Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Walt Disney World's 40th Anniversary

I spent the past weekend at Walt Disney World, for the 40th Anniversary of the Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney World as a whole. Let me just say that it was an absolute cluster F**K.

The trip started nice enough, we were staying at Pop Century - in the 50's

We spent the first day, Friday, at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, which we loved, we went back on Sunday! We had dinner off site at Giodanos which was amazing. The plan was to get an early night so I could get up for the special pin they were selling in the morning. That's where things started to go down hill.

At 5am on the 1st I'm driving to the Contemporary, because that's where the concierge at Pop told me to park so I could get to the Magic Kingdom to get in line for the pins. I was turned away at the Contemporary and sent to the Magic Kingdom parking lot. On the drive back I noticed large groups of people walking on the side of the road. I stopped to talk to one of them, and they were there for the same reason as me. It turns out there was no transportation from the parking lot to the Magic Kingdom.

For people who don't know, the Magic Kingdom is separated from the parking lot by a man made lake that is about 1 mile across. There is a road that runs alongside (and under a portion) of the lake to allow buses to get to the Magic Kingdom. This road has few lights and no sidewalks.

I parked in the parking lot and hoofed it with the others to the Magic Kingdom. In the group I was walking with there was one person in a wheelchair and one person in an electric cart. Since there were no sidewalks these two had to travel in the lanes of traffic. The only real traffic on the road were buses, buses transporting cast members. If you could say a bus is rude these buses were rude, they were honking at the people in the wheelchairs, flying past them with no regard for safety. I was walking in the grass and I felt the wind from these buses.

Fortunatly everyone made it to the Magic Kingdom safely. At this point I only had to wait in line to get a wristband that would allow me to get in line to get the pins and another line to wait to get into the Magic Kingdom so I could go get in line to get the pin. All told I spent 4.5 hours in line to get two pins. It was totally NOT worth it, but I did it because I didn't want to waste the time I had already put into the enterprise. I ended up staying either in or around the park from 5:30am to 11:27pm, when I took the bus back to the resort.

I've been coming to Walt Disney World for a long time, since the late 1970's. I had my honeymoon at Disney World in 1997. When I got my History degree I bought a brick around the world (It's near the automated ticket machines at the Transportation and Ticket Center). I bought an Annual Pass in 2007, I've had a Premium Annual Pass since 2008. I go to Disney on average about once a month. I'm at the World a lot is what I'm trying to say.

Oct 1, 2011 was the only time in my lengthy number of trips to the World that I felt that Disney had no idea what they were doing. It was all very fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pant's like. It's not like your 40th anniversary can sneak up on you but it was like Disney only had half a plan, no a quarter of a plan, to get people in the doors, after that it was up in the air. They did not have enough Cast Members working, they did not have enough food, enough of the 40th anniversary t-shirts and merchandise, enough sense to limit the number of people coming in the gate. I was in Tomorrowland during the fireworks and I thought a riot was going to break out.

I was let down by my experiences on the 1st and it soured the rest of my trip. It will probably sour any trips I take in the near future. Disney should have known better, I've been on the 4th of July and on New Years, but this was something different. Disney World needs to look at what happened on Oct 1, 2011 and make sure it doesn't happen again.


  1. So am I horribly mistaken, or is this giant cluster-eff of a "party" the ONLY thing at all Walt Disney World is doing to celebrate it's 40'th? Because I am old enough to remember going to the park during the 15'th anniversary celebration year and the way they celebrated that was amazing and kind of insane.

    / Though to be fair, I am sure most people/entities are more enthusiastic about turning fifteen than they are about turning forty... :)

  2. I totally agree, I took the wife and kids for the day and expected more party and less hassle. It was the first time I have ever been disappointed in Disney and really wanted to just leave. We go on average twice a month or more and I have been more in my life so far than most families combined (luckily my family now shares my Disney insanity) but I think this was a poor celebration. Though I did like the little tribute to previous anniversary parties. I had just found my old 15 year shirt from when I was a kid and wanted a special shirt for my kids but couldnt find any from that day.
    We also discovered that most of the merchandise was being purchased by cast members and that almost every item available was on ebay before noon.