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Brian Bennett

WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett

1/28/02

Q.

David writes: We are planning a trip to WDW in October 2002, and will be staying at the Hotel Royal Plaza. My daughter turns 10 in May 2002. Is it alright to purchase tickets for her now, at the 3-9 year old rate, since they are good forever, or will there be some sort of problem with her age at the time we actually use them? Love your site !

A.

David,

The official answer is that the tickets are to be used by the appropriate people at the time of use. (By the way, this refers to age -- like in your situation -- as well as other considerations. For example, only military folks are supposed to use the "Stars and Stripes" passes which are provided by Disney at a discount.)

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Q.

Gary asks: Brian, I enjoyed your list of "My Favorite Things at Walt Disney World."  I could identify with most of them.  However, I'm curious about some of the items you listed.
  1. Where and what is Oasis (a lush paradise)?
  2. Where and what is Ol' Man Island?
  3. Where and what is Parrot Cay?
  4. Where and what is The Friendships?

A.

Gary,

Oasis is the first part of Animal Kingdom, just inside the entry, where the lush gardens are located.

Ol' Man Island is at Port Orleans Riverside. It's the central, themed pool and recreation complex there.

Parrot Cay is at Caribbean Beach Resort and is in the center of the lagoon at that resort. It has a small playground and a walkway that cuts from Old Port Royal (the central, themed pool complex) and the far side of the resort (Jamaica, if I remember my CBR geography correctly).

The Friendships are the long, low motor boats that run in the World Showcase Lagoon at Epcot and between the Boardwalk, Yacht & Beach Club, and Swan and Dolphin resorts and Epcot's International Gateway and the Studios.

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Q.

Janet writes: Hi Brian, I have another question for you. Have you heard about Florida Resident Play 4 Passes? Apparently they are four-day Hopper passes that are valid for admission to all four WDW theme parks and may be used for any four days between 1/6/02-6/7/02 except for certain blackout dates. They cost $99 plus tax. Talk about a great deal!!

Here's my question... I have relatives who live in Florida that we'll be visiting later this year. Could I have them buy 2 of these passes for my husband and I to use when we're in town? Do they look like normal 4-day hopper passes? Or would we be required to show proof of Florida residency at the gates when we entered the park with them?

Any additional information you could provide on this would be sooo helpful! This sure would be a SUPER deal if we could do it.

A.

Janet,

Photo ID showing proof of Florida residency is required to use those passes.

Q.

and in a follow-up, Janet states: Wish they'd do specials like that for us out of towners.

A.

Janet,

The point of the special passes, at discounted rates, is really a PR thing for Disney with the locals.

Those of us that live elsewhere are coming anyway, right? :)

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Q.

Christian asks: Greetings from Germany.  I am going to Disney World on March 4th till March 13th. Since early entry has been eliminated I am wondering what are the busiest days of the week for each park now. Thank you for your help.

A.

Christian,

The main thing to remember is that the Magic Kingdom tends to be busiest on Mondays and that it also tends to be very busy on weekend nights (during the quieter times of the year) when the night time parade runs.

The other parks run on a very regular schedule and don't see the big fluctuations, except for a bit of an increase on the weekends due to local visitors.

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Q.

Joe writes: Hello Brian, I know you frequently stay at OKWR. I was wondering if a rental car is needed when staying there. I know there are several bus stops to take you to the parks, but what about getting around within OKWR itself? It seems rather spread out and I wouldn't want to drag my kids from building 53 to the main pool or Hospitality House. Also, when using Meers Transportation or such, do they drop you off at Hospitality House or will they take you to your building?

Can you recommend a good building that is convenient to the main pool?

A.

Joe,

First, Mears (or any other shuttle service) will always drop you off at Hospitality House. It really makes sense, anyway, because you have to check in before you can do anything else! Bell services can help you get your luggage to your room via electric cart, so don't worry about that one.

Regarding transportation inside the resort, you can take any park bus anytime from your nearest bus stop to Hospitality House. All of the buses to the parks stop there last. There is always one bus (usually the Downtown Disney one) that runs to Hospitality House first. You can ask any Cast Member which one to grab -- just to be certain you have the right one -- to get back to your own building area.

If you want to walk from your building to Turtle Krawl, you really should ask for a building that's close by. It would, indeed, be a major hike from Southpoint to the Krawl!

Checking MousePlanet's Disney Maps section, and looking at the map of Old Key West Resort, you'll see that buildings 11, 12, 13,14, 62, and 61 are the closest ones to Turtle Krawl.  Buildings 23 and 63 are a bit further, but within reasonable walking distance.

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Q.

Louise asks: Brian, We recently returned from a trip to WDW and I wanted to thank-you for your site. It really helped to have info on WDW before we got there. I'm currently trying to record my thoughts on the trip and wondered if you were still accepting trip reports?

This doesn't really fall under the headline of trip planning but I was wondering if you knew the answer to a few other questions. First, is the Tree of Life a real tree in the sense that it has a root system and drops it's leaves? I thought that it was manufactured and then hand carved but a CM told us it was real.  Secondly, are the animals on the Kilamanjaro Safari real? I thought they were all real but another guest told us that some were and some were not. I'm just really curious to find out and I thought maybe you might have an idea.

Again, thank-you for your site!

A.

Louise,

I'm always accepting trip reports!  Send away, if you have one!

The tree of life is a "real tree" in the sense that it is real (not imaginary)... but it's NOT a living plant. On the other hand, ALL of the animals that you see on Kilamanjaro Safaris ARE indeed living, breathing animals.

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Q.

Bill asks: My annual pass plan - for deep hotel discounts - now looks to be in question as I when I called today, they said that those discounts will end on 2/13. The operator also said she thought they may be added back in later, but had no way of knowing. This really did not make my day as I had really counted on these discounts to stay on site.

Do you anything about the particulars on this? ...Our possible WDW trip in late September has again entered my mind. If you did mention this on your site, please point me on where to look in your archives.

Anxiously awaiting your response as would really like to stay on site for as low a price as possible.

A.

Bill,

There's no way to tell when Disney will offer any discounts. The AP discounts are usually in place during the Winter (January and February) and again in the Fall (September-December) -- but it all depends on crowd levels. It's not unusual for AP discounts to not be available from mid-February through mid-April as Spring break and other travelers increase the hotel's occupancy rates.

Your best bet is to call and try to make your reservations as soon as possible, then keep calling to check on better rates. You can always cancel existing reservations if a better deal comes up.

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Q.

Mike inquires: Dear Brian, If I could pick your brain, I'd appreciate it. End of this month; first-time WDW trip; me, wife, and two daughters (11, 7). We're staying at Coronado Springs; we already bought our four-day park hoppers. We're basically there from Friday night through Tuesday noon.

I'm probably overwhelmed with information at this point (Sehlinger; websites; friends), but a few questions:

  1. How IS Coronado Springs? Most people seem to like it.
  2. Would you avoid MK on Saturday? I've tentatively scheduled MGM/Epcot for Saturday; AK/MGM for Sunday; MK Monday; MK Tuesday AM.

Your help is much appreciated; I refused to take my kids until I thought they'd actually enjoy it more than two hours a day.

A.

Mike,

Coronado Springs is a very nice resort, but it does cater to business types (convention business) and is very large (and thus, you walk a long ways to get anywhere!).

I would avoid the MK on Saturdays, unless it's the only time to catch the night time parades. I would definitely stop in to see Spectromagic!

If I were you, I would also consider switching the Sunday and Monday schedules. Sunday in the MK is very quiet, but Mondays are busier (many folks fly in on Sundays and start their vacations at the MK). Besides, if you do it that way, you won't spend two days in the same parks back to back.

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Q.

Russ writes: Dear Brian, I appreciate your patience in answering reader e-mail, particularly in view of the negative comments you have been receiving from some readers over MousePlanet coverage.

The key point about cutbacks is not that there are some during slow periods at the parks (as some are justified due to reduced attendance), but that: (1) the corporate mentality at Disney is that guests are not smart enough to realize the difference between quality and mediocrity.. i.e. the character caravan is just as good as early mornings; (2) Never admit that Disney has a weakness or made a mistake (The Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland is officially "closed for refurbishment" when the ride is GONE and Rocket Rods was built wrong to save on the budget, so quietly remove it), or why not say Due to the recession we regret that operating hours are temporarily reduced; and (3) Why spend money in maintenance and major new attractions in existing parks (anyone remember the last major addition to MK in WDW?

In short, yes I can still have fun going to WDW or Disneyland (and even Disney's Heroin Monkey Adventure/ DCA), but It isn't quite as much fun as it once was, and with each new corporate blunder the company slides closer to mediocrity and being a rank and file coaster park, not the concept that Walt Disney pioneered and proved best. Feel free to reprint this letter as I hope others who can't see might better understand.

A.

I completely understand your points, Russ. In any case, the bottom line is that each person planning a trip to a Disney park should evaluate the worth of the vacation against the money they're going to spend. If they think that the resulting value is enough to make them happy, then they should continue with their trip plans.

The corporate issues I'll leave to an MBA ethics class... :)

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Q.

Rick Writes: Brian, I was reading todayís e-mail update (where DO you find the time to answer so many!?) and noticed that you finally caught up to mine referencing the military discounts. I have seen Laniís description of the program, but you have to know that I sent my e-mail to you well before that was posted! Your reply kind of makes it seem like I was out in the dark.

In other news, I finally had the chance to read Mouse Tales over the holidays. I had given the book to my mom about a year ago, and since we were back visiting I pulled it off the bookshelf. I was a bit nervous about reading it (for the same reason I was nervous buying it in the first place!), because I donít like pointless Disney-bashing. I was pleasantly surprised to find that your book was, much like your web responses here, fairly written and intensely interesting. You have certainly done your research, and I loved all the insider stories you presented. I will be looking for the sequel the next time I hit the local Waldenbooks; I hope it is as well-written.

Please donít take it personally when I vent a bit about the negative attitudes that often come across at MousePlanet. One of your readers recently mentioned that those of us who donít like the negativity can stick to Disney.com for our dose of pixie dust. While I agree that the corporate website obviously wonít be unbiased and impartial, I come to MousePlanet for a mature, intelligent discussion of the good and bad of the Disney company. In my opinion thereís a lot more good than bad, yet the discussions focus on the negative almost to the exclusion of having anything nice to say. If it bothers me too much, I realize I am completely free not to visit the site, but I donít want it to come to that. I think thereís room for constructive criticism and discussion without resorting to blind Disney-bashing. Do you agree?

A.

Rick,

First, I'm sorry about the miscommunication about Lani's piece. I always respond to reader email as soon as possible (usually within a day or two of receiving it), but when I prepare Notes From the World, I do some final checking and sometimes make modifications to my email response. That's what happened in the case you've cited. Sorry. I didn't mean to paint you or your comments in a negative light. :)

Regarding Mousetales, I'm glad you enjoyed it! I'll copy David Koenig on this note, since David is the author of that book (and the sequel).

I definitely agree that all are welcome at MousePlanet. I think some of our readers get so upset on both sides of the Disney-bashing issue that it just becomes a hot button for some. As for me, I've learned to respond in as meek a way as I can to any criticisms of the site, as a strong reaction from me doesn't help anyone. My goal is to simply provide as much trip planning information as possible... it's just unfortunate that the cutbacks have become part of planning a trip. :)

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Q.

Kevin writes: Brian, My wife and I just returned from WDW after a 5-day trip and we had a ball.

We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and was blown away by the beauty and the closeness of the animals to our balcony. We came back one night from the parks and had zebra eating right below our window.

I wanted to write and comment that there were absolutely no sign that crowds were down. Sure it was the end of the holiday season and the weekend of the marathon, but Peter Pan and Pooh consistently had an hour wait. The E-rides  in all of the parks had an average 25-49 minute wait, but we didn't mind. We were happy just to be there.

We didn't focus so much on E-rides at Magic Kingdom because we were lucky enough to grab E-ride Night tickets on our first day. This is the first time we tried this and hope when we go back in September with a friend we will be lucky enough to have the opportunity again. Do you think we will have any luck?

Also all of the cast members were friendly as always. There was one exception of course though. When we left E-ride nights we mistakenly took the monorail to the TTC thinking the lodge buses were there. When we got there, the employee at the transportation information desk looked at us like we were idiots and said we would have to take the shuttle to Downtown Disney and catch a bus there. We wouldn't have minded it so much if she wasn't talking on the phone while she was telling us this.

Three nights later we had dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table as the park was closing and found most buses had stopped running when we were through. A driver that was getting ready to go home drove us to the AKL without complaint and talked with us the entire way back. She went above and beyond the call of duty.

We plan on staying at the Wilderness Lodge when we return in September. Any info you can provide on it? I'm not familiar with it, but my friend wants to stay there.

A.

Kevin,

I'm glad you had such a great visit! Too bad some of the CMs are not up to standard (at least the standard that was typical ten years ago), but it sounds like you had some examples of excellent service, too!

Regarding Wilderness Lodge, MousePlanet has both a "Fast Facts Page," and a photo tour of the Lodge that you may want to look over.

Also, Sue Holland recently provided another photo tour of the Lodge that you may want to look over.

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Q.

Kathy asks: Brian I sat down to read my Family Fun magazine last night and found the nice article about Disney World. Also included was your website as well as 3 others. I have spent a couple hours this morning looking through all these sights and my head is spinning. I suppose there are 100 different opinions on the subject but I'll ask it anyway. If I have to pick two parks to go to which two would you choose? If you are staying on site on a strict budget where would you stay? and how do I go about getting the best price for all of the above?

A.

Kathy,

You don't mention the ages or interests of your child(ren), but since you were reading through "Family Fun" I'll assume that you have at least one youngster...

I'd personally put the Magic Kingdom at the top of my list. That's such a great park with so much to do for young and old that it's just the best all-around park at WDW, in my opinion.

Park #2 becomes much more difficult to answer, but my own personal choice would be Epcot. There's more to see and do at Epcot than the other two parks, plus -- it's open later at night. IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth and Tapestry of Dreams are night time entertainment that is great for all ages. However, Animal Kingdom and the Studios are both great parks, too... so park #2 may come down to personal preferences for your family.

As far as where to say on a budget at WDW, there is nothing that comes close in price to the All Star Resorts if you want to stay on site, but have limited budget.

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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