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WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett


Before we jump into our regular email-bag, I wanted to make note of a few things that are going on at WDW right now.

Disney Vacation Club

  • The DVC has already sold out the Villas at Wilderness Lodge.  (Frankly, that's not a surprise as it's a well-designed and executed addition to a lovely resort... and a rather small one at that.)

  • Construction of the new Beach Club Villas is almost complete.  Sales of timeshare ownership in the new resort is expected to begin in the next few weeks.  Guests that would like to stay at the new resort can do so beginning in September.

  • According to a Disney press release, in January, the DVC will be building a new resort on the site of the Disney Institute.  The press release states, "The new, 192-unit development is slated to occupy a unique 16-acre site overlooking the lakefront district at Downtown Disney. Initial plans call for the construction of four residential-style buildings with studio, one- and two-bedroom villas and Grand Villa units that sleep up to 12 guests."

  • Disney also announced a new DVC resort adjacent to Eagle Pines golf course back in July of last year. The press release states, "The new resort is scheduled to open in phases, with the first phase consisting of the Inn building and five Villa buildings for a total of 360 units. The Inn and one Villa building are currently expected to open in Spring/Summer 2004, with the four additional Villa buildings opening throughout the remainder of that year. The final phase of five additional Villa buildings containing 240 units are currently anticipated to open by Spring/Summer 2005."

  • You can read more about the DVC's newest resorts right here on MousePlanet.

Other Resorts

  • Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin hotels will be undergoing a large remodeling and expansion project beginning as early as May of this year.  Guests may be affected as large portions of the public areas are renovated (including, possibly, some of the resort's recreation facilities.)

  • Shades of Green, beginning in April, will be completely shut down for almost a year and a half for an expansion.  The resort currently has 287 rooms which will grow to 586 when the resort reopens in the late Summer of 2003. Department of Defense and military personnel that wish to vacation at Walt Disney World will be able to stay at the Contemporary resort.  Tifany, a MousePlanet reader, sent me this information on the situation:

"Brian, I have written before and also have submitted trip reports to your site (I just love your site) and I wanted to clarify some information for your readers. I recently received an e-mail from one of your readers about my "Shades of Green" resort review and I was surprised that they didn't know of the remodeling that is taking place from April 1, 2002 until September 1, 2003. Shades of Green is finally expanding and will be adding on additional rooms for a total close to 600 rooms. As many military know, this is great news, since we have to book at least one year in advance for guaranteed rooms or sit on a waiting list hoping for our name to come up.

"During the remodeling all of Shades of Green will be closed, including the Evergreen Sports Bar. The DOD worked with Disney and they are allowing all guest of Shades of Green that are booked for the resort during the remodeling period to stay at the Contemporary Resort on Walt Disney World Property. The DOD has 287 rooms (the same number of SOG rooms) set aside in the North Garden Wing of the Contemporary for military members. The rate structure is still the same as at Shades of Green but Disney has put on the additional room tax of 11% or 12%. The ticket office for Shades will be relocated to the Contemporary for military members that wish to purchase their tickets there. The only package that is not being offered during the remodeling period is the 'Gold Leaf Package.'

"Thanks again for your site and thank you in advance to passing this information onto military members and DOD employees."

  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort is expected to not open now until 2003.

Magic Kingdom

  • Legend of the Lion King closed a week or so ago so that the building can be remodeled into a theatre for "Mickey’s PhilharMagic," a new 3-D animated film.  Magic Journeys, which most recently was shown at Epcot's Imagination pavilion (before "Honey I Shrunk the Audience") used to be in that same building, so it's almost a back to the future kind of thing for that part of Fantasyland.  "Mickey’s PhilharMagic" will open early Summer of 2003.


  • The major news at Epcot, of course, is the on-going construction of "Mission: Space," which was originally planned to be opening in the Spring of 2003, but which is delayed.

  • "Journey into Imagination with Figment" is expected to open early this Summer (most likely in June).

Disney - MGM Studios

  • According to an article, "New 'Star Wars' plot twist -- Disney cancels event" by Robert Johnson of the Orlando Sentinel, There will be no Star Wars Weekend events this year.  

  • The entertainment schedule under which the park is currently operating has Beauty & The Beast shut down on Mondays and Tuesdays and Hunchback of Notre Dame down on Thursdays and Fridays.

Animal Kingdom

  • The new "Wild Mouse" like coaster, "Primeval Whirl," has an official opening date of April 22nd.

And now, we go back to our regularly scheduled email...  ;)


Lynn writes: An addition to the great suggestion that a 8-day visitor buy an annual pass: Annual Passholders get free parking in all WDW park lots. If you stay off-site this is a savings of $6/day, or $48 for the 8-day trip.


Another good point, Lynne. I often forget about this perk since I stay on-site and get "free" parking anyway. :) For offsite day visitors, though, that is definitely something to consider.


Steve writes: Brian, Greetings from one of your faithful readers. You've helped me in the past and even have one of my questions posted as part of your helpful hints (the one about getting ice in the parks)... anyway, I just wanted to be sure about something you and some readers said about unused tickets... here is your quote: "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." 

Now my question. I have a multi-day ticket from back before the Animal Kingdom days which I know has one day left on them. Can I also exchange them at one of the on-site hotels or do I have to go to Guest Relations. I realize that I will probably have to pay a little to "upgrade" the left over day to a 4 park hopper pass.



Last time I checked, such passes (the ones with magnetic strips on them) all had to be scanned at Guest Relations in the parks. The hotels do not (or at least did not a few months ago) have the equipment to do that.


and in a follow up, Steve writes: Thanks for the information. Sorry to keep asking questions but I hate standing in line. I can go directly to Guest Relations at one of the parks and not the regular ticket line, correct?



You need to go to the Guest Relations window... not the regular ticket booths or kiosks. Only the Guest Relations folks, at least as recently as a few months ago, had the scanners readily available to them.

One thing that can save you some time in line is to handle this at a non-peak time for the Guest Relations folks... in other words, don't go to the park right at opening time, because other people that need help will be lined up then too. If you can go to one of the parks late in the morning or in the afternoon, that would be best.

The strategy that I used, a while back, was to go to the park (it was the Studios, in this particular case) to handle some Guest Relations issues on the afternoon that we arrived at WDW. We just stopped in, took care of our business (which was to get our APs activated), and left. We used the APs for the first time the next morning.



Amanda writes: Hi Brian, I read your page on the whole boycott on Disney. I just wanted to let you know that at the beginning of every September that for two nights in a row that they have what is called "Night of Joy." They close the park down & then reopen & have all Christian artists all over the Magic Kingdom. I went for my 18th birthday this past September & they had Stacie Orrico, Rachael Lampa, Michael W. Smith, Jaque Valescues, Plus One, and a lot more artists performing for those two nights...

Anyway, I didn't know if you knew about Night of Joy. I really enjoyed it & there were youth groups from all over the country (Washington State, New York, California, Texas, etc.-- I've talked to a lot of people & asked where they were from)! It used to be just one night, but it's gotten so big that they are doing two nights now (I almost didn't get to go because they were sold out).

You don't have to reply, but if you want any info on Night of Joy, you can e-mail me and I'll e-mail it to you.


Thanks for your note, Mandy.

Actually, there's a page on Night of Joy on this page. Any more information that you'd like to provide, though, would be appreciated!



Dee writes: Brian, Maybe this info. is on your site, and maybe I'm just overlooking it. But if it is not, I just need to know if the parks are open year round. We will be down on April 1st, 2002 and just making sure everything is open. I appreciate your response.



Yes, the WDW parks are open year round.



Kaye writes: I noticed on your "cutbacks" page that you mentioned E-Ride nights as being suspended. I made a reservation for the Port Orleans - Riverside resort today and was assured that they were still doing E-Ride nights and was given dates. Is this true? It's one of our favorite parts of our trip, so we're hoping that they have reinstated it.

Also, this is our first stay at Port Orleans - Riverside, do you have any thoughts on this hotel. We're going to be in the Alligator Bayou which we heard was a little more secluded and quiet than the others.

Any information you can give would be greatly appreciated.


Thanks for the note, Kaye. Yes, E-ride Nights were suspended for awhile, but they've already been brought back. I'll correct that page ASAP.

There's a lot of information on Port Orleans Resort Riverside in MousePlanet's Fast Facts page for the resort including a link to a photo tour of the resort.



Wendy writes: We are gratefully spoiled here in Southern California because we have Premium Annual passes so we can go any day to Disneyland and California Adventure. As a mom with 3 teens, we are planning a summer trip to WDW and will have the Ultimate park hopper pass.

We would like to know which Magic Kingdom rides are exactly the same as Disneyland so we won't waste our time. We'd enjoy slight differences but if they are duplicates we'd rather explore new stuff. Thanks!

I saw a little of your comparisons. Sounds like Pirates would be disappointing and It's a Small world and Jungle Cruise will be better there. What about the mountain rides and Haunted Mansion?

I was a CM at Disneyland for 3 years in the 70's and we are a real Disney family. Oh- do you think they will resume early entry mornings and E-ticket evenings? Plus- we will arrive at the airport at 4:30pm on a Saturday.  What should be our plan of attack for the rest of that day?



This is kind of "in reverse," because I put this page together for veteran WDW visitors that are going to Disneyland, but it should still help you. It's a bit dated, but should give you a general idea of what to expect.

I don't know about the resumption of Early Entry.  E-Ride nights have already resumed, though.

If I was arriving late afternoon, I would get settled into the hotel, maybe enjoy a swim or nap after the trip, then either enjoy the resort or visit one or more of the other resorts before crashing for the night.



Stephane asks: Hi, I wanted to know about something I've heard that wasn't covered in your "method of payment" section (in MousePlanet's WDW Restaurant Review).

I've heard that if you're staying in one of the Disney resorts, you can basically charge anything and everything to your Disney room.

Is this true? Can I buy souvenirs from the shops in WDW's Magic Kingdom and charge them to my room? Can I even go to McDonald's in Downtown Disney and charge THAT to my room?? (Not that I think I'll be going to the restaurant that I have right down the street from me when I could go to one of 169 other restaurants!! )… To what extent is this possible?



When you check-in to your room at a Disney resort you can, indeed, set up a credit card to allow you to use your Disney ID to make charges. That works at any Disney-owned restaurant and store on site. It does not work at the non-Disney places (like the Rainforest Cafe, Planet Hollywood, many of the Downtown Disney shops, and McDonalds.)

The kicker, of course, is that you can only do that by giving Disney your credit card number to set it up in the first place. Then any of the IDs you get for your room can be set up with "charging privileges." That can be very handy if your group is going to split up... but is something you'll have to consider carefully, too. For example, you probably don't want to allow a young child such power over your credit card account. :)

The reason why I don't mention "charging privileges" in the WDW Restaurant Resource is that it really is just an extension of a credit card purchase.



in a follow-up, Stephane writes: One more quick question. My mom got us all Park Hopper PLUS passes for 7 DAYS... which mean s we have 4 "options" right?

Now we arrive mid day on a Monday, can I go to DisneyQuest or Pleasure Island without activating a DAY on the pass and only an option? That is to say, are the options separate from the days on the pass?



Yes, you're correct. The options can be used independently from the theme park access.



in another follow-up, Stephane writes: Whoa wait a minute.... Does that mean that If I go to Typhoon Lagoon (Which, unfortunately, is the only water park OPEN when I go), it doesn't use up one of my pass days since its an option?


That's right. :)



Claire writes: Hi, If I were to purchase a 4 day park hopper pass, must I use it in 4 consecutive days? Or could I break up the week 2 days in the parks, 1 day at the pool etc., 2 more days in the park?

Thanks for the great site!



You do NOT have to use a park hopper on consecutive days. Also, if you purchase a park hopper plus pass, the "plus" options do not expire, either.

You may want to read through this page for more information on WDW admission media.



and in a follow-up, Claire asks:  By the way, thanks! You should write yourself a book, and get a little compensation for your efforts!


It's been considered. :)



Janet writes: Hi Brian, Still planning our family trip and finding your information SO useful! Have a couple of questions about dining at Disney that I hope you can help me with:

For part of our stay we'll be at the Disney Dolphin. I understand the Cape May Cafe offers a wonderful dinner buffet and breakfast. (Is the breakfast a buffet too?) Where else would you recommend we eat while at the Dolphin? I should mention we have a 2.5 year old son.

Also, I read your recent updates where the lady suggested using a character breakfast to get into MK a bit earlier and be ready for the 9am opening, but then another stated the park was letting people in at 8am. When is the park open to Disney guests??? We were considering doing a char dinner at Chef Mickey and a char breakfast another day at Crystal Palace. Would you recommend one over the other for breakfast versus dinner? Do you know if the lunch at Crystal Palace is also a char. buffet style meal too?

My final question concerns stated hours for these char buffet meals. Let's say the Crystal Palace is offering breakfast from 8:00-10:30. The suggestion has been made to tour the park early, have a late breakfast and skip lunch. Do you have any experience with making a reservation at 10:15 or 10:30? Will the buffet still be well stocked? Characters still around? Any idea how fast they would rush us out before the luncheon crowd?

As always, thank you very much!



It's really hard for me to recommend restaurants because they depend so much on personal taste. Staying at the Dolphin, though, you'll be in close proximity to the restaurants on the Boardwalk as well as the Yacht and Beach Club resorts. You're also going to be close to Epcot, so those restaurant options are available.

The normal opening time for the Magic Kingdom is 9:00am, but the park is generally open a bit earlier to allow folks to get into the Main Street area. As a result, the restaurants serving character breakfasts usually start up earlier, too, to take advantage of the extra time. If you're a WDW resort guest, and make priority seating arrangements for an early breakfast, transportation to the park will be available and you'll be allowed into the park in plenty of time to be seated for your meal. If you're a non-WDW resort guest, you can make the same priority seating arrangements, but you'll have to enter the Magic Kingdom via the Ticket & Transportation Center and ride over to the park. Again, you'll be allowed to do so if you show your priority seating number.

I don't have any experience at the Crystal Palace for dinner, but Chef Mickey's is always a good choice for dinner. Personally, I would keep to your Crystal Palace for breakfast, Chef Mickey's for dinner plan... but there's no reason for that other than my personal preference.

On your last question, I've often scheduled a late breakfast at a character meal. The food always remains plentiful and the characters are just as accessible as earlier in the morning. You will not be rushed out... I promise. :)



Ursus writes: Hey! I love your articles on MousePlanet! However, I saw how you were unsure about the Country Bear Christmas Special change this year, so I'll tell you in case you want to forward it to the inquirer.

The Country Bear Christmas Special did indeed change from Thanksgiving Day to January third. The original show is currently playing.

However, there are VERY STRONG rumors out this year that the VACATION HOEDOWN sets from Disneyland will come to Walt Disney World from June thru November (which is a pity, meaning the original show will only be around from January thru June) as our animatronics were the same ones used in the 1986 Vacation Hoedown switch. The programming disk has also been laying around for years "underground", so this is entirely possible. So we'll have all three shows...hopefully!



Actually, that's cool news. :) I think having both shows as an option is a good idea.

By the way, I've also heard rumors that the Haunted Mansion may get the "Nightmare Before Christmas" treatment this coming holiday season.  We'll have to see if that really happens or not.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the reader feedback for the WDW Trip Planning Guide!  Feed free to send more questions or comments to!

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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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