For the first time in several years, I was on the phone with my family back home in Seattle discussing the possibility of a future vacation to Walt Disney World. It has been YEARS since we have planned a family vacation with the COVID pandemic interrupting any thoughts of vacationing. We thought it might be fun to approach the idea of getting something on the books since my niece and nephews are not getting any younger.
Usually, when I am talking to my sister-in-law about a trip to Disney World, we are both so excited and can hardly contain ourselves. I get especially excited when planning something with her kids as they are the youngest ones in our family. Don’t get me wrong, it is still fun to visit Walt Disney World with my older adult-aged kids but there is something so very special about seeing the magic of Disney through the eyes of young children.
Here is the thing, though. We started our conversation by looking at the pricing and as we all know that has done nothing but increase dramatically in the last few years. Not only will you need to purchase theme park tickets, but the question of FastPass came up so I explained how that system no longer exists. I hadn’t really thought about how much this would affect our multi-generational family vacations until that very moment. We never thought that we wouldn’t have that option someday. When you have three little children, standing in line for attractions for hours does not bode well.
I began explaining to my sister-in-law how Disney Genie has come into play. Then we began to address Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane. As I was explaining this to her, she appeared to have this glaze form over her eyes and legitimately did not know how to react.
I continued on and tried my best to make it not seem as confusing as it was, but keep in mind that it’s taken me a long time to be able to speak about this system coherently because I still can’t believe how confusing and EXPENSIVE it is now.
When I got to the part about having to pay an extra $15 per person per day to be able to utilize Lightning Lane, she nearly fell out of her chair. When you are a family of five – granted the littlest one will still be under the age of three and will not need a ticket – you are already spending a small fortune on theme park tickets and the thought of having to add an additional $60 per day for a family of four to those already steep prices, she nearly fell out of her chair for real.
It is so hard to swallow when something so necessary that you have had the use of as a complementary addition is going to now suddenly cost you an extra $15 per person per day in order to use.
We have always said that time is money on a Disney vacation as our way of justifying the high costs of certain aspects of the trip and the epitome of that statement is really coming to fruition at this point. You are paying Disney to save your time and it is something that is so hard to justify with little kids since you never know how the day will go. I’m sure many of you reading this have experienced this situation already, it is just a new and frustrating realization for me having not planned a family vacation in years.
Planning a Walt Disney World vacation for my family has been one of my very favorite activities for the better part of the last 20 years or so. I, unfortunately, have to say that this conversation was not fun and it did not leave her or me excited about planning our next Disney vacation. At this point, we are not sure that they can even afford to go on a Disney World vacation after they purchase airfare and set money aside for food.
I will say that we are Disney Vacation Club members so we will be able to use our points for accommodations as a Grand Villa sleeps up to twelve people and holds all of us, but even with the hotel cost being covered, airfare, tickets, and food, costs add up quickly and they are steep. What was once a very doable vacation for our family might not be within reach any longer. We’ve made the tough decision to put off a Disney World vacation for now and we’ll look forward to planning our next vacation to Disneyland. The Disneyland Resort is so much smaller than Walt Disney World and we can accomplish a lot more there in fewer park days. We will just have to wait and see how it all plays out.
Come to think of it, we didn’t even address the fact that Disney’s Magical Express is no longer. I didn’t have the heart to address the fact that transportation to and from the Orlando International Airport now requires you to book and pay separately for an Airport Shuttle. OY.
It really feels like some of the joy of planning a Disney vacation has been unexpectedly removed for us. Planning seems to be more about the financial aspect(s) rather than the fun aspect(s), and, money sadly does not grow on trees.
I am somewhat of a sad Walt Disney World fan right now. Planning a Disney vacation is more confusing and difficult than it’s ever been and it just doesn’t need to be. I’d love to go back to the simpler times and I don’t think that I’m alone.