Brian's Archive - Contents  Click to go back to MousePlanet main page
 Discussion Boards | Reviews | News | Trip Planning | Shop | Travel | Site Map
Brian's Basement
A Treasure Trove of Archived Stories
Google-
Look in: MousePlanet WWW

Brian Bennett

WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett

2/26/01

Q.

Stew Writes: I really enjoy your updates on the various "Lands" of Walt Disney World. Your latest article on Adventureland was particularly close to my heart, as you mentioned the long-closed, Adventureland Verandah Restaurant.

On our first trip to WDW in 1977, our first (and last) stops (eating-wise) were at the AV. We always ordered the same thing, the Teriyaki Cheeseburger Combo. Now, it probably wasn't nearly as good as I remember it being, but I really enjoyed that Cheeseburger, smothered in Teriyaki Sauce (they were sponsored by Kikkoman), topped with Cheese, a Pineapple Ring, and coconut flakes! YUM!

I was able to "relive" this experience in the early '90's when I returned to "The World." On our subsequent three visits, however, I have but only to dream of eating there, as it is now long gone.

Just another one of those "Yesterland-style" moments. Now...if they ever do away with the TTA (aka Peoplemover)....I will be REALLY mad....DL just isn't the same without it!

Thanks again for your updates!

A.

I don't have as fond of memories about the Adventureland Verandah.  Barb and I did visited there on our honeymoon, but the restaurant was closed before we returned to WDW a year later.  I think Adventureland really could use a full-service restaurant, though.  A nicely themed one, unique to the land, would be a great addition!

...and don't forget that MousePlanet's Walt Disney World Restaurant Resource should provide any information you need on the restaurants that are still in the Magic Kingdom!

-

Q.

Vince Writeshttp://www.njsouth.com/index-lucy.htm This is the elephant that is shown at the Boardwalk Resort.

A.

Vince is referring to the elephant model over the fireplace mantel in the lobby at the Boardwalk, which I had originally reported as a hotel that had been built in the shape of an elephant back around the turn of the century.  Clearly, as Vince's link shows, the elephant was actually a real estate advertisement.

In any case, the elephant is a great oddity that fits in well with the Boardwalk theme (and "Lucy" lives pretty close to Atlantic City's boardwalk, too).  Thanks for the correction, Vince!

-

Q.

Jeannie Writes(Editor's Note: Actually, to my wonderful wife, Barbara) Thanks to you and Brian for all the wonderful work you do on Mouseplanet!  I've just recently (in the last few months) gotten to know Mouseplanet, and it's wonderful.

We live in Southern California and have always gone to Disneyland.  I have a 1 year old, and we're thinking about taking a family trip to WDW this fall (she'll be almost 2 by then).  I was just reading your May 1998 trip report (Editor's Note: That was the first, and so far only, trip report that Barb wrote of our many trips.) about your trip with Allan (what a wonderful child he seems to be!).  I was wondering if you have any suggestions for a mom, a dad, and an almost 2 year old traveling to WDW for the first time this November.

We're planning on catching a non-stop from LA to Orlando to avoid any delays on catching connecting flights.  We're planning on staying on-site for the trip, maybe splitting time between two hotels just to try something different.  I'm leaning towards splurging for a concierge room at Poly for a few nights and then staying at Yacht or Beach Club for the remainder of the visit.  We're currently planning on staying 7-8 nights.  I'm also thinking 5-day park hopper passes for me and my husband should be sufficient.  I'm sure there will be a few days when we'll want to just hang around the hotel pool or just walk around Downtown Disney or the petting zoo at Wilderness Lodge.

I've been trying to read as much as I can on the website, but it's so extensive that it's often overwhelming.  I do love the trip reports, though, because it does give you a lot of different insights into a "good" or "bad" trip.

Thanks so much in advance for your help.

A.

Barb Responded:  Thanks so much for your kind words about Mouse Planet! What a project it has turned into!

My best off the top of my head tips for traveling with children...and most of these are on the site (Editor's Note: In MousePlanet's WDW With Kids section)... are:

  1. Decide right now that you are not going to even come close to seeing everything! It's not a bad idea to read up on the various parks and attractions so you have a mental idea of what you don't want to miss.
  2. Don't even think about staying in the parks all day. Plan to arrive at your park choice of the day just before opening time. Even if you are not early risers, this is well worth the effort. You can accomplish tons more in the first few hours the parks are open than you can at any other time. Check with your hotel to find out what parks have Early Entry (WDW's version of Disneyland's Magic Mornings) on which days.  Those who stay at Disney hotels are permitted in one hour early to one park a day.  This is an extra opportunity to fit things in.
  3. Schedule a break time in your room EVERY day. This is an opportunity to have a nap, swim, read, or just relax. It is very critical to the success of your whole trip. You will be avoiding the parks in the middle of the day when it is hottest, as well as when they are the most crowded. With the Disney transportation available to their own guests, this is really a simple thing.
  4. If you usually do Disneyland, I'm sure you already know about their baby swap policies. The ones in Florida are similar, but be sure to ask at the entrance of each attraction what their procedure is.
  5. You mentioned trying out two different resorts. You are certainly welcome to do so if you choose, but my recommendation would be to pick one and stay there for the entire time. Sometimes children who are already away from everything that seems normal to them, like their own bed, the schedule at home, etc., have a hard time adjusting on vacation. When we have traveled with Allan, we have found that the fewer moves and different hotels we stayed in, the better he adjusted, and the more we all enjoyed the trip. You also will end up losing the better part of a day of your vacation in the move.  (Have to check out by this time, can't check into the next hotel until this time...etc. This means there is no place to retreat to for a break in the middle of the day.)
  6. Plan to take LOTS of pictures. Not all will be great, but you will definitely want to be able to "remember the magic" after your adventure is over! If you need help or accessories to help you to organize your photos when you return, visit my website, www.mousememories.com. We also have a suggested list of things you might wish to save from your trip and hints and tips for taking photographs. Ok, sorry, just had to squeeze that commercial in here! :)

If you have any other specific questions, I'll be happy to answer them! Just let me know! Have a great day!

(Editor's Note:  And don't forget Adrienne Krock's excellent resource here on MousePlanet, Parenting in the Parks!)

-

Q.

Karl Writes:  Brian, I read today's photo safari on the Contemporary. Two tidbits on the murals - maybe they're in there and I just missed them.  1 - On the west-facing mural, facing the monorail platform, there's a goat with five legs, up near the top. 2 - on the south-facing mural, visible from the Steakhouse, there's a boo-boo - one of the tiles is rotated 90 degrees out of place, and it's fairly easy to find.  These might be fun for folks to look for.

A.

Of course, Karl is referring to the photo tour of the Contemporary Resort that I put together a few weeks ago.

Thanks Karl, for your comments!  Mary Blair did a great job on these works of art.  They've been a much-needed splash of color in the middle of an otherwise stark resort for a long time.

By the way, I've had reports that folks with Macintosh computers have had problems with my photo tours because of the way I formatted them (with the pictures alternating left and right and the text weaving around them).  As a result, you may have noticed that I've gone to a simpler, but more universally-acceptable, straight-line format.  I'm in the process of reformatting the older photo tours, too, if you missed them.

-

Q.

David Writes:  I'm not sure where to post this, but I had an interesting experience that may prove interesting to others. So, if you think this is appropriate, feel free to use it and/or pass it on.

Visiting Florida during the Dec. 2000 holidays, we planned a 3 day, 2 night stay at the WDW Swan during the week between Christmas and new years.  No, we're not masochists, but we live in Kauai and visit relatives in Bradenton, FL every other year for the holidays and we have a 4 year old daughter and we all love Disney. So this was our only chance to visit WDW, with our daughter who could now appreciate much more than she saw at WDW at age 2 and DL at age 3. And appreciate she did, in her full sequined Minnie Mouse outfit complete with hair bows, purse and matching Minnie shoes!

Upon arrival I purchased 4 3-day unlimited park hoppers at the WDW ticket desk at the Swan. The cost for 3 adults and one child: $600+ including tax.  We later decided to extend our stay, WDW reservations gets us a room at the Dolphin for an additional consecutive night. I seem to remember reading on your WDW guide that all tix are upgradeable before they expire, so I go to WDW Swan ticket desk, who informs me that the tickets are not upgradeable for an additional day. I say thanks and move on.

Later that night, at EPCOT, after the family returns to the Swan, I go to Guest Relations, explain the problem to helpful cast member, who works on the ticket for some time, but is unable to add extra days to these tickets because "the Swan is different" and "the tickets are not in the computer properly". I explain that there should be no difference because I'm staying at the Swan and since I extended our stay for an additional day I should be allowed to extend the tickets and pay the appropriate amount for that extension. I wanted park hoppers and did not want a single admission/single park ticket for the last day. After agreeing with me, he makes several notations in the computer record associated with the tickets and asks me to stop in at a guest relations office in the morning. So far, I've wasted about 2 hours on this. The next day, we visit MK at 7:30AM, guest relations line is too long.

We have breakfast, then Sarah rides Dumbo, while I "ride" Alien Encounter with no lines. Later we go to MGM/Disney Studios and I wait on the Guest Relations line again. I have to go through the entire explanation again, and finally, the cast member at MGM calls the cast member (from previous night) at Epcot Guest relations.

About an hour later, I leave the office with the original tickets and a new set of complimentary one-day park hoppers for the next day.

It basically came down to this: They couldn't figure out how to extend my tickets (and charge me for the extension) for some reason, so to appease me, they gave me complimentary tickets.

I think this was the right thing to do, but the question remains: If you extend a stay while on site, can you extend the unlimited park hoppers?  The tickets were not part of a package deal, and were not included in my hotel rate, etc. They were purchased on day or arrival at the Swan WDW ticket desk.

Note: I wasn't looking for a free ride under any circumstances. I was perfectly willing to pay the prorated portion for the extra day. They just couldn't figure out how to do it for some reason, and decided that under the circumstances, they should "do the right thing" for the customer.

A.

I wrote back, in part:

The cause of your specific problem is in Disney's relationship with the Swan. It is not a Disney-owned and operated resort, so they're not "plugged in" to the regular Disney admission media system.

Q.

and David Responded:  I know, but I won't let them get away with that one :-)  In my view, the corporate arrangement between Starwood and WDW should not impact the customer in any negative way. At least I got the right Guest Relations cast member, because they agreed with me. (Plus, I got SPG points for my stay.)

I must note that I heard the "that's because Swan and Dolphin are not really WDW properties" excuse a lot less this time, than I did about 4-5 years ago when I stayed there for a technical conference.

Thanks for your reply and I note that I would have just rolled over had I not had the really useful information about being able to upgrade tickets before they expire from your guide. Keep up the great work!

Useless fact #342: One of the really good boat drivers pointed out that the Dolphin is the single largest structure inside WDW. I have no idea if it's true or not, but it is a huge hotel. We preferred the Swan.

Another useless (?) fact: Apparently the relationship between Starwood and WDW allocates a block of rooms exclusively to WDW reservations, so if you want to stay there, and Starwood (or Sheraton or Westin or Swan & Dolphin) reservations has no availability, you should also try WDW reservations. This is how we were able to extend our stay for one more night during the ultra-busy week between Christmas and new years.

One more visit note for the records: Apparently MK was closed due to full capacity several afternoons during the week. While waiting in Guest Relations, several people asked for refunds because of that and because of the long lines everywhere.  No refunds were given, but anybody that asked received admission for a future date.

-

Q.

John Writes:  I haven't seen anyone write about one of the best unknown attractions at Downtown Disney at WDW. The one AMC theater with DLP. It's really not a Disney attraction but I saw The Emperors New Groove on it and it was mind blowing. If you don't know what DLP it's Digital Light Projection by Texas Instruments. It's like DVD for the movies. It's perfect. No flickering or dust on the film. It is a must see for anyone going to WDW.

A.

There is so much going on at WDW that it's very hard to keep up with all of it.  I had no idea that DLP even existed, much less than it was installed at the AMC at Downtown Disney.  In any case, thanks for the information John.  Sounds like a great place to catch a flick.

-

Q.

Darren Writes:  I realize, technically, it's no longer a WDW resort, but it would be nice for those of us in the military to have a section on your site about Shades of Green. I know there is a site from the DOD but one from your perspective would be great.

A.

Shades of Green, the "Armed Forces Recreation Center" that Darren refers to, was originally built by the Walt Disney Company and operated as the "Golf Resort" and the "Disney Inn" before it was leased (and later sold) to the Department of Defense.  It is a smaller resort than most of the onsite hotels, but is very charming and a bit more quiet since it's off-the-beaten-path and no longer an advertised WDW resort hotel.

I struggle with adding a lot of information on Shades of Green to MousePlanet because it is a closed resort.  Only Department of Defense and Military employees are able to stay there.  I understand that the information would be helpful to some folks, but I hesitate to work on such a project when there is so much I need to add to the site that would valuable for a much larger number of people.  Perhaps if I had a couple of clones, I could pull off everything on my list.  Someday.  :)

In the meantime, perhaps a link to the Shades of Green official site would help?  Also, here's one to Military City's Unofficial site.

Also, there is a single Shades of Green review here on MousePlanet that you might want to read.

-

Q.

Rodrigo WritesI was sent to WDW for a Convention at the Swan and Dolphin hotels, and there were special park admission tickets for us. For example, I bought a ticket for EPCOT for 2, with the limitation of entering to the park after 4:00PM. We enjoyed 5 hours of great fun, with no crowds in October 1999. I recommend to people in conventions to ask for these deals.

A.

Another great tip from a MousePlanet reader.  I've only attended a conference at WDW once, and Barb and I bought annual passes to cover that and our following trip, so I've not had need to check into such programs.  It's great to know they're available, though!

-

(To wrap up today's Notes, I'll I got several notes from an unnamed CM.  Per that person's request, I will not mention their name nor quote them directly.  However, I will provide you with the gist of their comments.)

The comments are with regard to MousePlanet's Admission Media from A to Z page.  Of course, I'll will be making the appropriate updates to that page based on this information as soon as I can.

With regard to the "Bounce Back Pass":

Disney no longer calls it that, because of the implication that guests could park hop (move from one park to another during the day) which is incorrect.  The "new" name is 2 one park one day tickets or 3 one park one day tickets.

Another catch on the "Bounce Back Pass" is that some people think that they can use the second day up on the same day they use the first (to visit a different park on the same day), but that's not the case.

The passes expire, unlike the multi-day passes.  The 2 one park one day tickets expire 3 days from date of purchase IE guest buys 1 park for 1 day ticket on Tuesday, that night upgrades it to 2 one park one day they can use that second day only until (and including) Friday. The 3 one park one day tickets expire in 5 days.

The discount is really only $5 or so for the first day and $10 for second day.

With regard to the Annual Pass "finger scanners":

In reality, the scanners take a digital photograph of your finger's bone structure and compares it to a copy in the computer.  Disney avoid describing it that way, though, because people think you are taking an X-Ray of their fingers when all it is is a measurement of the distance between points on your finger.

With regard to park Re-Entry:

The biggest problem that exists with re-entry is not people not having a hand stamp, but people actually coming back without their tickets!  It was reported that this problem happens 20-30 times a night especially with resort guests.

Remember folks, the ticket matters!

With regard to Special Events:

Special events DO SELL OUT!  All too often guests don't realize this and wait till the day of the event to buy them when they are all gone, the same applies to E-Ride nights.

With regard to partially used passes being purchased on the black market:

Many people every day buy tickets from illegal vendors, having been told that they have 2 or 3 days left.  When they come to the gate, they find they have NOTHING.

And that's what Disney does for the hapless folks.  Nothing.

It is simply not worth the risk, and it's very unlikely you'll be able to find the con artist to get your money back.  Besides, it is not fun spending 45 minutes talking to Disney security on why you're from Michigan trying to use someone's from Massachusetts.  Disney knows all the info on that ticket, including where it was purchased.

With regard to Annual Pass renewal:

If a guest comes up to us and purchases a brand new annual pass, it expires a year from when they buy it. If they are renewing, it expires a year from when their old one expired. If they are turning in a renewal certificate, we look up their old pass, and then we process their certificate and make it valid a year from when their annual expired. Think of it like a magazine subscription, if you want to get the special renewal rate, you have a continuous subscription, you can't skip a few months/years, same thing here.

Regarding admission media upgrades:

The general policy is that guests can upgrade their tickets within 7 days of first use. Beyond 7 days, the guest is given credit on the unused portion toward the upgrade.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the inaugural reader feedback for the WDW Update page!  Feed free to send more questions or comments to brian@mouseplanet.com!

Brian Bennett's Disney Trip Planner


Click here to see some awesome WDW pieces that have run on MousePlanet recently!

Click here to check out the rest of Brian's Archive, including all of the previously published "Notes From the World" pieces!

Brian's Archive - Contents

I've always gotten email about the WDW Trip Planning Guide, but since we added the feedback form to the site several months ago, the number of questions has increased dramatically!  I do my best to answer each and every question personally, but I've noticed that a lot of the questions are asked again and again.  The question that one person asks might very well be the question that someone else is wondering about.  Thus this page!

So...I'll post reader email and feedback every once in a while, because the question someone else asks might be the same one you're thinking about yourself!

 

 

Go to: Top | Section Contents | MousePlanet Main Page

Copyright MousePlanet® Inc. | Legal Information & Privacy Policy | About/Contact MousePlanet | Link to us

MousePlanet® is not associated in any official way with the Walt Disney Company, its subsidiaries, or its affiliates. The official Disney site is available at www.disney.com. This MousePlanet Web site provides independent news articles, commentary, editorials, reviews, and guides primarily about the theme park resorts of the Walt Disney Co. All information on this site is subject to change. Please call destinations in advance to confirm the most up-to-date information.