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Brian Bennett

WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett

4/22/02

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Q.

"KBT" writes: Not enough words to express how helpful your site is! THANK YOU for all you do!!

Question -- is there any way to be the Grand Marshall of a Disney parade and if so, how?

Comment -- great advice in your photography section. One additional tip for anyone traveling anywhere with a camera. Before you leave put a self-sticking address labels (you know - the one every charity likes to send??) on your unused rolls of film. If you drop it under the hotel bed, leave it on the table where you were changing rolls or otherwise lose it it has a much better chance of coming back to you.

Okay, two tips. For really once-in-a-lifetime shots you're afraid might get lost at the developer's, keep an index card in your camera bag with your name, address and phone number. Take a picture of that at the start of every roll. (I don't do this often, but occasionally something is important enough that I would be really really upset to have lost...).

A.

There is no way to "lobby" for the Grand Marshall position as far as I know. Guests are selected at random for that honor, and there's no way to know where lightning will strike on any given day.

Thanks for your photography suggestions! I'll add them to the site for others to take advantage of, too.

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Q.

Bob asks: I know for e-ride nights, you must have a Hopper pass and be staying on grounds. Is there a limit of how many passes are sold per night & what is the average attendance?

A.

Bob,

The E-Ride nights are generally capped at 5-10,000 people per night (I've heard "official" numbers that ranged in between those two extremes, so I'm not sure where the actual limit is). In any case, the crowd levels are down significantly from what is typical during the day.

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Q.

Mashelle writes: Brian, My sister brother in law and I will be going to wdw this August. I was wondering just how long dose the buses take to get to the parks from the Disney hotels. The season is we have planed to retune to our hotel and take a nap. We plan to get up at 5:00 am.

A.

Mashelle,

I hope you meant to say that you plan to get up at 5:00 PM (not am) from your nap... either that, or you're going to be getting up much earlier than necessary to get to the parks in the morning. :)

In general, it takes twenty to thirty minutes to travel by bus from resort to park. Of course, that time varies depending on the resort you're staying at and the park you're going to. For example, if you're staying at one of the All Star Resorts the drive time to Animal Kingdom is very short (the All Stars are very close to that park). However, a bus ride from Old Key West to that same park would take more like twenty to thirty minutes (depending on which OKWR bus stop you get on).

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Q.

Nancy asks: Brian, Do you know the exact date the WDW will allow reservations to made for this years "2002 Wine Maker" dinners? They sell out quickly and I do not want to miss my opportunity, as my dates for traveling are fixed.

A.

Nancy,

No, I don't know the exact dates. However, the most restrictive priority seatings are often limited to 120-, 90-, or 60-days out from the event date.

I'd suggest you call WDW-DINE and ask!

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Q.

Jeannine writes: Brian, I love your site and have been relying on it to plan my upcoming trip. My question is: my daughter will be one month shy of her third birthday when we visit WDW. Do you think that the Disney folks will give me a hard time about having her enter the parks, eat, etc., for free? Their policy is free under three, and she is technically not three yet.

Would love your opinion, thanks!

A.

Jeannine,

You won't have any problems with park admission. Disney doesn't get too bent out of shape about it. If you really are concerned that there could be a problem, take a photo copy of a birth certificate and you'll feel better that you have that proof... however, I would be shocked out of my gourd if you were asked about it.

By the way, kids do NOT eat free at Walt Disney World as a matter of policy.  You can always ask for an extra plate, which are always brought without hassle in my experience, but you'll be feeding your daughter from food that you ordered.  Children's meals, even for kids under the age of three, have a fixed price.

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Q.

Teri Writes: Brian, My family just returned from Disneyworld. We found out something at Animal Kingdom that may help other readers. You can purchase a meal certificate for $10.99 plus tax for adults and $5.99 plus tax for children.  This entitles you to one "fast food" meal and beverage, one bottled soda or water, and one ice cream or popcorn per certificate purchased. This saved us about $4-5.00 per person.

A.

Thanks for the note, Teri, it's new information for me. What do they call this certificate?

Q.

And Teri answered: Brian, They call it the Animal Kingdom Meal Certificate. You buy it at the gate when you come in.

By the way one more tip. If families sit in front of Casey's Corner in the Magic Kingdom, they have three chances of kids being picked to be in the Share a Dream Come True Parade. My kids were picked and they loved it.

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Q.

Becky writes: I have a comment about early entry. Even though they (Disney) stopped doing the early entry, they do have characters at most of the resorts during the mornings for most of the breakfast times. I know for a fact (because I worked there) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays the Characters are at the Caribbean Beach Resort from 8 to 8:40am and from 9 to 9:40am (or something like that I know that they are there from 8 to a little before ten but they leave for a few minutes then come back).

A.

Becky,

Thanks for the note. Yes, the Character Caravan has been running for several months now.

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Q.

Brian (a different one) writes: Hi Brian, I am planning a trip to WDW in October and wanted to go to Epcot for the International Food and Wine Festival. I went on the official web site and there was nothing about it anywhere. The only thing listed for that time was the 100 Years of Magic celebration. Are they having it this year? I hear it is really good.  If they are having it, can you tell me what it is all about, and when will it be? I really enjoy your input about the parks and keep up the good work.

A.

Brian,

There is no way to tell for sure that any WDW event is taking place in any given year until it has been officially announced. However, the International Food and Wine Festival has been so popular over the last several years that I'd be very surprised if it didn't happen this year.

Here's a link to an article that Sue Holland wrote on last year's event, and Bill Law, a MousePlanet guest columnist wrote this piece on the 2000 event.

The event usually takes place in late October through mid-November.

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Q.

Blair asks: My wife and I are planning to visit Disneyworld in Orlando in July and have made reservations at the Royal Plaza hotel which is an unofficial Disney hotel located in "Downtown Disney". Being a non-official Disney hotel, the daily rate is very good, $109, per night for a very nice room.

We have also made reservations at the Dolphin hotel for a $174 corner room (a government employee rate) for the same dates. it will be my wife's first visit and my second.

I don't know if it is worthwhile to pay the extra money to stay close to the Disney attractions, or is the Royal Plaza located in downtown Disney sufficiently close and or the transportation system for unofficial hotels efficient and prompt?

Can you help me with this dilemma?

A.

Blair,

The Dolphin is a nicer hotel, there's not doubt about that. The transportation will be a bit better at the Dolphin (vs. the Royal Plaza) too, since the Downtown Disney hotels do not receive service directly from Disney Transport (they have their own shuttle service). Other than that, neither hotel is themed and both are on property, as you already pointed out.

Only you can decide if the difference in price is worth the upgrade.

Personally, I'd split the difference and stay at a themed Disney resort... but I admit that I'm biased that way. :)

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Q.

Allan writes: Brian, I had heard that not long ago someone from one of the well known travel web sites made a comment that if you stayed onsite at a WDW resort that you could show your resort ID to the Disney employee working the line at a ride and they will move you to the front of the line.

According to this person, this was kind of an unwritten policy. Have you heard of this?

I am taking my wife and three children for their first trip to WDW and we are staying at the Port Orleans Riverside in early June. The last time I was at WDW was around 76-77 when EPCOT was still under construction. I am really looking forward to this trip and your website has been a great tool for getting info! Keep up the good work!

A.

Allan,

I was very curious about your question, so I did a Google search using the words "unwritten," "Disney," "policy," "front," and "line" to see what would come up. I didn't get any hits at any "well known web travel site," but at this link the following statement was made:

"Good News! It's an unwritten policy of Disneyland that if someone asks to go up front of a coaster or other attraction you will get there. At worst case you will have to wait until the next 'car/carriage' come by but you will get your preferred seat."

However, that simply means that once you've waited in line that you can ask to be loaded into a specific seat on the train -- not that you can skip the line. Also, the stated "unwritten policy" is at Disneyland, not Walt Disney World, but I happen to know that if you ask politely you are likely to be granted the same consideration at the WDW parks, too.

Another thing that you might be thinking of is Fastpass.  Quoting from this page from here on MousePlanet:

"Fastpass is a new way to minimize waits in the queue lines at the WDW parks.  If you decide to use Fastpass, you can skip the queue (for the time being) and return at a specific time later in the day when you can enter the shorter Fastpass line."

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Q.

Aaron and Brenda write: Hi Brian,  I and my family would like to go to WDW.  Where to stay not too cheap, not to much -- 7 people 4 adult 3 kids 4 days 3 nights.  What to see?  What to do?  How to keep from burn out?  Where to eat? and When to go?  Thanks.

A.

Aaron and Brenda,

I'd suggest you start at MousePlanet's WDW Trip Planning Guide.  If, after you'd surfed through those pages, there are questions you don't have answers to, let me know and I'll be happy to help as best I can.

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Q.

Johnny asks

Brian, We will be at Disneyworld in late April. Saturdays are travel days. Six days to see the theme parks. We have a 4 day park hopper pass, Sea World Tickets & one day at universal Studios. There are 7 of us including a 5 year old and grandparents (one might need a wheelchair). We will stay at the Sheraton Vistana and we are clueless how to plan our days best. Where do we go first, last or in the middle, etc. etc. etc.??? Help!!!!!

and Vicki writes:

Hi Brian, I have just found your site & it is wonderful. My husband & I went to Disneyworld on our honeymoon in 1990. We are returning with two kids (ages five and seven) in tow this year. We arrive late June. Needless to say we are all very excited. 

The amount of recommendations on when to go to a certain park are overwhelming, not to mention the various "touring plans". Questions:

  1. We arrive at 11am on a Wednesday, so hopefully we will be at the All-star Sports by 2:00. Realizing that check in isn't till 4:00pm, so when we got back, we would have to still settle in to our room, where would you recommend taking the kids first?
  2. In what order, would you go to the parks? I want to see it all, but can't afford to put up with a grumpy hubby & 2 grumpy children for 8 days!!!

Thanks for any insight you can give.

A.

I'll address the "grumpy" family issue first... I'd suggest that you go to this page, and look over the section that is headed, "Planning Your Day." The ideas there apply to everyone, but they're especially helpful for families -- like yours -- with young children. The basic premise is to take your days in the parks in chunks of time. Don't go into the parks like "Disney commandos" from morning to night!!!! I'll let you read those pages for the details. It really does make sense. :)

I don't go for strict touring plans at all (as you'll read on the pages I've cited above).

Now, on the day you arrive, you have a choice to make. Do you want to spend some time in the parks (which would be fine if you have annual passes, length-of-stay passes, or don't mind paying for a partial day in the parks). If so, head over to your favorite park and just enjoy yourself! If using a day on your park tickets isn't a good financial move, then you may want to go miniature golfing over at Winter Summerland or Fantasia Gardens followed by some time in your hotel pool (or vice versa). After traveling, it would be a nice thing to just relax a bit.

I don't have any recommended specific order to see the parks. However, I'd suggest you try to avoid the Magic Kingdom on Mondays (it's the park's busiest day) and remember that the Magic Kingdom tends to be busier on Fridays and Saturdays since the night time parade is usually scheduled for those nights during the slower times of the year.

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Q.

Scott asks: Hi Brian, I am traveling to WDW in June and I am planning on proposing to my girlfriend at this time. I was wondering if you had any ideas for the "perfect" place to accomplish this. The deck at the California Grill has been recommended. Any thoughts? Thanks for any help.

A.

Scott,

The California Grill deck would be fine... but if you can pull this off, you may want to make priority seating for Cinderella's Royal Table, let the folks at the restaurant know that you're planning to propose, and do it there during the evening fireworks! That would be my personal choice for top romantic method. ;)

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Q.

Michael asks: Hello Brian, First I want to thank you for hosting such a wonderful site. My question has to do with the Ultimate Hopper tickets that come with on-site packages. The brochure states that admission to Disney Quest is included in the ticket. Does this include the cost of playing the games and simulators? I know that here in Chicago (Before Disney Quest closed) there were two levels of admission one for all day play and one for limited play. What can I expect if I went to Disney Quest with an Ultimate Hopper? Keep up the good work!

A.

Michael,

The Unlimited Park Hopper does provide unlimited admission to DisneyQuest. That includes use of all attractions except for those few in the "Midway on the Moon" area that give out coupons (or tickets) that can be redeemed for prices. "Midway on the Moon" includes games such as Skeeball, a Disneyfied version of the venerable "whack-a-mole" game, and so on. All of the simulators and arcade games will be available to you on your Unlimited Park Hopper admission.

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Q.

A MousePlanet reader writes: Brian, in a previous article, you told a reader that they would have to pay for an upgrade from a child to adult ticket if the child was under ten years on one trip (and had unused days remaining), but was over nine on their next trip.

In my experience, all you have to do is visit any of the four theme parks or Downtown Disney Guest Relations and they'll fix the ticket. There is no charge. Disney doesn't charge kids for growing up!

A.

Thanks for the note!  I'll share it in an upcoming Notes piece.

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Q.

Keith asks: My wife and I are planning our first ever WDW trip with our 6 year old daughter. I have a few questions that maybe you can give us guidance on:
  1. We want to be able to take pictures and video of this special occasion, but I am wary of lugging around a camera and a camcorder. My wife suggested that we carry the camera and camcorder in a back pack and take turns carrying it throughout the parks. I also thought that if we did this we could put such things as sunscreen, sweaters, Birnbaum's book, etc. in there. What do you think of this idea? Would this tire us out? How would this work in conjunction with riding the various rides and attending the various shows? Do you have any experience with carrying around a back pack or know anyone who has done this?
  2. How do you get around between the parks? For example: We are staying at the All Star Movies and we will take a bus to Animal Kingdom. But if we then want to go from Animal Kingdom to Epcot, how do we do that? Is there a bus that will take us from AK to Epcot, or do we have to go back to the hotel and then get a bus from the hotel to Epcot?
  3. We are driving from Texas and will be arriving on a Sunday afternoon. We are not going to start hitting the parks until Monday, since we have only 5 day passes. Is there any kind of shops at the various resorts where we can buy an autograph book for our daughter on Sunday afternoon/evening. We would like to have an autograph book in hand before Monday morning as we are going to a character breakfast first thing Monday morning.

Your site is great and very helpful/informative. Keep up the good work.

A.

Keith,

Many, many, many folks take backpacks into the parks. My wife often takes a small bag, too, although we still have a stroller that helps us lug it around. Other folks use "fanny packs" which are handy, if limited in size. You can always get a locker (each park has them), if you decide to stash your bag for awhile during your park touring. In general, you won't have a problem with such a bag on the attractions or in shows. Many attractions, such as Kali River Rapids, have special places for placing such personal effects during the ride. Carrying things around can be burdensome -- but I understand that it may be very necessary, too. The one thing I would caution is that you should take the minimum you can take into the park with you. A camera and camcorder is one thing (and heavy enough as it is), but you might want to avoid taking books and extra clothing unless you absolutely must. It's just that much more that you'll have to lug around. You also may want to limit the carrying of the camera and/or camcorder to those days when you plan specific "photo ops." For example, if you only plan to video parades and shows, you may want to plan a specific day to do those things and limit the need to carry the camcorder on the other days.

Transportation between the parks is very simple. As you thought, there is bus, boat, or monorail transportation to and from each major destination on the WDW complex. I'd also suggest that you go to this page, and look over the sections at the very bottom that are headed, "General On-Site Transportation Issues," and "Walt Disney World Transportation Guide Charts." You'll get a good idea of what's involved in moving between the widely-spaced-out WDW facilities from those pages.

And finally, on your last question... Each of the WDW resorts have a shop where you can buy sundries, souvenirs, and such things. Autograph books, for your daughter's use, will definitely be available at any of those stores. You don't mention specifically which resort you're staying at, but if you go to this page, you can find a link to MousePlanet's "Fast Facts" pages for all of the WDW resorts. Those pages include a list of all of the shops that are available at the resorts.

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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