by Brian Bennett
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.
which had been severely cut back in October and November,
has not been reinstated to it's previous levels, but has actually
- 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
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
- 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
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
And now, our regular email (and I promise I'll tell the truth
from now on...)
| 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!
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. :)
|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!
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
|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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Thank you for your help. The site is
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.
|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 !
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.
|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?)
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).
|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!
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.
| 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
"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."
|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).
|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.
The two resorts are both very nice and both are on the monorail.
The bottom line, really, is which of the two themes interests
|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.
|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
|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?
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org!
Brian Bennett's Disney Trip Planner
Click here to see
some awesome WDW pieces that have run on MousePlanet recently!
here to check out the rest of Brian's Archive, including all of the previously
published "Notes From the World" pieces!
always gotten email about the WDW Trip Planning Guide, but since we added
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!
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!