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Brian Bennett

WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett

9/9/02

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Note that admission media and parking prices have increased at WDW as of September 8th! Parking in the main lots of all the parks has gone up from $6.00 to $7.00. Admission media prices have gone up, too, but the price increases have been blunted a bit by a new advanced purchase policy that gives some discounts if you buy your admission media before your trip. See all the details in the "Prices" and "Purchasing" sections of the Admission Media from A to Z page in MousePlanet's WDW Trip Planning guide.

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...

Christy writes: Brian, regarding Glenn's stay at the All Star Resort. I believe that they will give him the refrigerator for free since they are using it for his dad's insulin. I know I have seen reports of folks being given them for free to keep baby formula, so I imagine that insulin would qualify also. Anyway, can't hurt to ask.

JJ writes: Brian, I am a diabetic and I am going to Walt Disney World in December. I am staying at Port Orleans French Quarter. When I made my reservations I inquired about a refrigerator so that I could keep my Insulin cool as well as freeze my ice packs to carry in my insulin case. They told me there would be no charge. When I received my reservation confirmation, sure enough, the refrigerator is listed but there was no extra charge. Hope this helps.

Tremendous! Thanks so much to both of you!

Chris writes: In last week's piece, Kerry asked:

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

Brian, you are correct. There are no maximum height restrictions on the attractions.

I'm 6'5'' and my father is 6'8'' and the only issues we have ever had with our height was with leg room in some of the attraction vehicles. The work around is for the cast member to not load the maximum number of people in a row. We almost always have to say something to the cast member loading the attraction, though. I guess unless you are tall you really do not know how uncomfortable it is to be "folded" into a small area even if it is just for a few minutes.

Certain rows and certain seats have more leg room than others. In some cases, like the Big Thunder Mountain cars, he may need to have his own row unless there is a much shorter party member with him.

Feel free to pass this on to Kerry and her son. They are more than welcome to contact me (Caines@hauntedmansion.com) if they have any more questions about possible height issues.

Excellent feedback, Chris. Thanks! As a vertically challenged guy myself, I don't run into those issues, so I really appreciate your input!

Also, Sam writes: Hi Brian, as always, I love the site! Kerry asked about height restrictions, and my husband is an inch shorter than her son, at 6'6", he's also over 400 lbs, and we have never had a problem with a single ride. He was nervous about test track and he fit just fine, this is a man who has gotten his hair stuck in a regular car sun roof, but that's another story! He never has to duck and he always has enough leg room. I hope this helps.

Thanks Sam!

Carol writes: In your last notes to the world, a family was asking about Port Orleans Riverside with the trundle bed. If you have 5 in the room, WDW charges you an extra $15.00 a night for the room with the trundle bed.

Comparing rates, it is almost always possible to get two rooms at All-Stars for about the same or a little bit less than a trundle room at Port Orleans. Plus that gives the added benefit of an extra bathroom! It is also possible to request a King Room connecting to two doubles which gives mom & dad a king-sized bed and the three kids can share the two doubles in the other room. (Yes, I know the King rooms are handicapped accessible rooms.)

Just thought I would pass this along.

Excellent suggestion, Carol. I would add that the only drawback (at least in my opinion) is that the themeing of the All Star resorts is not as detailed or as intriguing (at least to me) as the themeing at Port Orleans. On all other points, though, your solution is a great one!

Jim writes: Brian, in a previous Notes From the World, Maria asked about Cirque du Soleil. You wrote that the show 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.”

I would totally agree and would like to add that La Nouba was truly the highlight of one of my trips to WDW. The production is dazzling and could be compared to a top-of-the-line Broadway show. It is pricey (I believe we paid $65 per person), but a bargain compared to the only other two Cirque du Soleil shows with permanent homes, both of which are in Las Vegas. Those shows “Mystere” and “O” are priced at $90 and $122 respectively, making the show at WDW a true bargain. Not often you get to say that about Disney!

Thanks so much for the input, Jim. Someday my family will definately have to go see La Nouba. :)

Dave writes: Hi, Brian. Thanks for posting my trip report several weeks back.

I noticed in today's Notes From the World you had some comments from Disney staff regarding Early Entry. A couple of months ago, I hademailed guest communications to express my disappointment at thediscontinuation of Early Entry and its' "replacement" by Character Caravan. I got an email back a day later asking for a good time to call me during the day and in the evening. About 3 weeks later, I got a call from Deborah in the executive offices. I was not there, so she left a message. I tried to reach her, and she was in a meeting, but she tried 4 other times to reach me before we finally connected last week.

She was very kind and sympathetic toward my concerns, and I copied a few notes from our 10-minute conversation (quotes are accurate to the best of my note-taking ability).

She said regarding Character Caravan and Early Entry, that "one was not meant to replace the other--we didn't intend them to appeal to the same group of people" but that Character Caravan was rather meant "to soften the blow" of the discontinuation of Early Entry. (She said the addition of Character Caravan was the result of guest surveys on park exit, where people said they were looking for more character interaction.) She also said that although there were a good-sized contingent of faithful users of Early Entry, "Early Entry was not as widely used by resort guests as we would have liked, considering the effort it takes to produce Early Entry."

I asked if there had been a big outcry about the discontinuation of Early Entry, and she said "it wasn't huge, but it sure has been vocal." I'm Not sure exactly what that means. =) I also asked if there was any chance Early Entry would be reinstated, and she said that it was certainly possible, but she knew of no plans at the present time to do so.

I certainly have no reason to doubt Deborah's sincerity or truthfulness, but this information is somewhat different than the summaries I've read of other peoples' conversations on this topic. She is certainly to be commended for her persistence in trying to reach me, her candor, and her kindness throughout the conversation.

I just thought you might like to have this information and/or post it in a future column. Thanks for the great job you do, Brian!

Thanks for the input, Dave. We'll just have to wait and see if WDW sees benefit to Early Entry down the road.

Steve writes: Brian, Found this website today. Thought you might find it useful. Man, 26 days to go and I'm alreadygetting useless at work. Thanks for everything you do.

Thanks so much for the kind note, Steve... and for sharing the link.

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

Q.

Michael asks: Hi Brian, great site (heard that before? :)

We were at WDW in April/May for our son's 5th birthday. In Innoventions (can't remember East or West) at Epcot - they had an interactive video game called Toon Tag that 4 kids at a time could play. Essentially - the player becomes a character (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, or Goofy) and runs around town trying to get ice cream cones while avoiding getting tagged (if you're "IT" you can't get the ice cream cones).

Our son loved it. And they were telling people it would be coming out as a home computer game soon (playable over the internet with others).

I've looked - but never heard anything about it being released. Any way to get the inside scoop on whether it's coming out (and if so, when)?

A.

Michael,

I have absolutely no idea. :)

I'll post your note in an upcoming Notes From the World column, though. Perhaps someone out there will know something and will share it with us.

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Q.

Sandra asks: Do you have any suggestions for Thanksgiving dinner ? We are staying at Fort Wilderness and have a Cabin, also. We will be four adults and two children. Your input will be appreciated.

A.

Sandra,

You really have a bunch of options. First, you could get the fixin's and make your own turkey dinner there in cabin. Second, you can visit any one of a number of Disney restaurants and just enjoy a meal. Third, several of the Disney restaurants serve up a special Thanksgiving dinner. If that's what you want, and you don't want to make your own in the cabin, I'd suggest you call (407) WDW-DINE and make reservations for that dinner ASAP!

   

Q.

Kristen asks: Dear Brian, We are planning a family reunion trip to Disney world and can't decide whether to go the week of Thanksgiving - Tuesday November 26th to Sunday December 1st or arriving on Thanksgiving day and staying the next 6 days after thanksgiving. Do you have any suggestions. Also do you know what the parks are like on Thanksgiving day?

A.

Kristen,

Is there any way I can convince you to delay the trip a few more days? If you could plan to arrive on the Sunday or Monday after Thanksgiving (or better yet, a full week later yet), you'd find that the crowd levels for your trip would be MUCH lower than Thanksgiving week.

If the only choices are the two you posed, then I'd go for the Thanksgiving Day arrival option. At least the last part of the trip would be with relatively lower crowds.

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Q.

Bob asks: Hi, do you have a section on golf at Walt Disney World? either regular 18 holes or the new miniature courses (I believe there are two of them)?

A.

Bob,

If you go to this page you'll find a bunch of information on the WDW golf courses (the various pages are listed at the bottom). Also, the miniature golf courses are mentioned on the "other sports options" page.

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Q.

Sam writes: Hi Brian, I was just reading your WDW Trip Planning Guide, it's an addiction at this point, and I saw mention of places to stop on the road on the way down to Walt Disney World. I'd like to add my own favorite.

We drive down from New Jersey on I-95 every year, we drive straight through with only minimal stops for food and the prerequisite JR Discount Store stop 4am - 11pm usually.

However, on the way home we take 2 days for the trip. Our absolute favorite is to drive an hour off I-95 to Charleston, SC. We usually plan on arriving there at around 3:00p.m., perfect for a late lunch, early dinner at Hyman's, otherwise the wait can be astronomical.

I believe they are currently ranked #1 in the South and #2 in the country for seafood. The place is frequented by stars, as table plaques and autographed plates proclaim. It's a regular, not fancy, restaurant with some of the best service and best food you'll ever taste.

We drive in, take a ride along East Bay Street and past Rainbow Row, eat lunch or dinner, walk it off along the harbor walk, and head back to I-95. In 2 hours you can have that little relaxation that we all need after the hustle of the world.

Charleston is a vacation in and of itself but a mini stop in is wonderful too.

Just thought I'd share.

A.

Thanks for the note, Sam. I thoroughly enjoyed our stopover in Charleston a few years back. Sticky Fingers was the downtown restaurant where we had lunch. I believe that's another local favorite. Of course, being a history nut, I also loved our visits to Fort Sumpter and the U.S.S. Yorktown, an Essex class aircraft carrier that was built during World War II.

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Q.

Kelly asks: Hi Brian, Having thoroughly enjoyed the recent reports about the Disneysea resort in Tokyo I was just wondering if Disney has any intention of bringing such a resort to the US. Being from California and hearing so much bad news about Disney's California Adventure I was wondering if they would try to make amends by bringing this incredible park to the states. I am not suggesting building it in California, although I would love that, but would love to have the opportunity to visit such a neat place and don't forsee getting to Tokyo in a long while if ever.

Just wondering if you might know anything about that possibility and hoping it might happen!

I haven't been to Disney's California Adventure yet, I've just heard all the bad news about it. I will be going in October and will definitely do a report and let you know my take on it.

Thanks for any info you might have.

A.

Kelly,

First off, I'll be looking forward to that report in a few months. :)

Regarding the likelihood of building a new park in the U.S., I don't think it's likely for a few years. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I don't think that the finances of the Walt Disney Company are in shape to handle such a huge capital investment right now. Instead, I think the company will add attractions to it's existing parks in Florida and California.

I'm basing this only on my own personal opinion, but I don't think we'll see the construction of another major Disney park in the United States for eight to ten years or more. I just don't think the company has the vision it used to have... although clearly Imagineering still has "it."

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Q.

Rich asks: Hi Brian, I'm going to be at the All-Star Movie resort the second week in January. As someone who's staying on-site, would I be able to use the Spa facilities at the Grand Floridian? Or, is this just for people who are staying at Grand Floridian?

A.

Rich,

The spa at the Grand Floridian is an "ala carte" facility. That is, you pay for whatever services you want separately.

That being the case, it is definately available to anyone.

Note that the spa at the Disney Institute is likewise open to anyone with a bulging wallet. :)

Q.

In a followup, Rich asks: Thank you Brian. I don't hear too much about the Disney Institute lately. Is it still open, or have its services been cut back due to the company's financial problems?

A.

It's been cut back, actually several years ago, but not because of corporate problems but rather just because the services of the Institute were not highly sought-after by customers.

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Q.

Michael asks: Hi, Brian, I really enjoy your articles about Walt Disney World. My wife is going to a conference there in late September and we are staying at the Coronado Springs Resort. We decided to make it a mini-family vacation since our son turns 18 during the trip. Can you suggest any restaurants or other activities at Walt Disney World that we can do to make our son's birthday special? I sent an e-mail to WDW via the Disney website, but received a canned response that was more appropriate for a couple rather than a family. Thank you very much for your time and assistance!

A.

Michael,

Here's a page you might want to check out. Other than that, I can only suggest that you ask your son about what he might want to do that day and what restaurants he might enjoy for a special meal or two.

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Q.

Mike writes: Brian: I read your article about the boycott (of Walt Disney World) from a Christian point of view.

First I would like to say well done! I am a Christian man who loves the Disney experience and have since I went for the first time in 1988. I remember when the boycott was announced and I cringed. I understand that they wanted to send a message but this was not the way. I immediately recalled all the good that the Disney company had done for families up to that point which should not be forgotten. When I read your article I figured I could share this thought with you.

When Walt and Roy were alive Disney was a family business with family values, just like their majority owners. After Roy died the company did well, but did not progress much beyond the two theme parks. When Eisner came in the company lost its family business mentality and it became a corporate giant that had to satisfy hungry investors. The family values that once were the backbone of the company gave way to a new form of society that passed Disney by.

Now Disney is no different than other big companies. They are out to make money, period. (I don't care if their employees are gay or not. I may pray for them but that would not stop me from visiting their business.) People seem to think Disney should stay the way they always remembered it was. For them change is a tough thing to accept.

I will continue to take my family to Disney because of the joy it brings to my family. Finding family time together let alone a place the entire family enjoys is rare in todays world. Disney does that and that is a good thing not to be forgotten.

Brian keep up the good work and God Bless.

A.

Thanks Mike. I couldn't agree with you more. :)

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Q.

Vicki asks: Hi, heard that there is some type of boat transporation from one of the countries in Epcot, I think France, that will take you over to the Disney MGM Studios park. I was wondering if this is true, I have never seen it, but I always seem to find something that I missed the time before when I visit Disney. Your help would be greatly appreciated if you have any information on this connection by boat between Epcot and the Studios.

A.

Vicki,

You can take a boat from the International Gateway (just outside the park) that goes to the Yacht & Beach Club, Swan & Dolphin, and Boardwalk Resorts as well as the Studios. You can NOT take a boat from inside Epcot to the Studios.

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Q.

Joe writes: I really enjoy the site, read it daily to get my Disney obsession fix. I am planning a trip to WDW next year, probably early May or late April, depending on when its best to get the kids out of school. This is going to have to be a shoestring budget due to the many health problems my family has went throught this last year (my wife had throat cancer). I read on mousesavers.com that only one person had to get an annual pass to receive the discount for the resorts. My question is this, does the passholder have to be an adult, or can I get my 9 year old son an annual pass and then make the reservations in his name to get the discount rate? I know that sounds horribly cheap, but every penny is going to count on this trip. I appreciate any help you can give me, and thank you for the great site. It really is a highlight of my day to get my daily Disney fix.

A.

Joe,

Since the room has to be booked by an adult and the person booking the room has to be the AP holder, I think you're stuck. I certainly wouldn't risk it because if the Cast Member checking you in balks at the child's AP, you'd either have to buy an adult AP on the spot (which could knock out a good part of your savings) or else forfeit the discount. It would be much safer to get an adult AP, book the room under that person's name.

In any case, I'm glad you've been nosing around at Mousesavers.Com. There isn't a better place on the web to get good information on how to legally save money on a Disney trip.

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Q.

Stephanie writes: Hi Brian, I'm looking for an overall map of all of WDW. I've never been there, and I'd like to get the lay of the land into my head. I read in someone's trip report that you can walk to the Magic Kingdom from the Contemporary resort (I think that's the one), and I never knew that before.

Anyway, I couldn't find one on your site, and I'm not having that much luck with Google either (I've only been trying for a few minutes.) Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

A.

Stephanie,

WDW itself produces a fantastic map, but unfortunately it's copyrighted and I can't simply scan it to make it available.

If you're staying on site, I would suggest that you contact the resort you'll be at and ask them if they'll send you a copy of the "WDW Transportation Guide," which includes that map.

Sorry, but that's the best I can suggest for now.

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Q.

Joanne asks: Good morning Brian! Kudos to you for providing such an informative and enjoyable service to your readers. In my opinion, your advice is second to none.

My husband and I, along with our 4 year old son and 9 year old niece will be traveling to Disney from Massachusetts on 9/22 through 9/29. We will be staying at the Wilderness Lodge and have hired Tiffany to transport us to and from the airport ($80). I have read the horror stories in regards to the WL transportation and am a little bit concerned. We do not anticipate a problem but want to be prepared with a back up plan just in case. We have been tossing around the idea of renting a vehicle but I would like to get your opinion first. We do plan to visit all parks (including the water parks). After studying the maps I'm thinking that we would only use the car on two or three occasions and possibly just one way as we would be using a taxi in conjunction with WDW transportation. Could you give me a guesstimate on how much it would cost to hire a taxi from WL to Blizzard Beach. This will give me a better idea as to whether or not a rental would be worth it.

Thanks so much for your help. I will do my part and send you a trip report sometime in early October.

A.

Joanne,

I have absolutely no idea how much it would cost to use a taxi from one place to another on site. I've never done it! I really don't think you have any reason to be concerned about the transporation at Wilderness Lodge. My experience there has been good.

Comedian Steven Wright has a line about using a microwave to make instant coffee and "going back in time." Unfortunately, some folks want instant everything nowadays. As long as you're a bit patient, and don't mind some minor (fifteen to twenty minute) waits, you'll be fine. The only time that the waits will be significantly longer is at the very end of the day when a given park closes and thousands of people have to be transported back to the hotels. Again, with patience it will be no problem.

I really wouldn't rent that car. It's just not worth the money for the use you'll get out of it, given your description of your plans.

I'll be looking forward to that trip report. :)

Q.

In a followup, Joanne writes: Brian! I can't believe that you actually answered my question. I thought that I was going to have to wait and hope that you chose my question to put in reader feedback. I am so honored that you took such time to personally respond. You are like a celebrity to me and I feel as if I just had a brush with greatness.

Thanks for your advice. I so needed to hear that. You are the greatest! Many thanks!

A.

Joanne,

I am hardly a celebrity! :)

Thanks for the kind words, though. Although now I have a big head to go with my oversized ego.

(Editor's Note: Just so you all know, the email that I answer in this column are actually just cut and pasted from actual email sent directly to me or questions that were posed in my WDW Trip Planning Guide reader feedback form. I really do my best to answer each and every one of the emails that are sent my way, although I do reserve the right to determine which of those are posted in the Notes From the World column, as I try to avoid being too redundant from week to week.)

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Q.

Susanne writes: Dear Brian, first off, let me just say that I am in awe of your site and with you as well!!! You have been such a wealth of information for many of us and your ability to respond to our questions with such kindness and patience (even when I know you must have answered most of these questions many, many, many times before), is astounding!!! I have been reading the e-mails for many months in the hopes that my question would have appeared by now and I wouldn't have to bother you with it. But, no such luck so here goes.

Back in 1999 I purchased a park hopper pass that included entry to the water parks as well. We still have one day left on our passes. Can we still use these passes to get into the water parks? My plan is to use these passes to get into Blizzard Beach on our first day, then use these same passes for entry into one of the theme parks on the following day. Will we even be able to get into Blizzard Beach with these passes or by doing so, will we have used up the last available day altogether?

The answer to my question will help me decide what type of admission media to purchase for our upcoming WDW trip in early November. Thank you, in advance, for your help!

A.

Susanne,

The park hopper plus passes that were sold in 1999 (and now, for that matter) specify that the "plus options" expire a certain number of days from the first use of the pass. For example, I believe a five-day park hopper plus comes with two plus options, both of which expire seven days after first use of the pass. The major park days never expire, of course, but the plus options do.

Q.

In a follow-up Suzanne writes: Dear Brian, WOW - now I'm really impressed! I can't thank you enough for your super quick response to my e-mailed question regarding the plus options on the park hopper passes. You've help me decide that purchasing the 5 day park hopper plus pass (with two options) would be best for us. I will use our remaining day from our 1999 passes for MK and then use our new 5 day plus passes for a trip to Blizzard Beach and then 2 days worth to visit MGM and Epcot. That way we will be left with three days for the theme parks and one remaining water park plus option for our return trip in 2003 or so. I'm pretty sure I read on your site that with these new park hopper plus passes the "plus options" never expire. (WOULD YOU KINDLY CORRECT ME IF THAT IS NOT THE CASE?) Thanks again for your kindness.

A.

Suzanne,

You didn't read carefully what I'd written. What I said was, "The park hopper plus passes that were sold in 1999 (and now, for that matter) specify that the "plus options" expire a certain number of days from the first use of the pass. For example, I believe a five-day park hopper plus comes with two plus options, both of which expire seven days after first use of the pass. The major park days never expire, of course, but the plus options do."

Again, the plus options DO expire!

Q.

Susanne wrote again: Dear Brian, once again, thank you for your prompt response to my e-mail regarding the expiration policy of the plus options on the park hopper passes. I noticed, however that after I complimented you on your seemingly endless amount of patience with your avid site readers questions, you seemed a little snippy with me. So I guess there is a limit to your patience and kindness afterall!

The reason I am bothering you again is to let you know that I was mistaken when I thought I read on your website that the plus options on the park hopper passes never expire. It was actually on the mousesavers website that I read this. I was not sure who was correct you or the mousesaver folks so I called Disney directly (at 407 824-2222) and was told that if I purchased a 5 day park hopper plus pass with 2 plus option that the two plus options DO NOT EXPIRE. Just thought I would let you know. Perhaps you might like to verify this for yourself as well and then update your site.

A.

Suzanne,

I'm sorry I disappointed you.

However, I AM glad that you persisted because I clearly was incorrect in the information that I'd provided to you. Since I'm getting on in years (my 39th birthday is just around the corner), I must be losing some of my memory cells.

Clearly, the plus options on the Park Hopper Plus Passes that are currently being sold do not expire. (The funny thing, is that I DID have it right in my WDW Trip Planning Guide on MousePlanet... I just got it wrong in our email communications...

Thanks for straightening me out!

(Editor's Note: And there goes both my celebrity status, my reputation for being patient, and my infallability all in one short series of email. My head has now returned to it's normal, shrunken size.)

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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Brian's Archive - Contents

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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