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information is now out of date, but that was correct as of
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 todays update and I have a few comments.
- 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 cant 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 didnt
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
- 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 havent thought of.
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Thanks. That definately rings a bell. Do you know when the
Grosvenor changed names? (In follow-up email, neither knew
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
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, Ive 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. Im 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
- Doubletree Guest Suites Resort, used to be the Pickett
- 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.
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
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.
back to our regularly scheduled email...