Regarding the recently-announced
temporary closing of Caribbean Beach Resort...
Matt writes: Dear Brian, I live
in Orlando and my brothers, who live in New York, come down
to visit me every October. During their ten day vacation they
always stay at the Caribbean Beach Resort. However, it looks
like this year they will have to stay somewhere else.
This morning, Tuesday, 8/6 I heard
on my local ABC affiliate that the Caribbean Beach Resort
will be CLOSED, starting September 8, and reopen sometime
in December. I didn't hear why this is being done, except
some reference to "remodeling" and the construction
of a restaurant. I can't imagine why they'd need to close
the whole sprawling resort for remodeling, for this is routinely
done one building at a time. I also don't understand why they'd
need another eatery, for it already has a food court and formal
restaurant. All I can imagine is that the beancounters have
been told to cut costs even further.
I'd love to know why, many months ago,
my brothers were able to reserve a room during October. Why
didn't CRO know about this? I am furious!
Another MousePlanet reader wrote:
Caribbean Beach Resort will be closing on September 8 for
rehab of the OPR food court, restaurant and souvenir areas.
Guests with reservations will be called as their arrival time
draws near. They will be moved to other moderates ... POFQ,
POR, CSR. Caribbean Beach Resort is expected to be open by
the Christmas Holiday ... target date seems to be early December.
and I answered: Isn't completely closing a resort a drastic
thing to do to rehab the food court? Is this a veiled way
to reduce capacity like closing the French Quarter last year?
We might just have seen the last of the WDW built, if that's
But, as you might expect,
MousePlanet and it's sources started digging into this one.
Here's another note on the Caribbean Beach Resort closing
that gives some tremendous insight about what happened:
A reliable MousePlanet source writes:
...this is a case of Disney doing something right for a change.
Caribbean Beach Resort has just finished
phase one of a major rehab in which every guest room was totally
re-done. Disney has spent major money at this resort already
- more than it took to build it two decades ago. Upgrading
the food court and restaurant was always planned as the next
phase. However, there were logistical problems that held up
the start of that phase. First of all, it would leave Caribbean
Beach Resort without any place to get food since the kitchens
are all tied in. You cannot do anything major without closing
THE kitchen, leaving everything, including room service, out
Facilities came up with a number of
ideas, with the most promising - if that can be the way to
describe it - to set up a food court in a tent in the parking
lot. However, upon listening to cast members concerns that
disgruntled guests would take their displeasure out on them,
management agreed and on Sunday morning, made the decision
to close the resort for almost 4 months, during what is mostly
a slower period.
Disney is now making a major investment
in rehabbing the entire Center Towne, including the gift shops,
arcade, etc in addition to the planned food court/restaurant
upgrade. The decision was made on two very Disney-like principles,
something that has been lacking lately. One - so as not to
present a less than acceptable guest experience, and two -
taking into account the impact on the Caribbean Beach Resort
Additional logistics. No Cast Members
will be out of work during the upgrade. All Front Desk, Ops,
and Bell Services Cast Members will bid on deployment at other
resorts in order of seniority. Housekeeping, custodial and
food service may have to spend the time in other areas of
the property (such as a park) since they are not specifically
limited to a resort as are the other grades.
In addition, this might bring about
the opening of Pop Century if occupancy demand warrants. Unlike
in years past, guests are now booking only three of four weeks
in advance only. Pop Century can be opened in 2 weeks if necessary.
(At least the first section.)
The decision was made on Sunday, and
all of the logistics have not yet been finalized ... the other
resorts were not officially notified until yesterday. The
bids will be made in mid-August.
Hope that clears some facts up.
Wow! Maybe this is signaling a return to the Walt Disney
Company that we all know and love?
Jason shared this note: Dear
Brian, Our first trip to WDW ever was scheduled from in early
September this year, just in time for the Mouse to close Caribbean
Beach Resort. AAAAAH! I called Reservations, using my Disney
Club phone number and was put in touch with the "team"
handling the closure and rearrangement of reservations. The
short version is that we went from a water view at Caribbean
Beach Resort for a package rate of $109.89/night (2 adults,
1 child), to a wood view at Wilderness Lodge with no change
in price. But we had to ask.
Below are my personal suggestions for
handling the call to save your vacation. I posted this to
another site's board, but it's my original content, so you
have permission to reproduce all or part. I just want the
word to go out ASAP to other vacationers:
To any fellow pin geeks planning to
stay at the Caribbean Beach Resort between 9/8/02 and Christmas,
The Orlando Sentinel and MousePlanet
have reported that Caribbean Beach Resort is shutting down
after Labor Day for an "extended restaurant rehab."
This is true since I just got off the phone with WDW reservations
and changed my vacation plans. If you have reservations for
Caribbean Beach Resort this Fall, the following are my personal
suggestions for coping and saving your vacation.
- Act Fast. Call Now. Guest Relations
has a "team" of Cast Members working the problem
of moving all their reservations around the WDW resort,
so they will surely contact you. But if you are going to
ask for an upgrade or other goodies, if would be better
to call now, when their options are more flexible.
- Have your info. You will need your
reservation number, but the confirmation sheet also lists
all your preferences, bed types, smoking preferences, etc.
You want to make sure everything transfers over. ALSO, you
will need to write down your NEW confirmation number, especially
if you are sending any payment balances soon. You'll need
the new confirmation number to properly credit your account.
- Ask for goodies. Left to their
own devices, the Guest Relations Cast Member simply tried
to to a lateral transfer for us from a moderate resort to
a moderate resort. AT OUR REQUEST, the Cast Member looked
into an upgrade and we got a wood view at Wilderness Lodge,
but we had to ask first. Disney has a full range of goodies
to placate unhappy campers with, so think about what the
key purpose of your trip really is and then ask. The worst
they can say is, "no."
- Don't Talk to Just Any Cast Member.
Guest Relations has dedicated a "team" of people
to handle the Caribbean Beach Resort closure. Whatever phone
number you use (general, Disney Club, whatever) to get to
a human, ask to be transferred to the Guest Relations people
handling Caribbean Beach Resort. I assume, but don't know
for a fact, that these people have more authority to be
creative that the regular Cast Member.
- Be Patient. My Cast Member was
literally reading the fine print of the memo he *just got
this morning*. These fine men and women didn't shut down
the resort. They're just damage control. And honey attracts
more flies than vinegar. Politely but firmly, indicate your
displeasure (I used the word "perturbed") but
once your view is clear, let the Cast Member do what he
or she can to keep the Magic flowing. Being personally gentle
on the poor schlub can only earn you bonus points.
- Have your Birnbaum's Handy. This
is our first trip to WDW, so it was immeasurably useful
to have hotel reviews and a detailed resort map as I discussed
options with Guest Relations. If you have a resort guide,
put it within arm's reach before you call.
(optional: for husbands only)
- Call Your Wife. Your life partner
whom you honor and obey might want to know what's going
on before you radically rearrange the family vacation. Put
your heads together and quickly plan a strategy BEFORE you
call Guest Relations so you have a better chance of coming
away from this setback in a stronger position than you began.
Besides, no one likes surprises of this magnitude.
As always, these are only my viewpoints.
I don't work for the Mouse and this isn't official advice.
I just want everyone who has reservations to get the best
chance to save their plans and enjoy themselves. Good luck,
all, and see you at the 'World.
Thanks Jason. ...I'm going to include your note in it's entirety,
as it clearly will be of tremendous help to some of my readers.
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...
Paul Writes: Brian,
First off great web site, thanks for all of the help. I wanted
to send you a quick note regarding Jeannie's question about
a length of stay pass from the 8/5/02 update. My family and
I stayed at Coronado Springs for one night in September 2001
and were able to buy a length of stay pass for the parks.
It was great as we checked in by 10:00a.m. so we were able
to hit the parks right away. We also left WDW late the next
day and were able to jump around from park to park seeing
our favorite attractions. Not to mention that we were able
to get into to Disney Quest after having our dinner at Downtown
Disney. So yes, you can get length of stay passes even for
a one-night stay and if you use it properly, it is well worth
Thanks again for the great info.
Thanks Paul! It's been a long time since I've
used an LOS pass (it was way back in 1993, in fact), so I
appreciate the feedback.
Mark writes: Hi
Brian, Just skimmed today's column
and have a few thoughts:
"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."
This is just my own opinion, but I
don't see it happening since as a business move it would severely
limit AP sales as a year-end draws near. Perhaps the change
the writer was hearing about was the one concerning renewals,
which now start from the day you old AP expires, rather than
from their first use... as was the case in the past. This
has been in effect for about 2 years now.
"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."
There is also a hidden Mickey in the
crypt at the end of the graveyard... you have to look over
your shoulder when you get to the fat lady singing. There
is also the only Hidden Donald... check out the chair by the
Thanks for the reassurance on the APs, Mark. I hadn't thought
of the renewal as being the issue that was identified. I hope
Alan wrote: Hi
Brian, Love the site! A few comments on the 8/5 Notes From
One correspondent asked
about hot air balloon rides over Disney property. This rang
a bell, so I checked: a Google search for Balloon Rides Orlando
Florida turned up several off-site companies that offer early
morning rides in the area. Very
Maybe something for folks to do, that
are disappointed about the lack of Early Entry. It seems that
whether or not the balloons go over Disney is largely determined
by the wind. The site "theotherorlando" has some
pretty good general info.
Another reader was concerned that
no one ticket media fit her ideally. What she really needed
was a 2-day, or 1-day, Park Hopper. It seems to me she could
either: buy 2 one-day tickets, and use each for maybe 4 hours
that day; or, go ahead and buy the 4-day Hopper and try to
use the extra days in the future.
She could even conceivably -- and
this is entirely her choice -- give the unused days away to
a friend or relative, or donate to one of the groups which
take seriously ill kids to WDW.
She may say, "But I'm not really
getting my money's worth."
And I'm saying, "Is that really
so bad?" I realize that it's an obsession with practically
everyone, myself included, to get bargains on everything.
But giving money freely can be a good thing too.
Let's say she "overpays"
Disney a bit. Then Disney can take the money and build new
attractions, or hire more employees, or Imagineer some more
Magic for us. Not such a bad thing. I'd like to see folks
get less obsessed with watching every cent.
'Course, easy for me to say -- I hardly
have any cents to give away.
And now a nit-pick about the site,
in the spirit of Al Lutz. (I feel bad to say anything negative
because of all the work you folks do, but I figure you maybe
want feedback): What happened to the blue background in the
trip reports? That was one of my favorite things about the
way you presented them. Are they coming back?
Okay, sorry -- great site!
Thanks for the comments.
However, I must take exception to the idea of giving away
your passes. It is very clear that WDW admission media is
not transferable. To avoid any problems, I would just suggest
that any unused days be used up on a subsequent trip.
Regarding the trip report archive formating, I think you've
seen the last of the blue background. I've transitioned from
one web page development tool to another, and the new tool
(which allows me to produce "cleaner" pages that
are easier for MousePlanet's technical folks to maintain)
doesn't support the fancier backgrounds that I used to use.
On the positive side, readers that want to print out those
reports will use a bit less ink than before. ;)
In a follow-up Alan writes:
Hi Brian, Column is still great, but I wish that Disney wouldn't
give you so much meat to comment on!!!
Since the quarterly report to stockholders
indicates a 17% attendance decrease that Disney attributes
to the economy and to threat of terrorism, but not to cutbacks
in services, I was wondering if you had seen any attendance
figures for Universal or Seaworld, or Busch Gardens. I personally
suspect that attendance there is also off but not by as high
an amount as at Disney.
I naively hope that Disney will realize
that attendance is down for two additional reasons. For occasional
visitors, word-of-mouth is that it may be better to wait until
the parks are open for longer hours with more perks (i.e.,
early opening) rather than spend the significant amount it
takes to bring the family to Disney. (I call this the more
bang-for-your buck syndrome). For the die-hard annual passport
or regular visitor category, now seems like a good time to
take a year or two off from visiting. These are the guests
who are more sensitized to how cutbacks affect their level
of enjoyment. There are other places we could go that we may
have been missing because we had such a good time at Disney
(note the use of the word "we" as my wife and I
are potential members of this group).
Sure, in the current environment, cutbacks
may be justified. But when it starts to drive people away,
as I think it has, then Disney needs to rethink there policy.
Unfortunately, the head bean counters seem to feel that no
matter what they do people will come. Maybe the public will
prove them wrong this time.
No matter what, there is no justification
at all for uncleaned bathrooms or peeling paint. I have heard
many executives talk about preserving the corporate culture
established by Walt and Roy. The party line is that this is
a very important part of the Disney legacy. Well, Walt is
often quoted as saying he wanted a clean park that families
could come to.
We will take our annual vacation in
August this year (to attend the Disneyana convention) and
we will see how it goes.
I am also hoping that maybe the deteriorating
theme park performance may result in a management change.
Aren't I the hopeless optimistic?
I wholeheartedly agree. :)
Actually, I don't wish for the removal of anyone in Disney's
management... only that those folks in charge would realize
that the parks have been so successful for so long because
of the unique things that were done there... the consistently
high level of service, the new attractions every couple of
years, and so on.
We will see if the folks in charge will "learn from
the past," or not...
Regarding the discussion on the "haves"
and "have nots" that I had with Tim last week, Stephan
writes: In response to perks
I partially agree with you. People who have
the cash to spend should be able to reap extra perks. As you
say, this not socialism. However, I dont think it should
be at the expense of others good time. I see no problem
with a special area where people willing to pay
can have extra nice views, or better meals. I mean heck, thats
what the more expensive restaurants are there for. Thats
why at places like the Grand Prix you have special booths
for those with the cash.
However, that being said, I think
this new trend that I believe Six Flags has started of having
a premium pass that allows you to skip right through
lines is going a little far. I think FastPass is a brilliant
idea to begin with, This allows those that are FANS and those
willing to go early to essentially register for the ride to
go on at a later time. Its the kind of situation where
if people dont like you skipping ahead of the line,
well they should have been there earlier! After all, if you
had gone in line when you obtained the fast pass, chances
are youd be ahead of them in line anyway!
But when you pay for this pass, youre
getting a pass that says Hello, Im going ahead
of you on every ride! Bye bye and I think that could
be very frustrating for people. Esepcially when Disney is
already not cheap and some people spend pretty much their
life savings taking their family to this place
hope that on THIS particular aspect, Disney does not follow
suit. Its not even a jealousy thing, to be honest, when
I go next, Ill be going with my parents DVC, in
style and well go all the way as far as what Disney
has to offer
but I can understand how certain things
should be left alone as-is for all around fairness.
Well, we'll have to agree to disagree. Personally, I wish
Fastpass had never been invented. It's completely changed
how I visit the parks... and frankly, I liked the old way.
However, I still see no problems with Disney offering any
special perk at some special price. I will not be happy if
they degrade my current level of service at the same price
I'm paying, but if an upscale price range is offered with
more amenities, I don't mind. I guess I see this as a kind
of theme park concierge. I can pay for the uplevel service
Jason writes, regarding Sam's comments
from a week ago about the official WDW spin that "early
entry was unpopular with guest and the character caravan was
something requested by the guests": Brian, I
just wanted to let you know that Sam is not twisting words.
Marketing material in our planning video for the 100 years
celebration it states that the Early Entry feature was not
popular, so it was replaced with the Character Caravan. I
thought the same thing as you did up until reading this.
If Early Entry was really so unpopular, why was the park
with Early Entry always so much busier by mid-morning than
the other parks at WDW? If people didn't want to use Early
Entry, wouldn't all of the parks have about the same attendance
A MousePlanet reader shared this
note: The official WDW ticket upgrade policy is as follows:
- Length Of Stay (also Unlimited Park
Hopper) once you check out, that ticket is dead. End of
- Standard Multi-Day Passes -- ONLY
GUEST RELATIONS can handle this. (1)
To receive full value for your tickets, the upgrade must
be performed within 7 days of First Use. There is really
no exception to this rule. (2) If it's anytime after your
7th day, the cast member will be able to give you the remaining
value of the ticket. You can use this value to purchase
new tickets. Note -- Usually on the plus pass, once the
theme park days are used, the plus days carry NO VALUE!
Annual Pass -- Years ago, there was
a ticket that was good for a calendar year. I have heard nothing
concerning a change in the time frame of annual passes.
Don't forget when someone complains
about ticket prices, WDW is the only theme park in Orlando
who DID NOT raise ticket prices this year. The last increase
was in January 2001.
Thanks for the info!
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