Goodbye to Traditional Walt Disney World?

1973 Cinderella CastleWalt was a great advocate of nostalgia.
Just do a little research on the sleepy railroad town of Marceline, Missouri and you no doubt recognise that the very essence of the town is what made Walt’s nostalgia a signature within his work.

Walt kindly appreciated that we all love, in fact; need nostalgia.

Over the years, as a Disney fan, Disney parent, and now a Disney blogger, I often wonder, what every true Disney fan wonders;

What would Walt make of Disney World right now?

The problem is of course, nobody could possibly answer that, but we are all too willing to second guess it, by saying that he would be disgusted!

Pricing is a huge contemporary topic and I’m sure that I read somewhere that Walt wanted every ordinary person to be able to afford to visit Disneyland.
Well the truth is, that back then in 1955, admission was a whopping $1 ($0.50 for kids), plus 10c to 35c per ride.
Let’s say the total per adult was $2.50 and a kid would be $1.50, and a family of four would be laying out a cool $8 per day, without food.
Back then, with an average household income of $4800 per year, that $8 was a hefty portion of weekly income.  (8.6%)

In 2013, the average household income was around $52k.
With 1 day tickets for a family of four rumbling in at around $400, the percentage of an average weekly wage bursts the dial at an eye watering 40%.
Sure, we can argue that people stay longer than a day and get more benefit from doing so, but the simple truth, is; for a long time now, WDW has been far from the grasp of the average American family.

Would Walt be disgusted?  Yes, he would, but he might also have recognised that the hi-tech entertainment industry was changing quickly and his ideologies would inevitably be compromised if Disney were to survive.

And what about those theme parks, that appear to be changing their identity?
The Magic Kingdom selling alcohol, Animal Kingdom taking on the non animal themed Avatar, and EPCOT seemingly turning its back on its cultural heritage in favor of a fictitious Arendelle setting for Frozen.
Would he have let the vikings of Norway’s Maelstrom be taken siege by two adorable princesses?
We do know that Walt was a big fan of appealing to the dreams and hopes of the younger Disney fans, and that of course is where Frozen ticks all of the boxes.  A great story of good over evil, magic, enchantment and a beautiful scoreline!
That is more like Walt Disney’s dream, than an air conditioned boat ride floating past oil rigs and animatronic trolls isn’t it?

There might not be enough going on in WDW to satisfy many nervous fans like me, and we may be losing some age old favorite attractions, but so far, despite my rantings and frustrations, Walt Disney World is still a pretty magical place to be.
The opposition is closing faster than Disney would like, but Universal’s challenge is a bit like riding Peter Pan’s galleon to the moon!

It’s a difficult journey and there’s a long long way to go!


One thought on “Goodbye to Traditional Walt Disney World?

  1. Like everything else in Life today, I think you’ve missed the point. The World needs a place that is not only nostalgic, but is also for the youngest ones of our community today. Please let children be children, don’t fill their heads full of Ipads and other stuff, let them use their imagination, just like Walt and his friends did. Universal is fine, but there is a brashness and lack of quality, that only Disney has and I would hate to see my Grand-daughter, denied the chance to stand open mouthed and in awe, as I have seen so many other children, when they enter the Magic Kingdom for the very first time. Walt knew that there is a child still trapped in every single adult, not just a roller coaster rider and who just wants to have a day, where their personal dreams can really come true, via a Tinker Bell flight around the castle. If nothing else, Frozen has proved, that children still like these things, if given the opportunity, but sadly, most parents just don’t want to take the time, to nurture the true spirit, but rather just fill it with electronic gadgets, that destroys basic creativity and the child within.

    Hi David
    I think we both agree with each other more than my article suggests!
    I love the nostalgia, and the simple pleasures of the WDW Magic.
    Hidden Mickeys are far better at stirring imagination than RFID interactive games.
    My problem is, that I, and perhaps you are being overwhelmed by the changing tastes of newer visitors that are hooked on new exciting thrills, that don’t have that addictive appeal that we’ve grown so fond of.
    The article really hints at the fact that we all better get used to a clear change of direction that WDW is heading in right now.
    Glow With the Show Ears, My Disney Experience Apps, are only the tip of the iceberg!
    I do fear that Disney will be very divisive, as the affordability gap and technical ability gaps both widen dramatically over the coming years.
    Exclusivity to the rich and IT enabled.

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