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Brian Bennett

WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett



I got several comments from a response in last week's "Notes From the World" regarding Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.  The clarifications included:

Steve wrote: As far as I know you anyone can buy tickets for the MVMCP. It is published in the Orlando Sentinel for the locals and tickets are available at the parks as well as TicketMaster here. Hope that helps.

Susan added: Hi Brian, In today's reader feedback column you answered questions from Tom about MVMCP. You stated that you thought only WDW Resort guests could purchase tickets. This is not true. Tickets are open for anyone to purchase.  Usually when it comes closer Disney will run commercials for it on local television here in central Florida. I have good friends who go every year. Tickets are already on sale. Anyone who wants to buy tickets should purchase as early as possible as last year many dates sold out.

Keep up the good work with the site. An obsessive Disney fan :)

Finally, Lynne pointed out: Hi There!  I'm writing in to correct a response you gave to someone about Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. You might want to post this correction so that person will have the correct info. You stated that one needed to stay at a Disney Resort in order to purchase tickets for this event.  No so. Anyone can order tickets by calling the Walt Disney Travel Co. at 800-828-0228. The prices are the same for everyone. I believe tickets are now on sale.

Also, crowds vary for this event. One night it can be very comfortable with no lines at all at some of the attractions, while another night may be wall to wall people...barely even being able to move shoulder to shoulder.


Thanks to you three!  It's great to have a bunch of folks making sure the information here is correct... even if I have to eat crow sometimes.   :)


Wendy asks: I've been checking out MousePlanet as well as some other sites as I'm planning a September trip to WDW. I can't seem to find a map of the resort complex. (One that actually has the roads labeled). Any idea where I can find one of those? We're going to have a rental car and hope to do some resort-hopping, so we would like a map of the area.



Disney publishes a great map of the WDW road system, but you can only get it from WDW. You can call your resort and ask if they'll send you one, but most likely you'll have to wait until your arrival. When you check-in, just ask for a transportation guide and you'll get what you're looking for.

Unfortunately, due to copy write issues, MousePlanet is not able to make the map available online.



Darren writes: Why no areas on your site for Shades of Green reviews? I know we (the military, retirees & DOD civilians) are not the mainstream, but there are a lot of us who use your web pages for resources. I for one just got back from WDW and would have loved to fill out a report, but alas, there is nowhere for me to do it.

What's up with the discrimination?




I just modified the On-Site Non-Disney Accommodations page from MousePlanet's WDW Trip Planning Guide.  You can enter a review of Shades of Green from the review submission page that is linked from there.

Regarding Shades of Green in general, unfortunately, I suffer from a lack of good information on the resort. The official web site just doesn't provide much information. If you'd like to provide me with some, I'll gladly add that information to the site!



Vicky asks: Dear Brian, Three things today...

First, I just love MousePlanet! I am finding the info. invaluable. I wish I'd known about it before our Millennium trip to WDW.

Second, we had a great trip to WDW in summer 2000. Is it too late to send a trip report?

Third, we're planning another trip for next summer (2002). We wanted to stay on-site this time. I haven't found much information regarding Shades of Green (the DOD on-site resort). We're military, and the price and location sound great. Do you know much/anything about the place? There was only one review that I could find on MousePlanet. SoG's website is just a scanned version of their brochure. Also, I do plan a pre-trip report and final report for the next trip ;-)



Thanks so much! I'm so glad you've enjoyed MousePlanet!

It's NEVER too late to submit a trip report. Please feel free to do so!

As far as Shades of Green is concerned, unfortunately, I suffer from a lack of good information on the resort. However, I just modified the On-Site Non-Disney Accommodations page to include a link to the Redstone Arsenal's Shades of Green pages.  They may prove to be helpful.



Rob writes: You have a great site happening here. I find new information I'm looking for every time I go in to it.

I do have one question, though, that I haven't been able find out. Is there any kind of military discounts offered anywhere in the park? Whether rooms, admission, or anything? I have heard that they do, but I haven't seen anything official. Any info would be appreciated.



There are a couple of things you need to be aware of.

First, Shades of Green is a DOD-run resort at WDW that is available to all military personnel. Prices are very reasonable, and are based on your rank (the brass pay more than the grunts, which is a twist on the usual, huh?)

The Redstone Arsenal maintains a site that gives all the details (including the prices for the "Stars and Stripes" passes).



Stephanie asks: Hey, Brian! Love your page! I especially enjoy how frequent the updates have been the last two months. I would love more articles on WDW, though. The "Shop the Parks" series should have chapters on WDW. It's easy to get lost in all the merchandise there.

I am writing to ask you about Discovery Cove, and, more importantly, The Holy Land park. Do you have reviews of either on your page? Any information on the Holy Land would be appreciated. It seems information is scarce. What have you heard? Is it lame? Educational? One-day worthy? Two-day worthy? Thanks again!



I'll pass on your suggestion about the merchandise column. I'm sure Adrienne Vincent Phoenix will appreciate the feedback. :)

On your questions...

Discovery Cove is a unique park with very limited admission (only a very few guests are permitted in each day). You get a very specialized experience, but at a very premium price. If you check out the park's official site you'll be able to find out about the age limitations (you must be six years of age to actually swim with the dolphins) and prices ($109 per person at minimum, but more expensive packages are available).

You may want to check out the official site of the Holy Land Experience. Other than what I've read there, I don't know much else about the park. I'm hoping to visit the park soon, perhaps during my own Fall trip to Orlando.



Leigh Ann writes: Brian, I just read your page about boycotts, and I must applaud you. I, too, am a Baptist who loves Disneyworld and many things Disney. My church is no longer affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, so I haven't felt any anti-Disney vibe from them, but have been asked by others about the boycott over the past several years.

You are incredibly eloquent and your words are also thought-provoking. Thank you so much for taking the time to write all of this down. I am so glad I discovered your website. It is very informative.


Leigh Ann,

Thanks so much for the kind note. It's always nice to hear from fellow believers and to know that my site has been a help to them in some way.

Thanks for the encouragement!

Feel free to share the page on the boycott with anyone that would find it of help. :)



Michael asks: I read your trip report of your family's visit to WDW in October 2000. I enjoyed the reading and your willingness to share your experience from restaurants to family interaction- Thanks.

I am planning an extended trip with extended family in fall of 2002. We are DVC members and will be staying at OKWR. We have visited a few times during summer and spring. 

My question that I hope you can give some advice on or direct me to some possible info is: Whether October 20 thru 28 would be a better choice than November 2 thru 12. Can you give me any guidance as to weather (swimming at the water parks is a big interest).

I am especially interested in crowds due to "special events" being held as a draw to WDW at these times. I believe your referred to the National Rental Car golf tournament during late October. Was this a concern as to number of people/crowds? Are there events in early November I might watch out for which is more or less a crowd issue?

Also, I have read about the "unofficial" gay days at WDW. Having family and children, I would prefer to plan around such an event. Do you know of any way of knowing when this "special" week is?

Your thoughts would be appreciated, or references elsewhere that might be of use.  Thanks in advance for your help.



Thanks for the kind comments about my site and trip report. I'll do my best to answer your questions...

The dates you gave, in late October and early November, are really pretty comparable. Unfortunately, at that time of the year you just might get hit with a little cold snap, which may prohibit a lot of swimming. On the other hand, you're very likely to get beautiful weather, too. It's just a bit less predictable then (versus July, for example). Bottom line, no guarantees on swimming in the Fall in central Florida.

The two events that may draw crowds at that time of year are the PGA Golf Tournament (as you pointed out) and the Food & Wine Festival at Epcot. Both draw significant crowds.

Finally, the "gay day" event is held during the first weekend of June each year, so you'll miss it with a Fall visit.



Dan writes: We are coming from California to WDW in February 2002 and this is our first time to WDW. We are staying for 1 week and have 2 children ages 5 & 7 1/2. We are trying to decide on Port Orleans Resort Riverside and Wilderness Lodge. If you could offer suggestion it would be appreciated.



There are two basic differences between Port Orleans Resort Riverside and Wilderness Lodge. The first is price, with the Lodge being significantly more expensive. The second is themeing, with both being nicely themed, but with the resorts having quite a different feel about them.

If price is no object, I would suggest that you decide which of the themes (19th century South versus 20th century national park setting) floats your own personal boat the most. That will help you decide which resort you're most interested in.

Price, of course, is a consideration. I'm sure you'll find that prices at the Lodge run $60 or more dollars per night higher than at Riverside. You do get something for that money, though. The Lodge is a much more compact resort, with all services relatively close by. The Lodge also has a couple of full-service restaurants while Riverside only has one.

In either case, to be frank, you won't be disappointed. Both resorts are very nice.



In a follow-up, Dan writes: Brian, I have seen a number of reviews of the Lodge and it's transportation / bus problems. Is that still considered a problem and does that apply to business in February versus the summer season. Also thanks for the input on a local church, that is greatly appreciated.



Wilderness Lodge is serviced only by boat (to the Magic Kingdom) and bus (to all other destinations.

Frankly, I think that the folks that complain about the Lodge's transportation are unfairly comparing it to the higher end resorts that have monorail and Friendship (boat launch) service.

In comparison, the transportation is NOT as good as at the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Contemporary, Yacht Club, Beach Club, or Boardwalk. However, it's as good or better than the transportation at all other WDW resorts.

I think you'll find that it's more than sufficient.



Rodolfo asks: Brian, we will be staying at the Best Western at Lake Buena Vista hotel from the 11th to the 18th of November 2001, and I read on your web site that when you stay at non-Disney hotels you are not entitled early entry, but i read on best western's web site that you are entitled early entry on Disney surprise mornings; also, are there any reviews for this hotel?

For character meals, we want to go to Cinderella's royal palace on the 14th (Wednesday) for breakfast; when does the restaurant open, at 8 or at 9 o'clock?, and when you call to make priority seating reservations, do they ask you at which hotel you are staying?



MousePlanet has three guest-submitted reviews of this resort.  They are: Best Western Lake Buena Vista (Saldivar, 2000), Travelodge Hotel at Walt Disney World Village (Kommenich, 1998), Travelodge Hotel at Walt Disney World Village (McGlinchey, 1992). Of course, you'll have to take the old Travelodge reviews with a grain of salt, as they do pre-date the existing management team at 2000 Hotel Plaza Boulevard.

You'll notice that the official site of the Best Western Lake Buena Vista has a copyright date of 1999. It does, indeed, claim that guests there are entitled to Early Entry privileges, but you'll note that the official site of the Downtown Disney Hotels makes no such claim.

On the character meal issue... The restaurant usually opens at the same time that the park does, including any Early Entry.  For example, on those days that the Magic Kingdom is the Early Entry park, Cinderella's Royal Table opens when Early Entry starts.  On the other days, the restaurant opens at the regularly- scheduled park opening time.

When you call for priority seating you are, indeed, asked which resort you're staying at.  It doesn't seem to make much difference now- adays... but several years ago, only guests staying at a Disney resort were granted reservations privileges.  Now, it's pretty much open season.  :)

Well, I hope you enjoyed the reader feedback for the WDW Trip Planning Guide!  Feed free to send more questions or comments to!

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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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