"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, March 31, 2014

Refuting The Top 13 Reasons Not To Go To Disney, Part 4

So I'm happily looking at my Facebook newsfeed the other day and one of those "Sponsored" things is up there. It's from a site called Viral Travel (which sounds like a bad idea on the face of it) and is entitled 13 Reasons Not To Go To Disney. Of course I bite. Sue me. So its about what I expect, the same things we Disney fans expect from you non-Disney fans-- crowds, expense, capitalism, yadda yadda yadda. The thing is, many of these criticisms are true to a large extent, but avoidable. I hate to see people get spoiled on the Disney I love because they go about the whole experience unprepared logistically or mentally for the realities of the place. I figured just for kicks to take the 13 reasons one by one (or two by two) and try to explain why they don't keep ME from the Magic. This part four, part one is here, two here, and three here.

10. The Princesses Are Snobby

If your kids (or you, for some sick reason) really want to meet the princesses, you have to stand in a long line for more time than even the hottest rides. Once you get up there, you get the crap shoot as far as which princesses are there. To top it off, most of them think they’re pretty hot stuff because nobody told them they aren’t real princesses.

8. Seeing Your Favorite Character Means More Lines

You don’t have to wait in crazy lines just to see the princesses. Disney has decided to not let the characters really roam free in the park. Instead, there are designated areas where you can wait to meet various characters. The newer the character, the longer the line can be, with the hot new ones commanding a 4 hour-plus wait.

The infuriating thing about this whole list is the swing, often within the same paragraph, from truth to complete fabrication. Reason 10 is a great example. Yes, since Frozen was released and became the highest grossing animated feature of all time, the lines for Elsa and Anna have been huge, sometimes reaching a four hour wait. That is more than I've ever seen for a ride. Everything else in that paragraph is utterly false.

The Princesses are not "snobby." I've met a few myself and never had a bad experience. I spend a stupid
Magic, not snobbery
amount of time looking at Disney-related social media and blogs and message boards, much of which is populated with complaints about every aspect of Disney imaginable, and I've never once heard a complaint about a rude character actor. I asked my Disney Geek pal Jen about her experiences as she and her son Max are true Character Hounds with likely over 100 meet and greets under their belts and she couldn't recall even one meet that was less than lovely, particularly with the Princesses. Think about it for a minute. This is a plum job, a stepping stone and resume enhancer like no other. Disney can recruit and choose only the best, most entirely invested people to portray their characters in the parks. The idea that someone with any chance of being "snotty" to a guest would be hired is ludicrous. I mean, I'm still here trying to think of where on Earth the writer came up with this "snobby" idea. I simply don't get it.

I am also completely at a loss as to who can't read the sign or even look at the front of the line to see who they are getting in line to meet. If you don't know which princess is waiting at the end of the line, it's completely your own fault. Not only will there be a sign, and likely a cast member if you can't find a sign, but character meets are advertised in the daily schedule handed out as you enter the park. Downloading the My Disney Experience app to your smartphone will also give you access to a real-time list of every meet and great in every park. Really, it's not rocket science.

But let's be honest, just knowing who is in what line isn't always the goal. Sometimes you have certain characters you wish to meet. Reason 8 here is correct in that there are tons of characters spread throughout all the parks and finding the ones you really MUST see requires a bit of, must I say it again, planning. Here I  once again asked the advice of  Jen, the experienced Character Hound.

First and foremost, she says, prioritize. Decide who you MUST see and schedule around that. Besides the MDE app and the Times Guide, there are websites devoted to Disney character meets, the best by far being Kenny the Pirate. Kenny has all sorts of tips that can help you find exactly who you are looking for, often when others can't, leaving a short wait time. Once you find the characters you're looking for, grab a FastPass (yes there are FastPasses for some meets) or simply try to be the first in line. Many characters don't have much more than a 10 or 15 minute wait, but the hugely popular ones, like Elsa and Anna, will have huge lines. Get a FastPass or get there early. It'a matter of priority and planning.

The easiest way to meet characters is Character Dining. Disney offers meals during which a certain group of characters will come to your table for a meet and photos. There are meals for just about any taste featuring a huge range of Disney friends, and you get to eat while you're at it, so there's no time "wasted" in a line. Here is a handy little chart showing who you are likely to find in which restaurant.

One last bit of advice from Jen, one I hadn't even thought of. If you are not the type to wait in line to meet a character, but your young child is or may be very anxious to meet his particular favorite, it's important for YOU TOO to know where that character will be so that you can avoid the area at the time the character will be there and so also avoid a possible melt down as you try to drag the young fan away from his hero.

As I said at the outset, my family isn't one to go all out to meet certain characters. But these characters are an important part of the magic, even for us. That photo above? One of my top ever experiences at Disney. This was our son John's first time at Walt Dianey World (he was 3 going on 4) and we'd made reservations for King Stefan's (now Cinderella's Royal Table). This was September, so it wasn't a really crowded day in the Magic Kingdom. On our way up to the restaurant we passed through what appeared to be a thrown room. Being us, we stopped to all sit in the thrown, having really very little idea where we were. As we were goofing around, Cinderella appears. She ignored all of us and looked straight to John, who was totally enthralled and shocked. He was a shy little guy but Cinderella simply knelt down to him and spoke, so quietly we couldn't hear. And shy little John spoke back. To this day we have no idea what they said to each other, but John fell head over heels for Cinderella. After their little talk she greeted all of us (my parents were along as well) and posed for that picture with John in her thrown (and gave him a lipsticky kiss) before sending us up for dinner.


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