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

Brian Bennett

WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett

7/29/02

-

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...

Dave writes: Hi Brian! We continue to love reading your updates. A couple of comments from previous ones.

In your July 1st update you printed a note from Elmer concerning tipping bellhops at the Contemporary Resort. We stayed there about two years ago and ran into the same thing, (double dipping as we call it.) We were very put off by that and have not stayed there since. We have stayed at seven of the other WDW resorts at various times, and never ran into this before.

Also in your July 1st update, a note from Gary concerning riding up front in the monorail. The last time we were down (September 2001) the policy was only people getting on at the resort stops could ride up front, and then only one of the monorails. (Each day they would tell you which "color" monorail was dedicated to that resort.) You sometimes had to wait a bit until the correct one came into the station. We heard that you could not get on at the Magic Kingdom stop. Also, we heard that you could not ride up front on the express monorail. I don't know if this information is now out of date, but that was correct as of last September.

By the by, I called WDW DINE today to make ressies for our August trip, and found out that the Yacht Club Galley restaurant is now reopened, as of June 16th. Also she mentioned something that I had not thought about before. When making reservations for one of the "countries" at World Showcase at Epcot, allow extra time to get there if your reservation time is around the time of the Tapestry of Nations parade. Good advice, indeed.

One last item, a question (if you can imagine that!) -- We want to eat breakfast at Future world in Epcot. WDW DINE could not give me any information on that. Do you or any of your readers have more information? Thanks again for your great web site.

and Dave, thanks for your comments!

Regarding breakfast in Future World, you can always check out the Sunshine Food Fair and the Fountainview (where you can get pastries and coffee for breakfast). The only other restaurant that serves breakfast, and you'd have to check with WDW-DINE to confirm this for the dates you'll be at WDW, is the Garden Grill restaurant at the land.

(Editor's Note: When I was at WDW just a couple of weeks after Dave did, the monorails (regarding sitting up front privileges) were running just as easy as usual. Maybe the difference is that my family and I usually ride the resort monorails late some evening as we're going around shopping and visiting and Dave was talking about the general case of riding at any time of the day.)

Mark writes: Hi Brian, Just reading today’s update and I have a few comments.

  1. Regarding park upkeep. I have just come back, and while I was there specifically looked for the kind of lack of upkeep that many of your readers have spoken about. I obviously can’t speak to what was there before I visited, but I found none of the disastrous conditions that have been reported as far as physical maintenance of the parks or the resorts. Paint was fresh – never saw any peeling. Fountains were all turned on now that the drought is over thanks to an unusually wet June. Equipment was all working, although if there was a single set of headphone out of order in Sounds Dangerous I certainly didn’t try them all. Cast Members were all as pleasant as ever despite huge crowds and hot weather. If there were problems in the past, they have certainly been addressed at this time.
  2. A reader asked about arranging something special for someone when they check in to a Disney Resort. Your advice was right on. Call the individual resort. You would be surprised that they personally enjoy setting up things like this or helping you to do so. I saw that myself when we arrived at CBR to surprise my daughter. They love helping set up something nice as much as you enjoy it. My daughter has told me many instances of this happening so go ahead and call the resort itself. They may even have some great ideas that you haven’t thought of.
  3. There is a limit on the weight to ride a horse at Fort Wilderness. I am not sure at this time exactly what it is, although a call can be made to the stable to find out.

Thanks for the input Mark!

Donald writes: Hi Brian, Just finished reading the most recent Notes from the World. A reader asked if there is a weight limit for the trail rides. I don't know what the limit is, but there is a weight limit. We did the ride a few years ago and noticed that there was a limit. I did not pay much attention to it because I am not overweight, but I did notice it.

You might want to tell the reader to call the resort and ask about the limit before they make the reservations.

Thanks, Donald. I'll check into that further.

Margaret writes: Dear Brian, Kevin asked in today's column if there is a weight limit for the horseback rides at Fort Wilderness. It's 250 pounds, and he said he weighs 240 so he should be fine. I'd also like to point out that there is a weight limit (80 pounds?) on the children's pony rides, while children must be at least nine years old to ride the horses, so some larger children under nine may be out of luck.

Thanks for the note, Margaret.

Children of any age can ride the ponies, though, as long as a parent walks along with the child and the animal.

In a followup, Margaret wrote back: Yes, I know that children of any age can ride the ponies - it's the horses that require riders to be at least nine. I meant that a large 8-year-old might be too heavy to ride the ponies and too young to ride the horses, which would likely have been the case for a cousin's daughter I considered bringing along on my upcoming Fort Wilderness trip. That would definitely be upsetting for kids who are probably sensitive about their weight anyway and would be totally out of luck while their families got to ride.

Ahhhh... I wasn't following your thoughts about the idea that a heavy seven or eight year old could fall into that gap. Thanks for pointing that out so clearly that even I couldn't miss it. :)

(Editor's Note: In order to nail this thing down, I did, indeed, call WDW-PLAY to ask about the matter. The restrictions for horseback riding are, indeed, 250 pounds maximum weight and a nine year minimim age... and there's an additional requirement of a 48 inch minimum height that no one had yet mentioned. Pony rides have an 80 pound maximum weight with no other restrictions (as long as an adult walks along with the child and animal, as I've already said).

Reservations are not accepted for pony rides. You just have to go to the corral during the regular hours that rides are offered. Reservations are not required for horseback riding, but are recommended.

So there you have it from the horses mouth. ;)

On complaints lodged to the Disney company, Heather writes: Hey Brian, I just wanted to comment on your latest notes from the world and the comments from John regarding written complaints. I just wanted to clarify apoint he made as I think it really sheds an unfair light on Disney.

Although I do agree with him that I think the current "Disney Corporation" is not listening to its guests in the way it used to, I disagree that Disney is afraid to make promises to its guests in writing to stave off lawsuits.

Disney is a private corporation. Therefore, it can make whatever promises it wants about its business to anyone and feel free to break them. They can't make "implied" contracts or promises that one could reasonably rely on (i.e. If you come in January, we promise to stay open until 3:00a.m. and not allow a single cheerleader in the park - that would be a quasi-contract).

However, for them to put something in writing that would say, "we're sorry for your experience, we're working on it" is not going to get them into any legal trouble! The only thing they would have to be concerned about there is if they were told about dangerous situations and promised to fix them - later on, that letter promising to fix them could be used against them if someone got hurt by an uncorrected dangerous problem.

At any rate, Disney is a big company and should be concerned with the information it lets out to the public that can be misconstrued and open itself to a lawsuit. Disney is a big company (some lawyers call them "deep pockets") and must defend itself against lawsuits - even frivolous ones. It is a shame that we live in a society that would take advantage of a legal system meant to protect the masses by exploiting large companies for money on frivolous claims (I know the evil goes both ways in this industry).

Looking at it another way - is it possible that Disney, reacting to public opinion against large corporations as being unfriendly - decided that personal interaction leaves people feeling like they were more attended to than not? I know that when I want to complain, my biggest gripe is feeling like no one is listening to me. And, having worked in the customer service industry for a large tourist attraction, I know that most guests are more satisfied with personal attention to their issues, rather than being handed a form and told to fill it out and return it. And I know that complaints may seem to get ignored (i.e., the thing does not change), but, in my experience, complaints get "ignored" (i.e., not changed) because either the guest is lacking all the information about why something is done a certain way (and therefore, the way the thing is done does not, necessarily need to be changed), or their complaint is frivolous and they are just really wanting to vent to someone. (My brother, who worked in a movie theater, got a complaint once that the napkins in the napkin holder were upside down! Why not just turn around the napkin holder???)

I do not disagree with John - sounds like he may have had a bad experience - but just would like to say that I think Disney still does a great job with taking care of its customers and attending to their needs. When I amtalking to a cast member, I feel like I have their undivided attention for that period of time. And, I think we should give Disney a break. I don't think they are motivated by wanting to save their butts in court - after all, it is far cheaper to have someone write a form letter and mail merge it to however many complainants they have in a given day. It takes more money to have someone actually call and take the time to speak with and, perhaps, deal with someone who is not happy with your company.

Of course, this is just my opinion and John just shares the opposite viewpoint. I probably fall in that category of people wanting to defend Disney. Of course, that is how I treat most things I care about, so if others feel differently, then I apologize if I offended anyone. Just wanted to stand up for the other point of view!

Thanks, Heather. I'll share your opposing point of view next week. :)

But before the electrons cooled down from their voyage from Heather's PC to mine, she wrote back: You know, on second thought, I do see John's point. I think I was just cranky. ;) I work in a law firm and am studying to be a lawyer, so sometimes I jump to defend my profession! But, I do see both sides of the story. In some ways, he's right. I still like my point of view, as well, though. Maybe we could come to a happy medium - Personal contact with written follow up? ;)

On the same topic of complaints to the Disney company, Sam wrote: Hi, I was at WDW last February and was also disappointed to find the cancellation of early entry, package delivery to the room and all the other cutbacks.

I sent a letter to several people at WDW from the top on down, I praised them where it was due and complained about the loss of the perks which after all are one of the main reasons many of us pay top dollar to stay inside the world.

I also received a phone call, they thanked me for my praise and also said that early entry was unpopular with guest and the character caravan was something requested by the guests! Which guests complained about early entry and asked for characters instead? Can anyone answer that?

I've never heard that anyone complained about Early Entry. I just don't think the Disney folks are listening...

And Sam came back with: I agree, they sure didn't listen to me! A phone call is very nice but when it's filled with baloney it kind of defeats the purpose.

Also on the WDW cutbacks, Todd wrote: Hello Brian, We love your site and value all the assistance it provides us in planning our trips to WDW.

My wife and I are regulars at Disney world resort. We have been severely bummed about some of the cut backs at the resort. One in particular... the early park entry perk. You know how you are talking WDW up to your friends and telling them all the cool perks and you finally get someone to go along with you and they cancel early entry...bad timing.

Anyway, I read your last column responding to Vicki and took the advise to contact Disney about my disapointment about discontinuing the early entry program. Well I got a response which stated I would be contacted in the next 2 weeks about my e-mail. It is like getting an e-mail from Mickey himself... kind of like getting the wake up call for the first time. I am satisfied that they have acknowledged my dissatisfaction.

Thanks for what you do.

Thanks for your note, Todd. I personally hope that more and more people will contact WDW to let them know that they're unhappy with the situation.

Jay writes: Hi Brian. Just a little info on Wilderness Lodge Transportation to follow up on Richard's comments in your July 22nd update. We stayed there for 5 days this year for Mothers Day. Bus service was a little slow but once on the bus it only stopped at the Fort Wilderness Campgroud. No stops at the monorail hotels. We were upset that the boat to the Magic Kingdom now also stops at Fort Wilderness. A big problem.

Will not stay there again. For the price you pay for the rooms the transportation should be a lot better than what is offered now.

Great site.

P.S. In response to a previous writer I did see woman walking around in the Magic Kingdom with bra tops. I however liked the look.

Thanks for the note, Jay.

Tina writes: Brian, I just though your readers would like to know there may be "Special Event Nights" at WDW on November 4, 5 & 6. I wrote you a few weeks ago about my experience with "Special Event Nights" during my vacation in April where the Magic Kingdom was closed at 6:00p.m. three nights in a row because the park was "rented" out to a huge software company.

Well, the Society of Pharmaceutical Engineers (I work for an engineering firm) is having a conference November 3 - 7, 2002 and the brochure lists special evenings in the parks for their families, So your readers who intend to be vacationing at this time may want to check with WDW.

Thanks for sharing that, Tina. I'll mention it in the column!

Mike writes: Brian, in a previous piece you wrote: To the best of my knowledge, only Test Track currently has a single rider line. I don't know the status at Sea World and Universal/IOA.

At Universal, the only ride with a single rider line was "Men In Black: Alien Attack!". It drastically reduces your wait time - - when I was there there was a 75 minute wait, and I literally walked by almost a thousand people in line for the single rider line of only about 5-10 people. I was on the ride within 3-5 minutes, most of which was walking through the empty queue.

At IOA, I did not go into Jurassic Park at all, but there were no rides with a Single Rider line.

Thanks Mike! I'll share that in the column ASAP.

Mark writes: Getting Happy with ABC officially opened on July 26th "invitation only" show for Cast Members with Drew Cary and the other ABC stars there in person. That was followed by a Stars and Motorcars Parade featuring the ABS stars.

Thanks for sharing that Mark. So if anyone wants to see the new in-park advertisement for ABC, it's ready for viewing.

Mia Writes: In response to your latest column inquiring about the Guest of Honor badges: they are still for sale in several places at Disneyland. I have also seen them on the MouseShoppe web site - so perhaps you can advise this person to look there! :)

and Patty adds: Hi Brian! Just read Gayle's question about Guest of Honor Badges. I got one for each of my family members at a shop in MGM, although I'm sure there are other places where you can get them. They have them already engraves with common names but if the name you want isn't available, they will engrave them for you. You may have to go back to pick them up later in the day. I got mine close to closing time and one of the CMs was nice enough to engrave them for me on the spot!

Thanks for all you do to keep this website so terrific!

Stephen writes: Hi Brian, A reader was asking about Guest of Honor pins. I have found them in only 2 locations. The Celebrity 5 & 10 store on Hollywood Blvd at Disney MGM Studios has them and an open-air store at the Downtown Disney Marketplace has them (can't remember the name of it). The cost of the pins is $5. There is no additional cost for having them engraved with your name. It's kind of fun to wear them because some cast members will call you by name.

There was a LOT of discussion about the Dutch Inn at WDW. Here's what went on...

Todd wrote: Brian, the Dutch Inn is now known as The Grosvenor Resort, across from Downtown Disney. Glad I could help. Keep up the good work.

Jon writes: Hi Brian, Regarding your notes from the world of 7/22, one of your readers asked about a resort called the "Dutch resort". If I am not mistaken it is what is now called the Grosvenor resort in Downtown Disney. I too was at WDW "a million years ago" and actually stayed there in 1985. Back then it was called the Americana Dutch Resort.

I hope this answers your reader's question.

and another MousePlanet reader wrote: Hey Brian, the "Dutch Inn" is what the Grosvenor used to be called back when it was the Americana Dutch Resort Hotel WAAAAAAY back in the 80's when I stayed there as a kid. They used to have tacky decorations in the rooms... like wooden shoes attatched to the phones! They also used to have a windmill-shaped swimming pool!

Thanks. That definately rings a bell. Do you know when the Grosvenor changed names? (In follow-up email, neither knew exactly, unfortunately).

Wayne added this: Hi Brian, The Dutch Inn was one of the original Disney Village resorts opened in 1972. It is now known as the Grosvernor Resort Hotel. I believe the name change occurred in the early 90's. I'm pretty sure that when I stayed there during the press event for the 15th anniversary in 1986 that it was still the Dutch Inn.

Mark writes: Hi Brian, Having been to Disney World many times, with the first time being in July 1972, I remember the “Dutch Inn.” The “Dutch Inn” has gone through several different ownership changes over the years, and is now known as “The Grosvenor Resort” in the Walt Disney World Village. You may wish to pass this on to your readers.

I really enjoy your columns. Like some of your readers, I’ve also noticed a significant decline in the quality of the park upkeep over the years. For example, Disney has removed many former annual flower beds and changed them to turf areas or shrubs, which require less maintenance. The paint is peeling on many railings and buildings too. Plus, rather than renovate the deluxe hotels every 5-6 years (typical of many deluxe hotels), the hotels renovate more on a 10-12 year schedule and, in my opinion, it shows! Keep up the good work.

Thanks for the note, Mark.

I've already gotten several notes the identified the Grosvenor as the old "Dutch Inn." What I still haven't been able to nail down, though, is when the name change happened. Do you know?

Mark came back with: Hi Brian, Thanks for responding to my email. I’m not sure when the Dutch Inn transitioned to another hotel chain. The hotel opened as the Dutch Inn in October 1972, and was still called that in 1975 on my 2nd visit. But I believe it was called something else by the time I visited again in 1983.

Ok folks, I decided to dig into this one with some research support... I whipped out my 1988 and my 2002 Birnbaum's books and found out the following:

Here's the current list of Downtown Disney Hotels includes the Hilton, Wyndham Palace Resort & Spa, Grosvenor, Best Western Lake Buena Vista, Courtyard by Marriot, Doubletree Guest Suites Resort, and the Hotel Royal Plaza.

Back in 1988, the list of WDW Village Hotel Plaza hotels was the Grosvenor Resort, Viscount Hotel, Hotel Royal Plaza, Howard Johnson Resort, Buena Vista Palace, the Hilton, and the Pickett Suite Resort.

I used the descriptions and pictures from the two books to match them up (by the way, in the description for the Grosvenor, the 1988 Birnbaum's states, "The former Americana Dutch Resort has undergone an $8 million facelift, and changed it's name." So I guess that settles the timing of the name change for the Grosvenor. I surmised, then, that the Grosvenor changed names in the 1987/88 timeframe.

Here's the results of my match game:

  • Grosvenor Resort, used to be the Americana Dutch Resort
  • Wyndham Palace Resort & Spa, used to be the Buena Vista Palace
  • Doubletree Guest Suites Resort, used to be the Pickett Suite Resort
  • Best Western Lake Buena Vista, used to be the Viscount
  • Courtyard by Marriot, used to be the Howard Johnson Resort
  • and the Hilton and Hotel Royal Plaza which survived without any name changes.

Whew!

Heather posed this question: Hi Brian, My family and I are going to WDW in September and are planning on seeing the American Adventure on September 11 (there is no place I would rather be than some place celebrating America). Do you know or have you heard if they plan on doing anything special to mark the anniversary?

We are still saddened by this tragedy and just really want to be in such a good place celebrating our country with family that day. I'm just wondering if Disney will do something to mark the anniversary. That would be really nice.

Doug writes: Brian, I want to tell you that your site has made trip planning a breeze. Last year my wife and I went to Disney from Sept 14-22. We had a great time despite world events that tried to sadden the mood. We thought Disney really stepped up its hospitality in giving free passes and hotel stays to those stranded by airline cancellations.

Anyway, my wife and I are planning to visit again from September 7-14 (Sept is a great time to visit when it's still warm and the kids are back in school). We were wondering if you might have heard if Disney was planning some sort of memorial on 9-11. It's not that we wouldn't still enjoy our trip, but we sure would like to honor our countries victims and heroes that day.

We look forward to hearing from you, and we love your site!

I checked with several sources. None of them were aware of anything being planned, although a couple of them expressed a personal opinion that something would be. We'll wait and see on that one.

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

Q.

Pam writes: Brian: I need help! It has been 17 years since we visited WDW and next summer (2003) my daughter and I will be finally be back! My question: Where would I enjoy staying?

I want to stay at one of the moderate or deluxe resorts. My daughter is 24 and I am... older, so we don't need cute or lots of activities. We want relaxation, but plan on spending most of our time at the parks.

I would love to stay at the Floridian, but figure that is over my budget. I have been reading comments from other travelers, and my first choice of Contemporary sounds to be a bit outdated. I had even considered CBR, but have heard it is too spread out. Now you can see why I need help! Please let me know your opinion. Thank you.

A.

Pam,

You've asked a pretty big and open-ended question! First, let me refer you to a couple of pages in MousePlanet's WDW Trip Planning Guide.

This page covers a lot of general information on the resorts and, if you follow the link to "Resort Features Comparison" on that page, you'll see how the resorts all stack up in terms of offered ammenities. The "Prices" or "Room Rates" links will give you information on how much to expect to pay for a room at each resort (of course, these will be the full-price "rack rates."

Next, I would suggest you go to this page and scroll down to look at the "Fast Facts" pages for each resort that you're considering. Those pages have a lot of information that is specific to each resort and most offer a link to a resort area map and resort photo tour.

I would also suggest that you check out the articles that Mike Scopa has written on the WDW resorts. You'll see in his column that back in May, June, and July of last year he covered those topics in great detail.

Likewise, Sue Holland's column has several pieces on the resorts including some photo tours, some special reports on concierge services, and so on.

After you've narrowed down the amount you're willing to pay and have decided on a category of resort (deluxe, home-away-from-home, moderate, or value), you can select the appropriate resort in your category. You'll have to compare the various pros and cons of each resort in that category, of course, but you will have narrowed it down considerably!

Have said all of that antiseptic stuff, I'd like to make a couple of comments. First, if you really like Epcot, I'd strongly suggest that you consider the Boardwalk Inn or the Beach Club Resort. Both are very close to the International Gateway entrance to Epcot, and both tend to cater to adults. If you're interested in something more exotic, Animal Kingdom Lodge is an incredible resort! As far as the monorail Magic Kingdom resorts, I'd still give the nod to the Polynesian based on my own preference of themeing... but the Grand Floridian and the Contemporary are very nice, too. Wilderness Lodge can't be beat for the overall execution of it's theme. It's a top notch destination, too. In the moderate category, personally I would give the nod to Port Orleans (and especially the French Quarter) for a couple of adult vacationers without kids.

Anyway, do your homework, and if you have any specific questions about comparing one resort to another, feel free to write back.

-

Q.

Janet writes: Hi, Brian. I was wondering if you could answer a question for me? I booked the Disney Cruise for next August (2003), but I belong to the Disney Club and sometimes you get deals on the cruise (but they're only good for a certain time). My question is, if I can get a deal on the cruise which is good for my timeframe, can I use it? I booked my cruise through a travel agent. I hope you understand my question.

A.

Janet,

You may be able to change your reservation. As an alternative, I'm sure you can book a NEW reservation. The only hangup is, what is the cancellation policy on your old one? Make sure you check into that. You don't want to be stuck with two reservations for the same cruise and no way out of either one!

I think a call to your travel agent would be greatly beneficial, to know exactly what the deal is on your existing package.

-

Q.

A MousePlanet reader writes: Dear Brian, we are three adults who have tickets for Mickey's Halloween Party on October 27th. We've never been to that event before and don't know much about it. What can be expected regarding crowds, entertainment, etc.?

All we know is that it starts at 7:00 PM, so do you have any information or suggestions for us?

A.

You might want to look over Sue Holland's article on the party.

Also, you may want to go to MousePlanet's Disney Trip Report Archive and do a search. You're very likely to find some other first-hand reports that can give you an idea of what to expect.

-

Q.

Max writes: Hi. Is it possible to see and ride everything in one day? We plan to go to WDW in July and want to visit 5 parks. We are all adults and the last time we were there is 1998. We always seem to miss one or two attractions or seem to go in circles. Do you know of any tricks to keep from going in circles and a way to see one park per-day?

Thanks.

P.S. Nice site

A.

Max,

I suppose it would be possible... if you hit each and every park on a very uncrowded day that also happens to be a day when the park is open late. Unfortunately, by definition those two are almost always mutually exclusive. ;)

You said you wanted to visit five parks? There are only four major parks at WDW. If you add in the water parks then you jump up by two (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach). In either case, unless you're adding in some non-Disney parks I don't know where your tally came from.

The other problem, Max, is that you and I seem to have diametrically-opposed views on how to visit and enjoy WDW. If you go to this page, and look over the section that is headed "Planning Your Day," you'll see that I personally believe in a very slow, easy-going approach to visit the parks. My basic premise is to take your days in the parks in chunks of time and to avoid going into the parks like "Disney commandos" from morning to night!!!! I'll let you read those pages for the details and to decide if you agree. It really does make sense. :)

If you choose to blow off my sage advice (I say that tongue-in-cheek), I completely understand. Everyone has different reasons for doing things different ways. If you decide to go forward, though, you will find a table that shows which parks are less busy on various days of the week toward the bottom of this page.

Have a great trip!

-

Q.

Jeff Writes: Hello - enjoy your stuff - definitely my favorite part of Mouseplanet!

On our most recent trip, we did park at the resorts - we were legitimately eating at the resorts. Now they did give us a limited parking pass, but we then valet parked. One valet at the Poly even suggested to us if we were going to the parks that we keep the car there (which we were going to do anyway).

I'm wondering what your take is on this - there are no restrictions on who can valet park, and Disney gets the same money as if I parked in the lots.

A.

Jeff,

If one valet parks at any of the resorts, the fee (as you pointed out) is the same as the fee for parking in the main park parking lots. Anyone that wants to do that can have at it in my opinion. There's certainly no issue of trying to cheat or anything, since you're paying for the privilege.

-

Q.

Michelle writes: Hi Brian, just a quick question. You may have answered this one before, but I couldn't find the answer: If you are not staying on Disney property and go to a Disney resort for dining, are you charged a parking fee at the resort?

Thanks for your help!

A.

Michelle,

You can get a short term parking pass to enjoy the resorts. However, if you don't have a WDW resort pass (that shows you're staying on property), the guards may also verify your priority seating to confirm that you really are having a meal. They seem to be much more strict at the Polynesian Resort than any other, although the Contemporary and Grand Floridian are sometimes strict, too.

If you choose to have your car valet parked, though, you won't have any time limitations.

-

Q.

William writes: Brian, Great site! Do you know if I can purchase E-Ride night tickets in advance, or is that something that has to be done at the resort? Thanks!

A.

William,

If you go to this page, you'll get some great information on E-Ride nights, including the schedule of E-Ride nights.

You may be able to purchase your E-Ride tickets in advance, but you'll still have to buy them through your WDW resort. You may want to contact your resort and ask. If not, you can always handle the purchasing chore at check-in time.

The bottom line is that E-Ride nights are reserved for those folks that are staying on-site, and so purchase of tickets is restricted.

Q.

Elizabeth writes: Hello, just wanted to put in my two sense on how I feel about Disney. My family and I just visited on July 2, 2002. It was the worst experience and my kids did not enjoy it in the least. I have one that's 10, 3 and 5. We went for a day and spent it in Magic Kingdom. The main thing my kids wanted to see were the characters. We were there from 9am-11pm and saw not ONE on the street. They saw only 6 characters of which we waited in a 2 hour line for each autograph. They were so disappointed we left there with them having more tears of sadness and false hopes than joy. Some magical place this really turned out to be. I figured this had to get better.

We decided to stop for lunch that afternoon. We ate at the Starlight Cafe, waited in line for a hour on a $40 meal. We received our food and come to find out we had to eat on the floor for lack of a table. All I could think of was what would happen next. It was such a miserable trip. Between those two things that totally did me in. I have e-mailed and sent a regular letter to Disney regarding our Vacation. I sure hope they might do something to make up for this. I know you ask any 10 year old child if they want to go back to Disney, and more than likely they say "yes", but you ask my 10 year old and she says "No". There's definitely something wrong there, and that makes me terribly sad.

Disney seems nothing like it was when I was a child.

A.

Elizabeth,

I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. I just have a few comments:

First, as you pointed out the characters are very rarely seen out and about the parks anymore. Now, instead, characters are found at many specific areas with a very rigid schedule. You could have seen just about any character your kids would have wanted to see, but you have to look through the park's guide map, find the character locations, and get in line to see those characters in those locations. The older-style "improptu" character visits are just not possible anymore. For one thing, the crowds in the parks are often busier than in years gone by. Furthermore, people are much more pushy and impatient than ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago. It can be downright dangerous for characters to be in a mob of people, even though many of them are children -- especially when many of those children are being whipped into a frenzy by overly-excited parents and grandparents.

Second, you picked a horrid time to visit WDW! Other than Christmas week, no other time of year is as busy as 4th of July week (and especially this year, after the tragic events of last Fall).

Third, you decided to visit for just a single day, rather than several. If you'd had more time, you could have been less concerned when the crowds got bad. Instead, you could have spent more time in the early morning and later at night and skipped the mid-afternoon time when the park crowds are at their worst.

I hope you don't take my remarks as anything other than constructive criticism, since I'm not in any position to do anything other than, hopefully, help you plan better next time.

I'd suggest you read through my WDW Trip Planning Guide in detail, and especially those pages about when to go and how to plan your days in the parks.

I think a trip during a less busy time of year, with a bit more time put into your planning, will pay off with a fantastic visit!

-

Q.

Stephane writes: Hi Brian, Regarding weather in Orlando ( and I'm sure you've answered this before ), we went the first week of March, ( right before U.S. Spring Break ) and aside from one cold day, the weather was perfect ( always around 20-26 degrees Celsius ). The day we went to Universal Studios, the cab driver told us that the summer weather was just unbearably hot and humid. (Although if I look at the weather report today, we up here in Montreal are having a much more brutal summer than those in Orlando).

What I want to know is when is the weather comparable to March at other times of year in Orlando? (Or do you have any good web resources for "annual reports"). When is hurricane season again? (Not that Orlando gets much, but I'd like to also avoid the "higher rain" period if possible).

My next "For Sure" trip is in March of 2004 (so there's no need for weather info there ), but I'm seeing what I can do about getting another little trip in between there… two years is a loooong time for a Disney fanatic ;)

Thanks again! Love your site!

A.

Stephane,

This page answers your questions.

Don't forget that my WDW Trip Planning Guide has a great sitemap that you really should look over. There's a ton of information there, you just have to do a bit of surfing to read it all.

I think you'll find that all of your visits will be better if you read through and consider my comments. By no means are all of my suggestions right for every WDW visitor, but just seeing what I suggest may help you consider how you want to do things your way.

-

Q.

Mark writes: Hi Brian, I've been checking into this great site every couple days since we booked our trip to WDW last winter. It has really helped with planning. We leave in two weeks and wondered about two items.

First what has been happening unofficially with the park hours? Do Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom open right at 9:00am or has there been some other earlier time they don't let the public know about?

Next, by luck, without knowing, two members of our party made Priority Seating reservations for Cinderella's breakfast, one on the first morning we are there (Monday @ 9:10am) and the other the last day we are there (Friday @8:25am). We have been discussing the merits of both but can only choose one. We would like to hear a Disney veteran's advice.

We have two children a boy 7 years old and a girl 4 years old who have never been to WDW. Are Monday's too wild or should they get the characters thing out of their system. To complicate matters we are going to Chef Mickey's for dinner on the Wednesday and then to Epcot for Illuminations. Where would you park for that Wednesday? (we are staying off-site)

I know these are small things, so any advice you or the readers could give would be appreciated.

A.

Mark,

I'm glad you've been finding MousePlanet to be helpful!

The most recent reports have park hours following the Summer plan fairly closely. On any given day you may be allowed into the park to enjoy Main Street, Oasis, etc. but rope drops have been fairly close to posted opening times.

I don't think there's a strong reason for choosing either priority seating for Cinderella's Royal Table. Monday would be fun just to start out the trip with a bang, Friday would be fun to end it the same way. Friday would be a bit preferred because it's a bit earlier. I'd suggest you just weight those issues, consider the attitudes and excitement level of your kids (and you) and go from there.

I don't know what your plans are for earlier in the day on Wednesday, but based just on what you've told me (that you're staying offsite, going to dinner at the Contemporary, and going to IllumiNations later that night), I'd suggest you park at Epcot, do whatever you want to do throughout the day, go over to Chef Mickey's for dinner, the hop the monorail back to the park for the balance of the evening.

At least that's what I would do given those circumstances.

-

Q.

Kyle asks: Hi Brian, The family is taking a trip to WDW in early August and we had a question for you. It is our understanding that breakfast at Tony's on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom is no longer served...is this correct? If so, where can we get the wonderful cinnamon rolls from our favorite WDW breakfast spot?

A.

Kyle,

Tony's, during the late Summer and Fall, will be serving a pre-plated character breakfast (Pooh and friends) to temporarily replace the Crystal Palace while that restaurant is being refurbished.

I don't know exactly what is being served at that meal, but perhaps your rolls will still be available. I'd suggest you go to the restaurant and ask your question some morning. Perhaps those rolls are available elsewhere on property... maybe even at the bakery down the street.

-

Q.

Angie writes: Brian, I've just discovered this site and hope to find lots of helpful information here. My main question is regarding our room rates.

We will be in WDW in May 2003 and want to stay in the Polynesian. How do we go about getting the absolute cheapest rates. We really want a lagoon view. Do we have to wait to make reservations? Can we make them now with whatever discounts such as AmEx that we can get, and then hope for some further discount closer to the trip?

Please help because we are going to need two rooms for a six night stay and need to get it as low as possible. Thank you.

Also, "Mr. too much info" writes: Hey Brian Love your site WE are planning a trip to Disneyworld in January 2003. I am wanting to make reservations soon but I am worried about getting the best deal possible by booking too early. I have read many articles about reserving rooms early then calling back and making a better deals using codes, manager specials, upgrades, Disney Club, American Express and such. Need you advice on this subject as the more I read the more confusing I seem to get. Any advice would be extremely helpful.

A.

For both of you,

I'd suggest you look over the discounts discussion on this page. It covers a lot of the issues around getting the best possible deal.

I'd also suggest you look over Mike Scopa's piece on that topic.

MouseSavers.com at http://www.mousesavers.com is an excellent resource, too.

Angie, to answer your specific question, though, I would do as you proposed and book the room at the best possible rate you can get now, then continue to work the issue by finding other deals.

Mr. Too Much Info, Unfortunately, there are only two answers to your problem (assuming that money is a consideration in your trip planning). Either you "bone-up" and get very knowledgeable about the various programs and discounts so you can choose the best deal for you, or else you go to a knowledgeable travel agent and trust that he or she knows what their doing. If you decide to do the former, I'd suggest MouseSavers.com at http://www.mousesavers.com as an excellent resource for learning what the various savings options are.

-

Q.

Kevin asks: Hi Brian, my wife Michelle and I are going to fly out for five hot and humid days in Florida (we know, August sucks, but it's the only time that works). Anyway, your trip planning stuff is great for almost all of my questions, except for one:

Doesn't Disney have any MCO-WDW transportation?

The answer seems to be no, since you spend time talking about LIncoln Town Car and Mears Shuttle etc. I would have hoped Disney had a free shuttle/bus from MCO to WDW property. any clues?

A.

Kevin,

No, WDW does not provide a shuttle. Disney Travel actually contracts through some of those providers that are on my pages, including Mears, to provide transportation even for their own package deals.

The town car services cost a bit more, but get the best word-of-mouth, too. I'd strongly suggest you consider Lee Lincoln's outfit, as he seems to be a very customer-oriented operator/owner.

-

Q.

Joe writes: Hi Brian. I love your site! Keep up the good work!

As a fellow DVC member, I remember reading a few months back about DVC's plans to build two new resorts, one at Eagle Pines and the other on the spot of the Disney Institute. However I haven't heard much about them since, especially Eagle Pines. Do you have any information on the status of the two resorts? Thanks Brian!

A.

The new resorts, as you pointed out, have been publicly announced. When it was originally announced, the Eagle Pines resort (not yet named) was planned for completion in 2004. No completion date for the Disney Institute facilities were mentioned.

So, you know about as much as I do. :)

-

Q.

Alene writes: Need to see the prices of tickets, price of rooms or packages you may offer for a family of four out of O'Hare. This will be my boy's first trip and my second. I think I can be there in three years, so please show the price of food, rooms, tickets, drinks, toys, pictures.

A.

Alene,

In MousePlanet's WDW Trip Planning Guide you'll find all kinds of information on planning a trip to Walt Disney World. There's information there on the resort hotels (including room rates), parks (including admission media), and all other aspects of planning a trip down to see the Mouse.

This page provides a great overview of the ammenities and services offered at the various WDW resorts, as well as "rack rate" room prices. I'd suggest you start there.

MousePlanet doesn't offer package deals directly, but if you contact a travel agent, you can certainly find packages offered by Disney directly as well as by airlines and other wholesalers.

Here's a link to a page that you may find helpful as you sort through the various options of admission media, including prices.

Finally, this page provides a good overview for budgeting any trip.

If, after you'd surfed through those pages, there are specific questions you don't have answers to, let me know and I'll be happy to help as best I can.

Q.

Laurie writes: Dear Brian, I didn't realize you aren't paid for your work on Mouseplanet. What a lot of work for you. I noticed after reading your notes the Amazon honor pay system for the first time. Is this new? I was happy to send a contribution. Small price to help keep you guys in business.

Thanks for posting my trip report. I really appreciate it.

Can you tell me how Valet parking works for DVC members? We are staying at BWV next week. I thought I read somewhere that DVC members don't pay for valet. But if we do pay do you still tip the guy? How much?

Thanks again for all your work.

A.

Laurie,

We added the Amazon Honor Pay System (an example link is right at the bottom of this page) last Fall. It's even generated some money for us (of course, each penny has gone into server fees thus far). Personally, I really appreciate that you took the time and was willing to share some of your own money to help us out. Thanks!

Thanks, too, for your trip report. You're thanking me for posting it... but I thank you for sending it! There are a lot of people that have enjoyed the trip report archive over the years and I really appreciate those folks, like you, that have contributed to it.

DVC members that are actually staying at the Boardwalk do, indeed, receive free valet parking (the same is true at Wilderness Lodge for DVC members staying there, and I would presume that the pattern holds true at the Beach Club Villas, too). All DVC members staying elsewhere have to pay the regular valet fees of $6.00 per vehicle per day.

A tip of a couple of dollars is traditional when you pick up the car. You can always adjust that tip up or down depending on the service you feel you received, but a two dollar tip is considered minimal for general circumstances.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the reader feedback for the WDW Trip Planning Guide!  Feed free to send more questions or comments to brian@mouseplanet.com!

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More

Brian Bennett's Disney Trip Planner


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

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

Brian's Archive - Contents

I've always gotten email about the WDW Trip Planning Guide, but since we added the feedback form to the site several months ago, the number of questions has increased dramatically!  I do my best to answer each and every question personally, but I've noticed that a lot of the questions are asked again and again.  The question that one person asks might very well be the question that someone else is wondering about.  Thus this page!

So...I'll post reader email and feedback every once in a while, because the question someone else asks might be the same one you're thinking about yourself!

 

Go to: Top | Section Contents | MousePlanet Main Page

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

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