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Brian Bennett

WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett

4/18/01

Q.

Mike Asks:  Dear Brian, we are visiting WDW in Florida next week from London for the first time, staying offsite. is it possible to dine at a WDW resort hotel the first evening without 'losing' one day on our pass? and which would be best for fireworks views? thank you

A.

Mike,

You do NOT have to use park admission to visit the resort hotels at all! You can simply drive to the resort of your choice.

You'll likely be stopped by a guard at the resort hotel's entrance. Just tell him/her that you're going shopping and for dinner and you'll be allowed in.  (Of course, to be truthful, your plans should really include dinner... but that was your plan anyway.)

I'd suggest you visit the Contemporary, Polynesian, or Grand Floridian for the best fireworks views of the Magic Kingdom.

Also, you may want to visit MousePlanet's Walt Disney World Restaurant Resource to check out the restaurant options at each of those resorts. The best restaurant views for fireworks at the Magic Kingdom are the California Grill (Contemporary), 'Ohana (Polynesian), and Narcoosee's (Grand Floridian).

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Q.

Marc Writes:  Hi.  I really like reading MousePlanet every day and especially the articles about WDW and everything backstage...

My next trip to WDW will be in January 2002 and I will stay at the new Pop Century Resort. I'm aware, that there will be many changes in the meantime, but I'm looking for some general advice about ticket options.

In past years I either used the Length-of-Stay ticket or a 5/6 day Park hopper. In 2002, we will stay for 7 nights. We arrive in the late afternoon of the first day and have to leave around noon on our last day. Is it possible to exclude arrival and departure day from the Length-of-Stay ticket?

Since we also want to spend one day at Island of Adventure. The 5-Day Hopper would probably be the best deal for us. But I also plan to stay at Pleasure Island most nights and visit at least one Water Park. With this new "Plus" option, this probably doesn't work, does it? Any other possibilities?

Thanks for your help!  Many greetings from Switzerland.

A.

Thanks for your note, Marc!

It sounds like you have the issues well in hand. Unfortunately, the issue of price versus flexibility are the tradeoffs when determining what admission media to use.

First, before I go further, the "Unlimited Magic" pass (you called them length-of-stay) are available only for the entire visit (actually, you get admission for the day of arrival, the day of departure, and all of the days in-between)! If you were to visit a non-Disney park during your trip, it would be on a day for which you've already purchased Disney admission.

You may want to consider buying the 5-Day Park Hopper Plus, so you get your two options -- and don't end up paying for the non-Disney day at Islands of Adventure. If you really will visit Pleasure Island a lot, you can buy an annual pass to the Island that would, obviously, cover your entire trip.

The cost for an adult of the 5-day Park Hopper Plus and a Pleasure Island AP is about $320... still $20 or so less expensive than the Unlimited Magic.

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Q.

Suzi Asks:  Hi. Your site has been so instrumental in our planning of our kids first trip to Disney. We are going in November at Thanksgiving time and here is my question for you.

We are planning on staying at The Polynesian and I see the info for early arrival but our flight home doesn't go out until 7:30 pm will the resort keep our luggage safe even after checkout? Or what are our other options? We will have a lot of time to use that day and don't want to be worrying about our personal belongings.

Thank you, and keep up the great work! We'll let you know how our trip turns out!  Our boys are very excited 3 and 5 year olds.

A.

Suzi,

Before you check out, bell services will be happy to come to your room, take your bags, and store them for as long as necessary.

Have a great trip! I'm looking forward to hearing back from you.

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Q.

Anthony Writes:  Hello Brian, I was just reading your article "When to Drive," (editor's note: about when it makes sense to drive on the complex versus using Disney Transportation) and we usually drive to Walt Disney World every two years from Michigan.

I don't have a problem getting there, but, when I do get there it seems a little difficult to get around mainly because I'm not familiar with the area. I've been lost a couple of times especially at night when everything looks the same. Do you have any suggestions or know of any good maps I could get? I appreciate your time and my wife and I love your website. We visit it probably 5 or more times a day. Thank you again for your time.

A.

Anthony,

I'm not sure if you're referring to the greater Orlando / Kissimmee / Lake Buena Vista area or specifically of the Walt Disney World property.

If you're talking about the larger area, AAA or Rand McNally can provide you with atlases and maps that are just fine for getting around.

There is a great map of WDW property, too, but you have to be a resort guest to ask for it. Next time you're at one of the WDW resorts, just ask for it!

There's one last suggestion I have, and frankly, I use it frequently for personal reference. Mapquest.com is a great source for maps of almost any local area in the nation.

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Q.

MousePlanet's Very Own Adrienne Krock whines:  I read your email responses today, and you might have better info than I do-- but-- last time I was researching this issue a month or two ago, DL did not grant AAA discounts at the ticket booths. The only way to get a discount AAA ticket was to buy it from AAA and they only discount on multi-day tix, not 1 day passports. Also, the Southern California AAA offices don't offer discounts tickets to Disneyland at all. Can you believe it?

I got this information from Andrew's wife who worked at So. Cal. AAA before they moved to the bay area and now works for No. Cal. AAA as a travel agent. I was trying to offer tips like, "buy your tickets ahead of time to avoid the lines at DL."

Anyway, if I misread your comments, sorry! But I thought I'd share that info.

A.

Thanks, Adrienne.

I was "assuming" (and we all know that that means) that flashing your AAA card provided a discount at DL the same way as it does at WDW...

Bad assumption.

Ok, ok... I'm teasing about the whining.  :)

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Q.

Vicki Writes:  Hi Brian, I would like to see an up date on the reviews for the off-site hotels. The current reviews are as far back as 1998. Any chance for a up-date? Thank-you.

A.

Vicki,

The reviews for off site hotels are provided by readers of MousePlanet. They are NOT generated directly by me or anyone on the MousePlanet staff. (Except for those few that are based on our own experiences.)

YOU can help by providing a review of your experiences next time you stay off site. I guess that means that yes, there's a great chance for an update. I just need your help (and the help of countless other readers) to pull it off. :)

By the way, if you tell me which resort(s) you're interested in specifically, I'll let folks know in an upcoming "Notes from the World" reader email piece and perhaps someone out there will be able to help us out.

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A.

Speaking of Offsite hotel reviews, I got a very interesting note on my own review of the Ramada Plaza Hotel and Inn Gateway from Mr. Andy Schiavone, the General Manager of that establishment. He wasn't happy with my review, and to allow him to rebut my comments, I've included the entire text of his message to me on the review page.  Feel free to read it and consider Mr. Schiavone's comments!

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Q.

Gemma Writes:  Hi, let me just say first of all well done on producing the best WDW site on the entire Internet!

This year my mother and I \46 and 20\ will be spending New Year's Eve at Disney, but we just can't decide which park to be in when the clock strikes 12. Can you offer us any ideas?

A.

Thank you so very much for you kind words about my little part of MousePlanet.  I really, truly enjoy maintaining it for everyone!

Now, to answer your question... Actually, Pleasure Island is the place where there will be the biggest New Year's Eve celebration. The other parks will note it, but the big party will be at PI.

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Q.

Jim poses the following query:  Brian, I know you probably get way too many e-mails, but I thought that I would try anyway. I would like to start off by letting you know that the MousePlanet web site is fantastic.

Your section on the Upgrades of Admission Media really got my attention:

"Upgrades of Admission Media

"Upgrades from existing media can be done as long as you upgrade before the end of the day on which it "runs out." For example, if you're currently using the last day of a 5-Day Park Hopper Pass and would like to upgrade to an Annual Pass, you'd better run over to Guest Services before the park closes and get it done today! Tomorrow, the old park hopper will have zero value. You can always upgrade sooner than the last day, but no later."

When I read that and with no expiration date on the Park Hopper passes, I was wondering if this is possible:

Say you purchases a 7-Day Park Hopper Plus pass for $325.44. You use 6 days next month (May 2001), and have one remaining day. You return in May 2002 and you still can use your one remaining Park Hopper pass, but decide to upgrade to the Premium Annual Pass which in today's money is $497.14.

Do you pay the difference between 497.14 and 325.44 which is $171.70 and then get yet another year of admissions?

Or, do you get credit for just the remaining day (325.44 / 7) $46.54 toward your Premium Annual Pass?

It seems like an huge loophole if they give you complete credit of your original Park Hopper pass toward the Annual Pass upgrade, which you could actually wait a full year before you return, and then get another year of visits.

A.

Jim,

I went right to the experts on this one, MousePlanet's WDW Columnists, and got these responses back:

First off, Michael Hewell former cast member and now president of Michael's VIPS (Michaelsvips.com), sent me the following answer:

"A guest has up to seven days to upgrade a ticket to a better ticket. For example, his 7-day park hopper plus ticket would only be valid for an *upgrade* to an annual at seven days from the first day he uses it in May, 2001. And, BTW, the annual would start on the day his 7-day ticket was used first, not on the day he did the upgrade. If you think of it as a 'chunk of money' it does make sense. Another BTW: a 7-day ticket can only be upgraded to an annual because there is no such thing as a 8-day park hopper, etc.

"If a park hopper has remaining days past the 7 day grace period, they can be used as a 'partial refund' credit to a new ticket. So, if he returns in May, 2002 with his one day remaining, the guest relations cast member (the only CM's authorized to adjust ticket media) will scan the ticket, determine the *2001* value, and subtract that from his new purchase. For many years the tickets carried through on their current value, but with the computer scanned tickets that came online in 1996, Disney was able to determine the old values and uses them. Most guests are now better off using their tickets through completion vs. trading them in.

"I found the "Upgrading" information misleading as it is currently written. You might want to alter it ...

"I hope this helps. Tickets and their adjustment can be very confusing, which is why we received so much training on it and were the only CM's allowed to work with them. If I can answer anything else, please let me know. Take care, Brian!"

Sue Holland's feedback was:

"If he had a regular AP, had 1 month left on the pass and wanted to upgrade to a PAP - then I've seen it done a couple of different ways. One is to calculate the difference between an AP & a PAP and then charge him the prorated (1/12) portion. He would then have a PAP with the same expiration date (next month). The 2nd way, which is what seems to be happening more often - is to renew the AP as a PAP today, and give Jim credit for the value of the existing AP that remains (1/12 of that pass' cost). Unfortunately, either Disney apparently randomly switches methods from day to day, or cm's do whatever they *think* is right but there's not much consistency."

And finally, Mike Scopa chimed in with:

"In the past I have upgraded my admission media. Guest Services will credit the unused portion of the ticket and apply that towards the upgrade. I have an old ticket book with a few "B" and "D" tickets (all the "E" tickets are long gone). I'm sure I could upgrade that to a hopper pass or AP or whatever I prefer.

"Regarding the upgrading of APs, as recently as two years ago the cost of the upgrade is based on the date of activation.

"A friend of mine had a unique experience in 1999. She had gone down to WDW with one month left on her AP. She had activated the AP some 11 months ago in 1998. With one month to go in the AP she thought about upgrading the AP to a Premium AP for the remainder of it's active time.

"While at Guest Services she asked about this and found out that the cost of the upgrade is pro-rated based on the time left on the original AP. We're talking by the minute folks.

"For example, let's say she has two weeks to go on her AP and decides, 'I want to upgrade to a PAP so I can do DisneyQuest, Water Parks, Pleasure Island, and so on.'  The cost of the upgrade is equal to whatever time is left on her original AP.

"While at Guest Services she was given a price to upgrade. The price seemed low and the CM went to the supervisor to check. The supervisor came back and said that the price was correct and explained how that price was reached. Well, this took about 10 minutes. So my friend said, 'Okay, then let's do it!'

"Well guess what? In those 10 minutes the cost had gone down because there was less time, albeit only 10 minutes, left in the original AP.

"I'm not sure if this policy has continued but it makes for a good argument. Take a trip and purchase an AP. Take a trip some time later in the year and upgrade to a PAP. You'll save some money.

"The one thing to always keep in mind is to ask as many CMs as possible regarding any admission media policy because the policies have been known to change on a daily basis.

Looks like I have some re-writing to do...  :)

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Q.

Maria Writes:  Hi!  I'm going to Disney World in September of this year. How far is the All Star Movie Resort from the theme parks? I was told it is quite a ways and we had to be the last drop off at night from the theme parks. Is this correct? If so, I will need to know of another resort as we are taking a very active 4 year old with us. Could you write me right back? Thanks.

A.

Maria,

Many of the resorts, not just the All Stars, are quite remote from the theme parks. In fact, EVERY resort is remote from some of them. For example, the most expensive resort on the property, the Grand Floridian Resort, is close to the Magic Kingdom (and connected to it by monorail), but is quite a distance from Animal Kingdom, the Studios, and is a transfer and another monorail away from Epcot.

Guests that are staying at the All Star Resorts are transported to the parks via bus. The same is true for the Port Orleans, Coronado Springs, and Caribbean Beach Resorts. You won't find the bus service significantly worse at the All Star Resorts than at those "moderate" resorts.

The All Star Movies do share buses (but again, so do the large moderates), and Movies is the furthest resort on the line. I don't think you'd find that switching to one of the other All Star resorts would make a significant difference in your timing, though.

A better thing to do would be to ask for a room that is close to "Cinema Hall" where the bus stop (and other central resort services) are located.

As far as your four-year-old goes, don't worry. After a full day in the parks your "very active" child will be asleep in your arms... and you'll end up with a load to carry to the room each night. ;)

Q.

In a follow-up, Maria asks (I should have charged her extra for this):  Thank you so much for writing back. I just read some reviews about the Movie Resort and a couple of them were negative. Stating that the place was dirty, the rooms too small, and that there was lots of large stuffed things in the rooms. Is this true? I certainly don't want to stay at a dirty place. I have never been to Florida and I guess I have some anxiety as to arriving to a not so clean atmosphere. I hopefully won't experience any problem when I arrive. I also requested a room in the Toy Story building as my baby loves Woody and Buzz Lightyear. Any suggestions for him to have breakfast or lunch with these characters? I appreciate all that you are doing to lessen my anxiety. Again, thanks. Please write me back.

A.

Maria,

NO Disney resort has "dirty" rooms. If, by accident, I was ever given the key to a room that wasn't properly handled by housekeeping, I'm certain that it would have been a mistake and that the problem would be quickly rectified!

I would have no fears about staying at ANY Disney resort.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the reader feedback for the WDW Trip Planning Guide!  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!

 

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