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Brian Bennett

WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett

10/22/01

Q.

Linda Writes: I'm really enjoying using your site to plan our October 18th trip to WDW. I especially loved your map of the Polynesian, since that's where we're staying. However, I understand the names of the longhouses have changed, and I'd like to request one by name to minimize our walk to the TTC. Any chance of updating the map, or alternatively attaching a text list saying "Hawaii = Pago Pago now". I'm especially interested in Hawaii or Tahiti.

A.

Linda,

The longhouse names on the MousePlanet map are correct. The names were changed back in 1999, but the ones on the map are the current names, not the old ones.

-

Q.

Alan writes: Hello Brian, first, I'd like to thank you for your very thorough web site on WDW. You have a great deal of well organized info available.

I am somewhat the WDW veteran: my family went there every year from 1971 until about 1982, sometimes twice a year. When I lived in west palm beach for nine years, and my wife and visited "the world" often, sometimes going up just for a day trip, even though it was a 3 hour drive.

"What the heck," we'd say.

We now live in Denver, CO, and until last year we had not been back to Orlando for 5 years. Llast October we spent a GREAT week there, staying at the Caribbean Beach Resort. We enjoyed it so much that we are going back again this October. So I have been visiting web sites, and gathering info for our trip. (Which is a great tip in itself.)

When I read the "thrill seekers" report by "bob," at first I sort of sympathized: I too enjoy the mega-coasters and thrill rides and Disney doesn't exactly do that and probably never will (although you see the folks with weaker stomachs waiting outside of Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, and the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster).

Every Disney fan knows that Walt thought up the idea of Disneyland while waiting for his daughters to get off of some sort of ride at an amusement park. "Wouldn't it be nice," he thought, "if there were someplace where a family could go and have a good time together?"

So sending a thrill seeking-magic-mountain-ride-loving person to Orlando is like sending a gourmet food critic to McDonald's. You are not going to get a positive response. hopefully this is obvious to all who read the review on your site, but I don't think it is, and more to the point, here's the real reason he didn't have a good time: he went by himself.

WDW is not a place to go by yourself. the real magic that Walt created is that when families and friends go there together, they create pleasant memories having a good time with each other. It's the ultimate utopia for kids, and when they grow up and have their own kids, they remember the fun they had and want their children to have the same experiences. a good movie is always a good movie, but a good movie is so much better when experienced with a packed house than watching it by yourself with a few strangers in the theatre.

As I got to be an older teenager, I got bored with our yearly family trips, but now than I am, ahem, 41, those trips as a child and the trips I've taken with my wife (number ONE Mickey fan) are some of my favorite vacation memories.  It's not that I haven't been critical of the mouse: yes, it can be expensive, and crowded. Service is sometimes not what it should be. The food, originally just terrible (remember Moon dogs and Moon burgers?) is now much better and more varied, although yes, still expensive.

So what?

With so much there now besides the Magic Kingdom, it's now a major resort, and the perfect place to vacation and let the rest of the real world melt away -- and with a little planning and common sense, a trip to WDW doesn't have to break the bank.

I am sure you have received other emails critical of "Bob's" report by hardcore fans. Most cant resist defending WDW. I just wanted to give you my view of why he didn't have fun. Besides, he ate at "Chilis," a so-so bland-chain-food restaurant TWICE while on vacation! and said it was "great" food. now that is the REAL crime...

thanks for reading,

PS, I can't resist a few tips of my own:

  • If you stay and watch the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom, you usually have to deal with a massive crush of humanity to get back to your car or on-grounds hotel. I have two hints: BOTH monorails stop at the ticket/transportation center, even though one is marked for hotel guests only. OR, if you are not totally wiped-out, then its less than a ten minute walk over to the contemporary where you can catch the bus to the Ticket and Transportation Center or downtown Disney to transfer to the hotel you are staying at. its not the most direct route, but much better than waiting in those long lines at the Magic Kingdom.
  • We have always found the bus system reliable and efficient, though not the quickest way to get around. People just hate to wait.
  • My number one tip is just do not go June through August. It's hot and crowded. I don't know how we stood in line for hours for a 3 minute attraction. I know some people have no choice and have to go over the summer school vacation.
  • Be patient.
  • Take a lot of breaks.
  • We had more fun staying to 2 a.m. and sleeping in.
  • Eat many small snacks and only one main meal each day.
  • HATS! take a hat.
  • This is crucial... be flexible, its a vacation. see and enjoy what you can, you just can't see it all at one time.
  • I've never seen any bus driver check for hotel I'd.'s, so I'd recommend a trip to a hotel for a meal/break, even if you are staying off grounds. This may change, however, due to the recent terrorist attacks. :(
  • I had the WORST coke of all time at the Magic Kingdom in Tomorrowland last year. I even tried to exchange it at the Tomorrowland terrace, which they gladly did, but it tasted exactly the same: like it was made from water from Seven Seas Lagoon! so drink only the bottled cokes while at the Magic Kingdom. I haven't had this problem at any of the other parks or hotels, maybe it was just a bad day for diet cokes. I don't know.
  • Stay away from Disney dollars.

A.

Alan,

Thanks for your great note!

I do need to point out that I agree with your comments in some respects. WDW is NOT a coaster park by any means. It is a theme park, with a very different approach to entertainment than the usual Six Flags-like place.

I disagree about WDW being someplace to only go with other people, though. I've not been to WDW by myself, but I know many folks that have... and they've had a great time! I've enjoyed solo trips to Disneyland, too, so I know it's not a figment of their imagination.

Thanks for the other information, too.  I'm sure it will be helpful to lots of folks that are planning trips!

-

Q.

A MousePlanet reader asks: We are planning on visiting WDW in early November. My wife's parents may go too. We will have 2 rooms. One parent will stay in each room.  We cannot decide to add them to the reservations since we do not know if they are really going and paying the extra charge. If they do go should we add them or should we not worry? Will they be able to use the early entrance days if they go and not have a WDW resort ID? Thanks.

A.

You probably won't be "caught" on Early Entry without an ID (I don't think I've ever been asked to prove that I'm staying onsite for Early Entry).

However, WDW DOES charge for extra adults in rooms, as you already know. I personally wouldn't try to avoid the extra charge.

-

Q.

Sunny writes: Brian, I was at BWV for 5 days Sept. 10 -15th. Our room was a lovely studio. we had a standard view to save on points and it was just fine. could hear music and see fireworks at MGM.

They are undergoing BIG face lift including main pool. They boat you over to Yacht and Beach to swim or you can use 1 of the 2 quiet pools.

Our one bedroom was nice and Disney clean, pullout was great, a bit stiff to pull out but that was because it was made-up. The towels were fresh and snowy white. Our room was recently refurbished so the carpet was fine. Carpet in the hall is showing a bit of wear but it was very clean.

We were there during the New York disaster and I can tell you everyone went out of the way to help those who needed it. Security was tighter and everyone was friendly, fast , no wait, and from what I could see...all went fine!

Now... I have no complaints per say, but... we had just spent three nights at the Hard Rock Hotel at Island of Adventure and Disney needs to watch it's P's and Q's. Service was MUCH better there! No problem getting packages delivered to the room. No request was ignored. When we came back to the room our key wouldn't work and I had to get a concierge to help. I was so tired, they offered me a robe to make up for the mistake. I asked for a pillow ( best pillow I have ever slept on) and they surprised me at checkout with both!

Had a great program for kids ,show an A on your report card and they gave him a cup for soda with free refills, a pen and pencil, and a cloth bracelet that said, "A 1 kid!"

I would say Disney needs to take a look around or they are about to be knocked out of first place.

ESPN has the best food at the most reasonable prices in Disney! SHHHHHHH.

We'll be back up to Old Key West on October 31st for the Not So Scary Halloween Party. Will check out all the new Walt's 100 stuff too.

A.

Thanks so much for the great note, Sunny! Hopefully, as you stated, Disney will get their act together soon...

-

Q.

Simon inquires: We have booked a trip to WDW arriving on the 8th April 2002. Looking at sites it mentions the Easter period as a busy time. Looking at a calendar Easter seems early this year. Does this mean we have picked a good time to go (I say this as many sites say it is the best time to go just after a holiday period)

Can you let me have an idea what to expect as this is our first time.

A.

Simon,

The two weeks that straddle Easter will be busier. Arrival on the 8th would be a pretty good time.

-

Q.

Michelle writes: Hi Brian, I enjoy your website and all the trip reports. I have a question concerning the Supersoap weekend in November. We're planning to visit MGM Sunday November 4 but have no interest in the soap stars. Does this event make MGM more crowded than another park would be? Or would the ride lines be shorter because of it? I'd like to hear someone else's experience during the soap weekend if you have any in your archives.

Thanks again for your help.

A.

Michelle,

Whenever there is a special event at a park, you have to assume that the crowds will be heavier. What you'll likely see is that the usual park guests will be there (folks that just happened to have their vacations fall on those dates), plus any folks that are there just for the special event. The result will be bigger crowds and longer lines for attractions.

The best way to find out about other experiences would be to go to MousePlanet's trip report archive and do a search.

-

Q.

Jim Writes: I just came across your year 2000 review of the Ramada Plaza Hotel & Inn Gateway on US192 in Kissimmee and must tell you that your impression was "right on". This motel is a dump and it appears that you stayed in one of their better rooms. Ramada should check-out this franchised motel a little better. I've stayed in much better Ramadas at less money.

A.

Thanks for the encouragement on that one, Jim. I got some pressure from the General Manager of the Ramada Plaza to change the review. I'm glad I'm not the only one to have had a mediocre experience.

-

Q.

David asks: My son is really into "Bear" and we heard there was a new show at MGM about him.

Do you know if this is true and if it is open yet?

A.

David,

Playhouse Disney -- Live on Stage, opened on the 1st of October. It includes characters (including the Bear) from the Disney Channel's afternoon lineup.

-

Q.

Another reader asks about the new Playhouse Disney -- Live on Stage show: Is there anywhere I can find out if this new show is any good? I don't see a whole lot else which is good for small children at MGM, so I am hesitant to pay for the whole family to go to that park... but my son does love Bear in the Big Blue House...

A.

The new Playhouse Disney show is fun, my five year old liked it very much (but try to avoid sitting too close to the front of the room because the stage is so high that you'll miss a lot of the show).

There are other things that kids can enjoy in the studios, though. The Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Playset is great! The Indiana Jones stunt show, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, the Great Movie Ride, and Fantasmic! (which is worth a good chunk of the admission price all by itself) are examples.

If you end up buying park hopper passes, you may want to spend a morning at the park and come back another time to see Fantasmic! If you're buying single-day passes, you're probably right... I'd make going to the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom with younger kids a higher priority.

-

Q.

David writes: Hi there again Brian. Thanks for answering my questions on our proposed trip to WDW. The last time we had a visit was in October 1998 and, after reading your comments and reflecting on our '98 trip, have decided to go again in October 2002.

The weather is very comfortable, as are the crowds, and of course there is the attraction of Halloween!  In Australia we do not celebrate to the same extent as you guys do, so is a novelty to us.

Despite my girls being 4 years older ( 18 and 14) they remember Mickey's Not So Scary parade and, slap me for saying this, Universal Studio's Halloween Horror Nights. They had a great time back then and are hoping for the same next year.

Just a couple more questions if you please.

Last time we stayed at Dixie Landings. Now that Port Orleans has merged with Dixie, are you aware on any significant changes?? Has the closure of Bonfamille's had any adverse affect on Boatwright's?? We really liked the relaxed and quiet atmosphere of Dixie. Has the merger increased crowds at Riverside (Dixie)?

Lastly, due to the catastrophe on September 11th and the changing of people's travel plans for 2001, in your opinion will this increase crowd levels during 2002 as "people put off today what they can do tomorrow ?".

A.

David,

Thanks so much for the kind note. I'll do my best to answer your questions...

The Dixie Landings / Port Orleans merger has affected the French Quarter area more than the Riverside (formerly Dixie Landings) area. The French Quarter no longer has a marina and, as you pointed out, Bonfamilles' has been closed. Boatwright's hasn't really changed. It's still a decent value with steady service. The menu hasn't been changed significantly, either.

The crowd level at Riverside hasn't really changed at all, either.

Two things will affect crowd levels at WDW in 2002. First, as you point out, delayed trips due to the attacks in September may come into play. Second, and probably more significant, the 100th Anniversary Celebration (which actually started on October 1st, a few days ago) may draw some crowds. It isn't likely to be as big of a splash as the Millennium Celebration in 1999-2000 or the 25th Anniversary in 1996-1997, but may make the resort busier than it otherwise may have been.

-

Q.

"Dee" writes: Dear Brian, We are going to the World over Christmas week this year and were able to get an awesome deal at the Dolphin, a $129.00 teacher rate. We will not arrive until late evening on December 26th. I read somewhere that if we wait to buy Ultimate Hopper Passes at the resort upon arrival, the CM can remove the first day from the pass giving us a lower price. Due to our late arrival we will be there 7 nights and days. Have you heard that this is a possibility?

A.

I've never heard that a day of the Unlimited Park Hopper can be taken off, but it may be possible. The best thing for you to do, though, would be to call the Dolphin and ask. Since the Swan and Dolphin are not operated by Disney they may have slightly different rules on those things.

In any case, it NEVER hurts to ask!

Q.

and in a follow-up, "Dee" writes back: I called the Dolphin and found out that their guest services desk closes at 5:00PM. We won't arrive until 10:00PM or so. They will sell us our passes the next morning for the remaining 7 days of our trip.

A.

Great! That will give you exactly what you need... and save you some money for the unused day!

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!

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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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