As I wrote in my last blog entry, my family dealt with a one-day delay in our return flight from Florida by spending the day at Disney World. This was my first visit to Disney World as an adult, and I’ve gotta tell you… for a customer service cynic like me, it’s an experience like no other.
We were making a spontaneous visit to the Magic Kingdom, so we had no vacation package, discount coupons, or what have you. We simply walked up to the gate and forked over more than $300. I found it awfully hard to believe that whatever the park had to offer would be worth that much money, so walking into the park, I was in the mood to be a “tough customer.” Eight hours later, I walked out of the park convinced that it was worth every penny we paid.
The park is clean. I don’t just mean not dirty, I mean really, truly clean. Staff members constantly roam through the park, swooping down almost instantly to clean up every spill, pick up every piece of litter, neatly line up every parked stroller, etc. It’s amazing.
There are plenty of staff. The folks doing the cleaning are just one example of that. Whenever we needed help with something or needed to ask a question, there was always someone nearby.
The lines move quickly. Granted, we didn’t go on a particularly crowded day, but from what I hear, even on crowded days they keep things moving. Furthermore, their “FastPass” system allows patrons to get advance tickets for some rides rather than standing in line for a long time. No park the size of Disney World is going to be able to put people on rides with no lines at all, but Disney World manages the waiting as well as anyone could.
The concession prices are reasonable. I’ve heard that Disney World spends so much on maintaining the parks that they don’t actually make money from the admission fees — the fees cover their costs, and the profit comes from the concessions. Given that, and given that the folks in the park are a “captive audience,” it would be typical for Disney to charge inflated prices for food, souvenir items, etc. Certainly, most theme/amusement parks choose that route. Nevertheless, as far as I could tell, there wasn’t any gouging going on.
They happily allow people to bring their own food into the park. Readers of my blog may recall the choice words I had about another park that does not.
They sell Kosher food at all of their parks. Real food, not just junk food, and several options, not just one. It even tastes decent.
The park is completely accessible to people with disabilities. Not as an afterthought, either — it’s clear that they consider it a priority to make the Disney experience as positive for disabled people as it is for anyone else. It’s quite remarkable.
It’s fun. There’s truly something for everyone. It’s quite remarkable.
Although it’s packed with things to do, it isn’t too big. I’ve been to plenty of parks and zoos where it was a chore to get from one end of the park to the other. The Magic Kingdom wasn’t like that at all. Getting from one side of the park to the other just wasn’t that big of a deal.
Readers of my blog may recall some not-so-nice words I wrote about Disney, criticizing them for selling merchandise which inappropriately sexualizes young girls. I still believe they got that wrong and handled my complaint about it wrong as well. That doesn’t change the fact that they really, truly know how to run a theme park.