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

8/5/02

-

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...

Ryan shares this update from his recent visit to Walt Disney World: Hi Brian, We returned from our trip to WDW that spanned from July 14-20. We stayed at the Polynesian Resort.

We decided to take your advice and see the parks a little bit at a time. We went to E-ride Nights twice, and it was a blessing. We went on Splash Mountain three times in a row both nights with no wait. We also went on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority and Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin several times in a row as well. It was nice not having to negotiate your way around thousands of people. But, I think the nicest thing about it was being able to go look down Main Street and see the Castle lit up with no one going down the street.

In regards to comments about the state of the parks, our family found them very clean and well maintained. When we went, that was the week that the Substation at Epcot caught on fire, and because of this the Studios was at nearly full capacity it seems like. The rudeness of some people still gets to me though.

I enjoy your section of MousePlanet very much. Keep up the good work.

Ryan,

Thanks so much for your kind words... and your update!

Iris asks: Hi Brian, We're planning a trip to WDW in September and checked out the park hours for the Magic Kingdom. On most of those days, the park closes at 6:00p.m. Why does it close so early? Disneyland is always open until at least 9:00p.m. year round.

Keep up the good work.

Iris,

You may have stumbled into that part of September when the Magic Kingdom hosts the "Night of Joy" special events. That is scheduled for September 6th and 7th this year at the Magic Kingdom.

Also, you must keep in mind that WDW has so much more capacity than Disneyland does (with four parks, two water parks, and other attractions such as the miniature golf courses and so on), that the bean counters might be justified in closing down some of that capacity depending on crowd levels and patterns.

Ken writes: Brian, in a previous Notes From the World, Sam shared,

"[Disney's phone rep] said that early entry was unpopular with guests and the character caravan was something requested by the guests!"

WHAT??? Sam may be inadvertently twisting the words around (remember the childhood game "telephone"), but more likely the Disney dial-a-flacks are being compelled to out and out LIE to people. What ridiculous manipulation of survey questions and answers must they be doing to turn an absurd statement like that into "the truth"???

Early Entry unpopular? Are those executives indulging in pixie dust of a more illicit sort?

Thanks for your note, Ken. We may never know the answer, though.

Steve also writes on the topic of cutbacks at WDW: Hi Brian, just to respond to the ongoing discussion about upkeep and cutbacks at WDW. We just got back from two weeks at WDW. We spent six nights at the Wilderness Lodge (our first and last time there), and eight nights at Old Key West Resort (our home resort). We have been doing a two week trip in the summer every year for over ten years, and this was overall, the worst experience we have had.

The biggest complaints from our group of six was that all the thermostats on the property are turned up. We used to be able to go into any shop, restaurant, or ride to cool off from the intense summer heat. Many of the shops and restaurants, especially World Showcase, were not much cooler than the humid outdoors. Some felt like they had no air conditioning at all! I first noticed this trend last year, but this year seemed even worse. How short sighted is it not to keep a store air conditioned in the summer! We definitely spent less time in the shops this year (and as a result spent less money). Canada, Germany, and Italy were the worst.

Another complaint was that so many of the stores now offer the same merchandise as everywhere else. This is especially noticeable in the resort shops (with the exception of Animal Kingdom Lodge). Even the World of Disney store carries the same things you can find everywhere else. We couldn't even find a decent variety of postcards like we have in the past. We also felt that many of the World Showcase shops had less of the unique merchandise that they have had in the past. We also noticed a few more closed shops (the carpet store in Morocco, and the wine shop in France.) The shop at American Adventure used to have unique things as well and now is mainly a T-shirt shop. I was disappointed to see much of the flavor of World Showcase diluted by making the shops carry less unique items. It's not like there are a lot of rides there to keep you occupied. It is supposed to be a shopping and dining park, but now with no air conditioning and less interesting shops, why bother?

Another problem we had was transportation. Wilderness Lodge was a joke. Every bus had to also service the campground. We often were shoved on a bus with people paying $40 a night, while some of us were paying a few hundred. I don't mean this as negative to the campers (I also enjoy camping), but a deluxe hotel as remote as Wilderness Lodge should not have to go out of their way to a campground to get to the parks. Some buses go to the Pioneer Hall area, while other buses go to the main campground bus stop near the Bonnet Creek Golf Club.

Old Key West Resort buses were better, definitely not as crowded, but we often had 30 minute waits for a bus. Never have had that experience before during all of our trips to Old Key West Resort.

Other cutbacks we noticed were less people staffing attractions (Country Bears, Circle of Life, Food Rocks, etc. all used to have someone inside the auditorium with you, giving directions. Now you hear a voice over the loudspeaker). No big deal, but definitely a cutback in customer relations.

Bathroom maintenance was hit and miss. Some were spotless as in the past, others were filthy. Urine splatters around urinals, and overflowing trash cans used to be unheard of at WDW. We had two rooms at the Wilderness Lodge and both rooms had battered furniture that needed refinishing. We also noticed battered doors in the lobby rest room and the largest cobwebs I have ever seen on the ceiling rafters. All these things are normal wear and tear, but used to be taken care of sooner.

Last, but not least, is the replacement of butter with "butterine" and margarine. How penny pinching is that? We asked for butter instead of margarine or "butterine" and were told there wasn't any. When we explained how we don't eat margarine, we were told that it was better for us and that is why Disney replaced butter with "butterine"! Not only don't I need Disney telling me what is healthy, but they seem to forget that they have served butter for 30 years. Also, butter is a natural fat, while margarine is chemically altered oil. The main reason we don't use margarine is due to allergies. Fortunately, some of the table service places still serve butter, but not all of them.

We had a good trip, but it was definitely not the same level of service we are used to at WDW. We all had the feeling of being nickeled and dimed by Disney. I am writing a similar letter to Disney and enclosing a few nickels and dimes to make that point.

Thanks for letting me share, Brian. I apologize for being so long winded.

I wish I could write and say that you're all wet, Steve... But I've noticed the exact same deterioration.

And Robert adds this additional information: Brian, Great web site!

We are planning to arrive in mid-August, and stay for 12 nights. We had planned on early check-in at the All-Star Sports, then head over to 8:00a.m. Mass at Luau Cove in the Polynesian Resort. On Sunday, we were again planning on going to 8:00a.m. Mass, and then to a 9:20a.m. character breakfast at 'Ohana.

However, a few day ago, we called WDW to get more details on early check-in, and mentioned to the gentleman on the phone about going to 8:00a.m. Mass. He told us that it has been discontinued! Only the 10:15a.m. Mass is now available!

With all of the other cutbacks. the most disappointing being the elimination of Early Entry days and the non-opening of River Country, this really has us ticked off! Of course, there is no corresponding decrease in prices to go along with the decrease in services/options. We now must change our itinerary around for both of those Sundays. Thanks again, WDW!

I have expressed my displeasure with WDW via e-mail and my travel agent. As you might guess, this has not gained us anything.

Thanks for the note, Robert.

Debbee asked about the cutback in package delivery service at the resorts: Brian, I noticed in your mail bag column of July 29th that someone mentioned that package delivery was no longer available. PLEASE tell me this isn't so. My kids and I love to shop, and the thought of toting around bags and stuffed animals all day is scaring me.

Thanks for all your hard work.

Debbee,

Package delivery services is available for all on-site resorts, but at the deluxe resorts -- where packages used to be delivered right to your room -- now have delivery service only to a central location at the resort (either the front desk, guest relations, or the main shop depending on the resort).

In any case, you won't have to tote things around the parks or Downtown Disney... but you'll have to retrieve your goods and tote them to your room yourself.

I also got a couple of notes about Elizabeth's bad day at the Magic Kingdom that was mentioned in last week's Notes From the World...

Rich writes: Dear Brian, Once again, last week's column was a fountain of knowledge. MousePlanet has certainly helped me with preparations for our December WDW trip. Keep up the good work.

I wanted to comment on Elizabeth's letter -- the one where she says she had a horrible time at WDW on July 2nd. I agree with your comments on the time she went. Did she expect low attendance during that period of time? Frankly, I wouldn't have waited an hour in line for a $40 lunch when I could've gone to any other of the dozen or so eateries at the park, or somewhere out in the resorts. Personally, I don't believe she had any reason to complain. It's people like Elizabeth who really give WDW the bad name that some perceive.

As for her comments on how Disney is not like it was when she was a kid, well, people and places change. Or, your perceptions of what the park was like change. When you're little your view of the world is a lot different than the view you have as a responsible adult and family member.

Just my two cents.

And Dana added a bunch of insights: Dear Brian, I wanted to quickly respond to Elizabeth's poor experience with character sightings during her day trip to the Magic Kingdom. I was so sorry that she had such a bad experience and I truly hope she gives it another chance.

My daughter (age 7) and I were at WDW during the middle of June. We stayed 6 nights, but only spent four days in the parks. During that time we accumulated 26 autographs, 16 of which were gotten in one full (two 1/2 days) day at the Magic Kingdom! Both days we arrived early!! On our first day we had 8:10a.m. reservations at the Crystal Palace for a character breakfast, we got our first three autographs there (Pooh, Eeyore and Tigger). After leaving the Crystal Palace we made our way to the castle to stand behind the rope into Fantasyland and there was the MOUSE himself ( I got a great picture with MM and my daughter right in front of the castle with almost no one around), so that added another autograph. After rope drop and a couple of rides we proceeded to the Winnie the Pooh ride and there was TIGGER himself waiting in the car my daughter and I were getting into. Although we didn't need to get his autograph, we got several pictures and got to ride the entire ride with Tigger!! We stood in line for about 15 minutes and got Ariel's autograph (now at 5 autographs). After ToonTown fair opened, we rode a few rides and then got in the autograph line for Cinderella and two of the mice, which took about 15 minutes (now at 8 autographs). After finishing up ToonTown we moved over to the train station to ride over to Frontierland. While we were waiting for the train, we looked up and out of the fence poured a dozen characters!!! (Note that there were only about 8 people standing around. The characters were interacting with themselves). During that time we got six more autographs (and about 9 pictures)--the autographs included Pinocchio, Capt. Hook, Baloo the Bear, Tweedle Dee, the white rabbit and Rafiki!! (There were several more character there including several from Robin Hood, but the train pulled up)(Now at 14 autographs) After around 12 o'clock we left and didn't come back until the next day. The next day we were once again early, and got through the turnstiles at about 8:45. Before you walked down Main Street, however, there were at least 5 different characters out signing and posing. We stood in a 5 minute line and got Jasmine and Aladdin's autograph (now at 16!!) but there was also Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland (plus maybe a couple of more, I can't remember). Even after waiting for Jasmine and Aladdin we still were at the Adventureland rope before it was dropped.

I just wanted to give everyone else (including Elizabeth) hope and encouragement that a truly MAGICAL day can still happen at the Magic Kingdom. Even if we hadn't been collecting autographs we were able to experience some great character interaction. Disney World made a lifelong fan out of me during my stay and I am already planning my next trip.

Here are a few additional tips that worked for me regarding character sightings:

  • At the end of Cinderella's Surprise Celebration (the castle forecourt stage) many of the costumed characters come out and interact with the crowds (including Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto).
  • Book a character meal. We also went to Chef Mickey's and it was great!! Since several of the hotels host their own meals, you don't have to pay park admission to see characters!!
  • Get there early!!! There are lots of characters out early in the day (I even had one person tell me that they got to ride the Carousel with Belle!)
  • Try the character lines, they generally aren't too bad if you're early. Especially the lines in ToonTown, as you get three characters in each line.
  • Watch out for the Character bus in Epcot, it pulled up and unloaded right in front of Spaceship earth at about 9:10 in the morning.

I'm sure there are lots of other tips, but these were a few that really stand out in my mind.

Love your site and I really enjoy reading about other people's points of views.

Did I say that this was going to be a "quick" comment?? Sorry!!

Love your site.

And finally, Bob wrote: Regarding the letter in your 7/29 column and the writer complaining of lack of character sightings.

First, imagine that it's 90 degrees and 80 % humidity. How long could she stand outside covered with fur & nylon and a giant head piece.

Second, in May we would see a least one character in front of the Frontierland train station all day long. If you were there for more than 10-15 minutes, someone came out.

Third, in the evening; around 5-6:00p.m. the area in front of the castle had 4-8 characters at any given time. Last, MGM was the bee hive of character sightings; with a least 1-2 up to 8-9 from about 11:00a.m. until around 4:30-5:00p.m. Princesses, heroes, villains & everybody.

Moving along, Dean shares this observation: Hi Brian! I just read your July 29th Reader Feedback column and your response to 'Mark' caught my eye. After saying that they were staying offsite, he asked where he should park if his family were going to Chef Mickey's for dinner and then ending the day at Epcot with Illuminations. You advised parking at Epcot and then after dinner at the Contemporary, hopping the monorail back to Epcot.

Ummmm - based on their other plans, it does seem very likely that they'll have park hopper passes. But a caution might be in order for others staying offsite and with just single day tickets. Isn't it still true that to use Disney transportation (like the busses or monorails), you have to be either staying on property, or have park hopper passes?

Good point, Dean. I made the assumption that Mark and his party had park hoppers, but if my assumption is wrong, so is my answer. Thanks for catching that!

Sue comments on a couple of things from last weeks column: Hi Brian, just a couple of comments from this week's reader's column.

First, a single rider's line is available at Spiderman at IOA. It is just off to the left of the main entrance.

Second, I have never had any problems riding up front in the monorails. I've ridden in the cab from the Magic Kingdom to the Transportation and Ticket Center, from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom, and from the TTC to Epcot and back again. I was at the Magic Kingdom yesterday and all monorails pulling into the station had people riding up front. You can always ask. The only time I was told I couldn't do it was when the monorail was being driven by someone who was in training.

Third, there is now a princess character breakfast available at Norway at Epcot for a limited time...

Keep up the good work!

Thanks for the note, Sue. I mentioned the Princess Storybook Breakfast in the 7/22 Notes From the World. :)

Also, I've had very similar experiences in riding up front on the monorails.

While we're on topic of single rider lines at Universal Studios, Jim provided this information: Brian, I've been reading your site for some time now - thanks for all your dedication to helping people out regarding the Disney experience! I live in Central Florida and while I get to enjoy WDW in a way many others don't, I always learn something new from you and the MousePlanet readers that I didn't know. I wanted to comment on a recent email regarding single rider lines at Universal Orlando.

In a previous email, Mark stated:

"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 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."

To respond: Depending on the park capacity, there are several attractions in IOA that have single rider lines - as just stated, these are opened/closed depending on how many guests are in the park and/or using a particular attraction. Spiderman, Dr. Doom, and Ripsaw Falls all have a single rider line at various times, and I can tell you from experience that the Spiderman single rider line really reduces your wait time - I have been on in as little as 5 minutes and never longer than 20 minutes. The Dr. Doom single rider line is not as well executed as it could be (it can be hard to find and is laid out quite strangely) but overall works very well if you don't mind splitting up. The single rider line at Ripsaw Falls does not run as often as the other singles lines, but it is open periodically.

Hope this helps - keep up the great work!

Lakeland Florida, huh? Spring home of my beloved Detroit Tigers. I just wish they could win some games like they did back in the glory days of 1984. :)

Anyway, thanks for the update Jim. I'll share that in the column ASAP.

Rob writes: Brian, Our local travel agent had a Disney Travel presentation with the Disney Travel Company Rep who works out of Grand Rapids, MI. I was asking her about the potential pricing differences after her "show and tell", and she told me that there was some uncertainty around the annual pass system at this time, and that specifically they were looking at changing it to a calendar year basis instead of the "one year from first use" as it is today.

I called the local Disney Store (in Saginaw, where they know me almost too well), and talked to them for AP pricing with the Disney Club, and they had not heard of anything like that. I am not sure how to the the Walt Disney Travel consultant, since I know she sells "packages", and annual pass holders book through the Central Reservation Center, and the travel company does not get a cut of that "but my travel agent still does). I have asked my travel agent to ask around on this for me.

Another issue... My wife is into scrapbooking (big time), and we even added on to our house for a "guest room/den" or for a scrapbooking room. We live in Midland, and when my wife ordered something from MouseMemories a few months ago, she noticed it was shipped from Saginaw. Just curious.

Rob,

My wife, Barb, and I live in Hemlock, Michigan now. (We just moved here from Saginaw township last Summer when our spare room got too small for MouseMemories). :)

I know by experience if you go into the Disney store at Fashion Square Mall that they can pull out a ring binder with all of the ticket prices. Disney Club prices for Annual Passes are available... but you may have to ask for a manager.

I hope that the news about Annual Passes going to a calendar year setup is just a bad rumor. Personally, it would put a big crimp into my trip planning habits.

Finally, there were several emails that I bounced back and forth from Tim on the issue of service by the Guest Relations folks at WDW and perks at the parks: Brian, I am writing concerning the handling of customer complaints by guest relations. First let me say, as Americans, that no matter how the complaints are handled, that some people will never be satisfied.

I have visited WDW several times (4 since '96) and had never been driven to complain till this year (mid-June 2002). I first emailed my concerns to Guest Relations and got the immediate response- "we have received your email and will respond soon". I then got a personal email saying, "thank you for taking the time to write", and that I would be contacted within 2 weeks. I then received a phone call (on my answering machine) from a Disney rep asking for a copy of my hopper passes to verify the dates for my concerns. I sent it in and then received a phone call from her, thanking me again, answering a couple of brief questions of mine, apologizing for the problems I experienced, and informing me of how they are going to try to rectify the situation.

So, all in all I was quite satisfied with the results, even though we had problems on our visit. I was assured the matter had been looked into, and that steps were taken. I prefer this greatly to receiving some type of written correspondence. I do hope that our next visit will be problem free, but if it is not I will complain to them again and probably not visit for a long time.

On another note concerning the on-sight "perks"; I understand that when a benefit is removed it will anger frequent park goers. Part of the reason for many to stay at an overpriced WDW hotel has been the perks, to justify the extra cost. However, in these economic times, the gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots" has widened considerably. Consider the lower income family who forgo things so that they can take their kids to WDW for a rare treat. I am lucky enough to pay for our trips within 3 months of travel, but I am sure there are many who cannot. Then imagine how they must feel seeing or hearing about the special treatment afforded to the affluent Disney-goers. Early entry, discounts, special viewing areas, etc.,..... these are the types of things that can cause anger and frustration among the working poor. I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that earlier opening times (as it once was) would certainly ease some of the tension, especially during peak crowds times.

Thanks for a great site and keep up the great work!

PS our 5-day visit including air from PA totaled $2500 for 2 adults and 1 child (air, car rental, 4-day hoppers, comfort suites, meals, and the Luau!)

Tim,

Thanks for sharing your experience with guest relations. I'm glad they were able to respond in a way that satisfied your concerns.

Regarding your ideas about perks... I don't really have a problem with perks being provided to folks that are paying for them. As a consumer, I have the option of choosing to pay for those extras or not. Just eliminating them because some folks may not be able, or may not want, to have them screams of socialism, don't you think? :)

I'll leave the social engineering to others. I just want the appropriate value for the money I spend on my vacation -- whether it be to Walt Disney World, or some other vacation destination.

Tim replied back: Brian, Wow what a quick reply from you!

I pretty much agree with what you are saying about value received with regard to vacation spending. I think that those who can afford to stay at the luxury WDW hotels should be rewarded accordingly at the hotels. However, at the theme parks we are all "in it together", and to reward the bigger spenders in front of the ones who really struggle to be there, can be a bit disheartening. I fall in the middle of the income bracket, so I can see things from both sides. I also work with several low-income workers with small children who may never set foot in WDW, so I can relate to their dilemma. Hey, we all work pretty hard to be able to afford nice vacations, and I have no problem with enjoying the good things in life.

Here is an example of what I truly meant: From several letters on your site and observations I have made, the "special viewing area" at Epcot seemed to cause more problems than it was worth. The guests comments generally ran toward the negative concerning their reaction to it. Things like that tend to offend more people than help. Those areas could be for handicapped children and their parents or guardians who struggle to take care of them. This way more people would benefit in the long run, IMHO! Cast members "guarding the rope" were bombarded with people wondering why they couldn't go in.

I think the Annual Passholder lounge is a great idea. Only Annual Passholders know about it and it works out well for them. I also think that E-ride nights are a great idea too. It is generally much more enjoyable in the Magic Kingdom after the sun goes down anyway.

The ton of complaints about the loss of early entry appears to be compounded by slashed open hours. I really feel that the reduction of theme park operating times has been a huge mistake, and the cause of much frustration on the part of park goers. (One of my fondest childhood memories was waiting at the rope drop at 7:45a.m., on Main Street in Disneyland, followed by the jog to the Matterhorn.) You also lose that early hour of cooler temperatures by opening later in the summer. Yes it costs Disney more for longer hours, but they also rake in more shopping and dining dollars at the same time. ($2.50 for water???)

Finally let me say that I am not into the socialist way of life, I just feel that all who go to the Disney THEME PARKS, should be afforded the same opportunity to enjoy them. This also does not mean that on-sight deluxe hotel guests shouldn't be rewarded with perks. By the way, our next visit will most likely be at the Wilderness Lodge or Animal Kingdom Lodge (when we can get the special mouse saver rate) so I do plan on enjoying all they have to offer!

Thanks again for the quick and candid reply, and I look forward to more Disney news!

PS When the (expletive deleted) do you have time to work your regular job?????

Tim,

I understand your points... but if Disney ever decided to offer a "premium" admission media (that, for example, provided unlimited Fastpass or some such perk), that would be another example of something that one can choose to buy or not.

The same is true for special viewing areas... those folks that choose to use the services (AAA, perhaps) or buy into a membership (Disney Club, for example) get the perks. Others do not. I guess I still don't see that as a problem. If someone is ignorant, then they need to do more homework, but to simply conclude that everyone should be given access to any given perk just because (or that everyone should be forbidden access to that same perk)... well, we'll have to agree to disagree on that. :)

and finally, Tim wrapped up our e-conversation with the following note: Brian, It's funny you should mention AAA and Disney club, because I have both and enjoy their benefits! I also used early entry on other visits to WDW and enjoyed them also, so I am not as anti-perk as I come off to be.

When I did use early entry, it didn't seem that big a deal at the time... like it really wasn't a huge difference. The one point I was making was that the hour of operation cutbacks combined with the loss of early entry compounded guest anger on the subject.

Would you agree that longer park operating hours would be in everyone's best interest? I agree fully that people who can afford to spend more should reap the benefits of life. For example I just went to the PA 500 Nascar race, and from the bleachers you can see the expensive suite "club" boxes, with prices ranging from $200-$250 per person. I have no problem with that type of deal-it's just way out of my league! I have no problem with benefits that people pay extra for.

On another subject- one item I told to WDW Guest Relations concerned the Fantasyland "stroller-hell" in the mid-afternoon. I told them it was nearly impossible to move on a busy day, and that our ankles were sore from the double-stroller bashings we received. I know you always recommend "down-time" at that time of day. Anyway, I thought that cast members should be there to keep the flow moving, especially in front of Peter Pan. Any thoughts? (By the way, we rode the carousel and Small World then got out!)

One final note. I did mention to Guest Relations that the best day ever spent in Magic Kingdom was on the night we attended Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. We paid $75 (2 adult 1 child) to get in and enjoyed every minute that evening. Maybe they could "invent" reasons to have these kind of special nights at other times of the year besides Halloween and Christmas! Thanks again for the feedback, maybe I need to reexamine my thinking.

Tim,

I like your idea of having some CMs around in congested areas to help move traffic along. Like you said, though, I'm rarely in the parks at that time of day -- and, at least in part, for that very reason!

On the idea of having special nights outside of the holiday times, you're in luck! The E-Ride Nights were designed just for that very purpose. :)

(Of course, you already mentioned them, so you're already aware that the option of buying more time in the park after it closes early is already available to those that choose to pay a premium price.)

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

Q.

Curtis asks: Brian; The family is planning our 3rd Disney trip, but we have a dilemma as to when to go. Living here in MA we have the week of Patriots day (4/21-4/25) as a school break. We have read that the weeks bracketing Easter are very busy. But we also have read that the last week of April shows average attendance levels. Given the fact that Easter is 4/20 which one of these two would be the case for crowd levels?

We plan on traveling on 4/19 and arriving on 4/20 so we would miss the busy weekend. Also would this week conflict with any Florida school vacations? We were thinking of having the kids miss the 24th and 25th of school so it would give us 7 days in the park.

Another option would be to go the week of Columbus Day. This would mean that the kids would miss 3 days of school but worth it because the crowd levels would be low. Do you think that having 7 days in the park in April would allow us to do as much as we can in October? Our last visit was February 5-10 of 2001 and the crowds were so low we had time to do many rides several times. Although we realize that we may not have the same luck with the crowds as we did in 2001, we want to spend more time in the magical place we all love.

Thank you for your time.

A.

Curtis,

The weeks bracketing Easter are always busy ones as various school systems throughout the United States frequently schedule their vacation breaks during one of those two weeks. Whatever information you have that shows that the last week of April is less busy would be true in any year that Easter is in March or early April... but that is not the case in 2003, as you pointed out.

If I was planning a single trip in 2003, I would be very strongly in favor of making that trip in October. Besides the crowd level issue, I think you'd find that the weather in October is a bit cooler and less humid, so spending long hours in the parks is much more pleasant. Of course, the drawback is that park hours may be shortened during those less busy times, but as you know from your experience in February, that isn't necessarily a deal breaker. :)

-

Q.

Machelle writes: Brian, just wanted to thank you for a great web sight. This will be my first trip to WDW and boy I was so confused by everything that I heard. Your sight has cleared things up. I feel that Disney has done the right thing about Cinderella's breakfast. I was able to get the priority seating for the day I wanted. I had to get up at 3:56a.m. Pacific time. Again thank you.

A.

Machelle,

Thanks for your kind note. I'm glad you've found MousePlanet helpful as you plan... and I'm glad for you that you got your priority seating at Cinderella's Royal Table. I'm sure you'll enjoy it!

-

Q.

Christine asks: My family and I are taking a trip to Florida in early August. Any way, we made reservations at the Hoop Dee Doo Review like a 2 months before our trip to find out that people actually make them up to 2 years before. Do you have any idea what we would expect our seating to be? We haven't put a deposit down yet. It is due in a week. But with a family of 11 going there, I would hate to be seated with bad seats. Any suggestions?

A.

Christine,

When I last attended the Hoop Dee Doo, my family was seated front and center, just about in the most perfect seat in the house. Of course, I was one of those dweebs that made arrangements a LONG time in advance, so it's not a surprise that we got those good seats.

Having said that, though, I don't think there are any really bad seats at Pioneer Hall at all. Service at the tables was very uniform, and the sight lines from the main floor and balcony tables are good, too. The house is not a big one, so you don't have a big distance issue to deal with.

My own two cents is to plunk down the deposit and enjoy the show. :)

-

Q.

Jay writes: Hi, Great site - I check in every day. I'm planning a trip to WDW in Spring, '03. I e-mailed the company and asked for their ride rehab schedule for that time and they said all they could tell me is what's closed right now, as listed on their web site I'm thinking that they must plan these closings way ahead of time and that rehab schedules do exist now for next year. Any way you know that I can get that information sooner than it appears on the Disney web site? Thanks a lot.

A.

Jay,

Unfortunately, no, I'm at the mercy of the official Disney channels on that one.

-

Q.

Katie writes: I've just recently begun work at WDW in Orlando. Here are some random tidbits you may or may not give a flip about:

  • There's a "Hidden Mickey" in the ballroom scene in the Haunted Mansion at WDW. It's a plate with two saucers that's been there for years. However, it's not an official one. The Imagineers come in to check out the ride, they move the plates. As soon as they're gone, the cast members move them back.
  • Bill Clinton was the first president to lend his actual voice to the Hall of Presidents attraction. George W. Bush followed suit.
  • The drop in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is 10 feet.
  • Space Mountain at WDW doesn't exceed 27 miles per hour.
  • There's another hidden Mickey in the Jungle Cruise ride. It's in the temple. A large gold plate (where the cobras are) with two smaller gold plates above.
  • The lanterns at the end of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride have a hidden Mickey design on them. You have to really look, but you can see the design (at the base of the lamp) where the soldiers have been tied up and the pirates are covered in jewels.

A.

Thanks for the note, Katie! I'll share it in my column in the next few weeks.

-

Q.

Steve asks: Brian I almost forgot to ask you about this.... During our past trips to WDW, while having breakfast at the Tusker House in the Animal Kingdom, we noticed a sign above the dining area which had a schedule of things. One of these items was a hot air balloon flight over the safari area (or at least that's what it appears to be). Is this a real event? I've never seen it on any web sites so I am believing that the items on the sign are not real. If it is real, how does one make reservations for it. If it isn't real, how does one put a bug in Disney's hat to set up something like that for the customers?

A.

Steve,

To the best of my knowledge, there are no balloon rides provided by Disney over any of their parks. I think the sign you've mentioned is just part of the themeing of being in "Harambe" and near the "Kilimanjaro Wildlife Refuge."

I don't know how you would suggest that Disney actually do this other than contacting Guest Communications. Perhaps you can stop in at Guest Relations at the park next time you're at WDW?

-

Q.

Kim writes: Hi Brian, Like everyone else, I'd like to thank you for all the valuable information you provide and the effort and care you put in to this web site I have a question regarding admission upgrades. My husband and I purchased 7 Day Park Hopper Plus passes for our planned November trip. Since then, a 3 day trip opportunity for December has unexpectedly popped up. For this trip, we will be staying on property and would be purchasing Ultimate Park Hopper Passes. After doing the math, it will be more cost effective to have an Annual Pass to cover both trips. Can we easily upgrade from the 7 Day Park Hopper Plus to an Annual Pass? If so, do we just stop by and admission booth at one of the parks upon arrival? Thanks for your help.

A.

Kim,

The upgrade is very easy to handle. However, you don't do it at one of the standard ticket booths... but rather at Guest Communications either at one of the parks, Downtown Disney, or at one of the WDW resort hotels.

Q.

Jeannie writes: Dear Brian, I have never used LOS passes-well, here's my situation. I have been planning a non-park getaway for January at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. It occurred to me that I would not be able to resist the parks and was wondering if I could put my last night at Animal Kingdom Lodge on a separate reservation and include a length of stay pass with that one-night reservation. I'm guessing that they don't make LOS available on reservations of only a night. What do you think? Thanks for your help!

A.

Jeannie,

I bet they will. :)

You might also want to just buy a park hopper. You can always use up the unused portion for another trip or apply the unused value to new admission media.

Q.

And in a follow-up question, Jeannie wrote: Dear Brian, I think you're right about getting a hopper pass. I'm realizing that even with the great number of ticket options available, nothing quite suits my travel style. I've visited enough to not feel the need to go commando but I do like to drop by the parks from time to time. I don't visit often enough in a year, nor are my visits ever long enough in duration, nor do I have enough flexibility to schedule annual trips so that they may fall within the span of an Annual Pass, to warrant the purchase of an Annual Pass.

With the hoppers, however, I can't get over the feeling that I'm not getting my money's worth if I use it in so casual a manner-the penny pincher in me! Then there's the fear of losing a hopper in between annual trips (though I will be Xeroxing passes immediately upon receipt from now on).

I don't know if I'm conveying my dilemma well-I guess I'm just not sure if doing Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin in the morning, returning to the resort, golfing, renting water mice, what have you, and then returning to just do Test Track, dinner at Le Cellier and Illuminations in the evening is worth a day on a hopper.

Actually, I think I've more or less answered my own question - it IS worth it! For me, anyway. But if you know of a better solution, I'd love to hear it! Thanks for the advice and lending an ear!

A.

Jeannie,

I don't think I have any better suggestions for you. You certainly understand your own situation well. There are really only two options. One is to just plan on visiting more often to make that annual pass more worthwhile. The other is to just realize that you're paying a set price for the opportunity to do the parks YOUR way. There's nothing wrong with that, in my opinion.

-

Q.

Ellen writes: We're planning our first family trip (3 adults and 3 kids aged 13, 12 and 10) to WDW for early this December. We have made arrangements for the Land and Sea vacation so we will only be at the parks for four days. We are driving from Canada and are expecting to arrive mid afternoon the day before our reservation at the Caribbean Beach Resort.

We will be staying at an offsite hotel that first night in order to get to the parks bright and early on our first official day, after picking up our passes at the resort. My question is... what can we do on that first afternoon and evening to experience Disney but without the expense of having to purchase an additional pass and before checking into our resort?

A.

Ellen,

You could certainly visit Downtown Disney for awhile. Either of the water parks would be fun, too, depending on if you're going to visit either or both during the rest of your stay. Some time spent just visiting some of the other Disney resorts to enjoy the atmosphere would be fun, too.

-

Q.

Debra asks: Dear Brian, Thank you so much for all of the invaluable information you provide. The fact that you do this for free simply boggles the mind. I am planning on going to WDW with my husband and 2 children in late August through early September. I was hoping to take advantage of an E Ride Night during my stay. I have been calling WDW information almost daily to see if more E Ride Nights have been added, the last one they have listed is for August 23. I was told today that there will be no further E-Ride Nights for the remainder of August or September. Can you tell me if this is a usual situation. I thought E Ride nights were supposed to be for the slower times of the year when the parks close earlier. I thank you for all of your great information and will be forever in your debt for your expert advise.

A.

Debra,

E-Ride nights have only been around for a couple of years, so it's hard to say what would be a "usual situation." Last year, before the Fall cutbacks, E-Ride nights were available, as I recall, every month without exception. Since the cutbacks, there have been several stretches without any E-Ride nights at all.

In any case, the E-Ride schedule has been held close to the chest by the Disney folks, so there's still hope... but in any case, until and unless some dates are announced, I'd suggest you make alternative plans.

-

Q.

Diana writes: Hi Brian! I became obsessed with MousePlanet (It has providing me with great insights and lots of help in making decisions) when I started serious planning for my trip to WDW with my sister-in-law and her two kids, Billy age 10 and Maggie age 8. It is their first trip, my 3rd.

We decided to take the kids out of school, and I tried to select a "quiet" uncrowded time for our visit. We are all booked for our stay from 11/05 until 11/11-the first 3 nights at the Polynesian, the rest at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, and have purchased our plane tickets from Cleveland to Orlando.

I was horrified to discover while watching All My Children yesterday that the Soap Opera weekend is scheduled for 11/9 and 11/10. (I thought it would be the weekend after Halloween-11/2-11/3). I immediately tried to get more info and was doubly horrified to see a photo on MousePlanet showing the Studios crammed with rabid soap fans.

Here are my questions: Will the hordes of fans be confined pretty much to the Studios? Will most of them be booked into the same resort, and which one? How can we minimize our contact with the crowds? We were planning to hit the "monorail parks" the first three days, then the Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Blizzard Beach after moving to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Should we try to flip-flop our resort reservations? I would appreciate any advice you can offer! Thanks for all your good info, and I will try to write a trip report for you.

A.

Diana,

First of all, I have some unsolicited advice (but it's fair, since I work for free anyway). I would strongly suggest that you consider changing your plans so that you stay at the same resort for the whole trip. It's just a pain (and discombobulating) to move from one resort to another mid-trip... especially with kids.

Enough of the philosophy speech...

To answer your question, I would plan on spending some time earlier in the trip at the Studios. I would still spread my time around the other parks, but just put more emphasis on the Studios at first. Later, during the actual Soap weekend, you can stop over if you're curious, or just skip it altogether if you just want to avoid the crowds.

-

Q.

Jenny writes: Hello! In only 12 days we leave for The World! I stayed at AS Sports once, in Hoops, but am having trouble remembering much about the lay out of the resort. Here is my question:
  1. Can you please suggest a couple of buildings for me to fax in my room request?
  2. I do not care about being pool side, and I do NOT want to pay the extra $10 per night to be near the food court.
  3. BUT I would like to be closer than Hoops, which felt like a mile away from anything.
  4. Maybe something in the middle, or possible near the smaller pool?

A.

Jenny,

Regarding your question, this page is a resource. Buildings 1, 6, 7, and 10 (Surf's Up and Touchdown) are the closest buildings to Stadium Hall. Note that the smaller pool is at Home run Hotel, and those buildings (8 and 9) are easily as far away as the Hoops area.

-

Q.

A MousePlanet reader writes: Hi Brian: I am a big mouse planet fan and this is my 15th trip to Disney but 1st time I am able to stay in the World. I am staying at BC there are 5 rooms/12 people. Can you make a recommendation on what rooms I should request on my reservation? We go in about 2 weeks and I figure that we're collectively spending close to $20k on vacation packages and we should be able to get something. Any help would be most appreciated. (I will make sure I send you my trip report when I get back). Thanks.

A.

I don't have specific room numbers for you, but I would suggest that you ask for rooms that are as close as possible to the Epcot end of the building (to reduce walking to that park). You might want to ask for rooms near the quiet pool, if your group will use it (if Stormalong Bay is more suited, than being near the quiet pool isn't a big deal, of course.) Personally, I would ask for first floor rooms to avoid the stairs (there are several elevators in the resort, but they're not always convenient).

I'll be looking forward to that trip report, too. :)

-

Q.

Fred writes (to fellow MousePlaneteer Pat Edaburn): Hi Pat, While beginning my own research into the DVC I discovered your contribution to the MousePlanet web site. There is no better discovery than to find that someone else has already done the work for you :-)

I was surprised however, to see than none of the "Financial Analyses" introduce the possibility of renting DVC points to third parties. There are plenty of discussion boards and other sites dedicated to renting out DVC points, including Ebay. This had me wondering if it was possible to offset the cost of owning with DVC by renting out unused points. Your spreadsheets gave me the perfect opportunity to find out.

Your example of 200 points at Old Key West Resort results in a net cost per point of $13.56. Of course, to make money by renting points one would have to rent for more than $13.56 per point. Nowhere have I seen points being rented for this price, most often the price is in the $6-$10 per point range.

But may I offer a few twists? If we eliminate the need to finance the initial purchase of the points (i.e. eliminate interest costs) our net cost per point drops to $11.61. With a little planning it becomes much easier to rent points above this benchmark.

For example, there is a guy who sells 5-night stays at Old Key West Resort during the value season on Ebay. The 5-night stays are for Sunday-Thursday which according to the points calculators only cost him 40 points each. He has sold 11 of these 5-night stays between April 11 and July 14th at an average price of $500, a pretty good bargain for the buyer. This puts his price per point at $12.50, almost 90 cents above his cost. He is making money!

Certainly there are a lot reasons not to do what this guy is doing, who wants to buy into the DVC points just to rent out points? But it is interesting to think that someone like me, who might like to go to WDW every other year, can buy into DVC, use some points and rent out the rest in order to offset the costs. Over the long term the numbers make this plan look fantastic, potentially reducing the net cost of owning DVC to $0.00!!! (buying 150 points with no loan, using 140 points on the even years and renting out three 5-night stays at 40 points each for $500 on the odd years results in a net GAIN of about $400).

Have you heard of this before? Is there something I'm missing? I would love to hear your thoughts.

A.

Fred,

I know that you directed your note to Pat Edaburn, but I'll take the liberty to respond since you CCed me.

I don't think you're wrong, but I also think that the market for point rentals is softer than I ever would have expected. As more and more DVC resorts are built on site, it seems to degrade, too. You might want to consider than in your planning.

Another truism is that most DVC owners get their points, make their plans, and start to realize that they wish they had MORE points. If you get hooked like that, you'll end up spending more and having even fewer points to rent out. I suppose it will come down to personal discipline vs. the vacation. :) (For the record, I've added-on twice since my initial purchase.)

Q.

And in a follow-up, Fred writes: Brian, I have heard from other DVC members who all agree with you. It is tough to find anyone who does not wish they had more points. The very fact that not many people are doing what I have mentioned is proof of that. I certainly feel that not being able to use points is not something that I would have to consider. However, for someone like me who considers dollars and cents to be the most important consideration it is reassuring to think that making some money back by renting out points COULD be done, with discipline as you mentioned.

I agree that the market for renting will decrease through time, but that in fact works in favour of my situation. With a 1 1/2 year old and a baby due in December, I cannot see us traveling to WDW very often in the next 2-3 years but after that our trips would become increasingly more frequent. I would suspect that our "discipline" would also decrease through the years as our memory of the $15,000 commitment begins to fade ;-) However, if we do decide in the future to rent out less points and use more for ourselves I think there is a psychological advantage as well. It seems much easier on the mind to use up points that we have already paid for than to splurge on a $3000 vacation.

Bottom line: Owning though DVC is a commitment to traveling with your family to a wonderful place by entrusting a large cost now in exchange for many vacations in the future resulting in an overall lower cost.

Thanks Brian, I'm sure you've been through these discussions many times so I appreciate you going over it once more with this "rookie".

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.