by Brian Bennett
restaurant news that's been batting around the net for awhile,
but which has just been confirmed by the WDW-DINE folks...
is a new "Princess Storybook Breakfast" at the Akershus
restaurant in Epcot's Norway pavilion. The new breakfast debuts
on July 28th and will run until late October. Priority seatings
are being taken now. If public response is good, I expect
that this trial run will be made more permanant.
other note, as of June 10th, the Yacht Club Galley is now
once again open for all three meals of the day.
Now, 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...
Sharon writes: Brian,
I must say I was quite offended when I read your 7/15 column.
I had sent a rebuttal to some remarks Julie had made in your
6/17 column, because I felt that the comments she had made
simply were not true. She insinuated in her 7/15 response
that because she is a seasoned WDW goer that she is better
equipped to recognize trash and disrepair, than I, an obvious
rookie. In your response, you state that some people are just
compelled to defend Disney for some odd reason. I defended
WDW because I disagreed with Julie and simply wanted to present
to your other readers an alternative view. I was at WDW at
approximately the same time and did not see the same things
she saw. I feel your response to my view was rather condescending,
although you supported hers wholeheartedly. Since you were
not at WDW in May to ascertain which of us gave a more accurate
picture, I feel your best position should have been middle
ground. I have always enjoyed your site since we began planning
our first trip to WDW a couple of years ago, but this experience
has left me with little desire to revisit your site.
And I responded,
Sharon, I'm sorry that my remarks upset you.
I certainly didn't intend to slight you or your opinions.
You're absolutely right that I wasn't at WDW in May.
I will certainly be publishing your follow-up note, because
I think it's important to make the points that you have made.
Dave writes: Hi Brian, after
reading your update of July 15th, I wanted to add one comment
to your response to a "rather terse mouseplanet reader".
Boardwalk Villas are indeed sold out. The only properties
at present with real estate still for sale are: Vero Beach,
Hilton Head, and the newly opened Beach Club Villas. We stayed
once at Vero Beach (never again, the story is too long for
this note). We have never been to Hilton Head, though we would
like to try it sometime. We recently bought into the Beach
Club Villas, and are looking forward to staying there this
August. We stayed at the regular Beach Club two years ago
and absolutely loved it. I believe they started selling the
Beach Club Villas back in February or March, and last I heard
they may sell out within a year, maybe sooner. Hope this helps
Thanks Dave. I'm thinking about staying at the Beach Club
Villas sometime in 2003. We'll have to see.
Bill writes: Hi
Brian. Just saw todays notes... it appears that the new "Get
Happy with ABC" is in the "doug pavillion"
(At least for a little while). Here's some descriptions of
it. Keep up the Great work.
4 July 2002: Get Happy...With ABC!
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Guests to the Disney-MGM Studios
will get a first look at the exciting new fall lineup of
shows on ABC in "Get Happy...With ABC!" a new
show presented for a limited time in the theme park's ABC-TV
From July 1-Oct. 5, 2002, the 25-minute
show introduces Walt Disney World guests to the new ABC
shows and the stars who will light up television screens
every night this fall.
ABC stars featured in the interactive presentation
include Ben Affleck, James Bulliard, Jim Belushi, Jennifer
Garner, Bonnie Hunt, Jimmy Kimmel, George Lopez, John Madden,
John Ritter, Diane Sawyer, Michael Vartin and even the dino-stars
of "Dinotopia." Throughout the show, the stars
offer an exclusive preview of the new ABC schedule, featuring
comedies, dramas, reality-based series, sports, news and
late-night programming. The attraction will also introduce
guests to programs that will be offered as part of the new
"ABC Happy Hour" programming block.
"The addition of the 'Get Happy...With
ABC!' live theatrical event at the Disney-MGM Studios is
part of an unprecedented effort by the entire Walt Disney
Company to help introduce our new fall schedule to viewers,
and we couldn't be more excited," said Susan Lyne,
president of ABC Entertainment. "This inventive, 25-minute
attraction will give park guests an entertaining look at
what they can expect from ABC this fall. We hope they like
what they see."
"Get Happy...With ABC!"
performances will occur daily at the ABC-TV Theater at Disney-MGM
Studios through Oct. 5.
Disney-MGM Studios immerses guests in the
glamour of show business 365 days a year with thrilling
attractions, live stage shows and interactive film, television,
radio and animation production facilities. The theme park
is the centerpiece of the Walt Disney World 100 Years of
Magic celebration - a yearlong salute to the company's founder,
Walt Disney, during the anniversary year of his 100th birthday.
Mike writes: Brian
- The replacement (albeit temporary) is a show named "Get
Happy...With ABC!". It's apparently about 25 minutes
long and the shill for the fall ABC TV linup. I guess the
only real reason to attend is that they throw out free t-shirts
and footballs to the audience. <grin The show opened toward
the beginning of July, and I believe is scheduled to run through
early October. I have not read any first-hand descriptions,
And the last comment
on the same topic was sent in by Mark: Currently there
is a "commercial" for ABC's new fall line-up in
that building. Just got back ... look for a new TR in the
next few days. (We surprised Iris this time with a little
help from another CBR CM. She did not know we were coming!)
Hi Brian, A few things:
To the person who asked
about buying into DVC at the sold-out Boardwalk, you could
have informed them that resales for the Boardwalk are available
at various companies such as The Timeshare Store (from which
I purchased my resale). I'm sure you know this.
In all of my many trips
staying at the Wilderness Lodge, I have NEVER seen the boats
stop running before the park closes. They ALWAYS run until
after the park closes, even in thunderstorms. I have never
seen a CM with a PDA at the Wilderness Lodge bus area. Buses
have always, to my knowledge, run every twenty minutes (not
15). Buses leaving the lodge going to the various parks have
always, in my experience, stopped at several of the monorail
resorts. Nothing appears to have changed in this regard.
I also have NOT noticed
that the parks are more dirty than before, but I do see more
things that could use a fresh coat of paint. Aside from the
obvious things, such as the Carousel of Progress and Timekeeper
not being open all the time and the less frequent shows, the
only thing I have noticed that has diminished the "experience"
is that many of the food carts now open late and close early.
Otherwise the experience is pretty much the same as it has
Thanks for writing, Richard. I used the Timeshare
Store for my recent DVC add-on. Thanks for the reminder.
I've never experienced the Wilderness Lodge boat shut down
that some folks have reported either.
John writes: Brian, Regarding
the reader who was so shocked to get a call from WDW after
sending a letter of complaint. This is EXACTLY the sort of
reaction that WDW hopes its guests will have. They want people
to be so surprised that WDW takes its guest complaints/communications
"seriously" that they will not notice that the comments
made don't actually address any points.
WDW and Disneyland have both
streamlined their complaint process to make it impossible
to actually lodge a complaint and have it taken seriously,
short of having a lawyer get involved. By NOT responding in
writing, WDW avoids making any sort of written statement that
could be used against it. If WDW responded, for instance,
that they are taking steps to improve the appearance of the
park, that written statement could be held against the company
if an overly litigious guest or shareholder were to decide
to take action. Moreover, a written statement that didn't
actually address a guests concerns would stand out like a
By changing the bulk of communications
to verbal/face-to-face communications, Parks & Resorts
does something rather nefarious. Let's say, for instance,
you don't like the way a particular cast member acts, so you
decide to go to Guest Relations to complain. Instead of having
you fill out a form with a written description of your complaint,
the host/ess says to you, "Gosh, I'm sorry you're unhappy,
I'll be glad to take the complaint for you. What is your name?"
Right there, people are less inclined to answer; they're being
asked to engage in interpersonal communication of a negative
nature, and it's not human nature to complain directly to
someone. It's uncomfortable. Especially at Disney. So, they
head off complaints right there.
If you decide to follow-up in
writing, they send a form letter that says, "Please call
us" (if you didn't give a phone number) so we can talk
to you in person. Then they can offer a canned speech telling
you things that may not be true -- like there has been very
little negative response to the cancellation of early entry.
Hard to get into a meaningful conversation about it on the
phone with a cast member who's being paid to toe the company
I remember when I was a kid I
wrote to Disneyland regularly about things both good and bad
that I experienced in the parks. They always responded in
writing and didn't try to give me the run-around; one time,
I even got a call from a VERY senior executive himself, who
was worried about comments I made about the park being dirty.
Those days are over. Disney wants your money, but they don't
want your input, it seems.
Too bad the parks are still such
fun places. Makes it kinda hard to boycott them! :-)
I think you've hit the nail on the head. When I went to complain
on a couple of different matters at the Studios and at the
Magic Kingdom on my last trip, the Guest Relations folks wanted
me to verbally explain the problem so they could "pass
it on." Not until I insisted on a written complaint was
a complaint form even produced. Even then, the cast member
insisted in filling out the form based on my input.
Jeff writes: Brian,
Good morning to you. I just finished your Monday report and
have a couple of comments regarding some of the readers questions/comments.
As you know
my family and I visited WDW the first week of June 2002. For
the record we experienced very very little of the gay day
crowds and all of us agreed that it was a non-issue. Thank
you so much for letting us know when they would be in each
park. There was a little spill-over but nothing too bad.
are some comments that I have. The Carousel of Progress was
going to start running on Sunday June 9th 2002. We missed
it by one day but it was going to be open. That is a family
favorite since we first started to visit WDW in 1976. Obviously
we were very sad. It was supposed to run for the rest of the
summer. Timekeeper was also supposed to open at the same time.
As far as the Ebay auction goes, Disney has official auctions
all the time listed on Ebay. They sell tons of items from
watches to actual theme park memorabilia. For example right
now they are auctioning off an original Disneyland Pirates
of the Caribbean boat. To see this auction click on this
link. Click here for the home
page of all Disney Ebay auctions.
As your reader
mentioned he won one of the Experiences auctions that let
you do things that we can only dream about. Most of them are
unbelievable.......with an unbelievable price tag to match.
June 2002 visit my family enjoyed both the Keys to the Kingdom
Tour and the Steam engine magic tour as well. Both were excellent
and well worth the extra cost.
siesta (rests) worked out great. The weather was extremely
hot and the humidity was very high making conditions very
tough. However none of us really felt that tired since we
took a mid-day rest. This was the first time we had ever done
this on a visit to WDW. This was my 11th visit so to change
an old dog this late in the game was pretty amazing. Anyway
thanks for the tip.
have an incredible web site and I enjoy your articles on a
weekly basis. I would say that along with a couple of the
Disney books your web site is a MUST SEE. Anyway I just wanted
to drop a note and thank you for your excellent work. I do
Oh one final
note. The Disney Club was an absolute Zero for us once we
got to WDW. They wouldn't accept them at ANY restaurant or
any merchandise shop except a few at Downtown Disney. I think
this royally stinks. With the old FREE Magic Kingdom Club
card you could get 10% most anywhere including restaurants
or shops. I will take this up with the Disney Club folks.
Thanks for your great note, Jeff. I'll share it in an upcoming
My experience with Disney Club mirrors yours. It just isn't
what it was cracked up to be. :(
Damian sent me this copy of a
letter he penned to WDW's Guest Communications:
I recently returned from my seventh
trip to WDW with my family of eight. Since we were staying
for 10 days this trip, we decided that we would skip the
deluxe and moderate resorts that we normally stay at and
try the All Stars Resorts. We stayed at the Movies resort
from May 30th through June 8th. We did have a good time
but this latest trip does rank as our least enjoyable trip
for a number of reasons:
- Early Entry - We were VERY disappointed
by the loss of the Early Entry mornings. We used to plan
our days around this on-site perk, getting up early, hitting
the park and then coming back to the hotel to cool off before
heading back to the park for the rest of the evening. Make
no mistake, without the Early Entry perk for on-site guests,
we will seriously consider staying at an off-site resort
for our next trip. We complained about this to a number
of cast members and always got the some response, "I
miss the early hours as well and we have heard this complaint
- Character Caravan - This is NOT an
acceptable substitute for the loss of Early Entry. It is
not well organized and the lack of characters and the lack
of time to get to them before they leave, was totally unacceptable.
I still believe that if I want to see the characters, I
can make time during my day to see them at the parks where
it is much more organized and enjoyable.
- Lack of Open Park Hours - We picked
this time of year to visit our favorite vacation spot because
of the kid's school schedule and the longer hours that are
usually kept by the parks. We normally travel in early December
or early May. We also expanded our stay from 7 days to 10
days in order to allow for the crowds and for us to spend
one day at Islands of Adventure. We were disappointed the
entire time during our visit that the parks were not opened
early even with the large crowds waiting at the turnstiles.
When we did visit Universal, they did open their park 40
minutes early because of the crowds at the gates.
- Upkeep of the Disney Property - I
have heard that June is a great time to visit because WDW
spends the winter and spring refurbishing everything in
parks and everything is fresh and new. I did not find this
to be the case at all. There were numerous rides that were
showing a lot of wear and tear. Some of these items were
Splash Mountain logs, non-working figures inside Splash
Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean boats, Small World ceiling
and non-working figures, Barnstromer's lack of paint, Buzz
Lightyear spaceships and laser guns, lack of the vehicles
at Living Seas, non-working cast microphone at Great Movie
Ride, non-working headphones at Sounds Dangerous, figures
in fountain at Muppets 3D not working, lack of seating at
Playhouse Disney, some show effects not working/turned off
at Catastrophe Canyon, a general lack of paint on railings
and buildings around the parks and burned out, missing light
bulbs at many, many locations.
- Attractions/Food Service Not Fully
Open - We were very frustrated that while we were paying
close to $50 for a full day of entertainment at the parks,
numerous attractions and show were close entirely, working
on reduced hours or only partially running. Some of these
were, Tiki Room not open after 6 PM, only one side of Primeval
Whirl running (with an hour standby wait, 30 minutes in
the fast pass line), stream trains not running till park
close, Timekeeper and Carousel of Progress not opened at
all. If you don't have a replacement in mind for these attractions,
then why are they closed? I understand that the parks must
change to stay fresh, but closing an attraction and not
opening a new one is not a fresh change. I was also frustrated
that at some times during the day it is nearly impossible
to grab a quick bite to eat. Counter service and carts that
are opened late and close early, made us bring more snacks
into the parks.
- Carnival Rides and Atmosphere - We
were disappointed with Disney's new philosophy for new rides
and themes. The Flying Carpets in Adventureland were viewed
as a take off on the Dumbo ride and we will only be riding
this when there is no line. In Animal Kingdom, the new Hester
and Chester area is terrible. I felt ripped off in this
area. I don't pay $50 per day per person to see a roadside
carnival. We did try TriceraTop Spin and found it to be
Dumbo as a dinosaur and the sound system is terrible. There
appeared to be three speakers mounted on the queue structure
that are turned up full blast. It was hard to hear yourself
talk in the queue and on the ride it is worse. The first
time we went around, the sound blasted me because we were
at the roofline. I then spent the rest of the ride making
sure that we were above the roofline in time to miss the
speakers and save my eardrums. While Primeval Whirl is a
fun ride, I really did find it lacking in theme. The cardboard
cutouts on this ride give it a very cheap look and feel.
This is a good ride and could have been made much more enjoyable
by better theming.
- Speakers at WDW Turned Up - There
seems to be a general feeling at Disney that one way to
satisfy the guest is to turn up the volume on the rides.
I lost count of the number of the times that we were blown
out of our seats by music that was too loud on different
- Mad Hatter at Grand Floridian - We
had the pleasure to take part in the Mary Poppins Breakfast
at the Grand Floridian on Thursday, June 6th. We were excited
to see the Mad Hatter was appearing. We were severely disappointed.
Every other time we have seen the Mad Hatter, he livens
up the place with his smile and his antics. This Mad Hatter
had no personality, none. He came to the table said hello,
asked for the autograph books and then gathered the kids
for a picture. He then left. I watched him do the same at
several other tables as well. This cast member needs to
be either better trained or put behind the scenes.
There were a few things that we did
enjoy on our recent visit as well:
- Figment - We are extremely happy
that you have decided to bring Figment back to the parks.
He is one of our favorite characters and it was great to
get him back. Thank you. We are saddened that Dream Finder
did not meet this happy fate as well. Also, on the ride,
why was the skunk smell chosen? Couldn't you have made Figment
look like a skunk and then put out the small of a rose?
It would have still fit with the song and been more pleasant
for the guest.
- Cast Members - Most cast members are
still very helpful and make our visit more enjoyable. Unfortunately,
this seems to be the cast members that have been at the
company for some time. Did something change with the new
cast member classes?
- Water Fountains - I know that with
the recent drought conditions in the Southeast, you had
to turn several of these off. It was nice that they were
back on and our family enjoyed the time spent playing in
these. The Fountain of Nations behind Spaceship Earth is
the best fountain that I have seen anywhere. The timing
of the music and the different programs that it runs are
incredible. This is money well spent for this fountain.
- Monorail and Steam Train Cast Members
- These cast members seem to be your most caring cast members.
I do not remember running into one rude or unhappy employee
at either transportation location. I watched one train engineer
slow down the train, so that a guest could take a picture.
That shows caring and needs to be rewarded.
- The Garden Grill - This is one of
our favorites year after year. The food here is excellent
and the cast members are all excellent as well. I was not
happy with the desert change from our last visit but the
rest of the food and service more then makes up for that.
- The Neverland Club - I put five of
my kids in this for four hours one night. One of them had
been before and chosen at the last minute to go again. They
did enjoy their time spent here and it was a nice way for
us to go spend sometime not worrying about height requirements.
The oldest child that attended here was disappointed that
they did not bring over animals anymore.
I can not stress the importance of
Early Entry to you. This perk has been the most important
part of each and every one of our trips. I have a feeling
that Disney will be bringing this perk back as a cost item,
much like E-Ride night. This will disappoint me greatly.
I do enjoy taking my family to WDW and would like to continue
to do so, but Disney has to keep up their end of the bargain
and make sure that the parks are in excellent condition
and that the value is there as well. After visiting Islands
of Adventure, it appears that Universal is making strides
towards competing with Disney. As a Disney shareholder,
I can see that Disney still has the upper hand and needs
to keep it that way but numerous things need to change.
I would appreciate not getting a "canned" response
to this letter, in short, I would like to know that I have
been heard. Thank you.
Thanks for sending me the copy, Damian. Hopefully, more such
notes will get to WDW and the folks there will realize that
the lack of scathing comments did not really equate to happy
back to our regularly scheduled email...
|A MousePlanet reader asks:
Thanks you for your immediate response. A million years ago,
I stayed at a place then called Dutch Inn. We got on the bus
last and in four or five minutes we were in the center of all
the Disney world activities. Coming out, the bus stopped at
our hotel first. We got all of our tickets at the hotel. We
are hoping for a similar situation but didn't know where to
Sorry, but I'm not that familiar with WDW back a million
years ago. :)
Maybe you stayed at one of the village resort hotels that
are now known as the Downtown Disney resorts. They are on
WDW property, and have buses to the parks, but they are not
operated by the Walt Disney Company. Perhaps one of those
resorts used to be known as the "Dutch Inn?"
page has more information about them.
Hi Brian. I am writing a trip report right now, but I have a
question. I am afraid it will be too long. I am giving a lot
of detail for our five day adventure (including all the pre-trip
details). What is too long for a trip report? I am averaging
about 1-2 pages per day at WDW.
Thanks for all your good advice. I
love the site.
Trip reports should be exactly the right length to capture
everything you want to say... no more, no less. :) In other
words, don't worry about it. It's YOUR report, so just cover
everything that you want to capture and remember, and don't
be concerned about anything else.
I'll be looking forward to seeing that report after you've
sent it in.
(Editor's note: Rosie has since sent in that
report, and it can be found in MousePlanet's Disney
Trip Report Archive.)
Pat writes: Brian, First off,
thanks for providing this wonderful site. I find your site,
Mousesavers, and Deb's site to have information so far superior
to anything in Birnbaums and other guide books that I'm pretty
much able to plan a trip completely while sitting at my desk.
My wife and I are cheapskates. We're
going for the fifth time in three years this September and
I believe our cost for airfare and hotel for a six night stay
is about $462, staying at the Best Western LBV. Considering
we were happy last year with Hojo's Eastgate (we're pretty
much at the hotel to sleep), BWLBV is actually an upgrade
for us. When you're working under a $1,200 budget, such pricing
allows for a pile of extras. Anyway, thanks a million for
the free resource.
I'd like to give back. I wanted to purchase length-of-stay
passes. According to your site, this is not allowed at DD
resorts. I emailed the hotel (Reservations@orlandoresorthotel.com)
and they tell me I CAN get these passes. I was also interested
in whether we received free parking at the parks, we don't.
Almost seems like contridictory information.
Just thought that either:
- You can use this information to update
- You can do me yet another wonderful
service and tell me they're wrong.
Either way, I've pasted the exchange
below. I really hope it's useful!
91 Days 15 Hrs 9 Mins 28 Secs to go...
If you are a guest of our hotel, and you drive to the parks,
you would have to pay the parking fee. You would be better
off to take our complimentary transportation, then you won't
have to worry about the fee, and where you parked your car!
We have a Disney gift shop in
the lobby of the hotel, and you can purchase the length
of stay passes.
If you have any other questions, please let me know.
|Thanks for the note, Pat. Unfortunately, I'll
have to take the information you've provided and update my site.
:( Parking is NOT free for Downtown Disney resort guests, but
the length of stay passes are, indeed, available to them.
|Mary asks several
questions: Brian, thanks for your hard work. The Mouseplanet
website is an excellent reference!
My family and I (me, DH, DS(8), DD(6))
are joining my sister and my parents in WDW 7/6 - 7/12. We
are staying in the Boardwalk Villas and I hope to file a trip
report after our visit. A couple of questions --
- I've read about a WDW visitor arranging
to have a basket of goodies waiting for her children upon
check-in (or arrival in room). Have you heard of this service?
- My sister made the reservation (so
its in her name). My family of 4 will arrive first. Will
there be any problem with us checking in? (My sister says
all names are on her receipt)
- My father is 78 and has been mildly
affected by a stroke (but is not handicapped; is still able
to walk without assistance). What accomodations could we
request without overstating his physical condition and possibly
taking advantage of the disabled guest policies?
Thanks for the kind compliment. I'll be looking forward to
that trip report, :)
I know that it is possible to arrange for things to be left
in a room at check-in. However, I've never personally done
it. I'd suggest you call the resort and ask how it can be
arranged. I'm sure it's not an infrequent question at WDW.
There shouldn't be any problems with check-in. I'd suggest,
though, that your sister call the reservations office and
put your name on the reservation, though. That will simplify
With regard to your father's condition, I would suggest that
you think about what accomodations you need and simply ask
for them. For his own sake, you may not want to "overstate"
the situation, but you really do have to be honest with him,
yourself, and the Disney folks. If he needs help getting around,
a wheelchair should be in your plans. In any case, whatever
help he will need is available, just ask.
You may want to read
through this page to get an idea of what assistance is
available at WDW.
Barb writes: Coming the first
week in May 2003. What is the opertating
time schedules for public- and -resort guest monorails? Beginning
and ending times? What are the times that the Resort buses
run? Am interested in the Port Orleans schedules to and from
the 3 major theme parks: The Magic Kingdom, Epcot and MGM.
Is there a variance between theme parks times, and if so,
please give transportation schedules to and from of beginning
and ending times.
In any case, WDW transportation (including the resort buses)
runs, in general, about one hour before each park opens and
continue to run about an hour and a half after each park closes.
Here's a page that discusses the park
Also, you mentioned the "three major parks," in
your note, but there are actually four major parks now that
Animal Kingdom has opened.
Kim asks: Hi Brian! Thank you
for the work you and the mouseplanet team put into the website.
It's the best resource for those of us who enjoy vacationing
My question...We will be staying
at Animal Kingdom Lodge for 2 nights in mid-July, and this
is our first time in a WDW resort. With our Animal Kingdom
Lodge parking pass, will we be able to park and visit other
WDW resorts? In particular , we'd like to park at Port Orleans
Riverside, view the grounds and check out the resort, then
take the boat down the river to Downtown Disney for dinner.
Thank you for any advice!!!!
The WDW resorts always reserve the right to limit access
to their properties to visitors that are staying offsite.
However, on-site guests are supposed to be able to visit any
of the on-site resorts without limitation. In reality, though,
the monorail resorts (the Grand Floridian, Contemporary, and
worst of all the Polynesian) and some of the other deluxe
resorts (the Boardwalk is notable) do attempt to limit even
on-site guests. I've had more than one word-joust with an
over-zealous gate guard about that issue.
However, to get to your question, visiting Port Orleans will
be pretty painless. There is plenty of parking, and not so
many folks try to stop in there as they do at the deluxe resorts
as the restaurants and other facilities just aren't as compelling.
I'm sure you'll have absolutely no problem visiting Port
Orleans with your Wilderness Lodge car pass in the window,
taking the Sassagoula Riverboat down to Downtown Disney, and
Ken asks a bunch of questions:
Brian, Thanks for a truly awesome web site! If only I could
somehow print it all out at once! I've printed big chunks
out but still have lots to go (just can't quite seem to retain
as much when I am looking at the screen!). As a fellow engineer
(NASA one at that) I love all the detail you have in the site
(my wife perhaps still isn't sure all the info is really needed
but that is what makes us a good team! Thanks also for your
Christian witness (probably one of the few Disney web
sites with that claim!). Congrats on your adoption by the
We are planning our first trip to WDW
for this December. Since we home school our kids rearranging
school won't be much of a problem for us (although we are
getting ready to put our kids (13, 10, 7) into formal school
settings after this year so this is the year to go). I say
THE year because our plan right now is that we are only going
to make the pilgrimage once but the more I read and study,
the more I am thinking I may have to do this more often!
Since we are thinking of only one trip
we are trying to be as "complete" as possible in
our trip planning (yeah, good luck!).
I really appreciate the info on your
web site but either have missed the following or would like
your opinion on the following questions (in true NASA bulletized
- How long should we plan for to make
sure we do it well without killing ourselves? Many people
seem to recommend a day off in the middle of the trip. I
was thinking perhaps 6 park days, 1 day off and then the
MVMCP (but how to fit that in to the days). Maybe that is
overkill (on time and budget).
- What days of the week should we go
in December? In other words are there some things that only
happen on weekends in December making it advantageous to
span a weekend? Logic would seem to indicate that locals
would come in the park over the weekends making those good
travel days but if there are only things that happen on
weekends, that would negate that plan.
- While we have camped some, I believe
my wife's limit on "camping" for a WDW vacation
will be the FW cabins (which seem like a good bet for a
family of 5 like ours). They look like they are pretty good.
Any words on advice on them?
- How would kids do with the late
hours of MVMCP? Do we do that in between two full days (probably
- If we do the parks 6 days it looks
like the only way to do it is to buy an AP or 6 day hopper
plus but I can't see the use of the plus that time of year
(not sure I want to do water parks in December - depends
I guess). Is there a better ticket for us?
- It doesn't appear you use packages,
right? Even the kind that give you 2 "wishes"
a day. I guess they don't pay for themselves?
- Can you really swim in pools in
December? I guess it depends on the weather!
Thanks a bunch for how you can help
out. Your site is great and has been a tremendous help already!!!!
Looking forward to our trip (beats thinking about program
|Thanks for the kind note, Ken. I'll do my best
to help out...
You might want to plan on looking over our WDW
Trip Planning Guide's sitemap, and look over the list
of pages, you'll find lots of great planning information.
It might be easier to scan that page than to "drill down"
through the site the hard way.
Regarding your first question, I discuss the issue of how
long you need to fully
enjoy WDW on this page.
The "which days of the week" question is answered
at length on this page (and you might want to look over
the pages that follow it, too, as they add more detail to
the daily planning issue.
Wilderness Cabins "Fast Facts" page includes
a link to a photo tour of the campgrounds.
I think your idea of NOT pushing too hard on the days that
straddle your attendance at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas
Party is a good idea. My family, for example, plans to make
sure the boys have a very good nap on the day that we attend
the party in December. The next day, we're planning a slower
start just to make sure we all recover from the late night.
On the admission media issue... The cross over point where
annual passes become a better value versus the park hoppers
is seven days. If you're not planning on visiting the water
parks, I think the six day park hopper would be your best
value. However, if you're even remotely thinking of a return
trip within twelve months of the first, I'd suggest that you
seriously consider buying those APs!
take on the Disney package deals is on this page (read
the bottom four paragraphs especially). Basically, the packages
CAN be a good deal IF you do take advantage of all they offer.
If not, you'll end up paying a premium for unused perks. Only
you can decide what features you'll use from any package deal.
My best advice is to shop well. :)
Finally, on using pools in December, the weather may or may
not cooperate, but the pools are heated, so if you have a
nice day, you very well may want to jump in and use the pool
as a break from the parks.
|Following up, Ken
writes: Brian, thanks
so much for the quick reply and the graciousness of your reply.
I'm sorry that so many of my questions can be answered with
your already thorough and helpful web site. There is so much
good stuff in there that I'm having trouble organizing it all
in my head (even with the nice site map and search engine).
I've seen so much but can't remember always how to get it back.
I am now in the process of printing out anything that I want
to remember (killing lots of trees in the process; makes me
wonder if kids who grow up on internet will retain more from
looking at a screen than I do, I tend to have to print things
Anyway, thanks again. I hope I am not
wearing out my welcome here but I'd like just a tad more clarification
on a couple points (if you could indulge me).
- My question on days of the week
had more to do with what things are operating (in general)
in December and what things are weekend only in December.
I realize that your site says that time of year isn't that
big a driver but I thought I saw something on your web site
somewhere that basically said things like "Spectromagic
is only on weekends in December" and "Cirque du
Soliel is closed until 12/15". Maybe I'm just imagining
that? Again, I realize that Disney is not going to announce
anything until just a few months before we get there but
I want to make sure I plan which parts of the week to be
there during reduced ops. So did I see something on your
site about what things are anticipated to be open when in
December (ie. fireworks, etc.)?
- The admission media question had
to do with resort breaks for annual pass members in addition
to the fact that it looked like the only 6 hopper park ticket
one can get has the plus in there that I wasn't sure we
would have time to use. Like you said - shop well!!!! :-)
Do you have an annual pass? I assume you do.
- Sounds like you are planning a December
trip (wondering if that is for the RADP activity). I'm not
trying to be too nosy but I was wondering when you are planning
going and for how long? Again, I'm not trying to be nosy
and certainly would not be wanting to intrude on your time
there but you have so much experience, I sure wouldn't mind
following your example of when you are going!
- I thought I saw a picture of you
and your family in Williamsburg but can't find the spot
right now. Where is the photo? Anyway, I hope you had a
great time!!! We live about 20 minutes south of Williamsburg.
Along with lots of other things, we enjoy going to Busch
Gardens and Water Country (and have annual passes). I think
my folks would prefer we had annual passes to Colonial Williamsburg
instead. I haven't gotten to King's Dominion yet so hope
to do that soon. Again, hope you had a great time (hope
it wasn't too hot and humid but if you are used to Disney
this probably seemed OK!).
Thanks again Brian!!!
the adoption has gone well. LOTS of our friends have adopted
and my sister works as a social worker for a Christian adoption
agency in Oregon (long story how she ended up out there!).
December is an odd month. Early in the month is one of the
slowest times of the year, but WDW does have a bunch of special
holiday events going on. Here's a couple of pages that give
at a glance" and one that actually lists
the already announced special events during the Holidays.
As December rolls on, though, the crowds build up very quickly
to a crecendo. Christmas week itself is the busiest week of
the year at WDW.
Never guess which week I'll be there this year... ;)
My family will arrive around the 19th and we'll be departing
on the 31st. Frankly, I wouldn't be doing this time AT ALL,
but this is a family reunion trip and we couldn't get everyone
together earlier in the month due to schedule conflicts.
There's no way to actually predict what "regular"
entertainment will be running during December. I do think
it's a very safe bet that the daytime parades will continue
to run each and every day. Spectromagic will likely run only
on some Friday and Saturday nights. IllumiNations will run
nightly (as it always does), and I suspect that Fantasmic
will, likewise, be running full blast (although I've heard
rumors about a soon-to-be-scheduled maintenance shutdown of
My family and I always use annual passes. APs are actually
good for 12 months from first use (not one calendar year).
What we usually do is go in October and buy APs. We return
in the Spring and in September of the following year. That
way, we get three trips on one set of tickets. Then we take
a Spring off, then repeat the cycle. This year will be a bit
funky because of the scheduled Christmastime trip, but our
philosphy will remain the same.
The photo of Michael and Allan showed up in the June
17th Notes from the World piece. I think we'll probably
return to Williamsburg and visit the DC area in another couple
of years. :)
The adoption of Allan was seemless. The one for Michael was
a bit more exciting. I shared the whole thing on MousePlanet
Michael asks: Brian, Thanks for
the great information on WDW. It is amazing how quickly things
change at the Resort and it is nice to have one place to go
My question: You mentioned in one of
the earlier updates about a possible Nightmare Before Christmas
overlay to the Haunted Mansion, like they did in California
last year. Have you heard anything else about this?
(My wife and I went to the Haunted Mansion
holiday merchandise event at Disneyland last October and it
was *very* cool.) It would be great to see something like
this in Florida.
|No, I haven't. I was told earlier, though, that
a decision on budget wouldn't be made until Fall.
Gayle writes: Wow, I'm finally going to WDW in early
July... hot, hot, hot, but were from Houston and used to the
heat and humidity. I'm taking my daughter (6) and two sons
(13 & 15). My husband has never wanted to go and in planning
family vacations all these years, WDW never made it as far
as an option. Anyway, I decided to take the children on my
own. My daughter is absolutely over the moon about going and
her enthusiasm is contagious, she's telling everyone she's
going to WDW and this is her FIRST trip, so I guess we'll
be going back and we haven't even arrived yet! (she vows Dad
will go someday!) We'll be at the Polynesian and won't be
renting a car. We're not leaving the property as this is a
purely Disney holiday.
Your site has been an enormous help. I am admittedly a bit
overwhelmed with all the options and wanting to be able to
"do" everything... I have vowed to follow my daughters
lead, as well as the boys and just make sure we have a great
time without stressing everyone out with a "be here ,
do that". I do have a couple of priority seatings booked
(including breakfast with Cinderella at the castle for my
daughter and I can't tell you who's more excited!)
I feel I am truly entering a whole new world.
I do have a question for you! What is a "Guest of Honor"
badge? How do you get one??
Again, thanks for all you do...the site is phenomenal!
|Thanks for the kind note!
The Guest of Honor badges were sold especially during the
25th Anniversary Celebration back five or six years ago. They
are still available in some places at WDW, although I'd be
hard pressed to give you an exact location. What they are
is name badges that look very similar to the cast member's
name tags, however, you can get them personalized with your
own name. They do say, "Guest of Honor," on them,
though, so they can be distiguished from a CM's pin.
I'd suggest you ask at guest relations in any of the parks
and ask where they may be sold.
Kevin asks: Brian, Keep up the
good work on the site. I visit it daily for my WDW "escape".
This is a rather odd question, but here
goes. When we visit in September, my wife decided she wants
to go horseback riding at the resort.
I weigh 240 pounds. Is there a
weight limit to ride a horse? I wouldn't want to break it's
I am not aware of any limits on the trail riding at Fort
Wilderness Campground. I'll post your note in a future Notes
From the World, though, and maybe we'll find out differently.
Mary Kay writes:
Hi. my husband and I are going to WDW at the end of September
with our soon to be 4 year old boy/girl twins. We are at an
impasse as to where to stay.
I have narrowed the choices to Holiday
Inn Family suites, Contemporary, Polynesian, Animal Kingdom
Lodge and Wilderness Lodge. Found rates of $100-$174 per might
The reasons for my choices are mainly
on-site child care services and ease of transportation (no
My questions would be: Are any of these
more suited for toddler families and lack of transportation?
(We want the LEAST stress possible considering what we're
dealing with!!!) Is it worth paying more for the Polynesian?
Is the Contemporary too sterile to get the full Disney experience?
Are Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge too remote?
Should we bother with offsite options (even with Kidsuites)
in order to get the full Disney experience?
FYI, I have been to Disney a few
times as has my husband before 1998. We love it and can't
wait to share with the kiddos. LOVE LOVE LOVE YOUR SITE!!!!!!
Any help you can give is greatly appreciated!
It sounds like you're already sold on a monorail resort.
My personal preference among the three is the Polynesian because
it's got a more exotic flavor than the other two. The Polynesian
also has the well-known Neverland Club where you could drop
off your kids for a night of fun while you and your husband
go out for dinner. The other resorts have similar clubs, but
the Neverland Club has one of the best "cool factors"
due to it's themeing.
I personally would put the offsite idea off the table, if
I were you. However, I don't have any phobias about staying
at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge, or even a moderate
resort and using the buses, either. It would save a ton of
money to do that, and as long as you're willing to be patient
and realize that everything will take time when you have kids
in tow, you should do just fine!
I would also strongly suggest that you read through our WDW
Trip Planning Guide's WDW
With Kids section where 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.
Tom asks: Hi Brian, Just want
to say first of all thanks for all the information on your
site and the way it keeps me up-to-date with WDW stuff when
I'm not there :). At 18 I now feel qualified to write my own
trip report so expect that towards the end of August!
I'll be crossing the pond to Orlando
on July 25 for three weeks and was just wondering exactly
which rides at WDW (and, for that matter, Universal and Sea
World if you know) have single-rider lines? They sound really
useful for beating the queues so I'm hoping there's more than
just the Test Track one I've read about.
To the best of my knowledge, only Test Track currently has
a single rider line. I don't know the status at Sea World
|Amanda asks: Brian,My
family and I are planning to go to disneyworld in late August
and we have a lot of left over passes from when we have been
before. We have some very passes from the eighties were they
actually stamp the date on the card when they are used. Can
we still use these? We also have hopper passes with either one
or two days left on them from a few years ago. Is there any
way that we can find out how many days are left on each of these?
Thanks so much.
Yes, you can still use the old passes... but only for those
parks that were originally included. For example, if the only
parks open at the time you bought those old passes were the
Magic Kingdom and Epcot, you can't use those them to enter
Animal Kingdom or the Studios.
Your more recent park hopper passes may still be good, too,
but the only way to find out exactly how many days are left
on them is to go to guest relations at one of the parks or
Downtown Disney. You may be able to find out at guest relations
at the resorts too, as some resorts have that capability and
some do not.
One thing you might want to consider is to take the old admission
media and turn it in for credit towards new media. The guest
relations folks will help you with that task, too. In effect,
you'll get the pro-rated portion of remaining value credited
towards the purchase of your new media. You'll have to decide
at the time if it makes more sense financially to do that,
or just to use the old tickets up.
Ray asks: Brian: Your column
has been a great help for my family of seven as we plan our
fist trip to DW. I have a question: Are we the only people
who have "flipped out" over the MK being open from
9:00am to 6:00pm from August 25 through August 29?
I have already sent a scathing
e-mail and await a reply. Is this time frame normal for the
heat of summer? With the park not open late, it certainly
will change our touring plans. I'm hoping you'll have a few
suggestions and will also alert fellow visitors of these limited
Summer hours were announced for the Magic Kingdom as being
9:00am to 10:00pm, so it's not as bad as you thought.
Frankly, if the crowds do get as big as I suspect they will,
I think you'll see one of two things happen. Either the park
will be open even later (more like the 11:00pm - 1:00am closing
time that is more typical for summer), or else the Disney
folks will schedule more E-Ride
nights so you can pay extra to stay in the park late (you'll
not that there are no Eride nights scheduled for the days
you mentioned, though).
Ray wrote back: Thank you for
the quick reply.
I just got off the phone (before
e-mailing you) with a CM making reservations for lunch at
Cinderella's Table. She confirmed the hours as being 9:00am
to 6:00pm from 8/25 -29. On the 30th she said 9:30pm. She
agreed that she could never remember August hours being so
short but, "That's what the computer says". You've
got 7 people in NJ hoping and praying your info is right!!
I did some further checking. It looks like the park schedules
do, indeed, drop off for that last week in August. I suspect
that the crowds are expected to have already fallen by then
as families deal with the new school year starting up.
Sorry for the earlier misinformation.
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!