"If you don't know where you want to go, then it doesn't matter which path you take."
The Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland
During a recent visit to Walt Disney World, my daughter and I were waiting in the FastPass line for Space Mountain when a Mom and two young kids walked up to the front of the queue. She paused for a moment as other guests moved through the “tapstiles,” then looked at us and asked, “Do you know what you have to do to get in this line instead of the other one?” I showed her my Magic Band, explained the FastPass+ (as best I could in 30 seconds or less), and pointed her toward the kiosk near Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.
This reminded me of an earlier visit to the ‘Ohana restaurant at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, when on our way out we saw two newlyweds. When I say, “newlyweds,” I don’t mean they were wearing t-shirts and Mickey/Minnie ears that announced that they were just married. I mean a bride and groom still wearing the wedding dress and tux. They had literally just come from the ceremony. The groom was talking with a cast member about the possibility of walking into ‘Ohana for dinner—right then—without a reservation. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as sorry for a CM (or a guest) as I did at that moment. She apologized and told him there was just no way, since people make reservations as far as 6 months ahead of time. Disappointed, the couple headed toward Kona Cafe to try to get a table. Should someone have given up their reservation to help them out? Probably, but since we had already eaten and there was bread pudding a la mode with bananas-caramel sauce involved, I won’t judge.
While the second example is extreme,
incidents like this happen all the time.
Well-meaning, intelligent people show up to Walt Disney World with little to no preparation and find that they’re not able to do any of the things that look like fun. They end up disappointed and frustrated, then go home and tell everyone what a bust their Disney trip was. Imagine the newlyweds describing the wedding day to their friends/family/future children: “We spent all this money to get married there, and then we couldn’t even find anywhere nice to have dinner. The best we could do was take-out at Captain Cook’s!”
It’s clear that while there is no shortage of information out there about how to “do Disney right,” there is a widespread lack of recognition of the need to access and act on any of it before showing up. I’m certainly not the first to point this out, but it made me wonder about the best way to tackle it.
How about a retro-style Walt Disney World Schoolhouse Rock video? It could be posted on the Disney website as a one-time pop-up for anyone visiting the “Purchase Tickets” page. Stacey Aswad from the “Must-Do Disney” videos shown in the resorts could introduce it, and it could be narrated by a friendly, animated Magic Band in the style of I’m Just a Bill. I’m not sure what the Magic Band’s name would be just yet, but it has to
be a pun that everyone could understand without thinking too much. Obviously, Patrick Warburton (a.k.a. David Puddy from Seinfeld and Patrick, your Chief Flight Attendant from Soarin’ Around the World) would voice the part.
The music would have to be immediately recognizable as Disney, but choosing any movie melody would create division and uproar (“I honestly can’t believe they went with ‘Never Had a Friend.’ ANYTHING from Little Mermaid would have been better than that!”) As much fun as it would be to use something like “A British Bank” from Mary Poppins, the best choice for the tune would probably be the good ol’ “Mickey Mouse March.” Lots of people would know it when they heard it, and it would be easy enough to change the words accordingly. Think about it:
Magic bands, fast passes, and some A-D-R’s—
Plan your trip! Plan your trip!
Do a little homework so you won’t feel like a dip …
I know I’m no lyricist, but you get the picture. The song has to be a little annoying to stay true to its Schoolhouse Rock roots, right? The whole thing would be animated retro-style—no CGI. Long before his trip, the friendly Magic Band could sit at the computer with his family (the “kids” are smaller bands with the gray portion removed, of course) and walk us through the process of making FastPass+ selections, setting up advanced dining reservations, and so on.
The big day finally comes and, after making their way to Wilderness Lodge via Magical Express, they all bed down and wake up the next morning to wave a napkin at breakfast with the characters at Chef Mickey’s. They hop on the monorail to Magic Kingdom, “tap” their way into the park and have a magical day. They even meet a new friend: a laid-back but knowledgeable island-dweller called “The Dole Whip,” who helps them navigate a sticky situation involving a nervy line-breaker on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
We could exercise some poetic license and let them change a Splash Mountain Fast Pass to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in the middle of the afternoon. On second thought, since this is an informational clip we should probably make it more realistic: they accidentally give up their Mine Train Fast Passes trying to change the time, and realize their only alternate options are the Barnstormer and PhilharMagic. The animated FP kiosk (voiced by Betty White, I’m thinking) could shake her screen regretfully and say something like, “Think twice before you try to change a pass for those can’t-miss attractions!”
I plan to write Bob Iger about this right away, if I can ever get this crazy “Adverb” song out of my head. (Do you hear it, too? I thought so!)