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Brian Bennett

WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett



As several of you pointed out in emails, I did, indeed, get buried with notes about my April Fool's joke in last weeks Notes From the World.

I did, indeed, intend to "report" only non-information.  However, since last week I've been told that Port Orleans Resort French Quarter is going to be opening again in a few weeks.  As far as I know, however, all of the other information in that "update" was false.

As for those of you that were seriously angry with me for "dashing hopes," I can only apologize for upsetting you.  I hope, though, that you'll direct at least some of your annoyance to the Walt Disney Company itself.  There will be NO change in any of the cutbacks at WDW until the paying public demands it.



Jim writes:

Brian, We'll be at WDW the beginning of May. I've been checking the park schedules almost daily hoping the May schedules will be posted. How far in advance are the schedules usually available?

and Laura asks:

Hi Brian, I am a new reader and I am planning a trip to WDW in May. I have been checking the official WDW site daily, but no park hours are posted yet. I am especially interested in the Spectromagic parade and the Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks times. Any insight into why no information is posted yet, and if not do you know when we can expect it.


Jim and Laura,

I hope you haven't been checking MousePlanet's schedule page... we've had to disable it because we can't get accurate information from Disney right now. (If you've been checking, you'll see that we're not alone on that issue).

Frankly, a phone call to WDW would be your best bet right now. This far out, they'll probably be able to share the upcoming schedules for parades and so on, but always with the caveat that everything is subject to change.

NOTHING is considered concrete until the park guidemaps are printed... and that happens from week to week.



Chris writes: Hi Brian, Love your site. What are considered the "best" room locations at Animal Kingdom Lodge., both standard and savannah views? Is it best to be in the zebra area, by the pool and bus stop?



I have to make one thing very clear up front. Other than a very few rooms that actually face the parking lot and other unsightly parts of the resort, the pool view rooms at AKL have the absolutely worst views of the savannah!

The animals that are visible from the Zebra Trail and Kudu Trail sides of the resort are identical, the schedule just varies from day to day as the animals are rotated from area to area around the resort.



Tom asks: Brian, My wife and I visited Disney World in November of 2001. I had purchased an annual pass to get some great resort rates. Since we had no plans of returning to Disney World in the near future we decided to purchase a 6 day park hopper plus pass for my wife. We ended up visiting WDW for five days so we figured we'd use the un-used day a few years from now on our next visit.

Well a last minute wedding in West Palm Beach has come up so we've decided to squeeze in a little more Disney Magic. We now find ourselves returning to the World in a few weeks for three days / two nights.

Wouldn't it have been great if I had purchased an annual pass for my wife. Hind sight is.... well you know.

Some back ground info: I got a reduced rate for All Star Movies Resort, however, I could only get the reduced rate for two of the three nights so technically I have two reservations. Friday night, at the full rack rate, and then Saturday and Sunday at the reduced rate.

Anyways, here's the problem. My wife has that one remaining day on her six day park hopper plus pass and we'd like her to use it on our first day. What kind of ticket should we buy for her for the remaining two days? We like to park hop. I can't stand the idea of being trapped in one park for the entire day. Also, since this is a quick trip we'd like to hit all the rides/shows in each park that we missed back in November. So that means the one day / one park tickets are out. We could buy a 4 day park hopper pass, and only use two of the days, but I really don't want to go thru the same problem a few years from now when we return.

So it really just leaves the "length-of-stay / Ultimate Park hopper" pass. As I understand it, the "length of stay" pass is good from the day you check in to the day you check out. I've looked up prices on the internet and most of them describe the tickets as one night / two day or two night / three day? I'm having a hard time understanding what the night/day break down is. For the 1 night/2day option.... does that mean your ticket is valid the night you arrive and then valid for two more days?

Also, I've read some conflicting reports that say you can have your length-of-stay start a day late or end a day early. Is this possible?

Since I have 2 reservations (or as they call it... continuing reservations)... could I just get the length of stay pass for my second day day reservation.

I'd appreciate any help you could give me. Thanks.



I agree with your opinion of park hopping. I much prefer spending portions of each day in various parks rather than all in one place.

I do think you can get length-of-stay passes for just the second reservation of your trip. Something to consider, regardless of what choice you end up making for your admission media, is that you can "trade in" the existing value of your wife's pass to her new pass.

As far as the way the length-of-stay passes work, you will have to buy passes equal to the number of nights you're staying. Then, the passes are valid for the entire day that you check in (even if you don't arrive until late) and the entire day you check out (even if you leave town early) and every day in between.



Heather shares this information: I don't get to your site often, but I did make sure to skim some of it before I went to WDW last week!

As for the changing of their Haunted Mansion to Nightmare, I did a little investigating. Didn't help a whole lot, though. According to most cast members in Downtown Disney (especially the Christmas shop), they're going to get a lot of "Nightmare Before Christmas" merchandise this October. They told me it related to the Haunted Mansion. Extremely cool.

Then, I get to Magic Kingdom and talk to the people running the souvenir cart at the end of the ride. One lady told me she'd never heard of the rumor to change things over, another said she was pretty sure it wouldn't happen. They actually called their manager for me, and apparently he said "no way." Either they're trying their darndest to keep things secret, or they decided not to try it. As for the rest of Nightmare in WDW, all I could find were a few figures and figurines in the Art of Disney stores, and some items in the MGM Backlot Tour gift shop (the stuff they had there is also in Suncoast video stores).

Might not be too interesting, but I figured other fellow Nightmare fans might like to know. =)


Thanks, Heather! I'll share this with our readers. Maybe someone out there has the real inside scoop and will share it with us, but so far, I've only heard conflicting rumors.



Bob asks: It used to be that with hopper passes, you could enter the minor parks for seven days whenever you after you starting using the pass and the days for major parks never expired. Now Disney says you get 2, 3, or 4 admissions to the minor parks with a hopper pass. Do unused admissions to the minor parks expire or are they good "forever" like the major park admissions?



Unused "options" do not expire. They are good forever, just like the access to the major parks.



Kent reminds us: Brian, Old Disney tickets that only had the three old parks are upgrade able. My in-laws did this with their tickets to go to Animal Kingdom. You just have to go to guest services and they will take care of it as well as upgrade them to the current magnetic strip tickets.


Very true, thanks Kent.



Wayne writes: I need a map showing location of cabins at Fort Wilderness in relation to campsites.



If you go to this page, you'll find a thumbnail to MousePlanet's Fort Wilderness Campground map.

All of the cabins are located in the higher- numbered loops with the newer ones all in the 2700 and 2800 loops. I'm sure, if you request it, you can be assigned a cabin/site combination that is at least somewhat in close proximity.



Ken writes: Hi Brian, Randy wrote in asking about what Disney "normally" does for anniversaries.

Having spent only one anniversary at WDW, I dunno if our experience was normal or just unusually charmed. My advice is to tell, tell, tell.

Don't be pushy about it AT the parks, but tell every CM you speak with on the phone before you leave. Get them to note it in the computer. When making our room reservations and priority seating requests I told everyone I could tell that our tip was for our 5th wedding anniversary and that it was also the honeymoon we never had, and the first real vacation we'd ever taken together. I plan to write up a full trip report one of these days, but pertinent to Randy's question:

When we checked in, the CM at the reception desk @ the Wilderness Lodge wished us a happy anniversary and upgraded our room to a courtyard view without even telling us he was doing so. (This was right after the September 11 events. To be fair, he had his choice of suddenly empty rooms to offer us. Our nation's tragedy had at least a tiny silver lining for us at that moment). I had booked a "wooded view" room just so we didn't have to look at the parking lot, and instead we had the most awesome view of Bay Lake.

We had dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table, and we waited a little longer for our table than I thought was appropriate - but when they seated us I understood why. They gave us the table at the huge window overlooking Fantasyland, and subtly paced our meal a little slower so that we'd be enjoying our dessert just as the fireworks started. I was hoping to linger long enough to see them from inside the castle anyway, but someone saw the note in our priority seating that it was a special occasion and took care of us without a word spoken. We were the envy of everyone in the place as we had THE view - they all had to crane their necks or turn around for a little glimpse. We could see the whole show.

After the fireworks, our wonderful waiter asked the usual "where are you from, what brings you to WDW, etc." When he learned that we were celebrating our anniversary at WDW after two abortive attempts, he congratulated us heartily and later, brought a mysterious box with our check - "A gift from all of us," he said. It turned out to be a pair of etched/engraved champagne flutes.

Later in the week, a somewhat tense mob tried to get waterside tables at the Rose & Crown @ Epcot for Illuminations. We checked in with our priority seating and the CM saw the note again, and winked. "It might be a minute or two more, but we'll look after you," he said. After a much shorter wait than his comment led us to expect, a host led us to a table, joking, "I know you'd rather sit indoors, but this is all we have at the moment." He led us to a table right at the water where we had a completely unobstructed view of Illuminations.

Even the waiter who served us lunch at the Hollywood Brown Derby at the Studios wished us a happy anniversary and gave us a small dessert to share, on the house.

Tell them all about your special occasion, until you're sure the reservations and priority seating CMs are sick of hearing about it. Cutbacks or not, there are still many jewel CMs who genuinely want to make you smile. When the info is in the computer already rather than you standing there telling them, they have the opportunity to "plus it" for you and offer pleasant surprises instead of accommodating your on-the-spot request. It's a subtle difference but for us it made some priceless memories we'll always have. It wouldn't be the same somehow if we had -asked- for extra pixie dust.

and Carrie share this:

In your latest update, I noticed several people asking about things they could do to celebrate special occasions while at WDW. You might let them know about Pixie Gifts, a service which can help them arrange just about any kind of surprise during their trip.


Thanks to you both.  You can be sure that I'll share this with our readers ASAP!



Sue writes: Hi Brian this is an unusual request. Is is possible to get a copy of a recipe for cheesecake that I had at the Akershus restaurant at the country of Norway in Epcot. It was made with goat cheese and topped with lemon curd. It was the most luscious cheesecake I ever had. I'm getting old and don't know if I will be back to Epcot anyway soon. If it is feasible it would be greatly appreciated.



As odd as this might sound, I'd suggest you call the central reservations folks at (407) WDW-DINE and ask to be connected to Akershus. If that fails, you can try the same thing at the general WDW information number(407) 824-4321. If you explain why you want to know, I suspect you'll be connected... and you can ask your question. Once you're hooked up to the restaurant, getting the recipe should be easy... the chef will probably be quite flattered that you went to the trouble to find out. :)


and in a follow-up, Sue writes: Hi Brian just wanted to tell you I took your advice and called the Akershus restaurant, and I spoke with a Anne Gunderstead. She took my name and address and said she would mail me a copy of the recipe which the chef gave her. She tried to give it to me over the phone but was detailed so I should be receiving my copy soon. Thank you very much for taking the time to email me I know you're probably very busy but it will be greatly appreciated I assure you.


Thanks, Sue. I'm glad it worked out. :)



Debbie writes: In February, I was told by a CM working in the Pangani Exploration Trail that the Baobob tree is in fact real.


Thanks Debbie.

The baobab plot thickens. :)


and in a follow-up, Debbie writes: Isn't that funny?! Another debate is about the animals and whether or not they are all real. While I feel that most of them are in fact real, there are a few occasions when I have wondered. For example, I visited the Animal Kingdom on two separate days in February and on both days the two cheetahs were laying in the EXACT same spot. As we passed on BOTH days the one cheetah raised it's head at the exact time!!! Merely a coincidence or not a real animal? We may never know I guess.


Maybe we should ask everyone to be on the lookout for a possible animatronic cheetah. :)

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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