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Well, we’re back.

After a week in the Vacation Kingdom of the World, and a bit of time away from Progress City (has it really been that long since the last post?), we’re gearing up for the next wave of activity here. I have books to review, DVDs to review, stories to write and a third podcast to figure out. Hopefully, this will happen sooner rather than later!

In the meantime, I thought I’d say hello and offer a few thoughts about Walt Disney World on my return. I won’t get too deep into it, because I’m sure we’ll be talking about it on the podcast and elsewhere, but there are some definite impressions that can be easily summed up.

All in all, it was a good trip. The parks seemed to be in mostly good shape, and aside from a few glaring exceptions the resort’s operations seemed to be smooth. One of the most noticeable things was the Cast Members, who seemed to be really energetic and on the ball all around. Maybe it’s because the College Program kids are all fresh and new, but it seemed like everyone was just… well… doing their job with a little bit of extra spark. There were a few bad eggs, as can be expected, but overall there was a higher than typical number of genuinely pleasant CM interactions.

Magic Kingdom: The Kingdom seemed to be in pretty good shape, although the custodial team was clearly not staffed enough to keep up with the crowds. But while the park was a little rough on the cleanliness front, it did seem to have improved its general maintenance considerably. A few years ago this park was falling apart at the seams. Now there was fresh paint visible in several places, and there were several positive little changes.

Putting the magic in the Magic Kingdom. “What Am I Celebrating?” This. This is it.

The exception, as is typical, is Tomorrowland. Tomorrowland continues to be a disaster, and needs a complete stem-to-stern overhaul. In Adventureland, the Tiki Room: Under New Management continues to grow more abandoned and outdated, and needs to be restored to its original show immediately.

EPCOT Center: EPCOT can be summed up pretty easily – Showcase looks great, Future World looks rough. There’s lots of fresh paint and new construction in World Showcase; work continues on the Cantina replacement and the new pizza place in Italy which, by the way, is going to be ginormous. Crowds packed the promenade, and every attraction and live entertainment performance drew a throng of guests. Showcase needs new countries. When you have that many restaurants and they’re all booked solid, it’s time to expand. Some new, fresh attractions wouldn’t hurt either.

Future World, much like Tomorrowland, needs to get sanded down and reconstructed. The Imagination pyramids looks like someone covered them with pig grease and soot, and there’s just a general feeling of clutter and malaise everywhere. There is, though, a lot of new retro merchandise so Disney should be applauded for that. There was also tons of new country-specific merch in each pavilion in World Showcase. Add to that some spectacular weather and the always-impressive Flower & Garden shows, and EPCOT was looking pretty darn good.


Hollywood Studios: Same old, same old. Empty buildings, outdated attractions, unadorned soundstages and still that bloody hat. Hollywood and Sunset still look great, but the rest of the park needs help soon. We also had an absolutely awful run in with a cast member here, but that’s Beacon Joe’s story to tell. This park has such great potential – give it some love, Disney!

Saratoga Springs: We stayed here, despite my reservations about it being a hallowed resting ground for the remains of my beloved Villas. The buildings have a distinct lack of interesting character, which we’ll discuss in the future, but it’s nice and quiet and the rooms inside were quite nice. It’s good to be close to the Village, especially now that the noise factor of Pleasure Island has gone down, and I love taking the boat ride up the Sassagoula. So I’d say the resort exceeded my expectation, but lacks the great escapist themeing of, say, the Polynesian.

Not Lake Buena Vista, but still a very lovely spot

Transportation: Surprise, surprise – my biggest problem with the resort is, once again, the broken transportation system. The fact that I had lots of online Disney folks expressing surprise that I actually tried to use the buses instead of driving everywhere shows how bad it’s gotten. It’s time for Disney to start at square one and overhaul the entire resort transportation infrastructure. The overarching design goal of Walt Disney World was that you wouldn’t have to use your car; now it’s almost necessary if you want to move about in a timely fashion.

Those are the cliff notes. I don’t want to give away too much, else I spoil all our scintillating commentary on the next podcast. Now planning has to begin for the next trip – Destination D in September. West-coasters, how about it?

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9 comments to Back.

  • Agreed, the pyramids for Imagination look absolutely horrendous. Maybe when they’re done cleaning the monorail beams around Epcot, they can work on this. Bad Show!
    I also completely agree about transportation. It seems to be stuck in the 19th cetury. It’s past time for Disney to upgrade and provide quick, easy and modern transportation options on-property for all of their resorts. Walt had a vision for this, make it happen. Now! The options to provide this are numerous, and most are less expensive than adding monorail beams.

  • Celeste C

    Nice to have you back M!

    I heard the continued existence of the hat had something to do with the loss of the rights to use the Chinese theater as a visual icon. Is that correct or did I imagine that? It’s really too bad about the studios, on the upside, I memorized all of the songs from high school musical…we could hear it outside our building. :p

    There’s nothing like being a fresh new CP, except for meeting all the old grizzled ones on their way out. *lol* Glad the cast members were nice to you!

    One more thing….”skills.”

  • AJ

    We had a bad run-in with a cast member at the studios on our recent visit as well. Eagerly looking forward to Beacon Joe’s tale.

  • GrumpyFan: Yeah, it’s really bad. My hope is that they have something big planned, and that’s why they’ve let it get so bad. The perfect match for some nice new clean windows would be a nice new Imageworks upstairs over a nice new Imagination ride. With Dreamfinder. And Figment. It’s funny you mention the monorail beam, because I was going to post a pic of that instead. I decided to use it in a future article. It looks great, though.

    CC: That urban legend about the Chinese theater has been circulating for ages, and I don’t know where it came from. I can’t imagine that not having the rights to use the Theater would be made better by just partially hiding it behind a giant hat. Unless lawyers are too scared of giant hats to walk around and see what’s behind.

    I’m sure the Hat’s time is numbered, just like the Wand. I know that many in WDI want it gone, so hopefully this too will come to pass. Get the planters back in there.

    Skills? Wha? No skills round here…

  • AJ: Where was your bad run-in? Ours was at Prime Time (not a server), and it was pretty remarkable.

  • Agreed, the dirty Imagination pyramids are a real eyesore. Honestly, it’s terrible that the jumping fountains, which used to be merely a whimsical piece of window dressing, are now the only good thing about that pavilion. It used to be a must-visit for me, now I don’t even bother going inside.

    It’s nice to see World Showcase finally getting some attention, though.

  • Dr. D

    Guess I was not alone. Got back 2 weeks ago. Have stayed at Wilderness Lodge the last several years and had no problems until this year when they messed up my reservations. Did get taken care of after 30 min with manager and blame placed on the Disney reservations company (more outsourcing?) Did have problems with a few rude cast members and very un-Disney like attitudes at Kona Cafe and Tutto Italiano. Did try one last time at Coral Reef and had, yes, great service and good food. Except for the boats at WL (always on time) had awful times with the buses. Talk about something that needs to be sanded and reconstructed! Had such long waits several times that we just caught a cab. Parks looked good or were in the process thanks to fears of Wizarding World I assume.
    p.s. Not sure why but I do have fond memories of Discovery Island!

  • Agree about the transportation system not working well. We used it our first few trips there, when we could carry the kids when they fell asleep on the long long long trip home, but when they got too big for strollers and for us to carry, it got ridiculous. More than once we ended up taking a cab, and since then we have rented a car. What time would you have to get up to get to a character breakfast at, say, 8 am, when you’re at Animal Kingdom Lodge or somewhere like that, and you have to go to the Contemporary or the Polynesian? We’re going in November 2010 and will be renting a car as soon as we get there.

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