Three Times Walt Disney World Got It Wrong

From award-winning shows and movies to heart-stopping theme park attractions, Disney gets it right most of the time. There’s a reason — several in fact — that keep people going back for a Disney World vacation year after year.

Festival of the Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

But every now and again, Disney gets it wrong. And no, we don’t mean price increases (though we don’t love those either). We mean offerings that just missed the mark a little bit.

Here are three times we think Walt Disney World got it wrong.

1. Tomorrowland Cabanas

The winter holidays are some of the busiest times in the Walt Disney World parks, so it’s not shocking that Disney tried to offer a space where weary vacationers could relax, unwind, and recharge. The problem was, the space cost almost $700.

Tomorrowland cabanas circa December 2016

At the very high price tag of $691 (plus tax), you could rent a cabana in Tomorrowland for the day that came with charging stations, sunscreen, snacks, water, and lockable storage. Cabanas accommodated up to eight people.

While this may seem like the ultimate in luxury, the snacks were potato chips, sodas, and Mickey bars. At that price, you’d think at least a quick-service meal would be included! Honestly, the biggest draw was the shade and the coveted personal space during one of the busiest times of the year.

While this wasn’t a terrible idea, it wasn’t executed as well as it could have been. If Disney tries this one again, we suggest they lower the cost and up the food.

2. Not Relocating the Osborne Lights


Speaking of the winter holidays at Disney World, nothing was as spectacular as the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. More than 5 million lights, snow, music — it was the ultimate in holiday cheer.

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights

Sadly, it closed after the 2015 Christmas season to make way for new additions. While we love Toy Story Land and are very excited for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, we really miss the Dancing Lights! Flurry of Fun is wonderful —  don’t get us wrong. But it’s just not the same.

While it’s understandable that the Streets of America had to close — that was a lot of wasted space — why did the Osborne Lights have to go too!? It seems to us they could have been relocated to somewhere else in Hollywood Studios, or even another park… or Disney Springs.

Mickey, if you’re reading this, can you bring them back? Pretty please?

3. Pirate and Princess Party


Pirate & Princess Party Sign

For two years, Magic Kingdom offered a third hard-ticket event (besides Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party) called Disney’s Pirate and Princess Party. It was offered on select nights in the first half of the year, and attendees were encouraged to dress up like pirates or princesses to enjoy special entertainment, characters, and their favorite attractions.

Sounds like fun, so why was it cancelled? First, while the fireworks were awesome (the same ones from the short-lived Summer Nighttastic!), the parade wasn’t as great as the parades at other hard-ticket events. The Castle Stage Show during the event was Dream Along with Mickey, which was the same exact show performed during the daytime. Additionally, unlike Halloween or Christmas, no one was really sure what a Pirate and Princess Party was. The offerings didn’t seem that different from a normal day in Magic Kingdom, so fewer people were reluctant to pay for an additional ticket.

Pirate and Princess Party circa 2007 ©AllEars.Net

However, a lot of people really enjoyed this event, and were quite sad it didn’t continue after two years. Disney came really close to hitting the nail on the head with this one, and we’d actually love if they brought it back with a few tweaks. Especially now that the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is a thing, with that with some new characters and a new stage show, it would be a hit!

So there you have it, three times we think Disney got things wrong. Do you have any candidates for this list? Let us know in the comments!


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Molly is a lifelong Disney enthusiast, and former Walt Disney World Guest Relations Cast Member and tour guide. Her Walt Disney World favorites include Festival of the Lion King, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Fantasmic!, Mickey-shaped pretzels and rice krispie treats, and anything with Buzz Lightyear! She lives in Orlando with her husband (who she met in Guest Relations) and their two rescue dogs, Kronk and Cruella de Vil (Ella for short!)

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24 Replies to “Three Times Walt Disney World Got It Wrong”

  1. When we go to Disney, our goto hotel is the Animal Kingdom Lodge with the savannah view. In the early days, we would bump up the hotel to be club level (concierge) so that we could go on the Sunrise Safari.

    The Sunrise Safari would take folk on the normal Animal Kingdom Safari ride, but it would do so before the park opened and the driver could stop for longer periods of time to gawk/photograph at the animals. As the park opened we would go for a private breakfast that blended African and US foods (similar to what Boma offers).

    On our first trip, Sunrise Safari was just getting started, and we were able to book a second Safari trip during our week there (on later trips, we would need to book it 180 days in advance). On that ride, there was a Disney honcho on the ride. It was only later when I watch several of the behind the scenes and making of videos, that I realized the Disney exec was Joe Rhode, one of the chief Imagineers for Animal Kingdom (due to the large earring that he wears).

    In our last trip, they stopped doing the Sunrise Safari, so we downgraded from club level to normal savannah view level. We saved a bit of money, but still I would have preferred to go on the Sunrise Safari once again.

  2. It would be so easy for Disney to return the Lights of Winter to the walkway between Future World and World Showcase.

  3. Biggest thing Disney got wrong – choosing Dinoland USA over Beastly Kingdoms. Like WHAT were they thinking 💀

  4. You have to add when Disney turned the castle in to a birthday cake. That was god-awful. What if that was the only time you came to see the castle?

  5. Taking the Bakery out on Main Street and putting in a Starbucks. I know it is always crowded but they could have added Starbucks coffee to the Main Street Bakery. Miss it and Walt would have never allowed the chain on Main Street.

  6. Still can’t believe they got rid of the Osborne Lights. The best part of going to WDW during the holidays!!

  7. We did the P&P party back in January 2007 and we loved it. The fireworks were the best we ever seen! The bounty was pretty good too. The dance party was really fun. Our kids had a blast!!!

  8. We did the Pirate and Princess party and thought it was fun, though we have no other hard ticket experiences with which to compare it. Changing Soarin’ would make my “got it wrong” list before this would.

  9. I have heard, from a friend who goes, that you can now see the Osborne lights at Silver Dollar City in Branson. So they aren’t gone they just aren’t at Disney

  10. Can I just say what a refreshing thing it is to see a website that is objective in their views instead of the typical, “Disney can do no wrong” attitude that most every other site displays. This change makes this site much more relatable and interesting to visit every day, especially in light of all of the recent price hikes and corporate greed that have cut so many of its constant supporters right out of the magic. Allears is absolutely the best site to visit on all things Disney…good or bad. That is exactly why I still visit every day even though at this moment in time I may be disillusioned, the fact that Allears gets it, is something alien to all other Disney sites. Kudos to you and thank you!

  11. I don’t understand why the Studios doesn’t just put the Osborne lights down the mainstreet area? I mean it’s an end of the night thing that people tend to do and then filter out of the parks. It would draw them into the stores as well.

  12. The worst change for our family was the change at animal kingdoms bird show with the up characters,the show with the pretend tour guide was so much better we would always catch that show on all our visits now after watching the new show we we wont even waste our time its really bad,just our opinion.

  13. The top picture is an odd one to have heading this column, seemingly implying that Festival of the Lion King is “wrong”. I don’t think that’s your intent, but it feels like the implication (to me, anyway).

        1. Debbie, I have some positive posts on some of the other articles in recent days. In fact, about 50% of my posts are not critical of Disney. Do you ever read those?

  14. The 1999 redesign of the Imagination pavilion to remove Figment and Dreamfinder was a terrible mistake. Which Disney obviously realized given that it lasted only 2 years!

    1. I agree, that should be number one on the list because that one still hasn’t been righted nor forgiven by the masses. Disney just refuses to admit when their wrong.