Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Random Thoughts: Disney Changes and Improvements

Random Thoughts: Disney Changes and Improvements
By: Rebecca Farrell (Follow me on Twitter @RMZFarrell)

My husband and I were talking the other day, discussing how Disney is currently re-inventing itself to attract visitors. With the expansion of Fantasyland, addition of DVC villas at the Grand Floridian and major overhaul of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs, the times - they are a changin’.

If I look at these changes wearing my “public relations professional” hat, it’s easy to appreciate the need to capture the attention and imagination of both new and returning visitors.  Those of us who have traveled to the parks time and again know that Disney vacations are almost never inexpensive (try as we might) and it makes sense to give people more ways to measure their return on investment.

Updates to Resort Properties
You may have heard to read about the rumored changes at Disney’s Polynesian Resort that could include the addition of DVC villas and a lazy river. I’m admittedly torn on this one: according to what I’ve read online, the changes to the resort would mean the elimination of Rapa Nui, our favorite longhouse.  But I do like the idea of a lazy river and upgrades to the quiet pool…I just hope the resort doesn’t lose that campy, 70s feel.

I’ve also seen in recent days that Disney is releasing dates for the Grand Floridian DVC villas for the end of this year.  That building sure has gone up fast, proving there’s a high demand for luxe accommodations close the parks. I do think it will also draw some people away from Bay Lake Tower, opening up more rooms there to DVC and non-DVC folks alike.

I know that they are updating rooms on the 14th floor of the Contemporary, and it will be interesting to see how those pan out. Our recent stay on the 12th floor/Club Level was delightful – the rooms were very fresh, clean and we like the ‘mod’, sleek style!

Updates to the Parks
I’ve experienced the first part of the Fantastyland expansion at the Magic Kingdom firsthand. Frankly, I’m not all that impressed with the new Ariel ride and my luncheon dining experience at Be Our Guest was a bummer at best.  I do hope that the addition of the Seven Dwarves Mine Train in 2014 and the removal of the scrim that runs behind Winnie the Pooh will return the full-on magic of that part of the park.

I have heard (for several years) that some version of CarsLand or a Monsters Inc. land would come to Hollywood Studios. I think that one – or even both – of these ideas are fantastic and have the potential to make HS a full-day park again. Right now, we just pick a morning to get there for rope drop, ride Toy Story and Star Tours, maybe see Beauty and the Beast and then get out. Likely this will change when we have our son…but otherwise, no.

In EPCOT, I am pleased to see that they’re adding more dining options to Morocco and am hopeful that the current table service restaurant will step up its game to meet guest expectations.  While I didn’t visit any of the food booths during the Flower and Garden festival, I was pleased to see that the addition of booze didn’t seem to bring out (at least not in droves) the drinkers/drunks like at Food and Wine festival. I also think Disney would do itself a favor by adding a new pavilion to the World Showcase to represent a major culture

As the newest park, Animal Kingdom has the least amount of ‘holes’ as far as I’m concerned (read about what could have been here).  It’s still a half-day park for us as visiting adults but has plenty to keep us busy and good food options.  I’d love to hear what others think could be added to this park.

What do you think?
What changes would you like to see?
Do your kids have opinions? Leave a comment below!

Rapunzel's Tower / New addition to the Fantasyland Expansion

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