Our current theme park usage

posted by Jeff | Sunday, August 18, 2019, 2:57 PM | comments: 0

We've now lived in The OC for a little over six years. We acquired Walt Disney World passes quite literally the day after Simon and Diana arrived (I was down a week earlier). We were in the midst of the rainiest July on record for Orlando, but it felt totally amazing. To this day, I can enter those parks and have fuzzy feelings that remind me of vacationing here.

While it does feel more routine at this point, I still don't take it for granted at all. It's hard not to have a little smile as you walk over the bridge and see the Tree of Life, or take in the smells on your first Food & Wine Festival visit, or whatever. This year, renewing our passes had a little more sting though, as the total cost for three of us was $1,900, about $500 more than it was when we arrived in 2013. We went about 22 times last year, which is the fewest of any year if I had to guess, so the per-person cost for each visit was $28. Keep in mind most visits are around four or five hours, not full days.

This is a really weird situation now: We have passes to all three of the majors. Disney has been continuous, but now we have SeaWorld (which includes Aquatica and Busch Gardens Tampa), because a friend working at corporate generously gave us his friends-and-family passes, and Universal, because they had an 18-month deal for the price of 12 that I could not resist. Since April, we've visited each park at least once per month, so I think our total park visit count has actually increased a bit.

One consistent theme is that I see the different standards that the parks operate on. SeaWorld parks are beautiful and have pretty good food, but ride operations just aren't very good. Last weekend we watched a kid start the kiddie train with a mom still fastening her kid's seatbelt (and they let him keep operating with a supervisor watching). Universal has generally poor quality food at every turn, but ride operations are hit or miss depending on the ride. Disney is on another level with everything they do, and even counter service food is more than passable as a meal.

The Epcot Food & Wine Festival is around the corner, which will mean a lot of spontaneous visits, even for lunch now and then. The concert lineup isn't very strong this year, but last year they did a good job with more chicken dishes and fruity drinks. I can't wait.

There's never a shortage of things to do here, that's for sure. Theme parks aren't everyone's thing, and that's OK, but our family has a good time year-round visiting, and it's particularly nice to go when friends from out-of-town are here.

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