disney world lighting and other disney thoughts

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by David Gretzmier, Feb 13, 2010.

  1. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    I know you guys have missed me for a couple of weeks, I took my family to walt disney world in Florida for 8 nights and 9 days from Feb 3-11. I have a few thoughts and tips of disney in general at the bottom of this thread, but I thought I'd share some Christmas light thoughts I gleaned from obseration a conversation I had with Trevor, one of the imagineers that does construction and some lighting at the park.

    Trevor and I had a brief conversation at cinderella's castle while looking at thier new LED lighting for the castle. basically they have some Christmas lights that stay up year round, and most that are seasonal. some lights are more for dramatic effect, like the outlining 6s6's at epcot that only come on during the fireworks, or some that are on in the evening, like main street USA at magic kingdom and the pyramid bus waiting structures at magic kingdom as well.

    one thing that really stood out is they do not use c-9 or c-7 bulbs, either for temporary or permanant christmas or effect lighting. when incandescant is used, they ae either 10s11's ( 10 watt intermediate or "c-9" base ) or 6s6's ( 6 watt candelabra or "c-7" base). they also have some random firefly like twinkle lights in trees over at USA at epcot world showcase and in some trees over at magic kingdom and animal kingdom. The twinkles had bulbs I had never seen before, a bulb somewhere larger than a 8 mm jumbo mini-light and smaller than a 6s6, maybe a 1/2 inch diameter or so bulb- similar to a flashlight bulb replacement. they too were incandescant. all the seasonal decorations are LED.

    some thoughts on that- Trevor said the look of LED on outlining just does not give the look they want, no matter what color temperature they tried. further, cost plays a role even at disney. he mentioned that they have probably 36000 bulbs on main street USA in magic kingdom alone, and the LED bulbs that would mimic c-7s and c-9's would cost aprox 25 times as expensive as regular bulbs. even with energy savings and labor savings on changing out bulbs, it was not deemed worth it to change the look.

    Obviously, Disney believes the 6s6's and 10s11's are much better bulbs than c-7's or c-9's. I can't confirm that, but we do have some jobs out there using those, and I have gotten the initial impression that 6s6's are a much better bulb as far as breakage, initial burnout/failure, and less "brighties".
    I will be using 6s6's on more jobs next year and keep my mind open. 10s11's are a 10 watt bulb and probably more geared towards commercial applications when you have larger bulb spacing 18-36 inches and taller structures, maybe 4-12 stories or so. I've got a few of those out there and They work fine.

    I do know that both of those bulbs are rated at 5000 hours at 130 volts, and probably last closer to 8 or 9000 hours at 110-120 volts if the bulb rating is real. costwise they are probably 10-15% higher than c-7 or c-9, and that is if you buy 5 cases of bulbs. lower quantities make those bulbs closer to 35-50% more expensive.

    posting to save-
  2. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    on the LED stuff, it was simply a matter of longevity, maintenance, and mainly energy savings. on cinderella's castle at magic kingdom, they use fisherman's nets with led mini's zip tied to them and fully "wrap" the entire surface of the castle. the nets and wires are painted to match the color of the castle. energy usage is impressive. even with LED, the castle still uses 2 240 volt 40 amp circuits, or two clothes dryers. I would equate that to 20 amp 120 volt circuits, and that is 8, 20 amp circuits. still a lot of juice- but on incandescant, they USED to use 9 times that, or 18, 40 amp 240 volt circuits, just to run the castle.

    I did not get a chance to see the castle or anything with the seasonal lighting on it, just the permanant stuff. kinda hard to get to disney at Christmas time when you run a Christmas biz.
  3. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    some Disney advice from the money I spent if you are going to Disney anytime soon-

    After spending around 7000 bucks...

    1- don't do the dining plan. I had 3 adults and 3 children there, and spent 1800 plus bucks for the dining plan plus around 400 for tips. we used everything on it , all meals, snacks, etc, and would have spent far less money if we had been using cash. when you think of the cost of Disney food, you need to move out of the expensive category and move to the los angeles new york city insane area. every sit down meal for 3 adults and 3 kids was over 200 bucks. you are forced to pay 18% gratuities, even at buffets where they just bring drinks. gratuities are not included on the the pre-purchased 1800 buck dining plan) and as an added bonus, they give a line on your receipt that gives you a chance to add more for your tip. I'm not a cheapskate, but think of this- a 50 buck tip at a buffet ( tuskers at animal kingdom) has never been on my radar, and you have no choice in the matter. the guy had 4 tables, and you are telling me that it is normal for this guy to make 100-200 bucks per hour in tips to bring drinks? I will sign up for that job tomorrow. the food at china in epcot for over 200 bucks was worse than a 6.99 chinese buffet that any city has.

    2- I can no longer reccomend staying at the disney resorts. this was my 6th visit, and at Port Orleans, a "moderate" disney resort you are looking at 150 a night during the less expensive season, if you book 5 or 6 nights or more. one night, 195 bucks. for this price there are too many issues- you do not get the towel animals and the fun disney housekeepers you used to. the paint was peeling off the walls in the bathroom in room 2418. the fridge did not work. the toilet stopped working. there was trash in the landscaping outside the room. ( and it stayed there for my entire 8 day trip )The towels are not big enough to wrap around a guy that weighs 180 pounds. The hottest the water got in the shower was about 3-4 degrees less than what I would call a hot shower. You can call me picky, but once I get past 80 or 90 bucks a night for a hotel, my pickyness meter starts going up. disney fixed a few of these issues, but at 150 bucks a night for each of the 2 rooms I booked, should I really need to complain about paint coming off the drywall above the toilet, revealing drywall about the size of my fist? is it my job to tell them to use primer betewwn paint and drywall ? why was the hyatt place in Houston where i paid 50 bucks a few weeks ago 10 times nicer than a disney hotel?

    3- the disney bus transportation just cannot handle the load of it's own resorts when they are booked to capacity. we originally were going to stay at a disney "value" resort, or about 82 bucks a night in the slow season. they were fully booked. They started funneling folks over to port orleans, which is the least expensive moderate resort. then port orleans got booked.

    waiting at the parks when they closed for the busses going to value resorts and port orleans was nothing less that frustrating. we experienced 45 minute to 1 hour plus waits, while less booked hotels could jump right on the bus.

    why? The numbers are kind of staggering. at port orleans there are two hubs-riverside and french quarter. at riverside alone there are 2048 rooms with at least 2 folks per room usually more. french quarter has 1008. again, 2 folks per room, usually more. most rooms are booked by families with 1-2 kids. so think of it- parks open at 8-9 am, most close at same time, and what happens- 7-10000 people trying to get somewhere at the same time. we watched 6 busses come and go from magic kingdom to port orleans at 9pm, and we were still waiting in line. magic kingdam closes at 8pm. Value resorts were worse lines, with many folks I spoke with waiting over an hour every night. The worst part? Disney KNEW the resorts were booked at least a week or two in advance. did they add bus service? not apparently. every night, at each park at closing, or opening, it was the same. what a way to end your day.

    during the middle of the day, while park hopping, not so bad. and at the beginning aof the day, usually a 20 minute wait, but usually no place to sit on bus, you had to stand. I can tolerate that.

    if you stay at the contemporary or many of the disney "deluxe" resorts ( 500 to 2-3000 per night, and no, that ain't no typo) you do get some options of boats and monorail to get to your hotel or some of the parks. to go to all of them, eventually you gotta get on the bus. the bus is the only choice for all of the value and moderate resorts.

    a word on the mono-rail -when you look at the monorail that walt envisioned before he died, Walt designed a 360 passenger train that would whisk folks to the magic kingdom and epcot every 10 minutes. for the privaledged, it still does. The contemporary, the grand floridian, and the polynesian are the only hotels that get to use it. get ready to pay 1000 bucks a night for the fun. unfortunately, as they built hollywood studios and animal kingdom, and ever larger resorts, they did not bother to extend the monorail. apparently it was much cheaper to buy busses.

    I will go back and spend 2500 plus on disney tickets for 6. I will do 8-10 days.

    will try to stay at a hotel very close to disney for 60-90 bucks per night and either get shuttled or drive to down town disney and use the disney transportation to get to the parks and or parkhop and get back to my car. I may look into renting a house near disney and spend a grand or so for that. no towel or bed service, but more space for 6 or 7.

    I will plan on spending 1000-1500 on food, bring snacks and drinks with me, and share meals. I will avoid tuskers at animal kingdom, sit down restaurant at china at epcot. I will do sit down at france and le-cellier at canada, and tusso at italy ( gotta get reservations for those 3 months in advance).

    I may fly the next time if rates cooperate. I may try to drive it all on in one day ( 18 hours )

    long crazy post, but I am always about helping folks avoid the mistakes I make and try to make better decisions !
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2010
  4. Landscape Poet

    Landscape Poet LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,638

    I live down here, so if you need insight on Disney, shoot me a PM, I will try to help you avoid things which are over rated and not a good value.

    David, if you want to see Christmas lights at Disney, you have to come earlier and come to the Osbourne Festival of lights at MGM. This is the best example of lighting at Disney at any given point in the year.
  5. britelights

    britelights LawnSite Member
    Messages: 91

    Just have to post Dave....wow...sorry to hear about your frustrations!! I hope ya'll still had fun and enjoyed the parks.

    Check out www.vrbo.com for a rental house...just book early. TRUST me...once you do it --- you will never want to travel with kids and stay in a hotel again. VRBO has houses for rent all over the country....when we took the kids to Disney that was our first experience renting a house instead of staying at a hotel. We loved it so much that we also rented a house last summer when we went to Arizona.

    I have a question for Michael in Florida....how do you get the best deal on Disney tickets? After alot of research, we ended up buying ours on Ebay. It worked out fine, but in the end I still didn't know if I could have done better buying them locally once I got to Orlando.
  6. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,187

    Cool, thanks for the link on the vacation rentals. We are looking at going to Disney probably next year about this time. Some of these homes look like a much better way to go than some stinking hotel.
  7. Landscape Poet

    Landscape Poet LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,638

    This is actually a hot topic down here as with the economic downturn, many people have been taking advantage of the 50 million plus people that come to our community to go to Disney. With that said the most secure place is to go through Disney themselves so you do not get ripped off.
    Florida Hospital also is a good place to check. Disney as part of their community giving allows Florida Hospital to purchase tickets at discount and in return sell the tickets for a discount for fundraising for organization like Childrens Miracle Network.

    I agree with you that renting, especially down here has its advantages. If you look through craigslist there is usually people from down here looking to make trades of homes for a week or two just so they can go somewhere else.
    Finding rentals really cheap is still sometimes hard because of rules that tax residents more if their renters are not in the property for at least so many months.

    Sorry for rambling and I hope I made sense, it has been a long day and I have stayed up way to late doing some research.

  8. turf hokie

    turf hokie LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,753

    Just got back from Disney myself.

    And I must say that my experience seems to be the exact opposite of David.

    We flew, (cashed in miles) no way I'm driving from NY with the kids....We did not touch our checked bags going or coming from the airport which was nice. On time transport and very easy to do coming and going. All courtesy of Disney.

    We stayed in Animal Kingdom Lodge, with views from the balcony of the animals. Kids loved seeing zebras, giraffes etc right from our room. Got the character shaped towels, wonderful staff everywhere, very clean.
    We got a special that was a buy 4 nights get 3 free so we could not go wrong.

    We did the dining plan, snacks and all. We got a deal here as well, my wife managed to get upgraded from 2 meals per person to 3 for $100...Don't know how but who's to argue.
    The 20% tip is suggested, unless you are dining with 6 or more and then it is automatically included. Which David hit that magic 6 number. We were 4. We ended up not using all the meals due to eating some late breakfasts. But all told we saved a good bit of money based on what we would have spent if we did cash and carry.
    The real nice thing with the snack plan is when the kids wanted ice cream or a water, all we had to do was give them our card and any cart or snack shop.

    There are also some sit down style restaurants that fit the dining plan, but they are few and far between.

    The buses were good, running pretty much every 20 minutes and even sending 2 buses at the same time if a crowd was gathering.

    I also noticed the lighting and tho my wife thinks I need to seek help for my Christmas light addiction.....I still took some pics.

    I was not lucky enough to find anyone to chat up about the lights (perhaps that was a good thing as my wife may have had a problem with discussing "work" on vacation!!!)
    But as David said the blinking lights in the trees were different than anything I had seen and gave a cool look, although they need to add some lights to account for growth, many trees seemd to only be lit 1/2 way into the canopy.

    The lights in the parks and on bus terminals must last a lot longer than the ones we use and I agree with David it is something to look into if you are not using LED's. I think I saw 3 bulbs that were out and if David's numbers hold as to total lights....either Disney is way on top of replacements or they just dont burn out.

    Other than that I defer to David and Trevor as I dont have any further info on the lights other than personal observations. I must say that I am trying to figure out how to get down while the Christmas Lights are still up because that has to be something to see.

  9. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    Bryan- glad you had a good time. I will say I would totally expect a better bus experience at animal kingdom lodge. they have 1293 rooms to the port orleans 3000 rooms plus. so lots less folks to deal with transportation wise. also, I would expect that the rooms and service over there were awesome. at rates of 500 plus bucks per night, I would hope so. With 6 folks and 3 adults, I had to book 2 rooms, and no 4 plus 3 nights free discounts, so I could not swing it moneywise. I bet the view alone was worth it.

    The dining plan is nice to do snacks and not notice the prices. I am always ok with tipping for good and great service, but when forced to do so at an 18% rate, on a buffet that cost way north of 200 plus bucks, that really bugged me. again, I tip at buffets, I want the server to be compensated for bringing drinks and cleaning up, but probably closer to 10% and that would be based on a real world price of around 10 bucks per person for the tuskers type of food. I had no problem adding an additional tip on top of the 18% at the canada and french places, the service and food there was awesome.
  10. addictedtolandscaping

    addictedtolandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 569

    As for the Christmas set up, a good friend of mine goes every year just after Thanksgiving, all I can say is wow. They took a ton of pics when they went and I was totally awe struck. I myself would love to get there to see them.

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