by Brian Bennett
| Shelley asks: Hi
Brian, I just recently made reservations for the Polynesian
Resort for February 7-10. The CM at CRO offered me a special
room rate that was running that day of $214 per night. After
spending time on your site, I see that being a AAA member, and
perhaps an AP holder might make things even more affordable
to me. Can you call back and get a AAA discount taken off of
an already discounted special?
You can certainly try! What you may actually have to do,
though, is cancel your old reservation and make a new one
through AAA (depending on how hard-nosed the Disney folks
are when you call). The same is true with the AP rates...
if they're available during your trip (and I would suspect
that they are), you should be able to get the rate changed
by a call to CRO... but if not, you can try booking a new
room and cancel the other reservations with another call.
| Roger Writes: As
regards your suggestion to Steve on 1/21/02 about a choice between
the Polynesian and Port Orleans Riverside, I have just returned
from a week at Port Orleans Riverside and if he wants to "great
away from it all" Port Orleans Riverside is the place.
It is currently very quiet, but Alligator Bayou rooms are the
only accommodations available. The Mansions are closed until
sometime in February according to a Port Orleans Riverside cast
member. I would have preferred the Mansions over Alligator Bayou,
which looks to be like a re-dress of Caribbean Beach and are
not a very ergonomically appealing layout. French Quarter is
well and truly closed longer-term with large planters blocking
the roadway approaches to the property.
It was so quiet at Port Orleans Riverside
(and the parks) during our stay in mid-January that it was
sad. It was nice not to have to wait for rides and shows,
but we ate at the food court at Port Orleans Riverside one
night and there were only a handful of other families there
in this huge space. My son and I went to the Alligator Bayou
pool and had it entirely to ourselves. There is something
to be said for meeting and interacting with other visitors.
Not even all of Alligator Bayou was
being utilized. Only the main bus stops near Boatwright's
Dining Hall had service during our visit. We never waited
much more than 10-15 minutes for a bus and always had a seat.
I must say that the cast members are
doing their very best during this difficult time. When asked
how much business is down, all they will say is, "well
this is the slowest time of the year." But we have visited
in January and in November before, both traditionally lower
attendance periods and found the attendance this visit WAY
As one cast member said, "the
magic is still here", and I will agree with that. Our
Disney World experience was still a great deal of fun. The
best example of this when we asked a cast member about IllumiNations
at Epcot. The day we were there was very rainy, Test Track
was not running and the second parade of the day was cancelled
due to the rain. But, IllumiNations would go on she said,
"anything short of a hurricane and we'll still blow-up
half the lagoon!"
|Thanks for the update, Roger!
|Brenda asks: I would
like to know the prices of the tickets and hotels for Walt Disney
Two pages on MousePlanet. First, the WDW
Resorts from A to Z page. Second, the Admission
Media from A to Z page. The first covers general issues
at the WDW resorts, including prices. The second covers admission
media to the parks... again, including prices.
Hi Brian, Just before we leave for our vacation, can I pick
your brains on one final point?
During all our previous visits to WDW
and staying on Disney property, one of the highlights has
always been visiting other resorts of course - an afternoon
and evening at the Boardwalk, dinner at Artists Point, Wilderness
How has security affected matters?
For instance, if we jump in our car at Port Orleans Riverside
and drive over to the Boardwalk, do will simply still drive
in with our WDW resort 'pass' on our car window and a simple
wave or few words of explanation?
Also, my sister and her partner are
staying offsite and are seriously thinking of staying at Port
Orleans Riverside next visit. If we drive out of WDW to pick
them up and then drive back to the gate, can you foresee any
problems if we explain that we are showing my sister around?
Any guidance you could offer would
be gratefully received.
In my experience, and from what I've heard from others, security
will still let WDW guests visit the various resorts to enjoy
the restaurants and shopping across all of WDW. I don't know
what WDW is doing about day visitors, but I have heard no
reports that day guests are being turned away at the resorts.
Having said that, I did have one odd situation when I visited
one resort (as a WDW resort guest) last Fall. The guard
at the vehicular entrance at the Polynesian Resort told me
that I couldn't come in, but when I pushed, he finally did
allow me to do so. When I called the front desk at my
resort, Old Key West, later that night to ask about the situation
I was assured that the guard was wrong to have suggested that
any guest would be restricted. Furthermore, the desk
manager at Old Key West called up the Polynesian, confirmed
that the guard (that I mentioned by name) was working that
night, and ensured that the guard was instructed on the proper
policy of the resort. He then called me back to let
me know that those instructions had been given. It was
all very odd, but I wrote it off mainly as over-zealousness
after the 9/11 incidents.
|Rafael writes: I
will be arriving at All Star Movies with my family on April
13, 2002. IF everything goes as planned we will be able to check
in as soon as we arrive (noon) and rest for a while before heading
off to the Hoop Dee Do dinner show at 5:00. If check-in does
not go as planned, we may be crunched for time and it may be
necessary to take a cab to the show. Do you know if this would
be possible? What is the driving distance from All Star Movies
to the Hoop Dee Doo?
You can take a cab from the All Star Movies to the entrance
to Fort Wilderness, but you'll need to take an internal Disney
bus from there to Pioneer Hall. You really should allow an
extra thirty to forty-five minutes or so for just that last
part of the trek.
If you arrive early enough, the best route to take from All
Star Movies to Pioneer hall will consist of a bus ride from
All Star Movies to Downtown Disney, then a bus (from Downtown
Disney) to the Ticket and Transportation Center, and finally
a "Crockett" or Boone" bus (from the Ticket
and Transportation Center) to Pioneer Hall.
There are other routes, but that would be the one recommended
by the Disney folks.
|Taunya asks: Hello
Brian. I would like to tell you that I found your site about
a year and a half ago. I read it daily. I think you do a great
job. Anyway, I was wondering about the options on the 7 day
park hopper plus pass. Do they come already built into the main
pass or do you get vouchers or something for the 4 options??
Then I was wondering if only the person with the ticket can
use an option. What I mean by that is, my daughters and me are
buying annual passes, not the PAP, we will be bringing another
friend with us and she is buying the 7day plus pass. There is
no way she will be able to use all four of the options. Would
we be able to share the options?? Hope to hear from you soon.
I know you get bombarded with mail all the time.
Last I checked, the plus options were included on the park
hopper plus pass as a separate line. I don't know if that's
still true... but if so, you would not be able to share your
I'll share your question in an upcoming piece, though. Maybe
someone out there knows a work around. :)
|Sean writes: Brian,
Thanks for all the work you and others do on the web site. My
family and I are huge Disney fans and I use your site quite
often. I have seen the "E ticket nights" mentioned
quite a few times on the site, but how can I find out if/when
those special nights are available? Do I have to call WDW directly?
My family (myself, wife, almost 4 year
old daughter, mother & father in law) will be in Disney
World for two weeks and then head off on a week Disney cruise.
Some people think we will get bored, but I know different.
There are many "off the beaten path" things we want
One excursion I already made reservations
for is Dive Quest where you get to go scuba diving in the
Living Seas aquarium. I can't find anything on your web site
about this. Do you know anything about it? Is it worth the
money/time? Any information would be helpful.
What else can you recommend that is
different? Is the Wide World of Sports complex worth visiting?
Are there Disney golf course recommendations on your site
that I missed? Which spa is better, Grand Floridian or the
Institute? These sorts of things.
Like I said, we are huge Disney fans.
By the time my daughter is four, she will have been to WDW
twice, DL five times and one Disney cruise (she has already
been on a Princess cruise and loved it) so she is learning
all the ins and outs. Any help and feed back is much appreciated.
I will try to send you a review of our three week trip.
Thanks for your help and don't hesitate
to email me.
PS: One think I thought of...our last
trip to WDW was December of 2000 and during our stay at the
Boardwalk (this is where we will be staying again), we were
able to see the Space Shuttle launch at night. I HIGHLY recommend
trying to watch it if you are lucky enough to be there. Something
to mention maybe?
Thanks for your kind note.
Regarding E-Ride Nights, yes, I would suggest you call WDW
to get the schedule for the time you're down at WDW. I'd suggest
you call the central WDW information number at (407) 824-4321
and ask for the schedule. More information on E-Ride Nights
is on this
page. Regarding off-the-beaten-path stuff, I'd suggest
you look at the pages that are linked from this
index page, which captures information on "Everything
Else at WDW" including Dive Quest (which is on the
behind-the-scenes tour page.
You may also want to do a search of MousePlanet's trip report
archive for reports that include Dive Quest dives. I know
there are one or two out there. :)
|Robert asks: Hi Brian,
I am currently planning a 7 day WDW trip for early next February
(2003) not the vacation weeks, and have been Scouring websites
for general and discount information when I found yours, Nice
I am going to stay in the park in one
of the monorail hotels with my wife and three children ages
9, 7, and 2! Which would you suggest as best for children?
Is the best way to get a discounted room rate to buy an annual
Do you think that early admissions
will be reinstated by then? (by the way I didn't learn of
the cutbacks until I visited your site I really appreciate
the heads up!) I have also read some feedback on your site
that e-ride nights are still occurring is this true?
On the ride side I have also read different
things, will the Carousel of Progress reopen by the time of
my trip, or ever? What other rides will be closed? and finally
are they ever going to do anything with Captain Nemo's Lagoon?
I have pleasant memories of going on this ride in my younger
days it was fun in a funky sort of way.
Thanks for the note and the kind words about MousePlanet!
I honestly have no way of telling when Early Entry will be
reinstated. Frankly, I'll be very surprised if it's not back
in operation for the Summer months and the Holidays, but I
don't know for sure. However, I would also be very surprised
if Early Entry is every brought back during the quiet times
of the year (like February) unless crowd levels really go
Annual Pass rates for the hotels are usually pretty good
deals. February is a good month to get them, too, but it's
not likely that Disney is quoting 2003 AP rates yet. In fact,
that probably won't happen until late Fall at the earliest.
Still, it never hurts to call and ask.
"Carousel of Progress" was reopened during the
Holidays. I don't know what WDW's plans are long term for
this attraction, but it has been operating during busier times
again. I frankly don't think "20,000 Leagues Under the
Sea" will ever be reopened. I could be wrong, of course,
but after this long of a shutdown I think the cost to fix
up whatever has deteriorated would likely be prohibitive.
I still have hopes that some new E-ticket will be built there
someday. (Although I think Adventureland should get one first.)
We'll just have to see....
|and in a follow-up, Robert
writes: Hi Brian, Thanks for your response! Should
I book hotels in the spring, and wait for the new rates and
rebook or just wait until the fall? We are currently leaning
towards the Polynesian two connecting concierge rooms so this
might effect availability?
|Robert, you hit the issue on the head. I'd suggest
you book ASAP, then check back frequently for better rates.
You can always cancel the more expensive reservations if something
better comes up.
|Michelle asks: Hi
Brian, I am new to this site and just finished reading the feedback
section, I too found this and 2 others sites in the Family Fun
magazine. The comments were very interesting.
The reason I am emailing you is to
ask you your opinion of the Best Western Lake Buena Vista
Hotel in the Downtown Disney area. My family and I are planning
a visit in December. My children are 14, 10, and 5... the
oldest being a boy. We are planning an eight night / nine
day trip including visiting Universal Studios. I have been
to Disney four times in the past years and would tell anyone
to stay inside the park, but this time being on a budget is
I could not find accommodations for
five people in a value or moderate price range hotel except
for the Best Western. My husband and I booked a room rate
including a buffet breakfast for a total of $777.00 including
tax. My questions are: did I make the right choice staying
out of the park and does this sound like a good deal to you?
Port Orleans slept 5 with a trundle
bed but my 14 year old would be the one I was planning on
sleeping on until I found out it was better for someone 9
and under. Any suggestions you might have on accommodations
for an 8 night stay under $1000? Best Western seems to offer
the same type of package versus staying inside the park.
I look forward to your response.
All of the Downtown Disney resorts are very nice. You won't
be disappointed with the Best Western LBV since budget is
an issue. However, the rate you mentioned does sound like
a good price. You'll pay more at any of the Disney resorts
that can accommodate five including Port Orleans Resort Riverside.
Brian, I would like to know, historically, what specific weeks
are the absolute SLOWEST, with the SMALLEST CROWDS at WDW? Can
you tell me specifically, like the last week of May, or the
second week of April, etc.? Thanks!
There are a few weeks of the year that are well-known for
low crowd levels. The last couple of weeks in January and
the first week in December are among them. You'll also find
that crowd levels in early February are slow, too, but build
up as various colleges and universities have their spring
May and April will be moderate, at best, and during the two
weeks on either side of Easter, the crowds will swell significantly.
|Kim asks: Hi Brian!
My family and I are going to Disney World in early May. My daughter
will be celebrating her 4th birthday there during our visit.
We are staying off-site however, we plan on having a character
dinner on her birthday at the 1900 Park Fare at the Floridian
Resort so family members not attending Disney can join us. Do
you have a suggestion for the best time to make priority seating
arrangements for dinner? Also, since it will be my daughter's
birthday, do you have any other suggestions to make her day
more special. We will be going to the Magic Kingdom during the
morning and afternoon and to Epcot after dinner. Any suggestions
you have would be greatly appreciated.
There really isn't any particular time that would be best.
I'd suggest you decide what would work best for you and your
family... and plan on being at the restaurant a bit early
(especially if the group is a larger one) to be seated.
I'll stick my nose in where it may not belong, but since
you emailed me I figure you can't get too mad...
I'd strongly suggest you consider spending the morning at
the Magic Kingdom -- but going back to your resort for a break
immediately after lunch. Take a quick swim, and take a nap...
and THEN go over to the Grand Floridian for dinner. A rested
4-year-old will be much more fun at the birthday party than
one that has been given much opportunity for sensory overload
all day (with no rest).
Besides that, I don't know what else to say. What can be
better for anyone (and especially a four-year-old) than having
a birthday party at Walt Disney World? If there is anything
else that would be, I don't know what it is. :)
| Amy asks: Brian,
in planning my first trip to Disney World since 1997, and my
3-year-old son's first trip there, I discovered your website
and its wealth of information. On my two previous trips, I went
alone or with my husband, at times when the park was relatively
uncrowded (late January, late March), and had no trouble walking
in to most attractions and restaurants that interested me. This
time, we will be staying at the Hilton Resort. I will be visiting
the parks with my son during the day while my husband attends
a trade show at the hotel. We will be flying from Los Angeles
to WDW in March, and staying there for a week, after which we
drive to Palm Beach for a family visit before we return home.
I had not really been aware of the
possibility (necessity?) of making priority season reservations
up to 120 days before my trip, and now that window is past.
Which character meals, in your opinion, would still be possibilities
at this date, and could be enjoyed by a 3 year old and his
mother? My son likes familiar foods, and most restaurants
have something he can eat. Favorites are waffles, pancakes,
scrambled eggs, chicken strips, hot dogs, grilled cheese,
etc. etc. He is pretty used to dining in informal restaurants
at home. My instincts tell me that Cinderella's Royal Table,
while a popular destination, may not be ideal for him, as
he is more familiar with Pooh and friends, Mickey, Donald,
Since my son likes Roly Poly Olie,
Bear in the Big Blue House, etc. I would like to take him
to MGM Disney to see the Playhouse Disney show and the parade
featuring those characters plus the ones from Monsters, Inc.,
which he has also seen.
We plan to "hit" each park
at least once during our stay.
If time allows, I would also like to
take him to Islands of Adventure, because of the Dr. Seuss
characters, and Gator World (I've always been curious about
that place). Thanks in advance.
You may want to read through this
page which covers character meals in MousePlanet's WDW
Based on what you've told me, you'll do very well at the
Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom. Pooh and the other characters
from the 100 Acre Wood will be on hand there, and the food
is really pretty decent, too.
It sounds like you have a great trip planned. :)
|Sandra writes: Hi
Brian, We took our first trip to WDW last June. We all had a
great time! We stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort, although
we kind of wished there were more eating options. It had several
fast food restaurants but the food was so-so. Anyway,
we made the best of it. We did enjoy the transportation to all
the parks. My boys (9 and 14) loved WDW so much they want to
go back this year!
However, my husband went to Disneyland
for our honeymoon (15 years ago), so we thought we might try
Disneyland this summer. I was looking for guides, hints, etc.
Somehow I ended up on MousePlanet, so, I'm one of your newest
readers. It makes very interesting reading. It has a lot of
However, I am so disappointed to hear
that things are not as nice as they used to be in Disneyland.
I must have been under a rock or something because I had no
idea of what has been happening to Disneyland. What happened?
I called Disney Travel to get a package,
and they are not cheap. So, I don't want to pay all that money
and find out that it is not worth it. We thought WDW was great.
Will we be in for a big disappointment at Disneyland? Should
we reconsider and go back to WDW; or maybe somewhere else?
Urgent. Please help. I don't know what
to do and I need to make a decision soon so I can make reservations.
Thank you and keep up the great work!
I agree on your assessment of the food options at CBR. That
is generally true of all of the moderate resorts, although
Coronado Springs does have Maya Grill as a more upscale option.
Regarding Disneyland, I think you'll enjoy it very much...
but be aware that there is much less to see and do at Disneyland
than at WDW. There's only two parks and a Downtown Disney
area and only three hotels. One could spend many, many days
at WDW on vacation (as you're well aware), but four or five
days will cover Disneyland easily.
I'd suggest you also read this
page, which covers some more reasons why visitors to WDW
may want to visit the Disneyland Resort as well.
|Ann asks: Dear Brian,
your site is trove for WDW information. Thanks for all the work.
I have a couple of questions I'd appreciate your help with.
My boyfriend and I will be visiting
Disney in early May before heading to Miami to meet a cruise.
Since his brother is a Marriott employee, we'll be staying
at the Courtyard in Downtown Disney (the discount is too good
to pass up). My boyfriend's sister also works for ABC (which
is owned by Disney) and has supplied us with 2 free 1-Day
Park Hopper Passes (something which must only be offered to
corporate employees) and also gets 20% off other passes.
I love Disney but haven't been there
for years - the last time being April of 1989 just before
the Disney / MGM Studios opened. I'd only stayed in the resort
with my parents - at the Contemporary, Polynesian and Grand
Floridian. I have no idea how to do Disney not in a Disney
Also since Disney has exploded, how
can we best use our time while still finding time for romance?
- I have the secret hope that he'll propose on this trip.
- Suggest what kind of passes I should
buy? (my boyfriend's sister may be able to buy passes not
available to the rest of us - like 1 day Park Hoppers)
- Tell me if MGM is still having Star
Wars weekend in May? We pushed our arrival date up
so he might catch it, the fanatic that he is. If they
are having it we'd have to do MGM on Sunday the 5th.
- Do we need a car or can we get by
with Disney transport?
- Suggest some Nice restaurants -
but not too expensive?
- Since I haven't seen Disney in sooooooo
long, what's a good day-to-day plan (without passing out
- Best romantic things to do?
Thanks so much. I really appreciate
Thanks for the kind words about MousePlanet. :) I'll try
to answer your questions as best I can...
I'd suggest you look over this
MousePlanet page to decide what you'd like to do about
admission media. Of course, that page only covers the passes
that are available to the general public, so you'll have to
get details from your (hopefully) future sister-in-law about
what passes she can buy for you.
As far as I know, Star Wars weekend will be held in May,
I don't think the special events at WDW will be cancelled
as they draw big crowds. I don't have dates for that even,
You can get by with the transportation provided by the Courtyard,
but it's NOT Disney transport. You'll find that you're dropped
off and picked up at the TTC (not directly at the MK) and
that other bus stops are less convenient than the ones for
the Disney resorts. For a short trip, though, you'll do fine.
Regarding restaurants, you may want to look over MousePlanet's
WDW Restaurant Resource.
it has information on all of the restaurants at WDW and you
can decide which ones interest you the most.
The pages under the "Planning Your Day" heading
page will be very helpful on how to do your daily planning.
And finally, for a couple of suggestions on romantic things
to do, I'd suggest a nice dinner at Victoria & Albert's
at the Grand Floridian or at California Grill at the Contemporary.
An evening stroll from the Polynesian to the Grand Floridian
would be memorable (and you'll go right by the Wedding Pavilion
where a few well-timed comments could be dropped). Likewise,
an evening out at Pleasure Island or the Boardwalk would make
for a nice evening together.
|Carolyn writes: Brian,
your on-line column is excellent. Now for my question... Are
my husband and I crazy if we go to WDW during the first week
of March? We went in October 2001 for the first time and I'm
worried we got a little spoiled by unusually low attendance.
I've searched the web and haven't found anything that says when
the Spring Break crowds are expected to hit the parks. By the
way, we've already bought plane tickets, but I wanted to know
what we should expect.
Early March isn't too bad. Many of the Spring Breakers come
in during February, but you'll still have some of them about.
I think you'll find the crowds at that time of year a little
larger than in October (remember that the fallout from the
attacks was hitting WDW hard then, too), but it will still
be a nice time to be there.
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!