"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
---Walter Elias Disney

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mr. Grumpy Goes To Disney

I'm sure I don't need to say, but be assured Mr. Grumpy wasn't me. And Mr. Grumpy certainly wasn't John, or, obviously, the lovely Miss Lisa. We met Mr. Grumpy while waiting in the pouring down rain for a bus back to the Caribbean Beach Resort from Hollywood Studios after Fantasmic was canceled on us. No one under that bus canopy was turning somersaults with joy and happiness, but Mr. Grumpy made us smile.

I'm a happy person. It takes a lot to get me down and I tend to see humor in everything. My wife and son are happy people as well and we all pretty much enjoy ourselves where ever we are and whatever we're doing. We giggle while shopping at Walmart. That's just the way we are. So while at Disney, we really don't find much of anything to complain about. Mr. Grumpy? Not so much. I find Disney to be a pretty close to perfect place, but I realize a lot of that is me and my attitude. I don't stress over things at Disney because there's no need. It's Disney. But I realize not everyone is like that. People spend a lot of money on a Disney vacation and their idea of perfection is something more than mine. Disney tends to make some people see every glass as half empty. Mr. Grumpy was one of these and he was adorable.

As we stood waiting for the bus to arrive, dripping wet, Mr. Grumpy hit on about all the common complaints about a Disney vacation.

The bus to the Magic Kingdom, 8 am on a Saturday
The Transportation -- This one got the conversation started, as we were waiting for a bus. I mentioned to Lisa the irony of the fact that the first time we had to wait for any significant amount of time for a bus was when it was pouring down rain on our heads because we couldn't fit under the canopy. "Are you staying at Caribbean Beach?" asked Mr. Grumpy. "I can't believe that. I feel like I've done nothing but wait for buses the whole time we've been here." 

It's a common complaint from people using the Disney transportation system. Buses, boats and monorails move guests around the whole huge property, and there are times you have to wait for whatever you plan to ride to arrive. I've stayed in the busy and the slow season, at a variety of resorts, and never found using Disney's transportation to be a problem or a frustration. I never put myself in a situation where I'm in that much of a rush. If running on Disney's schedule troubles you, it's an easy problem to solve by simply driving yourself where you want to go. We have friends who go this route and have just as relaxed a time on vacation as we do. It's just personal taste.

The resort loop monorail, about 10 am on a Saturday
But I honestly have no idea what Mr. Grumpy was talking about in this instance. We were staying in the same resort and we never waited more than 5 minutes to be picked up and maybe ten waiting for a bus back to our room. And we left the parks at closing, along with massive throngs of others, so that was quite an accomplishment, I thought. This particular night was unusual as we waited about 20 minutes in the rain. As I mentioned, the Fantasmic show had been canceled, so the park emptied out an hour or so before it was expected to and I guess that threw off the system. It happens, and 20 minutes isn't such a long wait. It would take close to that time to get to your car in the lot anyhow. We saw as many empty buses and monorails as we did standing room only ones this trip. We sometimes felt like we were being chauffeured.

Ride Lines and Park Crowds--After his bus comment, especially the Eeyore-ish way in which it was delivered, I knew I had a live one on the line. So I brought up the subject of crowds. I couldn't help it. Of course Mr. Grumpy was upset about that, too. "With this "free-dining" thing (I think he used air quotes here), everyone and their brother is here this week. We've done nothing but wait in line."

Again, we had a very different experience. I don't think we waited more than 20 minutes for any ride ever the entire trip. And we rode about everything -- most several times. Nothing without a FastPass option ever had a significant wait, and we used FastPasses to ride the rest if need be. Admittedly, we got a bunch of the more popular Fantasyland attractions done during Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, when the park was very thinned out, but even going to what all the tips web sites said was the busiest park that day, we rarely found a line more than ten or twenty minutes. We never waited at all for Pirates of the Caribbean, for instance, no matter when we went. We just filed in and hopped on. It was awesome. Star Tours was the same way.

I suppose if you were heart set on riding the big name "E" Ticket rides without using the FastPass, you had to wait. But there is absolutely zero reason to do that.

The Restaurants--Again, I couldn't stop myself once Mr. Grumpy brought up Free Dining. Wasn't it a great thing, I asked, already knowing the answer. "Well, it makes all the restaurants crowded, you can't get a table. And the food isn't what it used to be," was Mr. Grumpy's reliable reply.

We love the Dining Plan, particularly when it's free. We are a food-loving family and there were meals we were looking forward to as much as we were some of the rides and attractions. We had African cuisine at Boma, French at Les Chefs de France, a Morrocan lunch and homemade sausage and the best calamari ever at Mama Melrose's. We ate with the fishes at the Coral Reef, breakfasted with Mickey and Minnie and Donald and Goofy and Pluto at Chef Mickey's and started one day with a Friendship Celebration hosted by Pooh and Piglet and Eeyore and Tigger featuring the best French toast ever and a life-altering experience with breakfast lasagna. We had English fish and chips and American burgers and Polynesian meat-on-a-stick. We ate well, very well. The food was plentiful and very good.

We also noticed a difference from the last time we used the Dining Plan. A few years ago, we arrived a bit early for our reservations and often waited until long after our ressie time to actually be seated. Mr. Grumpy to the contrary, this year was very different. We arrived sometimes a good half hour before our appointed time and got seated right away, despite the waiting rooms looking very crowded. It was great! We never once waited for a table more than ten minutes, and that was when we arrived early. And not only did we not wait for our seats, we got what we considered the "best seats in the house" everytime. If there was a view or a window, we got it.

The reason we found Mr. Grumpy so amusingly cute was that his heart didn't really appear to be in his grousing. It seemed like a personality trait that he just couldn't leave behind, or didn't want to. He seemed genuinely happy to be complaining. He made us smile, and we waved goodbye with nothing but love as we pulled away on the bus, being the last family allowed aboard and leaving Mr. Grumpy, who was right behind us in line, standing in the rain waiting. Again.

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