stayed there for a few days. Agreed the smaller size is MUCH more convenient for getting to the central area for breakfast, etc. I will always remember my stay at Caribbean Beach, Trinidad South. That was a LONG walk to the central area. So much so that I actually ended up driving from my room to the central area for breakfast after my first day so I didn't have to waste half an hour or more by walking each way before getting going for the day.

    2) My thoughts are similar. I went just before Genie+ went on-line, so I did the standby line. I waited something just over 3 hours, IIRC (but I preferred doing that to playing the virtual queue "smart phone lottery Olympics" that was in place until shortly before my trip. I was not fond of trying every day for a spot and then worrying about getting shut out (particularly with the advent of park reservations). Do I want to wait in Standby that long to do this ride multiple times per trip? (or shell out the $15 for ILL on multiple days?) No. But it is quite a good show! Even being a big SW fan, I would probably prioritize trying to get to see GotG Mission Rewind in Epcot my next trip. I hear that is quite impressive as well.

    1) As I opened with, this is the most important part. I sort of feel like your regular routine makes the reservations/hopping limitations less of an impact. If I regularly went back to my room in the middle of the day, I probably would consider it less of an impact too.

    I hope I haven't been TOO over the top negative in my previous comments on articles regarding hopping and reservation restrictions, but it's the loss of flexibility for me that lessens the experience quite a bit (so I will not say the Magic is "gone", but it's quite a bit more restricted). I am not an overly rigorous planner, so I understand I will not always get to do the latest restaurant, etc on any given trip.

    But the flexibility that came with a hopper or AP that allowed me to take advantage of random opportunities as they may have come up is now seriously reduced. As a single example, I'd love to check out Space 220 someday. It's a very hard to get reservation, apparently. In the past, I could keep an eye out on any day I wanted no matter where I was and see if something popped up. Now in addition to something popping up as available, I need to also worry about my park reservation too. In the past, I could be in MK, HS, or DAK in the morning. If a reservation popped up, I could grab it as long as I physically had enough time to get there. Now I need to also already be in EPC for the morning if any reservation that popped up was any time before 2PM. Is that an outlier situation? Absolutely, but it's that sort of lack of flexibility for such a potential situation that bugs me.

    Again, glad to hear you had a nice trip for your return to WDW!

  3. By GrumpyPete

    It seems that the bean counters have taken over and Disney is "nickel and dime"-ing its' guests to death. Is there anything else that is "free" that won't be in the future? Maybe they will start to charge for bus/boat/skyway/monorail/parking lot shuttle rides. My wife and I will seriously think about whether or not we want to go back.

    Peter

  4. By Mickey021

    Chris, first and foremost, just glad you finally made it there. You and I spent two years crying together (sometimes on the MP live shows) about our COVID, drought, so just glad that's over for both of us.

    i agree with pretty much everything you said:

    5) Honestly, I used it once or twice, but wasn't a big DME user. I usually rented cars because I had family in the area and needed the car but enjoyed it when I did use it. Mostly though, as you said, it was a free perk that was taken away, and that always hurts, at least a little.

    4) Genie+ is a mixed bag for me. I beat this one to death in my article:-), but like you said, it's still not that expensive and if you know how to maximize it, can get a lot out of it, particularly in the Magic Kingdom. What you said about the higher expense in the other parks is true, but the difference at Universal is you can use that pass all day with assigned times and can use it on pretty much every ride, so while it costs more, you can use it 10 times instead of 3-5. The value depends on the kind of day you want and how you utilize the passes.'

    3) Love, love love French Quarter. I've stayed at the Carribean Beach the last couple of trips because I wanted to be on the skyline, but French Quarter is the best moderate for layout and theming. The pool is great too, and as you said, the buses from there are easy. In general, the moderate reports are also a good compromise with decent sized rooms that aren't crazy expensive.

    2) As you and I have discussed, Rise is absolutely credible, and as you said, may be the best thing Disney has ever done. The theming and the effects are great and it's just plain fun, even if you aren't a Star Wars fan (and I was also 9 when I saw the original in theater). The simulator rides are fine, but I love rides that move, and this one delivers big time.

    1) ..and amen. The magic is very much still there. Yes, it's changing, but the core of what we love about the place is still there. We'll always get chills walking down Main Street USA and get excited riding our favorite rides and eating at our favorite restaurants.

    In any event, glad you had a great trip. I'm still, and will always be, counting down to my next one.

  5. By Dave1313

    Quote Originally Posted by Mickey021 View Post
    .........
    4) Genie+ is a mixed bag for me. I beat this one to death in my article:-), but like you said, it's still not that expensive and if you know how to maximize it, can get a lot out of it, particularly in the Magic Kingdom. What you said about the higher expense in the other parks is true, but the difference at Universal is you can use that pass all day with assigned times and can use it on pretty much every ride, so while it costs more, you can use it 10 times instead of 3-5. The value depends on the kind of day you want and how you utilize the passes.'
    ...........

    I think you meant without assigned times.

    I didn't mention that part in my response(since I was focused on the cost and my error in day picking), but that is really convenient and easy to deal with. Basically buy it and forget it, for the most part. And if people actually want to spend even more money, there is an option that allows multiple rides on a given attraction as well. IIRC, I for the most part just worked my way around the perimeter of the park while in Universal Studios, then near the end of the day took the Harry Potter Train to get to IOA. No return times, signing up for a new spot, 2 hour windows before you can "stack" your reservations, etc.

    In fairness, Universal was doing the virtual queue thing for Hagrid's when I went last fall. I was eventually lucky enough to get a spot. Also a great departure from how/when Disney does VQs : I secured my spot sometime in the mid to late afternoon. I really thought I was not going to get it at all (based on how VQs work at Disney), but I was pleasantly surprised by that (could have been a lot of luck there too, so I would not expect that to always happen). And then to wrap the night, I got on plain old regular standby for their other new big ride, VelociCoaster.

  6. By wdwchuck

    Thanks again Chris for your wonderful and thought provoking essay. I have been one of the more negative nelly's on Mouseplanet and it is because of how much I fell in love with WDW 25 years ago. After those Zoom calls, and other evidence, I fell just as far out of love as I was in love before.
    5. I loved DME, it was my first experience with how special WDW used to be and while we wouldn't use it anymore because we live in Florida it is a mistake to do away with it. You put a little yellow tag on your suitcase, and they will take it straight to your room? What??
    4. We went to the parks during pandemic and loved most of it. It was like we remembered how it used to be. (Except the new things) We use to be able to plan and avoid some of the major crowds and see asphalt frequently. That is how we know it isn't crowded. We can see asphalt. Unfortunately, that was also when they were mandating the park reservations and no matter the spin you put on that we hate it. Hate, hate, hate. We did try the Genie plus deal and we understand that Disney is all about the high-end customer with money to burn, we liked the old Fast Pass + because it took some skill and planning to manage it. What was the use of all that knowledge if you couldn't use it to beat the uneducated (in Disney things) masses? There is too much else to do in Florida that doesn't try and gouge you for every penny you got.
    3. We love Port Orleans and for all the reasons you suggest. Quiet, small and very, very Disney bubblesque. Of course any resort that lets you walk into the backside of Epcot is our favorite, But for a moderate Port Orleans French Quarter is awesome.
    2. Not a Star Wars person, not sure how that fits in with Walt and the Mouse but whatever. Seems kind of phony and contrived to us.
    1. As I have stated numerous times, we are not wealthy, money matters to us, and even more than that, protecting kids from people who are trying to s*x*alize them is of utmost import to us. For us the Magic is completely gone. And until some arrests are made and people are tried for their crimes we probably won't be back. It is culture wide, not just Disney. I still enjoy reading you and Alan and Sue Holland because I believe you guys get it. I will reserve most of my negativity for Disney corporate and the politicians that allow them to do what they are doing.

  7. By carolinakid

    WDWchuck,
    I adored your post, all the points especially # 1& 2.
    My feelings exactly.

  8. By wdwchuck

    Quote Originally Posted by carolinakid View Post
    WDWchuck,
    I adored your post, all the points especially # 1& 2.
    My feelings exactly.

    Why thank you carolinakid. The truth can be very, very negative unfortunately. I am grateful you see it too. More people will see it soon. The amazing thing is they got this far without most people noticing.

  9. By carolinakid

    👍😉

  10. By Mickey021

    [QUOTE=Dave1313;2046031]I think you meant without assigned times.

    Hi Dave! Yes, correct, I meant without:-) I'm torn on this one. Universal system, as you said, is easier to deal with. You can just follow your own plan and go without worrying about return times, etc. The downside is the cost. If I'm going a lot, I'll cough up $15 for Genie+, but now sure how often I'd spend $100+.

    Another interesting fact - Disneyland Paris has a "Premium Pass" which is identical to Universal's and has about the same price tag. I'm going to DLP next week for a 2 day stay. I bought the pass for one day and not the other. Will report back on how it went.

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