This week I present (in
the immortal words of Monty Python's Flying Circus) "something
Below, I've posed a trip
planning scenario. Your assignment is to read
through the situation, then either answer the
questions I've posed, provide suggestions, or put together
an entire trip itinerary if you'd like.
In the September 9th
edition of Notes From the World, I'll reiterate the scenario
and then share both my thoughts and the responses that were
sent in. I will also capture the information in a new page
of the Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide so folks can
refer to it later.
If the response is good,
I'll come up with another scenario for next month and we'll
do it again.
Here's the scenario:
year old "Kevin" and 23 year old "Melissa"
are getting married on the first Saturday in March next
year. They would like to have their honeymoon at Walt Disney
is an enlisted man in the U. S. Army. He has never been
to Walt Disney World, but really wants to visit because
his family had a great trip when he was in basic training
last year. Melissa
has just finished college with a business degree. She has
been to Walt Disney World once, with her family, about five
years ago. They
would like to arrive in Orlando on Sunday, flying in via
commercial airline early afternoon. They need to leave Orlando
the following Sunday. Kevin
has budgeted $3500 for the trip, but as newlyweds, they
really would like to whittle that down as much as possible.
should Kevin and Melissa stay? They would like to stay
on-site. A romantic resort is preferred. They were planning
on spending a couple of hundred dollars a night, but
anything they can save can pay for setting up their
What do you suggest about ground transportation? Is
a rental car necessary or is a shuttle service preferred?
What company do you recommend in either case?
What do you suggest Kevin and Melissa do for admission
Melissa would like to see Universal Studios. What do
you suggest on how to get there or even whether or not
that is a good idea?
Do you have any suggestions about attractions, restaurants,
or activities that Kevin and Melissa should consider?
What other ideas do you have about how to make this
honeymoon a special trip?
I've already gotten
this question from Sean: Brian, You didn't say where Kevin
and Melissa would be flying from and if they are flying back
to the same location. To me, this affects the planningespecially
since I live in California and it is not a quick flight.
For purposes of our discussion, assume that Kevin and Melissa
are flying commercial airlines to and from Michigan before
returning to the West coast after the honeymoon.
trip planning begin! You can send me any feedback at brian@mouseplanet.
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...
Hi Brian! I just read your most recent reader feedback column
and I have a few comments regarding luggage service at the
All Star Resorts. You said in your column "However, be
aware that you'll have to lug your own stuff to the bell services
folks at the All Star Resorts as bell services there does
NOT offer drop and and pick up directly to your room."
My husband and I have stayed at the
All Stars a total of 4 times (Movies 3 times, Music 1 time)
and found that yes, luggage services will pick up and deliver
your luggage directly to your room.
During our second stay at All Stars
we spent one night at Music (January 2001) and then switched
over to Movies. On the morning of check out at Music we called
luggage services and arranged for them to pick up our luggage
for the switch to Movies. The Cast Member on the phone informed
me that I didn't even have to be in the room for the pick
up. So we just left the luggage by the door, along with a
tip, and walked over to Movies to check in before heading
out to the parks for the day.
Later that afternoon we called Movies
from the parks, received our room assignment and was told
that our luggage would be waiting in the room for us. And
indeed it was! We have had similar experiences regarding luggage
service during all of our stays at the All Stars, our most
recent being December 2001. Perhaps policies have changed
and Carol writes:
Unless things have changed in the last year, All-Stars Bell
Services does pick up and deliver your luggage. We have always
arrived at All-Stars, left our luggage with Bell Services
and it was in our room when we came back later that night.
If you call them the night before,
and leave your luggage by the door as you leave, they will
pick up your luggage while you are out.
Thank you both! Clearly you've had more experience
at the All Star Resorts than I have. I should have done a
bit more research before I answered that question.
Michelle (a different
one this time) shares this information about the CBR shutdown:
Thanks for such an informative site!!! I just thought I'd
fill you in on my experience with the Caribbean Beach closing.
I called WDW with another question and inadvertently found
out the resort was closing. We booked our stay at CB with
AAA and Disney told me to call there. AAA said WDW offered
4 options: transfer to Port Orleans for no charge; go to Animal
Kingdom or Wilderness Lodge for only $10 a night more OR Polynesian
or Savannah View Animal Kingdom for only $20 a night more.
I don't think that's such a bad deal. In fact, I'm thrilled
to be staying at Polynesian for almost the same cost as Caribbean
Beach. I just thought I'd pass along some of the options I
James writes: Hello
Brian, I'm an avid reader and really appreciate all you do
for us Disneyfied folks.
I thought I'd forward this message
I sent to guest communications. The goal of the letter was
to demonstrate to the powers that be how the elimination of
Early Entry could have a significant negative impact on WDW's
bottom line in the years to come.
About a year ago my
wife, 4 year old boy and I booked a 7 night stay at the
Grand Floridian for 9/18-9/26 2002 with a 3 day cruise on
the DCL Wonder to immediately follow. We did so with the
not unreasonable expectation that we would be able to take
advantage of the Early Entry benefit offered to WDW resort
guests. This was a very important factor in our choice to
spend an exhorbitant amount of money to stay, shop and dine
It now appears that
the Early Entry program has been terminated for good in
favor of some kind of character meet and greet. We personally
have no need, want or desire to experience such character
encounters and are very upset that we will not get to enter
the parks early as expected.
This trip was to be
a combination 10th wedding anniversary / honeymoon-we-never-had
celebration. I have to say that to experience a huge disapointment
like this even before we embark is not putting us in the
right frame of mind to enjoy a trip that we've budgeted
over $11,000 for.
Please consider this
email a complaint to be registered with whomever determines
which guest programs are maintained/terminated and the resultant
satisfaction levels associated with such changes.
As a result of the
Early Entry program's termination, I expect to make significant
changes to my future Walt Disney World vacation spending
plans. These changes will eliminate much of my "on
site" lodging, shopping and dining. Such changes could
potentially cost the Walt Disney Company tens of thousands
of dollars in future revenue.
Thank you for your
consideration of this matter.
Two days later I received a phone
call from Mr. Thomas Haas (sic) from the "Disney Executive
Mr Haas apologized profusley and told
me that my letter had indeed been forwarded to the group responsible
for such decisions. He also made mention that the Early Entry
program was not very popular in their surveys and that "the
numbers don't lie". I was was quick to counter that while
casual WDW guests may not have had much feeling one way or
another the knowledgeable repeat customers, who are so important
to the World's profitability, my have a lessened incentive
to stay, shop and dine on property. Additionally, I informed
Mr Haas that as a new Disney shareholder (due to the great
stock price) I don't want the most valuable of Disney customers
to have any reason not to spend every dime they budgeted in
on-property parks, hotels and restaraunts. I stressed to Thomas
that great care should be taken to avoid saving thousands
of dollars now at a cost of tens of thousands later.
Mr Haas stated that he appreciated
the feedback and would pass the information along. I then
reminded him that while numbers don't lie they often don't
tell the whole truth. He agreed.
Keep up the great work and keep an
eye out for a GFRS/DCL trip report in early October.
Thanks, James. Hopefully the Disney folks will
start to listen. I'll be looking forward to that trip report,
reader writes: Hi Brian,
First, I want to say that I have become
an avid reader of your notes from the world. You, your contributors
and readers keep up the great work!
In response to Alan's follow-up in
your 8/12 column:
"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."
Some startling attendance figures are
given in this recent Newsweek
Although, as with every news article
you must read between the lines...
Remember when the national debate on the North
American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was going on? Ross Perot
said that there would be a "giant sucking sound"
from all the jobs that would head to Mexico... Looks like
Mr. Perot's giant sucking sound might actually be from former
WDW visitors heading North on I-4 from WDW to Universal and
Brian, I heard that as of this past weekend there will be
no more religious service at Luau Cove. Do you have any idea
why? My parents are church goers and this made it easier on
them not to have to leave property to go to church.
Thanks, and keep up the good work,
its a great site.
On the same issue,
Bob writes: Brian, This makes no sense at all. Why would
WDW send people outside of WDW? Now, instead of spending money
at the Polynesian's shops and restaurants, people will spend
their money at Denny's and Wal-Mart (or whatever).
I can only assume that there is some cost in
hosting the Mass at Luau Cove that can be eliminated. Also,
it's very possible that the number of people that were taking
advantage of the Luau Cove Mass may have dropped significantly
in the last twenty years or so. That being the case, there
just might not have been the demand to continue it.
Personally, I don't have a problem with going offsite for
church. I've been doing that myself anyway, since I'm Baptist
and WDW didn't have a service onsite that catered to me. I've
found that Bible Baptist Church, way to the East along 192,
is a great place for me and my family.
For you, though, I certainly see the cutback as being a pain.
Dana writes: Brian,
George had a question about how
using the Disney Bus System would affect their stay while
at the Caribbean Beach Resort. My daughter and I stayed at
the CBR in the middle of June (by the way, I was in such a
blissful state that I never noticed that it was crowded, of
course we were mostly there as early as possible). We drove
from Kentucky to Florida and once I parked at the CBR, I NEVER
moved my car until we left on our departure day. We went to
the Magic Kingdom five times while we were there (once just
to ride the monorail on our arrival day, twice in the early
mornings, and twice in the early evenings). Every time we
were waiting for a bus, the Magic Kingdom buses were practically
on top of each other there were so many!!
We really only waiting more than 10
minutes on a bus twice our entire stay (once was going to
downtown disney and the other going to MGM). I just wanted
to reassure George that the CBR is in a nicely central location
and we didn't seem to be on any bus a lot longer than others.
We loved the CBR and our room was perfect (Martinique building),
as close as possible to a bus stop, the main pool and the
food court. I would love to go back.
But I would agree with you in that
if you can swing it, move up to a monorail resort. My heart
almost gave out once I found out that you can actually WALK
to the Magic Kingdom from the Contemporary Resort, that's
definitely where I'll stay next as the Magic Kingdom is my
Just my humble opinion!! Love your
site and can't wait each for each Monday when you post your
Thanks for your note, Dana. I can't agree with
you more! :)
Jamie writes: Brian
first and foremost I would like to thanks you for the web
site I love it. I've learned much and hope to be able to use
some tips on my next trip. I also have great plans about sending
in a trip report also.
Second I would like to comment on
the quote below from one of your readers.
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
I do believe that this reader is a
little wrong on the time frame for the Ultimate Park Hopper
The pass is good from the minute you
check-in till the end of the day you check-out
I've used this pass in the past and
never had it stop when I check-out.
on the same topic,
Chris writes: Unless something has changed since May 2000
this is not true. You can use the pass for the entire day
of check out.
For example: My wife and I had a shuttle
coming to get us at 5:00pm to take us back to the airport.
We checked out of the hotel at about 11am had the Bell Desk
hold our luggage and went to the parks until about 4:00pm.
We then returned to the hotel, picked up our luggage and met
the shuttle (yes - we had asked before doing this).
Thanks for a great site!
and finally, Jennifer
adds: Hey, Brian--love the site! I don't know what we
would have done without the many tips we have picked up on
your site. We leave in 45 days (and counting!)
I have to take issue though with a
tip a reader shared in the 8/12 Notes From the World...
According to our travel agent -- a
Disney Specialist -- this is totally incorrect. Length of
Stay passes expire at midnight the day you check out. She
told us that she always checks out, stores her luggage with
her resort, and spends the entire day in the park, which is
what we plan to do.
Thanks again! --Jennifer
P.S. Thank you for not
being ashamed to be counted as a Christian! I enjoyed
your article on the boycott.
Doh, doh, doh...
I meant to comment on that statement before publication.
You all caught that I'd forgotten to do so. I'm sure that
the reader that sent that information was referring to the
pass being unusable for future use, not for the balance of
that stay. However, you are all quite correct. LOS passes
are good for the entire day of checkin and the entire day
On another topic, I got several notes on the issue of teacher
perks at Walt Disney World...
Kevin writes: Hi Brian, Love
your updates. I am a big Disney Fan and have been many times
from Massachusetts. I am writing to you about your notes from
8/12/02. In it Marlene asked about special Discounts for Teachers.
My mother is a Teacher in Massachusetts. Unless things have
change, or if it is just specific to Massachusetts teachers,
she gets into Epcot for free. So this could definitely save
some money if you plan Epcot as one day and do not park hop.
I do believe this is for every teacher. Only thing she had
to do was show proof of her being a teacher and she was let
in. I would still Call Disney just to make sure since they
are changing everything day by day. Hope this helps.
There is no free entrance to Epcot for teachers. Although
that may have been true at one time (and I faintly remember
that back when Epcot had the old teacher center in the Communicore
it may have been), it isn't any longer. Just to be sure, I
called WDW and asked... and was able to confirm that I'm correct
on that one.
Donald writes: Hi Brian, Marlene
asked if there are any teachers discounts available at WDW.
About two years ago either the Swan or the Dolphin started
offering discounted rates for teachers. She should check it
out and see if the rates are still offered. I believe they
were still being offered about 6 months ago.
Wendy adds: Today in your mouseplanet
article you told Marlene there was not teacher discounts at
WDW - well there are!! Swan and Dolphin hotels offer great
rates to teachers - I think this year the nightly rate for
a standard room is $129 + tax. Last year they advertised it
and made a mistake and I got to stay for $99 + tax for 4 nights!!
We had a great stay at a wonderful resort - they may not be
Disney owned but we didn't miss out on anything and the location
Deborah shared this information:
Brian, I am writing in regards to a question you had on today's
notes from the world. (I'm on vacation in Florida and am sending
you this message from my parent's computer so you don't have
to respond.) There are special discounts for teachers listed
on Affordable Disney's website and I also think they discuss
them on mousesavers.com. Thought you may want to pass this
along to the reader who wrote in about that.
Thanks for the note, Deborah. I checked both sites and, as
you say, they both "mention" teacher discounts...
but neither provide any specifics. (Other than MouseSavers
giving information on the Swan/Dolphin room discount.)
If anyone knows anything more, please let me know!
On the issue of having an upscale,
priviledged park pass, Lori writes: While I realize this may
be considered beating a dead horse, I had to write you about
this. In response to Stephan's comments against a "premium
pass" type of set-up at Disneyland, you wrote:
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
But don't you see that offering a
pass at an extra cost that would enable people to skip to
the front of every line does exactly what you said would make
you unhappy? By offering a select number of people the opportunity
to avoid all lines, Disney would then downgrade the level
of service experienced by the rest of the guests who could
not afford to pay for this extra "perk." Instead
of it being a first-come, first-serve system that's fair to
everyone (anyone can use FastPass and can arrive at the park
whenever they feel like it to start obtaining them), it would
become a case of the haves going on any ride they chose and
the have-nots required to choose which rides they wanted to
experience in a limited amount of time, since all of the wait
times would likely increase due to people with premium passes
I really don't see how a premium pass
designed to give folks a Go TO The Head of the Class Card
could be a positive thing, and I don't think it's comparable
to, say, paying extra for the dessert buffet and Fantasmic
viewing at the Art Gallery. People are able to view Fantasmic
from wherever they choose, and they can stake out some great
spots with a little patience, but a premium pass would be
patently unfair. Frankly, I would feel ripped-off and bitter
if I saw those with premium passes flying to the front of
every line while I worked the FastPass system and patiently
waited in the ever-increasing standby line.
You make your case very well. :)
I guess my assumption was that very few people would actually
opt to pay for such a premium pass, and that their effect
on me personally would be minimal.
Certainly if a sizable portion of park visitors opted to
buy the upscale pass, it would be detrimental to the typical
Martin shares this
tip: For those interested in hidden mickeys, if you ask
at guest relations they will give you a handout that lists
many of the hidden Mickeys in all four parks. They are all
over the place.
Thanks Martin. I'll share that in the column
back to our regularly scheduled email...