What is up with Disney World and its following?

I recently began researching a trip to Disney World and have come across people who have been to Disney literally hundreds of times. We travel alot and have never encountered a destination with such a fanatical following. When reading the reviews of certain destinations within disney, there are adults who complain that a “princess” or another character did not spend time with them at character meals and whatnot. I cannot fathom why an adult would care about the amount of time and/or attention one would receive from a costumed character. Note these were adults, not adults complaining that their children did not receive attention. Additionally, Disney is crowded, outragously expensive and a tad dated. There isn’t that devotion to Sea World or Universal, so what are up with these people?

I tend to think it’s nothing specific to Disney World, it’s the nature of any form of fandom. There’s a spectrum of folks that either love or hate something. And at both ends of the spectrum are the extremes. These extremes tend to be more vocal than the people in the middle.

This can be found in fandoms, politics, any form of group.

Full disclosure - I am an adult who likes Disney World, goes to Disney World, and feels she falls in the middle of the group of people who are fond of DW.

Disney World is a remarkable theme park, the best of its kind, and immensely large. You can see pretty much all of Sea World in a day; Disney World would take a few weeks. I don’t really get why you’d go literally hundreds of times, but Disney is the most popular theme park for a reason; it’s the best.

As to why people complain about the bit with costumered characters, perhaps they paid for it. But in general, people will complain about everything.

Speaking as someone who did a yearly family pilgrimage as a child to Disneyland (growing up in SoCal), I’m still pretty astonished by the…er…passionate following some people continue to have for the place as adults (I’ve never been to the FL theme park, just CA).

My wife was in a wedding party where both the bride and groom wanted to have their respective bachelor/-ette parties at the Magic Kingdom. We even had the rehearsal dinner at Club 33! Since everyone involved lived in NorCal, I assumed that visiting the park was something that was an infrequent excursion for everyone, at best.

Wrong!

I learned that of all the couples in attendance, my wife and I were the only ones who didn’t have an annual pass to the park (which, remember, was over 300 miles away from where any of us actually lived). “But it pays for itself after the 2nd visit” was the argument, to which I replied “You fly down to LA twice a year just to go to Disneyland?!?” I was truly astonished–especially since none of the couples there, except one, had any kids! At least that I could see as an excuse.

Very curious.

I know several people that can’t keep themselves away from Disney World. They have timeshares so that they can spend more time there.

I enjoyed my time there, but there are just more places in the US that I would like to see before visiting the same place 20 times.

I think there must be something there that resonates with some people. I haven’t figured it out yet what it is.

Just a guess, but maybe some of the very frequent visitors live relatively nearby and buy season passes - is there such a thing?

Perhaps there is no place you would love to go, or thing that you would love to do, over and over again. You crave new experiences, and you don’t really like or understand theme parks or why someone would pay a lot of money to visit them.

I think it’s an escape from reality for a lot of people. The rides are cool and the Disney parks are usually spotless and very child friendly. It’s certainly more expensive than going to a national park or beach, but you won’t get bored even after a whole day there.

I worked at a theme park and met a lot of these kinds of fanatics. If you think of how many millions of people have visited Disney parks it’s no surprise that there are hundreds of people who enjoy the experience, over and over again, and consider it money well spent. Who are we to criticize.

WDW doesn’t have season passes like Six Flags, because WDW does not have seasons–they are open year-round, 365 days per year.

They do have annual passes, however. I (and my wife and son) actually all have a valid annual pass right now, because we happened to go twice in the last year. (The annual pass is cheaper than two sets of multi-day tickets.) And we don’t live anywhere close to Florida; we live in Connecticut.

We’ve actually been five times since 2007.

Why? Because it’s a great place for a family to go on vacation. FWIW, I was actually a skeptic before our first family visit in 2007. In fact, I used to live in Orlando, and went there once or twice back in the early 1990s. At the time, I had the disdain many natives have for tourist destinations in their area–it was somewhat of an annoyance. Also, I had the feeling of “been there; done that.” My wife had to talk me into going back with our son in 2007.

It ended up being the best vacation we’d ever taken.

Now, I’ve actually traveled a fair amount in my life. I’ve grew up living all over the U.S., as well as three different cities in Germany. As an adult, I served in the Navy, and continued traveling.

With that as background, WDW is a bit different than your normal tourist destination. IMHO, it’s a great combination of interesting things for a family to see and do, as well as a being a great place to relax in a resort. It’s also huge–not really theme-park sized, but more like city-sized. On the WDW property alone, there’s four full-sized theme parks, two water parks, a shopping district, hundreds of restaurants, and something like 30+ resort hotels.

Anyway, I’m certainly not going to argue that WDW is like traveling around the U.S. or going to Europe. It’s not. However, it is a great place for a family to have fun together and relax. YMMV.

That’s kind of comparing apples to oranges. Florida’s Disney World is not a theme park but rather a massive plot of land than contains multiple theme parks, water parks, hotels, and other attractions.
Most of the individual Disney theme parks can be seen in a day or two and are similar in size to a Sea World. If people are refering to the main theme park “The Magic Kingdom” it’s actually a very small park compared to most others.

Why are some people nuts over it? I don’t know? I had an annual pass for a year when I lived in the Orlando area so I didn’t go broke whenever family and friends visited from out of state but after that year I was thoroughly bored with it all.

Uh, cause it’s MAGIC.

Well, your second two complaints are entirely subjective and can’t be debated with cites. What’s outrageously expensive to you may be perfectly reasonable to me; my mother-in-law gasps with horror at the fact that my wife and I buy real Diet Coke instead of off-brand soda, which costs less than half as much.

But as to the first point, WDW crowd levels can be measured (and indeed, are measured, with a degree of scientific accuracy that would make any university’s Mathematics department beam with pride). What you will see are pretty dramatic crowd fluctuations. Go to the Magic Kingdom on the 4th of July, or Christmas Day, or Easter Sunday, and it will be shoulder-to-shoulder. Go on a Tuesday in January and you will pretty much have the place to yourself.

As to why the devotion- I’m going to speak only for myself, but I imagine my experience is similar to that of many WDW devotees. It’s an escape from the mundane, humdrum realities of everyday life. WDW is brightly-colored, bathed in sunshine, and filled with people you are happy to be there. It’s an entire world of fantasy. My day-to-day world is gray & drizzly and consists mostly of routine, routine, and more routine. So you can imagine why I’d jump at the next chance to go to someplace that is the exact opposite of reality.

In addition to what everyeone else has said:
My wife and I went a couple of years ago, to celebrate a honeymoon. The level of service was UNBELIEVABLE. Every whim was catered to, every staff member we dealt with went out of their way to be helpful, with a smile. (One trivial example: on the way out, as we were leaving, my wife asked someone where the water fountain was. It was on the other side of the hotel lobby, so she decided not to walk over there. We went outside to wait for our bus, and within minutes that person came out with a glass of water for her!) No, we don’t go every year, but we would go back again, just to be pampered.

There are also some collectibles – people collect the pins, and there are meeting places fior traders. That sort of thing always draws a certain crowd.

I had a boss whose annual vacation was Disney World. Always.

I go every year. I do not have any kids.

For us, Disney is an easily planned vacation* that we know we will enjoy. We tend to go in the low season winter months so it isn’t as crowded and we get a break from the New England winter. Some people go to Las Vegas time and time again. If I were into that I could see Vegas as a good winter break destination too, but I’m not, so I don’t.

Our summer vacation is generally non-Disney.

*Easily planned since I go every year. Not-so-easily planned for the first timer.

We go once a year. The American Taekwondo Association holds a national tournament in October in The Wide World of Sports. We hit a theme park on Sunday to unwind after the tournament. SWMBO is a Mickey fan and her birthday usually falls during that weekend, so my birthday present to her is to let her run hogwild through Downtown Disney with my credit card. :smiley:

Although this year, we went to Universal instead and saw the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Way cool!

This is secondhand, so take it for what it’s worth. I know of a couple, in their 30’s, with two grade school children, who are frequent Disney World visitors. They recently went for 4 days, without the kids. They are scuba divers, and apparently went in order to dive in the big aquarium.

In the same time frame, and I’d imagine for the same money, they could have gone diving in the actual ocean in Mexico, the Caribbean, Florida, or a bunch of places in Central America. Far be it from I to criticize the vacation choices of people I hardly know, but it’s a staggering example of the power of the Disney corporation. For good or ill, they must know what they are doing over there.

This is exactly my experience, and I live north of Sacramento. I still have friends–albeit with children-- with annual passes who go down several times a year (OK, granted, one family has every single relative down there). Some people really, REALLY like Disney.

Well to be fair, the scuba diving in the tank at Epcot is a 60 minute affair out of a 4 day vacation. They could spend the other 3 days 11 hours doing the rest of the Disney park experience. Whereas many of the top quality diving destinations don’t have much to do but diving and hanging out at the beach.

I live in NoCal now, and it seems like a lot of people here grew up with Disneyland and go back often to relive their childhood. I’ve been to WDW twice when we lived in the East, once without the kids, and I can see how it would inspire even more loyalty and time, since it is a lot bigger.
The secret, I think, is that they totally control your environment. No newspapers in Disneyland, no TVs showing CNN, no views of the outside world. It is even better now that they set up California Adventure and Downtown Disney. I was there for a conference a month ago and never had to leave Disney. I think in this world that can be very satisfying and a bit addictive. I understand that people drink to forget their worries - others can go to Disney with the same effect, except it is socially acceptable and you are looked on as a good parent.

I only found out about those recently. My Daughter in Law is a collector.

If you run out of other things to do, you can always look for Hidden Mickies. Variations of the three-circle stylized mouse head have been slipped into hundreds of furniture, architecture, and landscaping features. I don’t know if there’s a list, but it can be kind of a game to spot them.

I like the little touches at Disneyland and Disney World. While they were roping off Main Street for the Christmas parade, one year, I saw a couple of cast members start a bit of jump rope with some nearby kids and a section of velvet rope. In Tomorrowland, there was a radio controlled trash can that would move around. Kids loved it.