Over the years, Disney World has made quite a few BIG decisions!
They’ve introduced new offerings, updated old attractions, and tried a variety of new snack and merchandise options. Some of these decisions have been popular, but others, well…not so much. Today we’re discussing the times that Disney World missed the mark a liiiiittle bit!
Disney After Hours Boo Bash
Alright, let’s talk about the newest pumpkin-covered elephant in the room, Disney After Hours Boo Bash. Many fans were really hoping to get Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party back after a year without events in 2020, but instead, Disney revamped the old party into a shorter and more expensive After Hours event.
Blame it on bad timing possibly due to the ongoing pandemic and shifting restrictions. The event was announced while parades and stage shows were still on hold and a month before Disney announced the return of fireworks so the offerings were…limited. This year, Boo Bash didn’t offer the fireworks, stage show, or full parade that MNSSHP usually does. However, they did try to give part of the experience with cavalcades, complimentary candy, and festive decor. Even so, Boo Bash still wasn’t as full-out Halloween as many had hoped it would be. (Although it’s definitely hard to beat those crowd levels!)
On the other hand, the Very Merriest After Hours event announced for the holidays this year DID step it up.
The event, while seriously limited in unique food offerings and character meet-and-greets we’re familiar with from Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, came with just about everything else we’ve come to expect from past Holiday events. We got fireworks, a stage show, and a full parade. The holiday version is more expensive than Boo Bash since it’s offering more, but Halloween got the short end of the stick when Christmas got more of the full shebang.
Back when the ever-popular ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort announced its reopening earlier this year, fans were ecstatic. Many had greatly missed the beloved all-you-care-to-eat restaurant, but when the menu was announced for the returning feast, we were instantly confused — there were no more noodles!
The famous ‘Ohana noodles seem simple, but they have a serious cult following — and they weren’t on the menu. People began to riot online, with many sharing that the noodles were part of the reason that they visited the restaurant in the first place. In fact, the online complaints were so loud that Disney announced after a few days that they’d be bringing back the popular dish! (Thankfully, they’ve been available ever since.) Give the people what they want (and plz don’t try to take it away again!).
Bringing Back “FastPass”
When the Disney World parks reopened without the popular FastPass+ system, some fans embraced the change while others lamented the loss. The lines were technically shorter without the free system in place, but could still get lengthy on more crowded days, causing more guests to urge Disney to bring back FastPasses as time went on.
Disney eventually decided to bring back a line-skipping system, but not the one we know and love. Instead, they gave us Disney Genie+, which guests must pay for if they want to use it. Now, you’ll pay $15 per day, per ticket to make one selection at a time. During the time window for your selection, you’ll visit the ride and use the Lightning Lane (the old FastPass queues with shiny new names) to skip the regular standby queue.
So it’s basically a hybrid of old paper FastPasses with the newer digital FastPass+ (or most like the paid MAXPASS service Disneyland offered)…which were complimentary with paid admission…but now we pay extra for it. This is better how, exactly? To top it off, the most sought-after rides in each park are now not accessible by “normal” (meaning the new paid Genie+) Lightning Lanes — you have to pay extra per person per ride, for a max of 2 rides per day, to get in these Lightning Lane queues. We’ve been using Genie+ and the pay-per-ride attractions a good deal since they debuted and while it’s nice to have an option for a somewhat shorter wait again. BUT, paying for what you used to get for free is great, said no one.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Don’t get us wrong — the land is very impressive and the rides have some cool technology. (For instance, Rise of the Resistance is often noted as the best ride in Disney World by many guests.) HOWEVER, Disney definitely missed an opportunity to do something more familiar here.
For many people, Star Wars includes characters like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, both of which are noticeably absent in Galaxy’s Edge, as the land pigeonholes itself into the sequel trilogy of movies. Instead of taking us to an unfamiliar planet with new characters, Disney could’ve made a Star Wars land on a planet we’d seen before or even set it somewhere different entirely within the more generic Star Wars universe.
A great example of this is the new Avengers Campus in Disney California Adventure, where guests can meet characters from a variety of points in the MCU timeline all at once. They don’t really care about “canon” over there, it’s just a place for Avengers fans to hang out and geek out. You can meet current characters, characters that have passed on in evolving series of films, or that have vaporized to other universes entirely — all in the same land.
And Star Wars fans would’ve likely been really happy to meet Darth Vader, Obi-Wan, Rey, Leia, and Darth Maul all in the same place. We could’ve still had attractions like the Millennium Falcon and lightsaber building, it would’ve just been set up slightly differently. SOME of the groundwork for a more generic land was set, like Oga’s Cantina or just the concept of Batuu as a whole, but clinging too tightly to the whole time period of the First Order/Rebellion and Kylo Ren/Rey locked them in. All in all, it was a bit of a gamble to base the land on the sequel films before they had all been released. This is one thing, we’ll note, they could always update to make more generic or more like the original trilogy, if they saw fit.
Oh, Disney. We know you want to stay relevant and that memes are all the rage, but some of the meme merchandise we’ve seen in the parks just makes us want to awkwardly hide our faces and walk in the opposite direction.
For starters, there were the weird Disney Villain meme mugs, the strangest of which was a Jafar design with “group text” on one side and “unsubscribe” on the other — do you even unsubscribe from a group text? Is that the right term? They went on to do a little better with the meme t-shirts and the meme pins, but still, we read Disney’s meme-based products with caution now. 😬
Basically, if it’s “hip” and “trendy” Disney’s merchandising team will get ALL on it…like 3 years too late and not in a way many would like or expect!
Some Ride Changes
Over the years, Disney has definitely made some controversial ride changes. Two of them come to mind that seem to have “missed the mark” a bit, the first one being Journey Into Imagination with Figment. The original ride was an EPCOT classic, with the beloved Dreamfinder and Figment, plus a popular song. However, the remake of the ride wasn’t loved by fans. No fun song. No Dreamfinder. WHAT? Rarely do guests almost universally dislike a change so much that Disney RE-updates a ride after a change, but that’s what happened here. Disney changed it again shortly after introducing “Figment 2.0″…and we got the version that we have now.
The third iteration may be slightly better than the second, but it’s definitely not as much of a fan favorite as the original. Some find the whole experience to be a bit annoying, and not in keeping with the spirit of the Imagination Pavilion itself. The idea is childlike imagination and wonder, not a bratty dragon assaulting your senses. (The original Figment was a sweetie pie. New Figment needs a time-out. 😂)
And the second strange attraction change came over at Magic Kingdom, with the introduction of Stitch’s Great Escape. This show replaced the probably-too-scary ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter in Tomorrowland.
The original ride was DARK. Physically and emotionally. It was totally terrifying for so many guests that they changed to something a little more family-friendly than what was there previously (so, you know, basically not something straight out of a nightmare haunted house). Stitch’s Great Escape wasn’t exactly what we think most guests had in mind. Between the chili cheese burp and Stitch roaming free in the dark, it was still scary…in a weird way.
They basically tried to cutesify the ride with very little difference to the actual original experience. They used the same set pieces from the previous attraction and just switched out the scary aliens for a new one! (Admit it, it was a little weird to be strapped into your seat for this show.)
The Great Movie Ride
And speaking of ride changes, here’s one that hurt a lot of fans — the loss of the Great Movie Ride at Hollywood Studios. This ride was shut down to make way for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, but many fans still ask why.
It’s not that Runaway Railway is bad — it has been pretty popular and well-received — we’re still confused as to why we had to lose the Great Movie Ride to introduce it. The same ride is being built at Disneyland Resort, but over there they’re doing an entirely new show building. Why couldn’t we have gotten that here? Why not have room for both? After all, Hollywood Studios is becoming the junk drawer of Disney World — all the stuff that doesn’t fit somewhere else ends up there!
A Few Really Strange Snacks
Okay, let’s discuss some snack fails. First, there was the infamously ugly Pumpkin Pretzel in Animal Kingdom a few years back that just couldn’t seem to turn out right…did anyone really ask for orange icing on a soft pretzel? This concept seemed doomed to fail before it even started.
Then there was the Poor Unfortunate Souls Float (that they even brought back a second time in a totally new version!). We’re all about a good float, but black raspberry or cream cheese soft serve probably wasn’t the best choice for this treat, ESPECIALLY with Coca-Cola. And finally, there was the Guardians of the Galaxy-themed burger with a “galaxy” bun that was good in theory, but in reality, looked like moldy bread.
Pandora — The World of Avatar
And finally, let’s talk about Pandora — The World of Avatar. We get it, Disney was trying to one-up the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and in a way, they did a great job. The land turned out amazing and breathtaking, with some incredible rides and delicious food options. It’s a must-see at night!
However, it’s based on a movie that’s not nearly as popular as you might think. It came out in 2009 and while it made REALLY good money at the box office, we’ve been waiting over a decade for a sequel and it doesn’t exactly have a large fan club the way that Harry Potter, Star Wars, or Marvel do.
There must be loads of kids (heck, and adults!) seeing the reveal of the Shaman of Songs on Na’vi River Journey or riding Flight of Passage going “who are these blue people?!” Iit’s not the oooohs and aaaaahs you’d get seeing Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker (well, we didn’t get that either, actually!), or Iron Man. James Cameron has done a lot of amazing movies but the one with the blue space people wasn’t the one that would top our list to build a land around.
Well, there you have it, some of the times that Disney World made some interesting choices over the years. Stay tuned to DFB for the latest news and updates from the parks and resorts!
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