Four Suggestions to Improve Disney Visits
We just experienced one of our best Disney vacations ever. The parks weren’t crowded, spirits were high, and the guests seemed thrilled.
After all, we all need an escape during the pandemic, and nothing beats Walt Disney World!
Still, we noticed a few things that I wish Disney did better. The parks are continually improving and even enhanced some rules while we were there.
As such, I’m confident Disney will take these ideas in the spirit in which I intend them: to make the parks more magical.
Keeping that in mind, here are a few suggestions to improve Disney visits right now.
Have you ever met a child? Or raised a child? In 1985, Whitney Houston proclaimed that children are the future, and those kids are about 40 now.
But the idea still applies to the next generation, the one we’re educating in a pandemic.
Alas, even the best-intended of these tykes gets a bit carried away while standing in line for Disney attractions.
They tend to run up to the person in front of them and hover there, ignoring all social distancing rules.
The behavior makes perfect sense and partially explains why Disney has added signs six feet apart. They’re visual cues about where kids should stand.
Predictably, many children ignore them. Thankfully, most parents are great about reminding their tykes to honor the rules.
However, some aren’t. They’ve been at the parks too long and are just too tired to care because…2020. They’re on a break, and Disney’s their babysitter.
For this reason, Disney could use a line spotter for all its attractions.
This cast member (or two or three) could monitor the queues to verify that all guests honor social distancing rules.
In truth, some adults need this reminder, too.
A few guests, usually ones focused on their phones, sometimes walk right up to you, which is unsettling during a pandemic.
A line spotter would solve that problem, too. During a full week at the parks, we only noticed four (!) guests who weren’t wearing masks.
With line spotters, Disney would tighten up the other sticking point, social distancing violations.
As things stand, the parks feel safer than anywhere I’ve visited during the pandemic.
So, this suggestion would only offer modest improvement, but it’d make guests feel safer while standing in line.
More Mobile Ordering
I could give you 50 guesses, and you still wouldn’t figure out where we waited the longest at Walt Disney World.
Hint: it wasn’t a ride but a restaurant…one at Magic Kingdom.
Unless you’ve visited the parks lately, you’d never get it.
Gaston’s Tavern recently introduced The Grey Stuff as part of its menu.
Before then, the only way that customers could dine on this exquisite cupcake involved a trip to Be Our Guest.
As you probably know, Be Our Guest qualifies as the most challenging Advanced Dining Reservation at Magic Kingdom, possible Walt Disney World.
Now, people can walk into Gaston’s Tavern and devour the snack whenever they want.
The problem is that everybody wants. So, lines at this place get a little…insane.
Seriously, the social distancing sometimes takes the line back so far that you cannot see the end.
My party and I separated one morning and agreed to meet here. That was a crippling mistake, as I couldn’t very well cut in front of hundreds of guests.
Much aggravation could have been avoided if Gaston’s Tavern accepted Mobile Ordering.
Sure, the seating issues would remain, but everyone could at least grab The Grey Stuff and go.
We noticed this several times with snack shops. Lines formed in problematic areas. They didn’t need to be there, either. Mobile Ordering would have fixed it.
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I wanted some Roasted Corn from Harambe Fruit Market. Alas, they didn’t accept Mobile Ordering, either.
We’re in a day and age where every vendor at Walt Disney World should accept Mobile Ordering.
The technology’s readily available, and it enhances customer efficiency.
Better Communication in Lines
Okay, this one’s a big ask, and I’m unsure that Disney can invent a better solution here.
However, we struggled regularly with cast member communication, a first for us at Disney.
I swear by the skill and thoughtfulness of cast members. They’re incredibly kind, talented people.
During the pandemic, they’re bravely working despite the risk of COVID-19, an incredibly admirable decision.
Some of them wear face shields to provide an extra layer of defense against droplets, which is smart.
Unfortunately, the combination of face covering and face shield renders communications all but impossible.
Many cast members can relay information by shouting loudly, but most sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher. It’s less than ideal.
Also, workers regularly square off against pushy park guests who ignore the rules. This causes morale problems and leads to escalated moods.
Someone you meet might have had a bad day and act more aggressively than usual.
I watched several instances of this, but the most regrettable one involved my autistic nephew.
He visits Disney regularly and isn’t used to the new rules. As we stood in line for Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, a woman asked him to wait.
I mean, I guess that’s what happened. I stood right behind him and had no idea what she had said.
My nephew tried to board the Omnimover clam cart as usual. She – and this isn’t a joke – dropped a shoulder into his midsection and physically stopped him.
I was absolutely mortified and felt thankful that his parents didn’t notice. His confusion was total, but he shrugged it off a few seconds later when she let him board.
This situation was entirely avoidable with better communication. Disney needs to find some way for cast members to speak clearly while masked.
Bring Back FastPasses
Disney, I’m begging on this one.
I recently watched some of my favorite YouTube vloggers discuss how they avoid the parks on the weekends.
They feel this way because anticipating wait-times has evolved into a form of roulette.
You may enter the park feeling like you’ll get to ride everything, which is possible.
In fact, I’ll post an article next week that recounts this very achievement.
Still, some parks come with much more mercurial behavior than others. Even people who collate theme park data for a living are struggling in 2020.
The unpredictability factor leads to a lot of angst at the parks, and Disney could fix it with one change.
The parks could bring back FastPasses. In doing so, guests would know that they’d get to ride various attractions rather than hope and worry.
Frankly, worry shouldn’t even be a part of a trip to the Disney Bubble.
Unfortunately, guests never know whether their park will come with large crowds or not.
Since Park Hopping isn’t currently allowed, you’re stuck where you are.
That can be stressful on a day like the one we recently experienced at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
At one point, everything in the park came with a wait-time of 35 minutes or longer. Several were at 60+.
Disney fans know what would make that situation bearable: FastPasses!
There’s a psychological advantage to knowing that you’ll board one ride almost immediately. It lifts your spirits and enhances your mood.
A Disney park visit without FastPasses as an option feels wrong and causes needless stress.
We need some sort of comprehensive virtual queuing system soon!
Feature Image Rights: Matt Stroshane