by Brian Bennett
a reminder, folks... trip reports to any of the Disney resorts
are always welcome here at MousePlanet! If you have
a trip report that you've written, but have never submitted
to MousePlanet, I would love to add it the archive here!
Complete instructions for submitting a trip report can be
found in the left-hand margin of the trip
report archive index page. Even if you have a trip
report from a long, long time ago, send it in! A lot
of us enjoy reading about some of the older attractions.
It brings back a lot of great memories.
| In a previous Notes
From the World, I responded to the following note:
Stella writes: Hi Brian -
I was wondering if you could help me. About a month ago
I found a site where they helped you get a PS for Cinderella's
Breakfast. I can't seem to find that site now!! Do you have
any idea what that address is??? Thanks you!!!
| and I responded
There is a site out there that has a "black market"
regarding Cinderella's Royal Table priority seatings.
The way it works is that a group of folks, that don't really
need priority seatings, make as many of those priority seatings
as possible. Then, the priority seating numbers are
pooled and they are dolled out to people that come to the
site and ask.
In my opinion, the practice is despicable. I hope Disney
steps up to the idea of asking for photo ID to prove that
the name on the reservation and the name of the person there
(at the restaurant) match up. That would put the black
marketers out of business.
In any case, I've made it my policy to not share the URL
of that site regarding this matter. Furthermore, if
anyone from Disney contacts me, I'll happily provide more
details on the site that is doing this.
Well folks, WDW has come up with their own solution to this
black market problem.
A major change will be made
to the priority seating policy for the character breakfast
at Cinderella's Royal Table. As of June 9, 2002, a
credit card deposit (the card will actually be charged)
of $10.00 / adult and $5.00 / child will be required at
the time that the priority seating is made. After
the priority seating is booked, no changes can be made to
the name on the booking. If necessary, priority seatings
may be cancelled without penalty (i.e. the deposit will
be refunded) if the cancellation is done at least twenty-four
hours before the priority seating time.
When I first found out about this policy change, I thought
it might have just been Disney doing what Disney does best
-- separating us from our money as soon as possible.
But when I read that last part of the new policy, that no
changes can be made to the name on the booking, I realized
that this policy change was probably targeted right at our
internet friends that were working so hard to bend the rules
in their favor.
| Tina asks: Brian,
I am coming to WDW during the late Summer with my 8 year old
daughter. I know that a majority of the kids will be in
school, so we are hoping that the parks are not going to be
that crowded. We want to spend only three days at Disney, perhaps
two days at Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure, and then
maybe a day at Blizzard Beach. On the only day that we will
have off, my daughter states that she wants to go to Disney
Quest. Is this Disney Quest worth a half of a day, or, in your
opinion should we skip this in favor of sitting on the beach?
Depending on when you visit, a half day at DisneyQuest would
probably be enough (evenings and weekends are the busiest,
so plan accordingly). I can't really decide between DisneyQuest
and a beach for you and your daughter. It really depends on
what you both would prefer doing. Sounds like you have a difference
of opinion to deal with. :)
| Laura writes: Hi
Brian, I'm taking my Daughter & two grandchildren to Disneyworld
in June, my Disney card just has my last name. My daughter has
a different name. Can she use my card?
I'm not sure what "Disney card" you're talking
about. If it's a Disney credit card, you'd have to check with
the credit card folks about their transfer rules. If you're
talking about the Disney Club, then officially you or someone
in your immediate family has to be present to make use of
the card. Of course, if you're talking about the Disney Club,
then the cast members accepting it are very unlikely to worry
about the fact that the last names don't match... but if it
comes up, with different last names, your daughter would have
no way to be able to prove that she's your daughter.
|John writes: Hi Brian,
In September, my partner and I will be making a return trip
to Walt Disney World (my second as a former Cast Member!) and
this time we decided to go in style -- after thinking about
it for a long time.
I've read several different opinions
in your column about the value of taking package tours, and
I thought I would give you my analysis.
We'll be staying in a lagoon-view concierge-level
room at the Polynesian (we've requested an MK view and hope
we'll get it!) and will be staying five nights. Since we both
vacationed at WDW last year (it was his first-ever trip there),
and we feel we've gotten to know the parks a bit, our goal
was to enjoy ourselves and not to feel rushed. We wanted to
create an experience that would allow us to savor the things
WE like about WDW -- the general atmosphere, the recreation,
the food, the "history," etc. Most importantly,
we have been working on creating a vacation that will really
be a vacation -- one during which we can enjoy ourselves and
do the things we liked.
Because of that, we opted for the Deluxe
Magic package. We fully intend to make optimal use of the
dining portion of the package, and are carefully selecting
our restaurants to maximize the value we receive from the
package (i.e., we're going to go to the most upscale restaurants
every day). We also do intend to do things like golf, tennis,
and other recreational activities. Lastly, we want to take
backstage tours to learn more about the parks and how they
I say all this so you can know we may
be a little bit different than the "typical" WDW
guest -- but also similar to many of your readers. We're "seasoned"
WDW guests, so we're planning on using the package to take
advantage of that.
So, the question becomes: Is a Deluxe
Magic package worth the price? The answer, in our case, is
a definite yes (though, of course, we'll only know that for
SURE after we finish the trip!).
Here's my analysis (note that each
item is priced for two people) of what it would cost us to
do the trip "a la carte," paying for each item individually.
Note that I've only broken out those elements that a five-day
park-hopper user would have to pay extra for:
- ROOM: Deluxe room at Polynesian
for five nights -- $2,550
- Five-Day Ultimate Park-Hopper Ticket
- Compact Car (National Car Rental;
price approx.) -- $225.00
- Breakfast each day (assuming $15
per person) -- $150.00
- Lunch each day (assuming $25 per
person) -- $250.00
- Dinner each day (assuming $40 per
person) -- $400.00
- Cirque Du Soleil (approx. $60 each)
- Backstage Safari Tour -- $130.00
- Hidden Treasures of World Showcase
Tour -- $118.00
- Inside Animation Tour -- $118.00
- Undiscovered Future World Tour --
- 1 Round of Golf -- $80.00
- 1 Hour of Tennis -- $30.00
- DisneyQuest Admission -- $30.00
- Pleasure Island Admission -- $42.00
- Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf
- Parasailing (@ $75 per person) --
- Water mouse Rental (for one hour)
- Bicycle Rental (Full Day, 2 People)
The "a la carte" total is
$5,108.92. For our vacation package, we're paying approximately
$4,880 (for two people), giving a savings of $320.92, or 6.3%.
One of the ideas we love about the
package (in addition to food and recreation!) is that it allows
us to sample things we might only be curious about. For instance,
we'll have access to DisneyQuest (I've been there, he hasn't),
but if we go and only want to stay 20 minutes, we won't feel
we've wasted the admission price. Likewise with Pleasure Island
and, if we decided to go, the World of Sports.
We think the Deluxe Magic Package is
a terrific value -- for those who really intend to plan ahead
to use all of its elements to the fullest extent. Is it expensive?
Yes. But if you want to go to WDW in style and you want to
be able to experience (virtually) everything that WDW has
to offer, it seems to be a great value.
Just wanted to pass along my findings!
This was an EXCELLENT analysis! Actually, you've done just
what I've always suggested... you've evaluated the package
against what you'll use and found that it's a good deal for
you. The "average" WDW guest would never use all
of those features in a trip, but for someone that is planning
include those things in their trip plans, then the package
is, indeed, a good deal.
Looks like you have a great trip planned. I hope I'll get
a lengthy, detailed trip report out of the deal. ;)
|Margaret asks: I
know that MGM is not currently running Beauty and the Beast
every day. My 4 year old is a big fan and I would like to plan
our visit to MGM on a day we can see it. Do you know the schedule?
Also, do you know if they do dinner seatings for the 5:30pm
showing of Fantasmic? Thanks a bunch-your site is really helpful.
My best suggestion is to check the park guidemap when you
arrive at WDW. All show schedules are subject to change, so
it's best to plan such things on the days you're in the parks.
(By the way, if you're staying on site you can get those guidemaps
in the hotel lobby when you check in, then you can plan your
I don't think there is a 5:30pm showing of Fantasmic! The
show effects depend on the dark, at least to some extent...
and it's not even close to dark by 5:30pm in the afternoon.
For that reason, Fantasmic! usually runs at 8:30pm or later.
|Jayne writes: Hello
Mr. Bennett, You have a wonderful site full information for
us "Disney Virgins!"
I have a question for you regarding
DVC. All I can find on the internet is why everyone LOVES
it. You had a couple of opposing
arguments (listed in the index under the heading "The
Great Debate") on your site and I was wondering if there
is a site where there are more opposing arguments? I'm trying
to find all the good and the bad before we make our purchase.
I see all the re-sales and wonder "why?". Why are
these people selling if everyone loves it so much?
I thank you very much for your help.
I'm sure there are other sites out there with similar "debates."
A Google search might provide a list for you.
My opinion is simply that some folks, for whatever personal
reasons, decide to sell their points. It may be for financial
reasons (other priorities, etc.), or because they found that
an annual WDW trip wasn't their cup of tea after all.
|Tracy writes: Hi
Brian, All of your letters and answers are very helpful - have
enjoyed your site. We're going to WDW in Mid-May staying at
Port Orleans Riverside and getting excited. I have a few questions
for you when you have time.
- I believe early entry is no longer
available - can you confirm that? In books and articles
I still see mention of it and just don't know for sure if
it is still on or not.
- My kids are 4 and 2. Right now I
am thinking to try to spend the most time in the Magic Kingdom,
1/2 to 3/4 day each in the Studios and Animal Kingdom, and
then just a small amount of time in Epcot to see a few things
and catch illuminations.
- I know Epcot is wonderful - especially
for older kids and adults, but don't think my 2 year old
especially will appreciate it. What do you think on this?
Have a colleague who just came back and was disenchanted
with Magic Kingdom because he says it has "nothing
new" and is the same as it was many years ago.
- He also has an 8 year old who of
course is at that borderline age of appreciating the characters.
He indicated that even his 3 and 4 year old really like
- Am I short changing my family by
not evenly dividing time and trying to see more of Epcot?
We will likely return in a few years and would spend more
time on that trip as the kids will be a little older.
- I have heard that only Mama Melrose
and Brown Derby allow the Fantasmic seating arrangement
- do you know if they'll do this arrangement with 50's Prime
- Any data on average crowds the dates
we are going?
Thanks in advance.
You are correct, early entry has been discontinued for the
What I would suggest you do is spend the first morning at
the Magic Kingdom, then switch to Epcot in the evening. The
next day, start out at Animal Kingdom then move over to the
Studios for the later part of the day. Then, based on the
response you get from the kids you can decide where to spend
the rest of the time you have.
Frankly, I think you'll find that the kids will enjoy all
four of the parks. :)
You'll have to call the (407) WDW-DINE Central Reservations
number and ask about the Fantasmic Dining Experience. The
last information I had was that the Prime Time Cafe DID participate,
but you'll have to check to be sure.
Crowd levels during late May are usually moderate.
|Sandy asks: Greetings
Brian. I love your site and the information you provide about
WDW is terrific. THANKS FOR ALL THE HELP!
We are traveling to WDW with my parents
(for Fathers Day and to celebrate my dad's 80th birthday),
my brother/sister-in-law and my niece (7) and nephew (4) for
the kids first visit. We are staying at the Grand Floridian
for 4 nights and I have most of the trip planned -- thanks
in great part to MousePlanet!
I was hoping you (or one of your readers)
could provide a recommendation for room requests when I contact
the resort 5 days prior to check in.
We have Lagoon View accommodations,
and it is very important that my parents and brother have
adjoining rooms. Also my dad's mobility is not great -- he
will have an electronic cart for the trip.
I was thinking about Boca Chica --
is it close to the monorail? And is this where you get the
best view? My parents will be baby-sitting the kids some nights
and I would love them to be able to see the fireworks, if
possible from the room.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
First off, I'd suggest you look over this
map of the Grand Floridian.
You'll notice that the monorail station is in the very front
of the main building. From any other building, you'll have
a long, long hike to the station!
Boca Chica is probably the building with the best views of
the lagoon, but be aware that parts of Sago Cay, Sugar Loaf,
Conch Key, Big Pine, and even the main building (especially
the upper floors) all have some rooms that are designated
"lagoon view." You may want to consider the main
building for the mobility issue... although most of the main
building rooms are concierge, suites, and otherwise considered
to be an upgrade from the "standard" rooms.
What I would suggest you do is call the resort and explain
all of your concerns and issues, and ask THEM to recommend
a building or area of rooms. Alternatively, you can just call
up central reservations and just note your needs and requests
without specifying a particular building or location. Almost
certainly, you'll be provided with adjoining rooms (when you
make clear the reason for the request) and I'm sure you'll
be given rooms that meet all of your needs to the best of
their ability at the time.
In any case, get your requests in now... don't wait until
5 days before departure! For one thing, you might forget to
make that last contact (or be too busy to deal with it at
the time). Also, if your requests are already in the system,
when you do call or fax them again just before the trip, you
can spend more time explaining WHY you need those requests
to be filled (and gain more empathy from the room assignment
folks) and less time discuss WHAT the requests actually are.
One last thing... do you have any room in your suitcase for
|Dana writes: Brian,
this is one of the best Disney sites I have found, thanks for
all the hard work. My question is this... my husband and I are
taking our 3 children down to Disney the last week of May, they
are 14, 13, and 3. We are staying at the Port Orleans Riverside
this stay, we would like to know what area of the resort would
be best for us. We would like to be near the food courts, pools
and bus stops. We stayed at the All Star Movies on one of our
visits and had a wonderful location, near food court, pools
and bus stops. We would like the same this time.
Thanks for the kind comments about MousePlanet!
I'd suggest you look over this
map of the resort. My personal preference for location
at Riverside is Magnolia Terrace. It's a walk across Ol' Man
Island to the Landing where the restaurants, marina, etc.
are located. It's directly adjacent to a quiet pool, and it's
near one of the first bus stops on the run to the parks.
In the bayou area, buildings 14 and 18 are closer to the
Landing and are fairly close to a quiet pool, too.
|Mary writes: Hi Brian,
I love MousePlanet!!! I can hardly wait for our next trip (wife,
husband, and two boys ages 3 and 5) to Disney.
Here's the thing. Wilderness Lodge
vs. Port Orleans. I have read your review but I have not visited
Disney for about 10 years and have never stayed on site.
What would you say are the pro's and
con's for the two above Resorts.
Would appreciate your opinion.
Wilderness Lodge is classified as a deluxe resort by Disney.
Port Orleans, on the other hand, is classified as a moderate.
The main difference between the two categories is price versus
the level of service provided. The rooms tend to be a bit
larger in the deluxe resorts, too, although not so much that
the average person would pay more for that fact alone. Also,
the deluxe resorts, in general, have fewer rooms -- so lines
for check-in and out, buses, and other services are usually
shorter. They also tend to be more compact, with restaurants
and other guest facilities being more close together than
at the moderates. The deluxe resorts offer more amenities
(restaurant options, etc.) and more variety in transportation
(Wilderness Lodge, for example, has boat service to the Magic
Kingdom while all park transportation at Port Orleans is via
bus). Finally, the deluxe resorts offer concierge service...
something you will NOT find at a moderate.
Beyond those generalities, the themes of the two resorts
are completely different, of course.
|Mike asks: Brian,
Hello again. Your information and that of MousePlanet have been
put to good use on our trip to WDW last October. In fact the
planning for this years trip in October is now in full swing.
My question is about AAA. Out of the blue I called my AAA office
to get price info on WDW tickets and while on hold I heard a
recording about a AAA lounge in WDW. Also, they mentioned if
AAA members bought their tickets through AAA they would receive
a diamond lot parking pass? They stated that you still needed
to pay the parking fees but that the diamond lot at each park
is located closer to the entrance than the general lots. When
I finally got a hold of someone in the office, they informed
me the office manager is out of town for 2 weeks. UGH! its a
small office and the rest of the staff there could not answer
any of my questions about these 2 issues and suggested I call
back in 2 weeks.
So I was wondering if you have heard
of the lot and/or the lounge and could shed any light on this?
We purchased our tickets last year
through AAA and were never told about the lot OR the lounge,
so now we are very curious to find out about them. We have
known about the ticket discounts, but we didn't know (and
other MousePlanet readers may not either) about the diamond
lot and the AAA lounge. Any information on these would be
much appreciated. Thanks and keep those tips coming!
I'd suggest you check out this
MousePlanet page. It discusses all of the AAA perks
including the diamond lot parking and the lounge in the Magic
|and in a follow-up, Mike
writes: LOL, thanks Brian. Just proves there's so much on
MousePlanet that you're bound to miss something if you don't
pay attention. :)
Hate to follow up a question with another
question but something else has us a little concerned.
We noticed many people in WDW with
2-way radios last time we were there. By the end of our trip
we wished we had them and are planning on getting a set for
this upcoming trip in October. Our question is about concerns
with airport security. Would you recommend us putting them
in our checked baggage or in our carry-on so we can show that
they work? We're afraid if we put them in our checked baggage
that when they are x-rayed they will see electronics and pull
our luggage off the plane. However if we put them in our carry-on
we don't want them to be confiscated. After all, I suppose
someone with bad intentions could use these to communicate
with each other on the plane.
This brings us to another question.
Is there a place either in WDW itself, or somewhere close
that you can recommend that rents these radios? The other
option we thought of was buying them there when we arrive,
and then shipping them home when we leave. Any help would
be much appreciated. thanks again.
|Well, Mike, I have another MousePlanet page for
you to check out. This one covers two-way
radio rentals in the Orlando area. You may find the information
|Rachel asks: Dear
Brian, My husband, young daughter (aged 3) and I are visiting
WDW in November of this year. I am using MousePlanet to aid
planning the trip - it is really helping !
I am a member of the Disney Club and
I have recently received a newsletter. One of the offers is
for 10% discount on portrait photographs with "Disney
event productions" - do you know anything about them
? I have never heard of this service before and wondered whether
it was linked in any way to the photographers who are waiting
for you at the entrances to the parks?
I would be grateful for any information
you may have.
Disney Event Productions is the group that handles all of
the special things that go on at the conventions and other
business meetings that are held at WDW. They do have professional
photographers on staff for those events. I'm assuming that
they are just running a little slow on convention business
if they are shopping the photographers around. :)
Keep in mind that the work done will probably be similar
to any studio photography, but the price, even with the 10%
discount, is likely to be inflated. Just check out all pricing
before you commit, and you'll be able to make a good, informed
decision about the services provided.
Hi, We went to WDW Florida for our
honeymoon last year and fell in love with the place. We
are hoping to go back Christmas 2003 and stay at a resort
hotel (mid or deluxe depending on money!). Are there any
reports of Christmas holidays on the site? If so I'm having
real trouble finding them! I'm trying to find report on
the park, hotels, extra charges, meals etc at Christmas.
Can you help????? Thanks.
and Glenn asked:
Brian, I've scoured you "Notes..."
archives, but wasn't able to find info on Christmas Day
festivities. We will be staying on site with 6 days in the
World, outside our travel days. Since I'm sure the parks
will be busy, should we use this as a take it easy, take
it slow day? I'd appreciate any feedback on what to expect
on that day.
Also, our daughter will celebrate
her 4th birthday on the 28th. In addition to a character
breakfast, any suggestions on what other offerings Disney
makes, to make it special?
Keep up the great work and all those
|There are several column pieces that you may want
to read on Christmas at WDW. First, there's a great article
on Christmas at the resorts
by Sue Holland and several others by Sheila Hagen on Christmas
at the resorts,
Magic Kingdom, Epcot,
Studios, and Animal
As well as a bunch of trip reports. Those can be found by
going to the trip
report index page, and there you'll find links to the
lists of "holiday" trip reports that have been submitted
to MousePlanet from over the years. Here's a sampling
in 2001: Wahl,
and in 2000: Bartlett,
All of the days right around Christmas week will be VERY
BUSY. In fact, this is the busiest week throughout the year
at WDW! Christmas Day is the very busiest of the year at the
Magic Kingdom. I've never been to the park on that day, so
I can't answer your question about anything additional that
is done on Christmas.
Regarding your daughter's birthday, there's one last MousePlanet
page I'd suggest you read through that covers special
days at WDW.
|Loretta asks: Hi!
I want to know more about the Leave a Legacy at Epcot. What
type of picture do you need to bring with you? How much does
it cost to have done? Finally, how many people can fit on the
piece? We will be going in 3 weeks. Hope you have some info
on this. Thanks and I really enjoy reading all the information
I don't know much more about "Leave a Legacy" than
what's shown on Disney's
own site. There is a phone number to call, if you'd like
to check on pricing and so on.
|Jayne asks: Hi love
your site and am still doing my homework for our first trip
to WDW in August 2002 with myself, husband and 2 small children...
We are staying at Double Tree Guest Suites on site but non Disney.
Haven't heard any personal reviews from this Hotel, what is
your opinion? Non themed doesn't bother us for a first trip.
What would be the approx. length of time by bus/shuttle to get
from the hotel to either of the parks? We are trying to see
if coming back to the hotel mid day for a nap/swim would be
workable! I am still a little confused as to how the transportation
works at Disney.
Who can ride the boat, monorail and
buses to and from each park? Is this a service just for WDW
guests or everyone and what are the costs for each transportation?
We are hoping to book a character breakfast
at Cinderella's Castle but reading through the site I understand
it may be next to impossible to secure one. Although we will
still try when our 60 day window opens up. My next option
was a character breakfast/meal with Winnie the Pooh and Friends
for my 2 young children ( aged 5 & 2 ) where do I go about
finding and booking this character breakfast and what is the
advanced booking time for this one? 60 days? I know I have
bombarded you with many questions but I do like to understand
the grounds and know what I have in store for my family before
we get down there a little planning can't hurt can it? Thank
you so very much for your wonderful site it has already given
me so much information. I feel as if I have been to WDW already.
I'll be sure to write a trip report from a first timers point
of view when we get back. Thank you again.
Shuttle transportation to and from any non-Disney resort
will depend on the shuttle schedule as much as anything. You
really should contact the Doubletree and ask what the schedule
is! Once you're on the bus, you should assume that you'll
be in transit for thirty minutes or so (as you'll likely stop
at other Downtown Disney hotels on the way to and from the
Officially, Disney Transport (the actual buses, boats, monorail,
etc. operated by Disney) is available according to your needs
based on what you buy FROM DISNEY. For example, guests that
are staying on site at a Disney-owned and operated resort
(which you're not), are eligible to use any and all Disney
transportation services. However, offsite (and that includes
the Downtown Disney resorts) visitors are eligible to use
Disney transportation depending on the admission media that
you purchase. If you buy park hopper passes, then you can
legitimately use the transportation to get from one park to
another without question. If you have park hopper plus passes,
you can use Disney Transport to get to the water parks, too.
I would suggest that you go ahead and try to make your priority
seating for Cinderella's Royal Table as vigorously and rigorously
as you'd like given how important it is to you. The one and
only time that I tried to make breakfast arrangements for
Cinderella's Royal Table, I was able to make them on my second
call (that was for a trip in the Fall of 2000), so it's not
impossible! The back up plan that you mentioned is Crystal
Palace at the Magic Kingdom. Frankly, I prefer Crystal Palace
to Cinderella's Royal Table in terms of the food quality (it's
a buffet versus being pre-plated). The bigger difference between
the two, of course, is location, location, location -- and
which characters are available.
I'll be looking forward to that trip report. :)
|Oleg asks: Brian,
Thanks for maintaining a great site!
I plan to visit MK on May 4, right
after the grad night on May 3 (which runs until 5am). Is there
any reason not to visit on the day following grad night (i.e.
unusually high number of people in the park, attractions closed,
There will still be some additional folks around due to grad
night overflow, but mostly the effects are seen on the night
of the event itself when the park closes earlier than normal
to accommodate it.
The main thing is that you'll likely see an influx of local
Florida visitors because the 4th is a Saturday and Spectromagic
will be running, too.
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!