Brian's Archive - Contents  Click to go back to MousePlanet main page
 Discussion Boards | Reviews | News | Trip Planning | Shop | Travel | Site Map
Brian's Basement
A Treasure Trove of Archived Stories
Google-
Look in: MousePlanet WWW

Brian Bennett

WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett

6/24/02

Before getting started, I just wanted to share that MousePlanet's travel pages are online.  If you're making travel arrangements, and would like to compare room rates and amenities, these pages can be tremendously helpful!  We now have over 500 hotels in California and Florida listed and MapQuest maps are available for each and every one of them!

As has become our custom, we'll review some reader responses to recent Notes From the World material before we move on to cover some new letters...

Deb writes:

Dear Brian, regarding Mandy‚s letter requesting suggestions on how to travel safely to WDW, as a single female traveler.

As a frequent WDW visitor, I would suggest choosing a lobby style hotel (i.e. Wilderness Lodge or Animal Kingdom Lodge) as opposed to a resort with a check-in house with separate lodging buildings (i.e. Port Orleans). For those resorts with both types of rooms (a main hotel with separate buildings or wings Ų i.e. Contemporary), request the main building. It might also be a good idea to request a room that is fairly close to the main areas, as opposed to near the end of a long corridor or such. Personally, for security reasons, I have always preferred rooms that were at least a few floors up.

In my many visits to WDW I have never felt uncomfortable traveling about alone. It is a very safe place. But, as you said Brian, any good neighborhood can get a few unsavory characters. The main thing is to be careful to avoid holiday brain freeze Ų maintain a reasonable level of caution and common sense. Be aware of your surroundings, stay to well lit areas and stay near other people.

Finally, I would like to say that caution while traveling is very smart but don‚t become paranoid. After all, WDW is a VERY NICE NEIGHBORHOOD! Enjoy it!

On the same topic, Noreen shared this note:

Hi Brian, I love your site. I've been an avid reader of it for years. I print out all the trip reports you post and read them. One of these days, I'm going to have the guts to send you one. I'm a little intimidated by many of the writers who really do a great job writing their reports.

The reason I'm writing today is in response to a question posed by Mandy on 6/17 regarding the safety of the hotels for a single female. I would highly recommend she stay at one of the deluxe resorts. When you take the bus/monorail to a deluxe resort - all the commuters get off and enter the hotel together then go their separate ways to their respective rooms which have internal corridors. At the moderates and budget hotels, the busses drop you at a point usually in the parking lot and everyone goes their separate ways at that point and most of the corridors are external. It's always safer to travel in a group.

I've done that myself recently. I was in Orlando on business and added a few days at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. My husband couldn't join me. I couldn't decide between Animal Kingdom Lodge or Dixie Landings (with great Annual Pass rates for both). My husband convinced me to stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge (it didn't take much convincing) because he said he'd feel better knowing I was getting off the bus at a central location with everyone else rather than wandering through the parking lot myself.

Keep in mind - we are 30 something professionals from New York, living in New Jersey, but working in New York City (myself a few blocks from the World Trade Center) so are very aware of being cautious about our surroundings.

Keep up the great work.

Stephen writes:

If I can make a comment on Mandy's resort question from the 06/17/02 update, I've always stayed at a value resort and I've never had any problems. the plus for singles is that it's CHEAP (I booked a room for this September for only $66.00). and there are always people around and its a lot more family oriented (perhaps because of the cost).

Keep up the good work Brian.

Of course, I responded individually, but here's the gist:

Thanks so much to all of you for your contributions and kind words!

Sharon writes:

Hi Brian, My family just went to WDW in May, and I would like to offer a rebuttal to an e-mail you printed in your 6/17 column from Julie. She complained about park hours for May, the lack of E-ride nights and that she found both Epcot and MK to be dirty and in a state of disrepair. While E-ride nights were cancelled for May, we found the park hours to be satisfactory. We were at WDW for 7 days, and visited both Epcot and MK twice during our visit. I did not see any trash lying around, always had toilet tissue available on my bathroom trips (and I take many wherever I go) and did not see any buildings that needed anything more than a small touch-up of paint.

I have noticed you receive many e-mails from people complaining about service and/or conditions at WDW. My advice to these people is to spend a day at Islands of Adventure, as we did, and I think they will find they have a renewed appreciation for WDW. At Islands of Adventure, three of the rides we wanted to try were broken down at some point during the day, including one while we were on it. The park was created with no consideration for patron comfort, as the layout of the park does not permit any breeze to blow through and there is very little shade. The employees make no attempt to hide their lack of pleasure in their workplace. We did not have a good time there and do not plan to return. I would like to see the people who seem to focus on the negative aspects of their trip to lighten up a little and realize that no vacation destination is perfect. But WDW comes pretty darn close.

And I responded:

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Sharon.

The problem that WDW faces, is that it had (historically) held itself up to a high standard, rather than just being happy being slightly better than the other guys.

Shane writes:

Brian, I am a DVC member and I just wanted to let you know that with the opening of the Beach Club Villas, the Yacht & Beach Club pool will now be open ONLY to those staying at the Yacht Club, Beach Club, or Beach Club Villas, regardless of whether you're a DVC member.

And Jean concurred:

Brian, I'm just back from a stay at the Beach Club. A CM at the DVC desk told me that as of July 1st, DVC members will not be able to pool hop to the Beach Club's pool Stormalong Bay. Only people staying at the Beach Club, the Beach Club Villas, or the Yacht Club will be allowed to use Stormalong Bay. Apparently the pool is getting too crowded, and when the Beach Club Villas open in July that will be it for the pool.

And I responded:

I read that same policy change in the Disney Vacation Club newsletter that goes out to members, so I guess it's official.

Longtime MousePlanet reader, Bill, shared this:

Hi Brian, we are regulars to WDW traveling down from Chicago∑ we were in WDW from 12/26/01 thought the snow storm in Atlanta 1/4/02 delaying our trip back, and here is some feedback on ideas from the following email I just saw in your column today.

"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."

Yes, Epcot and MK and MGM were open till 2AM on New Years Eve (or would that be day?). We were warned to spend the day, so and we stayed at Epcot from ł an hour before park open till complete close (2AM!). What a long day∑ but even long days can be fun if you do it right! YES, as far as I know, Epcot and the Magic Kingdom closed at least 3 times each during the day due to visitor volume!

Here‚s some ideas, things we saw, and things that went on at Epcot. This may help others planning future New Years Trips.

  • The parks do close due to attendance intermittently through the day, so think about spending the entire day! (GASP)
  • Unbelievably crowded to say the least, even with post September events, people were the in droves (and we‚ve spent the 4th of July at the parks as well∑ this was worse). Plan on rubbing elbows and TRAVEL LIGHT to keep your sanity. DO NOT expect to come close to walking on a ride, and expect Fastpass times spread out (if you can get them).
  • People watching was at its peak on New Year's Eve∑ since wait times were high∑ I‚d suggest you keep your sense of humor, and simple enjoy the family breakdowns later in the day∑.and make the most of it.
  • If you are going to spend the day, get there early, and bring items to help you through the day∑ getting a locker at the park is imperative! We saw and/or brought blankets, pillows, multiple pairs of shoes & socks (you‚d be amazed how much better It feels to change your shoes at least once during the day over a 16 hour day), etc. in the locker∑.. Leaving cameras in the locker (discretely just in case) was fantastic to lighten the load for the day∑ yet still accessible when you needed them (for the count down, special events etc.) If you don‚t get a locker, expect to hoof it out to your car (if you drove) into characters and row numbers you‚ve never heard of before! Round trips on property locations look to be huge!
  • You MUST make EARLY reservations if you want dinner at a restaurant on New Year's Eve, like a couple of weeks early to get a „good „seat! While waiting for our reservations, we literally saw at least 50-100 guests turned away at the podium (looking for dinner). For reservations, We were required to give a credit card number, and told that if we were a no-show we would be liable for $30 per person fee ( We had never heard of this before, but it sounded like a matter of fact for a holiday dinner reservation). I believe the cancellation policy was 48 hours minimum to not get charged!
  • There were live acts in front of virtually every Epcot pavilion∑ with a „majorš stage in front of the fountain that rotated between acts starting near 8pm till close. Other pavilions had live acts, bands, or videos screens (with music videos running) in front of „temporaryš dance areas that had been set up (speakers, overhead lights∑ many with laser shows on sides of building or suspended screens∑. Japan comes to memory).
  • Did I mention that is was unbelievably crowded <GRIN>?
  • Free hats and noise makers were handed out at a specific time in at least 4 areas of the park. When the hats/noise makers were out, they were out! The hats sported a custom logo for the occasion, the noise makers were generic.
  • Commemorative PINS (5K LE PINS) were available, and sold out at opening time at Epcot first thing in the morning. The matching PINS were for New Years Eve and Day (one on sale each day), and at least at ONE park, you could obtain wrist bands to ensure a place in line to purchase the PINS.
  • There was a brief custom audio track, along with an „Expandedš display of Illuminations and countdown at Epcot. The crowd reaction on this night, and being there is something I will never forget.
  • I‚m sure I mentioned that it was crowded∑ right?
  • People were resting (sleeping, unconscious, comatose, etc.) EVERYWHERE during the evening. I‚m not sure, but perhaps Disney should institute a Fastpass system for benches throughout the park for the coming new year <BIGGER GRIN>.
  • PLAN on idling in the parking lot for a ridiculous amount of time to leave∑ better yet, simply camp in your car and wait∑ You may wish to plan to do this, leaving pillows/blankets/etc. in the car (if you did not get a locker) for the kids. It did take a while to leave, to say the least. The Disney transportation systems looked as bad if not worse∑ even with the Auxiliary busses running to move people back to the on-site resorts.

Die Hards, please note: If you can survive on just a few hours of sleep, you can obtain the New Years Day PIN to add to your NEW YEARS EVE PIN! Yes, we were there∑ yes there were lines∑. Yes people missed out whom did not sleepwalk to a park early to get in line. (FYI: 1.5 hours in line at the Studios after getting there just at opening time, and they sold out of their share of the LE pins shortly after out location in line).

Needless to say, the parks were fairly light on New years day morning∑. But by then you may have had enough!

Hope this helps getting some ideas out there for the upcoming new years day!

Keep up the GREAT WORK!

My answer was:

Tremendous! Thanks so much Bill!

Chuck shares this note:

Brian, I noticed a question about parking in your Q&A thread. We visited WDW the first week of June, staying at Port Orleans Riverside (used to be Dixie Landings). I tried to stage a car at the Polynesian the day we had dinner reservations for the Luau, but was told I could only get a pass to park from 8:00am (when I got there) until 11:00am. So "resort guests can park at any property" is not unlimited. On the other hand, it was no problem to park all day at the Grand Floridian the day we started with a character breakfast there.

Thanks for providing a great resource!

And I responded:

Thanks Chuck. Sounds like the Polynesian Resort is the toughest of the three monorail resorts right now.  I've had personal experiences that back up that assessment.

Of course, they all loosen up if you're willing to pay the valet parking fee.

Travis, who signed himself, "Your loyal reader,"  writes:

I was reading the current feed back column and thought your dad may want to be aware of an issue in the 'dry season.'

When I was down last week, it rained every day. The bus driver on my trip to AKL told me that he was sorry for the visitors that week, but Florida really needed the rain. He said there has been a drought for the past 4 or 5 years. Any way, to get to my point ;0) He said that when the water line is too low after a long period without rain, they can not get wheelchairs on the boats because the ramp would be too steep to safely board such guests. Because of this, any one in a wheelchair wont be able to board the boat and will have to head over to the monorail (or a bus, of course) to get to where they want to go.

So, if it is dry during your visit, you may want to consider this before waiting in line for a boat.

My response was:

Travis,

If you check out the Special Assistance from A to Z page in MousePlanet's WDW Trip Planning Guide, you'll see a section labeled, "Walt Disney World Transportation Accessibility." I've actually provided a picture of a sign at Wilderness Lodge that describes exactly the issue you've brought up.

Thanks for the reminder!

And on the same topic of accessibility, Jacqui shares this great note:

Hello Brian, How are you, still adore MousePlanet!! As requested as someone who uses an ECV in the park and is hearing impaired I had a look.

I was really glad you mentioned other sources than the parks, I rent from Caremed and it's much better. Apart from anything else you never have to worry if you park hop about another one. Cost is about the same.

You are right the buses are a pain but excellent. Its helpful perhaps to mention that unless its one of the new buses, you do need another person to spot for you. I go on my own, CM's are wonderful but on a number of occasions (as I can walk just not for long distances) I have simply got frustrated and got off and let them put it on to the bus themselves, they are much better at it.

The new buses are much better as the bus comes down to ground level and you drive on an off. As far as the boats are concerned, its worth a mention that the signage isn't always right and if someone really wants to ride a boat its worth a wait to see what happens and if they can get on it. Sometimes, despite the signs, you can.

One thing worth mentioning to people who don't necessarily use ECV's elsewhere is that sometime going into regular queues is very tight going round corners.  They do vary but examples are Toontown queues, Test Track, Dinosaur, and the Great Movie Ride. Can't think of any others at the moment, but its worth a note. You do often have to be prepared to keep backing up to get round. People are usually very patient though.

Overall I have found Disney to be one of the most disability friendly places I have ever come across. I am never been made to feel a nuisance and couldn't now in my later years do the parks if I didn't have an ECV - too much walking.

Also, I know you only cover WDW but Disneyland Paris does not have ECV's (I know to my cost) and there are no places you can hire one from outside, - I tried this back in April.

Best wishes, keep up the fantastic work and love to all at MousePlanet.

And I responded:

Jacqui, Thanks so much for your note! I'll be happy to share your experiences on that page. If you have any other suggestions on that issue, please let me know!  (And that request goes for everyone that has experience with accessibility issues at WDW and is willing to help me improve that page!) 

And now, back to our regularly scheduled email...

Q.

Michelle writes: Hi Brian, I returned from a trip to WDW earlier this week and wanted to thank you for all the helpful information on your website. My husband and I spent our honeymoon at WDW 8 years ago (Caribbean Beach), went back in 1997 (Dixie Landings), and just went back last week. We had a wonderful trip but did stay off-property this time. We were able to stay at the Radisson Resort-Parkway for only $59.00 a night, through one of the Orlando/hotel websites. I really wanted to stay at Dixie Landings again (I know the name has changed) but could not justify the continual price increase WDW has had with its resorts. Since early entry is gone now, I did not feel like we would have any benefits by staying on property.

We rented a car and drove to the parks each morning, arriving between 8:15-8:30, and the parks opened at 9:00. We had no traffic problems AT ALL on 192, and had no problems parking either. The trams were extremely efficient, even when we left in the middle of the day and returned in the evening. On our honeymoon in 1994, we used WDW transportation, even though we had our own car there. On the trip in 1997, we drove to Orlando and decided to use our car instead of the WDW buses. We found driving ourselves to be much faster than waiting on the WDW buses. During that trip, we often drove to the Boardwalk or Grand Floridian and valet-parked for free, and then walked into Epcot or rode the monorail to the Magic Kingdom, respectively. Of course, the valet parking is no longer free, which was another on-property „perkš we would no longer have access to. I wish that WDW would stop raising the resort prices, b/c I do admit that I love that „Disney magicš that one feels while staying on-property. I must also admit, however, that the Radisson was very nice and the location and price were terrific. For people who want a nice hotel without the high prices, I highly recommend the Radisson.

I have enjoyed your website so much! I think part of my fun in going on this trip was the pre-planning, which included mouseplanet.com. All the reader comments, hints, etc. were helpful and interesting. Keep up the good work!

A.

Thanks for the note, Michelle. Do you have any interest in writing a full trip report? ;)  I'm still very much lacking in trip report backlog... every additional report helps!

-

Q.

Stephanie writes: Brian, we are planning a trip the end of May and will be staying at the Animal Kingdom lodge. The reason we are staying at AKL is for the savannah view. We would prefer the concierge level, but you are not guaranteed a savannah view, either a pool view or savannah. Any ideas on how to book concierge w/a guaranteed savannah view. I tried calling Disney travel direct and she said to request when we check in.

A.

Stephanie,

If Disney says they won't guarantee it... they won't. However, they do their very best to accommodate special requests. I'd suggest you contact the resort five days in advance.

Check out this page, and scroll down to the section labeled, "Room Controller," for more details on what to do.

-

Q.

Dan asks: What is the new "Space" Attraction at Epcot that is under construction?  We were at WDW in January and plan to return next January.  Will it be completed by then?

A.

Dan,

Mission: Space is expected to be opening during the Spring of 2003, but no specific date has been set. If you're going in January, you'll likely miss the opening by a few months.

Here's the text of a press release from WDW on the new attraction:

"The next Walt Disney World Resort attraction will go where no thrill ride has gone before -- deep space, announced Al Weiss, president of Walt Disney World Resort and Michael Capellas, CEO of Compaq Computer Corporation.

"Walt Disney World Resort's newest attraction, Mission: SPACE, to be presented by Compaq Computer Corporation, will lift off at Epcot in 2003. It's the latest in a series of new attractions and entertainment offerings at Walt Disney World Resort, continuing a period of phenomenal growth that includes the resort's current year-long Millennium Celebration. Offering guests a one-of-a-kind ``astronaut-like'' experience, Mission: SPACE will launch guests into a simulated space adventure -- from pulse-racing lift-off to weightlessness in outer space.

"In association with former NASA advisors, astronauts and scientists, Walt Disney Imagineering created Mission: SPACE with new technologies, making it the first ride system ever created to take guests straight up in simulated flight. Set decades into the future, guests are transported in time and place to an International Space Training Center where they will encounter simulated challenges faced by real astronauts.

"Plans for Mission: SPACE will be aboard NASA's International Space Station shuttle flight, the scheduled April 24 launch of Atlantis. ``The combination of Disney magic and Compaq technology will create a truly one-of-a-kind guest experience,'' said Weiss. ``Epcot is the perfect setting, continuing the park's dedication to the explorer in all of us with its unique attractions that inspire us to discover new worlds.''

"`Computers are vital in developing space programs today and well into the future,'' said Capellas. `With some of the most advanced technology ever produced, Mission: SPACE will provide guests with a rare glimpse into a world where the possibilities for computers and space flight are endless.'' With a career in the NASA space program that spanned more than 30 years, six-time NASA shuttle astronaut Story Musgrave is an ongoing consultant to Disney's Mission: SPACE project. Musgrave calls the new attraction, ``a place where guests can imagine our future in space and their role in it, walking in the footsteps of heroes and building on the wealth of technology we've developed to date.''

"Mission: SPACE will be in a new Epcot Future World facility next to the popular attraction Test Track, presented by General Motors. Compaq is a major provider of servers, PCs and services to The Walt Disney Company and its Internet initiatives. Mission: SPACE represents a broadening of the relationship between Compaq and The Walt Disney Company."

-

Q.

Heather asks: Hi Brian! I am totally in love with your site! I can't believe the information I have been able to gather from it and am amazed at how well kept and informative it is. Not a day goes by that I don't check it for more great tips and info!.

We have decided to head to the sunny South for our very first family vacation! We are driving from Toronto, Ont. to Orlando the first weekend in August and plan to stay off site for 3 days to enjoy the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. My company is connected with WDW and I have been able to get 4 day Park Hoppers at a 12% discount per person!!!! I know, I know August is very HOT but it was the only time my husband and I could get away and besides my parents own a condo in St. Pete's Beach so we plan to head over there after doing WDW.

Now here's my question and I am sorry it's not Disney related but I was hoping you might get some feedback from your readers. Do we really require Passports to cross the border? Both my husband and I have photo id (Ontario Driver's License) and Birth Certificates (both born in Ontario). Our sons (age 13 and 9) have Birth Certificates (both born in Ontario), but unfortunately they do not have photo id at this age. Someone advised me to apply for passports but for the 4 of us it will cost approximately $400.00 Canadian. and I would rather use this money towards our trip. A friend of mine told me her children were interrogated by Customs during a border crossing last year (before 9/11). They were asked if the people in the car really were their Mom and Dad?

Have any of your readers had problems at the border recently?

Thanks and keep up the AMAZING work!

A.

Heather,

I'm not sure what the border crossing requirements are for certain, but you can call the US Consulate in Toronto and ask. The number is (416) 595-1700.

According to your own government, though, you should definately take a passport. :)

I've not heard of any border crossing problems. Everyone is planning extra time for customs (via air or land travel), but I've not heard of any examples where anyone has been turned away.

-

Q.

Kim asks: Hi Brian, my family is planning a trip to WDW in late August (staying at the Wilderness Lodge) and we have considered plans for character dinning. I read here that a lot of people already have reservations at some dinning locations before they even leave on their trip. Excluding Cinderella's Castle, how important is it to have reservations at restaurants with character dinning, and how late is too late if reservations are a must?

Also, is it true that Disneyana will be at WDW in late August? If so, as guests not attending this event, how will it affect our stay?

Thanks a bunch!

A.

Kim,

According to the official Disneyana site it looks like the 2002 event will take place August 22-24 this year.

Dining priority seating should be made for any meal that you feel strongly about. In other words, if you walk to a restaurant and find that the wait is long -- you have two choices, either be willing to walk and go elsewhere or else wait it out. Waits for most character meals can be long, especially for the more popular meals. I would list Crystal Palace and Chef Mickey's in the top three along with Cinderella's Royal Table. Other character meals are popular too, though.

So... if you have your heart set on a character meal, I'd definately make arrangements as early as possible.

Here's a link to more information on character meals and here's one on priority seating.

-

Q.

Brenda writes: We're going to be at WDW from late December through early January (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.

I've never been to WDW during the holidays, so I referred this one to Mike Scopa and Sue Holland.  Here's Mike's reply:

Brian/Sue,

One thought is to review some trip reports from last December but unfortunately, due to the events of 9/11 you cannot go by what historically has been done in the past regarding New Year's Eve.

The parks are open a bit later that night and in the past the Magic Kingdom has had double fireworks... similar to what is done on July 4th.

I think that Illuminations may have a bit extra that night and MGM has held showings of Sorcery in The Sky.

With that being said let me once again throw in this caveat that this year has not been run in the mold of past years. I have noticed operating hours, parades, and nighttime fireworks to be run on schedules much different than past years. The schedules I've seen for June and July are quite different from past years and in this year of celebrating Walt's 100th you'd think they would operating everything to the hilt. Not so. This may be due to bookings being down.

My point is that we must point out that as a result of 9/11 Walt Disney World is taking steps to secure the resort for its guests and that may mean changes in operations that make this year quite different from other years.

-

Q.

Mary asks: I am getting really nervous about the information that I am finding about not being let into the parks, if you are not staying on Disney World property, because they are filled to capacity. My family usually goes to Disney during the off season, but this time we are going the last week in June and the first week in July (4th of July) so that we can go to the water parks and not have to wear heavy coats at night. We are also choosing this time to go to celebrate our oldest daughter's graduation from high school.

We were planning on going to the parks first thing in the morning and going back to our rental house for a break in the afternoon and then returning to the parks for the evening. We were going to do this for all the parks but the Magic Kingdom and the water parks.

I am mostly concerned about the 4th of July. Our plans are to go to Epcot that day and take that mid-afternoon break and return to Epcot for the evening.

Do you recommend staying the whole day of the 4th, and would we be pretty safe with our mid-afternoon break plans for the rest of the trip?

Any comments would be greatly appreciated. We are all looking forward to this vacation very much and I can't imagine getting to the gates and being told, SORRY! you can't come in.

Thanks for your help.

A.

Here's another one I punted to Mike Scopa, and here's his response:

July 4th is like Easter Week, Christmas, and Thanksgiving... but only for the Magic Kingdom.

Mary is doing the right thing by going to Epcot on the 4th. Of course anyone who stays off property runs the risk of being turned away due to park capacity. i don't think she will have a problem in Epcot. Epcot is much larger than the Magic Kingdom and can handle more people.

I would stay away from the Magic Kingdom on July 4th except maybe to see the fireworks. Even then I would stay OUTSIDE THE PARK for the fireworks. Main Street USA is without a doubt the most crowded spot on Earth on the evening of July 4th. Fireworks are set off from behind the castle and on the Lagoon... it's pretty spectacular, but not worth being in the Magic Kingdom with the crowds. Remember that it has been reported that the Magic Kingdom capacity is over six figures and that's a lot of people.

She should be fine.

So there you have it. :)

-

Q.

A MousePlanet reader asks: Brian, we have stayed at WDW many times and on the grounds. But lately, the cost of staying on property has driven us off grounds. On several occasions we have driven to the Polynesian Resort early, sometimes we ate breakfast at Minnie's and other times just got on the monorail and went to the Magic Kingdom for the day. We have never had any problems with out car being left in the Poly parking lot.

Have you ever heard of someone being towed out of the property? There is hardly never anyone in the security stop entering the Polynesian Resort so we just drive in and park. We pay parking just like everyone else entering the Magic Kingdom. We are going the last week of June 2002 and staying off grounds in a vacation home for the 1st time. What are your thoughts and experience on the parking idea?

A.

WDW is getting much more difficult about parking at the resorts. I don't know of any examples where someone has actually been towed, but I've had personal experience with cast members being less than courteous about me parking there (even for an evening run to actually have a meal or go shopping at the specific resort, and with an WDW resort parking pass).

I guess I wouldn't want to be the first one towed.

One solution, though, is to valet park your vehicle.  If you do so (paying the same amount as you would in the theme park lots), you will have no fear of being towed that day.

-

Q.

Fran asks: Brian, I have, on both my other trips to WDW, taken snacks along into the parks. My question is: When Park security checks back packs, if I have snacks will I not be allowed to take them into the park. What exactly is WDW policy? We usually take small "Baggie" type snacks. Cereal, chips, jerky, etc.

A.

Fran,

I don't think you'll have problems with small snacks. If you were to try to bring in full picnic meals, then you'd raise some eyebrows... :)

-

Q.

Ron kindly writes: Brian, I have visited your site many times, you provide information that a novice or veteran of Disney can walk away satisfied and educated. My question is this, E-Ride nights is a relatively new concept, can you tell me how it works and whom this is perk is available too? Are the "nights" specified weekly, monthly? What about during Holiday seasons? We are planning a trip to WDW for New Year's Eve, this is usually the time we visit WDW.

A.

Thanks for the kind words, Ron.

Here's a page that tells all about E-Ride. That page has a schedule of the upcoming E-Ride nights as well as details about how it all works. E-Ride is scheduled only about one or two months in advance, so you'll have to sit tight about the Holiday Season.

-

Q.

Travis writes: I have no question, just praise. I hope that is ok. I just read your article on the boycotting.  Old news, I know. I am catching up ;0).

I just wanted to thank you for such a well written point of view. I, personally, am of the belief system of "whatever gets you through the day" whether that is trusting in God, the Father, Buddha, etc. If it is something that you can trust and believe in, and does not hurt anyone else or yourself, more power to you.

I liked how you made the point about how the Bible commands Christians to tell others about Jesus Christ, but does not command you change people's thinking and that is a job for the "Holy Spirit"

Boycotting is not proclaiming God's Word, it is attempting to bully people into thinking like you do. (Furthermore, boycotts almost never work anyways, but that is beside the point).

I believe that even if you don't believe in the Bible, if you know something that may help others, you are under an ethical obligation to tell them. However, your obligation ends there. You are under no obligation to bully them into thinking the way you do.

Again, it was a brilliantly written article, please keep up the good work!

A.

Thanks for your kind words, Travis. :)

-

Q.

Bob asks: Brian, I'm a big fan of your website and try to check your updates everyday. I'm planning a trip in January with my nephew for his tenth birthday. He won't be ten until May but I want to be able to pay the child's fare for him so he'll get his birthday present for Christmas.

It will be his first time and my 4th so I'm excited for both of us. Anyway, apart from making the resort reservations (All-Star Movies) and getting the plane tickets, I have very little actually to do until around October except think about it so I might be asking you quite a few questions up until then, I apologize ahead of time.

First question is I'd heard you can get pins or something that says you've been there so many times, do they have ones you can get if it's your first time? Also where can you get them, how much do they cost, and would you recommend picking them up?

Second question, I've been fortunate enough to have my last two trips scheduled around Disney events. The "Millennium Celebration" at Epcot in 2000 and the "100 Years Celebration" at MGM this past February. We're going in early January will everything go back to "normal" after December 31st? No more "Stars and Motor Cars," "Jammin' Jungle," and "Share a Dream Come True," parades, or will they continue slightly modified? Kind of like the Tapestry of Dreams (or Nations) parade? That's probably a pretty difficult question to answer. I bet WDW doesn't even know yet. I need to pass the time some way.

A.

Bob,

On the pin issue, I'll have to pass. I'm not a pin collector, so I'm not going to be of any help there at all.

As far as the "100 Years" celebration and it's ending... I don't know what will happen come January. This is just my own opinion, but, I suspect that the daily parades at the Magic Kingdom and Epcot and perhaps at the Studios will continue, but that the Jammin' Jungle parade at Animal Kingdom will be dropped. I have nothing to base that opinion on except the attendance levels at the various parks. I just don't think there will be financial justification for the Jammin' Jungle parade to continue with low crowd levels. Frankly, the same might be true for the Epcot and Studios parades, too. In any case, I'm sure that the financial benefit of having the parades will be balanced against their cost. In other words, if it is decided that the parades are a draw, and that they are actually resulting in higher revenue levels, then I'm sure they'll be continued.

As far as the question about when the changes will be made, I also would suspect that a week or so after Christmas would be about right. That ensures that the parades are there during the busy holidays. Officially, the 100 Years of Magic Celebration ends on December 31st, though, so WDW might just stop things cold on the 1st of January.

-

Q.

Wendy writes:  Hi Brian! I, like others, really enjoy your site . I am a trip report junkie also . I have been to Disney only about four times (no, my trip in June makes my 4th time) but I wish I would have had all this information available to me the other times . Gosh, I don't remember too much about my first trip, just the campfire with Chip & Dale and my grandparents . Anyway, can I offer some advise to the people who might not know this : on your browser, do a search for Walt Disney World, or resorts or whatever and they will find TONS of sites that are very helpful . After all, this is what led me to MousePlanet. What I haven't found on here, I have found on others. Sorry, does that sound terrible?

I noticed that you had a lot of questions about pool hopping . I know that subject had been addressed several times on your site and many others. Do I sound terrible? I really don't mean to.

I do have questions of my own though, I'm not just suggesting/criticizing .

I am bringing my niece (15), nephew (12), son (7), and daughter (6) in June and we will be staying in the Fort Wilderness Cabins. It will be my niece and nephew's first plane ride and first trip to WDW. My children and I have only been to the Magic Kingdom. We weren't planning on going to Epcot (we will be there for 9 nights, so we have plenty of time), but I am rethinking that decision. My question, isn't it a little much for the kids and how interesting might it be? I must say, I have never expressed an interest in Epcot. My second trip to Disney Epcot was two years old.

Another question... Space Mountain does NOT go upside down right?

OOOh, another question.  Since I am not requesting a certain place in the campground, will I most likely be put the farthest away from everything? We are not taking a rental car, but Mears Shuttle (they're great alternative) so we will be walking everywhere (great way to get into shape) and the transportation service isn't as bad as some people think.

It's not important, really, because it's Disney and it's all magical. Any info you can give me would be helpful. Thanks a bunch!

A.

Wendy,

I'm glad you found us!

On pool hopping, you never really stated a question, so I don't know why you would "sound terrible." In any case, pool hopping between resorts is not permitted at WDW, so anyone that tries it does so at risk of being asked to leave the pool. I'm sure some folks will try it anyway. I just hope the Disney pool police catch 'em. ;)

I completely and totally disagree with your thoughts on Epcot! Epcot is a great park, and worth many, many, many repeat visits! All of the kids -- and the adults -- will find stuff that they'll thoroughly enjoy there.

Space Mountain is a "high-speed rocket ride through space." Space has no "up" or "down", does it? How can one go "upside down" when there is no "up" and there is no "down."  ;)

Regarding Fort Wilderness Campground, there's a map of the whole campground here on MousePlanet.

You may want to look it over and request a certain site loop after all, depending on your needs.

-

Q.

Elaine writes: I am planning on traveling in late December for 13 nights. I cannot find any information on the parks at New Year whether you need special passes etc. Can you help? Also when do the parks quiet down after the holiday. I have contacted Disney with no success for information about this and dining reservations. They gave a number it is impossible to ring from the UK.

A.

Elaine,

You do not need special passes to get into the parks on New Years Eve, but they very well may fill up to capacity on that day, so don't plan on coming too late in the day and fully expect to be granted entry (if you're staying off site, this is a very real possibility on busy days).

The parks don't see a major decrease in crowd levels until a few days after New Years. Even then, with special events going on (such as the WDW Marathon, etc.), crowds don't get very small until the middle or end of January.

Regarding dining, I'd suggest you look over MousePlanet's WDW Restaurant Resource and especially the page on priority seating.

-

Q.

Anton, referring to my photo tour of the Contemporary Resort, writes: Brian, I probably won't be the only one to point this out, but you inserted an "urban legend" into your article about this resort, "Originally, the idea was to refurbish the rooms by simply sliding the older rooms out, and replacing them with refreshed ones."

No, that was never the intention. Simple common sense tells you this -- why on earth would you use a crane, remove the rooms, replace them with millions of dollars in new construction, when it would be infinitely easier to just go in with new carpet, paint, etc? For the record, a WDW spokesman officially dismissed this rumor on CompuServe many moons ago, along with the "Castle spire can be put underground in a hurricane" story, etc.

Anyway, the point behind the modular construction was just to get the thing built quickly and try out a new idea. Nothing more than that!

A.

Anton,

I don't disagree that the concept wasn't likely to be feasible from an engineering perspective... however, the concept of refurbishing the modular rooms was "a" major reason for choosing this form of construction.

You must remember that modular construction was NOT a well developed methodology in the late 1960's. It would have been less expensive to just build everything in place, but some of these concepts drove the choice of construction.

Of course, in retrospect, it's not hard to see why this never worked out.

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!

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More

Brian Bennett's Disney Trip Planner


Click here to see some awesome WDW pieces that have run on MousePlanet recently!

Click here to check out the rest of Brian's Archive, including all of the previously published "Notes From the World" pieces!

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!

 

Go to: Top | Section Contents | MousePlanet Main Page

Copyright © MousePlanet® Inc. | Legal Information & Privacy Policy | About/Contact MousePlanet | Link to us

MousePlanet® is not associated in any official way with the Walt Disney Company, its subsidiaries, or its affiliates. The official Disney site is available at www.disney.com. This MousePlanet Web site provides independent news articles, commentary, editorials, reviews, and guides primarily about the theme park resorts of the Walt Disney Co. All information on this site is subject to change. Please call destinations in advance to confirm the most up-to-date information.