by Brian Bennett
This just came in this week:
Disney's US Properties Plan Low-key
-- Every domestic division of the Walt Disney Co. will observe
Sept. 11 in its own way. "Company-wide, it's a huge effort,"
said one executive. The American Broadcasting Co. will have
a special day of programming, and a jet fly-over will take
place over Anaheim Stadium where Disney's Anaheim Angels play.
The Disney Stores and the ESPN Zones will each have their
own agendas as well. In the theme parks, various events will
take place during the day to show "respect for the fallen,
their families, and the thousands who have helped in the wake
of the tragedy." Leslie Goodman, senior VP of strategic
communications for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, said as
of Aug. 13, no non-domestic Disney parks had informed her
of any decision to observe the occasion. The
events at the US parks are low-key and are not being promoted
or advertised. "People usually come to a Disney park
to escape reality. But we felt it appropriate to observe the
occasion in a somber way. We want to provide an opportunity
for our guests who happen to be here on Sept. 11, to show
their respect," she said. Goodman said the observances
would also be for the thousands of Disney employees "who
have rallied to help those in need" since the tragic
events. Each Disney employee will receive a special pin and
certificate that day in recognition of their efforts.
At press time, here are the confirmed activities:
- All flags will be
raised in the morning and will then be lowered to half-mast
before the parks are open to the public.
- At night, an enhanced
flag retreat ceremony will take place on Main Street in
the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida.
- A moment of silence
will be observed park-wide, followed by patriotic music.
If a national moment of silence is called for, the parks
will observe it if the park is open for business at that
time. If not, the parks will each have its own moment at
another time during the day.
- Show schedules at
all parks will be adjusted so that all shows are silent
during the moment of silence. Rides and attractions will
also be dark for those few minutes.
- The Voices of Liberty
and Vybe, two musical groups at Epcot at Walt Disney World,
will present a day-long program of patriotic music at the
American Adventure pavilion.
Here's a rerun from last
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?
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...
Jim writes: Brian, In your August
19 column, Mike (who is going to WDW in December) asked if there
was any major reason to pick Animal Kingdom Lodge over Wilderness
Lodge. Your answer was that they are pretty much the same in
theming. But there is one HUGE reason Id pick Animal Kingdom
Lodge over Wilderness Lodge and that is the animals. Yes, both
lodges are beautifully detailed, both have comparable rooms
(on the smallish side for deluxe resorts). But being totally
immersed in the African theme at the Animal Kingdom Lodge is
truly amazing. Its the one resort where we actually spent
time in our room, totally entertained by the animals. Its
wonderful to wake up each morning and look out your balcony
to see what animals are visible. Ditto for the end of each day
when animals often come in close to the lodge. The Savannah
is even bathed in a special lighting at night, so as long as
the animals are out (which is from early morning until late
at night), you can see them. Overall, I personally think Animal
Kingdom Lodge is the most beautiful and detailed resort on property,
and does the best at transporting you to a different world.
And, yes, it does pay to spend the extra for a Savannah view
room. Although you can see animals from many public locations
throughout the resort, including the lobby, it really is exciting
to wake up with and go to bed with (so to speak) the animals.
After staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge this past January, I really
could not imagine another trip to WDW without spending a least
a few nights at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Another thought why not do
both? Although some people cringe at the thought of changing
resorts mid-vacation, this is something Ive never minded
doing at WDW as long as its on a trip when I have a
vehicle, and we are staying enough nights where a change of
theme mid-vacation is exciting, and not a chore (i.e. at least
6-7 nights). In fact, with so many resorts now on property,
for those of us who only visit every couple of years, wed
never be able to experience them all without resort hopping.
Your right, of course, about the African theme and animals
making Animal Kingdom Lodge something very special.
Regarding the idea of moving from one resort to another mid-trip,
I certainly don't think it's a problem for an adult group,
but for a family with small kids, I'd still recommend staying
put. "Transition Day," without the ability to have
naps for the little ones, is a baaaad thing. ;)
Glenn asks: Brian, I can't thank
you enough for your quick personal email feedback and the
information you provide to your readers. My question is actually
in response to the comment Debbie had in your 8/19 notes...
"We had two character
breakfasts during our visit. First, Chef Mickey where we
celebrated our sons 5th birthday. Our waitress brought him
a birthday button and a signed placemat. Mickey and gang
did the napkin twirl around him. Very special! Second was
Pooh later in the week at Tony's Town Square (temporary
location during the Crystal Palace rehab). The waitress
brought our son a birthday card signed by all the Pooh characters
and had the restaurant sing him happy birthday."
While I know you should mention special
occasions when calling in on priority seatings, I am curious
what Debbie's approach was for getting the royal treatment
for her son on two occasions. We will run into the same situation
when our daughter turns four during our upcoming trip.
I think that Debbie simply stopped in at City Hall to get
a birthday sticker. Cast Members respond to those stickers
like it's a golden ticket or something. :)
Paul writes: Brian, You wrote
about DVC valet parking privileges and you were insistent
that "The free valet parking for DVC members is only
for members using points for their stay and only for the resort
at which they are currently staying (again, regardless of
which resort is their home resort)." This is absolutely
not true. It is incorrect. I suspect you will get a lot of
email correcting you, but here is the source. As a DVC member
you can review the issues of Vacation Magic online at the
members' web site.
The Fall 2001 issue of the DVC newsletter
Vacation Magic which announced the change in WDW resort valet
parking charges clearly says that DVC members will NOT BE
CHARGED FOR VALET PARKING at Boardwalk Villas or the Villas
at Wilderness Lodge"REGARDLESS OF WHERE THEY ARE STAYING."
(I suspect the same holds for the Beach Club Villas now, too,
though I cannot find a reference to back that up.)
You're absolutely correct. I double checked your research.
Thanks for catching it!
On the same topic, Sandy writes:
Hi Brian, In your column on 8/19/02 a question by Jon &
John was raised about DVC members paying for valet services.
Here is (a portion of) the official response I received from
Vacation Club Members will not be charged for valet parking
at Disney's Boardwalk Resort, Disney's Wilderness Lodge,
and Disney's Beach Club Villas regardless of where they
Club Members must show their DVC Member card or Walt Disney
World Resort ID indicating that they are a "DVC Member"
when leaving their vehicle to be parked in order to receive
this service at no charge at either Disney's Boardwalk Resort,
Disney's Wilderness Lodge or Disney's Beach Club Villas.
be charged for this service at any other valet parking operation
at the Walt Disney World Resort. Whether or not you are
charged to valet park, gratuities are still appropriate."
I hope that clears up the questions.
In summary, a DVC member will receive valet parking for free
at all DVC Resorts regardless of where they are staying but
are charged at the remaining WDW resorts.
A MousePlanet reader writes:
Upon reading your web site, I came across a bit about the
Luau Cove Sunday services being canceled indefinitely. I can't
see why Disney would do this. This was one of the most beautiful
of church services that I've ever been to outside of my own
parish. To discontinue it means Disney has no respect for
the religiously observant who often can't travel outside the
property (myself, being Catholic, included). I won't know
what to do if I ever do plan to visit Disney and need to fulfill
my religious obligations while on vacation.
I don't know if I go so far as to say that Disney has "no
respect for the religiously observant." I know you went
on to say, "...who often can't travel outside the property,"
but it's not really Disney's responsibility to provide religious
services for their guests.
I think it's been wonderful that Disney has allowed the services
to be held at Luau Cove all these years, but unlike the reductions
of service that have recently been implemented that infringe
on the value I get for the money I've spent, I don't personally
see the elimination of the service at the Polynesian as being
There are still many, many local churches in the Lake Buena
Vista and Kissimmee areas that are very happy to receive guests.
Perhaps a web search for churches of your faith followed by
a quick call to one of them for directions would resolve your
In any case, what would you do to "fulfill your religious
obligations while on vacation" when you go somewhere
other than Walt Disney World? You can handle things the same
way, if you choose to, when you visit Central Florida.
I shared Kathleen's note last week
on the Luau Cove services being discontinued:
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.
I had written her with this response, "No, I don't know
why. Still, there are churches in the area that anyone can
attend if they so choose."
Kathleen wrote back this week with
this additional information: Brian, Thank you for answering
me. My mother spoke to the Catholic Church, and they told
her that for the Comfort & Safety of those attending the
religious services they discontinued them at the Luau Cove.
I have not heard back from Disney yet.
Keep up the Good Work!
Thanks for the note back, Kathleen.
Hmmmmm... I wonder how the "comfort and safety of those
attending the religious services" could possibly have
been at risk... especially since I know of no injuries or
fatalities of guests that have gone to the services over the
In any case, I still feel strongly that anyone that wants
to get to church during their trip can make it happen. It
just takes a little checking, a phone call or two, and the
desire to see it through.
Shawn writes: Brian,
I was just reading your latest column.
Regarding the cancellation of church services at Disney's
Polynesian Resort, it is my understanding that discontinuing
the weekly service was the idea of the priest / church that
put it on.
Lower attendance was, most likely,
the key factor in the decision. Disney was only providing
a location for the gathering. It wasn't really a cost issue
I hope that helps.
It does indeed. Thanks so much, Shawn!
Tim writes: I just read your
column on 8/19, and have to respond! Concerning the Premium
Fastpass idea, it was nice to see someone agreeing with me
about extra-special privileges causing disgust for the average
park visitor. Seeing people whizzing by on their way to a
3rd or 4th ride on Splash Mountain for example, would cause
a lot of anger and frustration to those in line. As you know,
whenever you "create" a special benefit such as
this, there is bound to be abuse of the system.
One question I had about Epcot: What
if anything is being done with the "millennium Village"
building these days? also the Odyssey? I didn't get over to
the England side of world showcase this last trip and was
curious... By the way, I finally made it on to Test Track,
and I loved it! (Last two trips had lightning and it was shut
down when we were in Epcot).
Concerning moderate resorts, we stayed
at "Riverside" a few years back and the bus stops
were wonderful. They were around the back, not just at the
front lobby entrance. I don't think the smaller Port Orleans
had this benefit, so for that reason alone, Riverside has
a slight edge.
Thanks for your note! I agree that any new system will have
drawbacks. In any case, until and unless Disney announces
some new thing I think we're just getting paranoid over nothing.
Let's just all hope that Disney moves forward to put fantastic
new attractions in the parks and that the resulting excitement
raises crowd levels to the point that something just has to
be done. Then we can conjecture about it again. :)
Regarding the Millennium Village and Odyssey Center, both
are used for special events now. They can be rented for groups,
and they are also used for some of the special events that
Disney sponsors itself (such as the Flower and Garden Festival
and so on).
Thanks for your input about Test Track and Port Orleans Riverside.
I agree with both of your observations!
Suzanne writes: Brian, Hi! Thought
you might want to know. Steph had asked how she could go about
getting a Fozzie Bear (great taste, by the way). There are
two ways she can contact them.
WDW Merchandising can be sent an email
at firstname.lastname@example.org to request an item sold in the
parks. They respond Monday through Friday, and ship for a
small fee. They can be reached by phone as well at 407-363-6200.
Also, a little known fact. If you're
ever on the fence on purchasing an item while at WDW, buy
it. Items can be returned to the nearest Disney store when
you present a receipt (just not the artwork, please ;-P ).
Thought you might want to share this
with the readers!
PS I never thought I'd get so many
responses to my trip report. Wow!
Thanks for the help, Suzanne!
I'm glad you're getting a lot of feedback about your trip
report, too. That's part of what makes it so fun to write
Carli writes: Brian, you responded
to a question from a person wanting to know the best way to
get from the All Star Resorts to Universal. You told her that
her travel agent had given her sound advice by recommending
a taxi. (To your credit, you did also mention Mears.) I would
not recommend taking a cab. Cabs cost more than $30 each way
(I was quoted about $36), not including tip. Mears, which
picks up every hour on the half hour, costs around $12 a person--so
even a family of 4 would save money taking Mears over a cab.
Renting a car for the day is even cheaper.
back to our regularly scheduled email...
Lisa Writes: Brian, We are planning a trip to WDW
with a Disney Cruise (in '04) with 3 kids.
My question is this... have you heard how the meal packages
work? I see they are approximately 50 or so. They are supposed
to cover breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Are they restricted?
Has anyone tried these meal packages? Are they worth it? OR
am I just crazy for thinking about them?
Be Kind? I'm always kind! (OK, except when I get a bit sarcastic...)
Anyway, I'm not sure exactly what meal package you're referring
to. There is a meal package that provides breakfast, lunch,
and dinner credits. You pay approximately $50.00 per day (for
every day of your trip) per person up front (which is why
I think this is the plan you might be referring to) and you
receive a credit of $55.00 towards your meals. Anything you
spend beyond that $55.00 is charged back to you, though. The
only way you can make a deal like that work is if you plan
to eat at the most expensive restaurants two or three times
a day every day of your trip.
Personally, I don't see the benefit as my family spends much
less than that amount per day per person.
Chris writes: Brian, first let
me say your site is a great source of information.
I am planning to go to Disney in early
September. I will be staying at a house with my brother-in-law
and his family about 15 minutes from the parks. My question
is, on Friday night, September 6th, will the Magic Kingdom
be closing early to accommodate the Nights of Joy?
I am assuming it is, which means I
will have to plan to do EPCOT on that, our last night there.
Also, if you know, I think the Nights of Joy are also at Universal
Studios that same weekend. Does that park closes early to
accommodate as well?
I'm not familiar with any Night of Joy plans at Universal
Studios, so you're on your own there. You're right, though,
that the Magic Kingdom will be closed during the evening of
the 6th and 7th of September for Night of Joy. You should
expect to see the park close at 6:00p.m. both of those nights
and reopen at 7:00p.m. for the hard ticketed event (special
events in the parks that require separately purchased tickets
are called "hard ticket events.")
|Debbie asks: What
do you think the chances are of someone getting E-Ride night
tickets if they check in only the day before it's scheduled?
It's not likely that you'll have any problems. E-Ride nights
seldom sell out.
|Glenn writes: Brian,
First off I just wanted to let you know what a great service
you all provide at MousePlanet. While I've checked a couple
other Disney sites yours is the only one I check daily! Between
you, Birnbaum's and Disney With Kids books you have helped me
plan our trip more than I ever would have realized. Now my question,
which I forgot to ask from last time I emailed you.
A while back I recall a discussion
about those busy times of year when the park gets pretty full,
like when we will be there at Christmas, however, I don't
recall what the answer was. We are planning on taking your
touring advice with an afternoon break. The question is what
kind of problem might we encounter trying to return back to
a full park between 4-5:00p.m.?
Since you'll be staying on site, you won't have problems
being readmitted. Offsite park visitors may experience that,
unfortunately, but not onsite guests.
|Following up, Glenn writes:
Brian, This is my second email to you with some inquiries on
our upcoming trip to Disney World in December. You were so helpful
in the past I thought I'd try your expertise again. Before I
ask my questions, I should mention that I sent an email to Disney
just to put in my opinion on Early Entry vs. Character Caravan.
I received the standard answer that it had gone away and then
all the information on Character Caravan, so that was not a
good way to log a complaint/preference I suppose.
Now my inquiries...
- We are staying at the All Star
Movies and renting a refrigerator to keep my father's insulin
cold. Since we're spending the money, we'd like to do some
quick and inexpensive breakfasts in our room while we get
ready. I know the resort has a "general store",
what should we expect? We have thought about packing dry
cereal, pop tarts, etc. Do they sell milk?
- When we booked our rooms, for $10
a day I upgraded into a "preferred reservation",
which supposedly puts us closer to the front of the resort
with a shorter walk to transportation buses. Now that I
have read of several people calling Disney 4 days prior
to arrival, and preferencing room locations, I wonder if
I should have saved the money. Any thoughts?
- With package delivery from the
parks to the resorts gone, what service is available to
avoid shopping at the end of the day or carrying purchases
- Can you tell me more about a value
package that you can purchase for meals in the Animal Kingdom?
- We are contemplating purchasing
Talkabout radios for when our group splits up. We do have
cell phones and minutes and roaming costs aren't an issue
since I work for a major cellular carrier. Do you have any
suggestions on if the walkie talkie option is worth it?
- Finally, I have heard Disney has
programs on the different parks from time to time but can't
seem to find any info on their web site. We have the vacation
video, also A Day at Disneyland, and the sing along Disneyland
Fun, but would like to expose our 3 1/2 year old to Epcot,
Animal Kingdom and Disney Studios as well.
Thanks for all your help! I will promise
a trip report in early 2003!
|Well, Glenn, since you're built up my ego so much,
I'll do my best to answer your questions. :)
The resort stores do sell milk and other staples, but be
aware that the prices will be much higher than you're used
to spending at home. Still, for the convenience of being able
to buy it right at the resort, it's the thing to do (it will
save significant time and really, with gas and so on added,
it's not that expensive).
Regarding the issue of paying for preferred rooms, all I
can say is that you are now guaranteed to have a room that
the resort considers "best," whereas other guests
that simply ask may or may not get something that meets those
needs. Is the $10.00 worth it? I guess it depends on how important
is is to you to get a room that is close to the main building.
Package delivery to the resorts from the parks is NOT gone.
What is gone is the extra service that used to be provided
at the deluxe resorts in which those packages would be delivered
right to the guests room. Now all such packages must be picked
up at the front desk (or other designated location) of the
The value package that you asked about, called the "Meal
Plus Program," is currently on a trial run. It costs
$10.99 for adults and $5.99 for kids (not including tax) and
the coupons you buy can only be used at that park (Animal
Kingdom) and only on the day that the coupon is purchased.
With each purchase, you receive three coupons. One is good
for a counter service entree (or kid's meal) and beverage,
the second for one snack (popcorn, ice cream, etc.), and the
third for one bottled beverage in addition to the beverage
that you get with your meal. (I don't know exactly when the
trial will start and whether or not the trial has been sufficiently
successful that it would be continued at Animal Kingdom or
even expanded to the other parks.)
Regarding the rental of two-way radios... I personally think
that cell phones are much superior. If you have no roaming
or other fees, I think it's a no-brainer... use your phones!
I'm not sure what you meant by "special programs on
the parks." There are occasional shows run on the Disney
Channel (not so often now as there were a few years ago, though),
and ABC (which is owned by Disney) has specials every now
and then. Other than going to their web sites and doing a
search, though, I don't know what else to suggest. (I would
have suggested the trip planning video, but you already have
Glenn dropped this note: Thanks for the quick response
and the great information. The programs I referred to were
exactly what you mentioned, basically Disney videos that shows
the attractions. I emailed Disney and they suggested I call
programming for more info. Perhaps I will.
Any idea if the new Princess breakfast
will become a permanent fixture? I guess it's hard to speculate.
Secondly, when making priority seatings,
I would imagine I need to call 120 days in advance from that
date, and would not be able to do all my priority seatings for that week
in one call. Is that correct?
On the new Princess Breakfast, you're right... it's hard
to speculate. However, speculate I will! With the long term,
ongoing, and traditional success of the breakfast at Cinderella's
Royal Table, and the quick acceptance of the Ankershus breakfast
as an alternative, I think it will be around for a long time.
Of course, that's just my opinion...
Regarding the 120 day rule, you're right. What I would suggest
is that you start calling right at the 120 mark for any specific
meals that you know is a hot commodity (such as the character
breakfasts at Cinderella's Royal Table and Crystal Palace/Tony's
Town Square Cafe). Then, after you've done your best to nail
down the hot ones, call in all of the others in one final
call 120 days from the LAST date you need. "Regular"
meals are not hard to get priority seatings for, so that will
work fine in 99.9% of the cases.
Tifany writes: Brian, I have
submitted trip reports for your web site (I still owe you
one from our April trip) and I wanted to ask a question in
reference to DVC. We currently own a timeshare (two actually)
and we can trade into Disney DVC (it will be easier for us
because we don't need anything larger than a 1 bedroom). My
question is, is there a particular time when the DVC resorts
seem less crowded? i.e. Value Season times?
I also wanted to let you know that
I have been reading your site and all of the posting about
the cleanliness or lack there of cleanliness at Disney; well
let me tell you in April the park looked great considering
they had three weekends of Grad Nites.
I just returned from a major amusement
park in Atlanta and I have a new found respect for Disney.
The said amusement park will not receive my money anymore;
the trash around the park was awful, the wait times were no
less than 2 hours, and the prices are ridiculous. Lunch for
two people (hamburger, fries, and drink) was $22.75 - I could
have had lunch at Prime Time for $3 more. The filth at that
park reminded me of a landfill; it was extremely dirty and
very, very disgusting!
My husband commented that the whole
time we were at Disney, you never had to worry about going
into the rest room and coming out with something sticky or
toilet paper attached to your foot.
I'm so glad that your most recent trip went well!
I wish, since you put such a lofty statement in the subject
line of this email ("Question for the wise one"),
that I had a truly amazing answer for your question. However,
it's really safe to say that the onsite DVC resorts (and Vero
Beach, too, for that matter) really have the same occupancy
patterns that the rest of WDW has. Christmas week, the two
weeks straddling Easter Sunday, and mid-Summer are the high
peaks. The lows are in October, early December, and mid-January
|Carol asks: Dear
Brian, I want to start by saying I love your site! My family
and I will be taking our 4th trip to Disney in a few weeks and
I have found your site extremely informative and helpful.
As I am now in the process of finalizing
my plans and compiling a tentative schedule for our week I
have come up with a few questions I'm hoping you can help
with. Here they are:
- First of all, since we are staying
offsite we will be driving to the parks. We have done this
in the past and found it to be very convenient. My question
is, if we pay to park at one park and then decide to move
to another would we have to pay to park again? I know we
can use the Disney transportation to go from park to park,
but if I could just move our car along with us it would
be easier. If we can't then I have to figure out where best
to leave it to begin with.
- My second question is also about
parking. One of the days we plan to start at the Magic Kingdom
then have dinner at the Contemporary and return to the Magic
Kingdom. Since the only thing I HATE about the Disney experience
is getting to the ticket and transportation center after
the fireworks, would it be possible to park at the Contemporary
when we go for dinner and leave the car there when we return
to the park?
- Finally, a ticketing question.
We have 5-day hopper plus passes. If we visit a water park
using a plus option on a day that we do not visit a theme
park, will we be using a day from our ticket or are the
options separate from the days?
Thanks for your help!
|I'll do my best to answer your questions, Carol...
First off, yes, you can park at one of the parks and then
move to another without paying again. Just show your receipt
at the gate of the new park. In fact, you can park at all
of the parks, having paid just once, on any given day if you
want (although I can't see that any sane person really would
want to do that).
The only way you can legally park at the Contemporary and
leave your car during the day (since you're staying offsite)
is to valet park your car there. The fee is the same as you
would pay at the main park parking lot, so it would be the
best thing for you to do, since you're eating there at the
Finally, yes, the plus options and the park days are completely
separate. In fact, the idea you've described is the best way
to get the most value out of your pass! By breaking up your
major park and water park days, you can stretch the number
of days you enjoy the resort without additional cost.
Jeff writes: Is there an area
of your site that gives suggestions for couples planning a
romantic trip to WDW? my girlfriend and I have never been
to WDW but will be there for two nights/three days in December.
Which hotels are best for romance? Which parks are best for
PS I LOVE your site!
No, there isn't a page on that topic. But there should be!
Give me a couple of days, and I'll whip something up and
send you the URL of the new page. I'll cover romantic hotels,
restaurants, and activities.
I followed up with this note: Jeff, I've put together the
page I said I would do. I hope you find the information
|Debbee writes: Brian,
I just wanted to drop you a line with some bits of information
I've picked up.
First - Disney Information is saying there will be no E
Ride nights from August 24th through at least October 31st. While I know Disney likes to change it's mind, at least we know what they're thinking
Second - Another unofficial Disney site is saying that
Disney is tinkering with FP and that right now you are able to get FP 45 minutes after you get your first one. They don't know how long this will last, since I'll be there in 3 weeks I'll let you know what's going on at that time.
Thanks for the great job you do.
Suzy asks: Brian, we are going
to Disney World next week. My three kids went there with their
dad in June and have one unused day left on a 5-day Park Hopper
pass. Is there anywhere that you can buy park hopper passes
with one or two days left on them?
I don't want to buy a one day/one
WDW admission media is not transferable, so no, there is no where you can legally
buy (nor can you legally use) admission media that was used
by someone else. You can, however, buy admission media and
use a portion of it, then use the balance on another trip
(as you are already well aware).
Steve writes: Help!!! I had
wanted to go to Crystal Palace for the Character Breakfast
but as you know they are closed. So to appease my two year
old daughter and see Pooh we opted for Tony's. I have yet
to see any reviews on this as a character meal and Disney.com
hasn't updated their site yet. I guess my questions are these:
- Have you heard anything on Tony's
- How does the pre-plated meal work?
Is the food portion set or is it an all-you-can-eat type
I'm sooo confused.
The pre-plated character meals are still all you can eat,
they just are served on plates rather than having a buffet
to go up to.
You're right, though, there hasn't been much word on the
Tony's breakfast. It's only a temporary thing (until the Crystal
Palace rehab is complete), so I'll rely on you to tell us
how things are. :)
Rest easy, though. I'm sure you'll thoroughly enjoy the meal
and the time with the characters.
Jeanette asks: I believe I'd
read on your site that you did not have to have the pass in
your possession, or even own it yet, in order to get the discount
when booking your accommodations. I'd thought that it was
okay to book as a annual pass holder, as long as you were
able to present proof of this when checking in. However, when
I called the Disney reservation line, they told me that I
did have to be a annual pass holder at the time of reserving.
Do you have any tips on how we can get around this? We wish
to book now for a trip in 2/03 and wish to have the pass be
valid for as long as possible thereafter, in case we have
the opportunity to return.
We definitely appreciate any help
you may lend.
If you go to your local Disney store and buy your annual
pass, you'll be provided with vouchers that can be traded
in at one of the WDW parks for the actual annual pass. The
clock starts ticking from first use, not from purchase of
Then, with your vouchers in hand you should be able to get
the Central Reservations Office to give you your AP rates.
Laurie shares this experience: Hi Brian, I really
think your site is great. It's helping me plan which park
we'll be going to on what day.
My family of four went two years ago. At the time, my daughter
was two and my son was six. My husband had a business trip
and decided to take us at the last minute! I was by myself
in the parks for two days and then he joined us for several
more days. We had such a great time, we are going back this
year. My two year old barely remembers it so I'm anxious to
get her back there.
On the last trip, I was nervous about being by myself, but
the kids and I just had a blast! It was no problem, there
is truly something to do for every age.
I agree with your idea that one should be prepared to go
with the flow, especially with little ones. My children just
had to stop and play on some of those fantastic playgrounds
they have, at the time I briefly thought, "I've spent
all this money and you want to play on playground equipment?"
But then I thought, "Hey, let them do what they want."
They had a great time because of it, and I think I did too.
I did not notice the warnings about how terrifying Snow White
could be until after we got home, it scared the you know what
out of them, but other than that, things were pretty peachy!
Okay, I'll get to why I'm writing. I just wanted to comment
on two things. First: We stayed off site and are planning
to do so again. We are staying at Holiday Inn Family Suites.
On the last trip, my husband's travel agent accidentally booked
us at Holiday Inn Kidsuites. Not the same thing. After two
nights there, we decided to move because Kidsuites has uh,
seen it's day (kinda nasty).
We saw Family Suites right down the way and got a better
rate and a much better deal. I have to say it's a great place.
It's very close to the parks, and the rooms are incredible!
We are the kind of family that really needs more than one
room, FamilySuites also has what they call Kidsuites that
are three rooms. You get a living room, a themed room for
the kids complete with bunk beds, Nintendo and a VCR, and
a private bedroom for Mom and Dad, with workstation capability.
The couch in the living area also sleeps two. All the suite
rooms have TV and VCRs. This hotel was brand new two years
ago and was in excellent condition. Breakfast is free every
morning, plus the kids eat free the entire time. The place
also has two huge pools in separate courtyards, one with kids,
one for adults only. I think for the price ( this time it's
129.00 a night) you just can't beat it. In my opinion, unless
I could afford the Polynesian, or the Grand Floridian, it
really is a better deal for us. They also run shuttles back
and forth to the parks so you don't have to drive and park
if you don't want to. So I just wanted your readers to be
aware of that.
Now, having said that I'm staying off site again, the change
in perks really doesn't affect me. I considered staying at
a Disney resort, but with early entry suspended, that really
settled it for me. My second point is this: I didn't get any
of that stuff last time and still had a great time. I know
I haven't been THIS year. But I suspect it'll be great.
I live near Six Flags Over Texas. I just took my kids last
week. At one point, in the hot August Sun (and yes I was at
Disney in August as well.) I thought to myself, "Six
Flags sucks, Disney would never be like this." Last year
I was at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, and that place is really
bad. Six Flags Over Texas is actually a great place for thrills,
I just rode a great new coaster that is unlike anything I've
ever ridden, but Disney just smokes them when it comes to
every other aspect!
In terms of service, I was amazed at how nice and friendly
the staff was. My son's five dollar balloon deflated on the
first day, and at least three people stopped to make sure
I had a pass to get another one! That does not happen at other
theme parks. At Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags Fiesta
Texas, they barely even seem to notice if you're on the ride
correctly! I don't want to bag too much on Six Flags, we still
had a GREAT time, and it is the theme park of my childhood,
but the differences are hard to ignore! The detail in the
landscaping and the architecture at Disney is just so much
better! And Six flags Over Texas is an enormously popular
park! It just doesn't compare to the Disney experience.
Another thing, Six Flags used to have some really unique
shops and stuff like that, and now it's all Warner Brother's
merchandise and there's really not too much that is out of
the ordinary. As commercial and corporate as Disney is, at
least they still have some fun and different types of shops
and restaurants if you're willing to do a little research!
The change in park hours at WDW did take me by surprise,
but I'm staying over a weekend , so I'll get to hang out later
a couple of nights. I do think they should listen to what
people have to say. Hopefully, they'll bring back the early
entry Days again. However, I think people should remember,
the standard at Disney is way higher than anywhere else. And
the people working at Disney are human too. I also think they
keep Universal on their toes and vice versa!
This time, I am going to try to plan where we eat a little better and stuff like that, but if we get there and decide to do something
completely different than what was originally planned, so be it!
Thanks for the great web site!
Thanks for the great note. It's always good to have a reality
check. However, one other thing that sets Walt Disney World
apart from amusement parks is the very high cost of a vacation
there. When you include the cost of travel (vs. just going
to a regional amusement park), accommodations (especially
onsite), and park admission... the vacation is MUCH more expensive
than a trip to a regional amusement park.
That's why so many people are upset with Disney. The total
value of the vacation (I define value as "benefit divided
by cost"... as cost goes up, value goes down unless the
benefit goes up too) just has to be at least as good as it
used to be, but at Walt Disney World that's not the case.
|Vicki writes: Hi
Brian! First off I would like to tell you that your site and
column are the BEST! My husband, myself and our 9 year old twins
are planning our first trip to "The World" for October
of this year. We are SO excited (to say the least) and your
site has so much wonderful information!!! THANK YOU!!!!
Here's my question - we are staying
off site (a friend's parents have given us their timeshare
for the week - are they nice or what?) and I was wondering
if you had to be staying onsite to be able to put your kids
in the Neverland Club? I only want to do it for one night
so the hubby & I can go to Pleasure Island, if you know
the answer, could you please advise?
Thanks (again) for all the wonderful
information - I wish I could give you a 100% raise, but, 100%
of 0 is 0, right? So, none the less, you have my and many
others undying gratitude! Keep up the great work!!!
Although some of the kid's clubs at Walt Disney World DO
have a WDW-guest-only policy, that is not currently the case
at the Neverland Club. You must have reservations in advance,
though, so if you decide to consider one of the other kids
clubs that you ask about the policy first.
Thanks for the raise, too. ;)
Allan writes: Brian, and the
The wife and I were all set to spend
five days in one of the concierge suites on the monorail line
during October but we recently canceled our reservation. The
reason is very simple and the numbers here don't lie. We had
budgeted well over three thousand dollars for the five days
plus extras for special tours and souvenirs. The main reason
we decided to cancel is the park hours. I'd like to spend
the time seeing WDW on my schedule, not theirs. That would
only be like a vacation, not a real vacation.
Checking in early and having to rush
off to the parks is not a vacation. Having to forget about
an afternoon by the pool and seeing one of the parks instead
is not a vacation. Making early dinner reservations at one
of the restaurants at Epcot because it also closes early is
not a vacation. Being herded to certain parks with everyone
else because they're open later is not a vacation.
Someone at work gave me a WDW guide
where visiting the park is laid out like a military operation.
I keep meeting folks who come back from WDW exhausted from
trying to see everything. Needing a vacation after having
a vacation is not a vacation. Shorter hours have to make this
I understand that smaller crowds should
mean shorter hours. That's business. But even spending large
sums of money at a WDW resort gives no chance of time recapture
on the shorter hours through early opening or extended ticket
nights. I don't mind spending the money if it was worth it,
but it no longer seems like it is. I plan to write to Mr.
Haas and tell him I have three thousand survey points that
says waving to a few actors dressed as Disney characters in
the lobby of my resort is not an acceptable substitute for
extending the hours for resort guests.
And what's with the fireworks over
the castle just once a week? These guys never thought of having
a shorter show Wednesday night? I think a serious dope slap
is in order.
Instead of concierge service (on site)
we're going to be staying at the Courtyard Lake Buena Vista
for three nights, spend a couple of days in WDW and then seeing
what else is in South Florida, like Universal Studios. That's
next year. This year we're going to Rhode Island in the fall
While I don't plan to go to WDW in
the Fall I have become kind of addicted to all the Disney
sites; especially MousePlanet. Its really interesting to read
all the opinions and trip reports. The recent series from
Tokyo Disney is tremendous.
I have gotten in the habit of periodically
clicking on the Amazon honor box and sending a few dollars
of support. Its fast, very easy, very secure and very anonymous.
I encourage everyone to do it at least once.
Thanks for help us out with the Amazon Honor Box! The income
we get from that goes directly to our server and other expenses,
so we really appreciate it!
(Note: I purposely put
Allan's email at the bottom of today's column to put it close
to the Honor Box, just below, in case any one would be willing
to help us out a bit.)
As far as your other comments... I can certainly understand
why you've decided to stay off site for your next trip. Maybe
in the future Disney's service will improve to the point that
they'll be drawing people in rather than repelling them.
Well, I hope you enjoyed the reader feedback
for the WDW Trip Planning Guide! Feed free to send more questions
or comments to email@example.com!
Brian Bennett's Disney Trip Planner
Click here to see
some awesome WDW pieces that have run on MousePlanet recently!
here to check out the rest of Brian's Archive, including all of the previously
published "Notes From the World" pieces!
always gotten email about the WDW Trip Planning Guide, but since we added
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!
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!