Brian's Archive - Contents  Click to go back to MousePlanet main page
 Discussion Boards | Reviews | News | Trip Planning | Shop | Travel | Site Map
Brian's Basement
A Treasure Trove of Archived Stories
Google-
Look in: MousePlanet WWW

Brian Bennett

WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett

02/18/02

Q.

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?

A.

Shelley,

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.

-

Q.

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 down.

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!"

A.

Thanks for the update, Roger!

-

Q.

Brenda asks: I would like to know the prices of the tickets and hotels for Walt Disney world.

A.

Brenda,

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.

-

Q.

John asks:  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 Lodge, etc.

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.

A.

Hi John,

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.

-

Q.

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?

A.

Rafael,

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.

-

Q.

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.

A.

Taunya,

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 plus options.

I'll share your question in an upcoming piece, though. Maybe someone out there knows a work around. :)

-

Q.

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 to try.

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?

A.

Sean,

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. :)

-

Q.

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 Site!

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 pass? 

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.

A.

Robert,

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 up.

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....

-

Q.

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?

A.

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.

-

Q.

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 priority.

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.

A.

Michelle,

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.

-

Q.

Eric asks:  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!

A.

Eric,

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 breaks.

May and April will be moderate, at best, and during the two weeks on either side of Easter, the crowds will swell significantly.

-

Q.

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.

A.

Kim,

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. :)

-

Q.

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, etc.

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.

A.

Amy,

You may want to read through this page which covers character meals in MousePlanet's WDW Restaurant Resource.

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. :)

-

Q.

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 great information.

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!

A.

Sandra,

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.

-

Q.

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 Resort.

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.

Can you:

  1. 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)
  2. 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.
  3. Do we need a car or can we get by with Disney transport?
  4. Suggest some Nice restaurants - but not too expensive?
  5. Since I haven't seen Disney in sooooooo long, what's a good day-to-day plan (without passing out of exhaustion)?
  6. Best romantic things to do?

Thanks so much. I really appreciate the info.

A.

Ann,

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, however.

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 on this 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.

-

Q.

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.

A.

Carolyn,

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 brian@mouseplanet.com!

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More

Brian Bennett's Disney Trip Planner


Click here to see some awesome WDW pieces that have run on MousePlanet recently!

Click here to check out the rest of Brian's Archive, including all of the previously published "Notes From the World" pieces!

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!

 

Go to: Top | Section Contents | MousePlanet Main Page

Copyright MousePlanet® Inc. | Legal Information & Privacy Policy | About/Contact MousePlanet | Link to us

MousePlanet® is not associated in any official way with the Walt Disney Company, its subsidiaries, or its affiliates. The official Disney site is available at www.disney.com. This MousePlanet Web site provides independent news articles, commentary, editorials, reviews, and guides primarily about the theme park resorts of the Walt Disney Co. All information on this site is subject to change. Please call destinations in advance to confirm the most up-to-date information.