by Brian Bennett
become our custom, we'll review some reader responses to recent
Notes From the World material before we move on to cover some
Vincent shares this recent update:
Hi Brian, Wanted to let you know
about my recent trip to Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and
WDW. I was there from 6/27 through 6/30.
The rooms are no bigger than the
rooms at the value and moderate resorts. (If they are, I
couldn't tell) The decor is nice, but decor isn't customer
service. There were two trays left in the hallway from room
service that I noticed sat there for about 14 hours before
being removed. The front desk people were a bit rude, the
food was fine, but overpriced. I used to live in NYC, and
have traveled around the world, so that comparison is not
solely based on the other Disney Resorts.
On my first day, my friend and I
went to The Liberty Tree Tavern for lunch. I showed up and
gave my confirmation number for my priority seating reservation,
and the woman at the check in desk couldn't find me, and
then proceeded to act as if I wasn't in the system anywhere
and that I should have to wait. Then she found me, and didn't
apologize at all. Lunch was fine. Service was quick. You
have to request the apple butter.
The theme parks look fine. Not sure
why some readers thought it looked messy. One thing I didn't
like at all was the new children's section in Animal Kingdom.
The entire park has a wonderful earthy feel, which blends
nicely from one section to the next. And then you get to
the Primeval Whirl and such. It looks like Paradise Pier
at DCA. I became heart broken. I am now wondering if the
suits at Disney care about anything Walt did, dreamed or
wanted. I think they are more interested in anything cheap,
quick and ugly. Very depressing.
I don't think I'm going to go back
to WDW for a very long time. Although I was happy to be
there with a good friend, and we had a great time, it was
a great time mostly due to my companionship, and not the
And I replied:
I'm sorry you didn't have a better time. :( Maybe your
next trip things will go better.
Jim shares this note:
Hi, Brian. Thanks so much for all
the information you provide. I was astonished to find that
you don't get paid for this! (I certainly didn't think it
was a fulltime job, but I assumed you got something). Anyway,
that makes me all the more thankful for your help. I feel
like I should send something... but I won't.
I'm afraid I'm going to have to stop
reading your site soon, though - if I don't I'm afraid I'll
book another WDW trip, and after an April/May trip that
just isn't in the budget!
Anyway, I wanted to offer my opinion
to Gary, who asked for advice which courtyard rooms to request
at the Wilderness Lodge. We stayed there in April/May in
a Woods View room, and loved it (as everyone seems to).
We stayed in the 'left' wing (as you view it from the front)
and would personally recommend this wing as it is a) closer
to the boat dock to the Magic Kingdom and b) closer to Roaring
Forks snack shop. We were at the far end of the hall, which
was nice as it was quiet, and as Brian said it is relatively
compact so even the farthest room isn't that far from the
And I've never heard of the 'flag
family' - can you explain what that is?
And Gary, be sure to eat at Whispering
Canyon, its very good and lots of fun - I wish we had been
able to fit in more than one meal there during our stay.
Thanks for the note back, Jim. I'll share it soon.
Actually, I do get paid... just not in money. The kind
words that so many folks have sent my way over the years,
as well as the enjoyment I get out of this very-time-consuming-hobby,
make it worthwhile.
Regarding not reading the site... just remember, if enough
people did that, we wouldn't be able to pay our server bills...
and I'd get my hobby time back after all. ;)
(Editor's note: This next paragraph wasn't in my
email response to Jim, but I just realized that I didn't
answer his question about the Wilderness Lodge Flag Family.
Hopefully, he'll see this if he's still reading MousePlanet
;) Jim, the "Flag Family" is a family that
is staying at the resort (you can sign up anytime, but since
only one family can perform the honors each day, availability
is very limited) that has the privilege of raising
the flag that flies over the roof of the Lodge that morning.
Joanne Forshaw wrote about it in her
1998 trip report:
"We were flag
family today! We met the cm in the lobby at 7:15am, he
took us up in the lift then up a couple of flights of
stairs onto the roof. Wow the view is amazing, you can
see the Magic Kingdom, Cindy's castle, space mountain,
Epcot, the Grand Floridian. I would highly recommend doing
this. We each raised two flags & had our pictures
taken, I also took a video. We got a certificate, a small
photo frame ( which is a bit too small to put a decent
photo in!), and a voucher for free breakfast at Roaring
Forks. The cm wrote on the voucher how many people the
breakfast was for, but there was no price limit, we had
about $10 worth each."
Note that breakfast vouchers, certificates, and photo frames
may or may not be provided as the policy on that has changed
Lori shares these experiences from
her recent trip:
Hi, Brian. We went to WDW last month,
and overall, it was a great trip! However, I wanted to mention
something to you which took me by complete surprise. We
took advantage of an E-ride night and decided to ride Splash
Mountain. I have a child who was not tall enough to ride.
We were going to do the child swap, but the CM would not
let my child into the queue. She told me that I would have
to wait at the playground to the right of the entrance to
the line. I was told that my child could not go in the line
if he did not meet the height requirements.
I was extremely upset with that!
This is contrary to what I have read and, if I am not mistaken,
what you have on your WDW With kids page.
What is the deal with this? Could
you find out if the kid swap procedure has changed? Needless
to say, my older child rode with my sister while I waited
with my younger child at the playground. After waiting thirty
minutes for them to go through, I was too mad to go wait
MY turn in the line.
Also, one morning we had PS for Cinderella's
Royal Table at 9:00. The park was not scheduled to open
until 9, so we asked the CM if we could go on through so
we could make the reservation time.
We were told that the park was opening
early at 8:50, and we had to wait until that time to go
through the gate. I protested, saying that we would not
have enough time to move through the line, clear the gate,
and make it to the castle on time for our reservation. The
CM said that the castle knew what time the gates would open,
and we would still have our reservation. Well, we arrived
at 8:59 and we practically ran down Main Street. We ended
up having to wait about twenty minutes before we were finally
I know this sounds very negative,
but we did have a good time. These two incidents just threw
us off. I wonder if other readers have had similar experiences.
Thanks for letting me share!
And I wrote back:
I think you caught me on that one. I'll update the page
to reflect how the swap is actually handled on Splash Mountain.
However, just to show that I'm not a complete dolt, keep
in mind the note that I share at the bottom of the page,
"ALWAYS let the cast members at the entrance and loading
areas of the attraction know that you're using a "baby
swap". The CMs can help you make things go smoothly.
They are also up-to-date on how the "baby swap"
is to be done."
I'm sorry that those incidents detracted from your trip...
and especially that I was partially responsible for the
baby swap problem. I'll try to do better next time. :)
(Editor's Note: As I was preparing this one for publication,
I noticed Lori's comment, "After waiting thirty minutes
for them to go through, I was too mad to go wait MY turn
in the line." Lori, if you see this, I hope you
realized that you would NOT have had to wait through the
entire queue, but would have walked in the exit and immediately
gotten on the next available boat. In fact, your older
son child could have joined you!)
Allison shares this information:
Hi Brian! This is in response to
this letter that Nancy wrote regarding E-night transportation:
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
I would suggest not driving to the
My husband and I drove to the Magic
Kingdom and when we left E-Ride night, we realized that
no trams were running. The area was dark and desolate and
we had to make the long trek to our car. Not only that,
there is a fence surrounding the lot and unless you want
to scale it, you need to walk the tram route and book it
at least another half mile or so (depending where you parked).
- Can't hurt to ask Wilderness Lodge
guest relations and/or valet if they have a car available
to help you out (the Beach Club has done this for us several
times when they aren't too busy...those guys love a good
- Walk over to the Contemporary
and grab a taxi. You can get almost anywhere on property
for less than $10 a carload.
- Go to the Magic Kingdom very late
in the evening (you might get lucky and grab a front parking
- And of course, since you are staying
on Disney property, I don't see why you can't park at
the Contemporary Might be a slight charge, but it seems
to be worth it for piece of mind.
And I replied:
Thanks for the note, Allison!
A couple of additional comments of my own. First,
I would personally NEVER pay for a taxi to go from one place
to another on property if I was staying on site. By
asking politely, I KNOW that the nearest available WDW cast
member will help me to get from where I am to where I'm
going without having to pay for it out of my personal pocket.
Second, keep in mind that parking at all of the monorail
resorts is becoming more restricted.
Elmer shares this opinion from his
Brian, About the security search
at the gates to the parks. Frankly, this is about as effective
as the airport search of the 83 year old lady confined to
a wheelchair. There is no in depth search of the bags, a
quick glance into the bag, a polite thank you and away you
go. At night they use flashlights, which are useless as
well. I am sure it is more of a PR thing, WILL YOU BE SAFE
AT WDW!! Like the President says "Keep your eyes and
ears open" that is the best defense.
Also, they announce that if you do
not have any bags to searched just go to the center entrance
(at the Magic Kingdom), well I wanted to get a picture of
the Railroad Station from the walk up approach and had to
go to the center. While there I saw only one security guard
and he was being more or less over run with guests some
of whom were carrying bags right around him. No a serious
search going on here.
And I answered:
Thanks again, Elmer! I'll share your note ASAP.
back to our regularly scheduled email...
| Mike asks: Brian,
My fiancé and I are planning our Disney Honeymoon in August,
and your site has been very helpful. One question. I am trying
to make Priority Seating arrangements for some dinners around
the nighttime entertainment, specifically Magic Kingdom fireworks
and Epcot Illuminations. I already have Priority Seating at
the California Grill for 8:30 and was thinking about a table
at the Rose and Crown for 7:30. Do these times sound right to
you? Thanks for the help.
Since IllumiNations runs EVERY night at 9:00pm without fail
(OK, except for really, really bad weather), your timing for
Rose & Crown seems about right. You may have to wait for
a waterside table, but a slight delay would just help with
the timing anyway.
It's harder to say about Fantasy in the Sky. I don't know
when (or if) the Magic Kingdom fireworks display will even
be running on the date that you've scheduled your priority
seating. Your best bests are on Friday and Saturday nights...
but until closer to the time, it's hard to say.
As Yoda says, "always hard to see is the future."
| Todd asks: Hi Brian,
Does every member of our party need an annual pass to use these
special features or will just one allow ALL to enter these areas?
Thanks for all the good and up-to-date info on your site.
Officially, only AP holders are permitted to enter the AP
holder's lounge areas.
|Joe writes: Brian,
During past Disney visits, we have stayed off-site, driven to
Contemporary in the morning for breakfast, and then walked to
the Magic Kingdom to spend the day. We have never had a problem
with this (even on the days we've skipped the breakfast and
just parked at Contemporary and spent the day at the Magic Kingdom),
but I have heard rumors of cars being towed after a certain
period of time. What do you know? We've used the same technique
at Yacht and Beach (using the International Gateway) for evening
visits to Epcot and Illuminations. Its a great way to avoid
the cattle stampede at closing time, but I'd hate to come back
to a vacant parking place.
The best answer, if you'd still like to use that strategy,
is to valet park your car. In that case, you'll be able to
leave your car at the resort all day long without fear of
being towed. Also, if you wish, you can switch and go to another
resort later in the day and be valet-parked there, too, without
additional charge (as long as you have your receipt).
Since guests that are staying on-site have parking passes
which protect them from being towed, I've often parked at
those resorts in the evening to enjoy the resorts and, sometimes,
to walk over to the parks. If that's no longer permitted for
onsite guests (I'm checking into that issue), I'll have to
either go the valet parking way also or else stop using that
Hi Brian, First, let me say that your updates and reports, as
well as your WDW Trip Planning Guide are EXCELLENT. I am planning
my first trip to WDW in September and have found everything
I need (and more) to help plan this trip. I am a bit spoiled
since I am an Annual Pass holder at Disneyland and visit regularly.
I know that park/Resort so well, that I don't want to be lost
at WDW. Your guides are helping ease those fears.
Second, I have already booked all of
my reservations, shows, etc. and after reading up on the Resort
I will be staying at (All Star Movie), I notice from your
review/guide & the accompanying map that they have laundry
facilities. Of course this is mentioned nowhere on the official
Disney site (at least that I can find) so I'm wondering, how
does one use the facilities? Do they have detergent, etc.?
Finally, since this is my first trip
to WDW and I will be there for 9 full days (including one
side day at Universal / IOA) My itinerary is VERY full. I
am also planning a trip report, and would love to share it
on my return. Do I just send it to you or is there some special
thing to do?
Once again, great work (everybody)
on the site and keep up the great work.
Thanks so much for the kind words about the site and my column.
Anyone can use the laundry facilities at ASMoR. Detergent
and other supplies are available, but can be pricey. Since
you're flying, though, I would recommend you buy supplies
rather than bring your own. You'll also have to pay for the
use of the machines, of course.
I've been following the site for a
few years now (it's usually the first place I go after checking
my e-mail). We recently got back from a Disneyland trip and
I wanted to know how to submit a trip report. I couldn't find
anything on the website that directly explains this.
If you go to MousePlanet's Disney
Trip Report Archive, and look in the left-hand margin,
you'll find instructions for writing and sending-in trip reports.
(Editor's Note: Thanks
to all of you that have responded to my request for more trip
reports! My backlog is still thin (so keep sending them
in!!!!), but at least I'm out of immediate danger of running...
gasp... out of new ones to add.)
|and Shon asks another
question: Brian, One of the big things I want to do on my
trip in early September of this year is to see Fantasmic. I'm
a huge fan of the Disneyland version and I want to see how they
compare. I've also heard fabulous reviews from others.
I have heard a lot about the Fantasmic
Dinner Package, where you get a meal before the show and then
reserved seating. I've read many of the trip reports on the
site and some have done the package while others don't. I
must admit that I would love to have reserved seating for
the show, but I'm not especially in need of a dinner before,
since I will be traveling alone on this trip.
My question is this: From your experience
do you recommend the dinner package or not, and why?
When we visited with two little boys, the dinner package
was great because it helped us avoid a long wait in the amphitheater.
If you're visiting during a less busy time, though, and you'll
be alone, I don't think the dinner package is really that
worthwhile just for the purpose of getting a reserved seat
There's more information on the dining package on
|Jackie writes: My
husband and I are going to Walt Disney World for our honeymoon
with just $700 spending money. The trip is already paid for,
My question is this, what are the best
Disney souvenirs available at Disney World. We don't have
lots of loot and want to buy smart.
BTW We have a lovely ceramic Groom
Mickey and Bride Minnie in ceramics we got off the internet.
We had them as our wedding cake topper.
I'd appreciate any ideas, I'm 48 and
John is 49. Thanks for any help.
Wow, there's just so much stuff that is available at WDW
I can even begin to answer your question. There are literally
hundreds of shops where you may find something you'd like
I'd suggest you set some money aside for souvenirs and just
keep your eyes open during the trip. When you find what you
want, pick it up!
I have a few additional comments on souvenir buying on this
|Bob writes: Dear
Brian, Great site. I found your page after our first trip in
'98. It made our second trip in 2000 a lot easier to plan. I
recommend your site to anyone I know who tells me they are planning
a trip to Walt Disney World.
My wife, 2 teenage sons and my mom
are taking a 8 day trip to the World in December. Mom has
arthritis in her knees and can not walk distances anymore.
She is fine for short walks and standing in line but I want
to use a wheelchair to get her from attraction to attraction
(not to use for special privileges).
We will be flying down from Ohio and
I don't want to rent a wheelchair and take it on the plane.
Question: Are wheelchairs (not motorized) plentiful for rent
at each of the parks? I realize that they are first-come,
first serve basis but I have no knowledge of the availability
of the chairs. We usually get to the parks when they open
so I would guess that there wouldn't be too much trouble getting
one. My main concern is getting one later in the day, say
after park-hopping. Any advise will be appreciated. Thanks
for your help :)
I don't think you'll have a problem with wheelchair availability.
The powered scooters are much more limited and do go fast,
but regular wheelchairs are usually in good supply.
|Carol writes: Hi
Brian, I am busily trying to plan my families 1st Disney World
vacation and am having some difficulty. I am a teacher and need
to travel during school vacations. I know it is busy everywhere
and I try to plan early. My problem is we will be at Disney
from in February and I have been trying to find room rates.
I can not find any information anywhere for 2003. We hope to
stay at the French Quarter is there any way to find out rates?
Should we just wait and see what happens? I don't want to not
be able to get reservations. I also tried the Swan/Dolphin that
said they have a teacher's rate, but they can't book it yet.
I thought it was supposed to be $129, but they quoted me $192.50.
Thank You in advance for any information you can give me.
You shouldn't expect to see 2003 room rates until very late
in 2002. However, although the room rates do go up from year
to year, you shouldn't see a big increase from 2002. Even
better news, since you're planning to visit in February, when
crowd levels are way down, you'll very likely find excellent
deals on room rates for that week.
|A MousePlanet reader
asks: Brian... any comments on Mickey's backyard barbeque????
we're planning a trip and can't find much info on it. Also,
can you use a "wish" to pay for this meal? thanks
for your help!
|I don't know much about the barbeque either, but
what I know is listed
So, readers, here's an assignment... comments on the Barbeque
|John writes: Dear
Brian My wife and I spent three days of our honeymoon at Walt
Disney World (it should have been more). Our stay at Port Orleans
Riverside was a pleasant one. This resort is a bit bigger than
we were used to, but we still loved it. We managed to hit the
four major parks through park hopping, and use of the Fastpass.
We found you have to plan your usage of the Fastpass to get
the most out of it. At first we disliked Fastpass, because we
felt trapped, but as time went on we learned how to manage our
time better, and Fastpass worked great. I do not know what it
is, but we absolutely love Disney, and cannot imagine staying
off property ever again. What are some other good themed resorts
at Disney World? Oh, and thanks for all the info over the past
year, you helped plan our trip.
P.S. I forgot to add to my note, that
a while overhearing a conversation between two cast members,
I learned that Disney has a new park in the works and is presently
being worked out on paper. Have you heard anything about that?
Also, I found out that many visitors were questioning the
closing of The Time Keeper and the their disappointment it
was closed; the CM's said they have were disappointed as well
and should direct the visitors to City Hall to express their
disappointment. They also said they expected the Carousel
Of Progress to open again soon.
All of the themed resorts at WDW are worth visiting! I guess
the priorities would depend on your own preferences, of course.
My own top themes list would include Wilderness Lodge, Port
Orleans (both halves), the Boardwalk, and Animal Kingdom Lodge.
There are several rumors flying around about a new park.
Until Disney actually announces something, though, nothing
is ever cast in concrete (and even then, everything is subject
Thanks for the other update info. I understand that
the Carousel has been running for several weeks now.
|Dan writes: Hi, Brian
just wanted to say that the site is the best. Found it back
in February and read it almost every day. See, back in 6/00
my sister wanted me to go to Disney world in 12/00. To tell
you the truth, I did not went to go because I was not a Disney
fan but she did get me to go. When we got to WDW we went to
the Magic Kingdom I walked down Main Street USA and I was hooked
for life. In September, I'll be going on my 3rd trip to
WDW. My question is, in mid-September how are the days?
Being from upstate New York we do not get many nice days. And
how much does it rain in mid-September?
My WDW Trip Planning Guide, here on MousePlanet, has several
pages that address the issue of "when to go to WDW."
The first one that I'd suggest you look over is
this one. But the one that directly answers your questions
about a September trip would be on the
September can be very hot, and it can also be very rainy...
especially if you have the misfortune of visiting when a tropical
storm or hurricane hits Central Florida. However, in general,
it's a pretty good time to visit as weather is usually pretty
nice and crowd levels are below average.
|Mark asks: Brian,
I'm planning my families third trip to WDW in July of 2003,
and we are including 6 other family members who will be making
their first trip! I'm leaning toward renting a home off site
for all of us (10) and as we didn't stay in a Disney themed
resort on our first 2 trips, I'm wondering if we should try
to stay on property. Cost is definitely an issue so I was wondering
if you could give me some input. I don't know if 2 previous
trips qualifies me as an official guide for the family but I
have been nominated none the less and figured its not to early
to start some pre planning! Thank you for your web site.
Since you've stated that "cost is definitely an issue,"
I would plan on renting that off-site home. There are some
incredible deals on offsite rental homes that Disney just
|Lee writes: Hi there
Brian, I would like to compliment you on the wonderful job you
have been doing on the Walt Disney World Update.
I thought you might find this news
interesting. I have just gotten a Priority Seating Assignment
for Boma at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, and I was able
to get it without a credit card deposit! The reservations
agent asked me the normal questions (resort we are staying
at, arrival date, etc.) but there was no mention of a credit
card. I asked the agent if he would need a credit card deposit,
and he told me it wasn't necessary.
I'm not sure if this reflects a policy
change or if this agent was not on the ball, but it might
be worth looking into.
Take care and have a wonderful summer!
I'll be sure to send in some more reviews once I arrive at
Disney this July.
|Thanks for the kind note and the information,
|Debbie asks: Hi!
I love your site. I've been to Disney over a dozen times since
I was a kid and I am planning my next trip for late July.
This will be my son's 3rd trip to Disney
and I want to make it special for him. He turns 5 just before
we leave home.
Can I still go to city hall for a birthday
sticker? Please let me know what you can about birthdays at
Disney. In all my years I've never been to Disney near my
birthday so I'm not sure If there is some special "magic"
for those having a birthday on or near the day at Disney.
Thanks so much for your help
As far as I know, the birthday stickers are still available.
There are a few more tips on
One other thing that may be very cool for a five-year-old,
would be to sign him up for the Pirates Adventure Cruise.
Well, I hope you enjoyed the reader feedback
for the WDW Trip Planning Guide! Feed free to send more questions
or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Brian Bennett's Disney Trip Planner
Click here to see
some awesome WDW pieces that have run on MousePlanet recently!
here to check out the rest of Brian's Archive, including all of the previously
published "Notes From the World" pieces!
always gotten email about the WDW Trip Planning Guide, but since we added
form to the site several months ago, the number of questions has increased
dramatically! I do my best to answer each and every question personally,
but I've noticed that a lot of the questions are asked again and again.
The question that one person asks might very well be the question that
someone else is wondering about. Thus this page!
reader email and feedback every once in a while, because the question
someone else asks might be the same one you're thinking about yourself!