Disney World: too crowded?
I’m really wondering about this question after a recent trip. I’ve been to Disney World three times in my life. As a child in 1973, the Orlando theme park was brand-new, and crowds weren’t much of an issue. In 2008, our family went. We specifically chose what was supposed to be a “non-peak” time, January 4-11. We even took the kids out of school, although I carefully considered their ages before doing this (grades 1,3, and 5 at the time). I remember feeling that all 4 parks had reasonable crowd levels at the time, and was so glad we’d opted to go when we did.
This year, I went with a group of women friends, February 8-13. Again, this was calculated as a “light” time to visit. But this time, the crowds seemed much larger to me. My sister, who visits the Mouse frequently, commented that she didn’t feel the crowds were much better than when she visits during “busier” times.
We did the parks “on a mission” — always arriving 30 minutes or more before opening, usually staying until they closed. Still, one clear memory is the first morning at the Magic Kingdom. We were set for a quick takeoff to Space Mountain. Now, I may not walk as fast as I used to, but I’m still far from ambling. And yet, as I rushed into the empty park, I had my ankle run over twice by eager stroller-pushers (one scar remains to this day, 2 weeks later). Another hurrier stepped on my shoe hard enough to pull it off (trying to get it back on without being totally mowed down was another challenge). I had to wonder, what was going on here?
I noticed many groups, large and small, ostensibly made up of non-Americans (judging by group names on their shirts). I chatted with a husband/wife from England who were on a 21-DAY visit to Disney. They had done the same thing last year. When I told them I was here for six days, she said, “Oh well, it’s better than nothing!”
So, I’m guessing that a large part of the crowds owes to foreigners visiting. I’m betting that more of the crowd levels are due to others like me, trying to visit at “non-peak times” that have become more crowded than they were hoping for. Disney is probably even in on this, offering their Dining Plan or other perks to entice people into the parks at a fairly steady clip year-round.
Throughout the visit, I was amazed at what Disney has wrought. As an author, I publicize all the time and work as hard as I can to get the word out about my books. But Disney appears not to need to do any of that. Even on a miserable, rainy day, the “Fantasmic” night fireworks show at Hollywood Studios was packed (I had to laugh when I saw the legions in the stands, most clad in — yep — $9 Mickey Mouse ponchos. I joked that it looked like we were at a weird cult gathering of some sort.)
Visiting Disney is hugely expensive, and yet it’s a rite of passage for most families. Disney just hiked ticket prices at its parks since my return. The Florida and California parks both posted record attendance and revenue for 2014. It just amazes me that people seem to have no limits on what they’re willing to spend on Disney.
While I definitely did my best to create my own magic, I gotta admit: trying to dodge the masses did kind of get me down.
I’m curious, if you’ve visited. Do you think Disney World has become too crowded?
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