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Internet arguments comprise something like 80 percent of all communications. The other 70 percent involve funny animal videos. And I think another 20 involves something called Gangnam Style. These stats are arbitrary, fictitious, and mathematically incorrect, but that’s not the point. Internet arguments don’t need to have points. All they need to do is make a person so angry that they break a nail typing a vicious reply.

Even The Walt Disney Company, the home of Mickey Mouse and all his huggable friends, isn’t immune to the passions of online debate. Some topics all but guarantee spirited responses, and both sides of the argument are firmly entrenched in their positions. Since I always wanted to become a lion tamer when I grew up (for all you know, that’s true), I’m going to stick my head in the big cat’s mouth long enough to discuss some of these. Start grabbing your torches and pitchforks! I’m about to discuss three of the greatest flame war subjects involving Disney.

What’s your favorite Disney park?

Image: Disney

Disney’s Civil War officially involves Captain America and Iron Man. If you ever want to turn an entire community of Disney fans against one another, however, you don’t need the Winter Soldier performing acts of villainy to light the fuse. Instead, all you have to do is ask people which park is their favorite.

Answers run the gamut, and each one reveals a bit about the person responding. One of the most sentimental aspects of a Disney vacation is that it reminds so many people of their youth. They recall that first time that their parents brought them to a Disney park, and it has oftentimes crystallized in their mind as the perfect day they wish they could recall more fondly.

The underlying thought process here is beautiful. The reality probably isn’t as warm and fuzzy as you remember it since virtually all Disney theme parks are in temperate environments. They also involve a lot of standing in line. Children aren’t great in either of these conditions. During that halcyon memory from your youth, you probably cried at least some, possibly a lot.

Image: Disney

The way that you irritated and/or mortified your parents isn’t the point, though. Instead, it’s that you learned Disney at a young age, and now you like to share that joy with others. Generally, that involves your recommending your favorite park to them. If you’re Californian, you’re likely to say Disneyland, noting that it’s the original and the only one crafted under Walt Disney’s oversight. That’s a completely valid argument.

Those of us who live in the south, especially in Florida, are likely to answer with a park from Walt Disney World. Since Magic Kingdom is the most trafficked theme park on the planet, it’ll get more responses due to the sheer volume of its proponents. Parents of young children as well as animal lovers are likely to argue Animal Kingdom instead. Fans of movies or thrill rides would throw their support toward Hollywood Studios, and that’ll become even more accurate when Star Wars Land opens. Finally, a few people like me who admire Walt Disney for his vision and optimism embrace Epcot, even if it didn’t quite live up to its projection as the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. It’s still singularly unique in the annals of theme park history.

I’ve already mentioned five American parks (without including Disney’s California Adventure, which rarely comes out well in internet discussions), and I haven’t even mentioned some of the best Disney parks in the world. The recently opened Shanghai Disney Resort includes the most current and technically impressive attractions of any Disney park to date. Similarly, Tokyo DisneySea offers some of the finest themed lands on the planet. Even Disneyland Paris, with its reputation for financial struggles and lackluster cleaning standards, enjoys support in some circles. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Europe, after all.

Perhaps more than any other topic on this list, your favorite Disney park identifies the type of person you are as well as your life experiences, whether they’re recent or from your childhood. That’s the power of Disney aptly summarized. It places a permanent stamp on your personality and memories.

Should I get the dining plan?

Image: Disney

Hoo boy. Anytime somebody asks this, I batten down the hatches and prefer for the coming onslaught. If the internet offered a siren indicating impending flame war, this topic would trigger the sound every time. Strangers really, really care about how you choose to pay for your meals. It’s, like, important to them.

Opponents of the Disney Dining Plan (DDP) view the situation from a cost perspective. They don’t believe that anything is free, so when Disney says “Free Dining Plan”, what they really mean is that they’ve already raised the price of rooms and tickets in the package to offset the cost. That’s completely true.

They also maintain that the dining plan includes too many restrictions and too much food. The restrictions come from the fact that not all restaurants participate, alcohol isn’t a beverage option, and the “free” somehow doesn’t include tipping, a critical oversight in such packages. As for the too much food part, that’s again a valid complaint. A person trying to get the most for their money will feel a compulsion to eat an appetizer, entrée, and dessert at each meal. If you’re staying five days, you’re eating the equivalent of a fast food meal for lunch every day then a three-course meal for supper. You’ll need to diet the moment you get home to work off that weight.

Image: Disney

Proponents of the dining plan enjoy it for a couple of reasons. The first is that the dining plan comes with a fixed cost. If it’s not a part of a Free Dining Plan, the DDP is more expensive than simply paying per meal in most instances. That’s especially for guests who participate in the Tables in Wonderland program.

Still, a person who adds the DDP knows ahead of time exactly how much money they’ll pay for meals at Disney, save for tips, a negligible concern. Thanks to that fixed cost, they’ll know where and what they can eat plus the eligible restaurants and foods. They’ll get at least a snack a day per person (some versions of the plan include more than one), and they’ll also receive a drink mug they can refill at stations through Walt Disney World. Since vacation expenses are all but impossible to calculate ahead of time, knowing ahead of time – and, if you’re proactive, also paying ahead of time – removes a level of stress from the trip.

Most important, Disney offers some of the finest restaurants on the planet. The DDP guarantees that you can enjoy at least two quality meals each day, one of which will be at a Table Service restaurant. I’ve been going to Disney theme parks since I was five-years-old. In that entire time, I’ve had exactly one terrible Table Service meal…and if I mentioned the name of the restaurant where it happened, I’d start another flame war since it’s one of the most popular theme park meals in the world. Disney’s consistency across their restaurants makes eating there a foodie’s dream. Thanks to the DDP, you can do so without feeling stressed when the bill comes.

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Comments

Oh, this is going to be fun. Favorite Park, it's Disneyland, you never forget your first time. We visit from the UK and over the last few years we've been fortunate enough to do Florida in the spring and California in the fall, usually Spending two weeks at Walt Disney World because we typically get more vacation time than our American cousins. UK deals tend to acknowledge the higher cost of our travel arrangements and the standard UK vacation packages are for two weeks, so our WDW trips are quite relaxed, we can be pretty flexible with our touring plans, change tack at a moments notice and still free form our experience to make for a relaxing vacation without the need to cram everything into a five or six day blast. We tend to benefit from free dining packages, lower than average Park pass prices, $200 gift cards and good discounts on room rates offsetting against the 'hit' of $1000 per person airfares. We absolutely plan in advance, for those of us who are quite organised it's a no-brainer, a little homework works wonders, eases the time spent in line and it's remarkably satisfying to pre-plan the trip as it allows you to reminisce about previous visits while anticipating new experiences. I genuinely think that my wife gains as much enjoyment planning and visiting forums, sharing suggestions and hunting out new surprises, as she does actually visiting the parks. Is it too much effort? Yes, friends look on the groundwork as excessive, and we understand that not everyone shares the commitment and passion to the cause, and that's where we say Disneyland! If you want a greater degree of spontaneity go to California. When visiting DL we schedule a few days in Hollywood, throw in a week in Vegas and finish-up with five days at Disney, more than enough time to enjoy most of what makes the west coast a throw-back to how WDW used to be, for a concentrated dose of Disney Magic it can't be beaten, and apart from the odd dinner reservation, you don't need to commit to a plan half a year in advance. If you've got the budget and vacation days, you can have the best of both worlds, they just happen to be on the opposite sides of the country. Next Disneyland - two weeks time, next Walt Disney World 12 months time (planning and scheduling started weeks ago)!

I completely agree with you. DLR requires much, much, much less planning than WDW. I live within an 8 hour drive to WDW and love to visit DLR when we can for the simple fact that it is so much less work. The whole "vibe" is different.

I have been visiting Disney World since it opened.I have stayed at the Poly, Contemporary, New Orleans, Caribbean and value resorts. I haven't gone for years because I have to pre plan everything. Disney now encourages that so I must plan where I want to eat six months ahead of time or what rides I might want to go on.The people that don't do this will have to wait a long time or simply be refused. This is not my idea of a vacation.

The acronym stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow....not Environmental.

Two other topics to consider: annual ticket price increases and staying on/off property.

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