Last week, we spent five days at Disney World. We go every other year, and this was our third time taking the kids. Here are a few observations from our recent trip:
- There are two kinds of people who go to the parks: early risers, and late-risers. We were among the former, and almost always took advantage of the “magic hours” the parks offered to guests staying at one of the resorts. One day, after spending over 3 hours at Magic Kingdom, we headed back to the hotel to rest—at around 10:30 am. The crowds flooding into the park at 10:30 am made it very difficult to get out of the park. What were all these people doing that they arrived at the Magic Kingdom nearly 4 hours after it had opened?
- We booked our trip in April, and Kelly got a deal that includes the meal plan for free as part of our stay on the resort. The deal is only offered for a few weeks just before Christmas (slow time at the parks, I suppose). It is well worth it. I kept track of the bills for the sit-down dinners we had this time around and the dinners along added up to something like $600. All we paid were for alcohol and tips. The rest was included on the meal plan.
- I am always amazed at how clean everything is at Disney World. Whether it is our hotel room, the bus stop, the shuttle bus itself, a heavily used restroom in one of the parks, the lines on the ride, the tables at a quick-service food joint, everything is sparkling clean.
- Walking through Disney World with a nearly 4-month-old baby is like carrying around a social magnet. The baby attracts everyone, and everyone has just about the same things to say: “How adorable?” “How old is she?” “Only four months? My goodness!” “She is so well-behaved!” To this last, I sometimes wished that Ellie would spit up a few seconds after the words were spoken, in a kind of protest. Usually, she waited until we were alone again, and then happily complied with my wishes.
- The classic rides hold up remarkably well. Pirates of the Caribbean is almost as good as it was when I was a kid. The one flaw is that they altered the ride to fit the movies, which I think was a colossal mistake. The ride was much better before Jack Sparrow was introduced. The Haunted Mansion is as fun as I remember as a kid. Big Thunder Mountain seems to last longer than I remember. The kids loved running around Tom Sawyer Island as much as I did when I was a kid.
- I would love to sit in a meeting of the process engineers who make everything seem to run so smoothly at the parks. Things may not run as smoothly behind the scenes but so long as they seem to run smoothly for the public in the parks, that is all that really matters. I am always impressed by the way processes seem well-thought-out at the Disney parks, and I think it would be fascinating to learn how they map out these processes and smooth out the rough edges.