Wednesday, March 20, 2013


I don’t enjoy crowds.  I’m not one of those people that loves to shop after Thanksgiving, or goes to sold out sporting events, or thrives on events like Mardi Gras or New Years.  I never liked going to clubs when I was younger, and my tolerance level for crowds has diminished significantly as I’ve gotten older.  If people like to do those things, great for them, it’s just not for me.  With that being said, it’s hard to find a time to travel to Disney when it’s not crowded.  With events like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Food & Wine Festival, Flower & Garden Festival, and the marathons, low season has shrunk.  

A very uncrowded
Main Street circa 1984
I reminisce often on the time when the parks were not so crowded.  Back when there was no rush to rope drop, no fast passes, no ADRs, no 60+ minute waits, no character meet & greets (they roamed the parks instead), no excruciatingly long bus or boat lines in the evening.  A time between the opening of Magical Kingdom in 1971 to about the early 1990s.  I used to believe it was my memory that made the park experience so uncrowded and less rushed.  That maybe, as a young girl, I interpreted the experience differently.  But no, I don’t think so.  There a variety of reasons the parks are more crowded now than then.  Some things Disney World has done intentionally to increase crowds, some unintentionally, and some they have no control over.  For them, it’s great.  More crowds, more revenue; but it also means more staff, more security, longer operating hours, more frequent maintenance, and more capital investments.  For us, it means we have to change the way we tour.  Now we use crowd calendars, take the kids out of school to maximize low season benefits, wake up early for rope drop, use fast pass to it’s fullest extends, and make dining reservations months in advance.  

So, why the increase in crowds?  First and foremost, I believe that people today have more disposable income than they used to.  You can talk about bad economy all you want, but one trip to Disney World or any major theme park or tourist center shows you that people have lots of money (or credit, in some cases) to spend.  Airfare costs have decreased relatively, and automobiles are more fuel efficient.  Traveling longer distances has become easier.  

Disney marketing is amazing.  I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t see an advertisement in print media, television, radio or the internet regarding Disney vacations.  Disney characters are everywhere you look, and their target audience is families with young children.  Generation X’ers, like myself, had an occasional Disney movie, a Disney lunchbox, and Sunday night Wonderful World of Disney.  Kids now have Disney vitamins, Disney themed toothbrushes, Disney stores at the local mall, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Austin & Ally, High School Musicals, and a new Disney movie at least once a year.  Add in Pixar’s contribution to the marketing effort and you’ve got a huge force to contend with.  Marketing genius, true marketing genius.

Another increase in crowds is due to the expansion of resorts versus park growth.  Between 1971 and 1989, there were 6 or less on-site resorts for 2 parks (Magic Kingdom and Epcot).  In 1989, MGM opened (now Hollywood Studios) and Disney World started a massive effort of building resorts over the next 20 years.   So, now you have 27 on-site resorts for 4 parks.  I know my study doesn’t take into account local guests, those staying off-property, those going to other theme parks but you can understand my logic.  There’s just more people per park now than there was in 1984.  Does this mean Disney needs a 5th gate (another park)?  I’m not inclined to agree.  I think there’s already too much to see and do on one trip.

I have to say that crowds are here to stay...much to my disappointment.  Does that mean I won’t go to Disney World?  Heck, no, but I’ll stay away from the holidays!  :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Springtime at Walt Disney World

Welcome to those of you joining me from Manda's Disney Blog and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 2nd stop on our Magical Blogorail.  This month we are talking about springtime at Walt Disney World, and just in time, because I’m needing a shot a warmer weather right about now. 

Despite the blizzard like conditions seen in the Northeast this past week, down South we are starting to experience spring taking over.  There is far, far too much yellow pollen for my liking settling on everything outside.  The lawn, which hadn’t been mowed since before Christmas, is starting to show signs of needing a trim.  The temperature, while cool at night, has been pleasant during the day.  More sun and lots of wind are sure signs that the seasons are changing.  Ah….Springtime…we welcome you with open arms because we know it’s just a fleeting visit before the hot, humid days of summer take over. 

In the Southern coastal states, springtime is a great season to be out and about traveling.  However, I have a confession to make:  I’ve never been to Disney World in the Spring!  Why that is, I really don’t know, other than to say our schedules never synced up.  Visiting Walt Disney World in the spring seems like an optimal time to go.  Outside of Spring Break and Easter, crowd levels are relatively low.  Lower crowd levels generally equate to lower resort prices.  By March, most of the January/February attraction and pool refurbishments have been completed in anticipation of the Spring Break and Easter crowds.  Weather wise, you can’t go wrong in April or May.  Although, the temperature can be variable, typically the highs hover in the 70/80s range, humidity is lower than the summer, hurricane season hasn’t begun, and storms aren’t as frequent as the summer patterns (although they can be just as violent; April is a high tornado period for Florida).  Springtime in Florida can be extremely pleasant.  Factor in Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival which runs March 6 to May 19th, Spring time is a great time to visit Walt Disney World.  

Spring marks the arrival of Epcot's International
Flower & Garden Festival.  Photo courtesy of
 So what am I waiting for….

In the Spring time, you'll find less bugs...
more sun....
warmer weather to get wet in....
but less of this...
however, don't forget those ponchos!
Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is The Disney Point.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make astop along the way and want to reboard:
3rd Stop ~ The Disney Point
Final Stop ~ The CanaDisney Blog

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hidden Mickeys

The Quest for Your Favorite Hidden Mickey

My favorite "Hidden Mickey" can be found outside the Haunted Mansion embedded in the sidewalk -- two horseshoe prints around a utility cover seeming made by the ghostly horse hitched to the hearse in front of the mansion.

I am so used to Hidden Mickey's that I often find myself telling my friends, family, co-workers, etc to "find a hidden mickey for me" on their trip.  Too many times, I'm often met with a strange look, and rightly so I guess.  <sigh>  I forget that not everyone is as obsessed.

So, what is a Hidden Mickey?  If you are reading my blog, you probably know, but in case an unexpected traveler has traversed The Magical Mouse Pad, here's the definition from good old Wikipedia (where would we be without you!):

"A Hidden Mickey is a representation of Mickey Mouse that has been inserted subtly into the design of a ride, attraction, or other location in a Disney theme park, Disney properties, movie or other Disney product. The most common Hidden Mickey is a formation of three circles that may be perceived as the silhouette of the head and ears of Mickey Mouse, often referred to by Disney aficionados as a "Classic Mickey"." 

I enjoy the occasional Hidden Mickey, but don't actively seek them out.  If I run across one, I'll make a remark about it...maybe even take a picture.  It's a fun little activity and I'm pleased with myself when I find one before anyone else in my group.  However, for some, Hidden Mickeys and the search for them has become their obsession, which I'm all for!  Everyone's got to have a hobby, right?  Makes my life a little easier when I want to find a particular Hidden Mickey.  Thanks, Hidden Mickey Guy and all you other Hidden Mickey gurus!