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Brian Bennett

WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett

2/25/02

Q.

Traci writes: FYI, I just returned from Walt Disney World yesterday (the 19th) and the E-ride nights had been going on for most of the week... also, crowds were unusually horrendous, they kept us out of the parks until a few minutes after opening time... yes, I said after! The lines for security check in were slow and long, not enough "checkers" for the number of people with bags coming in!

A.

Thanks for the update, Traci. Maybe the powers that be will eventually back off and bring back Early Entry for resort guests. :)

-

Q.

Jim writes: Brian, Just returned from a 7 day trip to WDW and wanted to let you know that as several others have reported crowds are picking up again. People going should also be aware that Disney's worthless security screening process can take a very long time especially mid-day when crowds coming into the parks are heaviest. We also took a three day trip to DL in December, and in all our visits to the parks over the ten days total we only saw one person who had his Swiss army knife confiscated from his bag. As they do not have metal detectors, and do not do body searches, had he carried the knife in his pocket he would have made it past security.

Also, In answer to Taunya's question. The options on a plus pass are encoded on the pass. They do not come as separate tickets. So, only one person may use at a time.

Regarding Sandra's question on whether she should still go to Disneyland, the answer is definitely "yes". Granted, the park may not be as pristine as it was back in Walt's day, but neither is anything else these days. It still is one of the most beautiful, detailed and well-kept amusement parks in the world. For people who visit the park on a weekly basis, the flaws might be glaring. But for the average park goer, they are barely noticeable.

Last but not least, just wanted to let everyone know we stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge this trip to WDW. All as I can say is "WOW!" It has got to be one of the most beautiful and well-themed resorts I've ever stayed at. As reported by others, the rooms are a tad bit small for a deluxe resort but the view of the savannah is incredible, and Boma is the best and most inventive buffet restaurant I've ever eaten at. The food isn't just filling, it's worth making a trip to the lodge just to eat there.

Love your website. It's by far the best source for up-to-date info on WDW and DL.

A.

Thanks for the note and all the information, Jim!

-

Q.

Sue writes:

Hi Brian, Nitpicking time :) Someone asked about a hurricane season in Florida.  Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. September is the most active month. We usually seem to have one around Labor Day weekend. You're right, though, that that far inland people usually have nothing to worry about. It's been a mighty long time since a hurricane has come through central Florida.

and another reader, calling herself Belle, asks:

Hi Brian, I along with my sister and brother in-law will be taking our first trip to WDW. We are from cool Washington state and was wondering just how hot does it get? and how wet does it get when it rains? The cutbacks has conceded us but I don't think it will bother us too much.

A.

Thanks, Sue. I'll make sure I clarify that in an upcoming piece. :)

Belle,

The weather varies in Central Florida from cool (in the Winter months) to extremely hot in the Summer. In general, it is much warmer and more humid than you're used to up in the Northwest. As far as rain goes, Central Florida has a LOT of rain during the late Summer and Fall.

I'd suggest you look over this page and check out the comments for the time of year you're considering for your trip.

-

Q.

Frank asks: Hi, We were recently at Animal Kingdom. I have a fascination with baobabs and have a number of questions. I hope you can help.
  1. We saw one live baobab at the Mombassa Marketplace. Are there other live baobabs at the park, (perhaps on the savannah which we didn't visit). Did you grow the one at Mombassa from seed? Nursery grown? Collected? How old?
  2. We saw 2 large fake baobabs on the Pangani Forest Trail. Are there others of these?
  3. Is the Tree of Life (which was just great) supposed to be modeled after baobabs? I didn't have my binoculars but it looked like the tree of life had simple or pinnately compound leaves instead of palmately compound leaves? Just artistic license? or based on something other than a baobab?

A.

Frank,

You have me at a loss. Prior to your email, I didn't know what a baobab is. From the context, I now figure it's some kind of tree. :) Obviously, I'm not going to be much help to you, but you might want to call the Walt Disney World Gardening Info Line at (407) 938-3900 and ask your questions directly.

-

Q.

Jim writes: Here's a tip for readers wanting to see Epcot's Tapestry of Dreams parade. There are two parades each late-afternoon and evening, with each having two identical groups operating simultaneously. The early parade begins with one group starting in Morocco and proceeding to Germany, while the second starts in Germany and travels to Mexico. The evening parade retraces their path back to their respective starting points.

Many parade watchers don't realize there is both a starting and ending performance by the three main Dreamcatchers, Leonardo Columbus, Elfin, and Cosmo (call them by name after their performance and they may come over to say hi!). Each parade begins and ends with the trio.

So here is the tip. Position yourself at the snack booths across from the gate just south of Germany (the Mexico side). At parade start, the Dreamcatcher float appears and you witness the intro performance. The whole parade turns in front of you to proceed down the parade route. The puppet performers and drummers who come out from backstage are energetic and excited to see and greet you! After a time you notice that from the other direction the Dreamcatcher float has returned (did it go around the lagoon? No, this is the second trio of Dreamcatcher's and the beginning of the other parade.) The timing is perfect as Leonardo, Elfin and Cosmo link up to the rear of the parade you've been watching and continue on as its final float. The puppets and drums following turn in front of you to disappear through the gate to backstage. These performers, knowing they are nearly finished, always like to end in a flourish and you see some spectacular displays! And finally, having seen both parades, the Dreamcatchers (the third set) bring up the rear, and present the closing performance. It's a long time to sit, but thoroughly enjoyable!

A.

Thanks, Jim! I'll certainly make a note of your suggestion in an upcoming Notes piece.

-

Q.

Jon asks:

Hi Brian, Just been reading some of your info on Disney, very informative it was too.

I'm from Northern Ireland and we were thinking of visiting Disneyland next Easter 2003 for two weeks. As Easter Sunday is on the 20th do you estimate that the crowds will moderate or high during our stay.

and Lori asks

Brian - We will be going to WDW on memorial day and the week after. We were able to get a really good deal at the All Star Movie resort and have talked to people about this week and they said it was better than June. My fear is Memorial Day. We want to go to a park that day but realize it will be crowded. Which park would you suggest?? Which one will be least crowded on a holiday??

I have also heard that the parks open earlier than their stated opening times. Is it true that we can arrive thirty minutes early and get in??? I realize the early entry days are not active right now but I read that even on non early entry days the parks really open earlier.

A.

Jon,

Thanks for the kind words about MousePlanet! :)

During the two weeks that straddle Easter (the week before and the week after) crowd levels are very much higher than they are during the weeks immediately prior to and following that particular fortnight.

and Lori,

Memorial Day is usually a very busy day at the parks. Not only is it a long weekend for travelers, but as a holiday you'll see a big boost in local visitors, too. I would suggest that Animal Kingdom and Epcot would be your best bets for that day. As a Monday and a holiday, the Magic Kingdom is likely to be very busy and the Studios, being a smaller park, will likewise be crowded. Animal Kingdom and Epcot are both very large, so they can absorb large crowds with relative ease.

All of the parks have a habit (especially when larger crowds are expected) of opening earlier than their stated times. Sometimes this means that you can get into just the first part of the park (Main Street and Hollywood Boulevard, for example) to do some shopping and get snacks or breakfast. Depending on the expected crowds, though, the park attractions may actually open earlier than stated hours. It really depends on how many people are expected on any given day. 

-

Q.

Kevin asks: Hi, Just wondering if you have any insight into the best rooms at Boardwalk Inn. We have a water view, but we'd like to be right on the corner above Flying Fish if possible. Any idea where we can find room numbers? Or is there a better room? or is there Boardwalk Inn expert you might suggest we contact?

A.

Kevin,

I don't know the actual room numbers, but when I stayed at the Boardwalk a while back, I actually asked for "a room near the elevators and with a nice view." I didn't know exactly what room to ask for, but instead gave the Disney folks a list of what I wanted.

You may want to go to this page and click on the link for "Room Controller." There's a hint there that you may find helpful.

By the way, I got exactly what I asked for.

-

Q.

And now, some readers comment on the the Disney Vacation Club (DVC). (Note that the articles and pages referred to here can be found in the  Disney Vacation Club section of MousePlanet.)

Matthew writes:

Dear Brian, Great article regarding the financial analysis of purchasing DVC points. My wife and I have been DVC members since 1996, so we're somewhat biased towards the program and how it works. I've had the "financial" discussion regarding the DVC with many of my friends and with others on-line. The thing that you always have to keep in mind is that the numbers never really tell the whole story. Much of the allure to the DVC is the fact that it is centered around WDW and selling the Disney Magic. I've seen financial analysis that show a break-even period after 7 years, some after 13 years and some that show your investment barely breaks even over the course of the next 40 years (DVC points expire in 2042). The bottom line is that if your not sold on Disney, then the DVC is probably not for you. It's hard to put a price-tag on the happiness your family feels when vacationing at WDW. For some, that may also extend to knowing that you're always guaranteed some form of Disney vacation when you own DVC points. It's just different for different individuals and I've found that most people that get really wrapped in making the right financial decision, all too often just can't justify the decision to purchase for some reason or another.

To take a different path and look more at the numbers, some analysis also needs to include the fact that certain portions of your dues also count as property taxes thus providing income tax relief. What about the person that finances their points and gets a tax break from the mortgage interest? Those are all individual factors that affect the financial decision-making process.

Again, I'm somewhat biased towards the program and in the short time that my wife and I have been members, we've secured enough fond memories and confidence in the program to feel we've made the right decision. We also try and make that point abundantly clear to people that ask us about the DVC.

Terry writes:

Dear Brian, I read the great debate and financial analysis of DVC ownership with much interest because I have always wondered whether or not it really made fiscal sense to have purchased by 150 point ownership two years ago. Although I am a very technical / numbers type of guy, every once in awhile you have to step back and look at the forest with a simpler argument. The answer to the great debate is... it depends on how you plan to use your points in real life - and then the scenario plays itself out to an easy answer.

My individual case in point: Two years ago we took a long vacation with 105 of my initial 150 points spending 4 nights at a Vero Beach studio and 3 nights at a Boardwalk Villa Studio. At that time, the total room cost in dollars (without tax!) was almost dead equal to my down payment with upfront costs included. 

Each year for the next 10 years I will spend roughly $1900 a year in loan payments and maintenance fees. Last year we spent 130 points for 5 nights in a two-bedroom vacation home (the kids are bigger and the in-laws came along) at Vero Beach which would have cost $2050 (without tax!).

This year we will be banking most of our points because next year we will spending 5 nights during Spring Break in a two-bedroom vacation home and a studio (taking another family with us) with a preferred view at the Boardwalk Villas which will cost us 270 points, but which would have cost us $4730 (without tax!).

The way I see it, if I continue this pattern of averaging $1900 a year in loan payments and maintenance instead of paying an average of $2440 per year in hotel costs (with tax) AND in seven more years I will only have to pay maintenance fees AND the bonus that my interest and property taxes are deductible at my marginal rate AND banking an average of 24 points a year extra, I come out way ahead no matter how the stock market does (down 30% since my down payment) and investment / inflation rates average.

So in conclusion, the answer to the great debate is it depends on how you use your points pertaining to your real life situation. On the other hand, would I really stay at the Boardwalk Villas in a two-bedroom at $652 a night if I was paying a lump sum versus two rooms at the All-Stars for $190? Now that is the great personal debate. In the meantime, I will enjoy the luxury of DVC which I may have fooled myself into believing that I could afford.

And Mark writes

Brian, I am considering buying into DVC and I have taken the tour on property. Prior to taking the tour, I read your information on MousePlanet, and it really helped!

Right now, I am leaning towards not buying because of the point cost of other Disney hotels. I live close to WDW, and for an occasional weekend, I will book a room at one of the many hotels on property. I have stayed at the Grand, the All-stars, and everything in between. The fun for me is in the variety. I rely on annual Passholder deals to reduce the cost where possible, and have always enjoyed my time. I thought that if I could pre-pay these weekends via DVC and save money, it would make sense.

After reviewing the literature I received on the tour, I paid close attention to the point costs for Disney-owned hotels that are outside DVC. If I were to buy now, my "home resort" would be located at the new Beach Club Villas. I would consider that an upper end hotel, as the Beach & Yacht Clubs are very nice hotels. So my assumption was that I could trade my points for a comparable amount of time at the Yacht and Beach Clubs, or the Grand, Poly, WL or Contemporary. Not So! For the number of points that I could stay for a week at DVC during the cheapest season of the year, that would buy 2-3 nights at the Grand. As I looked closer, all of the hotels were

that way. In fact, it would cost more points to stay at Port Orleans, Caribbean Beach or Coronado Springs than at the Beach Club Villas.

Then another thing hit me. This point difference will only get worse! For property that is owned by DVC, the total number of points for any year can not increase over the life of your lease. That really shuts down the inflation issue. But I don't think that the point totals will have to be locked in like that for the non-DVC Disney hotels. The point cost of the non-DVC Disney hotels will increase with inflation. In essence, now and even more in the future, I would have a lot of incentive to stay at the DVC properties to get the most for my points. For me, that's a bad thing, since I really like the variety. I want the opportunity to stay at a monorail resort, and not feel like I'm blowing my points for the year!

For these reasons, I think I'll pass on DVC. I'd like to get your reaction to this line of thought. Please let me know if I am missing something.

finally, another MousePlanet reader writes

Brian, I have been a DVC member since 1993. I found the financial analysis in MousePlanet's DVC section interesting but flawed. When I purchased my membership originally of 230 points, I was also given, as a bonus, free admission to the theme parks until the year 2000. With that original membership, I averaged 20 days a year. This clearly skews the value in the calculations. Since that time I have purchased an additional 70 pts. at OKWR and 150 pts. at the Boardwalk. Admittedly, my use very frequently does not include weekends as I usually visit family in state every other trip. This of course maximizes my point usage. Additionally, with the decline of the stock market, many people are receiving no interest on investments and many have losses that they will not recoup for decades. If you add in these facts to the calculations, I feel many people are doing very well with their DVC memberships.

A.

Matthew and Terry, I completely agree with your note. :)

Mark, For your purposes, you're thinking is right on target, too. If I you, I wouldn't buy into the DVC either.

and finally, to the unnamed reader:

Thanks for your note! Fortunately, the stock market is generally not in decline, so folks really shouldn't use that temporary situation as a bellwether for deciding whether or not to buy into the DVC.

I still think that everyone should consider their own likelihood of visiting their home resort on a regular basis and crunch the numbers for themselves.

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Q.

A MousePlanet reader writes: I was visiting your site for the 1st time and have a question. After the year 2042 when the (Disney Vacation Club) timeshare disappears, what does Disney intend to offer?

A.

The purchase that DVC owners make is use of points through 2042. After that year, Disney owns the resorts outright.

If the DVC has been successful, and I suspect it will be, I think Disney will reissue the points, adjust point chart values, and do it all again.

We'll just have to wait and see.

-

Q.

Darren asks:

Hi Brian, We are a family from Wales (UK) and have recently been looking at buying a time share at Vistana Village, and were really interested in reading a debate you apparently had on site which a person (Christopher 02/04/02 notes from the world) referred to as 'DVC v Vistana' but I couldn't find it on your site, could you point me in the right direction as to where I could read this article , thanks.

and Larry writes

Brian, Just read your recent reader notes and wanted to comment on the reader who said Vistana was a run by a “fly by night” small company that will not be around. Actually, Vistana Resort is owned and operated by Sheraton and is a well run facility. It has numerous benefits.

I have a couple of weeks a year timeshare with a company in Georgia, but, am also a member of RCI and can use numerous Timeshares all over the world. We have used Vistana as well as the Hilton Grand Vacation Club Villas at Sea World. Both of these properties were well run and very convenient to not only WDW, but to Sea World, Universal, and BG Tampa.

I love staying on property at WDW, but with the elimination of Early Entry, I will use my Timeshare and our APs to go on extended trips. I will definitely stay on property for a short trip, just so my 3 year old can get a feel for it, but, for an extended stay we will be off-property. Just wanted to clear up the misconception that all timeshares in Orlando not on WDW property are tiny wanna-bes. Most are, in fact, owned by large companies and well run. Thanks.

A.

Darren,

There is a section on MousePlanet at that covers the Disney Vacation Club in detail. I think the section you're looking for is under the heading, "The Great Debate."

Although there is no specific page that discusses the Vistana versus the DVC specifically, but there are some pages that discuss timeshares (including Vistana) and compares them as a block against the DVC program.

And Larry,

Thanks for the note. I hope you noted that I defended Vistana. ;)

There are many excellent time share alternatives in Central Florida. Vistana, Westgate, Orange Lake and others are just some that come immediately to mind.

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Q.

David writes: If everyone reads the small print in the Disney Vacation Club guide, Disneyland Paris (DLP) includes length of stay passes for all the members of the group. These are hopper passes for both parks when the Walt Disney Studios (at DLP) opens. This is why it is more expensive to stay at DLP than Disneyland or Walt Disney World. Also, DLP is owned by Eurodisney SCA, a separate company. A little bird tells me, there may be some new deals with Tokyo soon!!!

A.

David,

Thanks for your note. Of course, the admission at the DLP parks for DVC members is a key part of the point value. Thanks for the reminder!

-

Q.

Suzanne asks: Hi Brian, I had a question regarding whether or not a fee was required to upgrade my daughters multi-day park hopper pass, purchased when she was 8 and now she's 11 - no longer a child, You e-mailed back right away THANKS and suggested I look at Admission Media A-Z which I have read through twice now but still can't find the answer to this very specific question. Can you just give me the answer via e-mail? Much appreciated! 

A.

Suzanne,

Sorry I didn't catch your question on the site.  :(

Anyway... No fee is required for such an "upgrade." All of the residual value on your daughter's older pass will be applied to the new one.

-

Q.

Debbie writes: I visited WDW, staying at the Caribbean Beach Resort in mid- February. I read your website religiously every day from the time I booked my trip in September until I left for my trip, and frankly, you had scared me to death. I have to tell you that it was one of the BEST trips to WDW I ever had!!! I read all of the negative comments and was really worried that the place I have loved for so many years was not going to be the same.

Well, imagine my surprise when it was wonderful!!!! It was still the same magical place I remembered. All of the cast members I came into contact with were pleasant and helpful. The hotel was wonderful!! The parks looked absolutely beautiful. They were crowded (but not annoyingly so) and it was hard to tell that any cutbacks had been made.

The only negative I can think of was having to stop at a security checkpoint upon entry into the parks to have my backpack checked. You (and others running similar websites) really need to lighten up a bit, stop overanalyzing every little thing and enjoy the place. Every company experiences ups and downs. If you and your readers are so disappointed with the current state of things at WDW, the solution is simple... DON'T GO!!!!! and don't ruin it for everyone else!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A.

Debbie,

First off, I'm very glad that you had a great trip! I don't report on the cutbacks to "scare" anyone off... just to let everyone know what they're going to get for their money. If they choose to go on their trip anyway, then I hope they have a great vacation as you did.

Second, I have, personally, decided to not visit WDW for awhile. I usually visit two times a year... but this year I will be taking a full fifteen months off. When I go back, at Christmas time, I'll reevaluate the situation as it applies to me and my family.

Q.

and in a follow-up note, Debbie wrote: Thanks for your prompt response. After re-reading my e-mail it seemed like I was a little harsh. Sorry. I really enjoy your website and will continue visiting it daily. I understand your point about letting people know what they'll be getting for their money, etc., but I think for someone who has NEVER been to WDW, some of the comments could discourage some from going and I, personally, feel that everyone should go at least once in their life.

Thanks again and I hope to correspond with you again in the future. (I am going back from December 4-9, 2002 with my husband who has NEVER been !!!!!!! I have never seen the parks decorated for Christmas so I am greatly looking forward to it!)

Take care.

A.

Debbie,

No harm done. :)

I'm going back in late December for a family reunion. After not being there for a full 15 months, I'm looking forward to a great trip too. Like I said, I'll judge again at that point about what frequency my family and I will revisit... after WDW has another chance to redeem itself to me. ;)

During my last trip, there were several unbelievable situations that my family and I had to deal with. WDW just wasn't the same, and I ended up shipping off a rather harsh letter and getting only a minimal response. I was quite disappointed, to be honest. I've not made a big deal about my personal dissatisfaction on MousePlanet -- instead, I concentrate on just giving the facts and allowing MousePlanet readers to discuss the pros and cons of visiting during the cutbacks.

-

Q.

Ray asks: My family is going to WDW in late August. I note that the "value season" starts on the 25th this year. What kind of crowds can we expect? Would you recommend a particular order in seeing the parks? Thank you.

A.

Ray,

The very last week of August will be pretty good as far as crowds go. For the last several years, crowds have really dropped off by mid-month, and I don't know any reason why that wouldn't be true this year also as many schools start a week before September nowadays.

I'd suggest you look over the "Planning Your Day" pages that are listed here. You'll find a lot of suggestions on daily planning that will be helpful.

I would also suggest that you look over this page, and note the pages on "Tour the ...." various parks. There are suggestions there for each of the major parks.

-

Q.

Andrew asks: Dear Brian, I'm planning my first trip to WDW and my tentative time is late April 2003. (I realize this is WAY in advance, but the abundance of planning info leads me to think that it's not too early to think about details).

I have some questions:

  1. am I correct in presuming that crowds are less in late April, after Easter and spring break?
  2. for a family of 4 with parents who want to steal some private time, it seems like a suite is the way to go. The price for suites at a place like Doubletree seems to be MUCH less than those suites at the Disney-owned resorts. Am I missing something here? The Disneyphiles seem VERY partial to the resorts despite complaints here and there about crowds and aging rooms. Are the resorts truly that much more desirable when one is spending most the time at the parks?
  3. the packages are overpriced and I'd be better off booking my room, airfare and passes separately - true?

Thank you for the benefit of your wisdom and experience!

A.

Andrew,

First off, I think you're very wise to start planning now.

Crowds in late April will, indeed, be less than the times around Easter and earlier during Spring break time.

I'd suggest you look over the "Planning Your Day" pages that are listed here. You'll find a lot of suggestions on daily planning that will be helpful. The main thing that I suggest on those pages is to take a daily afternoon break. That's especially true for families with younger children, but I would really recommend that strategy even for an all-adult group. If you choose to follow my advice, you'll note that staying at a Disney resort makes it much easier to leave the park and return. I just don't see any advantages in doing the "Disney Commando" thing and spending all day in the park. You'll end up going home from your vacation even more tired than you arrived! Not a good idea! :) There's more information on that issue on this page.

I agree on your thoughts on package deals, too. This page lists several ideas about pre-trip planning that you may want to consider including issues on package deals, etc.

-

Q.

Regarding a recent question here in Notes From the World, Steve suggests:

Brian, You offered the following advice to Rafael asking about transportation from the All Star Movies resort area to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue:

"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."

Please be advised that the easiest travel is catch a bus to Magic Kingdom and then a boat to Fort Wilderness. We've done this twice (2001 and 2002). Our most recent trip, the boat stopped briefly at Wilderness Lodge and then to FW. It's a 2 minute walk from the boat dock to Pioneer Hall. The same boat will take you back after the show.

Marc agreed:

Hi Brian, I just saw Rafael's question about how to get from the All-Star Resorts to Wilderness Hall. On my last trip in January, I saw the Hoop Dee Doo Revue the first time. We also stayed at the All-Star Movies and had show reservations for the first night.

Here is the transportation, which worked very well for us: We took a bus to the Magic Kingdom from our hotel. There we switched to the Fort Wilderness boat. It was a nice and relaxing trip and we were at Wilderness Hall with plenty of time to spare. From the boat dock at Fort Wilderness it is just a short stroll to the show building.

Hope this helps!

as did Kim:

Brian, In regards to a suggestion you gave Rafael on 2/18/02 for getting to Fort Wilderness. Since they're going to the 5pm Hoop Dee Doo, I suggest taking the Bus to Magic Kingdom, then getting on the boat to Fort Wilderness. This way there are less bus transfers and the boat dock is right there by Pioneer Hall. It's not the "official" route, but probably quicker - and the boat ride is nice.

but another reader, who didn't identify himself, suggested:

I read your response to Rafael and, with the revised bus route, I thought I'd share a quicker way.

Instead of taking a taxi to Fort Wilderness, take a taxi to the Wilderness Lodge and trek out back to the boats. The boats run every 20 minutes and are much more expedient than the buses, even the internal one in Fort Wilderness. As I write this, the internal bus route has changed so there is no longer a "straight shot" to Pioneer Hall, whereas the boat will empty you out at Pioneer Hall.

Also, if check-in is harried, have that guest service person contact the ticket booth at Pioneer Hall. They can alert them that you might be a few minutes late and not considered a no-show. The two nightly shows have been fairly busy lately, so you want to make sure they know you're coming.

A.

Thanks for the alternative routings, everyone.  As I pointed out in my original answer, there are several ways to get from the All Stars to Pioneer Hall.  You just made my point for me. :)

-

Q.

Greg writes:

Hi Brian, Great stuff as usual. I was reading your Q&A's where someone was asking about making Birthdays at WDW special. I seem to remember something at either Disneyland or WDW where a guest with a birthday can pick up a pin or button at City Hall proclaiming the B-day. Cast members would see the button and wish the child a happy B-day. I remember this from a few years ago. Hopefully they still have this.

and I responded...

Greg, Thanks for the note. Maybe someone else can confirm that the birthday pin are available when I post your note on the site.

But before I started work on the next Notes From the World piece,

Kim wrote:

Brian, If a WDW guest goes into Magic Kingdom Guest Relations and tells them it's their child's birthday they'll give her a "It's My Birthday" button and have a character call her.  I've done it myself on my birthday and it's really cute - and a 4 year old would go nuts! Plus, the Cast Members and characters are extra nice when they see the button. It makes for a special day! Also, when she makes reservations are 1900 Park fare, be sure they know it's for a birthday.

Deb has a list of Birthday ideas in her Unofficial Guide.

and another Kim (not the one with the original question nor the one that just answered) wrote:

Hi Brian, Kim wrote in and asked about how to make her 4 year old daughter's birthday more special, I have a suggestion. When they arrive at the Magic Kingdom, go to customer service (to the left of the train station) and ask for a birthday button, my son received one on his 8th birthday and everywhere we went in the Magic Kingdom he was acknowledged for having a birthday. Made a special day for all of us.

Thanks to you Brian for the wonderful website.

A.

So, there you have it.

Thanks to everyone for their notes!  It's great to always have the suggestions, ideas, comments, and input from the MousePlanet!

By the way, if you enjoy reading about Walt Disney World (and the other Disney resorts), and would like to get more interactive, don't forget that MousePlanet's MousePad message boards have a large number of Disney fans ready to discuss anything from trip planning to the latest Disney film release to the history of the Walt Disney Company.  Get involved!  I'd love to see the WDW boards of MousePad grow to rival the activity on the Disneyland boards!

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 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!

 

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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.