Thom W. (NDD#145) (8 Posts)

When he is not obsessing about his next Walt Disney World trip, Thom can be found running anything from a 5K to a 200 mile relay. Having grown up across the river from Louisville, KY, Thom's family never really took trips to Walt Disney World. He only went twice as he was growing up. Thom changed this in adulthood, though, honeymooning with his wife at Walt Disney World in 1998 and returning regularly after that. Now that he has kids of his own, his family goes at least once a year. But when they are not in the World, you can expect that Disney movies are helping them stay connected to their "laughing place." Through his experience of becoming a long-distance runner and losing almost 80 lbs., Thom hopes to help and encourage readers of The Disney Driven Life, to lead a Disney Driven Healthy and Fit life.

On my last trip to Walt Disney World in June, I left very disappointed in that the trip was missing a good deal of the “Disney Magic.” It was my daughter’s first visit, and she had her “1st Visit” badge on at every park we visited, and not one person said anything to her about it in 7 days at the park. On top of that, only one cast member said anything to us about our volunteer badges we were wearing. At Pop Century, we encountered more of the same. The eating area tables were consistently dirty, and the fountain drink stations were out of ice 90% of the time. It seemed that everywhere we went the cast members were really troubled to be helping us. All in all it was just not a “magical” trip.

Fast-Forward to November this year. We decided to return back to Walt Disney World to spend the Thanksgiving Day holiday at the world with just the 4 of us. I had prepared myself for the crowds and had fully expected the same type of service. Boy was I surprised. From the moment we pulled into Coronado Springs, people were just so much more friendly. Even the guard to let us into the hotel was super friendly. As we walked to the entrance to check-in the attendants outside were just super friendly. They gave each of my kids several stickers apiece, in June not a single sticker was given to them. I think by the end of the 4 day trip, we had accumulated more that 100 stickers. Every cast member I ran into this trip was super friendly and made sure that my family was having a great time.

When we attended Animal Kingdom, the Photo Pass photographer at the front took our picture in front of the tree. Afterward, she took the time to tell us that 10:00 AM at Camp Minnie-Mickey was the best time to meet the characters there in their Christmas best with the least amount of crowds.

We ran into more of the same at Epcot while eating at La Hacienda de San Angel. I had my hands full getting food and drinks while my wife secured a place to sit with my son and daughter. One of the dining room attendees offered to carry one of the trays for me to our seats, even though the restaurant was pretty busy at the time.

While I am not sure the reason for the way cast members behaved in June, I just chalked it up to that is just “how it is” during the busy seasons. All of my previous trips had been during the off seasons. I learned that at one of the busiest times of the year, Disney still wants to make sure their guests have a magical time. While I do not have the names of all the cast members that we encountered, I want to send out a thank you to each and every one of them for bringing the magic back to my family and restoring my faith in the brand and experience that is Walt Disney.

Contributed by: Thom W. (NDD#145). Thom is our resident health and fitness expert.


  1. We had the very same experience when we went to Walt Disney World around the Easter weekend. Not too magical. But, like you, we chalked it up to it just being so busy because of the holiday that they didn’t have the manpower to provide all the Pixie Dust we were used to. We’ve had absolutely magical experiences every time since then! 🙂 The cast members really do go out of their way most of the time to make everyone’s experience wonderful!

  2. Jackie,
    I am hoping that they were just overworked because of an unexpected crowd in June. As it was just as busy for Thanksgiving and the difference in cast members was night and day.

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