by Brian Bennett
| 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
You do NOT have to use park admission to visit the resort
hotels at all! You can simply drive to the resort of your
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
| 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.
|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
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.
|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.
Before you check out, bell services will be happy to come
to your room, take your bags, and store them for as long as
Have a great trip! I'm looking forward to hearing back from
|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
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.
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
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.
|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
Anyway, if I misread your comments, sorry! But I thought
I'd share that info.
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...
Ok, ok... I'm teasing about the whining. :)
|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?
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.
| 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!
|Gemma Writes: Hi, let me just say
first of all well done on producing the best WDW site on the
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?
|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.
|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
"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.
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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
Looks like I have some re-writing to do... :)
|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.
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. ;)
|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.
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 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!