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Brian Bennett

WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett

2/11/02

Q.

Jim asks: Today is the first time that I've found your site and its great. Thanks for the time and effort.

We are planning a trip to WDW in April . We have taken our kids (now twin 13 year olds and a 9 year old) to WDW 3 times over the past 6 years. All of our trips have been in early November when there were very small crowds. It was very easy to get around and a pleasure to be there.

We are concerned about the potential crowds associated w/ our "near Easter" visit. Should we expect huge summer-like crowds or are the economy, world events and the fact that we're on the back side of the holiday likely to make it manageable?

A.

Jim,

You will definitely see higher crowds the week after Easter. In fact, from all reports it sounds like crowd levels now are just as high or higher than they were last year at this time. It won't be any better come April...

-

and since we're talking about crowd levels, I'll share these recent notes now:

Q.

Janet asks: Hi Brian, I notice you say crowds are up compared to last year....but I was wondering if there are any patterns now that Early Entry is gone? i.e. Before Magic Kingdom was very busy on Monday, Thursday & Saturday. Are those still the busiest days? What I'm really looking for is a guide to which day(s) each of the 4 main parks is the least busy. Also, I understand the evening parades in Magic Kingdom are limited to Friday & Saturday nights in April. Is that true? Thanks for the help!

A.

Janet,

Monday, Friday, and Saturday would be the busiest for the MK now. The weekends, because of the night time parades and Monday just because it's Monday. :)

Typically the night time parades are limited to the weekends in April. I assume that will remain true this year.

Other than that, the only trueism I can offer is that all four parks are least busy on Sundays.

I'll also share this timely note from Mary-Ellen:

My family just returned from 7 days at WDW - January 30 - February 6.  Crowd levels seemed high for what is not considered peak season. Weather was clear and unseasonably warm, so that may have helped. We overheard a lot of Floridians saying the special deals on park tickets and hotels for Floridians were hard to pass up. (We found it hard to pass up $49 Annual Passholders rate at ASMuR and $99 round trip on USAir from Boston.)

Also, there were hundreds (thousands?) of teenaged girls in town for dance, cheerleading and pom-pom competitions. There were also a lot of families with preschool aged and infant children.  Many Disney buses were standing room only both ways.

The lines at attractions were totally unpredictable. For example, by 10 am, the stand-by line at Winnie the Pooh was posted at 40 minutes. Conversely, Dinosaur! at Animal Kingdom was a walk-on at 11:00am. Animal Kingdom was packed the day the temperature dropped to 64 degrees (Fahrenheit) but deserted when the temp was 84 earlier in the week. Fantasmic was still trying to fill sections at 7:05 p.m.(!) on a beautiful starlit night, yet Flights of Wonder was filled well before show time. Go figure.

Thanks for the update, Mary-Ellen! I'll post your note at the earlier opportunity!

-

Q.

Jein writes: Hi Brian, I remember being able to access or download a PDF file of Disney Club membership benefits somewhere on MousePlanet. I can't find it and was wondering if the legal powers that be forced you to remove it.

I just found a discount code for DC membership and thought I might give it a whirl, but first, check what my money got me. 

If you could offer any assistance, would be much appreciated!

A.

Jein,

That information is still available on this page.  Since it's really free advertising for the Disney Club, I don't think the legal folks mind.  Certainly, the marketing and sales folks don't.  ;)  

-

Q.

Kathy asks:

Where do you recommend for us to buy the tickets to get in to WDW for the best price?

another MousePlanet reader asks:

Where is the best place to buy Disney Hopper plus passes? Is it safe to order them over the internet?

and finally, Bertha asks:

Brian, My husband and I are planning on staying at Camp (sic) Wilderness in the camping area, we have a RV and was planning on staying for a couple of days, anyway I was wondering can you purchase hopper passes at Camp Wilderness and what kind of discounts do you if you stay there. Thanks.

A.

Folks,

You can read about the various options for purchasing admission media on MousePlanet's admission media page. Under the heading of "Purchasing" and throughout that page, I discuss the issue of buying the media and getting the best value when doing so.

There are three main places where I personally recommend that you buy your WDW park admission media. First, at one of the WDW parks themselves. Second, at one of the WDW resort hotels. Third, at your local (if you have one) Disney Store.

If you buy your admission media from Disney over the web, you'll pay a surcharge for processing the order and sending the passes to you (you don't pay that fee if you buy in person). In my opinion, other web-based sources are suspect. I personally wouldn't do that.

Of course, if you're buying through a reputable travel agent, I'm sure you'll do well, also.

Bertha, You can, indeed, buy park passes at the check-in area at Fort Wilderness. There is no discount for staying there... you pay the same rates as any other visitor. However, if you buy a membership to the Disney Club, you get a small discount.  You can read more about it on this page.  You can also get discounts in some other ways listed on the admission media page mentioned and linked above.

-

Q.

Don writes: Brian, I'm very grateful for the volumes of information you make available to the Disney faithful My wife is addicted to your site. We live in Boise, Idaho and hit Disney probably three times a year or so. Our kids just love it. I wanted to write a restaurant review of the 50's prime time diner at MGM. We took our kids to Disneyworld for the first time about a month ago.

You have to let me submit this. It involves my six month old's diaper exploding in the most terrible way all over my wife in the middle of the restaurant during dinner and how our server (Sue) and the rest of the Disney pulled out all the stops. They turned this possible 'day stopping' event into a minor incident that hardly slowed us down. The food is of course part of the story and the service. But most of all, we were lucky enough to get the true 'Disney guest experience' firsthand.

I do lot of marketing and consulting for marketing and understand the Disney thinking, they amaze me at how close well they can connect with their market. I started taking my kids to Disney when my first son was three months old. Since then I have been a keen student of Disney's marketing skills and have learned volumes.

A.

Don,

Thanks so much for your note! We will have the new review system online soon, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I'll share your note with our readers in a future "Notes From the World" piece. :)

-

Q.

Robert writes

My wife & I have multi-day passes( with time left) over from our trip in February 2001. Is there any way we can find out if we have one day or two left days left? We had bought them at our local Disney Store and are planning on returning this May.

And David asks:

Brian, I have a question about partially used tickets. In 1997, I went down with a 5-day Park Hopper and used 4 days. In 1999, I again went down with a fresh 5-day Park Hopper plus the old ticket. That trip, I spent five days in the parks. What I do not know is whether I remembered to use the single day on the first ticket or used up the five days on the second. How can I figure out which pass is used up and which still has a day.

Similarly, I do not recall whether I used the secondary attraction admissions on the second ticket. The terms of the first ticket had them expiring after a certain number of days from first use. The terms of the second have no expiration.

A.

Guys,

The only way that I know of is to check at Guest Relations at one of the parks where they can "scan" the ticket and see what residual value is left on them. They can do that outside the park (each park has an "external" guest relations where you can get those kinds of questions answered before you enter).  Then, if there is any residual value, you'll know for sure.

-

Q.

John asks: Hi Brian.  Quick question - what are the dates for the Spring break in the States?

A.

John,

Spring Break really covers mid-February through March for colleges and universities. Most elementary, middle, and high schools still break during the two weeks straddling Easter Sunday (although some are now taking a "mid-Winter" break like the colleges instead).

Q.

and in a follow-up, John asks: Brian, I mistakenly planned a trip to Florida for mid-March. What I originally thought was the off-season for vacationers now turns out to be right in the middle of Spring Break. We already had confirmed hotel reservations when we found out that all those great airfares were already sold out. We had to made a compromise, we'll be flying into Tampa.

So my question is this, and it's a two-parter. 1) Just how busy is it at that time of the year? and 2) How far/difficult is it going to be to get to the Orlando area from Tampa (we will have a rental car)?

A.

John,

The parks will be busy, but nowhere near as busy as they are during Easter, high Summer season, or the Christmas holidays. The nice thing is that you're almost guaranteed to have nice weather in early/mid March... something that's not so certain in the Fall.

It's only 79 miles or so from Tampa International Airport to WDW along I-4. It's an easy route to drive, and shouldn't be a problem at that time of year.

-

Q.

Amy writes: I called the Disney travel agency and they say there are no longer early admission day. Apparently every one is admitted 1 hour before 'opening time' each day. What's up with that? We have a three day pass from AAA. We want to have a character breakfast. What is the best way to arrange this?

Thanks for your help.

A.

Amy,

Starting in the late Fall, WDW began a series of cutbacks. You should look over this page, which lists them all. Early Entry was just one of the casualties.

The best way to arrange for a character breakfast is all laid out on this page. You'll find the information you need there!

-

Q.

Larry writes: Brian, You recently received a letter from someone calling all of us who complain about the loss of early entry and E-Ride Nights. He stated that there is “ no reason” for these “extras”. I beg to differ. I am not a member of DVC and always have paid the price to stay on site. The whole atmosphere just adds to the excitement of the trip.

Now that I have a younger child, 3 this year, and an 8-year-old, my thoughts of our fall trip went immediately to “Where do we stay?”

Crowds will not always be at these low levels and everything WDW is promoting to the dumbed-down flock, is that the Character Caravan is a “huge success.” That is a bunch of crap. I had a friend just come back who said it was not well organized or worth the time. He felt that they see plenty of characters at meals or in parks and this is just a waste of time by WDW to save money. I tend to agree.

So unless they reinstate EE by the time I start making reservations in March, I will make use of an off site time share. We use a company that allows us to try different timeshares and the Hilton resort at Sea World is open and looks like fun. Being that we go for extended 12-17 day trips, I will probably book this and be able to take in Discovery Cove, Sea World, & Universal, since with APs we will hit WDW at least 5 or 6 times for shorter trips during the year.

On those trips I may choose to use the AP discount and stay on-site, but not for a long trip, with the decrease in services and attention, and especially the lack of early entry. I am thrilled my friend had a good time, but, when you go as much as some of us do, we are used to certain things. With young children we plan accordingly and WDW has told us that we need to explore other options since they have more important things to do. So we will be doing just that. Sorry, but I had to get that off my chest after reading that letter.

A.

Thanks for the note, Larry. I tend to agree with you... but I try to be balanced in what is presented and some folks do disagree with us. :)

One major thing to keep in mind, though, is that the crowd levels -- by all reports -- are exceeding last year at this time, so everything that was dropped is really just extra money in WDW's coffers now.

-

Q.

Lorna shares this note on the elimination of Early Entry: Dear Brian, I'm sure you have moved on from the never-ending discussion of the loss of Early Entry... but having just returned from my first trip since the cancellation, I wanted to add my two cents! Having 3 small children (now 5, 3, 2) we always took advantage of Early Entry. The children get up at 6:00 AM so touring the Early Entry park until around 11:00 AM was a wonderful way to take advantage of their natural schedule.

We just returned from 4 days at the Polynesian and boy, did we wish there was Early Entry! Most mornings we were up and ready to go by 7:00---with no parks opening until 9:00. We did combat this by making 8:00 breakfast Priority Seatings at the Magic Kingdom (which, by the way, is a GREAT tip in and of itself. We got into the Magic Kingdom at 8:00 AM on 2 mornings, had our breakfast, and then were free to wander the park until opening. They actually had characters wandering around main Street, with only a handful of people around, and we were the first ones on Dumbo every morning because we could line up for the rope drop right at the Castle. Sorry for the aside, but this was a wonderful way for us to combat the loss of Early Entry!!!)

Anyway, we were there for the Friday-Monday of Martin Luther King weekend and the crowds were very heavy. By 10:00 AM the waits in Fantasyland were already up to 60 minutes. Fastpasses were all given out by early afternoon, etc., etc., etc. Touring with young children in the afternoon was almost impossible. I felt there was a substantial difference from our trip last year when Early Entry was still operating.

I'm not one for excessive whining on the cutbacks, but I also don't feel that all the posts on how the loss of Early Entry hasn't affected ANYTHING are accurate. At least during busy times, the loss of Early Entry is felt and will affect anyone who is used to taking advantage of it.

We still had a wonderful time---stayed on site and felt it was worth it. In fact, we will be returning in May and staying on site again. The loss of Early Entry won't keep us from enjoying WDW, we just have to work a little bit harder on our touring plans!!!

Thanks for the great site! I utilize it regularly and appreciate your efforts!

A.

Thanks for your note, Lorna. I only hope that WDW realizes that the perks it's removed is why so many folks have stayed onsite in the past.

-

Q.

Merle asks: Brian, I understand that certain restaurants are Disney/MGM Studios offer priority seating to Fantasmic. Is this true? If it is true can you tell me which restaurants offer it, when the best time is to make a reservation, and any other tip to take advantage of this little know secret.

We are visiting WDW for 2 weeks. June 8 thru June 22. We are staying at our timeshare called Ron Jon Orlando formerly known as the Isle of Bali. Our party will consist of our children ages 10 and 7. My 79 year old parents will be joining us as well. They've been there once before in 1992 and loved it. They are in great shape so I don't anticipate any problems getting around.

Any info you can pass along that will help us have a fun and relaxing time would be most appreciated.

A.

Merle,

There's a whole page on that topic on this page in MousePlanet's Walt Disney World Restaurant Resource.  I believe that all of your questions on the Fantasmic! Dining Experience will be answered there.

Other than that, I would strongly recommend that you look over MousePlanet's WDW Trip Planning Guide. There's tons of information there that should help you as you plan your visit.

-

Q.

Rebecca writes: Hi, Brian! First of all, thanks for all the great Walt Disney World information you provide on your site - I always enjoy reading your columns.

I do have a quick question. Does the Magic Kingdom's Country Bear Jamboree show change for Christmas or does it have the original show year round? I am a Disneyland Cast Member and having lost our Bears in September, I am just curious about what show I might see if I visit WDW in December of this year.

Thanks for your help!

A.

Rebecca,

WDW does have a holiday version that runs roughly from Thanksgiving time through the Christmas Holidays.

It's been the same show for many years, and no one mentioned it to me this year, so I don't know if it was changed over this year or just that no one cared that they had. ;)

During the rest of the year, the show now being shown is the "original" one... not the Vacation Hoedown.

-

Q.

Angela queries: Hello, Brian!  My family will be going to Disney World in Late May, including Monday, May 27, which is Memorial Day.  Should we avoid all the parks that day, or mainly the Magic Kingdom? Thank you for your help!

A.

Angela,

The entire week that includes Memorial Day will be busier than the weeks before and after that weekend. Also, Memorial Day itself will be much busier than other days because of local traffic.

Personally, I wouldn't change my trip plans because of the day... I'd just be prepared to hop out of any park that is getting too busy and even be prepared to spend more time than usual at the resort pool.

-

Q.

Cathy asks: Hi Brian, we have found your website very informative and have been using a lot of the tips and info for our upcoming trip in late March. My major concern is the crowds. The last time we went to the World it was early December and there were no crowds at all. Will we be totally disappointed this time? Are the parks shoulder to shoulder crowded? We have made at least one Priority Seating for each day, it that enough?

Also, are there taxi stops at all the major parks and resorts? I know they would be more expensive than the free transportation, but we plan on park hopping on certain days and don't want to spend a lot of time on buses. We will be staying 5 nights at the All Star Music and 3 nights at Wilderness Lodge. How is the transportation from these resorts?

Our previous stay was at the Grand Floridian - we were truly spoiled here but our budget this time is not as great. I guess we need the honest truth -- Are we completely insane for going at this time of year??

A.

Cathy,

You need to plan on the crowds during Easter being very big. If you're used to early December, be prepared for very long attraction and transportation waits. It comes with the territory at that time of year. I don't think you're "completely insane" for going then... but you do need to know what you're up against.

I don't think you'll find that taxis will save you much time, unless they're out in front of the resort when you want to go. You'll often find taxis outside of the parks, though (especially near closing time) that can save you some time on the trip back... but, as you pointed out, you'll pay a premium for using them.

The transportation is good from all of the Disney resorts, in my opinion. You'll be using primarily buses from both the All Star and Wilderness Lodge resorts (there is a boat from the Lodge to the Magic Kingdom, but you'll use buses otherwise).

-

Q.

Jeanette asks: Hi Brian, I read your website faithfully each day for updates. I love all the articles but especially the trip reports. I am looking for a particular trip report that I just read in the past week. I am not sure if I read it on your website or another one.

Did you recently post a trip report from a family that spent time in Vero Beach prior to going onsite at WDW? I thought it was from your site but I cannot find it in the archives. Please search your memory. It would have been posted this week.

A.

Jeanette,

All of MousePlanet's WDW updates can be looked up on the WDW Update Page.  I hope you find what you're looking for!

-

-

And now for a couple of wrap-ups from previous "Notes"...

Q.

Steve writes:

Brian, Thought I could clear up the "Big Red" question. When the AK was in previews, there was in fact a large fake elephant (Big Red) laying on the ground right after the geysers towards the end of the ride. The driver said "Big Red is Down". She looked dead. And that was the problem. Every single time around some child would start screaming. Michael Eisner had insisted that the elephant stay because he felt is added drama to the attraction. However, the guest complaints were many. So at first the woman's voice started to say "Little Red is safe and Big Red is going to ok" But that was never clear and the cries continued. Eventually the Elephant was removed and the poachers camp expanded.

And another MousePlanet reader writes:

There was indeed a dead big red at the end of the safari - but it was removed before the park official opened. If you search for trip reports from the previews of Animal Kingdom back in '98, you should find reference to it.

A.

Thanks, Steve. I didn't know about the Big Red on the tour.

-

Q.

Dan writes:

Hey there, Brian.

Recently Daniel asked: "My family and I are planning an 8-day vacation to Disney World...when I looked at Disney World's website, there were no 8-day park hopper tickets. What should I do? Buy two 4-day ones, or what?"

My suggestion would be to consider annual passes. Last time I checked, the break even point was at around a 7 day stay for an adult AP. That is, tickets for 7 individual days would equal the purchase of an AP. That, coupled with the potential for lodging and dining discounts, would make this a great option. Plus, Daniel and family could then plan on another trip in a year, to occur just before the expiration date of their passes, thus getting two vacations (well, admission anyway) for the price of one!

Carl adds:

My wife, son and I spent a week at Disneyland last March and are planning another trip this March. I was looking for some multi-day pricing information and stumbled upon annual pass prices. I did the math and realized that by paying for a 5-day passport, we were probably within $10 to $15 of the price of an annual pass. If only Disney had pointed this out to us (we booked through their travel agency), we would have likely been back a couple of times during the year instead of just the one time.

My question is this: For Daniel, who asked about 8-Day passes, how close is he to paying for an AP instead? Might he want to consider this option???

and Andy added:

Hey Brian, I really enjoy the column, we got the Florida Resident Annual Pass + 100 days and plan to wear the strip off of them by the time they expire. What a great deal for us! We live 2 1/2 hours south of the park and used to only go when we could get an extra weekend day but with the AP we can get to the resort Friday night in time to go to a park, all day Saturday and most of Sunday. We went last weekend stayed at All Star Music at $49 a night, walked on every ride until late afternoon and had a ball.

One thing people need to consider purchasing packages is that length of stay passes expire whether you use them or not, and they must be used consecutive days. Park hoppers as far as I know never expire and can be used on your next visit no matter how long it has been. Hope that helps people choose the right options for them.

A.

Gentlemen,

Excellent point! That should have been as obvious to me as it was to you.  Yes, a WDW annual pass is just about at break-even point at 7/8 days and doesn't expire for a while year while the length of stay passes expire at the end of the trip.

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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