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November 21st, 2022

To All Who Come To This Happy Place…Go Away…

Like a lot of Disneyphiles, I’m glad Chapek is gone. But digging into it I really doubt Iger is going to reverse any of the obstacles Chapek put up to my enjoying Walt Disney World like I used to, like I was hoping to in my retirement years.

It seems the fact that singles can’t make dining reservations in many of the nicer in park restaurants, the park reservation system, and the god awful new model annual pass system, now called Magic Keys, are parts of a single whole designed to allow management to keep operating costs down by running things with fewer staff.

Initially I was under the impression, like a lot of people, that the park reservation system was for keeping down the crowds. This was a logical conclusion given it was rolled out during the COVID-19 closures. But COVID was a convenient time to implement something I now learn was being planned long before. Management sees it as a way of spreading out attendance and allowing them to keep staffing needs down. The way the Magic Keys work fits into that scheme and even then it looks like they really don’t want to allow anyone to buy new ones because the upper level Keys make it easier to get park reservations. So the Keys have to be limited too.

Story now is for one day new Key purchases were allowed, but you had to get into some sort of digital line to get one and some are saying they waited in excess of 20 hours only to be told the line was closed and no new Keys would be sold. It used to be you just went onto the website and bought an annual pass like you would tickets. No more. Because the entire system is being geared to keeping their operating costs down by keeping the need for staff down.

This is how singles not being able to make dining reservations fits into it. A server can serve a table of two or more, preferably an entire family of four or more. But the same work goes into serving for one and the tab is smaller. So they’re trying to keep single diners out. I’ve written here before about how I’ve talked about that with the Cast Members, none of whom liked the change and all of whom advised me to just make a reservation for two and show up as one. But that’s bullshit.

So I strongly doubt Iger is going to reverse any of that. But it’s what’s keeping me from going back.

My DVC points are still on the market but nobody has bitten yet, probably because interest in making Disney World a yearly or twice yearly thing is waning. What I hate about all this is the MAGA mob is going to say Disney is losing money because of their gay friendly policies. But no. They’re losing money because because they’re making their repeat guests miserable and eventually people stop going.

For most of my life I thoroughly enjoyed myself vacationing at the beach, or on the road. I don’t have to make additional reservations separate from my hotel ones to drive the highways or go to the beach. Usually I don’t have to make any to get a nice meal somewhere. I just show up and ask if it’s okay I sit at the bar. Last year I visited Richmond and found some really nice places to eat and to wander around. I had to buy train tickets and make a hotel reservation. I didn’t have to make a reservation to enter Richmond. Last week I took a brief getaway to Ocean City New Jersey. I just showed up at the Port O Call and asked if they had a room. They did, it was off season so they had plenty. I didn’t have to make a reservation to walk on the boardwalk. I didn’t have to make a reservation to look at the ocean and hear its waves breaking on the shore.

I only started going to Walt Disney World back in 2008, after I discovered my high school crush was working there. He insisted I come down for a visit. “It’s your heritage man…baseball apple pie and Mickey Mouse…what’s wrong with you?” So I went and I’m old enough to remember watching TV when Walt Disney was alive and that first moment I went through the gate at Epcot it all came back to me and I was hooked. If Iger turns it around and I can have the same experience I had before Chapek I reckon I’ll go back again. But I don’t think he can. I’m not even sure he would want to. They’ve baked it all into the system now.

When Walt Disney opened the gates to Disneyland he stepped up to the microphone to dedicate the park. He began by saying, “To all who come to this happy place, welcome. Disneyland is your land.” But it isn’t anymore. And especially if you’re single like I am.

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