Is there joy in planning to stay on Disney World property? Or is the magic gone?
I'm planning for my upcoming Walt Disney World vacation! I'm researching The DIS for the latest updates and news and I feel some of the joy of planning to travel again. I am choosing to stay on site, on Walt Disney World property.
I have tremendous gratitude for being able to go, the lifting of Covid domestic travel restrictions, and the gift of having Walt Disney World as an option to visit. It’s open and it’s waiting for me when I am ready.
And that’s the positivity I feel; the glass is half-full. The other half of my glass is half-empty because of my choice to stay on Disney property. It is an expensive decision and I wonder if I am being taken advantage of. Will I have buyer’s remorse?
I am looking for the Disney business, the company, to offer me a red carpet feeling as I plan, but is it too much too soon? I want to feel like Disney says to me on a personal level, “We are so happy you returned and are staying with us, welcome home" (or in Hawaii at Aulani, Disney's Resort and Spa they would say: E Komo Mai...we meet again)! But I’m not getting that emotional pull I used to get during the planning process.
We used to be adorned with towel animals while staying at the resorts; remember those? It's been a slippery slope since the days years ago when chocolates were placed on your pillow during turn down service at the Grand Floridian; I haven't seen them in a while. How beautiful the purple lei necklace for the ladies and the kukui nut leis for the men were at Aulani upon arrival. You won't be receiving those right now. It was all part of the planning and welcome to the Disney experience.
I once received pins that read "under construction" at the Wilderness Lodge. I have a beautiful canvas from a sailing on the Disney Cruise Line of Donald Duck on the AquaDuck that was a complimentary gift. These are examples of special dustings of pixie dust I used to receive staying at an on property resort. Thankfully I hoarded many sample lotions, shampoos and conditioners from previous stays.
Instead, as I plan for my impending stay on Disney resort property, I've read about lines for guests at the resort pools. I've read articles lamenting the end of Disney’s complimentary Magical Express to travel to our resort. I've read about challenges with scoring Advanced Dining Reservations at one’s own resort sixty days out. Many guests forgo the modified mousekeeping service. And I will not contemplate paying hundreds of dollars for a pool cabana so I can enter my resort pool area and avoid the line! Yes, I understand many of these are impacts of restrictions with regard to keeping physical distancing, but there should be a way to bring back those little sprinkles of magic for a guest staying on property.
I want the joy of planning to include those perks as part of the process. The joy of booking things to look forward to as part of the process of being in the bubble, not part of the process of trying to make things better if they aren't.
Here’s what I want to see: I'd like to see a pin upon my arrival with Mickey on it saying “Welcome Back!” Or perhaps a button in my room saying “We are happy you chose us!” I would like an upgraded (because now they are no longer part of the resort stay) complimentary MagicBand of my choice. Why haven’t they announced early theme park entry dates for resort guests as a replacement for Extra Magic Hours? Can they provide one magical FastPass per on-property guest?
I hope I won't be the fool who was taken advantage of, and I hope I won't have buyer’s remorse. I get it; it’s Covid times and I am lucky to have the parks open that we can go and enjoy, I know. However, I am looking forward to the next step and poking the country bear, asking questions about how much am I willing to pay if there lacks the je ne sais quoi.
Reopening comes in phases, and it takes time, but taking too much time will cause potential guests to begin to feel dissatisfied and leave. I miss the fun of planning for staying on property and I miss looking forward to those special nods I used to get during the preparation process.
Disney, I have faith in you. I have trust in you. Now where’s my pixie dust?