Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Now I Know!!

Now I know.
I never understood before.

Why would you go to Disney every year for vacation?  It can be crowded, maybe redundant, maybe just for kids, and not to mention expensive!

I now understand why you would want to visit Disney year after year.  It took me a few days at Walt Disney World visiting all of the parks, but it finally hit me!

First, let me address my assumptions about Disney. 

Yes, it can be crowded, but if you plan things out appropriately and go with a plan you can see as much as you want in a short time!  The first day at the Magic Kingdom I didn't stick with my plan because we got to the park later then I had wanted and it really threw everything off.  As a side note, when traveling with small children if you are able to have a day just to hang out after your travel day before going to Disney - do it!  My kids were so excited to be in a hotel away from home with new sleeping arrangements that they didn't get to sleep until maybe 3 - 4 hours after normal bedtime!  This made our first full day start off late because who wants to wake up kids knowing they will be cranky!?  The second time we went to Magic Kingdom we arrived right as it opened.  I had a plan of attack and we went to it!  We rode every ride that we wanted to get in before lunch!  The waits were 15 minutes at most and that wasn't even using a Fast Pass!  There was not much of a crowd at all!  As the day went on however, the crowds became denser and the lines that were non-existent only an hour earlier were winding around every roped off area for a wait of longer than my kids would have tolerated! (and I had no desire to spend my day waiting)  So arrive early and the crowds will not be so overwhelming!  I can't tell you about the night because my kids didn't last that long.

I thought that Disney may be redundant.  I thought that if you came back each year it would be to the same thing.  I have to give it up to Disney.  They embrace change.  They change buildings, parades, characters, shows, and of course merchandise.  I find myself thinking about when we can go back to see the new renovations to Fantasy Land - the drawings we saw look incredible with more castles and rides!  Even without the major renovations I would still go back to see new characters and the new shows.  They are fun and exciting and I most likely won't remember what song they sang or dance they did, but I will remember how much fun Tyce had dancing with Woody and how Lola had a smile a mile long holding her Daddy's hand in the street next to Jessie.

Disney is not just for kids.  Yes, I went because I wanted my kids to see it all and enjoy it, but I wanted to go for me too!  There are roller coasters, shows, and other tamer rides that all adults will enjoy.  Of course I enjoy living through the joys of the kids.  To see their faces light up as a character tells them hi is just priceless!

Yes, Disney is expensive, but there are things you can do to save.  If you stay on the resort, you should sign up for the Meal Plan.  That will save you bundle right there.  Bring a cooler into the park.  We had one character meal or special meal a day at each park and carried in snacks, sandwiches, fruit, and bottles of water to have as well.  We filled up our bottles of water from the water fountains around the park and saved a ton of money that way.  If you decide to get ice cream (which you should) ask how big the portions are first!  You may find that a small soft serve in a cup is enough to feed three kids and they will give you as many extra cups as you need!  Another way to save money is to plan what souvenirs you may buy.  Decide before hand if you are going to buy your kids things or not and TELL them!  We let our kids pick out one thing from Downtown Disney after having gone to 3 of the four parks.  We figured they had seen enough of the merchandise to know what they wanted and we didn't really want to carry toys and things through the parks. (although they do have a package pick-up area you can send your stuff to and pick up on your way out of the park)

The biggest reason I can see going back to Disney year after year came to me as we left Magic Kingdom.  We were heading out of the park and we saw some Cast Members (Disney Employees) with pins.  I am going to have to go off on a tangent here...

Here is another money saving tip.  If you want your kids to feel like they are getting new things without you spending any money in the parks then get them pins!  Disney Cast Members wear lanyards around their necks and many have Disney Pins on them.  If you have a pin and ask to trade they will give you any pin that you want and take any pin that you don't want!  I went on eBay and bought a huge batch of pins for super cheap!  I bought 40 pins for the same price as 5 pins in the store!  The kids of course didn't get all the pins they liked which was good because we brought the pins they didn't like to Disney so they could trade!  It was fun and inexpensive!

So back to leaving Magic Kingdom.  We saw Cast Members with pins and asked one if we could see her pins.  Within minutes we had maybe 6 Cast Members around us to see if we wanted any of their pins.  They pointed out pins to the kids that they thought they may like.  They made sure the kids gave them pins they the kids didn't want!  It wasn't the first time we had traded pins, but each time we did the Cast Member stopped whatever they were doing to trade!  Then the kids began to become interested in some of the games Cast Members had out.  They had big and small hoops to play with.  Things were going well and then some big catastrophe occurred - you know the kind-a bug lands on you, your brother looks at you the wrong way, someone laughs across the street and of course it is at you- and Lola turned in a huff, crossed her arms, and marched across the street down Main Street USA.  Awesome!  Tantrum here we come.  I followed her at a distance.  She would glance back and check until I sprinted to catch up and snatch her up before she could see me.  As we walked back a Cast Member came up to her.  He must have been watching.  He called her princess and asked her if she could turn her frown upside down he would give her something special, but only if she promised to listen to her Mommy too.  She smiled right away for him and he gave her stickers.  To an adult stickers may not be much, but to a four year old they are like gold!

So my point is this:  I would go back because of the service.  There is no place on earth that I have personally been to where every single person that works there is smiling and goes above and beyond.  I felt that way at Disney.  I felt like my family was the most important family there and the Cast Members were going to make sure we knew it.  From the people cleaning the street who stopped to ask how our day was to the ride operators who made silly faces at us, to the characters who had to be sweating to death in those costumes in the heat but spent an extra five minutes chatting with the kids to make them feel comfortable so Mom could get a picture the Cast Members were amazing!  We even experienced this at each of the restaurants we went to in the parks.  The service was phenomenal!  I was a waitress at one time in my life so I pay attention to things like that!  We had new drinks before we could even sip our last sip from our existing one.  Conversation and courtesy was overflowing.  Again we were treated like we were the most important family there!  Who doesn't love that?

So even though Disney has wonderful rides, shows, atmosphere, food, and good times, I would return year after year simply because of its Cast Members.  To be treated the way we were treated every day in each Park made any other mishap fade quickly away!

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