Thursday, April 13, 2006

Visit Disney, Bring Money

Disneyworld is the capitalist American version of Mecca. Everyone is expected to make a pilgrimage to The Happiest Place On Earth at least once in their life. Like all pilgrimages, one of the unspoken tenets is to soak the faithful every chance you get. The defining characteristic of Disney is their unrelenting goal of making sure no cash leaves the property. The Mouse insists on shaking you upside down by your ankles until all your loose change falls out and then sends you home.

They keep you from visiting the other attractions in the area by blatant imitation and one-upsmanship. When Universal Studios announced they were building a theme park, Disney hastily slapped together the Disney-MGM park and beat them to opening day by nearly a year. Animal Kingdom is an attempt to keep people from day-tripping to Busch Gardens in Tampa. The Living Seas in EPCOT is aimed to give you a marine life fix so you won't want to see SeaWorld.

Disney has on-site spring training for sports fans and five golf courses for the guy that would rather drive a seven-iron than the Test Track. Our band group went to Festival Disney because Disney saw how the area band festivals that rented the park worked and took that function in-house. They literally try to be all things to all people and do pretty well.

Our band trip stayed at the All-Star Music Resort, which is part of an enormous complex of cheaply built motel rooms with trowels of Disney gingerbreading everywhere. These were built expressly to combat the miles of motels that had sprung up around Route 192 in Kissimmee catering to people that wanted to visit Disney but couldn’t spring $200 a night for the resort hotels. For my money, if you want to be on Disney property, the Port Orleans complex is the best value. For a little more money you get queen beds instead of doubles and a really niced themed pool play area instead of a generic pool with a Three Caballeros fountain.

I like Disneyworld. It is really the gold standard for theme parks. You get what you pay for, but, boy, do you pay for it.


Anonymous said...

It was always worth it to me to just stay in one of the Route 192 motels, which are still cheaper than the All-Star Resort even when you take the parking costs into account. Since we're in the theme park from sunup until after the fireworks, and use the hotels as little more than a crash pad anyway, what's the point of spending more? (Plus, you can eat more cheaply off-resort.)

Having said that, if you're looking for a broader vacation experience than just the theme parks, and actually want to spend a day bumming around poolside (and an evening on Pleasure Island, perhaps), then the Disney hotels are probably a decent idea. My only thing is that I just get all Disney'd out after two days and need to decompress back in Florida.

yellojkt said...

Disney know this and tries to sweeten the deal by letting resort guests (including the All-Star locations) into certain parks early or late. I've always found which parks and when very confusing. I've also stayed at the Lake Buena Vista hotels that all have shuttles to and from the park.

The Disney "Magic" will always cost a little extra.

Impetua said...

Some friends and I once went to Disneyland (being West Coasties), all adults, for a long weekend. My friend insisted on renting a convertible although it wasn't roomy enough for the four of us plus my friend's enormous suitcases, including one whole bag full of SHOES. And the two of us who got stuck in the back had to sit with piles of suitcases on us and couldn't hear or see because of the wind from the top being down.

All that aside, the most fun we had was in spending an entire day touring each of the several adult drinking establishments within the confines of the Disneyland Hotel complex, sampling the wares of each liberally, then purchasing a pint of vodka and a glass bottle of orange juice at the Official Disneyland Hotel Liquor Store. We drank down some of the OJ and then added the pint of vodka to the bottle, re-entered the park with our forbidden fruit cocktail, and consumed the rest while in line for various rides including Space Mountain.

By the way, I was the youngest at 28. Yet we still thought this was a good idea.

We got separated while in line and circled one another for forty five minutes before hooking up again. None of us left the general vicinity of Space Mountain, but we were all unable to find one another.

Once we had had our fill of rides we got in the car (!!! don't try this at home, kids, or anywhere else) and hit the drive thru at McDonalds. Might I suggest a large greasy meal after a long day of alcohol consumption?

Needless to say, there was much more fun to be had throughout the night as all of my friends re-enjoyed their meals in a spectacular display of reverse peristalsis.

Yes, friends, this memory has overshadowed all others to become my most vivid keepsake of the Wonderful World of Disney. Joyous childhood forays into the Magic Kindgom? Fallen by the wayside! Rediscovering the wonderment of youth as a callow, sullen teen? No longer burned into my brain cells! Because I have somewhat fewer of them after my last trip to Disneyland.

I look forward to taking my daughter in a few years when she is old enough to really appreciate the experience.

Impetua said...

... Okay, that came out wrong. I mean when she is like 4 and can come away with lasting, innocent memories, NOT when she is drinking age and can tour the bars with her mother the barfly. I don't even drink anymore! :)

Impetua said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mooselet said...

I last went to Disneyworld in 2001, about 6 weeks after 9/11. We had been planning the trip for months and there was no way I was not going to go. It was pretty empty - so empty that we went on Space Mountain 4 times in a row with only a 5 minute wait at the top. All rides were like this, and yes I did feel slightly guilty having a good time whilst NYC was still smouldering.

I went with my husband, two kids (then I only had 2), my mother and stepfather and my brother, his wife and my neice. We rented a house about 15 minutes from the park and found this to be really nice. Pool was heated so we were still able to swim, yet we had alot of privacy. Definately the way to go, although I won't vacation with the parents and sibling again - too much stress!!

We still managed to break away from the Disney-esque gravitational pull to visit Universal Studios, SeaWorld (which wasn't worth the trip - spent the second half of the day back at the Magic Kingdom), and the Kennedy Space Center. Never having gone as a kid and the only other time I was 8+ months pregnant I had a blast!!!

I'd like to go to again when the youngest, now 2, is older. You're correct in that nothing else compares.

Your Mother said...

I'm going to be forced to take the dramas there eventually. Am I a bad mom because I have no desire to do it?