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Brian Bennett

WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett

9/4/02

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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...

Julie writes: Hi Brian, I just wanted to give you some feedback on the trip I had in July with my family. My family included my mother, a 3 year-old, an 8 year-old, myself and my husband. We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge with an incredible Disney Club member rate that was almost the same as staying at the ALL STAR Resorts. Animal Kingdom Lodge was so nice and we were upgraded to a deluxe savannah room just by asking with no additional charges incurred!

I had enjoyed my previous trip to WDW this year although I mentioned some problems with Epcot and with the general repair of the parks. Well, I didn't even go to EPCOT in my five days this time, but the trip was truly WONDERFUL!

Everything was fabulous about this trip. I even noticed a considerable amount of painting and touch-up work being in done Magic Kingdom. Someone is listening to the masses because even as busy as it was in July, every attempt was being made to spruce up the parks. I was so pleased that I just wanted to write. I enjoy your site and it offers such great tips that I wanted to thank you ! I am excited about the next opportunity I will have to go back!

I Encourage your readers to visit mousesavers.com, and wdwplanner.com for more great ideas. Also, the Disney Club is really worth joining as I got this great deal in my email and I didn't find it anywhere else!! Thanks!

Thanks so much for the update, Julie!

Another MousePlanet reader reports on a recent trip: Brian, we have just returned from a 3 week holiday in Florida. We had 10 day hopper passes and found that compared to our last visit (August 1997) - All the Disney resorts (even the Magic Kingdom) were very quiet - not long queues as in previous trip. We queued for Spash Mountain for an hour in 1997, this time, we never needed fast pass, arrived at ride at 10:05a.m. was on the ride by 10:17a.m. We used Fastpass for the Buzz Lightyear ride as our 4 yr old was so excited he couldn't wait.

Just a couple of comments - firstly do you know why the Tomorrow land Speedway track does not have Fastpass?? We were in line for 35 minutes and this is where we noticed a handicapped young man in his own wheelchair having to queue in line and was not placed at front of queue. He had to be carried onto the ride by his parents with no help from crew members. I found this quiet upsetting as several people in WDW were in WDW Wheelchairs and most seemed able bodied i.e. could walk and get in and out of rides with ease - I do not have a problem with GENUINE disabled people getting onto rides but when the supposedly disabled person and his group of friends totalling in all 15 queue jump then I do find this irritating. Do Disney ask for proof of disability before giving these people the wheelchairs??????

I must say that the Island of Adventures was voted by our 13 and 11 year olds as the best place in Florida - I was upset as the Disney magic seems to have passed them by and they want fast new rides. The Aerosmith ride in Disney was given 10/10 by me !!!!! went on to 4 times. The movie ride was the same as 5 years ago and I think Disney really need to update some of its shows, ie Little Mermaid, Hunchback of Notre Dame etc - Why not have a Toy Story show or a more recent Disney film???

Just a few comments for you to answer. Thank you. Great site.

Thanks for the note. However, I honestly can't answer your questions other than providing my own conjecture. Only the managers at WDW really know why Fastpass hasn't reached the Speedway yet, why disabled guests can't be provided with help by Cast Members (although I strongly suspect that legal concerns are the issue there), and why the shows and attractions aren't updated as often as we all might like.

Disney does not ask for proof of disability before renting wheelchairs. They take people's word that they need such help, and when Cast Members see someone in a wheelchair, they assume (and I think rightfully so) that those folks need some extra time or assistance. Keep in mind that some folks have limited mobility (i.e. they can walk short distances and so on) but need the wheelchair because they just can't handle a full day in the parks without them.

Those people that don't need them, but rent wheelchairs to gain special favors in the parks, are few and far between I think. It's unfortunate, but I don't think it's a good idea for Disney to penalize the innocent in order to nail the guilty here.

Tim writes: Sadly, I have to agree with most of Alan's rant on WDW. The sky-high cost of staying on-sight, and paying for things you may not use, (Ultimate hopper for ex.) makes for a not so enjoyable visit. Unless you are in the "money-to-burn" tax bracket, there is a simple way to get your money's worth (or at least try).

I use a 60/40 rule when visiting. For example, if staying 6 nights, get a 4-day hopper. And if you don't use it all up, it is still good for next time. Also, not being in "commando" mode from the onset, (as I used to be) makes for a much more enjoyable vacation.

One point he made didn't make sense- making early dinner reservations in Epcot because it closes early- as far as I have seen, the world showcase is still open until nine.

On another note- a writer mentioned how good the Holiday Inn family suites are. The key being that it is still a fairly new property. I stayed at the Ramada inn maingate in 2000, and it is, well I'll just say, showing it's age. The comfort suites down the road (near Splendid China) is fairly NEW and very nice. (2002 visit).

I also heard that the Halloween nights are going to be extra special this year. Any idea what this means, or is it just another Disney marketing ploy? Thanks!!

Thanks for the observations, Tim.

I don't know exactly what you mean by, "Halloween nights are going to be extra special," other than some veiled rumors I've heard. Of course, it might just mean that Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will be running.

There's more information on the party on this page.

Steve writes: My recommendation is to stay clear of the MK after 4pm on Night of Joy days...Sept 6 and 7. Groups are allowed to enter the park early (4pm and sometimes earlier if Disney feels like it) so an influx of kids comes in during the afternoon. The park closes to day guests at 6pm both nights. The groups get a braclet that allows them to stay in the park until the event begins. This was in response to the huge success of Universals Rock the Universe (their version of Night of Joy) that happens the same weekend. They follow a similar schedule and groups can get in there early too. Its a shame that both parks feel the need to compete in this market every year over the same weekend.

Thanks, Steve. I appreciate the details.

I guess the one thing that day guests might consider doing later is shopping. No one will toss them out of the park, they just won't be able to ride any attractions after 6:00pm without that bracelet, but shopping would be permitted.

In a follow-up, Steve writes: Its true that guests may want to shop but two things I would consider is that Main Street is both closing to day guests and opening to groups so it is very busy since you have people entering and exiting and Disney works hard to clear the park of day guests to get ready for the hard ticket party. So after 6pm Disney politely asks day guest to exit the park a little quicker than on a normal day.

Yes, I can believe that. But even on a regular night, park guests can mosey around in the Emporium and other shops before leaving for the night.

Scott asks: Brian, In your last update you talked about a "new" Princess Breakfast. Could you please update me on this as I was unaware of this offering. When we attended last April, we went to Cinderella's royal Table for Breakfast and my young daughter just loved it.

You also said that you can call 120 days before your trip. I thought this was 60 days before your planned arrival.

Please update me on these two items.

Scott,

The new princess character breakfast is being held over at Ankershus at Epcot. It's very similar to the one at Cinderella's Royal Table, and adds some much-needed capacity. :)

Many restaurants at WDW have a 120 day rule. Some, the most popular such as Cinderella's Royal Table, are limited to 60 days.

Mia writes: Glenn had inquired about videos featuring Epcot and/or WDW. The Travel Channel (if your local cable company provides it) runs these specials all the time - and they are FANTASTIC!

Alternately, he can inquire with any travel agent. Disney sends these videos to agents to help sell their vacations. If he isn't able to find a local agent with a video, please pass along my email address, and I will gladly get one out to him. :)

Thanks Mia!

Scott writes: In your last column, reader Glenn asked about TV programs on the parks. The Travel Channel has been airing a series of programs related to WDW over the last several months (and may repeat them occasionally). Topics have included Behind the Scenes at WDW; Imagineers, DisneySeas; Animal Kingdom Lodge; and The Grand Floridian Resort. Check the Travel Channel website regularly to see if repeat showings are scheduled.

Sharon said much the same thing: Brian, In today's column, you shared a series of Q&A's from Glenn. One of his questions related to finding "programs on the different parks". Might something on the Travel Channel (Inside Secrets of Walt Disney World or the more recent show on Imagineers) be what he is looking for?

Just a thought as my son and I have enjoyed these shows tremendously.

Good point. I've been enjoying those shows myself. :)

Michelle wrote: Brian, In response to Glenn's question about other videos on the Walt Disney World parks, there is a nice video you can get by calling the merchandising phone# at the parks. The video is called, "Four Parks, One World". It is dated 2000 but has a lot of ride clips from the parks. I ordered my at the beginning of the year. Perhaps they still have them.

Thanks for all your great information.

Thanks Michelle, I'll share your idea in an upcoming piece. (Editor's note: I also have that tape. It's not a great one, but my boys have enjoyed watching it so it just might be helpful for Glenn.)

Richard provided this feedback: Hi Brian, I note in your latest column that you mention that booking at DVC resorts follows the same pattern as the rest of the parks. This is not true. DVC resorts for the first two weeks of December fill up early and are now completely sold out while the rest of the hotels at the world have plenty of availability. For them it is a slow season, but not for DVC. You also state that admission media is not transferable. While this may be the official rule, it is routinely circumvented wth the assistance of the cast members who sell it to you. Just buy your park hoppers marked as "Adult" and if it isn't used up on that trip, any adult can use it on a subsequent trip. I repeat that this was suggested by the CM who sold us the tickets (for my in-laws). Also, are you certain that the "clock starts ticking from first use, not from the day of purchase of " an annual pass? That used to be the rule, however Disney changed that several years ago and now the clock ticks from the day you buy it, regardless of when it is first used. Many people stopped renewing their APs by mail in order to get the small cash discount because of exactly this fact! Keep up the good work.

Richard,

The DVC resorts do NOT fill up that fast in early December. For proof, I cite the DVC point charts that still show early December as "Adventure Season," the lowest of all of the point seasons for the DVC resorts.

Back in 1999, though, Old Key West Resort and the Boardwalk DID book extremely early for December. The reason was artificial, though. What happened is that many early DVC owners (primarily having Old Key West Resort as their home resort) had been given length-of-stay passes through the year 1999. Many, many owners tried to get one last trip in before their length-of-stay pass privilege expired. Since then, though, those two weeks remain fairly quiet.

On the issue of transferring admission media, I can not condone doing so when the passes themselves state that that is not permitted. I would say it's one of those, "...if your friend jumps off a cliff" things and would not do it.

Finally, on when the annual pass "clock starts ticking," I have to be very careful. When buying a NEW Annual or Premium Annual Pass, the clock does start ticking from first use. However, on renewals the clock starts ticking from expiration of the old pass (not from the purchase date, as you stated). Basically, that ensured that WDW has an income stream equal to the number of APs that are in use at any given time, rather than allowing folks to buy an AP, use it up, then buy a renewal... but not actually use the renewal for a few months, thus extending the use of the renewal to twelve months from the first use of the renewal. This change in policy affects only renewals. For some folks, depending on the timing of their trips, it might just make more sense to let an old AP or PAP expire and buy a new one with a later expiration date.

In a follow-up, Richard writes: Hi Brian, Well, you can cite the DVC point chart for proof, however I can tell you that it is well known among my fellow DVC members that DVC resorts sell out early for the first two weeks of December--and if you don't believe me, call member services and try to book a room at Old Key West, Wilderness Lodge Villas, Boardwalk Villas, or Beach Club villas for between Nov.29 and December 11. SOLD OUT.

As far as having extra days left on admission media, when the CAST MEMBERS advise you to have "Adult" put on there instead of a person's name so someone else can use it later, I think it's fairly safe to say that Disney is condoning this. If Disney didn't condone it, they would make you put the person's actual name on the card. They don't, and you're misleading your readers if you don't advise them of this. You are actually COSTING THEM MONEY instead of saving them money.

Regarding the Annual Pass, if you choose to RENEW your pass in order to take advantage of their measly discount, then the clock starts ticking from the date of expiration--this is also the date of renewal, so in this case we are both correct. If you allow your pass to expire (the only smart thing to do!), then the clock only starts ticking when you buy your new pass--NOT upon first usage. Your language here is not clear to the reader. There really is little reason to renew your annual pass before you return to the park. Everyone will get much more mileage out of the pass (more trips, more days) if they don't renew until they actually go to the park and need to use it.

I'll try to call Member Services when I can to confirm the early December booking rates.

On the admission media issue I want to respond to a specific statement you made. You said, "you're misleading your readers if you don't advise them of this. You are actually COSTING THEM MONEY instead of saving them money." I don't see that my personal goal in writing on MousePlanet is to save anyone any money. Rather, I want folks that travel to WDW to enjoy their trip while getting as much value from their vacation dollar as possible. I personally wouldn't transfer admission media when the formal policy of WDW is that it is not permitted. For one thing, I tend to be ultra conservative and I'd rather err on the side of caution just so my having pushed things doesn't adversely affect my trip experience. On a very personal note, I would be cautious because I don't want my bending of rules to be a bad example to my sons. I'm not the end authority on how to handle all situations. I don't mean to be the "WDW morality police." Clearly all WDW vacationers have to decide such things for themselves.

Finally, on the Annual Pass issue, I think we had a miscommuncation...

You stated,

"If you allow your pass to expire (the only smart thing to do!), then the clock only starts ticking when you buy your new pass--NOT upon first usage. Your language here is not clear to the reader. There really is little reason to renew your annual pass before you return to the park. Everyone will get much more mileage out of the pass (more trips, more days) if they don't renew until they actually go to the park and need to use it."

I completely agree! My language was not very clear.

My statement about the clock not starting on an Annual Pass until first use is absolutely correct. However, what I had in my mind was that people consider (again, this isn't the best answer for everyone) the option of buying Annual Pass VOUCHERS from their local Disney store before their trip. Then, when they turn in the vouchers to get their APs and use them for the first time (which is what I meant by "first use") the clock starts up.

Anthony writes: Just a small note. I believe that in-room refrigerators are complimentary for guests needing them for medical reasons. Since Glen's dad needs to keep his insulin cool that they may waive the $10 per day rental charge.

I love the site. Keep up the good work.

And Alan added: Brian, as a Central Florida resident and frequent visitor to the parks, I enjoy your column. In one recent report, Glenn wrote:

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.

Back in the days when I lived in NJ, I stayed at the other two All Star Resorts. I am also a diabetic. When used for keeping insulin cold, they always provided refrigerators free of charge. I assume this is still the policy, and might be worth asking about.

Can anyone confirm that WDW still does this?

On the issue of the services at Luau Cove, Greg writes: Hi, Brian! I think one reason why Disney had the church services to begin with was to help promote the idea that you do not need a car to visit Disney World. You could spend your entire vacation there and rely exclusively on Disney transportation; why, Disney would even have church services for you!

That was a wonderful and novel idea when millions of people were flying to the World.

But I suspect Disney's research has shown that, after 9/11, more people are preferring to drive, not fly...so many guests are probably coming WDW with cars anyway.

(Being Catholic, I also suspect the Catholic dioceses in Florida were finding it harder and harder to provide priests. They are probably stretched very thin these days.)

Whatever the reason, it's a shame. It was a nice little perk that helped Disney's family-friendly image -- and I think those who were accustomed to it will feel -- unfortunately and perhaps incorrectly -- dissed by Disney.

Good point, Greg.

Also on that topic, Ken writes: >heavy sigh< It's a little sad that lower attendance would cause a church/priest to give up doing this. On the other hand, there's now on opportunity for churches with vision and passion to step in and attract Christian WDW vacationers. There might be an opportunity for something radical there - tourist-centered ministry. Dunno what that might look like, but maybe they could focus on ideas that folks could take back to their own churches or preach on topics relevant to a vacation situation (keeping your cool when this is costing heaps and your kids are having a meltdown, crying that they wanna go home?). I remember being surprised to see God at WDW - look around and see the love and attention lavished on the place. That's the best of the human heart at work, the part that God touches even in people who don't know Him personally. Just the idea that someone cared enough to build a huge place devoted to families having fun together reveals the heart of God.

Nice thoughts, Ken. Perhaps some local congregation will take you up on your suggestions. :)

Finally, on the Luau Cove service issue Steve writes: Brian, I was at the Contemporary on Saturday and the monorail had a sign up that said something along the line of the service has been cancelled at Luau Cove and there was a number to call for more information and transportation. It seems that transportation is available from the Disney hotels if you want to attend. Hope that helps.

Thanks, Steve. It's nice to hear that Disney is making transportation readily available.

Debbie writes: Hi! I was reading your updates as always and saw a question from Glenn about my last email I sent you concerning how we celebrated my son's birthday. We actually didn't go to City Hall at all. When I made the Chef Mickey priority seating I mention that It would be my son's birthday while we were there. They put it into their magic computer and when we went to Chef Mickey's we saw it on all our priority seating printout. The button they gave my son at Chef Mickey's was BIG. Also, since it was not a sticker, he wore it the entire trip.

And you were right- it is like gold! It also does not hurt when your birthday child repeats to everyone he sees that it is his birthday! It doesn't take the kids long to figure out their sitting on a gold mine! My advice to anyone who wants a royal birthday experience at disney-- tell everyone you talk to about the special event before and during your trip without being to pushy or expecting anything. Some go out of their way to make the day special and some just nod. I hope this helps! Keep Up The Great Work!

Thanks for the additional information, Debbie.

Elizabeth writes: In your 8/19 column, James discusses the letter he sent to Disney about EE, and the reply he received from Thomas Haas. We definitely had a different response--I had read on RADP that Disney was beginning to make noises that EE might actually return some day, so I asked my husband to email them (since I had done so when EE was first dropped!). Mr. Haas called a few days later, and couldn't reach my husband (who works really stupid hours). Before closing the file, Mr. Haas actually called on a SUNDAY afternoon and spoke with my husband about his concerns. It seems that Disney has received so many complaints / questions / concerns / what have you about EE that they really are rethinking it. Mr. Haas told us that he believes we will see a return of EE, at least during slower seasons when Disney needs more incentives to fill their resort rooms, and probably in 6 months or so. I suggest we keep the pressure on them!

Thanks for your wonderful site--and get ready for another one of my "Michener-esque" TRs after our Dec. 7-15 trip! I'm planning on writing another novel for you!

I'll be looking forward to that trip report!

Thanks, too, for the news about your conversations with Mr. Haas. I'll share your note in an upcoming piece. Hopefully, WDW will change their mind on that one if enough people let them know that they want Early Entry reinstated. :)

On this issue of securing an Annual Pass discount for WDW accommodations, Mike wrote: I would encourage (the other reader) to just call back (and speak with a different WDW representative). I called about a year ago and when I told them that I wanted to book an annual pass rate, they asked for my name so they could look me up in the records. I told them I didn't own a pass yet, but would have one at checkin. They then had no problems in giving me all the AP rate information for my stay and I would have been able to make my reservation if it weren't for the fact that I was getting a lesser rate with a discount code.

Mike,

I see that your solution would work just fine, since the AP is double-checked at check in (or at least it is supposed to be).

Elenor writes: Hi Brian, my 15-year-old son and I just returned from a week a WDW and I want to thank MousePlanet (and Mousesavers) for so much useful information.

I wanted to pass along our experience upgrading a child's pass to an adult's. We had not been to WDW in six years and my son's old hopper pass had two days left. We stopped by Guest Relations (at Epcot) and they converted it at no charge to a current adult hopper pass with two days left. Not only that, I had two (vintage 1996) adult passes from that previous trip (each with one day left), which they also converted. When I asked about using them at the Animal Kingdom, which wasn't open in 1996, they said, that's OK, you can use these in any of the theme parks!

Although I had to adjust my expectations somewhat with just a teenager along (my husband couldn't make the trip with us unfortunately), we had a great time. Thankfully, my son is old enough to do some things on his own, so that helped. One night he went to Disney Quest while I went to Cirque du Soleil, for example. We had a postcard code for the moderate resorts, but when I called to book the room, I asked if there were discounts at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. It was a bit pricier than I wanted to spend ($143 for standard, $210 for savanna view), so I booked three nights standard and four savanna. We were pleasantly surprised at check-in that we were assigned a savanna view room for the entire stay. We just had to get new keys after the third day, but stayed in the same room.

Boma became our favorite place to eat (you can imagine how much food a 15-year-old can pack away!) and we had dinner there four times and breakfast twice. We used the buses for the major parks (longest wait about 10 minutes, but usually less then 5), but used our rental car for Downtown Disney and Typhoon Lagoon. Another big hit with my son was the Adventurers' Club at PI (we were selected as "The Funkles" substitute for the evening). Thanks again for your informative website. Now my husband is so envious he wants to go back ASAP!

Thanks for the note, Elenor!

Your was the first guest confirmation that I've received that replacements of old park hoppers can be used at all parks (not just the parks that they were originally "good" for.)

I'll share your note in the column ASAP!

A WDW Cast Member wrote me this note: I enjoyed reading your web site and would like to give a heart felt thank you on the information that you are giving out.

I work for the transportation department at WDW, most of the guest do not under stand how simple the transportation is, some times longer than it should be. The section on setting with the driver on the monorail is right to the point. Most guest do not understand that it is a privilege -- not a right -- to sit up front with the driver.

There recently was a change in policy for riding up in the cab on the resort monorail. Each station now has a train assigned to it (color can and does change) and anyone that requests an up-front ride at that particular station is granted their request only on the train assigned to that station.

If someone is already riding "up front," they may be asked to give up the front seats if someone is waiting at the station for which that train is designated. However, if no one is waiting then they are welcome to remain up front. You would not believe how many fights we have over this.

Thanks so much for your kind words and the helpful information.

(Editor's Note: One thing that I would like to take this opportunity to say is that I, along with the vast majority of other WDW visitors, truely appreciate the tremendous job that the WDW Cast does. Not only do Cast Members perform their jobs efficiently and effectively, but they also do a fabulous job of creating a relaxing and friendly atmosphere for our vacations. Thanks to all of the WDW Cast Members that work so hard while we're all playing!)

Michelle writes: Dear Brian, I just wanted to take some time and thank you profusely for your photo tours you are doing on the WDW resorts. I can not tell you enough how much you have and still are helping my husband and I with our trip planning. We have only had the chance to visit WDW once (for our honeymoon this past July ... trip report on the way...!) We stayed at the Contemporary after reading and doing research mainly from your photo tour of that resort and the rest of MousePlanet's WDW Trip Planning Guide. We had a fabulous time and are excited to bring our daughter when she is old enough. So, thank you again and have a fabulous day!

Ken adds: Thanks, Brian. That was a great photo tour of Wilderness Lodge. I felt like I was there again. We bought into DVC and are deeded at the Villas at Wilderness Lodge. The photos reminded me of some of the things I'd forgotten about - like the microwave in the studio kitchenette. Or the wash/dry in the one- and two-bedroom units.

Anyway, thanks. This is why I visit MousePlanet more than any other Disney site, including (maybe especially) Disney.com.

And to wrap things up, Tim writes: Brian, I enjoyed the photo tour of Wilderness Lodge. We always make it a point to go there for a meal during our visit.

One small point- The lodge is modeled after the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park. The huge lobby is very similar to it, in fact (although Disney's is bigger of course). There is no Yellowstone Lodge per say. Thanks!

Thanks for the correction, Tim. And to all of you, thanks so much for the kind note! I just wish I had more time to put those kinds of pages together. I have tons of pictures... but so little time. :)

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

Q.

Marlene writes: I absolutely love your site. It has been my main source of information while planning our upcoming first time trip to WDW. We are booked into Port Orleans, Riverside, Alligator Bayou. All of the feedback you have posted on this resort is from last year. Do you have any more recent reviews that you can share with me?

A.

Marlene,

MousePlanet now maintains a bulletin-board-based review system for resort and restaurant reviews. I did a quick check and there does appear to be a review in the system that is newer. I'll use your note in an upcoming Notes From the World article, too, to see if we can get some more folks to send in those reviews!

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Q.

Barbara asks: Hello! What is the most reasonably priced form of transportation to get from the airport to a Disneyworld resort? We don't want to rent a car. Thanks.

A.

Barbara,

This page lists several shuttle services that you can consider.

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Q.

Robert asks: Hi Brian, I know that E-Ride nights are scheduled at the whim of Disney, but I am making reservations for the Hoop Dee Doo Review and Polynesian Luau for my family trip in February and I do not want conflicts with E-Ride nights do you know the historical dates for that period.

Thanx for all your Help.

A.

Robert,

Although nothing is ever guaranteed regarding E-Ride Nights, Tuesdays and Fridays seem to have been the most common days for them. Until and unless something is scheduled, my best advice would be to keep those two days of the week open just in case.

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Q.

Kimmie, who signs herself, "an ex-reader," writes: Hi Brian, I am writing this e-mail to you because before our trip to Walt Disney World I read you site to get tips since it had been a few years since I had been. It was very helpful!!

Since we have returned I have visited your site every now and then to see what everyone is saying in your column. I am sorry to say that I will not be doing this anymore!!!

The people that are writing to you are nothing but a bunch of whiners!!! One person was complaining because the logs on Splash Mountain needed painting!! PLEASE you are at Walt Disney World and all you can notice is a log that needs painting??? Another person was complaining about riding a bus with people that ONLY pay $40 for their accommodation, excuse me??? You pay more so you are better than everyone else???

Maybe these people should go on vacation somewhere else for a change and give Disney a break!!! It is the greatest place on Earth, next to Disneyland, which I happen to prefer.

For a person that has never been there before, trust me when I say that they will never notice that a log is not painted or they had to ride with $40 a night guests!! They will be truly mesmerized by the pure magic of it all!!! Maybe if these people wouldn't go every year they would remember the first time they went and how truely magical it really is!!

When we went in June, it was my husband's first time there and he loved it!! This was my fourth trip there and guess what? I loved every inch of it and I still got goose bumps when I saw the fireworks, Fantasmic, the light parade, the Hall of Presidents... and I still found the magic.

My advice is to find something worth while to complain about!!

A.

Kimmie,

Most of the folks that read my Notes From the World column probably feel like you do. However, I think it's worthwhile to consider the other point of view -- not in an attempt to ruin someone's vacation, but rather to make them fully and completely aware of what value they will receive for the money they spend.

A trip to WDW is a very expensive proposition. As long as potential trip planners KNOW what they are going to get for their money, they can plan accordingly and, hopefully, will be completely satisfied with the decisions they make before the trip and thoroughly enjoy their vacation as a result.

I'm sorry you consider yourself an "ex-reader." I hope you'll consider coming back sometime and just skip over the emails that you think are complaints. I do try to mix them up and add a mix of good and bad reports. :)

The other thing to keep in mind is that my column is geared toward trip planning and not just enjoying the magic of Walt Disney World. Although it's hard to separate the two, isn't it? ;)

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Q.

Jim asks: Hello Brian, what a wonderful web site! I have bitten badly by the Disney Bug and am planning a Honeymoon to the World in May. My fiance and I are staying at the Grand Floridian for eight nights.

Our reservation is for a garden view, but we openly wish for an upgrade to a Lagoon view and / or consierge. What approach do you think is best to achieve this? Are the occasion and time of year something that we can capitalize on?

A.

Jim,

This page has information on how to try to maximize the special treatment you might get on a trip you're taking for a special occasion. There is NEVER a guarantee that you'll get such an upgrade, but you can improve your chances by following the suggestions that are laid out on that page. The only sure-fire way of getting an upgrade, though, is to pay up front for the kind of room you want. Ask and you MAY receive. Pay, and you'll get it for sure.

I'd also suggest that you read through this page, as it has a LOT of information that can make a honeymoon trip a bit more special!

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Q.

Jodi writes: Hi Brian, I am planning my second trip to WDW with my family of 5. The first trip we stayed at the AS Sports and loved it! But my daughter was then 2 1/2 and we got away with a crib for her. Now that she is older we are face with the "discriminatory" task of finding a hotel that will accomodate 5 but won't break our piggy banks. Most choices for a family of our size are in the deluxe range. Not too fair, I'd say. But I did find a moderate resort, Port Orleans-Riverside, that has a trundle option. Is this the only hotel in an affordable range?

Secondly, we are still deciding our dates. Our last trip, we were there the week after Thanksgiving, and I have to say it was close to perfect; no lines, beautifully decorated for the holidays.... The only thing that we would have changed a bit was the weather. We had beautiful 70 degree days, but the nights were much cooler. Swimming wasn't much of an option on any of the days. On our last day we were in our hats, gloves, and coats...not my idea of Florida. Luckily we are a family from Pittsburgh and left a freezing climate to come to WDW, or we would not have had the right clothes along. We just would like to spend some more time in the water this trip.

Therefore, we were looking at dates near the end of March. Unfortunately, I have read three different books, all of which say that this time period is a potential nightmare on Main St. This scares me, but again the weather. Is the fact that Easter is so far into April a break in any way? Could this year be an exception to this rule? All of my books are from 2002 or earlier, so they do not address this year's calendar. Just wanted some advice from an expert thanks.

A.

Jodi,

Yes, Port Orleans is the only non-Deluxe resort on Disney property that can handle a family of five in a single room. Be aware, too, that the trundle bed is really only useful for a young child. An adult will NOT fit!

Regarding the time of year to visit, you have the story pretty straight. The two weeks that straddle Easter Sunday are the worse of the Spring by far. March will be better. February would be better yet. :) My own personal favorite time of the year, though is September / October. The crowds are low and the weather is still very nice.

-

Q.

Alden asks: Hi Brian, I thank you for your column - you offer true, insightful, honest answers to some tough questions! Mine should seem quite simple!

We are traveling to WDW early in December (we have booked concierge at the Grand Floridian - this is a once in a lifetime deal!), will be visiting the parks first then will be going on a cruise. We are staying in a family verandah room, connecting with our friends in a one bedroom suite.

The itinerary lists a 'concierge' service, and we cannot figure out what concierge on the cruise lines could mean. Everything seems to be taken care of already. Any clues on what this service will include?

Also, this will be our 2nd trip to the world, and probably will have to sustain us for at least two or three years. We are traveling with 4 adults, 2 12-year-old boys, a 9-year-old girl, 8-year-old boy & 6-year-old girl. Any suggestions on how to divide & conquer? We are thinking of the Christmas processional in Epcot and including the dining package - any suggestions? Lastly, is MVMCP really worth the extra expense?

I thank you in advance. If you can answer at least one of my questions, I am eternally grateful!

A.

Alden,

I believe that the concierge service that you referred to is the concierge service during the WDW portion of your land/cruise package. If I am correct, it's the level of service that you'll get at the Grand Floridian. I'd suggest that you contact your travel agent, though, and get clarification of that.

I'd suggest that you go to this page, and look over the pages that are listed in the section that is headed, "Planning Your Day." The ideas there apply to everyone, but they're especially helpful for families -- like yours -- with young children. The basic premise is to take your days in the parks in chunks of time. Don't go into the parks like "Disney commandos" from morning to night!!!! I'll let you read those pages for the details. It really does make sense. :)

I think your ideas on the Candlelight Processional dinner and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party are good ones. They add additional cost, of course, so you'll have to balance them against your budget, but they are very memorable events!

Q.

Billie writes: We were at Disney this past Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday with a teen church group. We ended our trip with dinner at Tony's! This was a most enjoyable way to end our day and the food was excellent!

Some in our party got the pasta with 4 (or was it 6?) cheeses with the Italian ham. I believe it was an appetizer. It was just wonderful. I am wondering if you give out recipes?!

Our church is having a national meeting for singles and I would love to be able to have this for the staff. I realize this is asking a lot but would really appreciate this recipe.

Thank you, in advance, for any consideration you can give me with this request.

A.

Billie,

I'd suggest that you call the general WDW information number(407) 824-4321 and ask to be transferred to Tony's. Very likely, you'll be given the recipe. I know that this has worked at other restaurants, so I'd give it a shot if I were you.

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Q.

Candy writes: Brian, as always I enjoy the site and all the input and hard work you do.

My husband and I are going in November - just the two of us this time.

My question is this: With Early Entry being eliminated, how has it affected the crowds at a particular park on a particular day or are there still days where you should try to avoid certain parks? It used to be easier to tell because of the Early Entry system. Just wondering how/if the elimination of this affected attendence.

A.

Candy,

This page has a chart that shows relative crowd levels in the various parks. I'd suggest you read the entire section headed, "An Analysis of Which Park to Visit on Which Day."

The elimination of Early Entry has definately affected park crowd levels on those days that Early Entry used to be offered for any given park. However, for the most part the Early Entry days were already scheduled for those days that tended to be busier, so the normal patterns are still pretty much the same... you just won't see as quick of a build-up of people first thing in the morning.

-

Q.

Maria writes: Information on Cirque de Solei.

A.

Maria,

Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba at Walt Disney World is an extravagant circus-based (but it's a real insult to call it a "circus") show. The acrobatics are spectacular, and the special effects are dazzling. This is a pricey event (call (407) 934-7639 for information or to order tickets.)

More information on each of the Cirque du Soleil shows is available at their own website.

Here's a direct link to the page on WDW's La Nouba.

-

Q.

Kerry asks: My 6' 7" son was recently turned down at two rides at Great America. Any too tall restrictions that you know of at WDW?

A.

Kerry,

To the best of my knowledge, there is no maximum height for any WDW attraction.

-

Q.

Kimi asks: Hi Brian, thanks so much for your website. There's so much great information on it, I don't know how you guys keep up with everything.

I have a questions about what used to be Discovery Island. At one point in time they were looking at turning it into an attraction based on the computer game that I think was called Myst. Are they still planning on doing this?

Just wondering if you've heard anything recently. Thanks for your response.

A.

Kimi,

The Myst rumor swirled around for a few months a couple of years back, but it was just that... a rumor. Disney hasn't made any plans for the island.

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Q.

Scott writes: Dear Brian, I love the site and really appreciate the work you do. I would like your opinion on a planning issue. I last took the family to WDW about 6 years ago during the first week of June and we had a wonderful time. I am now planning a trip for next year but the kids are older and school schedules limit my options (I have three boys who will be 11, 13 and 15).

Basically I am looking at two options. Option 1 would be immediately after school lets out for the summer from June 13-22 while option 2 would be during Spring break from April 11-20 (Easter will be on April 20 next year). In your opinion, which of these two options would be least crowded, more comfortable and more fun? Thanks for all your help!

A.

Scott,

In my opinion, the Easter timeframe would be better. The crowd levels will be a bit higher then, than June, but the weather -- although very warm -- will be much less humid and hot than two months later. However, if your family is from a Southern climate and the heat isn't an issue, you'll definately have a marked difference in crowd levels if you go in June.

-

Q.

Lisa writes: Brian, I enjoy your site sooo much! I've been using it for several years and several trips now and I can't tell you how much it has helped me. I followed you through the adoption of your second son and I cried like a baby when I read that you had him back with you after the ordeal. Anyhow, I feel like I know you as a friend!

I am planning a trip to WDW the week after Christmas this year. Last year we took 83 people with us Thanksgiving week to participate in the Disney Youth and Educational Series. What a trip!!! Other than that, all of our trips (this will be the 6th for my husband and me) have been in March and May.

We have three kids, ages 13, 8 and 6 and we try and economize everyway possible. Our problem with the value and moderate resorts is that our youngest has "aged out" and now counts as a fifth person in the room. Only one of the resorts in the value and moderate range can accommodate five people in one room. We like to at least have a frige and microwave for breakfast and lunch, and none in that category have a microwave. We have tried offsite once but it was too much of a hassle taking afternoon breaks.

Now we are doing something totally different. This time we will be pulling our 35 ft. travel trailer from South Carolina to Orlando. We love our camper and have stayed as many as eight nights at a time in it at other places but haven't pulled it quite that far before so this will be a challenge. I would like to have any feedback that you or any of your readers might have on camping at Fort Wilderness.

Our plan is to arrive in Orlando on December 28th and stay at a KOA Campground until January 1st and then move to Fort Wilderness for our remaining four nights. This way, we will not have to pay $80+/night for Fort Wilderness, as the value season starts January 1st. For the first time ever we plan to visit those non-Disney parks. We will do this the first part of our trip, since we will be staying offsite during that time.

I have read that Christmas week is the busiest time to go to WDW but I figure that by the value rates starting on January 1st, it must slow down there somewhere, so our last five days will be at Disney.

Disney doesn't have any schedules posted for that time yet so I would like to find out what to expect for park hours and crowds. I didn't have any trouble at all making Hoop De Doo reservations for New Year's Eve night when I called last week, the Cast Member told me that the parks would be open until 1:00 a.m. that night.

Any info or pointers you can give would be much appreciated. Thanks again for all you do.

A.

Lisa,

Thanks for the kind words about Michael and the adoption situation. Thank goodness that's all behind us now! :)

The parks will be open very late on New Year's Eve because of the midnight aspect of that holiday. You will see lower crowds after the 1st than Christmas week, but there is still some "hangover" (pardon the pun) from folks that do as you are -- and extend their trip a bit into the new year. However, the park hours will show a very sudden drop to off season times.

If you just plan to expect the worst on both crowds and park hours, you'll be in position for a pleasant surprise should you find that my doom and gloom turns out to be exaggerated.

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Q.

Susan writes: I am not sure if you can help me, but I will try. I just returned from WDW (second time this year) and I was trying to find a trivia book on the building and developing of the four parks. Do you either have a suggestion or know an email address at Disney that I might be able to get an idea from? Thanks for your help.

A.

Susan,

First, I'd try Amazon.Com. If you have any inkling about the title of the book, you should be able to search for it and pick it up there.

The only way that won't work is if the book is published and distributed only at the Disney parks (WDW in particular). In that case, you'd have to call WDW Merchandising at (407) 363-6200 and ask them the same question.

Q.

Trish writes: Question: We are going to disneyworld in early september when it will still be hot. We want to chunk our day and rest in the afternoon but the parks all close really early. We've only been to Disney when they've been open late. Any suggestions??? What can we do at night with a 4 year old and a senior?

A.

Trish,

I put this page together to give a list of things to do on the first day of a trip when the arriving guests don't want to use up a day on their park passes when they are arriving later in the afternoon or evening. The situation (except for the discussion about what to do with luggage and so on) fits your questions well.

Hope the ideas listed there help!

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!

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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!

 

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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.