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Brian Bennett

Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett

9/16/02

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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.

A few weeks ago, I posed a scenario about a young military couple planning a honeymoon at Walt Disney World. Here's some of the feedback I got on that idea:

  • Lynnette writes, "Thanks for a great mind exercise."

  • Robin writes, "What fun idea!"

  • Maus writes, "This was a fun exercise, thanks, Brian!"

  • Todd writes, "What a great idea!!! Thanks!"

  • Dreslaine writes, "Brian - Thank you for your devotion to your web site. You allow us to experience the Disney park's magic every day of the year."

  • Julie writes, "The school year has started and I should be working on lesson plans. Instead, I saw your Kevin and Melissa "puzzle"...Some day I'm going to quit my job and just plan Disney trips. :)"

  • Rick writes, "I imagine you'll get lots of responses to this idea of yours. What a great thing to try! I certainly had fun putting a plan together, although I probably spent more time on it than I should have. If nothing else it made me realize that I could probably put my knowledge of the WDW resort to use as a specialized vacation planner!... I'm looking forward to hearing what you think of my plan and to reading what others have come up with!"

Well, I've finally gotten the new page on Kevin and Melissa's honeymoon up on MousePlanet, in the WDW Trip Planning Guide. Thanks to all of you for helping me put that page together! In a few weeks, I'll pose another scenario and well do it again, OK?

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...

Daniel writes: Last week, a reader named Vicki asked about the existence of a boat from the France area of Epcot to D/MGM, and you responded: "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." I just wanted to throw in that the International Gateway is between the France and England areas of the World Showcase, and as you said just outside the Gateway's entry turnstiles. I didn't want her to be wandering around outside the main entrance of Epcot looking for a boat dock!

Thanks Daniel. That's a good point for follow-up.

Margaret writes: Dear Brian, you said in a previous "Notes from the World" that the plus options on Park Hopper Plus passes expire.

What?!

You specifically state in "Admission Media from A to Z" that they do NOT expire. I also did not see anything about this in the huge amount of online research and guidebook reading I did before my August trip. Please clarify - I saved my plus options for another trip.

Margaret,

If you look through ALL of the emails about the plus options, you'll see that I was mistaken when I said they do expire. You're absolutely correct. They do NOT expire.

Sorry for the confusion.

Rob writes: Brian, I read through today's update on Mouseplanet... Just wanted to let you know that you're not *totally* going insane on the park hopper with plus options questions. Perhaps you were thinking of the old Park Hopper Passports that were discontinued in mid-1997. A 5-day hopper back then would be good for 5 days that never expired, as well as unlimited admission to ALL water parks and Pleasure Island for 7 days from the first use of the pass. As long as Suzanne has one of the newer "plus" passes (or for a time I think they were called "All-In-One", but essentially the same thing), the Plus options never expire. (I've used unused Plus options a year later, in fact).

Disney discontinued the first Hopper pass in late August of 1997 and replaced them with the All-In-One. Though they had stopped selling them over the phone and at the Disney stores, I was able to snatch up two of the tickets for our December '97 trip on Disney.com just 24 hours before they removed them from the site. (In this case, Disney's slowness in updating their site was a *good* thing for us :-)

And Steve writes: Brian, the answer you provided Suzanne regarding the plus option expiring or not expiring was partly correct. Disney used to sell a park hopper with plus option that expired seven days after the first use of the ticket. The difference was that the plus options were not limited during the seven. You could go to as many of the minor parks as you wanted as many times as you wanted. The switch to the limited options that never expire occurred sometime around 1997/98. I hope this was helpful in muddying up the waters some more.

Thanks guys. I knew in the recesses of my mind that the old passes worked that way. The embarrassing part was that my own pages in MousePlanet's WDW Trip Planning Guide had it right... and I just messed up.

Mike writes: Hi Brian, Joanne asked about the cost for a taxi within WDW. We took a cab from Coronado Springs to AKL for an early breakfast (before the buses were running) last April. The fare was $6, plus tip. I would imagine this would be typical for any short hop around the world. Mike Burkhardt PS - Maybe you could suggest Joanne check out the MousePlanet message boards. There is all kinds of good stuff there and other folks are real good about giving suggestions, etc.

Thanks Mike... both for the answer and the suggestion.

Natalie shares this information: Brian, In response to the trundle bed dilemma at Port Orleans, I think most Alligator Bayou rooms have the trundles. So, on our last visit, we requested an Alligator Bayou room and received the trundle at no extra charge. Of course there's no guarantee of a trundle unless you book one. It was also big enough to accommodate my 15 year-old son (he was about 5').

Thanks for all the great planning info...

Thanks Natalie. The main point that I want people to know about, and that you've reinforced (thanks), is that the trundle is just not big enough for an adult.

Glenn writes: Brian, Just wanted to thank you and the all the readers that responded to my questions from a while back replayed with suggestions published in your 9/4 and 9/9 Notes... First of all, I did call back to Disney Travel and they did note on my account that since it was for insulin, the refrigerator is no charge!

Thanks for the follow-up, Glenn.

Daniel writes: Hey there, Brian. You should know by now that I'm a regular reader of the entire MousePlanet site. I'm probably the only idiot in the state of Texas with both WDW and DL annual passes! As such I really appreciate the updated information that you provide, and the sense of humor with which you deal with us crazy folks. That said, I have a suggestion and a correction for your perusal -

When you list a link to another site, you usually do it this way - "click to this web site for more information." It would be very helpful to me if you actually gave more information as to what the web site is, as in "visit WDW for Kleptos for more information." It'd give me an idea of where you were sending me before I go.

The other thing is really REALLY picky, but hey, if you're like me, you'd much rather have a friend point out these things than to keep on doing them. So here goes - "definitely" instead of "definately", and "theming" instead of "themeing". There - told you it was picky!!! Understand that it's only in the spirit of one trying to help, to contribute to an already terrific site. Keep it up, buddy!

Thanks for the suggestions, Daniel. I'll "definately" keep them in mind. ;)

Honestly, I do appreciate the feedback. I'm far from infallible... as you're already well aware.

And in a follow-up, Daniel writes: Hey, I'm so far from infallible that I can't even see it! I've never understood how a friend can let me walk around all day with spinach in my teeth, when it'd be so easy to just tell me about it. Better a moment's embarrassment than a day's worth of regret when I look in the mirror before bed! And please don't feel that I'm gonna be sitting out here trying to be the grammar or spelling police. I'll just continue to enjoy the excellent information you and your readers provide. Thanks again!

Joanne writes: Regardless of errors, omissions and "snippiness", you will always be a celebrity to me.

You're too kind. But thanks anyway! :)

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

Q.

Suzette asks: Hi, I recently saw on e-bay that there are many people selling meal vouchers called "quick and casual meal pass". Are these something that you can buy at the park or are they a perk of staying at a Disney resort. Just wondering if they are worth it or not.

A.

Suzette,

The "Quick & Casual" meal passes are available only through a membership-only organization called "Connections." It cost's $89.95 per year to join, and provides you with many opportunities for savings on a Disney vacation (including park admission).

There's a ton of information on the program at the MouseSavers.com site. Here's a direct link to the Connections web site.

Looks like some folks are joining Connections, buying some of the vouchers and so on, and trying to turn it into a moneymaking venture by selling them off via the web. My advice is that you check them out very carefully before joining Connections or buying any of their vouchers because the company is NOT affiliated with the Walt Disney Company as far as I can see.

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Q.

Cindy writes: Hi Brian, first of all I must tell you how much I enjoy reading your "Notes from the World"! I finding answers to questions I would never have thought of asking.

I have two questions of my own - first, how early in the day can I catch the monorail to the Magic Kingdom? I thought that guests could get all the way to Main Street USA before they actually opened the gate. When we were there in December 2000 we arrived at the the Ticket and Transportation Center at 8 am, the park opened at 9:00a.m., and when we finally arrived at the turnstiles, they appeared to have been open for some time.

Question two - we are going again this December for 2 weeks, staying offsite first, and then at All Star Movies for the last 3 nights, meaning we will move there on a Saturday. I understand we can get our ID's, do the paperwork, and leave our luggage earlier than check-in time, but exactly how early can we do this? We would like to get the most out of our day at the Parks.

This will be our second time going to Walt Disney World in early December. I must say that this has to be the best time to go! The crowds are down, the weather is perfect (I can't take the really hot temps in summer, and the cold nights don't come close to Manitoba winters!),and the Christmas decorations and events are awesome!

One more comment - What I enjoyed most on your web site was reading the article "Brian and His Family". Reading about your Christian views and values, and your testimony was so uplifting! Being a Christian is nothing to be ashamed of, it is something to be excited about! Thank you for sharing that with your readers. I hope everyone has taken the time to read it.

A.

Cindy,

Thanks so much for the kind comments about my personal page here on MousePlanet. I appreciate the excuse you've given to provide another link from a Notes piece to it. ;)

Also, I'm sorry it's taken me so long to respond, but I was out of town (my day job pulled me away from the hobby).

Now, to answer your questions...

The monorail is generally operational about an hour before the park is scheduled to open. In general, the gates of the park open a bit early and Main Street (the shops and so on) is open for browsing and snacking. "Rope drop," when the barrier at the end of Main Street is removed and the park opening announcement is made, is usually right at the scheduled park opening time.

Regarding early check in at a Walt Disney World resort, you can do that any time on the morning of your scheduled arrival. Frankly, if you wanted to go over just after midnight, I bet you'd be permitted to handle things then even.

Personally, I would plan to go over early enough to handle things without big check-out crowds (maybe around 7:00a.m. or so), and leave my car there at the resort. I'd take the resort transportation to the park, and then return to the resort and my car later in the day to move into my room.

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Q.

Rob writes: Hey Brian, I was just checking out your list of romantic stuff to do at Walt Disney World that you put on that new page, and wanted to suggest that you add the Breathless Fireworks Cruise for Two to the list of water tours under "stuff to do."

The Disney folks will arrange any type of food, wine, desserts, etc. I think they even have a CD player on board, and it would be real cool to burn a CD of your own "special" music to play while on the cruise. I can hear her saying, "How did they know all of our favorite songs?" Talk about Disney magic!

A.

Thanks so much, Rob. That will be an excellent addition!

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Q.

Rich asks: Hi Brian, We're planning our trip to Disney World in early December and hopefully the Crowd Gods will smile on me, my wife, and my 2-year-old. I'm writing because I have a question on park passes and hard-ticket events.

We'll be at Disney for a full 6-days but have decided to get a 5-day Plus Pass (so we can take a day off from the parks and not get Disney-burnout). During that day off I'm thinking of purchasing tickets to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. If I go to that event will I lose a day off of my pass?

Thanks for all of your help.

A.

Rich,

No. Hard ticket events are handled separately from your park hopper passes and will not affect your park hopper pass usage.

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Q.

Joy asks: Brian, what happened to the off site hotel reviews? I checked those periodically as I was planning for an upcoming '03 trip. I'm a 27 year old single female taking my 50+ year old parents with me. Is that a reversal of roles or what? Thanks for all the work you do. I read MousePlanet just about every day.

A.

Joy,

MousePlanet now maintains a bulletin-board-based review system for resort and restaurant reviews. Be aware, though, that the review system has only been up for a few weeks, so I don't know how many reviews are now in the system. Hopefully you'll find some help there, though.

The older reviews are also still there, too. Perhaps those will be of use to you, as well.

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Q.

Mia asks: I am wondering if you are a Travel Agent. I am, and a graduate of Disney's "College of Knowledge" and during that course, there are questions exactly like this one that you have posed, to help the agents develop their knowledge of the park services and offerings and help their clients to plan a great vacation.

Just curious, because the questions are so familiar... :)

A.

No, Mia, I am not a travel agent. The questions that I answer in my "Notes From the World" column are actually real email notes that were sent to me. :)

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Q.

Amanda writes: I'd first like to tell you how much I have enjoyed your site over the last 7 months. This is the first Disney trip that I have actually planned and researched for and MousePlanet has been a great help.

We (My Husband, Myself, his parents) made our reservations back in February, visiting Walt Disney World for seven days in early November. We are staying onsite, have already purchased our Park Hopper tickets, and have our flight reservations made.

Three weeks ago, we found out that we are expecting our first child in April 2003. We were very excited about the news but were concerned about our trip to come. We have decided to keep our reservation and visit as planned, but I am worried about how the trip will be.

First of all, please understand that I love Disney and think that Splash Mountain was one of their best additions - followed closely by Tower of Terror. I have visited Walt Disney World about 5 times since 1996 and I am always eager to "do everything". I am worried that I will not enjoy myself as much this time, given the ride restrictions, sickness, tiredness, etc. Do you (or any readers) have any suggestions for pregnant visitors to Walt Disney World?

I will be approximately 16 weeks along during our trip - out of what most consider the dangerous, most critical period - and just don't know what to really expect. Any personal reader experience would be great, as well as your advice on things to avoid or perhaps new ideas to try.

Thank you for your help:-)

A.

Amanda,

I'll copy Adrienne Krock (who writes MousePlanet's Parenting in the Parks column) on this note, since she's actually BEEN pregnant in a Disney park... which is something I've not yet done. ;)

Anyway, the main thing that I would suggest is to plan to take things slowly and be prepared for daily breaks. Don't push! If you just take a slower pace, you'll enjoy yourself oh so much more.

I also feel strongly that Disney's warnings about some attractions are to be heeded to the letter. I know Disney, like any other such company, tends to be lawyer-crazy, but still... it's simply not worth tempting fate and risking a problem just to ride an attraction. Instead, take the extra time to just enjoy some of the more laid-back things in the parks... and stop to "smell the roses," literally and figuratively.

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Q.

Lisa writes: Brian, great site. I'm addicted. I like to learn all I can about places I will be visiting before I go there - and this site is certainly informative.

My husband and I are planning a trip to Walt Disney World in February 2003 with our children, ages 3 & 5. I have been planning this vacation for 2 years in my head and finally the time has come to make the reservations. We will be staying seven days at Port Orleans.

In the middle of the trip my parents, grandparents and my brother and his wife will be joining us. They will be arriving on Wednesday at all different times, so I thought dinner would be a great way to start out their stay and get our plans together.

I am looking for a restaurant for all of us to have a good time and good food. We would like to eat outside of the parks (so we don't have to waste a park ticket). Any suggestions?

My husband and I will have already have been to the parks with the kids for 3 days before the others join us, so we will already be somewhat acclimated to the parks and what to expect. Any advise or suggestions on what we could do in or out of the parks with the entire family that would make it a successful (FUN) vacation for all? Thanks!

A.

Lisa,

Thanks for the kind words about MousePlanet.

My suggestion on which restaurant you should visit is that you should consider what kind of meal you'd like to enjoy and then move on from there. For example, you might enjoy a character dinner (which would be fun with the kids) at Chef Mickey's or 1900 Park Faire. A seafood buffet at Cape May Cafe would be another good option. One restaurant that I think is just fantastic is Boma, at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Downtown Disney and the Boardwalk have a bunch of other options.

In MousePlanet's Walt Disney World Restaurant Resource, you'll find all of the information I have on the restaurants of Walt Disney World. You may want to browse through those pages for other ideas.

Q.

Amy writes: Hi Brian, First off, I love your site. We are planning a trip to Disney World for the last week of October. We are staying in a standard room at the Boardwalk Inn for 6 nights. When we were at the Boardwalk in April our room was very far away from the elevators and when we were exhausted at the end of the day, that walk to our room was one thing we did not look forward to. Is there any way I could request a room closer? If so, where would I call? Also, what is the weather generally like that week in October? Thanks and keep up the great work!!!

A.

Amy,

Please go to this page and read the sections labeled, "Special Requests," and "Room Controller." I think you'll find some helpful hints there.

As far as who to call to make those special requests, you would call the Central Reservations Office at (407) 934-7639 or call the Boardwalk Inn directly at (407) 939-5150.

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Q.

Julie asks: I read the information on Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, and it is recommend to purchase tickets in advance. Can you tell me where and when the tickets can be purchased?

A.

Julie,

You can order your tickets right now by calling Disney's Central Reservations Office at (407) 934-7639 or (407) 939-3463.

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Q.

Kim asks another question about Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party: Hi Brian, I have a question regarding Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. Can adults dress up in costumes? and if so, are they allowed to wear fake weaponry?

My husband is toying with the idea of being a pirate, but assumes he would not be allowed to wear a plastic sword.

Thanks for your help and all of the great information.

A.

Kim,

Adults certainly can dress up in costumes, although you'll find that very few do so. On the weaponry issue, I don't think you'll have a problem. For one thing, Disney still sells such things in the parks (at the shop as you exit Pirates of the Caribbean, for example), so I'm sure they won't have a problem as long as it is quite obvious that the "weapons" are indeed only for show and not at all dangerous.

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Q.

Cat asks: Dear Brian, the DVC program is something that my husband and I have been looking into. The official site does not have a lot of information about the benefits, so I thought I would ask you.

Are you able to use your points to purchase or for discounts on Ultimate Park Hopper passes? Disney’s site hints at it but no one else mentions it. If you could let us know that would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

A.

Cat,

There is no program whereby you can use your DVC points to pay for passes. However, DVC owners do (at least we do right now) receive discounts on those length-of-stay passes (similar to The Disney Club discounts), golf, and other additional cost activities at Walt Disney World. All special programs that are available to DVC owners are subject to change, though. There is no guarantee of any special privileges being made available to DVC owners (other than accommodations in our home resort which are tied to our points).

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Q.

Tracey writes: Hi Brian, just back from Walt Disney World and thought I'd let you know everything worked perfectly with those passes [that we'd bought from a third-party vendor]. We used our plus day at Blizzard Beach.

I also wanted to let you know that never have I seen crowds so light at Walt Disney World. Even last year when we went back on September 13 (we were there on September 11 and were given passes to return another day that week), the crowds were greater than this year. We never waited for anything.

Thanks for your site. It's great.

A.

Thanks for the update, Tracey. I'm glad that all went well and that you enjoyed your trip.

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Q.

Sandra writes: Hi Brian just got back from Walt Disney World and I want to tell you and your readers about Chef Mickey's. The food was just okay. This really isn't the best place to eat. The food is plain and not exciting. The characters are okay but the seating in this place is the pits.

You really can not see anything. This place is expensive. For me the bill came to $17.00 dollars. Most of the food was cold. I think Disney really has to do some major overall on this place. However most of the places that I ate at were great. Cinderella's royal table was the best.

A.

Thanks for the input Sandra!

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Q.

Taunya asks: This past summer my family bought three masks from the gift shop at the Italy showcase. I would like to buy one more mask. Is this possible? I live in Sarasota, Florida.

A.

Taunya,

One solution, of course, would be for you to make a quick trip back to Epcot. :)

If you really don't want to go back, though, I would suggest you call Walt Disney World merchandising at (407) 363-6200 and ask. In my experience, though, you'll have to either have a very good description of the product you want to buy or else actually have the product ID number in order to order it from them. However, perhaps merchandising will hook you up with the shop in Italy and you can work directly with them.

Good luck!

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Q.

Kevin writes (and the capitals are his): I love your comments and replies to reader feedback. In regards to the woman who said her kids loved "Islands of Adventure" I thought it odd she said the Disney magic "passed them by."

LET ME BE BLUNT: THE ONLY PLACE THE DISNEY MAGIC LIVES IS AT ORLANDO's UNIVERSAL PROPERTY WHERE THEY STILL HAVE AMBITION, EARLY ENTRY, AND REAL THEMING!!!

I find "Islands" more Disney than Disney, and have it tied as Epcot as my favorite American theme park. (Don't get me started on the crappy Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom and Disney's California Adventure!) From start to finish "Islands" is an exquisite voyage of discovery with fast rides that cram amazing experiences into a brief period of time, slow ride which tell wonderful stories, wonderful details and theming, and exciting touches everywhere! In fact, the only place that compares is Tokyo Disney Sea, which my sister votes as the "best place on the planet!"

So you might want to encourage their readers to go visit the park designed by the Imagineers that did Disneyland Paris, the best of all four of Disney's "magic kingdoms," because when Disney laid off all those Imagineers in the early 90's they went to Universal where they topped themselves by designing the only park in the United States to rival Epcot. The original Epcot that is. Not the Epcot with Horizons closed, The Living Seas partially closed, Journey into Imagination ruined, etc. You get the idea!

A.

Thanks for the input, Kevin. Now you've made me want to go over to Islands of Adventure. I haven't been over to Universal since 1991. I guess it's time to go back, huh? :)

Q.

Tanya writes: I just have to give you a big, Thank You!", for your web site

We are huge Disney fans. Growing up and living in Florida, we've been there a lot. Since we have children of our own, we want them to have wonderful Disney memories, too. We purchased Disney passes this year for the first time, and have used your site to research everything from what a ride is like (water ride at Animal Kingdom), maps and pictures of the resorts, and critiques on restaurants in the resorts and parks. You have helped to make our visits to the land of Mouse even better!

Thanks again, for all the work and time you've put in to managing and maintaining this site!

A.

Thanks so much for the kind note, Tanya. I'm glad you found my material on MousePlanet helpful.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the reader feedback for the Walt Disney World 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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