I was reading Robert's report from the IAAPA Expo last week (http://www.themeparkinsider.com/flume/201511/4840/), and I enjoyed reading the remarks by Matt Ouimet, CEO of Cedar Fair parks and former president of the Disneyland Resort.
I was struck by this quote where Mr. Ouimet compared visiting a Disney theme park (Disneyland or Walt Disney World) to his flagship park, Knott's Berry Farm in Southern California:
"We have a saying: Having fun should be fun," Ouimet said. "The day you go to the park, it shouldn't be about - with my apologies to the organization that did so well for us - it shouldn't be whether I'm going to get my $100 worth. It should be about, am I going to create a memories? I'm going to relax, enjoy the Chicken Dinner restaurant, ride the Timber Mountain Log Ride. It shouldn't be stressful."
The Disney theme parks are phenomenally successful, with record attendance these days and huge profits for the parent company. Disney sites have reported larger crowds than in the past this fall, and it seems that Disney wants to eliminate slow periods in the parks, maximizing the crowds throughout the year (except on the busiest periods like the Christmas holidays).
There are multiple commercial sites that tell you how to maximize your time in the parks with touring strategies (many for a subscription fee) and insider advice and tricks (no disrespect meant to this website). Fast Pass+ and My Magic+ at Disney World encourage you to plan out your day months in advance, with popular dining reservations grabbed up right away, and Tom Staggs has promised that My Magic+ will be coming soon to other Disney parks.
Is it still possible to have have fun at Disneyland or Disney World and not plan everything out in advance? If you are paying $99 for a single-day ticket or over $1000 for an annual pass, do you feel pressure to get your money's worth by planning out your day to the nth degree, and using as much insider info as possible?
Is it still possible to have fun when the parks are massively crowded, and you feel you need to get your money's worth? If you have an annual pass, do you feel you need to visit as much as possible to make it worth the ever-increasing cost?
For me, visiting other parks in Southern California like Universal Studios, Knott's Berry Farm, or Legoland don't require lots of advance planning, just getting to the park early and having a general plan of what to do. And the crowds, while worse on certain days, are usually manageable.
But spending the day at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure is a big deal, partly because it's that much more expensive (few discounts, and annual passes are prohibitively expensive) and the day becomes an all-day (16 hour) trip, requiring planning out the morning and afternoon ride sequence, deciding which shows and nighttime entertainment we want to see, and eating meals at less crowded times. And it seems like more and more people there are thinking the same way we are.
What are your experiences in planning out a trip to Disney theme parks and enjoying your trip (versus other parks)? Does the day at a theme or amusement park become less enjoyable with more planning required?Tweet
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