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Brian Bennett

WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett

12/17/01

Q.

Deb Wills, the webmaster of  the Walt Disney World Information Guide, sent me this note.  I hope you'll carefully consider a contribution to this very important effort!

Dear Brian,

I am writing members of the Disney on-line community to ask you to partner with me for a very special cause.

If I told you I'm walking 60 miles for 3 days to help women with undetected breast cancer find out early enough to survive, would you support me? What if I told you I am going to do this TWICE?!

In the spring of 2002, I will join over 3,000 courageous individuals on two 60-mile Avon Breast Cancer Three-Day Walks to raise both funds and awareness for this life-threatening disease. Yes, you read correctly, I am participating in 2 walks!  During the spring of 2002, I will be celebrating my 16th anniversary of being breast cancer-free! What better way to celebrate than to help others!

As part of my commitment to this event, I have agreed to raise at least $1,900 in pledges for each walk (a total of $3,800). My personal goal is to reach $10,000! That's why I'm contacting you.

This event raises funds and awareness in the fight against breast cancer. I would deeply appreciate it if you would partner with me in this very special and important journey! Together, we can and do make a difference! I would also be honored, if you feel it would be appropriate, to have your Disney community rally around in support of my effort. I believe that Disney fans have much to share with the world and this is one cause that has touched so many of us. The ultimate goal is to find a cure for breast cancer.

I have a website dedicated to my journey as I train and walk the 120 miles. Visit: http://wdwig.com/thewalk.htm

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your consideration.

Deb

P.S. Did you know that breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women in the U.S.? This year, over 180,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 women will die from the disease. I recently learned that 2 friends have been diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

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Q.

Robert writes: Brian, An alternative for Jennifer (in the 11/19/01 "Notes From the World") would be the Wyndham Resort near the Marketplace. Rooms are available through Priceline for $48 using the current $5 bonus. She may have to pay $53 for any nights over five since the bonus only works for the first five nights.

The $11 per night savings goes towards a breakfast buffet or Waffle House, just down the road ;) and the difference from the Ramada Plaza is incredible.

I used a Priceline tracking website to get the details.

My $48+5 bonus bid was accepted for last month and we had a great stay. I noticed that people are still reporting the $48+5 bonus bids are still being accepted.

At any rate, that site is a great resource for checking rates on the area hotels.

A.

Thanks, Robert!

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Q.

Ana asks: Hi, I am writing from NYC and after the attacks my 11yr old daughter does not want to fly. She does not know about the WDW vacation in February, should I buy plane tickets now and hope her fears will diminish or by train tickets?

Also, I have never nor my family been to Florida or WDW where should we begin planning our WDW vacation? We will be staying at a resort, so no need for hotel reservations, but what should I plan to see on a one week vacation with a husband, two daughters, and one son?

Please help!

A.

Ana,

You know your daughter better than I, so I think you'll have to evaluate the flying vs. ground transportation issue.

I would suggest you go over MousePlanet's WDW Trip Planning Guide.  There you'll find lots of information about planning a trip.

If you have some specific questions after you've gone through the guide, things that I haven't made clear or covered at all, then feel free to email me back! Have a great trip!

-

Q.

Neal asks: I was wondering if the music to Spectromagic was available anywhere to purchase? The last time I went Walt Disney World was in 1995 for my honeymoon and my wife and I really fell in love with Spectromagic and the music from that wonderful parade. I actually, in a way, prefer it to the Main Street Electrical Parade music (which I do in fact love). While that may be a bit heretical, if prefer Spectromagic's more orchestral sound rather to the "Syntho-magnetic" music of the MSEP.

A few years ago Disney released a CD of music from WDW performed by various artists and the theme to Spectromagic was on it, but I really would like to get my hands on a copy of the original music. I would like to find it for my wife (and I) for our upcoming anniversary. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

A.

Neal,

I bought my "soundtrack" of Spectromagic from Tokyo Disneyland several years ago. I had to order it mail order from Japan, and frankly I don't remember the contact information on the company I bought it from.

You may want to check in at http://www.spectromagic.com/. I suspect that those folks would be able to fix you up. :)

-

Q.

Lauren asks: Dear Brian, I was wondering if you could help me with a problem I am having. I have visited your site quite a bit for the past 8 months. I am planning a surprise Christmas present for my husband and children age 10 and 12. We will be going to Orlando the end of December and through New Year's. The problem I am having is with the hotel situation.

I booked us at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort in a King Family Suite. After reading quite a few reviews on your site, I am thinking I made a mistake. It has not shall I say gotten "very pleasing reviews". I have found another property called Fantasy World Club Villas, but they have no reviews on your site. Do you know anything about this property and in your opinion, should I not stay at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort.

We travel quite a bit and usually stay at very nice hotels, I just don't want to be disappointed.

Thank you for your time and information on this matter.

A.

Lauren,

No, I'm not familiar with Fantasy World Club Villas. It may be a great place, so don't take my lack of knowledge as a negative... unless you don't like the unknown. ;)

As an alternative, you may want to consider the Holiday Inn Family Suites, if you'd really like a family-oriented facility that is franchised by the Holiday Inn chain. The Holiday Inn Family Suites is located in Lake Buena Vista just a mile or two from the Northern entrance to WDW.

-

Q.

An unidentified reader asks: Although I scanned through most of your fantastic website on WDW, I didn't find one item I was looking for. When we went to WDW three years ago, all four of us (parents and two children) received our own credit- card- looking passes. With those passes, we could make purchases at stores and restaurants that would automatically be charged back to our room at Port Orleans. We're going to WDW in January  and I'm wondering if that option is still available?

If so, with which package is it available? Can we get it with the 4 day park hopper pass?

A.

Whenever you check into a WDW resort hotel, you have the option of having a credit card set up against your room keycards... so, yes, you still have that option (and it doesn't cost anything).

There are some package deals that include meals at various restaurants as well, also. However, most of them are very expensive for what you get (just about the same price as the cost at those restaurants -- but you pay up front and lose whatever pre-paid credit you don't use up).

Personally, I prefer just using traveler's checks and my own credit card so I can keep better tabs on what my family and I are spending, but the set up option is handy if your family will be splitting up during the trip.

-

Q.

Linda writes: I just discovered the MousePlanet and we are leaving for WDW in two weeks! I am reading as fast as I can, but can't cover it all! I need to know if we can split up once we are inside Pleasure Island -- we are two parents with a 19- year- old and a 17- year- old, and the kids want to walk around without mom and dad. Do we need to stay together while we are there, or can the kids do their own thing?

A.

Linda,

The 17- year- old MUST be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times. The 19- year- old is free to wander, but neither one -- of course -- will be able to obtain alcoholic beverages. (Legal drinking age in Florida is 21.)

-

Q.

Michelle writes: Brian, We are planning a trip to WDW the week between Christmas and New Year's. In anticipation of the trip I've made several trips to the library for books. I understand from all my reading that that week is an exceptionally busy time of the year but that is our only chance to go.

So ... given the ages of our children (2 to 8 years) would you advise we follow a trip plan? I've read several examples from books and it seems being so rigid would take away from the "magic". They don't leave time for stopping to "smell the roses" or the numerous potty breaks you will have with children. What are your thoughts on this?

I read on another site (sorry) that E-nights, Early Entry Days and free valet parking for those staying at resorts are indefinitely suspended. Have you also heard this? And if so, do you have any idea if / when these might be reinstated?

Is joining the Disney Club really worth it if this will be our only trip for quite sometime and we generally don't shop at our local Disney store? I can get a discounted price ($31.95 / 2 year membership) but the literature is pretty vague as to what restaurants and shops it can be used at.

Now for my Disney complaints. I requested through the WDW site a copy of the vacation video. It's been 2 months and I still don't have it. I decided to call WDW (long distance for me) to request one and still haven't got one. I decided that I would call again and this time talk to a person and ask for a brochure, pamphlet -- anything they could send. I finally got a person who told me "I don't know, I'll connect you with someone else who can help you." Well, believe it or not, he connected me right back to the very beginning of the automated system. I decided to hang up.

Despite the negative comments I've read, customer service I've experienced, the cutbacks and the crowds we'll be facing we're still looking forward to the trip, especially for the kids. Or have we lost our marbles?

Thanks in advance for your help and I'll be sure to let you know how our trip was when we get back.

A.

Michelle,

My strongest opinion about "trip plans" is to make sure that you take a daily break from the parks! Take a look at this page and read the pages under "Planning Your Day." There you'll find some great information on how to tour the parks and keep your sanity intact while doing so.

You may also want to read through the pages listed in MousePlanet's WDW With Kids section.

As far as cutbacks at WDW are concerned, MousePlanet has listed all of them here . All of the cutbacks that you listed have, indeed, been implemented. Also, regarding the lowered customer service, you'll have to judge that for yourself too. I know some folks have had some very poor experiences of late... but others still feel that they've experienced a great deal of "the magic." Things seem to have improved in terms of customer service by cast members since September, though, and that's a good sign.

As far as the Disney Club is concerned, you'll have to consider the benefits you'll receive against the price of the club. Since you'll be visiting WDW during the peakest of all peak seasons, it's not likely that you'll get any accommodations discounts at all during your upcoming visit -- so keep that in mind.

-

Q.

Fraser asks: Brian, Watched a program on TV last night that included information on an actual Disneyland run campground. "Of course I'll remember" were my thoughts -- however it's the next day, and the old brain bucket seems to have sprung a leak! Can you point me to the website?

A.

Fraser,

I don't know what specific website you're referring to... but MousePlanet has a great overview page on Fort Wilderness Campground. Also, we have a photo tour of the campground.

Hopefully, you'll find all of the information you need there!

-

Q.

Meg asks: Brian, Next Thursday I'm taking my daughters (ages 8 and 4 1/2) to Walt Disney World for the first time ever! I'm a single parent and in trying to finalize my budget I wonder if you can further explain your restaurant prices - can you give me a ballpark figure for inexpensive and expensive?

It would be such a help.

By the way, your website has been fantastic in helping me to decide which rides will work for all three of us, etc. Thank you so much!!!

A.

Meg,

Thanks for the kinds words regarding MousePlanet and the WDW Trip Planning Guide and WDW Restaurant Resource!

In general (and this is very subjective) any prices at or below $15 per entree (for adults) would be considered inexpensive. Prices above that, I would consider expensive.

Every WDW restaurant also has a children's menu that provides meals generally under $6.00, though. Depending on how much your girls eat, they may even be able to split one of those meals (our two sons do that, although they are a bit younger than your daughters).

-

Q.

Dan writes: With the hours cut back have you received any feedback indicating that Disney offered some flexibility with the Ultimate Park hoppers. We are going in December for ten days and nine nights. We will not arrive until 4:00 -5:00pm and then depart due to a flight change before 9:00am. Clearly we will have little time if any on the day of arrival , 4 kids under 5 in the group, and no time on the day we leave.

Also, any tips on getting in for a hair cut at the Main Street Barber Shop?

A.

Dan,

Disney has always been somewhat flexible on the Ultimate Park Hoppers. You can call ahead, or just plan to deal when you check in... but in either case, you'll have to be willing to push a bit to have the days eliminated that you can't take advantage of the passes. You may even have to get adamant and ask for a manager to set things up the way that you want them.

I'd suggest, regarding the barber shop, that you stop in there the first day that you visit the Magic Kingdom and ask about it.

-

Q.

Rick suggests: Brian, I’m in a hurry, so this will be quick. Somebody wrote to you and asked:

"My friends are staying at the All Star Movie Resort in Orlando. I live in Tampa. I am planning to drive over to visit them and have dinner one night but won't get there until after 6PM. Is there anywhere you can suggest that is close by (preferably within walking distance) with decent food and prices?"

There will be children with us and possibly a group of ten not including three children. Thank you in advance for your help.

I would recommend the All-Star Café at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. The prices are reasonable, the food is better than decent, and it is close (although not within walking distance) of the All-Star resorts. Because of it’s geographically separated location from the theme parks and resorts, it tends not to be overly busy so that a group of thirteen could be seated in relatively short order.

Just a thought!

A.

And a good one.  Thanks for the suggestion, Rick.

-

Q.

Sue writes: Dear Brian, In the November 26, "Notes from the World", Todd asked about Fastpass being closed at Test Track in Epcot. Your answer was the correct one. I just came back from Epcot yesterday and all three lines now go inside the building. Test Track was down when we got there but they were handing Fastpasses out to come back later in the day so I assume that Fastpass is also up and running again too.

A.

Thanks Sue. I was pretty sure that I had it right.

-

Q.

Kathleen asks: Brian, I really enjoy this site and have gotten a lot of information for my Disney trips. Yesterday I was reading one of the trip reviews and they mentioned a Fireworks Cruise. Can you let me know where I can find out more about this?

I'm planning on being in Disney World in June and might like to try it. Thanks for you help.

A.

Kathleen,

There's an older article on MousePlanet that describes one of our former columnist's experiences on the cruise.

I've never personally taken a fireworks cruise, but -- like you -- I've read about them in various trip reports. I just have never felt that the cost would be worthwhile for me... but then again, I'd be hauling a couple of young boys out on the water with me. ;)

In any case, you can call (407) WDW-PLAY to get more information and to make reservations if you'd like to go ahead and do it.

-

Q.

and in a follow-up, Kathleen writes: Dear Brian, Thank you for your information on the Firework's Cruise. The following information is directly from Disney, I thought it might help other on your website. 

Thank you for contacting WALT DISNEY WORLD!

"Breathless Fireworks Cruise" offers a beautiful, exciting, and relaxing private excursion on Crescent Lake and the Disney-MGM Studios Lake then to the EPCOT International Gateway bridge to view "IllumiNations" for your party, with no other guests, aboard the "Breathless", an elegant re-creation of a 1930 mahogany Chris Craft Runabout. The excursions depart nightly 30 minutes prior to "IllumiNations" for a trip time of 45 to 50 minutes based on the "IllumiNations" schedule.

Your party of as many as seven may enjoy the cruise for $175.00 plus tax.

Cruise may be canceled due to inclement weather.

IMPORTANT - PLEASE NOTE:

Reservations are required and may be made up to 60 days in advance of the date of your cruise.

Contact Disney's Recreation Reservation Line at 407-939-7529, or the resorts' Guest Services at 407-934-7000 ext. 6191 (Beach Club) or 6091 (Yacht Club).

Credit card guarantee required at the time of booking and may be made with VISA, MasterCard, American Express or The Disney Card. Cancellations must be made at least 24 hours in advance for no penalty.

**********************************************

"Fireworks Cruise" and "Moonlight Cruise" - Leaves from the Grand Floridian Marina. $120.00 plus tax; booked by boat; up to 12 Guests maximum Reservations can be made up to 90 days in advance by calling the Recreation Reservation Line at (407)WDW-PLAY or Contact Grand Floridian Guest Services at (407)824-3000 ext.1662. Guests must call to reconfirm 24 hours in advance.

Cruises may be canceled due to inclement weather.

*** PLEASE NOTE: Prices, cruises and availability subject to change without notice ****

A.

Thanks for the additional information, Kathleen.

-

Q.

Norma writes: Hi, Brian, I was browsing your page and wanted to let you know, as no real announcement has been made, that the Jr. Chef program, hosted at the Land Pavilion in Epcot, has been extended for one year.

Usually this program runs only through Food & Wine and is very popular with children.

How this program works is that children from ages 3-10 make the batter from scratch, pan up the cookies, then one of the two chefs that run the program bake the cookies in a "magic" oven so the kids can eat the cookies.

The program generally lasts about twenty-five minutes and each session can handle a maximum of twenty kids.

As this is sponsored by Nestle, the program is free of charge and operates on a first come, first serve basis. The sign-up is a chef hat the child receives from one of the chefs that run the program; the chef will put the child's name on their hat.

A.

Thanks for the heads-up, Norma!

-

Q.

Don writes: We are flying into Orlando, this weekend. Saw where you mentioned that Disney tickets can be purchased at the airport.

Is it "Disney Magic", listed under the shops at Orlando International?

A.

That's where I've seen them on sale in the past, Don.

However, personally I would still recommend that you buy them at your local Disney store (if you can) before you leave town. Then it's one less thing to have to deal with at the airport.

-

Q.

Michelle asksIf I may ask, when you & your family go to WDW do you drive and if so, how long is the trip on the average for your family? We live near Notre Dame and we're still trying to decide how to break up the drive.

Thanks for the all the info on your site, it's been very useful for us in planning our trip.

A.

Michelle,

We drive down from Saginaw, MI and it takes us almost exactly 19 hours of drive time (not including stops for meals, breaks, etc.). The halfway point for us is Sweetwater, TN... so we usually try to drive South beyond Sweetwater on the way down and a bit North of Sweetwater on the way back up. A quick look at the map tells me that your halfway point might be right around Nashville (coming down I-65 before taking I-24 over to hook up with I-75). The total trip for you will be about 1125 miles according to my handy-dandy Rand McNally Tripmaker program.

We break up the trip two different ways. Sometimes we take three days down and stop to see some other attractions along the way. As a big history buff, I've always enjoyed seeing some of the historical sites in the country, and we often squeeze in such a visit on our WDW runs. On the way back, though, we're usually ready to get home so we usually make that a two day run. That allows us to get good and tired in the car, but allows for a bit of time for our boys to run around in the motel room to get their wiggles out before bed time.

-

Q.

Jim writes: In response to Ruth Ann's question about restaurants that offer gift certificates - I'm not sure if any do, but all Disney restaurants, parks and resorts accept Disney Dollars which are available at any Disney store.

A.

Good point, Jim. That can certainly be a solution!

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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