Every time someone tells me they’re thinking about scheduling their first Disney trip and ask me for some pointers, they inevitably get the deer in headlights, overwhelmed look on their faces after just a few minutes. In fact, some of them have thrown their hands in the air and told me they’re going to put it on the backburner for awhile. Why? The answer is always the same. A Disney trip is a lot of work. All they had in mind was getting on some rides and having the kids meet Mickey.
If only it were that simple…
My first few trips to Disney in the 80s and 90s were just that kind of trip. Simple. Although, I will admit that I never got to meet Mickey. But I easily got on the rides and had no problems with dining, even though I did have to wait quite a long time for some of those meals.
By the time I planned a return trip in 2010 with my husband and our daughter, things had changed. A lot. We now had to contend with ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservations), and FPs (Fastpasses) were now available at the parks. Luckily, I had my cousin to explain all of it to me, as well as The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Walt Disney World by Doug Ingersoll which was a very enjoyable and informative book.
Once we decided to go in May 2010, we chose our restaurants, and our travel agent made our dining reservations 180 days prior to our travel date. I did moan and groan a bit about having to choose where to dine so far in advance, but we were ultimately happy with all of our choices. We never did get around to getting any FPs in the parks, though, but we were fine without them.
Our following trips in 2012 and 2013 were pretty much the same – we never got FPs in the parks, and I made our own dining reservations online 180 days prior to travel. Again, the process was pretty smooth, and we were happy with our choices.
This upcoming trip, however, is completely different. And way too much work.
This time around, not only are we dealing with dining reservations 180 days prior to travel, but now Disney has come out with FP+ (Fastpass+). That means that, 60 days prior to travel, at midnight, you can go online to MDE (My Disney Experience), and pick three FPs per day of your trip. In my case, that was brutal. As I’ve written about in previous posts, I wouldn’t have gotten any FPs if it wasn’t for my wonderful travel agent, who was up, above and beyond the call of duty, at 1:00 a.m. to help me.
As I’ve mentioned before, I HATE FP+! I really, really hate it! Don’t believe me? Ask my agent! She’ll tell you!!!
As if that wasn’t bad enough, now there’s one more layer to the work – Disney is constantly testing the FP+ system on a weekly basis trying out different things. A couple of weeks ago, they randomly decided, with no advance notice, that there would be no standby line for Toy Story Midway Mania in Hollywood Studios, so, if you didn’t have a FP for that ride, you didn’t get to have that experience. Let’s not even get me started on that…
Last week, it was confirmed that, if you don’t have a FP reservation for lunch at Be Our Guest Restaurant (BOG), you’ll be unable to dine there because they removed the standby option. How do you get a FP for BOG? The only way to get one of those is to receive an email invitation from Disney between 27-30 days prior to travel. By 6:00 a.m. that morning, you literally have to jump on that invitation or lose it – first come, first serve.
Oh, and you have to be a Disney resort guest in order to receive one.
Well, I’ve been waiting…. and waiting….and waiting.
And, so, there’s yet another layer of work for this Disney trip.
Now, I not only have to monitor and babysit my daughter, I also have to monitor and babysit a dining invitation…. Oh, and by the way, after all that waiting, I’m told this morning that resort guests are randomly selected for those invitations, so not everyone will get them… Are you with me?
Remember those people I mentioned earlier who have asked me for first trip advice? Yeah, their heads would explode just about now.
I’ve never minded figuring out where I might possibly want to eat six months down the road, but this new Disney regime is absolutely ridiculous!
Vacation is supposed to be relaxing and mostly somewhat spontaneous; you should feel free to do as you please. Okay, so I’ll be the first one to admit that Disney isn’t exactly the most relaxing vacation (that’s probably why I always refer to it as a trip). There’s lots to do, and we’re usually on the go, but we do take the time to enjoy the pool and take a nap every day.
But, now, there’s just an incredible amount of work that goes into planning a Disney trip: Deciding when to go; picking a travel agent (well, that one’s actually easy – just contact me, and I’ve got someone you’ll love); booking your trip; deciding where you want to eat 180 days prior to arrival; book FPs 60 days prior to arrival (and then monitor those in case you can get a FP for a ride or attraction you weren’t able to get at 60 days); and start monitoring 27-30 days prior to arrival to see if you were one of the lucky ones to receive the coveted invitation for a BOG FP. That certainly is a LOT of time invested into that vacation, all without a guarantee that you’ll get what you’ve been hoping for.
I can honestly say that I’ve never worked this hard or stressed this much over a Disney trip. Hopefully, our next trip will be easier. But, I’ve heard travel agents say that clients who take yearly trips to Disney have actually become turned off to the point of not going this year because it’s just turned into too much work.
Even I mentioned in a recent post that I was becoming turned off – that says a lot!
Come on, Disney – get it together! I know you have a history of listening to your guests and revisiting what they’re unhappy with, so let’s not give that up now.
Let’s get back to the way things were. Those paper FPs that people got at the parks worked just fine – for them and for those of us that never used them. So, why fix what wasn’t broken?
I propose that we reset and go back to what worked really well for everyone involved so that we can go back to enjoying our Disney trips without the need to eat, sleep, and breathe our plans for the 180 days leading up to the actual vacation.
So, let’s go to it, Disney!
Until next time, remember to keep the Mouse in your house.