Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Dear Disney, You could do so much better...

I would like to be entertained now...
photo by C.P. Storm via Flickr

Yesterday, we made our annual trek to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival to sample delectable treats that we assume are representative of the countries each food dispensing booth is named for.

But on Monday, we visited--duh, Duh, DUH!--The Magic Kingdom! That's right. The Happiest Place on Earth. (I guess the whole Disney World is supposed to be the Happiest, but the Magic Kingdom is still my favorite.) We'd tried to visit last April but it was so crowded we could barely make our way through the throngs of bodies to get anywhere. So we left. This visit was much better. Sure, it was still crowded, but normal crowded, not I-feel-like-a-sardine crowded.

I still remember, many years ago, attending Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Not only did they give us free (scrumptious) cookies and hot chocolate, but the streets were wide open and welcoming. I have no idea if the experience is the same these days.

But this complaint isn't about crowds, really. The park is going to be crowded because it's a great place to go. That said, Walt Disney World could do a lot better job at entertaining the crowds. A LOT better.

You know the old joke, right? You stand in line for 90 minutes waiting for a 30-second ride.

It's funny because it's true. Sort of.

The lines are sometimes only 20 minutes. Sometimes they're over 90! And the rides really do only last a few. It's so imbalanced it's silly.

But it could be better.

Look what they've started with the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride, for example. The first long stretch of line abuts a playground. While one person in the group holds their place in line, others can play. There were honey pot drums, some sort of pop-up ball thingie, Eeyore's lean-to to crawl through, etc. And then the line ran around both sides of a honey bee roller coaster that everyone could play with, moving the bees up and down and through honeycombs that buzzed with excitement. It was great!

And then it became a line again.

Oh, bother.

We had a Fast Pass for Space Mountain and as we passed fastly all those poor schmucks in the stand-by line, I noticed there were some games along the wall to amuse them. What a great idea!

When we were at Epcot, we prepared to wait in line for the new Frozen Ever After ride. We started just outside the door and the line time was 45 minutes. Not bad at all, for Disney. Amiright? But before we made it to the door, it changed to 60 minutes. Still not as bad as the hour-and-a-half I was expecting. So we plunged ahead full of Happiness and bravado (and full of a LOT of delectable treats we assumed were indicative of food from various countries around the world).

The bulk of our wait time (which turned out to be about an hour and ten minutes) was spent in a snake of a line, winding back and forth against itself, inside a big room the walls of which depicted a Norwegian (we can assume) village from the movie Frozen.

This was mind-numbing, back and feet aching tedium. And as I stood there, trying not to look yet again at that guy I kept passing, or getting out of the way of people making their way backwards, having given up, or trying not to step on that poor child with more energy than can be contained, I wanted to be entertained. I could only look at Facebook on my iPhone so often, after all. I read an article about politics. Watched some cat videos. But it was all still very clear that I was cattle.

At one point, my husband and I decided what it would take for the Frozen Ever After ride to be worth all that waiting and back-aching boredom.

A water slide, a bit of spinning, real live singers and dancers, being snowed on, a snowball fight between cars or boats* or whatever we'll be riding, a Popsicle, and a Diet Coke at the end. That's our bar.

While the ride was a lot of fun, and I was glad to have been on it, of course it didn't live up to the time expended in a herd of bodies walking past one another again and again.

The sad part is that Disney could have done it so much better. Not the ride. The line! 

The line could have been fabulous.

In that room, that little village, there was a black sky above us. A sky that could have been filled with fireworks from time to time. How about Donald Duck sky-writing Disney film quotes for us to guess at? Large screen TVs could have broadcast shorts, singalongs, Disney news, behind the scenes tours, facts and trivia. There could have been a balcony in that room on which employees entertained and engaged us a la the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor

That line could have been so much fun! All the lines at Disney World, especially the ones they know will be extraordinarily long (like, what's the deal with Peter Pan's Flight? We didn't even try.), could be...well, AMAZING!

You're Disney World! What the heck? Where is your innovation? Where is your commitment to your guests? 

You could make the stand-by lines so much fun people will look forward to the wait. You could really make Disney World The Happiest Place on Earth.

So, why don't you?

*Now, ahem, about those boats. You went through all that time and expense to remake Maelstrom into Frozen Ever After. Shouldn't we have ridden SLEDS? On the snow? And that warm mist we went through...shouldn't it have been...oh, I don't know...SNOW?

Come on, Disney World. You can do better.

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