Monday, February 04, 2008

Minor Irritations

Hubby and I just got back from a trip to Walt Disney World (got home about 11:30pm Friday). While any vacation to the World is awesome, we did have a few issues that really took the shine off of our trip. Some were very minor and can't really be helped. some are a indicative of a bigger problem, and I plan to send a formal complaint to the complaint department.

The worst problem for my husband was the complete and utter lack of Haunted Mansion t-shirts and other merchandise. He's already sent a formal complaint about this, but as I'm trying to get over a cold, I'm waiting till my brain is fully functional before addressing my complaints. At most, we were able to find- 1 HM keychain. 1 history of HM (which we already had). 1 HM comic book (two comics by Roman Dirge, so I'm quite excited about that), 1 pack of non-functional HM playing cards (seriously, you can't even shuffle them, and we only found them at the Emporium... minutes after employees there told us there was no HM stuff). 1 washcloth with the hitchhiking ghosts amongst other attractions printed on it, 1 freezy mug with hitchhiking ghosts as one of four attractions printed on it. A handful of lanyard pins that I didn't even like.

The worst problem for me was the utter lack of knowledge all cast members displayed when questioned about merchandise. The girl running Madame Leota's Cart informed us that there may be a shop in Pleasure Island carrying HM merchandise (she may have been right, but that's a seriously vague statement). Cast members in the emporium were either completely baffled by the question "do you have any HM merchandise?", uncaring when stating that they didn't (even though it turns out they did), or immediately became guarded as if they knew something that they couldn't tell us. Scary. The information desk at Downtown Disney couldn't find any T-shirts, or really anything other than the keychain and pins. Another Cast Member there became rather guarded when we asked about T-shirts- again as if there was something that he couldn't tell us. The worst part, however, was when we called the merchandise hotline. These people are supposed to be able to find anything- and yet the woman that answered the phone insisted that all of the Haunted Mansion stuff was in Madame Leota's Cart and that there were plenty of T-shirts. Yes. There were plenty of T-shirts. For Nightmare Before Christmas. Grrrr.

Of course, as always, there were very few t-shirts that actually fit me now that Disney has switched over to using Misses sizes. Sure, I could get the ugly generic shirts. Or I could buy only sweatshirts. Or maybe... just maybe, I won't buy any at all. What is with Disney not wanting us to buy merchandise? Particularly t-shirts.

My main gripe (not the worst problem, just the one I complained about constantly) was seeing Nescafe everywhere. I understand that Nestle sponsors WDW, but must the patrons be punished for that? Not only could I not get a decent cup of coffee anywhere without a great deal of effort (aside from World Showcase, each park has about 1 shop that you can get real coffee in... and there's always a line), but I couldn't get decent iced tea (it was Nestea), or decent hot chocolate. WTF? I understand the important role sponsors play in the operation of the WDW parks- but for Pete's sake. I'm not sure that I want to go back for a while. While the quality of the burgers and such remained high, they're now using pre-packaged cakes and fruit cups that just do not equal the quality of what Disney used to offer. There are fewer reasons to go back.

When all you have to look forward to is the hotel and the rides.... why would you want to drive 1000 miles each way? At this point, we'll probably only head back every two or three years, instead of yearly.

Don't get me wrong, I love the parks. I love the rides, I love the hotels. But I go for the whole experience, and this new thing of offering the same things (merchandise and food) everywhere is taking all of the fun out of shopping and dining. What's the point of going on a yearly basis? We spent less than 1/3 of what we usually spend on souvenirs, and about 1/2 on food that we usually spend (we skipped the table service restaurants, and once we realized that the desserts were the same everywhere, we stopped ordering those as well). Granted, that's good for us, but I fail to see how it benefits Walt Disney World. Anyone?

Ok, I've just changed my mind. Can I go back tomorrow?


  1. I'm sorry your experience was tarnished by these instances. It sounds like you managed to sneak in some fun around the edges though. :)

    I've actually noticed the same things you have. I think it comes down to a lack of respect for quality. Disney's famous quote "Quality will out" was his mantra. And the theory went that if you gave guests high quality they'd come back and bring their friends.

    The Walt Disney Company, for the most part, no longer follows Walt's mantra. I've started to understand why, and I can't say I blame them. The fact is the public no longer demands quality. We're perfectly happy with good enough. It may not be good enough on a case by case basis, but overall the experience is good enough to keep Disney ahead of its competition and keep the public coming back in large numbers.

    Sad to say, but I think this is the future we have to be ready to live with.


  2. Hi John! No matter how many complaints I may have, it's still impossible to not have fun at the World. Especially with the HM rehab! Loved it!

    It's funny that you mention that because that quote is exactly what ran through my head over and over. I do love WDW, and the Disney company, but the lowered standards puts my back up. It's embarrassing to come home and not be enthusiatic about the time I had.

    I agree with what you say about the public not demanding high quality (unfortunately), and that WDW is still leagues ahead of the competition. I just keep reminding myself that the whole idea was based on making something that was fun for adults as well as kids, and it certainly is that.

    Thankfully the cast members are (mostly) still wonderful, friendly people, and the pest control does such an excellent job. The ambience is still mostly intact, which is probably our biggest draw for going as often as we do. I just wish the company would get its act together and remember why the parks exist in the first place.

    Still, happy thoughts. Happy thoughts. There were a lot of good things about our trip too.


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