by Brian Bennett
| Richard writes: Brian,
Just spent five days at Walt Disney World. Had a great time.
The ridiculous whining from people about Early Entry and E-Ride
Nights really annoys me: there is no reason for these programs
to exist while the parks have low attendance. The only reason
to enter early is to avoid crowds. There are no crowds!
There were no or short waits for almost
all the rides--even Tower of Terror was a walk-on. I did not
find the reduced hours to be a problem. How many hours can
you spend dragging yourself around? I found a few food carts
closed, but most were open.
All in all, my experience was much
the same as it has always been, albeit without The Carousel
of Progress and Timekeeper, two of my favorite attractions.
It's impossible for me to believe people
are canceling their vacations because of stuff like this--all
influenced by the constant negative rant of MousePlanet, our
new version of Chicken Little, constantly crying that the
sky is falling.
You make the point that "There are no crowds,"
and I understand that (I was there myself in late September),
but most people that have visited WDW in recent years can't
really comprehend a park without crowds. Besides, during
the holiday season, it appears that the crowds are right back
to normal levels. We'll have to see if that holds true during
the traditionally slow first quarter of the year.
As far as MousePlanet being "chicken little," I
can only say that I wish you found our articles more helpful
to you than apparently you do.
| A MousePlanet reader writes: In
your December 10th column, An "unnamed cast member"
"As a cast member of Walt
Disney World, I was interested in your remarks about the
cut backs that have taken place. I work in Guest Relations
at one of the parks, so I have seen first hand not only
the cuts, but also the guests feeling on them. I always
remind our guests something that is very important to me
and the other cast members, although WDW is cutting back,
there has not been one layoff since the September 11 incident
as a result of the slow attendance. As other companies are
having to layoff employees I am proud of Disney that they
are looking at alternatives other than lay offs. Although
it might make for a happier guests to not have the cut backs,
it makes for a happier guests if our casts can remain happy.
And layoffs are never good at raising the morale of any
employees. Although I do agree with you that it is a shame
to see things get cut, I think people should want to put
their money in a company that is helping out the American
I don't know where this particular
cast member got their information, but there have been lay-offs
since September 11th. Much of the Entertainment department
got decimated, with the removal of the Pleasure Island explosion
dancers, the nixing of multiple casts at various shows as
well as some streetmosphere. And regardless of the spin Walt
Disney World puts on it, offers of transfers to service positions
not even paying $7 an hour from a performance position paying
over $20 an hour is still considered, for all intents and
purposes, a layoff.
The cast in Entertainment are still
employees, too. Just because they're not serving drinks or
cleaning the parks doesn't make their jobs any less important.
And another reader, Steve, writes: As
a former cast member of "Disney Store" [ugh, I hate
this new name w/o the "The" in front], I would like
to compliment you on what a great site you have for Disney
Fans. MousePlanet has been a favorite of mine for the last
year or so and I have passed the website address on to many
friends who I used to work with. I also passed it on to many
Guest's from the store even though it meant being written
up for it once.
I just wanted to comment on a readers
response in today's column. An "unnamed cast member "said
that there have been no layoffs in WDW since September 11th.
This is not true. I have many friends who work in WDW and
I want you to know this is not true. I know of two people
in WDW Horticulture and one person in Entertainment who were
handed pink-slips with the option of taking minimum wage positions
in merchandise. The reasons for these layoffs as well as many
was due to the low attendance at the resort due to "the
tragic events of September 11th".
I just hate to see you handed a lie
from someone who is probably paid to sit there and polish
the WDW Company reputation with falsehoods and fairytales.
Morale is at an all time low right now and Lee Cockerell,
who used to be looked upon as a god by the cast members, is
loosing favor among them.
Pressler, Eisner and upper management
need a swift kick in the pants or pink slips themselves. Boy
I'd love to see their severance packages.
Also to all the folks who say this
site is too negative, I say too bad. I'd rather have the truth
than the "Fantasyland" version of what Disney wants
you to believe. My suggestion to all the folks that think
Disney can do no wrong, is not dreaming of working for them.
You will definitely have your image shattered. I could never
go into some of the unscrupulous acts that Disney committed
over the 10 1/2 years that I worked for them. If you don't
like MousePlanet's honesty, try the disney.com site. You'll
be treated to all the pixie dust you could ever need. As for
those of us that truly care about our beloved Disney and the
direction it takes, we'll take MousePlanet any day!
Thanks for letting me vent.
|Thanks for the notes. These were two of several
emails I received to point this out.
|Theresa writes: Hello
Brian, I have been an avid fan of MousePlanet for 8 months now.
My husband and I visited Disneyland in August, and had a great
time. We would love to go back, and were hoping to see great
travel deals after the World Trade Disaster occurred. While
scanning your site and other travel sites, I have come across
many great deals if you live in California or somewhere else
in the United States. However, Disneyland nor Walt Disney World,
have acknowledge offering Canadians a reduced rate for ticket
pricing or hotels.
We can purchase 5 days at Disneyland
for the cost of 3 days, however there have been better deals
offered to Americans. With the Canadian Dollar being very
low, Canadians have to increase all costs and fees by 60%
due to currency exchange. Going to Disneyland or WDW can be
expensive, and I am surprised that I am not able to find any
|I can't confirm or deny your comments, since I've
never investigated the situation for Canadian travelers.
I'm curious, though. Why would you expect Disney (or any
other company) to subsidize your vacation because you're Canadian?
Should they also subsidize Japanese citizens because their
nation is filled with Mickey Mouse fans? ;) As far as your
exchange rate situation, you can't expect any U.S. companies
to take care of that for you. That's the job of your government
and national banking system.
The reason why Disney provides great deals for California
(at DLR) and Florida (at WDW) residents is for local public
relations purposes. It helps them to have a local population
that is happy with the Walt Disney Company.
For the rest of us (me too, since I live in Michigan), well,
we exist to fill the company coffers. :)
|and in a follow-up, Theresa writes: Hi
Brian. Thanks for the reply. I really didn't expect to receive
an email message back. Though I don't expect subsidization,
when the Canadian Dollar does poorly (as it is now), there are
many places in the United States that will offer hotels &
travel packages at par with American currency.
Places such as Las Vegas, Palm Springs,
Seattle even New York that have large numbers of Canadians
visit each year will offer great deals. In Europe many hotels
and car rental companies offer excellent exchange rates to
lure Canadians. At least once a year I travel to America and/or
Europe, and try to take advantage of these discounts. In the
end, it really allows me to spend more, instead of watching
In the end DL & WDW, though facing
an economical slow-down, are still making a lot of money and
are not suffering as much as other tourist areas.
Keep up the good work at MousePlanet.
It is great to see that you can be objective and analytical.
A rarity these days.
Thanks for your kind note back. You know, after I responded
to your first message, I wondered if I may have been too harsh.
I'm glad that you didn't respond back as sharply as I might
have had the situation been reversed. :)
I suspect that those locations that offer such great deals
for Canadian travelers do so because such a large portion
of their business would be at risk if they did not. The discounts
they offer must be offset by enough revenue (with a reasonable
profit margin) or they wouldn't do it.
Maybe I should go to a bank in Detroit before my Fall trip
to Vegas and convert all of my trip money to Canadian currency...
|Jim writes: Dear
Brian, I'm sure you're tired of this subject! But, in all fairness
to Disney, are the cutbacks really that big of a deal? I went
to WDW twice during the Millennium celebration, and both times
sincerely appreciated early entry and E-Ride Nights. Other than
during early entry and E-Ride we never even spent time in the
Magic Kingdom as it was just too packed. I currently have a
trip planned in February, and am looking forward to being able
to go to the parks during the middle of the day. Although early
entry is nice, sleeping in while on vacation is a nice perk
as well. I just printed out the park hours for February, and
it looks to me like they've shaved a couple of hours from what
park hours were the same time last year. Nighttime parades and
fireworks are dark mid-week.
But both Spectromagic and fireworks
play on weekends - exactly the same as the schedule last February.
Why stay at a Disney resort if of perks
are missing? Here are some BIG reasons.
- Room prices have been the lowest
ever in history the past couple of months. Value season
at the Grand Floridian typically begins at $330 per night.
We booked our room in February for $214. We're staying at
Animal Kingdom Lodge as well at a savings of $90 per night
over the usual value season rate. To me this is a big plus
as I never would have been able to afford a weeklong trip
to the top WDW resorts at regular rates.
- Also, convenience is still a big
issue. Being on property is also a big plus. I can't imagine
staying at an off property resort and having to drive in
to WDW every day, or being at the mercy of a hotel shuttle.
WDW transportation is extremely efficient.
- Last but not least, although package
delivery has been changed, the fact that you can charge
nearly every purchase and meal to your room from anywhere
in WDW is one of the biggest benefits of all.
Yes, I'm still planning on going to
WDW in February. I hope I'm not disappointed. I'll let you
I'm glad to see that you're doing exactly what I recommend...
you're confirming the value of your vacation expenditure.
By comparing what you get by the price you pay, you can determine
if a vacation at WDW (or anywhere else, for that matter) is
worthwhile to you.
Since your conclusion -- for you -- is that there IS enough
value to make you happy, by all means go and enjoy your trip!
I'm sure you'll have a great time!
Other folks that rely on the perks that have been eliminated
may draw a different conclusion... and that's ok for them,
In any case, have a great trip!
|Meg asks: Dear Brian,
You have an excellent site - I've only recently discovered the
unofficial Disney web sites, and yours is one of the best.
My question/ observation is that there
seems to be very little on the sites aimed at day-trippers.
I grew up about an hour away from WDW, and so I have been
to the parks several times but have never stayed overnight
at the resort. (The worst exhaustion of my life was when my
Girl Scout leader insisted on leaving home at 6:00 am and
staying at the park until 1:00 am.) Does anyone have any tips
for those who cannot follow the early arrival/afternoon break
advice? Also, because I have always wanted to maximize time
at the parks, I have seen very little of the other resort
attractions. Do you think it would be worthwhile to go spend
a non-park day at WDW? I have minimal interest in Downtown
Disney, which I found expensive and not especially entertaining.
Are attractions such as Fort Wilderness exclusively for resort
guests? Finally, I'm feeling in need of the "Disney magic"
this holiday season, but I'm also feeling budget-conscious.
I'm considering taking my mother to have afternoon tea at
the Grand Floridian; would we be able to find something to
do outside the parks until we could watch the fireworks? (I
hope you don't mind my treating you like a travel agent.)
Thanks very much!
There are LOTS of things to see and do at WDW outside of
I'd suggest you look over the pages that are indexed on this
page, as you'll find some information on activities that
do not require theme park admission.
You can also enjoy visiting the various resort hotels to
see the atmosphere, enjoy a meal, or just go shopping.
All of the resort facilities, including those at Fort Wilderness
Campground, are open to the public. Officially, the
resorts are open to "WDW Resort Guests," but I don't
think anyone that wants to spend some money at the restaurants
or shops would be kept from doing so (although resort facilities
such as pools, etc. would be for paying guests only).
If you spend the afternoon hours out of the sun, in the air-conditioned
resorts for example, you can certainly enjoy a day trip.
|Rick writes: Please
allow me to compliment you once again on maintaining a relative
level of impartiality and fairness when it comes to Disney.
I guess I respect your opinions so much because they mirror
my own. I see some problems in the Disney company and I wish
they’d do some things differently, but they are still far and
away the best entertainment company out there, and they do a
lot of things right.
Among the things they are doing right
is the recently announced Disney’s Armed Forces Salute. You
can get the
details here , but the basic gist is that Disney is offering
free admission to active duty military and half-price tickets
for friends and family at all of their California and Florida
parks for the first four months of next year. I applaud the
Disney company for this approach which rewards our military
and their families, creates goodwill and excellent public
relations, and gets more people into the parks where they
will spend money on food and souvenirs.
I’m surprised that I haven’t seen any
mention of this on MousePlanet yet, but then again almost
everything there (with the exception of your balanced presentations)
are pretty negatively biased. Please keep up the good work!
Thanks for the note! Actually, though, Lani Teshima
wrote a great piece entitled, "MousePlanet
Salutes Disney for its "Armed Forces Salute"
that covered the program in detail! It ran during the
Christmas holidays, so maybe you missed it.
|Kevin asks: Brian,
My wife and I are taking a trip to WDW and are planning to have
a great time. It will be our first trip since 1999 and we plan
to take a longer trip in October.
My question is, "what is happening
with the Journey Into Imagination ride?" Even though
I haven't heard favorable things about it, I never had the
opportunity to ride it and make my own opinion of it. I have
heard rumors that they are turning it into a Monsters Inc.
attraction. The WDW web site said it is closed for "refurbishment"
and will re-open in the summer.
I must agree that the Journey Into Your Imagination ride,
the version that existed from late 1999 until this past October,
was very poor compared to the original. The attraction is
shut down now and is expected to open next Summer. Rumors
are that the new version will be similar to the 1999 rehab,
but with more emphasis on Figment (who was almost completely
removed from the attraction). Dream Finder, according to the
rumor mill, still will not be involved in the new attraction.
I guess we'll have to wait until next Summer to know for
|In a previous "Notes
From the World", Neal asked: I was wondering if the
music to Spectromagic was available anywhere to purchase?
Bryan writes: Hi Brian, The
"Disneyland & Walt Disney World Music Vacation"
CD with the Spectromagic music has been known to be available
at the Virgin Records Megastore in Downtown Disney at Walt
Disney World Resort. That's where I bought my copy.
Gregg shared this information: Hi
Brian! In response to the reader's question about the Spectromagic
soundtrack. I'm a huge fan of the parade and have been looking
for it for years. I was at WDW 2 weeks ago and they finally
had it for sale, thought not at every store. I bought it at
2R's in the Marketplace.
Steve says: In case you get
another CD question. The best places to buy Tokyo Disneyland
CD's are Amazon who carry a couple or www.Footlight.com. Footlight
Records in NYC carries an large amount of Disney CD's and
an incredible number of Tokyo CD's. They have great customer
service. They just updated their website so it you don't see
what you need you can call them. They will even pull a CD
off the shelf and read you the track list if they aren't too
|Thanks for your help, guys.
|Glenn asks: I enjoy
your site and your practical approach to the recent WDW cutbacks.
My family and I will be visiting WDW in January and have two
quick questions for you.
- Do they still do the floating lights
parade after the fireworks at Magic Kingdom? I've read about
it in several places but have seen no mention of it recently.
- Since my step-father is retired
from the Coast Guard, we will be staying at the Shades of
Green resort. Since we want to check out Pleasure Island
and Disney Quest, the best admissions deal seems to be their
equivalent to the Ultimate Park Hopper Pass available only
to Disney Resort Guests. My quibble is that you must purchase
a pass that equals your length of stay. If we wanted to
take a day and visit non-Disney sites, we still have to
buy passes for our length of stay. The literature says the
passes must be used on consecutive days and expire on midnight
of your last day -- therefore, they cannot be reused in
the future. Any suggestions?
Yes, the Electric Water Pageant runs nightly on Seven Seas
Lagoon and Bay Lake. It's been running there since the early
1970's (in fact, the Pageant was the spark that gave Imagineer
Bob Jani the idea to create the Main Street Electrical Parade).
As far as your issue with park passes, I would suggest that
you go to MousePlanet's WDW Trip Planning Guide's page
on admission media.
That page describes all of the admission media that can be
purchased (of course, as you mentioned, at Shades of Green
you'd have the option of buying "Stars and Stripes Length-of-Stay
Depending on the duration of your trip, you may want to buy
Park Hopper Plus passes, so you won't be paying for unused
days like you do when you buy length-of-stay Ultimate Park
Hoppers (or Stars and Strips) passes -- but spend time off
|Don asks: Brian,
I could find no references to general expenses. Am I to assume
that if I have to ask, I shouldn't bother to visit? LOL
My daughter and her husband would like
to know what the costs would be for say a two day visit with
two girls ages 9 and 12. What would be the best places to
visit and what would the costs for tickets, rooms, food and
parking be estimated at? Thank You.
There's information on budgeting for a WDW trip in the WDW
Trip Planning Guide. Go to the "Planning Your Trip"
page and you'll see a page on budgeting, the Disney Club,
and savings issues.
Media From A to Z page has more detailed information on
park admission prices.
|A former WDW 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and
Space Mountain cast member writes: Dear
Mr. Bennett, This past weekend, it was once again a great big
beautiful tomorrow at Walt Disney World!
It appears that this past weekend,
Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress was resurrected from Yesterland
and once again spun its way into the hearts of Magic Kingdom
visitors. I was visiting WDW from Thursday, December 20th
through Tuesday, December 25th. Because I had read that the
Timekeeper attraction was going to re-open (with the World
Trade Center scenes left intact -- hooray!) on Saturday, December
22nd for a limited Christmas run, I made sure that I was in
the Magic Kingdom at 10AM to visit that attraction.
After the first showing, I exited the
attraction and saw before me a most wonderful Christmas vision.
Could it be that the Carousel Theatre was actually spinning?
Could it be that a small army of painters were touching up
the queue area and flower bed planters? Were those maintenance
workers and electricians with tool belts buzzing in and out
of the theatre, checking out the motors, automatic doors,
and audio-animatronics? Was the theatre stopping in the right
places and starting on queue? And was the attractions host
coming down the entrance ramp to let me in the hallowed halls
of the Carousel Theatre?
The answer to all of these questions
was YES! At a couple minutes after 11AM, the first group of
Carousel visitors were ushered into the theatre. All around
me I heard parents telling their children how important this
show was. That they had seen it first at the NY World's Fair
"way back in 1964" with THEIR parents when THEY
were children. That they remember all of the words to the
song. That they looked and listened in awe to the promise
By the time the automatic doors closed,
the entire theatre was full and the air was electric (pardon
the pun) with anticipation and excitement. As the curtains
were raised and the narrator began to speak, applause erupted
from the crowd. And then, our wonderfully familiar trip through
a century of electricity began. And, to my amazement, as the
theatre turned from late 19th century to early 20th century,
I glimpsed the adjacent theatre -- completely full, too!!!!
After getting over the shock of seeing
grandma in her virtual reality helmet, the audience ended
the show with another round of enthusiastic applause. What
a fabulous treat for this Carousel aficionado as well as for
the other guests that day! How wonderful it was to see the
Carousel fill up theatre after theatre of eager visitors!
While I was raised on -- and loved
-- the "Now is the Time" version, I have also come
to appreciate the fact that the original sets, audio-animatronics
and other features of the show are virtually the only items
in the entire WDW Magic Kingdom that Walt personally designed,
handled and touched. I hope that the Attractions management
team will rethink the decision to close this attraction, given
the importance and apparent resurgent popularity of the Carousel
of Progress. Isn't the philosophy of the Magic Kingdom about
parents sharing experiences with children? What better way
to do that than to allow parents to share the Carousel of
Progress show -- and their memories of it -- with their children
for years to come?
Additionally, keeping Walt Disney's
Carousel of Progress open reminds visitors -- especially younger
generations -- that Walt Disney was the name of a great man,
not just a great corporation. However, if after Christmas
the Carousel (and Timekeeper) actually do ride off into the
sunset of Yesterland permanently, I will have to accept that
fact with disappointment. But I also will be at peace, for
I had the opportunity to say goodbye and farewell to a dear
friend. After all, isn't that least we ask for when we lose
a loved one?
|Thanks for the great note! I'll make sure to share
it with MousePlanet readers!
|And to end on another great note, Patty wrote:
Hi Brian! We left December 6 and returned
December 14, 2001. In all honesty, the cutbacks were not noticeable
to us and we were just there a year ago. Early Entry? We only
used it to plan around, not plan for. The crowds were so small,
this was a non-issue. Everything was a walk-on. If the sign
said there was a 10-minute wait, this always meant walk on with
no wait. Carousel of Progress? Ok, so it was closed. I've never
been to WDW when something wasn't closed for refurbishment.
Big deal; it's not like this was the only attraction in Tomorrowland.
No street performers? Found this not to be the case. We watched
the British Invasion in England. The living statues were out
in France. We saw the same performer both times and she was
fantastic. We had never seen this before and made a special
trip back just to see it again. Absolutely fascinating to watch
not only the statue herself, but especially her interaction
with people in the crowd. Bad attitudes on the part of cast
members? Never saw it once.
It's all matter of your glass being
half empty or half full. The events of September 11 made me
see things in a whole new perspective and I wish others would
do this as well. When you start complaining about something,
even if it is a really big deal to you, just stop and reflect
for a moment -- in the large scheme of things, is it really
that important? Considering the loss many families have faced
in the last few months, doesn't complaining about a few changes
at an amusement park seem kind of trivial and inconsequential?
I've got to tell you and anyone who
might happen to read this, was our best trip ever. We never
felt for a moment that we weren't getting our money's worth
or that we had been cheated in any way. The magic is still
there 100% if you don't spend all your time looking for proof
that it isn't.
As I said, this was our best trip ever
and I'm ready to go again. You may share this with MousePlanet
readers if you wish or not. As far as I'm concerned, it's
still the happiest place on earth!
Thanks for your note! I will definitely share it on the site.
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!