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Brian Bennett

WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett

4/1/02

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NOTE:  This piece ran on April 1st.  Since you're now reading it a while late, the fact that this entire "update" is an April Fools Day joke might be lost on you.  Please, note that the entire copy here in italicized gray text is a SPOOF and is not to be taken seriously!  (Also note that since this was written, WDW HAS again started to take reservations for Port Orleans Resort French Quarter...)

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.

I just received word that Walt Disney World has eliminated all of the cutbacks that were implemented last Fall!  Not only have park hours been extended, but Early Entry was reinstated as of today.  Free valet parking is now again available at all of the premium resorts.

Live entertainment, which had been severely cut back in October and November, has not been reinstated to it's previous levels, but has actually been increased!

  • Live entertainment is now scheduled at all parks throughout the day.  "Streetmosphere" characters are currently in rehearsal for Main Street (several turn of the twentieth century characters including "Uncle " from the Carousel of Progress), Frontierland (Davey Crockett and Mike Fink), Adventureland (several characters including tribesmen, archeologists, and a safari party), and continuous walk-around characters in Fantasyland!  Epcot, the Studios, and Animal Kingdom all have additional "Streetmosphere" characters being casted, too.
  • In addition, each resort will also feature daily, themed entertainment (including each of the All Star Resorts!) that will supercede the Character Caravan program (which was not as popular as Early Entry, but which many guests did enjoy).
  • Port Orleans Resort Riverside will be opening to full capacity over the next two weeks.  Port Orleans Resort French Quarter will be reopening for before Memorial Day and will be operating throughout the Summer.  Also, my sources report that the temporary closure was much less successful (financially) than had been expected, so no future such shut downs are planned.

Bonfamille's and Ariel's restaurants have reopened with daily character meals featuring characters from The Aristocats and The Little Mermaid.  A new full-service restaurant is being constructed in Adventureland, in the location where the Adventureland Veranda used to be.  In the evenings, the new ala carte restaurant, expected to be open by July 4th, will feature a continuous show of Polynesian dancers (similar to the Luau over at the Polynesian Resort).

Construction on four new E-Ticket attractions has already commenced:

  • Indiana Jones and the Pyramid of the Amazon features a ride through an ancient South American ruin.  Three- dimensional animation, a six-axis ride system, and live-action characters will interact with guests as they tour Indy's latest archeological dig.
  • A new pavilion in World Showcase, "Our Heritage," will spotlight the ancient cultures of Greece, Rome, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Babylon, India, China, Japan, Indonesia, and Aboriginal Australia.  The pavilion will include a food court featuring cuisine from all of these ancient cultures (similar to the Millennium Village of a couple of years ago, but much expanded).  In addition, a simulation ride based on Soarin' over California from Disney's California Adventure, will feature a thirty minute birds-eye tour of each of those ancient civilizations (remember Aladdin's magic carpet ride with Jasmine in the movie when they ended the night watching fireworks in China?  same idea here...)
  • Over at the Disney-MGM Studios, some brand-new technology will be unveiled in "Lights, Camera, Mystery!"  In this attraction, guests will walk through a series of scenes and interact with various characters as they try to solve a classic mystery based on Sherlock Holmes, Jane Marple, Perry Mason, and even some more recent TV sleuths like Dick Van Dyke's crime solving Dr. Mark Sloan.  Depending on what questions you ask and what things you learn as you work through the attraction, you may be able to solve the case.
  • Over at Animal Kingdom, Atlantis will be reborn.  In a 232 acre development, Disney's Imagineers are creating the ultimate salt water attraction.  Real aquatic life will be on view, of course, and an in-depth "Atlantis Discovery" program will allow guests to actually interact with many of the most friendly critters.  The ultimate attraction, though, is a visit to Atlantis... just moments before the ancient city is submerged into the watery depths.  Guests will escape the city just in time to get aboard a submarine that returns them to today's civilization -- after a great tour of the city and the creatures that now inhabit it.

These new attractions are slated to open in 2004-07 (one each year) as Walt Disney World finally puts the pressure on the competition in Central Florida.

One other major announcement!  Construction on a spectacular new WDW resort was recently announced.  The Russian Resort, slated to open in 2004, will double as both a new national pavilion for Epcot's World Showcase as well as Walt Disney World's first in-park resort.  The waterway that now stretches between the China pavilion and the African Trading Post will be restyled into the Moskva River with a representation of the Kremlin and Red Square for guests to explore.  A simulator ride taking guests on an incredible sight-seeing tour of Russia (including visits to St. Petersburg, Moscow, the Black Sea resorts on the Crimean Peninsula, the Trans-Siberian Railroad, and other sights).  A blast off on a Russian Rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome and visiting Space Station Alpha will conclude the ride.  Resort rooms promise to be the most strongly-themed WDW rooms ever!  Rooms will be made up to be reminiscent of royal rooms in the Grand Kremlin Palace, Terem Palace, Palace of Facets, Teremnoy Palace and Patriachs Palace.  Included in the resort plans is a museum that will house visiting displays from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg including some of the famous Faberge eggs that were commissioned by the Romanov Czars.

April Fools!

And now, our regular email (and I promise I'll tell the truth from now on...)

Q.

Joanne writes: Greetings from Canada! Your site has been so informative in helping me plan our family vacation to WDW at the end of March 2002. I'm feeling down about not knowing to make advance Priority Seating arrangements, especially at Cinderella's Royal Table until after the 60 day advance date. Wondering what your opinion is on other meals at Cinderella's Royal Table?

We made a Priority Seating at Cinderella's Royal Table for dinner, hoping to get a nice meal for our last night and maybe catch the fireworks. Wondering if there is any chance of seeing even just Cinderella? OR... if we made an early lunch Priority Seating, would we have any chance of seeing any characters hanging around after breakfast? Many thanks for your suggestions!

A.

Joanne,

First, let me suggest that you look over this page in MousePlanet's WDW Restaurant Resource.

You'll note that Cinderella's Royal Table has character meals only at Breakfast. However, the restaurant is still a very nice place for lunch and dinner. The atmosphere is beautiful, and if you're lucky you just may get a window seat for the fireworks display. :)

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Q.

Sandi asks: I enjoy your site everyday! My family and I visited WDW during the Millennium Celebration then again during the 100 Years of Magic Celebration. I was wondering if you knew what WDW will be "celebrating" after the 100 Years of Magic Celebration is over? I know the celebration runs through the end of 2002 and didn't know if 2003 will bring a new celebration or not. Also, is there transportation available to get from the WDW resort to Universal Studios or SeaWorld? Thanks for your time!

A.

Sandi,

I'm not really sure. I've heard that Disneyland's 50th Anniversary (in 2005) will be bi-coastal, but that's not a certainty. There may be some other special event that is pulled out of the hat, too.

There is no regular transportation between WDW and the non-Disney theme parks, but you can always use a rental car or hire a taxi.

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Q.

Evelyn writes: Dear Brian, First of all, I've to tell you how much I appreciate your site. It's so informative and useful. I've some questions and hope you can help me.
  1. I'm planning to go to WDW for the first time on May 1st and stay for a week. Do you think it's too late to do so? Seems like people have to plan at least a year ahead.
  2. I'm interested in the Discovery Magic Resort package. I've a hard time choosing between it and the Resort Magic. Do you think we can use up all the features? I'm afraid it's too late to reserve a place at the restaurants and shows.
  3. I just wonder if there is any internet connection in the park? We may need to keep contact with the outside world when we're having so much fun inside the park.

Thank you for your help. The site is great!

A.

Evelyn,

I think you'll do fine with an early May trip. Although crowd levels are comparable to previous years now, you shouldn't have a problem then as May is not a terribly busy time.

I'm going to leave the package comparison to you. Only you can compare the various included features and decide which ones really have value for you. Personally, I always go "ala carte," and avoid the package deals because there's just so much that I know my family will NOT take advantage of.

There are some internet connections in Epcot (at AT&Ts displays, if I remember correctly), but if you really want reliable access you'll need to take a laptop along.

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Q.

Sander writes: Brian, Thanks for a great site with great insights. A question I can't seem to find the answer for anywhere -- would you know if theme park parking "included" for guests at the downtown Disney hotels at WDW (e.g. Grosvenor, Courtyard, etc.) in a similar fashion as if you were a guest of the official Disney hotels? Thanks !

A.

Sander,

Parking at the theme parks is NOT included for the Swan, Dolphin, or Downtown Disney hotels. However, if you buy an annual pass you get "free" parking as a pass holder.

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Q.

Chris asks: Hi Brian, Love your site. I'm taking two kids (ages 4 and 9), by myself in May. How can I kid swap by myself? In other words, when I'm riding a high scare factor ride with my 9 year old, will a ride operator stand with my 4 year old? (and vice versa?)

A.

Chris,

You can not depend on cast members to keep your kids for you. One solution, though, would be for you and your 9 year old to do the swap with you taking turns staying with the younger child. However, you may be uncomfortable leaving even a 9 and a 4 year old alone (I know I would be).

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Q.

Patty asks: Brian, In the past we have used the baby swap very effectively, however, this trip my parents will be taking my son and nephew to WDW, and I was wondering can they use the baby swap for adults? Grandmother does not like heights, and grandfather not all that interested in spinning rides but both boys will want to ride everything. What is Disney policy on this? Thanks!

A.

Patty,

The policy is intended for swapping with a child can't be left alone. Adults certainly can be. Still, there's no harm in asking if you can "adult swap." The Disney folks may turn you down, but they might surprise you, too.

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Q.

Dan writes: Here's a copy of the message that I posted on MousePad about the recent change to Spaceship Earth. It's kind of windy, so feel free to edit it as you desire, if you want to use it. Thanks.

"I just experienced the newest modification to Spaceship Earth, and I have to say that I'm totally confused by it. It appears as you start the ride, going up the first rise. Instead of the mysterious voices ("...the only thing we have to fear...", etc.), you see 3 new screens to your left. I was totally jazzed at first, and excited to see what great new addition they were making to the story of SE. Instead, what is shown is an animation of your time machine vehicles against a star field, with a voiceover telling us that at one point in the ride your vehicle will rotate, stop, and then continue backwards, and to please keep your seat.

"(dramatic pause for gasps of confusion....)

"I've never understood why we needed the voice warning up in the big star dome in the first place ("Attention, time travelers. Please remain seated. Your time machine vehicle is rotating for your trip back to Earth.") It's dark, the vehicle is obviously in motion - I can't imagine ANYBODY stupid enough to try to get up and step out through the closed doors of your car into a black nothing. Now they have upped the ante with this additional warning that takes the place of an important element in bringing you into the storyline of the ride. And to top it all off, with all the work they did on this modification, THEY DIDN'T EVEN GET THEIR FACTS RIGHT! The ride does not stop momentarily, doesn't even appear to stop in the slightest. I just don't get it. Who came up with the need for this mod, and what's the story behind it? Seems to me to be a dumb, unnecessary addition that adds nothing and detracts significantly. Bummer."

A.

Thanks for the note, Dan. The only thing I can think of is that the lawyers at Disney are concerned about lawsuits. They just recently settled a major injury case in California, so I wouldn't be surprised if they even were required to make some safety improvements as part of the settlement (pure speculation on my part).

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Q.

Robert asks: I came upon your website and have to say it is the most informative site I have seen on WDW. My family is going to WDW in Mid-October. We have stayed at the Grand Floridian and would like to try either the Polynesian or the Contemporary. Both seem great but we are having a tough time deciding witch one to stay at. We are looking to get a lagoon view at the Polynesian or a MK view at the Contemporary. Our kids are 7, 6 and 2 years old. What do you think? We are planning on staying for one week so we can take in the 4 main parks and perhaps get in a visit to Sea World and/or Universal.

A.

Robert,

The two resorts are both very nice and both are on the monorail. The bottom line, really, is which of the two themes interests you more?

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Q.

A MousePlanet reader writes: Brian, we love your site, and read it daily. My question concerns the trouble you had during your last visit at WDW. We are seriously considering buying into the DVC at Beach Club Villas. Obviously, this is a long term commitment of 40 years. With your recent experience, would you recommend against this? We have read all the financial analysis, and we think it is worth it, but if WDW is continuing to decline in quality from year to year, maybe we shouldn't. I know you are busy, but we would appreciate a speedy reply, if possible.

Thank you in advance for any thoughts you have on this subject.

A.

There's no real way to tell for sure. Buying into the DVC is a little like buying stock... you're gambling that your company will do well.

I personally think that I'll be happier after my self-imposed hiatus from WDW (I'll be back at Christmas time), but we'll see.

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Q.

Rafael asks: Thank you so much for all the great information your web site provides. My family and I are making are first trip to Disney World in April. We will be there for twelve days and the official count down has begun. Your site has provided many great tips that we can't wait to put into use.

You recently provided some assistance when I asked you how to get to the Hoop Dee Do show from the All Star Movies Resort. Your advice along with those of your readers was greatly appreciated.

I am writing again for some more assistance. Since we will be at Disney World for almost two weeks, I want to try to keep my normal exercise routine. I am aware that All Star Movies does not have exercise facilities, but I would like to know how close the nearest Disney resort with exercise facilities is to the All Star Movies. If this turns out to be too far, do you know if there are any recommended jogging routes around the All Star Movies? Are there usually other joggers out early in the day?

A.

Rafael,

The resorts closest to the All Star Movies that have exercise facilities is Coronado Springs and Animal Kingdom Lodge. However, the general policy of such facilities is that they are available only to the guests that are staying there unless you're willing to pay an extra fee. I'd suggest you call the All Star Movies and ask which of the various WDW resorts will allow use of their health clubs for an extra fee. I know that the Contemporary does so, but I assume that the other resorts will too.

As far as a jogging route... there are really a lot of walkways around the resort area that would be suitable for jogging (especially early in the morning when few other guests are out and about). I'm sure that if you place that call to the All Star Movies they can make other suggestions, too.

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Q.

Bob writes: Brian, My family and I will be at WDW for a week next month, and was wondering if there is anything special you'd like us to watch out for anything that you might want to know about. We'll be staying one night at Animal Kingdom Lodge and for seven nights at WLV/DVC.

A.

Bob,

I'm always looking for out-of-the ordinary things. If you notice something that you think might be new, or is just something you've never noticed before let me know! I'm also always looking for up-to-the-minute reports on crowd levels, occupancy rates at the hotels, and such.

Of course, full trip reports are always welcome, too. ;)  (In fact, folks, I'm really starting to run low on them... so if you have one to share, dig it up off the hard drive and send it to me!  Please!?!

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'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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