While we love most restaurants, rides, and hotels at Walt Disney World, there are some things we think are overrated. These experiences might still be “good,” but they are overrated in the sense that their quality doesn’t live up to the hype, price, or long wait times. Because of that, in some cases, the listed experiences might be things we really enjoy…they just have wait times, prices, or hype that are too high in relation to the quality of what is offered.
Price and wait times are pretty easy to gauge since they’re objective. Hype is more difficult, as it requires a knowledge of what other people really like. We read forums, comments on social media, and listen to a number of podcasts, so we think we have a pretty good idea which Walt Disney World experiences are typically held in high regard by other fans.
This topic is one that was actually inspired by our Facebook page. Folks commenting there aren’t afraid to share opinions on what we review. We frequently read your comments that certain restaurants or hotels are “overrated” in response to our reviews, so we figured that we’d put together our list of “Overrated Walt Disney World Experiences.” This list does not take into account any of your opinions we’ve read; since many of you frequently disagree with us (which is great–we love the open dialogue of this site and although we happen to like our opinions ;), we hardly think our opinions are the definitive word on anything) and because “overrated” is widely subjective based upon personal tolerances, financial circumstances, and wait-tolerance, we’re really hoping for some feedback from you on what you think is overrated at Walt Disney World!
With that, let’s dig into the list!
Le Cellier – Four or so years ago, I think this would have been a controversial pick. Then, Le Cellier was a great value on the Disney Dining Plan, while offering some excellent appetizers and good (albeit slightly over-buttered and over-salted) cuts of meat. It was difficult to land an advance dining reservation at Le Cellier, but not impossible. Over time, buzz increased and reservations became more difficult to land. Disney made changes to the Disney Dining Plan and, eventually, to Le Cellier’s status at dinner. Finally, in 2013, Le Cellier became a two-credit restaurant for lunch, too, making it a full-time Signature Restaurant. It also moved to a lunch/dinner menu, removing many cheaper options that were popular with those paying out of pocket. By now, I think the perception of Le Cellier has soured with many Disney fans.
For the last several years, we’ve been saying Le Cellier, while good, doesn’t live up to the hype. Now, much of that hype is gone, but it doesn’t live up to its status or price points. If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan and want a great meal from a Signature steakhouse in the Epcot area, you’d be crazy to go to Le Cellier over Yachtsman Steakhouse. The latter has excellent cuts of meat wonderfully prepared, the former is good but isn’t worth the price (either in real money or Dining Plan credits), wait, or effort to secure reservations.
Chefs de France – Chefs de France has never had the same buzz as Le Cellier, but it has long had similarly high price points. If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, Chefs de France is a great value…meaning it’s a poor value for those paying out of pocket. Regardless of how you’re paying, you might want to skip Chefs de France, which doesn’t offer cuisine worthy of France.
Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe – My opinion of Pecos Bill has improved a bit since our original review of it, but this is mostly due to me developing a greater appreciation for the theming. I still think the food is inferior to Cosmic Ray’s, and its toppings bar is approximately the same. Yet Pecos Bill is frequently hyped as one of the best counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World, while Cosmic Ray’s nary draws a mention. I get why some people dislike Ray’s, but Pecos Bill is nothing special and certainly isn’t deserving of the hype it receives from the fan community. At best, it’s the #5 counter service restaurant in the Magic Kingdom.
Disney Dining Plan - Okay, it’s not a restaurant, and I’ve already shared this in my Disney Dining Plan Review, but I think this bears repeating as many times as possible. Despite getting less and paying more on a yearly basis, people continue to absolutely adore the Disney Dining Plan. A big part of this is because it’s cleverly marketed as being “free,” which savvy Disney guests know is not actually true. While still useful in some circumstances and for some guests, as a whole, the Disney Dining Plan is overrated.
There are a few other “near misses,” but I just couldn’t bring myself to add them to the list. For example, Liberty Tree Tavern is pricey for what amounts to American comfort food…but it is all you can eat, so it’s not overrated if you’re really hungry. California Grill has a lot of buzz in the fan community, and while we prefer a few Signature Restaurants to it, it doesn’t disappoint. Other restaurants that in some ways disappoint seem to compensate for their disappointing elements somehow. Dining is probably the most divisive aspect of Walt Disney World vacationing, so we’re curious to hear what you believe is overrated.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – As Walt Disney World’s flagship resort-hotel, there’s a certain amount of cache that comes with a stay at the Grand Floridian. As a flagship resort, the Grand Floridian works. It’s the most elegant Disney-owned Walt Disney World hotel, has some excellent dining options, and is conveniently located on the monorail. As the “best” Disney-owned hotel at Walt Disney World for the money, it doesn’t work for me. The exterior is gorgeous, but it the interior is dated. Fans of the hotel will argue that the Victorian theme is inherently dated, but that’s not what I mean. When the resort was designed, the Victorian theming was seemingly “given a modern twist” (I put this in quotes because it’s how Disney describes so much of the theming around Walt Disney World). Unfortunately, the modern twist is no longer modern, but instead seems incredibly dated. Much of what is present in the Grand Floridian reminds me of the design of an affluent Kentucky house, circa-1991, not timeless Victorian beauty.
Beyond that, its price is out of touch with the amenities offered, even considering that you’re paying a premium for it being an on-property hotel. If price were no issue, I would prefer staying at any of the Epcot resorts or Disney’s Polynesian Resort. The one group to whom I’d recommend the Grand Floridian above all else is anyone who places a value on being surrounded by other well-off guests. Even then, why not just stay at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando?
For hotels, that’s the only one at which we’ve stayed that I consider overrated. Every other hotel at which we’ve stayed I’ve enjoyed for different reasons.
Note: this one is my opinion, not our opinion. Sarah loves the Grand Floridian and doesn’t at all consider it overrated. She considers Disney’s Old Key West Resort overrated. (I consider Old Key West incredibly underrated; her “overrated” consideration might be in response to my gushing over it!)
Toy Story Midway Mania – Based upon past Facebook discussions, I suspect this will be a divisive one. Some on Facebook have called it a glorified Wii game, others have considered it the best attraction at Walt Disney World. For us, it’s neither. It’s a fun attraction that offers way more in terms of interactivity (and strategy) than the Wii game by the same name, but it doesn’t even come close to being a classic Disney attraction in terms of quality. It’s superficial and lacks the longevity of other classics. It’s overrated in terms of its wait times. I suspect this is primarily a result of a serious attraction imbalance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, not a true reflection of its popularity.
Captain EO – This one lands on the list solely due to fan community hype. Michael Jackson’s personal demons aren’t the issue for me, the issue is that this attraction is so dated and corny that it’s laughable. To add insult to injury, it’s located in Future World. When we showed a video of Captain EO to a couple of friends who aren’t Disney fans, their immediate suggestion was, “let’s turn this into a drinking game!” Although we never tried turning it into a drinking game, it’s so cheesy that it would probably work. Based upon audience size (or lack thereof) for the Captain EO shows we’ve seen, I think only the fan community and hardcore MJ fans are really happy to see it back. Captain EO demonstrates the dangers of Disney waxing nostalgic.
Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster Starring Aerosmith – Although the pre-show and queue help spruce it up, Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster is basically an unthemed rollercoaster in the dark. It’s fun, but it’s not 90-minute-wait fun, nor is it the caliber of experience you’d expect from Disney. It’s a thrills for the sake of thrills attraction. Not that there’s anything wrong with that in general, but there is something wrong that at Walt Disney World.
Primeval Whirl - Not exactly a beloved attraction among the fan community, and not exactly having long waits, Primeval Whirl is still overrated. As long as a single person visits Primeval Whirl each day, it will be overrated, as that’s one guest too many. Primeval Whirl is the biggest eyesore in Walt Disney World, and it’s arguably more tacky than areas of Disney California Adventure that were demolished for not being up to Disney theme park standards. Some people rave about Dinoland, claiming that it’s misunderstood and that its backstory makes it incredibly clever. It’s not clever. Its backstory is lipstick on a pig. Just as a landfill would not be appropriate for a Disney theme park (no matter what story attached) because it is a landfill, a roadside carnival with off the shelf attractions is not appropriate in a Disney theme park because of what it is. Disney’s Animal Kingdom has a lot greatness, but absolutely none of that is attributable to Primeval Whirl or Dinoland.
The Barnstormer - I can’t imagine anyone will argue with this pick. It’s not overrated because fans love it, but because of often-long wait times. There’s no reason to fixate on this one, except to point out that it’s the only Fantasyland attraction on this list. That might come as a surprise to some. Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid just misses the list because its wait times are expected to subside, Snow White’s Scary Adventures no longer exists, and Peter Pan’s Flight isn’t too bad early in the morning or with FastPass, which is why none of those attractions made the list.
There are a few other attractions that just miss (Soarin’ is not worthy of its standby waits or early morning dash, but FastPass allows those waits to be skipped; Fantasmic! is overrated when compared to Disneyland’s version…but is that a fair comparison for people who only visit Walt Disney World?) making the list, but those are the big ones. Although we’ve come close to blurring the line between just plain “bad” and “overrated” with a couple of these attraction picks, it’s important to remember that there is a difference. With the exception of Primeval Whirl, which is just so awful that no matter what it’s “rated,” it’s overrated, these are all overrated due to reputation and/or wait times.
Make sure you check out our list of experiences at Walt Disney World that we think are underrated! For Walt Disney World trip planning tips and comprehensive advice, make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide and related articles.
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When first working on this list, I hoped to include some experiences outside these main three categories. Unfortunately, our frame of reference for an “other” category is not thorough-enough to do it justice, and I won’t include things we haven’t personally experienced (for example, Wild Africa Trek looks overrated due to its price, but we can’t be certain of that as we haven’t done it). With that said, we’d love it if you’d share your thoughts on anything at Walt Disney World that you believe is overrated, and what you agree or disagree with on our list!