information was distributed by the internal Walt Disney World
Date: September 18, 2002
Expansion of Entertainment Offerings
"We are pleased
to share the following information regarding an exciting
propertywide expansion of our entertainment offerings:
1, we will offer Walt Disney World® Resort guests exclusive
time in our theme parks. We will launch this program, Extra
Magic Hour, by opening one of the four theme parks for Walt
Disney World Resort guests an hour early every day. As part
of this change, we will no longer offer Character Caravan
at our resorts as of this date.
"To further enhance
the guest experience, we are making the following additions
beginning in October:
expansion of characters at the Magic Kingdom® Park,
with more characters meeting, greeting and interacting with
guests than ever before, starting each day with a special
character-focused park opening. We will also increase the
character presence in World Showcase at Epcot®.
"The new Princess
Storybook Breakfast at Norway, previously operating under
a test phase, is now a permanent offering.
Studios will expand the show schedule for Beauty and the
Beast Live on Stage from 5 to 7 days.
"We are adding
additional nights for Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween
Party and Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Party at the
Magic Kingdom Park.
"Guests to the
Food & Wine Festival at Epcot will experience expanded
name entertainment with the Eat to the Beat music series.
the Hunchback of Notre Dame - A Musical Adventure will be
performed for the last time on September 28. This show premiered
in 1996 with the release of the animated film when it was
top of mind to guests. Its a testament to the quality
of the show and the Cast that it has been part of the offerings
for so long."
Kudos to Walt Disney
World for these tremendous moves! They go a long way to restoring
the damage done during the cutbacks implemented in the Fall
of 2001. Hopefully, the trend will continue... If you would
like to read more about the Cutbacks
or the Extra
Magic Hour, you can follow the links provided.
Mark provides this additional information:
Wow, here's another update. Heard this just now, from a Walt
Disney World cast member. Effective 9/29, Tapestry of Nations
will only be performed from Morocco to Germany. The Germany
to Mexico segment will be no longer.
Some good news and some bad, huh?
Patty writes: Hi Brian! I haven't
seen this anywhere today but on WDWIG but it appears that
Early Entry is coming back (but called something else) and
the Character Caravan will bite the dust! This will begin
October 1. Hope this will convince you to come back to the
Thanks for all you do! Your hard work
is so appreciated.
[ Editor's Note: Yep,
Deb beats me all the time. The only thing I can say is that
I got all of my pages reworked to provide the information
throughout the Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide... right
down to the information on Extra
Magic Hour as quickly as I could... plus, I have the entire
text of the internal memo on the changes. I didn't see that
on the Walt Disney WorldIG yet. Hey, what can I say? Deb does
an awesome job, and I'm -- at best -- the #2 Walt Disney World
information source. Anyway, it's obvious that there's room
for both us us, since our site's both get a good number of
hits each week. ]
By the way, I already have plans to visit in December, then
again in June and September next year. :)
My self-imposed hiatus is just about over... and I can't
Scott writes: A while back your
column shared a cynical viewpoint about Disney's swtich to
personal phone call responses to complaints they'd received
by mail or e-mail. It pointed out that yes, folks who receive
these calls are amazed and pleased to receive such a personal
response. BUT... the real reason they're doing it might be
less magic and more business. 1. It's cheaper. 2. No more
written responses that they can be held to later on. Anything
they tell you on a phone can be dismissed, denied, or forgotten.
Now there's news that the written
complaint forms at Guest Relations in city Hall at the park
have been discontinued. Guests are instead given an index
card with an e-mail address to send their complaint to. Double-check
me with others to see if I'm right, but if so, this cements
the motive to me. Now there's REALLY no written record of
anything. AND.... who's going to go to the extra trouble of
e-mailing them after the fact (and after they're home from
their vacation?). Sure looks like a convoluted way to say
"we don't really care" to me....
Could it be that the complaints have
just gotten too numerous to handle?
I know that the guest-filled-out forms are no longer available.
However, if you absolutely INSIST, the CMs at City Hall will
take out a form and fill it out FOR YOU.
I agree with your conclusions...
But, if you look at what recently happened at Walt Disney
World (reinstatement of Early Entry and increases in characters,
etc.)... maybe they got the message anyway? :)
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
Doug writes: Brian,
first, I want to tell you how I look forward to each week
of "Notes from the World". You've done a tremendous
job keeping your composure answering some "tough"
mail lately (a testament to Christian beliefs!).
Now onto my real reason for writing.
A lot of people ask, What's the weather like.... (fill in
the dates). Amy mainly asked about the room requests at the
Boardwalk Inn. However, her last question was about the weather
in late October. I noticed you didn't really try to answer
her, so being that I am a meteorologist, let me give her (and
other fellow Walt Disney World fans) some weather information.
If anyone is interested in the climatology for the Orlando
area they can go to the Weather
Channel website. This provides an excellent overview of
Orlando weather, not just monthly, but daily high, low and
average temperatures along with the record highs and lows
(with the year when they occurred) for each month. I use that,
as well as, several other weather websites when planning my
Walt Disney World vacations.
The one caveat is, that you must realize
these are averages and not necessarily typical values. I check
what the current weather patterns are before leaving to find
out if temperatures and rainfall are running above or below
the averages (check out the regional Melbourne
National Weather Service site.
When I went to Walt Disney World last
year the week following Thanksgiving, I was expecting high
temperatures in the mid-70s and low temperatures in the mid-50's.
What we really had was a high temperature of 81, every single
day (without rain!) and with low temperatures in the low to
mid-60s (perfect for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party on Nov 30th). I couldn't have scripted
better weather for ANY vacation.
Keep up the great work keeping all
of us informed!
Thanks Doug! I just completely missed Amy's question on the
weather. Too much email, and I guess I'm getting sloppy. :(
Mark shared this information:
Hi Brian, thanks for all the work you do to keep the site
going! I've got two responses
for recent items in your column.
First, In your 9/9 column, Stephanie
asked about Walt Disney World property maps. You said that
you couldn't reproduce them as they were copyrighted, and
that you didn't know anywhere online that she could get them.
Actually, they're available on the Walt
Disney World web site, if you know where to search for
them. You can get maps for all four theme parks, both remaining
water parks, Downtown Disney, Boardwalk, and a complete resort
map. They're available in both JPG format and PDF format.
(Of course, I've downloaded the PDFs to my PC to refer to
whenever I'm missing the World.) ;-)
Second, In your 9/16 column, Lisa
asked about a good place to have dinner with a large group,
including kids, outside the parks. You gave some great responses,
but I'm surprised that you didn't also mention 'Ohana. It
has great food (and great quantities of food), activities
for the kids, and the added benefit of (if you time it right)
letting you see the Magic Kingdom fireworks, complete with
soundtrack. They're also used to handling large parties, as
they sat our group of 23(!) with no problems three years ago.
I've already got the skeleton of my
trip report for November set, and I plan to write as we go,
so I should be able to get it to you before December. (And
I promise that it'll be more entertaining than the one for
my April trip -- I won't be by myself this time!) Keep up
the good work, and I hope you're starting to get excited about
your December trip!
I did check out the link you provided. The Walt Disney World
Transportation Guide map that I referred to in my response
to Stephanie is MUCH more detailed and useful, but those maps
on the Disney site will be helpful too, I'm sure.
Thanks for the other comments... and yes, I am getting VERY
excited about my December trip. I have another personal trip
first, next week in fact, but the Walt Disney World one is
looming large on the horizon. :)
Then, on to another topic... In last weeks Notes
From the World, Amanda had written,
"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 ourtrip to come. We have decided to keep our reservation
and visit as planned, but I am worried about how the trip
Dan wrote: Brian,
The newest edition of Sehlinger's Unofficial Guide to Walt
Disney World has added an excellent section on visiting while
expecting. You'll find some valuable tips and suggestions
for how to tour, which rides to stay away from and which rides
are safe, etc. It looked like a pretty nice resource.
Matt writes: ...My
wife and I just came back from a week long trip in August.
She was 9 weeks pregnant at the time and we still had a great
time at the parks. Basically what I believe Amanda should
expect is that she won't be able to go on any of the e-ticket
or the water slides at the water parks. But there are plenty
of other rides she can do and by doing this it allowed me
and my wife to have an incredibly relaxing vacation. It also
allowed us to see the other side of Walt Disney World and
do stuff like play miniature golf or enjoy the resorts and
that kind of stuff. If Amanda has any other questions she
can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I can get her in touch
with my wife if she would like more personal experience. Thanks
again Brian for all you great info. You make the day at work
go by just that much quicker.
...First off, congratulations Amanda! My wife and I are also
expecting our first child in April 2003 (and coincidentally
will be on property in early November).
As for visiting Walt Disney World,
ask your doctor about the rides with warnings. Being in a
similar situation, I had posted a similar question on a message
board for Disney fans (sorry for visiting a competitor Brian
:-)!). Responses varied. some said their doctor told them
to obey the signs very strictly. Others said that their doctors
recommended that their husbands try first and see how bad
the jostling is. One even said the doctor gave the full thumbs
up for all rides. Pretty much all the responses said to take
a break in the middle of the day (a point seconded by our
gracious site host, even if not pregnant...cue link to touring
[ Editor's Note: I object!
I haven't seconded anything... I firsted it (at least versus
that doctor!) ]
So if you do decide to not do those
rides, many of them have the FastPass system in place, so
you can give your Fast Pass to your husband or in-laws and
they can ride twice! Plus, as Brian mentioned, there are lots
of things to do while waiting for them while on the ride...people
watching (especially people with babies...that'll be you in
a few months!), taking in all the detail Disney surrounds
you with, soaking up the sun, or singing to your baby (I believe
they start to hear things at around 16 weeks).
Anyway, I hope that helps. Good luck
with your baby, and enjoy your trip!
Nancy wrote: ...I've
been pregnant at Walt Disney World and am going back at 20
weeks pregnant this fall. The usual advice to visitors about
starting a walking program before the trip, and staying hydrated
while on the trip count doubly while one is pregnant. Even
in a second trimester, one's circulatory system is working
overtime. She'll probably want to keep a map with her to locate
restrooms. And I encourage her to stop and smell the roses,
go to more shows, enjoy eating leisurely meals and generally
do things she hasn't done before. I concur that the ride warnings
should be heeded. No small risk is worth it.
Tracey shared this:
...I was 20 weeks when we went in 1999. I was able to enjoy
almost everything except for Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain,
Countdown to Extinction (I think it's called Dinosaur now),
Test Track and Tower of Terror. (I did go on Splash Mountain)
Of course those rides are my favorites but hey, baby comes
first. I had an easy pregnancy so walking wasn't an issue
for me. The only difference is that I wasn't able to take
the heat quite as well and I usually can. I just took breaks
in the air conditioning. I did find however, when we were
there this past August, the air conditioning didn't seem nearly
as cold as it used to be so she should be prepared.
As long as everything in her pregnancy
is going along well, she should have a great "last time
doing adult things" at Disney. (Trust me, I've been on
Dumbo more times now that I care to count). I even felt the
baby move the first time on our trip. I knew then I had a
Disney lover growing inside me!
I also got a lot of great feedback on Kim's
question from last week about Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween
"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."
And my reply:
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."
Mike wrote: We attended the
halloween party last year, and are eagerly awaiting this year,
as we are going twice. I would have to disagree with how many
adults dress up. We saw MANY adults dressed up last year and
we actually felt like the "party poopers" since
only our children dressed up last year. And it was Pouring
rain (a good excuse for grown ups not to dress up) the night
we were there, and yet there were many adults in costume.
This year we will all (including grandma and pop-pop) be in
costume for both parties we are attending. As far as the fake
weaponry goes, they provide an excellent guideline when Disney
mails you your halloween party tickets. This is taken directly
from their letter, but i think it answers the question rather
"Costumes - Children
(and adults) are encouraged to attend the party in costume.
FOR THE SAFETY OF YOUR CHILD AND OTHERS, PLEASE ADHERE TO
THE GUIDELINES BELOW.
- "Obstruct the
guests view or interfere with their ability to board/unload
from attractions and/or the Walt Disney World Resort transportation
system (including monorails, ferry boats, and motorcoaches)
- "Drag on the
- "Contain sharp
or pointed objects or material that may accidentally strike
- "Be offensive
to other guests.
- "Contain any
weapons which resemble or could easily be mistaken for
an actual weapon."
I think they are directing that last
rule at fake guns, but i might ditch the sword just in case,
or as you said, just buy one in the park rather than before
Hope this helps. And if you see a
bunch of jacksonville football players (our kids idea, and
dad's favorite team) with the jerseys and the black glare
strips under our eyes say hi. Odds are its us.
Ron shared much the same information:
...I have tickets for this year and they list Five rules pertaining
to costumes.They should not:Obstruct the guest's view or interfere
with their ability to board/unload from attractions and/or
the Walt Disney World Resort transportation system(including
monorails,ferry boats and motorcoaches).They should not drag
on the ground.They should not contain sharp or pointed objects
or material that may accidentally strike another guest.They
should not be offensive to other guests.They should not contain
any weapons which resemble or could easily be mistaken for
an actual weapon.
Hope this helps. As usual love the
and Stephane added:
I just wanted to mention ... that not only does the Magic Kingdom sell
fake weapons, you can ( to my last knowledge ) still buy REAL
swords in the shop inside Cinderella's Castle!!
Ken wrote about Kevin's comments
on Universal's Islands of Adventure park:
"I find "Islands"
more Disney than Disney, and have it tied as Epcot as myfavorite
American theme park. (Don't get me started on the crappy
Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom and Disney's California
Puh-leeze!! I was treated to a run-of
the-park day sponsored by a client of the tradeshow production
company I worked for. IOA -is- the best non-Disney park I've
ever seen, but it hardly out-Disneys Disney. One small example:
The small dinos who "jump out at you" on the Jurassic
Park ride very obviously and laughably slide out smoothly
from the set on tracks. It isn't remotely startling or scary.
(The T. Rex is impressive, though). The park was full of that
kind of stuff: Close but not all the way there.
And how exactly is the Magic Kingdom
"crappy"? Granted, it doesn't have the quaint charm
of the original Disneyland, but its grandeur far exceeds it's
older sister's. I dunno, brother. I think you're confusing
"different" with "better/worse." the Magic
Kingdom has a different feeling from Disneyland. IOA fhas
a different focus from Disney parks. People will prefer one
or the other, but it can't be said that one is categorically
better than another. I haven't seen DCA for myself yet, but
given what Al's been reporting about abysmal attendance and
large areas of the park slated for demolition/overhaul, I
think it's safe to say that Disney has awakened to its failure.
I don't think even Disney suits would argue with you (privately,
anyway) at this point.
As a postscript, during my 1999 visit
the client put us up at the then-new Portofino. Compare Uni's
Portofino (run by Leows but built by Uni-magineers), a Xerox
copy of the real Portofino with painted-on architectural details,
to the MiraCosta, a place inspired by Portofino but not a
literal copy, with its lavish 3-dimensional details. No contest.
Besides that, during the 4 hours after I checked in, there
were three false fire alarms that forced all the guests to
evacuate each time. The last came after 11pm. Not a good way
to engender a feeling of safety or care - no hotel representative
addressed the crowd gathered by the lagoon to apologize for
the inconvenience or offer any "make it better"
goodies af any kind. It was the maintenance people who told
us when it was OK to reenter the building. Lame.
You're right about the newer U.S.
parks being a joke compared to DisneySea. Right now the Oriental
Land Company seems to care more about the Disney theme-park
legacy than does Disney itself, but TDS proves that the Imagineering
department is FAR from depleted; they just can't express their
talent in the U.S. parks because of the inconceivably clueless
cost/benefit analyses done by our friends Pauly, and Mike.
And that Braverman character.
Barry chimed in too: ...The
former imagineers certainly did a wonderful job on this park,
but Universal fails to keep the park up to Disney standards.
For example, Disney's
parks are non-smoking with smoking only in designated areas
which will not bother the other patrons. Universal has smoking
everywhere, ashtrays on every garbage can and they even sell
smokes in the park. I suppose that could be an advantage for
the nicotine addicted, but for myself, I'd rather not spend
time wandering through a park that sometimes has smoke thicker
than most bars!
Universal's staff just doesn't measure
up the quality of most of Disney's staff. On some other columns
on MousePlanet there are regular complaints about how Disney's
cast member's don't seem to measure up to their old standards.
If these folks spent a couple of days at Universal, they'd
see they really have little to complain about. Similarly the
"good show/bad show" concept doesn't seem to have
registered with the Universal managers--there are regularly
things and people looking very out of place at their parks.
The Spiderman ride at IOA is one of
the best anywhere, but some of the other rides aren't as guest
friendly as Disney's. The Hulk and Dueling Dragon's coasters
are a rush, but the restraint systems are difficult for heavy
people like myself. You have to sit in a special seat with
a modified restraint for large upper body types, but there
are no cast member's to direct you to those seats. Also, when
loading be very very careful--I was having problems with the
buckle on my restraint on the Hulk and had to scream out to
stop them from launching and get a loader to help with the
buckles. IOA has fewer staff for loading rides which I fear
is a real safety issue. Finally, the seat design for the coasters
can be very uncomfortable in a tender area for adult males.
Three of IOA's six "E-rides"
are guaranteed to get you soaked to the skin. Great if you
like that sort of thing on a hot day or if you are staying
at one of the Universal resort hotels so you can change before
dinner. Not so great if you don't like wandering around with
wet undergarments all day.
The Sinbad and Poseidon shows are
great. I don't think anything Disney has can match these.
On the other hand, neither Universal park has nighttime entertainment
like Phantasmic or Reflections of Earth.
So while I'll usually take a day or
two out to visit Universal on my Orlando trips, I spend most
of my days at Disney parks.
Suzanne shared this feedback:
Brian, Taunya asked about purchasing another mask from Epcot's
Italy Pavillion, and you gave her the Merchandise Guest Services
number. Another resource is to email (wow, really neat) Walt
Disney World.email@example.com. For about 16 months now,
they've been printing this on all merchandise receipts!
Also, Sandra had comments about Chef
Mickey's. That's one of our favorites for dinner, but based
on what I've heard about Cindy's breakfast selections, it
will always be a pass for my family. Just goes to show, different
strokes for different folks!
Thanks for the extra help, Suzanne.
Rob writes: Brian, I still love
your site, and now I am planning my May trip to Walt Disney
World after just doing 4 nights at the DLR in Anaheim for
my anniversary (#10, and we left the kids at home). I have
to take exception to Kevin's comments on California Adventure.
I do believe that Islands of Adventure is a fantastic park,
but after spending two of my four days at California Adventure,
let me say, Disney did not miss a beat with this park. Sure
it has room to grow, but don't all Disney parks. This place
is very well themed, has some fantastic rides, and is very
pleasant to visit. It is not a park high on thrills (although
California Screamin' is an intense coaster), but it does have
the wonderful Disney atmosphere. This park has turned Anaheim
into a true resort destination.
I really recommend that anyone who
loves Walt Disney World take a trip to Anaheim. Everything
is within walking distance (no buses, monorails, and associated
waits), Downtown Disney is fantastic, the granddaddy of them
all, Disneyland, is there, and California Adventure is much
more of a park than, say, Disney MGM was when it first opened.
Some people may want to wait for the Tower of Terror to open
their, but let me say, right now, the two theme parks are
a fantastic destination. Now I can vary my vacations after
about 7 years in a row at Walt Disney World, now I can throw
in DL Resort every couple years.
Thanks for the note, Rob. I'll share it soon. :)
back to our regularly scheduled email...