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Brian Bennett

WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett

7/1/02

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...

Susanne writes:

Brian, Just got back from WDW a few hours ago, and will have a trip report to you in a week or so. The laptop I bought at auction to take on the trip needed parts that I wasn't buying before the trip!!! So, once again, I did it longhand. (My last two trips were recorded, but I discovered MousePlanet afterwards).

Do you need updates to the restaurant resource? I did a few for you after my September trip, but haven't noticed anything posted to the front page about updates.

I'd give you more than one, but alas, I have to wait until January to have more to write about.

Thanks!

And I responded:

Susanne, If you'd be willing to submit reviews of Disney Hotels or Restaurants, please go to MousePlanet's new review site and submit to your heart's content!

We really have a huge gap in reviews from last Fall to now, so any new reviews are more than welcome.

Richard writes:

Hi Brian, Two things...

First, I really think that the woman who asked if your car goes upside down in Space Mountain could have been given a simple answer: "No." She obviously needed to have some reassurance and your coy response did not provide that.

Second, while on my trip to WDW at the beginning of June, a man in a wheelchair needed to get on the boat at the dock behind the Wilderness Lodge. The water was a little low, so the captain asked everyone on the boat to move over to one side, the side away from the deck, to tilt the boat! And it worked. The side near the dock rose a few inches and the guy was able to roll onboard with no problem. A creative workaround!

I answered:

Richard,

First, you're right, I could have.

Second, thanks for the great story. :) It just goes to show that the cast members at WDW are the ones that really share the magic!

Elmer writes:

Brian, we spent last week in WDW. Two things:

  1. Parking. When we entered the Contemporary Resort, the guard checked our name off his list and offered a suggestion. To save the Valet parking fee. Since we were only two, I could park in the side lots, get my parking permit and come back before 24 hours was up and place it on the dashboard. We had only two roller type suitcases and two carryon, so this worked well. Nice guy.
  2. Upon approaching the entrance to the building a bellhop approached us and said he would take care of our bags, gave us a ticket and said to give it to the Cast Member checking us in, great service. Well while I was checking in with the CM, I noticed my wife talking to him and when she came up to the desk again she said he informed her that our bags would be taken to our room by another bellhop (apparently he was off duty now), but she said he lingered and she thought he was looking for a tip (which she gave him $5 for the 2 bags). When we finally got to our room after a 45 minute delay, there was another bellhop waiting for us in the room, obviously for his tip which I gave him- another $5). The delay was due to the new CM not being familiar with the reservation system for the Luau reservations we made. I plan to give you a Trip Review soon on the whole (rather bad experience).

My answer:

Thanks, Elmer. I'll share your note on the site soon... and I'll be looking forward to that more detailed report!

Michael writes:

Hello again Brian, My wife and I are still reading your site every day and loving every minute of it. First a question. I noticed you said you were low on trip reports? Well I have one (almost) completed from when we went last October. Quite a while ago, I know. But now we are in full swing for planning this years trip in October and I figured it may help those who are planning to go then as well. Would you want it if I finish it up this week? 

Speaking of planning this years trip. Something interesting happened yesterday. I called for our PS for Restaurantosaurus breakfast exactly 120 days out (I'm learning lol) And just asked for the heck of it about rainforest cafe. Lo and behold they let me make a priority seating for 515pm for dinner for the same day (120 days out). Now this may be common knowledge by now, I don't know. But in reading the reviews on MousePlanet (albeit some are somewhat dated now) some made mention of priority seating only 7 days or less out. So I figured I would give you a heads up in case it wasn't common knowledge yet. 

Thanks and keep up the great work!

And I wrote back:

Michael,

Thanks for the trip report offer! I gladly accept!

I need to ask a favor, though. When you finish it up and send it to me, please also provide me with the summary information for your report:

  • Your Full Name
  • Your Email Address
  • Dates of Trip
  • Travel Method: (i.e. Personal Car, Plane, Autotrain, Rental Car, Shuttle Service)
  • Resort: (GFRS, YBCR, PR, CR, WL, OKWR, BWR, CBR, DL, PO, CSR, ASSR, ASMoR, ASMuR, FWC, Plaza Hotel, Offsite)
  • Accommodations: (i.e. Standard Room, 1 Bedroom Vacation Home, 2 Bedroom Vacation Home, Villa Vacation Home, Suite)
  • The Ages Represented in Group: (i.e. Infant/Toddler, Elementary, Teen, Adult, Senior)
  • WDW Experience Represented in Group: (i.e. Veteran, Frequent, Infrequent, Rookie)

Although I realize that this information is usually contained within the text of the trip report (or at least most of it), it helps me tremendously to have you share it with me directly. With the number of reports I deal with each month, having you supply that information saves me A LOT of time...and ensures that your report will be up on the site as fast as possible.

Regarding the PS at Rainforest, I wasn't aware that there was a limitation on priority seating times for that restaurant. Maybe I've got it written up somewhere (it's hard to keep track of every little detail, although I do my best). I'll look it up and see if I need to make any site corrections. In any case, thanks for the update!

Steve writes:

Brian, You had several people inquire about parking at the resorts and then traveling to the parks. It would be helpful to know that Disney has in fact gotten rather picky about people parking in the resort lots for extended periods. If you approach a security booth and tell them that you are having breakfast, you will be told that you have a 2 hour parking pass and if you tell them that you are going to eat then travel to the park they will direct you to the main parking lot. I have not heard of them towing cars and I am not sure what they would do if you parked all day but I do know that Disney is keeping track of license plate numbers in their computers as part of their security measures. I also think its a way to deter people, especially AP holders, from abusing the parking situation.

As for the person who said that they paid their $6.00 for parking like everyone else so they can park at the Polynesian... they need to read the fine print on the parking pass. You pay for parking but you park at Disney's discretion and the resorts are not part of that discretion. And I am sure you can see the problem Disney faces...people who stay off property but park at the resorts for closer access. I think this is one of the reasons they have clamped down.

And I responded:

Steve, I completely and totally agree with your assessment.

Michelle writes:

In a previous column, Fran asked: "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."

Just wanted to add my 2 cents worth on this topic: In November, I had a backpack filled with Cheetos, crackers, fruit snacks, etc. My bag was searched every day by security prior to entering the parks, and nothing was ever said about the snacks. Hope that helps.

My response:

Thanks, Michelle!

Sheila writes:

Brian, Concerning Lisa's question regarding the issue of entering the parks early for Character Breakfast priority seatings scheduled prior to park opening: When we stayed at the All Star Music Resort, an early bus marked for character breakfasts ran well before the regular park buses.  

And I responded:

Thank you, Sheila. I didn't realize that specially marked buses ran... but I did know that transportation was provided. I'll share your note in an upcoming piece.  

Beth writes:

Brian, I really enjoy your column.  

Re: your reply to Margaret in 5/20/02 column. She asked what days Beauty and the Beast was playing at MGM and you suggested to her that she check the Guide Map (available in on-site hotel lobby).  

This was our experience when we spent a week in January 2002 at Old Key West (we're Disney Vacation Club members). At that time WDW was printing a general Park Guide for each of the 4 theme parks and they were printing a specific Time Guide for each week that listed exact show, parade and attraction times, what was closed, etc. The Park Guides were the color glossy fold up type with generic information and map, and the Time Guides were 1/3 of a page printed on paper similar to heavy copy paper. Since we already knew the layout of the parks, the time guides were much easier to look at to plan our days.  

The Park Guides were available at OKWR. The Time Guides were not and the cast members in the lobby didn't even seem to know that they existed. The only place I saw the Time Guides were at the specific theme parks. Maybe this has changed back to all of the information being printed on the Park Guides

Also, if you are staying on-site, there is a number to call (it was one of the buttons on the phone I think labeled "Attractions" or something similar) to get specific information. I called this number 3 times during our stay and got very accurate specific information each time. One time I called at 5 pm to find out if Fantasmic was going to be cancelled that night due to weather and the CM put me on hold and said she would call MGM directly to find out, and another time it was to see what time boat was running between MGM and Epcot and I was told boat dock was being painted so boat wasn't running at all.  

And I responded:

Thanks for your note, Beth. I'll share your note in an upcoming Notes piece. (And I apologize for being so terribly late in getting this one in!)

Glenn writes:

Brian, I have finally been getting an opportunity to catch up with many of your older notes to the World, which by the way is an excellent service. I honestly do not know how you have so much time to spend on this, but it is appreciated.  

During the March 18 version Stephane talks about charging privileges. In your answer you mentioned that many shops and restaurants in Downtown Disney do not have this privilege. I can confirm that they actually do.  

When we go to Disney, we lock away all purses, wallets etc, and only carry a small amount of cash and the room card. As several readers mentioned we have eaten at Rainforest Cafe, Planet Hollywood and both Wolfgang Pucks Cafe and Restaurant. The small booths and carts throughout the parks do not have room charge privileges, thus the need for a small amount of cash.  

The advantages we have seen in using this system are:

  1. Disney helps keep us on a budget by notifying us when our authorized limit is reached. You can pretty well set up any limit from 0 to the maximum amount on your credit card. If you have for example a card with a $10,000 limit, but only want to use $2000 of that limit, you can simply set you room key for $2000 charging privileges. When this amount is reached, Disney will not put you in the embarrassing position of having credit refused, but rather will simply bill your card, freeing up another chunk of $2000 to spend. They will also notify you via voice mail in your room that they have done this, letting you know you have reached your budget. As you can probably determine from this, we have experience in blowing through our budget at Disney.  
  2. If you bring friends or family, each room key has a unique last number. When you get your final bill, you can simply look at the charge number and know exactly who billed what. At the end of the trip, it is easy to break down the expenditures for each person and they can be paid separately at the front desk via several credit cards, travelers cheques etc.  
  3. If there is a situation where you lose your card key, unlike a wallet or purse where this would be a disaster with your actual credit card lost, in this case you still have your credit card The lost card key can be cancelled and replaced very quickly by Disney (You would also still have your ID), without having to cancel your credit card, and look for other cash options for the rest of the trip.  
  4. These cards, while durable can be damaged by the rides, water etc. If they are, they can be quickly replaced, unlike a credit card.  

In summary I believe that this is an excellent service provided by Disney. Just my thoughts on this service.  

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

Q.  

Jayne writes: Hello Brian, I have e mailed you in the past regarding our up coming WDW trip in August of this year and you have given me some valuable information.  

My question this time is as follows. We purchased a 4 day / night mega magic package for a down town Disney hotel. This includes 4 nights stay at the hotel, breakfast for 2 each morning, 2 - 4 day park hopper passes, and 2 tickets for pleasure island.  

We wanted to know if we could upgrade our passes from 4 days to 5 days, not the hotel nights (we are staying off sight for the remainder of the vacation) And if this is possible how do we go about doing this and when? It is our understanding that we receive our passes upon check in. Does this mean we can't upgrade them until we get there?

How much more would it cost us to upgrade the passes? Or would it be better and easier to just purchase a single day ticket for our 5th day at the park? (although we wouldn't be able to park hop then). We also have to purchase an additional child's pass for our 5 year old son. Do we HAVE to purchase his pass from the hotel or can we purchase it before we leave from our CAA and save the 5% discount they offer?

Thank you in advance for taking the time to read and respond to this e mail, your knowledge of WDW is amazing. Thanks.  

A.  

Jayne,

I can't be of any help on your package deal. You'll have to contact the hotel or your travel agent to ask about how to upgrade that package.  

However, if you will be receiving "normal" Disney admission media (and there's no way to tell until you have it in hand), you can certainly upgrade it at Guest Relations. Frankly, I'd strongly suggest you get that figured out in advance rather than waiting until you arrive.  

Regarding the other pass you need for your son, though, you can certainly buy that from sources other than the hotel you'll be staying at. The fact that your admission media and your sons were purchased from different places will not affect park entry at all.  .  . but make sure that you buy the same kind (I.  e. park hopper) media.  

-

Q.  

Elizabeth asks: Hi! I loved your photo tour of the Contemporary Resort. I am an amateur photographer, and I was wondering what you used to get all those great interior shots! P&S or an SLR set up? How did you light them - especially the hallways / darker areas and the pictures with all the windows? I hope you don't mind me asking - I'm planning a trip soon and I would like to take some great pictures like yours. 

Thanks!

A.  

Elizabeth,

I just used a simple Olympic digital camera (D-460 Zoom). Nothing special, point-and-shoot. I agree that some of the shots turned out very well, but sometimes the contrast between a window and an interior causes big problems (readers don't see how many photos I end up zapping). :)

-

Q.  

Elaine writes: Hi, I am planning on traveling 29th December 2002 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.  

Thanks for your help.  

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.  

and in a follow-up, Elaine writes: Thank you very much for your very prompt reply. It has been a great help especially knowing we need to get to the park early. Can you recommend any sites I can find information about what has happened on previous new year eves.  

A.  

Well, Sue Holland wrote a great piece on that topic right here on MousePlanet.  

Also, in last week's Note's From the World, there's a great email answer from a MousePlanet reader that you may want to read through.  

-

Q.  

Barb writes: Brian, I have been checking out your site and enjoying some of the trip reports. My 13 year old son and I will be going to WDW again in December. We are doing the 3 day land at the Wilderness Lodge/4 day cruise package during the first 7 days of our trip, then splitting the remaining 10 days between The Boardwalk Inn and the Animal Kingdom Lodge (last two nights in concierge - yes, we are really living it up on this trip and yes, it is going to cost a fortune).  

I am not planning on doing any real park touring in the 2 1/2 days we have before the cruise as I anticipate large (huge?) crowds. Instead we will resort and park hop to check out the Christmas decorations and only see things that are scheduled to end on or shortly after December 31st.  

My only real question in all this is, do you know when we can expect the seasonal crowds to clear out? I am anticipating the crowds to be more or less still around up until January 5th but there is some indication in reading I have done that we could expect a noticeable decline to begin as early as January 1st.  

Neither of us has any patience for standing in lines or battling crowds so we are hoping to have the time in January to do basically everything (multiple times if we feel like it) at a leisurely pace - lots of resort time, not having to get up early if we don't feel like it, no rushing to do everything we want etc. Our two previous trips were in the first week of December and we have been to Disneyland twice during non-peak times; first week of December and October. We were also in Disneyland Paris two years ago in early October - again with very low crowds. We have, therefore, become quite spoiled; we have never waited in a Disney line for longer then 15 minutes. We were even on Pirates of the Caribbean (DL) once with no one else in sight ---and I mean no one else! We were the only two people in the boat and any boats front and back which we could see were all empty. It was VERY spooky to be down there alone with the pirates! My son was six on this trip and Pirates was his favorite ride. With the low crowds we managed to go on it something like 9 or 10 times in the 3 days we were there (it is a good ride but I would have to admit we passed my saturation point).  

You might think it odd then that we are going at Christmas this time but with my son now in Junior High school I don't want him to miss as much school. He will only miss 4 days doing it the way we are doing it and an early December trip would have conflicted with his exams. I didn't want to go during his two week spring break as my sense from what I have been reading is that there would likely be no real break from crowds during that time. We also thought it would be cool to be on the cruise on New Year's Eve (luckily this is already booked as these dates appear to be no longer available on-line). Finally, having seen Disney at Christmas and not at Christmas, I am reluctant to go again without at least a portion of the time we are there having this exceptional bonus. Does anyone do Christmas like Disney does?

A.  

Barb,

In 2002, crowd levels dropped for the first few days immediately after the 1st of January, but rebounded very quickly because of the WDW Marathon and other January events. In any case, everything was pretty much in flux throughout the Fall and Winter after the early September events in New York and Alexandria. In the previous two years, the crowds were very big as we moved from 1999 to 2000 and 2000 to 2001 (during the Millennium Celebration). My best conclusion is that it's hard to say exactly what will happen this year. :)

-

Q.  

Melanie writes: Enjoy your site and am envious of your job! I was wondering what plans WDW has for next year after Walt's 100th Birthday Celebration. When is the next big celebration and what will it be? Am planning a trip for sometime in 2003 or early 2004.  

A.  

Melanie,

I'm envious of my job, too. :) Actually, what I do with MousePlanet is just a hobby thing. I haven't been paid for any of this... it's just for fun.  

To answer your question, though, Disney hasn't announced what their post 100 Years of Magic plans are.  However, over the next few years Mickey Mouse's 75th birthday (2004), the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland (2005), and the 35th Anniversary of WDW (2006) are all coming up.  

-

Q.  

Gary writes: Hi Brian, Thanks for the great information you provide! Although I visit both the Florida and California parks a couple times a year (live in Colorado), and have been a Disney fanatic since my wee years, I had a couple of questions I wanted to ask you before my family's trip the end of June to WDW. It is my four year old nephew's first time to the parks and he calls me once a week to tell me is almost time go. We are all really excited!

We are staying at the Wilderness lodge. We have 3 rooms booked with courtyard view and wanted to know what floor/side/wing we should request within that courtyard restriction?

I'm aware of requesting to be the flag family and plan to do so upon check in. We have also booked a birthday / firework cruise for my best friend's birthday around the seven seas lagoon. Are there any other cool little things with the resort or in general we could do for my nephew since its his first time? I want to get him a ride in the cockpit of the monorail, but I heard you have to be staying in one of the monorail resort for that? Is that true or do you have any other cool ideas?

This is the first time my entire family has been at the resort together in about 15 years and I'm hoping for an incredible trip. I'll definitely send you a trip report upon returning!

A.  

Gary,

Thanks for your kind comments. I'll do my best with your questions. :)

Wilderness Lodge is a rather compact resort. All of the courtyard view rooms are good ones. Even the ones that are farthest away from the lobby are close at least compared to the trek that folks staying at other resorts will make to get to their lobby. :) I'd personally suggest that you avoid the first floor, though, for two reasons. First, the first floor is actually one floor below the lobby. Second, the courtyard view rooms on the first floor have a small patio while the others have balconies which are much more private. I'd also suggest that you avoid the sixth floor, because those room's balconies have a solid wall barricade (as opposed to a rail barricade), so if you're on the balcony you can't see out unless you're standing.  

I'd also suggest that you check out this page as it lists some other little-known things about the Lodge including a couple of tours that are available and so on.  

Regarding the idea of riding in the front of the monorail.  .  . you do NOT have to be a monorail resort guest to get that privilege. All you have to do is ask when you get to the monorail station. You might be turned down, if others have asked before you, but you don't need any special credentials.  .  . you just have to have good timing.  

One last thing.  .  . I'd strongly suggest that you have your brother/sister read the "WDW With Kids" section of the WDW Trip Planning Guide THOROUGHLY! It's has tons 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.  

I'm looking forward to that report. :)

-

Q.  

Barb writes: Dear Brian, Since I have discovered your site, I have really learned a lot. Thanks so much.  

Here's my question. We are going to Disney World in September 2003. My parents are in their 70's and get tired fairly easily. We have narrowed our choices to Riverside or Caribbean Beach. I just read that the bus stops for Riverside are far away from the parks. Can you give me a heads up on this and anything else you think I need to know to make our decision.  

A.  

Barb,

All of the resorts (including the Port Orleans and Caribbean Beach Resorts) have long hikes. Whether the walk is to the bus stop, to a restaurant, to a gift shop, or to the pool.  .  . everyone will do a significant amount of walking. Keep that in mind. It's simply unavoidable.  

Now, what I do to minimize the distance to the bus stop is simply to request (three times) that I get a room that meets my requirements. Those requirements vary to some extent, but I always ask for a first floor room (to avoid the walk up and down the stairs with strollers and so on), a non-smoking room, and a room that is "as close to a bus stop as possible.  " Each and every resort has some rooms that are a good compromise on this. At Caribbean Beach Resort, for example, there are several rooms in the Jamaica area that are a good choice. At Port Orleans Riverside, you'll find that rooms in the bayou area as well as ones in Magnolia Terrace and Acadian House would be relatively close to a bus stop.  

The "three times," that I make those requests are:

  1. when I make the reservation;
  2. five days before arrival when I call (on the phone), ask for the "room controller," and politely ask that person (who is the one that actually assigns the rooms) to meet my requests;
  3. at check in, when I confirm the location on a map and either accept the assigned room or else request that I be moved.  

If you're diligent and very courteous, you'll do fine. Just as an aside, when you make those request, feel free to explain any mitigating reasons for wanting them to be met. For example, my allergies and asthma make non-smoking very important to me, when my parents are with me short walking distances are a greater issue, and so on.  

One last comment I would make, you may want to go to our Disney Maps section and look over the maps of the two resorts. It might give you some ideas about what specific areas to request.  

-

Q.  

Nancy writes: Hi Brian, I have been using your site to help me plan our WDW trip next month. The site is great!

We will be staying at the Wilderness Lodge and plan on doing an E-ticket night. I understand that the boat may not be running at closing after that event. My question is, should we drive to the park or will there be a bus to get us back to the resort?

My second question involves the Fantasmic voucher. How far in advance can you make a priority seating at a restaurant for that? Does any dinner time get you a voucher or is there a certain window of time to go for it?

Thanks for all your advice.  

A.  

Nancy,

This page provides all the information I currently have on the Fantasmic Dining Experience. The last I knew, you could make the reservations at any guest relations location -- but it had to be onsite (not via WDW-DINE). Also, you can make those arrangements up to seven days in advance.  

Regarding E-Ride night transportation, I'd suggest you ask about it at the Lodge when you check in. I'm sure that some arrangements are made. You certainly won't be made to walk back. :)

-

Q.  

Jade asks: There is lots of information out there about the special Disney touches geared toward young children. However, not much is available about those extras that might be most enjoyed and memorable to pre-teen or teenagers.  

A.  

I don't have a lot of personal experience in taking teens to WDW. I've only done it once, and those girls (18 and 14 at the time) pretty much just did whatever the rest of us did.  

So, readers, does anyone out there have any suggestions that I can use to create a new page on this topic?

-

Q.  

Glenn writes: Hi, I was just reading the all of the analysis on MousePlanet comparing Disney Vacation Club to an investment. First, I would like to say great job by all. I have worked in the Financial Services Industry for over 10 years now, many of them as an analyst. However, the first advice I would give to anybody is not to purchase something such as your primary home, vacation ownership etc as an investment, but rather because you truly want to use it and enjoy it.  

With all that being said, I did notice a couple of flaws in the last analysis that would benefit Disney Vacation Club ownership even more:

"To determine the cost of the moderate hotel I looked at the cost during the Peak season, but factored in a 20% Disney Club discount. It should be noted that these discounts aren't always available during the summer season.  "

If an individual did not invest in the Disney Vacation Club they would not receive this discount. That however would not preclude them from obtaining another type of discount - i.  e. annual pass, AAA etc.  

"I then factored in a bank loan, since I don't have $ 10,000 to $ 15,000 just laying around. I assumed that I'd make a basic down payment and then take out a 5 year loan at roughly 10% interest. I found that the average loan resulted a total cost of about 30-33% (in other words a loan of $ 10k would cost $ 13k or so with interest).  "

Being from Canada, and not having complete knowledge of the exact tax rules in the US, I am not able to confirm this, but I believe the interest payments on money borrowed for Disney Vacation Club is tax deductible. If this is the case, then for American residents, it would make sense that if you expect a 10% return on investing your money, and your cost of borrowing is equal to or less than this amount, one would maintain a full loan on this deed for as long as possible (entire term of the lease). That money can then be invested in the market making the 10% return, and taxed at a much lower capital gains tax. In the event that you must borrow to purchase, then you would have to assume a payment period - i.  e. 5 years, but instead of paying off the loan, you simply invest the money, maintaining the loan at a maximum amount. This way in 5 years the loan is fully capitalized in your portfolio, you still get the tax breaks on the interest by maintaining the full loan, and on top of all of this, you pay less taxes on the earnings.  

A.  

Thanks for the note, Glenn. I'll share in an upcoming column.  

Regarding that issue about the 20% Disney Club discount, the writer was referring to the Disney Club (for which you pay a fee to join and that gives discounts for various Disney products as well as the resorts and parks). The Disney Club is NOT the same as the Disney Vacation Club.  

Your comments on investment are excellent.  

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Q.  

Jay writes: Brain, in your last update you had a letter from a person who said there was no bus from the Boardwalk to the Studios. They ended up walking. There is however, a nice boat called the "Friendship" that docks at the Boardwalk, Swan / Dolphin, International Gateway, and yes even the Studios. It's about a 20-30 minute ride round trip.  

A.  

Thanks, Jay. Except for calling me "Brain," that is very true, of course. :)

-

Q.  

Jeff asks: Brian, My family is going to WDW in June. On one of those nights, depending on weather, we plan to attend the Fort Wilderness Campfire Program. I have not read very much information on your site or anyone else's. It is hardly even mentioned on the official WDW site.  

I have not read anyone include it in their trip report. From what I have read it seems pretty neat. First a marshmallow roast, then a sing-a-long with Chip and Dale, then a Disney movie under the stars. What could be better on a warm spring night!!

My question, is it worth going to? It seems that if it is pretty fun, folks would be talking about it.  

A.  

Jeff,

You're right. There is very little information about the Fort Wilderness Campground campfire program here on MousePlanet. You've got most of it nailed down, but here are a few more details:

  • First, the program is open to all WDW resort guests (not just Fort Wilderness guests). It is scheduled to start at 7:00pm most of the year, but the schedule slips back to 8:00pm during Daylight Savings Time during the late Spring, Summer, and early Fall. There is a specific location where the campfire is held, with some standing seats (and bleachers), a snack bar, and the movie screen near the Meadow Trading Post.  
  • In my photo tour of Fort Wilderness there are some photos of the campfire site (during the day time) that you may want to look over. The pics are the last two on this page.  
  • The evening kicks off with a sing-along and a marshmallow roast. You may bring your own marshmallows (or better yet, in my opinion, s'more makings) or buy them at the snack bar (other snacks and beverages are available, too.  ) Of course, Chip and Dale make an appearance, too. If your kids are Chip and Dale fans, this is a great opportunity to get pictures with them along with autographs if you're so inclined. After the sing-along / snack time / character greet (all of which lasts thirty to forty-five minutes) a Disney feature (usually animated, but sometimes one of the live action ones) is shown. The movie schedule is posted at the comfort stations throughout Fort Wilderness for those guests that are staying at the campground. Other WDW guests can ask for a schedule at Guest Relations at their resort.  
  • I think I would classify the campfire as a great program that isn't very well known or widely enjoyed outside of the circle of guests that frequent Fort Wilderness, but it's been around for years and years and years.  

If you and your family have a chance to stop in, by all means do so! I'm sure you'll have an enjoyable time. My family and I will be doing that too, after my youngest gets a little bit older. Perhaps next year Michael will be old enough to sit still through the entire program and we'll give it a try.  

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Q.  

A MousePlanet reader asks: Brian, I am going to Disneyworld in August and we have a small child. You informed our friends about Child Swap (sounds good if he is naughty). My Question is once the adult and other children have ridden the ride, does the adult with the small child get to ride with the other children ???  In other words, can the children ride twice or does the adult have to ride on his / her own. :( 

Great web site - Enjoyed it tremendously and the kids are always in here.  

A.  

In MousePlanet's WDW Trip Planning Guide, in the WDW with Kids section, you'll find 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.  

One of the links there is to a page that completely covers the details on how to handle the "baby swap.  "

To answer your question, I'll quote one point from that page, "Riders are never expected to ride alone. This can work to your advantage. Since each parent is permitted to ride with another guest, an older child or a third adult can enjoy the attraction back-go-back.  "

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Q.  

Kayla asks: Brian, I know that if you bring old refillable resort mugs (we have one from the Wilderness lodge) you can refill them on future visits. We stayed at Dixie Landing during the 25th Anniversary and bought the 25th Anniversary refillable mugs which were in the room. Are these mugs still useable for the refill program at the resorts? If so, can you use them at any resort?

A.  

Kayla,

Officially, you're not supposed to reuse mugs from previous visits. People do it all the time -- and get away with it because the mugs don't generally change from year-to-year. I don't think anyone will say anything, just because Disney CMs tend to avoid confrontation, but you should be prepared to cease and desist if / when a CM does remind you that that particular mug is an old one.  

Also, you're not supposed to "transfer" your refillable mug privileges from one resort to another. If you try that one you should again be prepared to be asked to stop.  

Personally, I would not reuse a mug from one trip to another.  It's not part of the advertised deal, and I don't want to abuse the privilege.  

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Q.  

Sue asks: We are going to Orlando in June, and have been reading some resource books. They make a big deal of Early Entry, and in your current web page you say they are not doing that now. Is that going to be true when we are there also? When did that stop? Thanks for your help.  

A.  

Sue,

Early Entry was cancelled back in October. No announcements have been made about whether or not it will be reinstated.  

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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