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Brian Bennett

WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett

6/17/02

Before starting our regular email, here are a couple of notes...

First, MousePlanet's new Resort and Restaurant Review Section is in "beta test" mode.  Check it out and feel free to provide some reviews!  But remember, we're still in test mode here. :)

Second, If you have your own web page, and would like to Link to MousePlanet, we now have a great page that will help you to place our logo and a link on your site.  Feel free to check it out!

And also before starting our regular email, here are some responses from previous Notes From the World columns:

Travis writes:

Brian, Mike asked about discounts in September, and you responded, "My suggestion is to keep calling the Central Reservations Office, perhaps once a week or so, until you get the answers you're looking for."

I had a similar situation and was pleased to get some useful advise from the Cast Member at CRO when I called. The CM suggested I go ahead and book the room, and then if I do hear about any discounts in the future to call back and change the reservation. The advantage being that you have secured a room, and you don't risk it being booked solid and missing out. I actually made two reservations because I could not decide if I wanted to use the Disney Club discount, or the Annual Pass discount (especially since I did not yet have an AP, although I planned to get one before I checked in) and then later called back and canceled the Disney Club discounted reservation (and bought the PAP). Just be sure to ask how long you have to cancel with out penalties.

Is this a bad idea? I mean, the CM suggested it so I did not thing there was anything shady about doing it this way.

Thanks for any advice.

And I answered:

Travis,

The problem with holding multiple reservations is that Disney will be holding a bunch of your money, since deposits are required for each reservation. If that's not an objection, and CRO doesn't mind, then it's certainly a way to play the system to your advantage.

Jim Writes:

Brian, (in response) to the two people (Patty and Lisa) who had questions on services for people with disabilities in your June 3 column.

I fractured my hip several weeks prior to a trip to WDW this past February. Being a relatively healthy 37 year –old male, with a relatively healthy ego, I was bound and determined that I would walk the parks even if it meant suffering the entire trip. No wheelchair for this guy!

After walking on day one from the bus stop to the Animal Kingdom entrance, I changed my mind – and boy am I glad I did. I learned first hand that Disney does a great job helping people with disabilities. They are helpful without ever appearing to be condescending. Wheelchair rental and return is a fairly quick and simple process at Disney parks. You simply give them your name and pay the rental fee. There is no deposit, and if you lose yours during the day, they simply replace it. At the end of the day, you can either leave your chair anywhere in the park, or return it and receive a $1 refund. You only pay a rental fee once per day. If park hopping – your receipt is good at all parks. (Conversely, we went to Universal Studios the same trip and wheelchair rental was a nightmare. The rental process took more than 30 minutes (and that was on a slow day!); you either have to leave a credit card or put down a huge deposit; sign a contract; and God forbid you loose your wheelchair – you’re stuck paying for it according to the contract.)

Patty, in answer to your questions, I don’t recall seeing jogging strollers – but each park has a huge warehouse just inside the entrance with strollers and wheelchairs. They also have electric carts, but they’re rather expensive. I never had a problem obtaining a wheelchair. Being that you’re going in July, you might want to arrive at the parks early AM or late afternoon to be sure you can get one. I imagine that they could possibly be scarce mid-day during busier months. Also, if staying on property, I believe all the Disney hotels each have a limited supply wheelchairs available to hotel guests. We stayed at two deluxe hotels this trip and they both had wheelchairs – but I’m pretty sure I saw a similar note in the guide book at All-Star resorts as well. You might want to call your hotel ahead of time to confirm. The Disney busses and monorails are all wheelchair accessible.

Lisa, I don’t have any idea as to your age – but by all means, don’t be embarrassed to rent a wheelchair. Although I felt very self-conscious for the first hour or so, I was extremely glad I rented one. The Disney parks are huge. It would have been an awful trip if I had attempted to walk (even though I was capable of doing so). While riding around, I noticed people of ALL ages in wheelchairs, which made me feel much less self-conscious.

Hope you both have a wonderful trip!

Debra asks:

Dear Brian, Thank you very much for all of our useful information. My husband and I are planning our first vacation in WDW in early May 2002. I purchased our 4-Day Park Hopper passes/ tickets from an independent company (TicketMania) several months ago. Since that time, I have been doing a lot of reading, on your web site and in books, about the tickets being non-transferable. The tickets do not display any names, they just say Guest. I don't question the validity of the tickets I hold, I have more of a logistical question that I hope you can answer as I am sure I am not the only customer who does not buy their tickets directly from Disney.

I have two questions:

  1. How does WDW link my name to the tickets?
  2. Do we need to do anything with the passes or register with Customer Relations / Ticket Center before going to the entrance of the park with the passes? I don't want to make a beeline to the park entrance just to find out I missed something.

Thank you very much for your help.

and I responded:

Debra,

The passes usually have a place for you to sign them. Then, when you enter the park, you show both your pass and a valid photo ID with your signature so your signed pass can be validated. Of course, it's very, very rare that visitors are actually asked to produce that valid photo ID, but the admission media fine print usually states that such ID is required. I'd suggest you look over your passes, read everything in detail, and see what it says. If you have any other questions, I'd suggest you call your ticket agent ASAP and make sure you thoroughly understand all issues regarding the use of those passes.

I wish you well on your ticket purchase. Let me know how it goes as I have had no one give me any feedback (good or bad) on using a third-party for admission media purchases.

And Debra followed-up:

Brian, I wanted to let you know that everything was fine purchasing our tickets through a third-party provider. We ended up saving about $10 off each ticket (we did not have any other way to obtain discounts -- not a member of any Disney Club or AAA). In addition, the ticket agent sent a lot of Disney and Orlando information with the tickets which was nice to look through at home before departing. It was also nice from a convenience and budgeting standpoint to have the tickets in hand before we left. The only negative I would say is it was difficult to reach the companies via the phone. I always got an answering machine when I called. They did always return my calls.

Only other thing I would pass along is that we had one of those "free" Orlando Magic Cards that give you discounts at selected attractions/restaurants in the Orlando area. We found that every place we stopped at gave us a discount (off Disney) by showing them the card -- even those not affiliated with the program.

Lastly, as I know everyone is always asking about crowd levels...we were at Disney World from May 3 through the 10 and found crowds to be low (with the exception being Saturday at the MK of course). Maximum wait we experienced was generally about 10-15 minutes. Many rides we just walked onto.

Thank you for your input and valuable information.

A MousePlanet reader writes:

To a reader that asked, "We'll being arriving 6/19 and I've heard that the new version of BLAST! called SHOCKWAVE will be playing in Epcot. Have you heard anything more on this, and will there be a Dinner/reserve seating package available?"

BLAST! Shockwave will begin on 6/15. There will be no dinner packages this year. But some seats for annual passholders may be in the works, I'll keep you posted on that. It's a tough call on that one, we want to offer it, but we don't want.

Lee writes:

Hi Brian, Just read your update today (6/10) and might have an answer to your question. I worked at the turnstiles at Epcot last May, during one day that we were closing early (6pm) due to a convention. Signs were posted across property that Epcot would be closing early, and we we told that day by our Managers that we were to treat ANY valid form of park admission media as a Park Hopper. I am not sure if this is still the procedure, but that is how Disney made sure the guests got their value in the past. Hope this info helps!

to which I answered:

Thanks for the note, Lee. I've not heard of such sign postings from other readers, but I'm glad to hear that WDW does something to deal with the issue.

Of course, what you've described really only helps those folks that have purchased single day tickets. Do you know what compensation multi-day and AP pass holders are given when a park closes early for several days in a row during their trip?

and Lee responded:

Hey Brian, You are absolutely right. The steps I mentioned would only help single-day ticket holders who are visiting the park that is closing on that day. I'm not sure if there was any compensation given to APs or Multi-Day passholders. Sorry I can't be more help. If I run across the problem again when I'm working in Florida, I'll research the issue for you.

So... the jury's still out on that one.  :)

Stephane writes:

I just read your notes from the world, and I thought I should mention that I was told that the points were definitely increased when they were supposed to. Although my mother was able to buy an additional 100 points for June at 75$ but she had to basically reserve them ahead of time BEFORE the price went up. ( The reason she had to reserve them is that she lives in Quebec and as a result, cannot actually purchase over the phone but only in person ).

Julie reports:

Hi Brian, I love your site!! I visited WDW in May and I am returning again in July! I have always loved WDW but I have to  agree with the recent complaints that you have received! In May the park hours were not good, E-ride nights were cancelled, and Epcot was so dirty that neither my husband nor myself could believe it! That used to be my favorite park but absolutely no one was there! I went into three bathrooms with no tissue or paper. Can you believe that?

Magic Kingdom just wasn't up to snuff either. A lot of the paint had faded on some of the older attractions and the trash in the park was terrible.

Animal Kingdom (my new favorite park) was great!! MGM was fine also. I complained to guest relations via email and no one has bothered to contact me. Oh well, I guess they cutback on staff in that area too!! I will update you next month when I return! Pixie dust to you !!

But on the flip  side, Dominic shares this:

Brian, I wrote to you back in October when my wife and I returned from a trip to WDW as a sort of rebuttal to the letters and comments you had printed about the cutbacks and changes due to the slowing of tourism and 9/11. Our experience in October was very positive and enjoyable. We just returned from a week at WDW (6/2-6/9) and I wanted to report that we again had a wonderful time. The crowds were noticeably larger, the weather noticeably hotter (my wife insists we'll never go in June, July or August after this trip-we Minnesotans aren't used to the heat, apparently!), but we experienced the same quality service that we've come to expect from every cast member associated with Walt Disney World. I even kept a list of outstanding CMs would went above and beyond with the idea of writing a trip report (which I may still do).

We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside, just like in October, and even though the resort was clearly busier than last trip, when we checked in at around 1:00 Sunday afternoon, our room was ready. The room was nice, clean, and the housekeepers re-arranged the four Disney plush toys we brought down every day and even left us washcloth "origami" a few days. The food court was always full of guests, but did not seem too crowded or noisy and was continually cleaned every time we ate there. We really enjoyed the resort this time, walking along the paths and generally relaxing, much as people should do on vacation.

The transportation was really good, given that the guests seemed fairly impatient if a bus didn't show up every thirty seconds or so. Only on our last day did we have to wait more than 10 minutes for a bus. The monorails and ferries were clean and efficient. The boats from Port Orleans to Downtown Disney were running at what I can only assume was peak operation, as I counted five or six boats on river at any given time the two times we took the boats. French Quarter had just re-opened a few days earlier and seemed to be bustling, but obviously slower than Riverside.

The parks were clean, with a very, very few exceptions and the cast members were very friendly and helpful. My only real complaint about any of the parks has nothing to do with cleanliness or cast members. We visited the Chester & Hester's Dinorama area at Animal Kingdom and came away disappointed that someone thought turning a part of Walt Disney World into a midway was a good idea. It simply doesn't fit the rest of WDW. I don't know if anything can be done about re-doing it or even abandoning the idea anytime soon, but it was really out of place.

I know some people have reported concerns about cleanliness at the Magic Kingdom, but I didn't notice much of a problem. There are a few areas that could be touched up and I'm not trying to defend Disney management or make excuses for them, but the resort is massive and I believe the crowds have increased faster than had been anticipated, causing more wear and tear on things than can be fixed easily. It would be nice to read an announcement from Disney that they have returned to overnight cleaning and painting crews, but I'm sure that's a thing of the past.

Overall, I'd have to say that either I'm really lucky when I visit that I just miss bad days and things are fixed before I get there or that the Disney magic is simply different for everyone. I expect incredibly high levels of service, appearance, cleanliness, and professionalism at WDW and I got all of those things on this trip. Now, if I can just figure out how soon I can get back down there! 

Thanks for the great site, I check it every day!

My own dear (not so old) Dad wrote me this note:

Hi Brian, During a conversation tonight at our Pot Luck Group dinner the question was asked about WDW. How much of the park including rides, etc., is accessible by customers in wheel chairs. The percentage named was about 20%.

Do you have an accurate number?

And I answered:

Dad, The question is an easy one, but the answer is a bit more complicated. Of course, the entire park itself (the walkways, various "lands" or pavilions, restaurants, etc.) is accessible to wheelchairs. However, the various attractions are the complicated part.

Attractions, as you know, are broken up into several types (I did a quick count of the attractions at the major parks of each type, but I may be off by a couple here or there as I didn't double check... there is a total of 83):

  • (28) Shows (like the Beauty & the Beast stage show) in theaters.
  • (9) Wheelchair access rides (like the Great Movie Ride) that guests can get into without getting out of the wheelchair at all.
  • (26) Static loading, easy access rides (like the Great Movie Ride) that guests can get into without the ride vehicle moving.
  • (14) Static loading, difficult access rides (like Space Mountain) that guests can get into without the ride vehicle moving, but with ride vehicles that require significant physical dexterity to get in and out of.
  • (6) Continuous loading rides (like Spaceship Earth, Peter Pan, etc.) that require that guests get onto a moving platform to get onto the ride vehicle.

Other issues of accessibility:

  • There are designated wheelchair areas for watching parades, fireworks, IllumiNations, Fantasmic, etc. However, it's usually important to grab a spot early because they do fill up quickly.
  • For most rides, the guest in the wheelchair will have to be able to get out of the chair and walk a short distance to get into the ride vehicle. If the guest is completely unable to get out of the chair without significant help or has a very difficult time walking, then the number of attractions that that guest can enjoy drops significantly.
  • Some of the static loading, easy access rides actually accommodate wheelchairs on the ride vehicle, Ellen's Energy Adventure and the Great Movie Ride are examples.
  • Most rides have a separate entrance for wheelchairs (usually the exit, where you enter "backwards" and go up to the loading area).
  • Some attractions, such as Alien Encounter, just have you wait in the regular queue.
  • Many attractions, Voyage of the Little Mermaid for example, have a separate waiting area for wheelchairs but only allow a limited number per show.
  • All the restaurants are very accommodating.
  • Getting the wheelchair on and off a bus is time consuming and not all buses are handicapped accessible so you may have to wait for one to arrive.
  • The monorail stations are equipped with portable ramps for wheelchair access on and off.

To answer your bottom line question, "How much of the park including rides, etc., is accessible by customers in wheel chairs?" If we just go by the number of attractions (knowing, of course, that the vast majority of the parks -- including restaurants and so on -- is at least "accessible" via wheelchair), and if we assume that the guest is completely unable to get out of the wheelchair, then I'd say the answer is (28+9)/83=45%. If the guest can get out of the wheelchair and walk for short distances and deal with easy access, then I'd say the answer is (28+9+26)/83=76%. If the guest can get out of the wheelchair and walk for short distances and deal with more difficult access including moving platforms, and so on, then I'd say the answer is 100%.

Note:  All of that got my research juices flowing, so I pulled together some information and created a new page on the issue of special assistance.  If you have some experience in this area, and can critique the content for me, I'd greatly appreciate it!

Jim Ryan shared this note:

Greetings, Event information for the 5th Annual Disney Institute Animation Event is now posted on Disney's site.

Event material from the previous programs is available on the Animation Event Guest Site.

and Leeann Snyder, of the Busser Bears web site, shares this information:

Info on the  2002 Epcot Teddy Bear and Doll Weekend.  The show is ON!!!! The dates are Dec 13, 14, and 15th!!!

EXCLUSIVE EVENT PACKAGE INCLUDES:

  • 2 Day Park Admission to Epcot
  • Complimentary 2 day Auto Parking
  • Private Shopping and Live Auction
  • Commemorative Gift
  • Evening Reception with Artists
  • Complimentary Lunch
  • Private Illuminations Viewing
  • VIP Candlelight Seating

Total Package Price $250.00

For Exclusive Package Reservations call 407-827-7600 or FAX 407-566-1387 to book an event package.

I guess you can consider those last two notes as public service announcements.  ;)

Now, back to our regular question and answer email...

-

Q.

Kelly writes: Hi Brian, Well we are finally off on our adventure tomorrow and I was thinking I would do a trip report on my return and probably should have asked this sooner but do I need to do it any format or have any info beforehand to do this or can I simply come back and compile it from memory? I will await word from you on my return as to whether or not I do one. We are leaving tomorrow a.m. for our first ever trip and we have 3 kids and my mom going so 6 total.

May be of interest for anyone traveling a long distance with kids. We are in CA. Also we are trying Netgrocer and I know you wanted feedback on that. We are staying at the Contemporary and they authorized shipment so our groceries should be there when we arrive tomorrow. I will let you know how that went regardless of the trip report. Thanks and I look forward to hearing back from you.

A.

Kelly,

I would love to have you submit a report! Go to MousePlanet's Disney Trip Report Archive.  There you'll find (in the left hand margin) all the information you need to write and post a trip report to me.

(Editor's Note, since Kelly and I swapped email, she has submitted this report which was "splashed" on our front page on June 7th.  A note to all of MousePlanet's trip report junkies... I am running very, very, very low on trip reports to post!  If you have a report and would be willing to send it to me, I would greatly appreciate it!)

-

Q.

Leona Writes: I have a student who needs information on the construction and architecture of Cinderella's Castle at WDW. Where can we find information about that or can you provide it to us?

A.

Leona,

There are several books that cover the construction of the Magic Kingdom. I don't know exactly which ones mention the Castle specifically, but they'll all be helpful at least for reference...

  • "The Art of Walt Disney : From Mickey Mouse to the Magic Kingdoms," by Christopher Finch
  • "Walt Disney Imagineering : A Behind the Dreams Look at Making the Magic Real," by The Imagineers, C. E. Jones
  • "Designing Disney's Theme Parks : The Architecture of Reassurance," by Karal Ann Marling
  • "What Would Walt Do? : An Insider's Story About the Design and Construction of Walt Disney World," by D. M. Miller
  • "Building a Dream : The Art of Disney Architecture," by Beth Dunlop
  • "A Brush with Disney : An Artist's Journey, Told through the words and works of Herbert Dickens Ryman," by Herbert Dickens Ryman

That should be a good start.

-

Q.

Ken asks: Brian, please excuse this intrusion but I would like any information available for the first time visitor to WDW. I will be traveling with my wife and 6-year-old daughter from the UK on the 29 April, staying on International Drive.

My daughter is very excited (so am I), and would be grateful for any tips for the first time Brit.

A.

Ken,

I'd suggest you start at the 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.

-

Q.

Mandy writes: Hi Brian, thanks for the info last time around:). I have a few minor things to ask about.
  1. Will Star Wars weekend be back in 2003?(I would love to go but have to convince my parents)
  2. Which on-site hotels are the best for single female guests?
  3. How safe is the travel on-site at night? (to please the parents)
  4. How busy are the parks during Star Wars weekend?

Thanks:)

A.

Mandy,

I don't know exactly what the relationship between Disney and LucasFilms is like right now... so I don't know if the Star Wars Weekends will ever be back.

As far as which hotel is best for single female guests, my wife suggested that you, "go to one of the deluxe resorts... if you find an eligible male, he's likely to have money." Other than that, I don't know that any resort is better than any other for single ladies. You'd have to think through your criteria for making that decision and go through the resorts one-by-one and think it through.

In general, on-site travel is very safe. There are known examples of problems, since WDW exists on this planet it can't be totally isolated from bad people, but those examples are extremely rare.

The Studios gets noticeably busier on Star Wars Weekend, but it doesn't affect the other parks very much.

-

Q.

Allan writes: Hi Brian, First I have to tell you how happy I was to read about how Michael was returned to you. I have been a daily reader of your site for approximately a year. I read the story when you first posted it, when you had to return him to his birth mother. I am a 33 year old guy who does not get emotional, but I was in tears. It left an empty feeling in my stomach. I was so happy for you and him when I read that you had been reunited. I am adopted and I can't imagine what my life would have been like if I had been taken from my parents. I shared the story with many of my close friends and family. Michael has a fan base in the Atlantic City area.

I have two girls ages 5 and 2 1/2. We are going to be in Orlando at Westgate from July 21 to 28. My five year old has been dying to go to WDW for more than two years. Due to various reasons we have not been able to go. My father has a time share at Westgate, so we are going with him this year.

I have always wanted to stay onsite with the kids because it is easier, I hate dealing with commuting and parking hassles and I want the kids to experience the magic. I have two questions:

(i) Is it worthwhile to spend two days of my week onsite? I realize you usually answer these questions that it is up to personal preference. I would just like to get your thoughts. I honestly feel like we will be missing something if we don't stay on site.

(ii) Could you provide me with a short list of things that I should not miss with the kids? What I'm looking for is advice regarding the 3-5 things at each park that you should try to see if possible. I will do and have done my own research. I would like your insight as a Disney expert and a parent of young children.

I apologize for the long e-mail. Any help you could give would be appreciated. Please keep up with this fantastic site.

A.

Allan,

Thanks so much for the kind note. Michael, and Allan before him, make both Barb and I very happy parents. I'm very proud of my boys. :)

Michael (right) and big brother Allan pose during our recent trip to Williamsburg.
Michael (right) and big brother Allan pose during our recent trip to Williamsburg.

Regarding your upcoming trip...

First off, I know you'll love Westgate. It's a good organization (although the sales pressure is high, the product is top quality). Since your Dad has a timeshare there, you probably already know that.

The issue of staying onsite in your case is an interesting one. If you're talking about staying onsite during the time you could be staying in the timeshare, I'd say you're nuts to consider it! However, if you're talking about tacking on some time before or after the timeshare stay, I'd be all for it. I don't know that you really "miss" anything from staying on-site versus off-site. The Disney resorts are lovely, and I personally love using the on-site transportation, and the service is generally very good on-site... but it's not like you'll notice a night and day difference when you move from an on-site to an off-site property. Rather, I think the overall experience is just more convenient on-site.

If you haven't yet nosed around in my section, "WDW With Kids," in MousePlanet's WDW Trip Planning Guide, I'd suggest you spend some time there. That section has lots of information on all of the issues around taking kids on a trip to Walt Disney World. There's information there on how kids react to the various attractions, what the age and height restrictions are, and lots of helpful information on how to adjust your daily plans to accommodate the younger ones. Pay careful attention to the page on Attraction "Fear Factors."

Having said that, I think you'll really enjoy a lot of things at each park. I'd make sure to take time to see all of the attractions that are based on Disney films that your girls will recognize (for example, the Fantasyland attractions and Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin in the Magic Kingdom.) Jungle Cruise, the Country Bear Jamboree, Tropical Serenade - Under New Management, and the Carousel of Progress are fun, too, although there's no reason why your girls would recognize any of them. Your older daughter might enjoy "driving" on the Tomorrowland Speedway.

In Epcot, there really isn't anything that is geared specifically toward children, but they'll likely enjoy many of the attractions there. The Kidcot stops, in World Showcase, although time consuming and tedious for adults -- are stops that your kids will talk about for a long time after the trip. Since those stops are so interactive, the children really seem to enjoy them.

At the Studios, you'll find a lot more stuff that's geared to kids. Playhouse Disney, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Play Adventure Set, and the musical Hunchback of Notre Dame and Beauty and the Beast shows would top my list.

At Animal Kingdom, I would put the shows second only to Kilamanjaro Safari. Trust me, the Safari is an incredible experience. The girls will really enjoy it!

The last thing I would point out is that all four parks have a daytime parade and all of the parks except Animal Kingdom have some sort of night time show. All are spectacular and are must sees!

-

Q.

Laura writes: Brian, I love this website! My husband and I are planning our second trip to WDW in November. We are Canadians and will be there during November 11th (Remembrance Day in Canada, Veterans Day in U.S.) Is this a special day? I would like to recognize it but I am unsure how it will be done in the U.S.

Thanks for your help!

A.

Laura,

I'm sad to report that we don't celebrate Veterans Day in the U.S. as much as we should. For all of our patriotic fervor at times, as a nation I'm afraid that we tend to ignore those folks that did so much for us.

Maybe, post 9/11, things will start to be different. :)

-

Q.

Meaghan asks: Brian, Can you please tell us if we are able to leave our car at the Contemporary, the morning of our Char breakfast at Chef Mickeys? We were considering leaving it there and riding the monorail to Epcot. Is this permitted? Or do they keep time limits on other resorts guests using their parking lot?

Thanks for the great site!

A.

Meaghan,

If you are staying on property, you'll have a parking pass that will permit you to park at any resort. Otherwise, you'll only be given a temporary pass which has a time limit on it.

-

Q.

Michelle asks: Hi Brian, I am laughing right now because I've just read your latest emails and I had no idea I'd written you FOUR times! I really sound neurotic! Thanks for your help and putting up with me!

Also, does MousePlanet have a link to amazon.com that will help you if I go through it to purchase?

Thanks again (and you don't have to include this email later!)

A.

Thanks Michelle,

If you want to buy any of the WDW guidebooks, we have a page with Amazon links that will, indeed, give MousePlanet with a small kick-back.  There's a handful of other Amazon links on this page, too.

-

Q.

Joe writes: I know your comments regarding pool hopping are correct but it also makes me think back to not too many years ago when the situation was different. Pool hopping was a perk and actually encouraged and advertised as part of the package. When our children were young we used to let them choose which pool we'd go to for an afternoon break. At the time the Poly was our favorite! I still remember doing it up to about the time the Floridian opened then it became 'taboo'. Oh well, the memories are nice!

A.

I wish I could remember back then, Joe, but my first visit to WDW was actually back in 1988... right before the "Grand Floridian Beach Resort," as it was originally known, was opened. That trip, we stayed offsite... and also on our honeymoon trip the following year. We didn't learn the on-site lesson until our 1991 visit. :)

-

Q.

Jean comments: Brian, I think only DVC members who are staying on points can pool hop. And I think AKL is excluded.

A.

Jean,

You're right about the fact that DVC members are eligible only when they're staying on points. I'm not aware of any specific resort exclusions, Jean, but AKL may be excluded... I just don't know Also, any WDW resort can turn away even DVC members if their pool area is busy.

-

Q.

Tricia writes: Hey Brian! Even though we won't be going back to the World for awhile I still love to read all the info you give.

We stayed at the Beach Club last November and at all times they actively were checking guest status in the pools. We had to "check in" and get a wrist band each day to allow us to use the pools. It was not at all crowded so I am sure they are even more so diligent about it in peak times. Often times when people walked up from the boardwalk path, they were told, feel free to look around but don't get toooooo cozy. We even had our guest status checked in the smaller pool to the far end of the resort (closer to the Epcot gate) late one night while we were doing laundry and dipping our feet in and still in street clothes.

The Beach Club pool is great. For those that don't know, the large main pool(s) area is sand bottom. They have a seperate childrens wading area that has large areas to build sand castles and they even will loan you sand toys and buckets (from the little grill facing the lake, not Beaches and Cream). We had a life guard that would play Marco Polo with a towel wrapped around his head when we parents were too tired out to get off the lounge chair. There are also two water slides, one quite fast and the other going into a smaller pool practically on the lake. Also they "rent" rafts to ride the current around the larger pool. Often later in the day they would not bother to charge us for the rafts and told us just to be sure to return them to the stack. And lastly there is a really nice jacuzzi that overlooks the childrens  wading area. Perfect for soaking those aching legs!

I totally loved the Beach Club pool area. I now say that I could spend another 9 days there without the parks and just utilize the pool. But because we live in California I would only settle for another long stay.

A.

Thanks for the note, Tricia!

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Q.

Brenda writes: Dear Brian, We're going to be at WDW 12/28/02 thru 1/04/03 (yeah, we know - crowds out the wazoo but it was our only choice). My question is: Are the parks open late for New Year's Eve and do they do anything special to celebrate? We know about Pleasure Island but that's not our cup of tea.

Our planner suggested EPCOT at midnight which got me wondering about park hours that night and the other nights of our visit. Also, what about E-Ride nights at that time of year? E-Ride nights are THE BEST!!!

Thanks in advance for your input.

A.

Brenda,

I asked Sue Holland, who writes MousePlanet's Everything But the Parks column, about the park hours on New Years. Here is Sue's reply:

"Yes, the parks do stay open later on 12/31. I think last year it was 1 or 2am (thinking 2am), but many people clear out right after the countdown, creating major gridlock on the roads! MGM always has live bands and they do Sorcery in the Sky Fireworks. MK does extra fireworks, and so does Epcot. I'm pretty sure Epcot had some extra entertainment, as well. AK does not stay open late.

"Last year I heard MK closed in the afternoon - but we were able to get into MGM around 8pm. It's very crowded, and can be quite chilly. Honestly, it was an experience I don't care to repeat <gbut someone else might find it fun. I would have rather stayed in a resort room/villa sharing a bottle of wine with friends instead of killing time in a crowded theme park with them, waiting hours for a 15-minute fireworks display and 10-second countdown. At least we had the sense to stay near the exit - I got right on the OKW bus and was in my unit by 12:30....my friends who left the same time as us got back to AKL almost 1.5 hours later by their Disney bus."

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Q.

Joe writes: Hi, I am a Member of the New York City Police Department, I am receiving a free voucher at the Disney parks and a half off for my family. We are two adults and three kids (9, 11, and 13 years old).

We can not have two rooms for our stay since the kids are old enough to stay in there own room. Can we stay at the Caribbean Resort or something equal in value?  Also have you heard of any discounts available to us in since I work at the World Trade Center efforts.

I visited your web site and thought that you would be the people to the best answers to my questions.

A.

Joe,

There isn't anywhere you can stay with three kids of that age in one room at WDW except for the deluxe or home-away-from-home resorts. Port Orleans does have some rooms that can accommodate up to five, but the fifth bed is only for smaller children.

I don't know of any discounts that are being provided specifically due to the 9/11 situation other than a military discount that is now in place. The best suggestion I would have is to visit MouseSavers.Com and check the savings specials that are available.

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Q.

Rhonda asks: Brian, We are Disney Club members and have rooms booked for the first week in December at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. While we do have a discount through the DC it is really not so great ( basically pays your room tax, which is better than nothing ). Now, the AP room rates are really good so buying just one AP and getting the room discount would be worth it for us. I understand this can be done, that only the person with the reservation needs to have a AP and that can you book up to 3 rooms ? If I am okay so far, when we would be able to make the reservations ? Do we just call and ask or do we have wait for a specific date or announcement?

A.

Rhonda,

The only thing you can do about AP discounts is to repeatedly call the reservations center until AP discounts are made available for that time of year. Usually AP discounts are only made available a few months out.

(Note: In last week's Notes, it was reported that discounts have been announced into early Fall.)

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Q.

Jeff writes: Brian, Love your site and appreciate your help. Me and my wife will be in Disney in 2 weeks. I can't wait, I haven't been there since 92. My question is We have reservations at Boma in the Animal Kingdom lodge. We are not driving just relying on Disney transportation. Is it easy to get to the Lodge from Animal Kingdom. Also since the park closes at 6 will we have trouble getting back to another park that is open late?

A.

Jeff,

You can easily catch a bus from Animal Kingdom to Animal Kingdom Lodge. After dinner, you can take a bus from the Lodge to one of the other parks.

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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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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