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Brian Bennett

WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett

10/29/01

Q.

Sharon asks: Are the four park passes still available? They were available September, October, November, and December. It was four parks for $9.00.

A.

Sharon,

The first answer that came to my mind when I read your question was, "Yes!" Four park passes (called park hoppers) are available for four or more days. However, the price you mentioned ($9.00) is way, way off.

If you take a look at MousePlanet's Admission Media from A to Z page and go down to the "prices" section, you'll see that four day park hoppers start at over $200 for an adult.

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Q.

Jackie writes: Brian, FYI, I just recently received the new 100th anniversary trip planning video from Disney and watched it for the first time last night. They have now completely dropped MGM from the Disney-MGM Studios name. It is only being called Disney Studios. I am interested to see what other changes will be made to the park and attractions now that the contract with MGM is obviously over.

A.

Jackie,

That's funny that they've dropped "MGM" again. They can't seem to make up their mind on that one. A few years ago they did the same thing, apparently because their licensing deal with MGM was expiring... but they worked out some temporary arrangement. Perhaps the temporary deal has expired now, too.

Except for the changes for the 100th Anniversary Celebration, I don't know of any other imminent changes at the park.

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Q.

Eduardo asksI'm planning a trip to WDW on November 17 - 23 and have had reservations in the All Star Movies Resort since March for $77 a night plus tax.  I am from Mexico.  With the recent events we are concerned, but we can not let the terrorists stop our lives.

But my question for is, are there any discounts on the resort hotels and tickets right now in WDW in Florida?  I have been checking the disney.com site and the only offers are at the California resort.

Thanks and looking forward for your answer.

A.

Eduardo,

YES! There are some great deals going on at WDW right now. Call the central reservations office at (407) 934-7639 and ask what is available. I'm sure you'll get a much better deal for your upcoming trip.

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Q.

Craig writes: I recently read about your annual Scavenger Hunt and Trivia Contest at Disneyland. I was intrigued by the thought, and wondered if you had ever done one of these events at Wal Disney World. I myself have a Premium Annual Pass and live about 30 minutes away. I would love to either participate or help set up an event like this. If you have any type of plans to do this, please tell me so I can spread the news to other pass holders who would be interested.

A.

Craig,

You may be interested in joining the rec.arts.disney.parks RADP VI meet coming up in December. Deb Wills, at MousePlanet's friendly competitor WDWIG.com has the following page.

On Sunday, December 2nd, the group will be having a huge Scavenger hunt, much like the MouseAdventures that MousePlanet runs at Disneyland.

MousePlaneteer Pat Edaburn attended the RADP V meet last year and wrote the a piece on the scavenger hunt.

Try it, you might like it. :)

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Q.

Alfonso writes: Dear Brian: First of all congratulations again for your great articles.

I am writing from Mexico City and are planning to take my family to WDW from December the 3rd to December the 9th. We are taking the kids out from school specially to try to avoid crowds and take advantage of the off season prices. 

I would like to ask you one question:  I read the Pop Warner Super Bowl is taking place during this dates with 12,000 participants. Do you think the parks will be dramatically more crowded because of this event? 

Thanks again and best regards.

A.

Alfonso,

Any time that there is a big event at WDW, the crowd levels are higher than they would have been. However, early December is still a great time to visit because, traditionally, the crowds are at their lowest levels -- for the entire year -- then.

Personally, I wouldn't change any plans based on the Pop Warner event.

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Q.

Rick asks: Brian, I have a question that I'm not sure whom to send it to, so I figure you can either answer it or point me in the right direction. Basically, I'm wondering what happened to the concept of DisneyQuest locations in cities all over the country. Orlando and Chicago are great, Philadelphia was publicly announced, and now we just have the two with no talk of future expansion.

I'm sure that building a DisneyQuest is no cheap endeavor, although it must certainly get less expensive with each one since the floor plan and attractions are basically identical. About a year ago I actually wrote this question to the link on the Disney web site about DisneyQuest. Eventually I got a refreshingly frank reply from the GM of the Chicago location. She said that Philadelphia had been scrapped due to contract problems with the construction firm and property owner but that she honestly didn't know why they stopped talking about other cities. She did say that her location was doing quite well financially, and I can only assume that Orlando with its built-in supply of customers is making a killing.

When Universal's GameWorks concept came out, I thought it was great. Then DisneyQuest blew it away, and I couldn't wait to see more of them. ESPN Zone is fun and all, but it's really no better than a GameWorks.

Can you shed some light on this issue or tell me someone who would be better able to?

A.

Rick,

Disneyquest just didn't create the cash flow that was expected. The investment is so high, and the return on investment so slow, that the company decided to invest elsewhere.

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Q.

Cathy asks: Where can we purchase the teepee chandeliers that you have on your site of the wilderness lodge and do you happen to know if it comes as a ceiling fan also?

A.

Cathy,

If I understand your question correctly, you're asking about the chandeliers that are hanging from the lobby ceiling at Wilderness Lodge? If so, I have no idea where one would purchase them. They're huge pieces, each one is ten to twelve feet high. They don't have ceiling fans.

My assumption is that they were made specially for the Lodge and aren't available for retail purchase.

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Q.

An unnamed MousePlanet reader writes: Hi Brian!!! I like your site... we're planning our fourth trip to WDW in five years for early December. It's the only time of year to go in my husband's opinion, especially since both he and our older daughter are very fair and tend to burn easily. They'd cook in the summer!!!

My tips for shopping with the kids is to set a rule that souvenirs are only purchased at the end of the day, on the way out of the park. This way you avoid lugging things they "promise" to carry and don't have to wait on line to claim your purchases later at the exit. Having these things sent back to the hotel room doesn't usually work for kids (at least mine!) - it doesn't count till they have it in their hot little hands. I let them browse through every shop they see; if they really want it we'll go back and get it. This works even with pretty young kids. My nephew was five when we took him and once he saw the cap pistols at the end of "Pirates of the Caribbean" nothing else would do. But even he agreed that it would have been hard to ride Splash Mountain or Buzz Lightyear with his pistol (although we did have to take another trip through "Pirates" so he could "shoot" the "bad guys").

Another tip we used was setting a limit of $10 per kid per day Setting up a limit before-hand can avoid battles over the lovely and expensive items; we put each kids money in $10 bills in a separate envelope (which was helpful since both could recognize their names and count the bills). My then 4-year old daughter loved a $40 Dumbo until she realized that one toy today would mean no toys for the next four. "It's not worth it, Mom" she said as she put it back. This rule is flexible, however, depending on the item in question; my nephew did go home with the cap long-gun on our last day which was more than $10 - he put in his daily allowance and my husband chipped in the rest. I paid the difference for the lovely china Mrs. Potts tea set she fell in love with in Epcot. Dumbo we can get anywhere; long-guns and a "real" Mrs. Potts we can't.

Hope these tips help!!!

A.

Thanks so much for your note and great tips! I'll add it to an upcoming Notes From the World feature.

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Q.

Dominic writes: Brian, I've been reading your columns for over a year and I have enjoyed them very much. I especially enjoy the trip reports people send in, because they provide useful tips and hints, as well as giving me my Disney fix!

I read your own trip report with interest, as I would be going down to Walt Disney World fairly soon after your trip and I thought it would help me with last-minute hints. I'd like to share some thoughts about our experiences.

This isn't a full trip report, but I think my comments might be an interesting viewpoint, given the large amount of negative things I've seen recently.

My wife I just visited WDW Oct. 11-20. This was our fourth trip in four years, but the first time we stayed somewhere other than All-Star Music. This year, we stayed at Port Orleans Riverside. The trip down was uneventful, security at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport was tight, but not overly intrusive and very calming to us. Our Tiffany Towncar driver was at the baggage claim to greet us and very friendly and helpful, getting us in the Disney mood right away. Even though we arrived at around 12:30 in the afternoon, check-in was a breeze, the room was ready, and we purchased our Ultimate Park Hoppers (which started the next day and ended at midnight on the 19th-we were checking out at 5:00 in the morning on the 20th).

The person who checked us in, Heidi, was wonderful and very  helpful. The bellman, Rene, was a hoot and so friendly that my wife and I were smiling and laughing the whole time he took us to our room and brought our luggage up to our room (we stayed in Alligator Bayou, which has no elevators and the room was on the second floor).

We wandered around the resort for a while, noting that there were not many people there (but realized later that most people were in the parks during the day) and had a nice lunch at the food court. We also spent time at Downtown Disney and even went over to the Polynesian (my first time there) to look around.

The first day was very relaxing and definitely full of the Disney magic I (and everyone else) has come to expect. 

The parks themselves were not crammed with people, but did have a good number of people in them each day, especially the Magic Kingdom. We didn't have to wait long for many attractions, nor did we have to wait long for any transportation.

In fact, the longest wait for a bus was when I wanted to return to POR from Epcot on Tuesday morning (while my wife slept in). I waited about 15 minutes for a bus and when it came the driver told me he was a "special" just bringing guests to Epcot and not returning to POR. He asked how long I had been waiting and when I told him about 15 minutes, he said another bus should be by soon. He then parked his bus and waited. About two minutes later, he pulled up in front of me and said that he would take me wherever I wanted to go. I got a personal bus ride back to the resort and had a nice chat with the driver (unfortunately, I didn't get his name).

Now, maybe some people would expect that kind of service, but I figured that I was one person, heading back to my resort at 9:30 in the morning when there was no one else at any of the bus stops I could see. I could have been made to wait for the regular POR bus, but either the driver or the dispatcher felt I should be taken back to the resort right away. The whole dispatching system for the buses seemed to work fairly well and I saw plenty of buses waiting at Epcot and the Studios when we left after closing.

Almost every cast member we came into contact with was friendly, polite, or even extraordinarily courteous. I know that's something that we should expect from WDW cast members. But I also know, having worked in both the retail and tourism industries, that uncertainty about job status, jitters related to recent events, and the fact that the nature of their jobs in working with the public sometimes creates a bad day makes the fact that so many cast members were so nice simply amazing to me. Given the fact that there are thousands of cast members working at WDW and that in any organization, there is bound to be people who, for whatever reason, aren't happy when they are at work, I'm still amazed at how little I noticed "attitude," indifference, or discourtesy among the cast members. In fact, at several attractions and shops, the cast members were extremely cheerful and exuberant, especially at the shops at the United Kingdom pavilion at Epcot.

We attended the Halloween Party on the 18th and had an absolute ball! The decorations were wonderful and the whole atmosphere was just incredibly festive. We rode Splash Mountain at night for the first time and thought it was even better in the dark! Alien Encounter took on a different feel at night and, of course, the Haunted Mansion was wonderful spooky. Everyone seemed to have a great time. I would recommend this to everybody!

I know I'm forgetting a lot of the good things that happened during our vacation, but I also don't have much to complain about. I think the problems you had during your visit might be attributable to the attacks and the effects of the slowing economy, but I fear you're presenting a view of WDW that might have already passed. I'm not able to get down to WDW as often as I'd like, but I have been there four times since November 1997 and I have to say that despite the doom and gloom reports I read from people, I'm just not seeing it.

Maybe the perspectives of people who visit more often are different from mine, but the vast majority of people I saw at WDW, both visitors and cast members looked like they were having a great time. A vacation resort as big as WDW is bound to have some problems, simply because of its size. Very rarely, on any of the four trips, did the real world intrude on the experience (and I was there last year during the election-not the post-election problems, but on election day itself and several days following). In fact, even with newspaper vending machines all over the resorts and Downtown Disney, I still did not hear much outside news (nor did I want to). Walt Disney World is still a great place to escape the drudgery of work, to relax from the everyday world, to get away from it all.

I believe things have improved even since your visit in late September.

Thanks for reading my response.

A.

Dominic,

Thanks so much for your note. It's great to have folks sharing their experiences right now.

I agree, that the problems that I experienced in late September may be attributable to some extent to the attacks. I hope you're correct in your assessment that things are looking up, although with the recent cutbacks in entertainment, park hours, early entry, etc... I seriously wonder if you're right.

I hope so! :)

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Q.

Christina asks: What does Epcot stand for?

A.

Christina,

EPCOT was Walt Disney's own personal plan for a planned city where people would live, work, go to school, and play in a well-designed environment. He proposed building EPCOT as part of the Disney World complex (he called it "Disney World" and it wasn't until after he passed away that his brother, Roy, decreed that the resort would be formally known as "Walt Disney World"). It was always scheduled to be built after the Magic Kingdom opened, but was supposed to be a real working city, not just a theme park.

EPCOT is an acronym that stands for "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow." The model that Walt had built that captured some of his ideas is now on display in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom. You can see it, in the Alien Encounter building, as you ride the Tomorrowland Transit Authority.

After Walt and Roy's passing, Card Walker became the head of Walt Disney Productions (as the company was then know). Under Mr. Walker, the concept of EPCOT as a working city evolved into EPCOT as a permanent world's fair -- the present day park. The acronym was changed to a real word, "Epcot," just a couple of years ago. Epcot, officially, now simply represents the park that is located at Walt Disney World.

Just to completely close the circle, in the late 1990's the Walt Disney Company began to design and build Celebration, Florida, which is the closest thing to what EPCOT was originally supposed to be. It's definitely a trendy and well-designed town -- far from the futuristic city that Walt had imagined. I think it's probably much more livable than the Jetson-like environment that the original EPCOT concept was like.

Just as a side note, there are several unofficial explanations for what EPCOT stands for, too. "Each Parent Carries One Tot," "Every Pocket Comes Out Trashed," and some cast member's favorite, "Employee Polyester Costumes Of Torture," are some that I've heard of over the years. ;)

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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