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Disappearing Disney?


Disappearing Disney?

No. Not really. It’s not going away.

But you must have wondered…

Can’t help it…

…if you have been there lately.

A local newspaper recently wrote that after you bought your Disney World Orlando tickets, the map you grabbed at Hollywood Studios was a clue to the road ahead.

No, not a happy clue.

Where was it going?

Destination: Unknown.

Something’s up.

Or so the map suggested.

The map was getting smaller. As more of the theme park has…

…no other word for it:

Disappeared.

Several attractions have closed.

The reason is the massive makeover.

And why is that?

To shed the park’s movie studio-themed identity.

Instead, Disney Orlando ticket buyers are getting a 14-acre Star Wars land and an 11-acre Toy Story land.

The result is still crowds.

But what to do about them?

And what can you do about it?

Yes, we do have some answers.

Solutions for coping?

Not all of them are pleasant.

But we do have a lot of suggestions.

Let’s first look at what’s happening at Disney.

Not all of it is really clear.

For example, Disney has not said when all this extensive remodeling will be done.

And you can safely visit the park knowing most of it, at least, will still be there.

This ”transition” -- call it -- has not made visitors cheerful. Instead, it has caused grumpiness.

A lot of it.

Disney promises that when it is all done, you (the guest) will be happy.

Disney says you will be happy about changes

"We have a long history of exceeding our guests' expectations in the midst of significant expansions," the company said in a statement. "We've continued to add exciting new experiences at Disney's Hollywood Studios, and we remain committed to making this time of growth positive for our guests." Easier said than done, folks.

Disney tells us it has learned over the years to make these facelifts a little less irritating.

When it built the “Magic Kingdom’s Seven Dwarfs Mine Train,” the walls had peepholes for you to see progress.

You might respond by saying “big deal.” But it is something.

You don’t even have to visit the park to see what is happening.

Billboards along busy I-4 leading to the park say “Star Wars Awakens.”

Gradually, that is happening.

With nighttime music accompanying fireworks displays.

Characters appearing in stage shows.

C-3P0, R2D2 and other characters appear in a stage performance throughout the day

Launch Bay features.

Memorabilia displays.

Etc.

Signs of change are all over

Not everyone is happy with all this.

"It makes you want to come back when it's done, for sure," said one unhappy camper.

Don’t misunderstand, though.

If you go to the park today, you will find crowds.

No change there.

Despite the construction walls blocking off facades of New York and San Francisco.

The park is still bustling, though crowds drop off near the turquoise construction walls that block the playground and facades of New York and San Francisco streetscapes.

Of course, “Star Wars” is hardly the only villain in this real life play.

“Toy Story Mania” is also underway.

So what’s missing?

“Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show” and the “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” playground.

Others RIP: the “Studio Backlot Tour” and the “Magic of Disney of Animation.”

Also discontinued: two seasonal events, the “Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights” and “Star Wars Weekends.”

Does that not sound like a lot…considering all the other attractions?

Maybe. Maybe not.

The newspaper report said: “So much is shuttered that this year's Unofficial Guide to WaltDisneyWorldrecommends tourists tight on time skip the Studios altogether. It's hard for us to recommend spending $80-$100 on a park that has so little to offer.” So that brings us to this:

What now? Or how can you cope with it all without taking option #3.

Number three, in case you wondered, is staying home.

Not really an option.

How to cope with it

There are two areas here where we can offer suggestions.

First and foremost: practical issues. What specifically you can do through your actions.

Secondly, there are emotional or psychological factors. In other words what can you do with an attitude adjustment?

Let’s start with the practical or what you can do first.

Here’s a commandant that should rank as almost Biblical for all crowd-haters: Never go when the park is at its busiest.

But wait: there are other parts to this commandant.

On the other hand, these can be good times for a visit, at least to some parts of the park.

Why?

To cite just one example: the “Food & Wine Festival” at Epcot draws crowds there.

Visitors pack World Showcase but other parks are often less congested.

There are all kinds of sites that tell you when crowds are the worst. And when they’re least busy.

That includes this one.

When school’s out. Other school holidays.

Some sites are very specific on dates.

Even times.

For example, the busiest times of the day are from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

You can spend hours studying sites to make these determinations.

Or you can be practical and in general, make an effort to go when others don’t.

This is another general rule.

But even before you go…do some planning.

In your initial planning, decide what areas are priorities.

What are must-sees for that day?

Where you want to eat? And any shows you want to be sure to include?

Even if one park or another is not at its busiest, remember that crowds can be controlled in part by good planning.

More specific suggestions

Consider concentrating on one park. Don’t take the time to travel from one park to another.

And go early. No question about that. Stay as late as you can.

Some elementary grade school suggestions:

---Take the time to arrive early for shows.

---Bring your own snacks and refillable water bottles to avoid lines.

---It's always a good idea to download some of the Disney apps to your phone, too. These show you maps, schedules, and wait times for various rides.

---Wear comfortable shoes. Simple, but true. You’ll be walking a lot, but also standing a lot of time as well. (Shoes help. And we don’t mean new ones that need breaking in).

---Don’t just walk into the park blind. Find out what rides are open.

This is somewhat different from the preparation always recommended by just about everyone: bring water bottles and umbrellas during the rainy season, etc.

---All we are really saying here about crowds boils down to this:

If you have a choice, get your Disney Orlando tickets for the least crowded times.

Keep in mind also that the earliest opening hours are generally least crowded.

Hollywood is the smallest park and often feels crowded -- even when it’s not. Consider other park options such as Epcot, which is generally best because crowds are more spread out.

When not to go: top your list with special events…unless you are part of them.

Various guides are available. So prepare yourself.

Don’t forget this suggestion either:

The Fastpass option is even more valuable these days.

Even busier days than normal.

Fastpasses help but are no single solution

But again some research is required.

Don’t expect to just walk up to any line and flash your pass. But you probably already know that.

But at the same time, you still need to determine priorities. We repeat because this is important:

Rides, restaurants, reservations, etc. You might want to sign up two or three months before you actually go because spots can be limited.

At the same time…since waiting times are longer than ever, take more time to relax.

That sounds like a contradiction, but it’s really not.

Waiting in line can be as tiring as the hottest sunny summer (read muggy) day in Orlando.

Take breaks.

Consider taking a whole day off.

Spend it at the hotel pool. Or Find something elsewhere such as a secondary attraction (Gatorland… full of the scaly creatures…and it’s nearby, and relatively inexpensive and not likely to be crowded).

Take a break to get away from it all to restore your general well-being. But not by leaving the park. By staying there.

There are various places that are less crowded and even cooler where crowds are at least reduced. These include Epcot’s O Canada, not as popular as say the French and British pavilions.

Or at the Magic Kingdom, the Hall of Presidents and the Carousel of Progress are good examples.

Remember to allow yourself more time to visit the park.

No, not only to actually get through the park but even beforehand. Getting into the park itself can take more time. And patience. So prepare yourself mentally for that fact.

Disney at times extends park hours.

No, we don’t know when this might happen. And no one else does either

But you can look for it.

Pay attention to posted signs. And make friends with parking attendants and other cast members. They might know something you don’t.

Now let’s look at our second factor:

Psychologically, accept a simple fact:

You can’t do everything. Take some time off to rest or do something else.

If you’re with children, know their limits. Don’t expose them to “scary” rides.

You probably won’t do that.

Breaks, breaks, more breaks

But even more likely: Do not exhaust the young ones.

Give them time to rest up without frantically rushing from one area to the next.

Yes, the kids themselves in their excitement will be pushing you to see more…and more….and more.

But keep their limits (and your own as well) in mind.

Without getting too complicated, the internal adaptations you can choose to make are often based on what head doctors say is attitude.

Or simply gaining a positive one. Another way to do that is how you see these improvements.

As impediments to your enjoyment? No.

They might be somewhat inconvenient for the present….but in the future they will lead to a better park.

Sure, it’s hard to accept that. But not so hard when you consider that the future is better. Often, or in many cases true.

Here’s a good example.

You’re on a long road trip. Or a cross-country airplane flight.

You’re on vacation. But you do have to get there.

Long hours spent sitting in a seat. More uncomfortable with your knees in your face if your seat is on United Airlines rather than the family auto, of course.

Attitude counts a lot

But your attitude is a factor here.

Do you think about your discomfort or the fact you are sitting here waiting for a much more pleasant event: getting there, of course.

If you can manage to concentrate on that, getting there, you’ll have a better ride. Simple as that.

Here’s another unlikely idea from some psychologists: embrace the crazy.

Being in a crowd is comforting, in many ways. It shows your good taste. And judgment. The crowd actually adds to the excitement. And always consider the alternative: an empty park.

It’s easy to get lost and panic in a crowd. But recall you plan?

You are not drifting aimlessly…like others in the crowd. You have a plan. That should be reassuring.

Remember that this is a vacation. The bumper stickers always tell you…this…whatever it is, golf course, baseball game, theme park…is better than any day at work.

This should make you smile, at least. After a few hours, you are tired. Perhaps hot as well.

Getting uncomfortable as you see another line at “It’s a Small World.” You may be asking now: “What in the world am I doing here?”

When this happens, take a break to sit down for a few minutes. Look at others in the park. They’re having a great time, aren’t they?

So take a deep breathe. Then plunge right back in. Join the lines.

And something else to remember when you think about it.

There were times when Disney was really crowded.

Five hour waits were normal

So much so that lines were five hours long for some rides.

There's bound to be a few more Mad Hatters before this night is through,” commented The New York Daily News.

This was just after Near Years Day in 2014.

Almost a year later, just four days before Christmas, there was another bad day.

Or two, actually.

The Magic Kingdom was closed.

For the second day in a row.

The park could not take in any more people.

Guests were given free parking for any other park.

They remained open.

Some consolation.

So this might make you realize:

It could always be worse. ###