I’ve been reading the official announcements from Disney, listening to speculation, rumor, and predictions about the future of Disney parks, and watching the results of those announcements and prognostications explode on various social media platforms. If it’s not anger and outrage over the replacement of Maelstrom with a Frozen attraction, it’s disappointment and heartbreak about the change in World Showcase entertainment, most notably the loss of Off Kilter (to be replaced by a lumberjack show of some sort). It’s made me take a step back and wonder WHY are people so outraged by change? – Specifically, what would happen to our beloved Disney Parks if no changes ever occurred? Let’s talk about that in a minute.
First, I want you to ask yourself this question: Is there one specific ride or attraction in each park that, if it were closed forever, would keep you from returning to Walt Disney World? As much as I love my top 5 or 6 favorites, the answer for me is no. That wouldn’t keep me away.
So what has to stay constant? What will keep me returning once or twice a year long into the future? For me it’s these five things:
1. World Class Service – The Disney way of treating guests is still among the best on Earth.
3. Convenience – I get off the plane and onto the Magical Express. Head straight to my resort then on to the park of my choice courtesy of Disney transportation. There are dining, shopping, and entertainment choices virtually everywhere. My Disney Experience, Magic Bands, Memory Maker, FastPass+, online check-in are, when working properly, all about added convenience.
4. Innovation – Disney’s Imagineers have brought us cutting edge theme park effects and technology since Disneyland opened in 1955. Through the addition of interactive queues, the integration of modern updates to classic rides like Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, and the continued introduction of new ride technology means that our children and grandchildren will be as captivated by Disney theme parks as we are.
5. Relative Value – I still feel like I get my money’s worth. I do take advantage of money saving options when and where I can and overall, I feel like there’s no better place for a family vacation. I can tell you this – no place else compares to the fun we’ve had at Walt Disney World. We’re paying to be in the Disney Bubble and it’s worth it.
“Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future.” – Walt Disney
Back to the outrage. Let’s imagine that everything stays as is. Same technology, same resorts, same entertainment, same rides and attractions. Off Kilter gets to stay at Epcot indefinitely, Mr. Toad is still alive and well, interactive queues never get installed, Snow White still goes on her Scary Adventure, Spectro Magic rolls on night after night, and the Polynesian lobby maintains it’s original form. I know, right? Wouldn’t it be awesome to have some of our most-missed rides and attractions back where they belong? For a minute, maybe, BUT – what keeps Walt Disney World the most beloved family vacation destination in the world is NOT through efforts by the Disney Company to try to maintain things as they are. Guests return for the familiar magic, but also for the new, different, and innovative entertainment Disney is known for. To remain unchanged is to become vulnerable. The competition among theme parks for our vacation dollars is fierce. The “been there, done that” mentality is alive and well – maybe not among us, the Disney diehards, but the general population is susceptible to the draw of the newest, greatest vacation entertainment. If they can’t find it in a Disney park, they can and will look (and spend) elsewhere.
Change is difficult – never more so than when we have no say about what is being changed. We’re not involved in the decision making process, we don’t know the motivation behind every change, we didn’t get a vote. We know what changes we’d like to see, but when changes are announced, they’re not what we would have chosen. I like to believe that it is not always 100% about stock prices and corporate profits. I’m also keeping an open mind about things like Frozen in the Norway Pavilion and Pandora in Animal Kingdom. Until I see what they’re actually like, I can’t make a decision on whether they’re good or bad for their particular locations. I’m excited about new and different experiences for our future vacations at Disney World. I’ll always be sad and a little broken hearted when a familiar attraction makes way for something different, but most of the time, especially with Disney, different actually turns out to be better.
Now, if they’d just do something for poor Future World!
Your turn – share your thoughts on the upcoming changes at Walt Disney World.