by Brian Bennett
| Cindy Writes: Hello, I just wanted
to give you a couple of notables that I discovered while on
the phone with Disney dining reservations today. First is that
Pluto is not at the 'Ohana character breakfast like you had
stated on the website. I guess when they replaced Minnie they
did away with the dog ;).
The characters there are only Mickey, Goofy, Chip & Dale.
Second, the Polynesian Luau does not have shows on Sunday
and Monday nights. While folks will find that out for themselves
after they call, it might be a nice thing to add to your description
to forewarn people.
Thanks and keep up the great work :)
|Thanks for the updates, Cindy. I'll make a note
of them on the site. (In fact, it's already done.)
| Sue Writes: (Referring to a hotel
review that she'd submitted to MousePlanet) I was anxious to
send you my review because I wanted to pay you back. I
used your site extensively in planning our very 1st Disney family
vacation and you and your contributors really helped me a lot.
I promised myself that one of the first things that I would
do when I returned was to review the hotel for you.
Only one complaint about the lack of character sightings
at Magic Kingdom. Big let down for my 5 year old. I was disappointed
as for this age bracket, the autograph book deal was the highlight.
So I have some solutions to our problem - would love to discuss
this on your site to help other young families find the characters.
I know it might sound small in the scheme of things, but it
was big for her. Other than that, our trip was beautiful!
|I completely understand the character issue. The
park "Guidemaps" list character meet & greet locations,
and you'll find that the character meals Exposition Hall on
Main Street provide a big boost!
The key, I think, is to identify which characters your kids
really want to meet...and plan accordingly.
|Sue Writes: We are going to WDW March
31-April 3 and taking our 4 year old and our 3 year old girls.
We hope to get some time at MGM and Animal Kingdom, but are
resigned to the fact that we may spend most of our time at MK.
No Epcot this year!!
Do you have any suggestions on how to get a coveted Priority
Seating for the Cinderella's castle breakfast? Of course it
was all booked when I called, but do they have cancellations
or a secondary market for the seating? In lieu of breakfast
there, is lunch or dinner a character meal with just Cinderella?
|If you're "resigned to the fact that we may
spend most of our time at MK" because of the girl's ages,
don't be! You can enjoy any of the parks with kids of that age!
At Epcot, you'll find the Kid Spots at each pavilion fun (a
small project where the kids learn a little about the nation's
culture) and there are attractions, of course, that they'll
enjoy very much!
With regard to Cinderella's Royal Table, the restaurant does
not have character meals at lunch and dinner...just the breakfast.
You might want to check out MousePlanet's Walt Disney World
Restaurant Resource character
meal page, which gives a lot of information about the
various character meals.
The only way I know of to get reservations at Cinderella's
Royal Table is to keep trying. There is no "secondary
market," but cancellations do occur. The best advice,
which won't really help you unfortunately, is the following
(which is on the priority seating page of MousePlanet's WDW
"If you want to have a character meal at one of the
more popular venues (Cinderella's Royal Table, which offers
a very few seats for the "Once Upon a Time" character
breakfast, for example) you really do need to get on the phone
five minutes before 7:00am eastern time and start calling
(407) WDW-DINE over and over until you get a receptionist.
In fact, you really should do that exactly 60 days prior to
the date you want. Even if you do this, there is no guarantee
that you'll get a priority seating, but it's your best bet.
If you call any other day (within 60 days of the date you
want) you may be able to snap up a cancellation, but your
odds get worse as you get closer to the day."
For you, I'd suggest you keep calling...you never know when
someone else may cancel!
|Kathleen Writes: I am looking for
clarification on the Hopper passes. With a Hopper pass am I
able to use it to spend the morning in the Magic Kingdom one
day and then return to the Magic Kingdom another? Or can I only
use the pass once at each theme park?
Also, the only information that I can find about traveling
with a disabled person is from 1996. I admit that my
internet skills are limited. Has Disney done away with
the wheelchairs and electric scooters?
My mom has emphysema. We are looking for anyway possible
to conserve her energy. We are planning to stay on the park
grounds. My dad and I are in this debate. He thinks that it
would be better to drive my mother to the theme parks and
use her handicap sticker to park. But, if I remember correctly
from a visit quite a number of years ago and understand what
I have read, he will still have to park quite a distance from
the entrance. If this is the case using the bus would make
more sense to me. Any thoughts on this?
|Park hopper passes can be used for
the specified number of days at ANY of the major theme parks.
For example, you can spend the morning on day one at Epcot,
then the evening at the Magic Kingdom. The second day, you can
start our at Animal Kingdom, then go the Studios at night. You
can mix and match as you wish...again, as long as you really
do have a "park hopper" pass.
Beware, though, because Disney is also selling non-park hopping
multi-day passes! These permit you to visit
ONE park on each of the days. In fact, some of them also specify
that you can spend only ONE day in each park, sometimes with
the option of letting "you choose" which park you
spend the final day.
If you buy a true "park hopper" pass, though, you
can come and go among the four parks as you please...which
is really the most convenient way to enjoy WDW.
With regard to the access issue...
I hate to take sides in a family disagreement, but I completely
agree with you (versus your Dad). I'd stay on-site, if at
all possible, and take advantage of WDW transportation to
get you from place to place. The parking lots are a great
distance from the parks, and it would be quite a hike to get
to the place in each park where the wheelchairs and scooters
are rented (just inside the gate, but still a long distance
Wheelchairs and scooters are still available at all of the
parks, but you're also welcome to bring your own, if you have
one. If not, you may be able to borrow one (a wheelchair)
from your resort hotel, so you can use it from the bus back
to your room and about the resort, too. They are limited in
number, though, so you may want to call and try to make those
arrangements in advance.
|Lisa Writes: I was wondering if you
have any information on Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween in Disney
World. We will be arriving in DW on 10/31 and wanted to go to
this event but would like some info on it. Also, what do you
think the crowds will be like at something like this?
|Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is a special
event held at the Magic Kingdom. It requires the purchase of
a separate ticket, and those tickets do sell out...so you'll
want to get yours as soon as you can. The party includes special
decorations at the park, trick or treating, snacks, and so on.
Of course, many attractions are open late, too.
However, the tickets are not available yet. Disney hasn't
set the dates for the party...and they usually don't until
three months or so before the event.
I'd suggest you start calling WDW information in July to
request tickets. They may be able to tell you when the dates
will be set, and prices and so on.
|Jennifer Writes: Before I ask for
more info, I'd just like to say I'm very impressed with your
site, and in awe of the work that must go into maintaining such
a comprehensive and informative site.
That said, here's my pitch.
My family and I will be returning to WDW for our 4th trip
in April 2001, but the first trip with my then-1-year-old-son.
We're going to be staying at the Wilderness Lodge Villas.
One of the main reasons we're staying there is the kitchen.
Although my son is eating table foods exclusively, his tastes
run to simple, familiar fare.
Do you have any experience with the grocery stores in the
area? Are they well-stocked? Are they close (we'll be taking
a limo from Tiffany, and they said we can stop at one place
on the way)?
I've also heard that you can send a package to yourself to
the resort, just marking the label with the dates we'll be
guests. Have you any experience with this?
I'd prefer to not have to pack another suitcase with just
Zachary's food, and I'm worried about perishable items.
I'm sure you're very busy, but if you can provide any assistance,
it would be greatly appreciated.
|Funny that you live in Shelby Township...so do
my parents. :) I lived in Roseville and Clinton Township as
I grew up, and only moved to Saginaw when I went to college
a few years back.
Anyway, to your questions...
Regarding grocery shopping offsite, here's a quote from MousePlanet's
WDW Trip Planning Guide page on offsite
"As far as groceries are concerned, I have several comments
to make that I hope you'll consider:
"Only those rooms or suites with cooking
facilities are really designed for making up your own
meals. Of course, "cereal and milk and toast and
Poptart" breakfasts can be handled in just about
"Many Orlando area rooms include a
refrigerator. At WDW itself, some rooms have them and
some don't. It completely depends on the resort in which
you are staying.
"If your room does NOT include a refrigerator,
you can probably rent one from your hotel. Disney does
this for a nominal fee per day.
"The Disney Village Marketplace has
a store, called the Gourmet Pantry, that does sell some
foodstuff. In addition, each resort has a store that has
some limited selection of snacks and such. However, each
of these Disney options tend to be very limited in selection
and very high in price. If you're stuck, you might be
willing to pay a lot for little...but with some planning,
you can do much better.
"There is a Gooding's grocery store
at the Crossroads shopping plaza on 535, just north of
the village plaza hotels. If you're at the Disney Village
Marketplace and drive up, passing the Hilton, BV Palace,
etc....all the way to the exit, cross 535 and the Gooding's
is on the left. Gooding's is an honest-to-goodness grocery
store. The selection might not be as extensive as a Meijer's
or Kroger's here in Michigan (or your own local supermarket
at home), but is much better than any on-site stores.
Gooding's really does cater to the tourist clientele,
so beware of higher prices than normal....and typically
crowded conditions (especially in the evenings) since
every other WDW guest looking for hot dogs is at Gooding's,
"A couple of alternatives are the Publix
Super Markets on 192. There's one in Kissimmee, East of
WDW, and another to the West of WDW. You can decide which
of them is more convenient. Frankly, if you're staying
at the All Star Resorts or Coronado Springs -- you're
probably closer to a Publix than Gooding's."
I've never sent a package ahead, personally, but I have known
folks that have done so without problems. I'd suggest you
call the Villas at Wilderness Lodge, (407) 824-3200, and ask
them for their directions about how to handle it.
One last thing, I would also suggest that you read through
my entire section, Walt
Disney World with Kids. You'll find a lot of helpful
Another great resource is Adrienne Krock's Parenting
in the Parks. You'll find another perspective and
some great information there as well.
|Tammy Writes: We are a family
of five that would like to go to Disney with a family of four.
We live in a small community in Kentucky of less than 4,000
so our income is not what it is in the rest of the country.
We would like to take our kids to Disney before they get too
How do I go about finding the best bargains on the trip?
How does a lower income family make it to Disney even if
they are going to share expenses with another low income family?
We are not destitute but live from paycheck to paycheck with
very little left over. How do I need to go about planning
|and Freddy Writes: First of all,
I really love your WDW trip planning guide. The entire
MousePlanet staff is doing a fantastic job at maintaining the
site. Keep up the good work!
Second of all, my family (consisting of 6 people) and I are
planning a trip to the World between early and late Summer
of 2002. we plan to stay for 4 nights and visit 3 of the 4
parks (we don't care for a disneyfied zoo).
Since we are on an EXTREMELY tight budget, I would like to
know how I can set up an itinerary that allows us to enjoy
the parks to the fullest and save the most possible amount
of money. thank you.
|Before I answer the main question, I just have
to comment on your "Disnefied Zoo" remark. :)
Animal Kingdom is truly a great theme park. I wouldn't call
it a zoo any more than I'd call the Magic Kingdom a strip-mall
parking lot carnival. If you visit the park, with an understanding
that it is not all rides and thrills (although it has some
of both), then you'll be very pleasantly surprised...
...and now, on to the money savings issue...
This is a question that really requires some thought. The
key, of course, is to have a good idea about the costs of
the trip -- and keep those costs to a minimum.
Ways to save money on a trip to WDW include:
Traveling during off-peak times of the year
(September, October, and early December are good times).
You can save a considerable amount of travel
money by driving your own vehicle to WDW.
Staying off-site. As much as I prefer staying
on-site, there is no doubt that very nice accommodations
can be had off-site for much less money. Make sure that
any off-site hotel has transportation to the parks if
you don't have a vehicle!
Check your accommodations prices several
different ways. Ask a travel agent for prices, call the
hotel yourself, and see if there are any AAA or other
discounts that you may be eligible for.
In any case, don't forget about the very
high room tax rates! You'll have 11% tacked on to your
bill each night just to help pay the bills of the great
state of Florida.
Carefully consider your plans and buy only
the admission media that you need and that you'll use.
Overbuying when the budget is tight doesn't make sense.
You can compare and contrast the various types of Disney
admission media on MousePlanet's Admission
Media from A to Z page:
If you decide to visit other non-Disney
attractions in the area, plan to spend $50/person/day
on tickets there, too (Universal, Islands of Adventure,
and Sea World for example).
Plan a strict budget for snacks and souvenirs
and stick to it! You might even decide to spend absolutely
no money on such things, that's fine, but in any case
-- stick to the budget. (Disney is great at dangling bait
in front of the un-prepared.)
Eat meals off-site and/or in the room. Disney
certainly prices things at a premium and you can get good
meals at much reduced prices in the restaurants on the
strips just off property. Making sandwiches for lunch
and eating donuts for breakfast in the room, obviously,
save a ton of money, too.
If you decide to buy food and eat in your
room, plan to buy your groceries at a Publix rather than
a Goodings supermarket. Publix is a bit less expensive.
Also, don't forget to arrange for a refrigerator if you're
going to have perishables (or bring a good cooler with
Consider buying a membership in the Disney
Club, if you decide it will benefit you. There's a ton
of information on MousePlanet's Disney
That's a bunch of thing to think about, but it should help
you plan ahead.
|John Writes: It is amazing how
big your site has gotten. I came across your trip
reports by mistake the year you started the site, while
I was searching for some Disney info. I think I have read almost
all the "Disney World Reports".
I assumed that we weren't going to do another Disney adventure
for 3 or 4 years until my Father-in-law called and said he
wanted to take us all on a 7-day Disney cruise. He turned
75 last year and isn't in the greatest health so he declared
that he "doesn't want to take it with him" and chose
to build some more lasting memories. I will now go back to
your site and read all the Cruise Trip Reports that I skipped
before. Thanks again for all your work !! Keep up the good
|Thanks for the kind note, John. I agree...it's
amazing that the site has grown so much!
I started my part of MousePlanet back in the Summer 1996.
Trip Planning Guide was the first thing that I put together.
I started adding trip
reports within just a few months of that time. There's
over 700 of them on MousePlanet now! The Disneyland
Trip Planning guide, Disney
Vacation Club Trip Planning Guide, Magical
Gardens of Disney, offsite
hotel review, Disney
restaurant review, and Disney
maps, sections followed.
Since MousePlanet launched, it's becoming more and more difficult
to find "my" stuff, but that's just because we're
working hard to integrate the material we have to make it
easier to find and more useful to our readers.
Disney World Restaurant Resource, which I added to the
lineup just a few months ago, is a good example of that.
Fellow MousePlaneteers Kevin Yee and Jason Schultz started
the section, but then I merged in my own WDW restaurant pages
from the trip planning guide, added some pictures, meshed
the WDW restaurant reviews that folks have been submitting,
and started to add restaurant menus!
If anyone out there wants to see the whole line-up of Brian
Bennett's Disney Trip Planner, you can click the link below.
here to check out the rest of Brian's Archive!
Well, I hope you enjoyed the reader feedback
for the WDW Trip Planning Guide! Feed free to send more questions
or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Brian Bennett's Disney Trip Planner
Click here to see
some awesome WDW pieces that have run on MousePlanet recently!
here to check out the rest of Brian's Archive, including all of the previously
published "Notes From the World" pieces!
always gotten email about the WDW Trip Planning Guide, but since we added
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!
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!