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

3/11/02

Q.

Debbie writes: I was just reading your site and saw a question from a reader concerning what was the earliest you could get into a park. I was just there in February and they were letting NO ONE in before the opening time, not even onto Mail Street, for instance, at the Magic Kingdom, UNLESS you had a character breakfast. If you had a reservation for a character breakfast, you had to check in with the CM who checked your reservation on a clip board, then gave you a slip of paper and then you had to go into a stroller entrance by the mail entrance turnstiles. This caused huge lines of people waiting to enter the parks when they opened. . .and that was in February when it really wasn't too terribly crowded. I can't imagine how this is going to work at say, Spring Break!!!! You might be lucky to get in by 10:00. Just thought I'd let you know.

A.

Thanks for sharing your experience, Debbie. I'll share your email in an upcoming Notes piece.

-

Q.

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 the Magic Kingdom a bit earlier and be ready for the 9:00am 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 character dinner at Chef Mickey and a character 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 character buffet style meal too?

My final question concerns stated hours for these character 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!

A.

Janet,

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. :)

Q.

and in a follow-up, Janet asks: Thanks Brian. I realize restaurants are often personal taste, but I was hoping you might be willing to make a suggestion for places that might be better suited for a young child too. From the reviews I've read, food at the Dolphin doesn't sound very impressive, but I've heard good things about the restaurants at the Yacht & Beach Club. Will check out the Boardwalk too. (Please don't print this follow-up in your update as I wouldn't want to sound so negative on the Dolphin) and if you're willing to give me your personal favorites in the area (especially for lunch as my husband will be at a conference and be coming out to join us for a quick bite at lunchtime) that would be REALLY helpful!

A.

Janet,

Almost all of the WDW restaurants cater to families with kids. The major exception would be Victoria and Albert's at the Grand Floridian.

Some restaurants that your son might particularly enjoy would be:

  • Pizza Planet (at the Studios) -- because of the Toy Story connection
  • Cinderella's Royal Table -- because of the castle and characters (at breakfast)
  • Chef Mickey's, Crystal Palace, Liberty Tree Tavern, or any of the other character meals for obvious reasons
  • One place that you might find fun is Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe. You can read more about it here, but the fun thing is the audio-animatronic lounge singer named Sonny Eclipse. He's a lot of fun to listen too, and the meal can be a relatively inexpensive one.
  • Pinocchio's Village Haus is a good choice for simple hot dogs but with a great fixings bar.

Maybe that list will get you started....

-

Q.

Ursus shares this information: 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!

A.

Ursus,

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

-

Q.

Carla asks: What are the height restrictions on the rides in the Magic Kingdom, 35 or 42 inches?

A.

Carla,

The answer to your question varies from attraction to attraction. You can get the exact list on this page.

Also, if you're traveling with kids (I assume you are, since you've asked about height restrictions), you may want to read through all of the information on traveling to WDW with kids that are listed on this page.  Specifically, there is a list of attraction "fear factors" and information on how to do a "baby swap" (which works for older kids, too, that can't or don't want to ride any given attraction.)

-

Q.

Sharon asks: First Thanks for with wonderful site. I hope you can answer a couple of questions for me. I could not find to much on your sight for the Grosvenor resort. I have reservations there for the 23rd of Feb. I'm taking my 5 year old and my 20 year old daughters with me. I visit Disney yearly and have only stayed off sight. We went for a package deal the Grosvenor.

I am wondering if I should cancel and try some other ways to save some money. we are paying $1500 for the room with pool view, breakfast, 2 dinners and 4 day hopper passes we are staying 6 nights. I don't know if you could give me any info on the Grosvenor I only saw one review and it was not to good. Pleas advise if you can ASAP as we have to cancel the reservations by the 18th if we are going to change our mind. Thank you soooo much. Also if we do stay and you would like our review of our stay let me know I will be more than happy to.

A.

Sharon,

You're right... there isn't much information out there on the Grosvenor. It seems to be a nice place, I've been there (although I haven't stayed there as a guest). The price you're paying, breaking it down as you've described (assuming the following prices: $203.52 for the adult park hoppers and $161.12 for the child's park hopper, $120 for six breakfasts, $60 for two dinners) leaves about $125 per night as your bottom line room cost. You can stay at one of the Disney moderate resorts for a very similar price, and I think you'll find that the transportation and atmosphere would be nicer than at the Grosvenor.

Of course, if you really wanted to save money, you could do even better at the All Star Resorts.

-

Q.

Sharon (another one) asks: Hi Brian, We are going to WDW in August 2002. We have heard of a child swap Option via the web site but cannot find out details relating to this can you please help? We have a 4 year old son and would like some information.

A.

Sharon,

The information you're looking for on the baby swap is on this page.  You might want to look over all of the pages that are listed in the WDW With Kids section on this page.

Q.

and in a follow-up, Sharon asks: Brian, Many thanks for the information.  Just one more question. If you use Fastpass tickets are you eligible to use Child swap. Also I've been told that its best to get the popular rides done early (i.e. first thing in the morning) any other useful tips will be gratefully received.

A.

Sharon,

Yes. People using Fastpass are still able to use the baby swap.

I would agree with those folks that have told you to hit the most popular attractions early (or late) in the day. The largest crowds are always at midday.

You may want to check out the "Touring the" parks pages that are indexed on this page.  There you'll find my suggestions on how to best tour each of the WDW parks.

-

Q.

A MousePlanet reader shares this story: My husband and I were at WDW in December and staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. We had reservations for Chef Mickey's Character Breakfast on Thursday morning. When we arrived at Contemporary the guard checked our reservations against a listing before allowing us in and then preceded to give us a "guest pass" limiting us to 1-1/2 hours! We had planned on eating breakfast and then taking the monorail to Grand Floridian to look at the Christmas decorations. My husband was concerned we wouldn't make the 1-1/2 hour limit. We went anyway. What were they going to do, throw us out of WDW??? Considering the parks were EMPTY our whole stay I thought this was rather rude and uncalled for, especially considering we were guests at AKL.

A.

I've had similar experiences at the Contemporary and the Polynesian. It's too bad... they're really just turning off potential customers when they act like they're doing us such a favor for stopping in.

-

Q.

Dan wrote: Hi, Brian, in a previous "Notes From the World," Sean wrote:

"One excursion I already made reservations for is Dive Quest where you get to go scuba diving in the Living Seas aquarium...Is it worth the money/time?"

I just wanted to let Sean know that YES, the Dive Quest is one of the most incredible dives you'll ever experience. It's the ultimate behind the scenes trip - being inside that tank that you've watched from the big bay windows for years is just amazing. And you'll never go on another dive where you'll be catered to as lavishly. Disney provides all gear, including wet suits, and has a locker room that includes private showers, with a stall outside the shower giving you a private place to change, if you're not used to locker room familiarity. You don't have to carry any of your gear - they practically put the tanks on your back at the entryway to the big tank. One of my favorite parts of the dive was swimming by the windows looking into the restaurant and mugging it up with the folks. And don't forget to budget for the VHS tape of your dive. It was around $35 the last time I bought one. I've been on the Dive Quest twice, and plan to do it again soon. You won't regret it!

A.

Dan,

Thanks for the great information! I'll be sure to share it with others on the site.

-

Q.

Robbie asks: Brian, Very useful tips on your site....Well Done! 

Also please can you help?  I'm thinking of booking holiday for my family (2 kids, aged 11 & 5 years), looking to go first two weeks of June at Caribbean Beach Resort. Is this a good time for crowd level and weather?

A.

Robbie,

Crowd levels will be reasonable during the first part of June. The annual "gay day" event takes place during the first weekend of June, so you can plan accordingly (this event does drive up park traffic significantly).

As far as the weather goes, you're almost certain to have a lot of hot, humid, sunny days. You won't likely get much rain, although it's always possible during hurricane season.

-

Q.

Gary shares this information: Hi Brian. Great work, love the site and your articles.

I Just got back from WDW, and I'm working on a trip report, but I can tell you that attendance is up. We were there in mid-February  and it was pretty darned crowded. We were staying at Music, and all of the All-Stars were running 100% occupancy. All of the parks also seemed to fill up fast, although I never saw a line more than 50 minutes long. But the sidewalks were fairly crowded. And we loved the February weather. We may try January next year, since we really try to avoid the crowds.

A.

Gary,

Thanks for the complement in my email address. ;) (I spell my name "Brian," though, not "Brain.")

Thanks for the heads up on the crowd levels. It seems like I just can't convince people that crowds are up... but your report matches what I've been hearing ever since the holiday week.

-

Q.

A MousePlanet reader muses: I was just wondering where the Grand Canyon Concourse was located.

A.

The Grand Canyon Concourse is at the Contemporary Resort.

-

Q.

Kelly asks: Hi Brian, I am planning a trip to WDW this year and wondered if you got better hotel discounts through the Disney club, AP or AAA? I'm hoping to book a "package" (Grand Plan or the one below it) and didn't know what offered the maximum discount (since I'll be spending a lot of $$$)!

Thanks again for the terrific site!

A.

Kelly,

The best answer is to check out all discounts that you're eligible for! The various discounts kick in a various times throughout the year... there's no formula to decide which is best. Furthermore, to get yet another double check, you should ask a travel agent for their best rates, too.

There's not substitute for doing the homework if you want to save money on a WDW trip.

-

Q.

Meg writes: Dear Brian, First of all, thanks for responding to my earlier question, published in the 1/14/02 column. I ended up going to Epcot with my parents and we enjoyed the Candlelight Processional and going around World Showcase eating and looking for Christmas ornaments (or at least small things that could be tied to a tree).

I've been catching up on your archive and have a few questions and comments. A few months ago a woman named Kathie mentioned that a discounted monthly rate is available at Fort Wilderness. How much is it, and is it only available to annual pass holders? (Of course, probably no one else would use it!)

Also, someone asked about the "Epcot after 4" pass and you said it was only for conventioneers, but it's also frequently available to Florida residents during the off-peak seasons. There is also an annual Florida resident "Epcot after 4" pass available for about $100.

About rude CM experiences - the only one I've ever had, in August 2000, shocked me so much (in combination with encountering a horrible family on the parking lot tram) that I left feeling upset. At the time Fastpass was new (to me) and I did not know that it required my park ticket, which I had promptly lost. When I asked the Fastpass CM if I could have one anyway, he said no, and unfortunately my cousin responded rudely to him. He then claimed he had been joking and gave me the ticket, but it was still disturbing.

A.

Meg, I don't know anything more about the monthly rate that Kathie mentioned.  If you were to call the campground, I'm sure they could let you know about longer term rates for seasonal visitors.

Thanks for the extra details!

-

Q.

Steve writes: In a previous Notes From the World, John asked:

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.

And you answered:

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.

Just my two cents:

My partner and I visited Universal Orlando for a weekend in October 2001. We were not turned away from the Polynesian Resort. We simply told them we were there to have breakfast. We got a parking pass good for a few hours. I think as long as you have a legit reason (shopping, dining, etc.) they will accommodate you.

A.

Steve,

I think the attitude of the security guard at the time has a lot to do with it. I've had some great conversations with security folks over the years... but I've also had some terrible run-ins with some of them, too.

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.