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
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
Thanks so much for the update, Julie!
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
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
You also said that you can call 120
days before your trip. I thought this was 60 days before your
Please update me on these two items.
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
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. :)
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
Just a thought as my son and I have
enjoyed these shows tremendously.
Good point. I've been enjoying those shows myself.
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
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.
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...
"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
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
(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
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
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.
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.
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.
I see that your solution would work just fine, since the
AP is double-checked at check in (or at least it is supposed
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"
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
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
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
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
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. :)
back to our regularly scheduled email...