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WDW Trip Planning Guide Reader Feedback

by Brian Bennett



Just sharing a note that I received recently:

Brian, as a longtime reader of your reports (& fellow Michigander), I realize you have a large readership.

A small group of us who were at the final shows were talking that afternoon about all the great Live Entertainment Acts at WDW that have been cut, even before the 9/11 wave of cutbacks. In an effort to let WDW Guest Communications hear of our disappointment, we have begun a small, letter/e-mail writing campaign. I have written a short article below. We have actually been encouraged by Cast Members to get this together & while the show is gone, we hope to see a return of Live Entertainment to the parks as this same type of response was greatly responsible for the reinstatement of Early Entry after a 1 year absence.

Would it be at all possible to get a little "press" on your site supporting this effort?

Any help would be appreciated,
Karen DiTommaso
Troy, MI

If you are disappointed in the closing of Disney's, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, A Musical Adventure show which was performed at Disney MGM Studio's Backlot Theater from June 1996 - September 2002, we urge voice your feelings to Disney without hesitation.

Apparently Disney just may be beginning to listen to all the complaints they received regarding the closing of the show and are quite amazed by the amount of fans the show had. Our only request is that you keep your message in a "positive" Disney nature.

E-Mail WDW Guest Relations: WDW Guest Communications

To send a message from the home page, click here.

You may also write a letter to be mailed to:

Walt Disney World Guest Communications
PO Box 10040
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040

I completely understand Hunchback may not be everyone's favorite show as it was mine, but it may be very important to voice your concern over this cutback in that so many wonderful Live Entertainment Acts have been eliminated since the spring of 2001.

After all, early entry has come back in some form after guests voiced their concerns, it may just be worth a try to see a return of more Entertainment in whatever form to the parks.

I hope that some folks take up Karen's challenge. I, for one, am still very disappointed about the cutbacks in "streetmosphere" and live entertainment. I'd love to see more!

Next up, after the wonderful success (at least in my opinion) of the Military Honeymoon scenario, when I invited readers to provide input on a Walt Disney World trip planning scenario, I offer this new one...

As before, your assignment is to read through the situation, then either answer the questions I've posed, provide suggestions, or put together an entire trip itinerary if you'd like.

In an upcoming edition of Notes From the World, I'll reiterate the scenario and then share both my thoughts and the responses that were sent in, capturing the information in a new page of MousePlanet's Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide so folks can refer to it later.

Here's the scenario:

Two sets of single parents are planning separate trips to Walt Disney World. "Samantha" is mother of eleven-year-old "Katie" and nine year old "Jennifer." "Brian" is six-year-old "Allan" and three-year-old "Michael's" dad. (hmmmmm... more on that later...)

Treat these two trips as separate ones. I just wanted to get a mix of kids and ages.


  • Where should Samantha and Brian make plans to stay with their respective families? Neither family is flush with money, so they can't really afford a week in a suite at the Grand, but make your best suggestions for accommodations and justify your thoughts.
  • What suggestions do you have about how to attack the parks? Their kids are different ages and different sexes. How do does that affect what should be planned?
  • Do you have any specific thoughts about attractions, restaurants, or activities that Samantha and Brian should consider?
  • What else would you suggest to make their trip very special for Samantha and her girls? What other ideas would you share with Brian to make his trip with his boys a blockbuster?

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...

Monica writes: Brian, I really enjoy your site!!! I've never written before but just saw a question from Mike regarding using your Disney dollars at Downtown Disney. Well, from past experience the "Lego" store does NOT except Disney dollars.

My nephew was quite disappointed when he tried to use birthday "Disney dollars" but lucky for him "Auntie" was there with the cash!!! Keep up the good work.

Thanks Monica. Very likely, the "non-Disney" stores do not take Disney Dollars... based on your experience, that would make sense. Does anyone know for sure?

About my recent trip to Las Vegas, Christine writes: Dear Brian, Being a Las Vegan, I was interested to read your description (trip report) on our city. I enjoyed your descriptions and felt your ratings were pretty accurate. The one point I will differ with you is on Las Vegas as a family destination.

I have two children, ages 5 and 8, and before we moved here had spent numerous trips back and forth (from NYC). My children always loved coming to Vegas. Yes, you cannot gamble with the kids (I don't anyway, I can just as easily tear my money up and flush it you know where...) but there is a tremendous amount of fun activities for the kids like:

  1. The pirate show at Treasure Island.
  2. The circus and Adventuredome at Circus Circus.
  3. The Secret Garden at the Mirage.
  4. Gameworks at MGM.
  5. The Merlin show and other free shows at Excalibur.
  6. Imax at the Luxor (We saw Beauty and the Beast there).
  7. Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay.
  8. Side trips to Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire - where you and your children will be able to walk and see landscape that is truly amazing and ancient Indian petroglyphs.
  9. Plus loads of off-strip activities like the Lied Children's Museum, Hoover dam, Ethel M Chocolate Factory....

I could go on and on but I really should do some real work.

Love your column, by the way, and am still working on my trip report from my family's August stay at Port Orleans, French Quarter.


I'm looking forward to that trip report. :)

Thanks for your note. I don't disagree with you in general. I suppose my report should have made it clear that I was referring to a family trip to the strip alone.

Although there are things to do there, you must admit that there are a bunch of unnecessary adult distractions, too. :)

I also had several notes sent to me about where to find gelato at Walt Disney World...

Faith wrote: I had to laugh when you asked where to find gelato - coming from Boston / North (where there is only one purveyor who makes real gelato) my feeling is that while is it the most wonderful concoction it has a tadzillion calories per spoonful - tastes so innocuous... right??? Good luck with the hunt but if you want to splurge on the calories - Ben and Jerry's is probably the right choice :-)

Thanks for the note, Faith. Ben and Jerry's is good, and I love good ice cream, but the gelato thing is just my newest fad. :)

Stew writes: Brian, I found the following sources for Gelato at Walt Disney World:

  1. Seashore Sweets (Boardwalk) -- by the scoop -- (best deal on Gelato at Walt Disney World)
  2. Mama Melrose's (D/MGM)
  3. Portobello Yacht Club (Downtown Disney)
  4. Palio (The Swan)
  5. Hollywood Brown Derby (D/MGM)

There might be others, but that's what a search of menus at Deb Will's WDWIG site resulted in.

Nicole's response was: Hi Brian, I was just reading your column today and saw your inquiry as to where to buy Gelato in Walt Disney World. Last time I visited in January, I purchased some right in front of the Italy pavilion at Epcot at one of their ODV (outdoor vendor) carts. It was the type of cart that appears to be there permanently.

Thanks Nicole... looks like a stop at that cart is in my future. ;)

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


Amy asks: Hi Brian, first - thanks for the great information. I have seen mentioned in trip reports that people upgraded their remaining days on tickets to new tickets. Such as they had two days leftover but needed four so they were able to apply the two days to their new pass. My question is, is this correct? If so, how is it done? How do you know they way they figure out the remaining value of the old tickets and thus the amount of money you need to pay to do the upgrade? I am trying to figure out if it would be better to take the two days left on my pass and upgrade it or just get an additional new pass for my trip in November. Thanks for all your help.



That is true. You can have it done at Guest Relations at any of the parks or Downtown Disney.

They will happily tell you how much value they'll be applying to the new passes. As you've surmised, in many cases, it might just be better to use up the old ones rather than trading them in on new.

However, if your older passes do not have magnetic strips on them (because they're the very old ones), you'll want to trade them in even up (at no cost to you) so that you can use Fastpass (you need the magnetic strip for the Fastpass distribution machines to work).



Bob writes in a follow-up to an earlier note: Brian, Thanks for the response. I think the spirit of Walt is sending me signs that I should go to the Disney / MGM Studios while I'm there. Originally, I'd planned on myself and my nephew going to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom (we're only going to be there for 3 full days). Animal Kingdom was going to be done on Saturday.

Today, I noticed two distinct changes, Early Entry is back with Saturday being the Studios early day. Also, they've extended the 100 Years Celebration through February. I never got a chance to see all the celebration stuff at the Studios when I was there this past February, and of course it's my nephew's first time so he hasn't seen any of it. This is the perfect chance to see the Studios and the 100 Years celebration!

But, alas, the Animal Kingdom will have to be skipped, again. It stinks though because this'll be my fourth visit to Walt Disney World since Animal Kingdom opened and I still haven't seen it.

Sorry to babble but this was very exciting for me and my friends and family just don't get it ("that's nice Bob, pass the salt") and I needed to tell someone who understood and my nephew won't know about the trip until Christmas eve.

Thanks for your help and your ear...



I'm sure you'll enjoy the trip very much. :) The return of Extra Magic Hour (previously known as Early Entry) and the extension of the 100 Years of Magic is great news!

One thing I'd suggest that you consider. If you think you and your nephew will ever return to Walt Disney World, you might want to buy four or five day park hopper passes. That way, you can take your three days and spread the time around the four parks more evenly. Instead of planning a full day in any one park, you could spend the morning at one park, the afternoon at a second, and the evening at a third. Three times three gives you nine blocks of time to spread around the four parks. You could enjoy all four parks that way!



Jeneice writes about the Walt Disney World's reinstatements to some the cutbacks that were made in the Fall of 2001 and other topics: Dear Brian, First, I must say I am so glad about the changes that Walt Disney World is making. I was one of the many people who emailed them after our December trip to let them know I was unhappy about the Early Entry and the show cuts at the Disney / MGM Studios and also that the Character Caravan was not a good replacement and was a feature we never used during our trip.

I will tell you that Kimberly from Walt Disney Executive Offices called me and we spoke at length about our two visits (September and December 2001.) The many differences that I noticed in our trips and benefits of staying onsite for our family.

She listened and did let me know that my opinion is important and that Walt Disney World was listening to all the feedback. I was impressed she called. I also let her know that everyone I know asks me for advice on where to stay, ticket media, meals etc. (Of course I recommend your site and a few others), since I love Walt Disney World and have been there more than a few times. But I just wanted them to know that my trip and experiences will effect the family and friends at home.

Second, I do have the trip report from December at the All Star Movies forthcoming and we visited again (August 2002) at the All Star Music. Just wanted to wear out the magnetic strip on our annual passes one more time. That report is also in the works.

Third, I received a postcard both times from The Cast of the Walt Disney World Resort to do an online questionnaire. So my opinion is getting heard at Walt Disney World.

Fourth, about a week after we returned from Walt Disney World we opened a Princess Figure frame we purchased and it was broken. (We never opened the box at the store to check it out). Also one of our CD's was not working. I emailed Walt Disney World about the items and gave the item #'s from the receipt. They emailed me back in about two days for more info like my address and full name. They followed up saying that my new items would be received in about a week. I was so pleased with their prompt response.

Last, just a note the Official Album Walt Disney World Celebrating 100 Years of Magic CD is great and so is the Magic in the Streets Parade Memories. My family listens to them all the time. This songs actually have my daughter interested in the Haunted Mansion after hearing the them. All attraction songs are on the 100 Years CD plus music from all the Parks.

Well Brian I'm finished my long letter. I hope this is of interest to your readers. I enjoy reading the daily updates and trip reports.

I love Walt Disney World and reading about everyone else's adventures.



Thanks for the note. I'm glad that the Walt Disney World folks have made the changes they have. It shows me that they're not complete dolts, but that they realize that their cuts (at the customer's expense) were too severe -- and that even the tragedies of last Fall didn't justify them.

What the Walt Disney Company needs to do now, to really get park traffic going again, is start investing in the parks! They need some new attractions, and not just some Fantasyland theater makeovers. They need a new E-Ticket attraction, and frankly, I think they need to put a plan in place that lets them trumpet a new E-Ticket attraction every couple of years, with some other lesser additions on the off years. Only by continuous improvement of the parks are they going to see the steady attendance numbers that they've enjoyed in the past.

I'm looking forward to those trip reports. :)

Thanks for the reports on the new CDs and on Walt Disney World merchandising's efforts to correct your problems. I'll have to buy those CDs when I get back to Walt Disney World myself in a few months...



Larry writes: Brian, Well sir, it appears that all of our diligent efforts in contacting Walt Disney World with our frustration about Early Entry and other cutbacks has paid off.

I am sure that the powers that be at Walt Disney World will never admit it, but the thought of regulars abandoning their trips to Walt Disney World or staying off property had to help create such rethinking on certain policies. I have had several changes in my job responsibilities over the last year and a half, thus keeping me from planning a trip. But, similar to your self imposed hiatus, I have been on one also, due to such cutbacks. Now, there is a new optimism.

There is a bounce back in my thoughts about Walt Disney World. I am sure that all is not rosy, but I will be getting new Annual Passes in May and take a trip down with my family, mainly so my three year old can have her first experience, and timed with the opening of the new ride at Epcot. It really is nice to see the new changes and even if they will not admit it, we had a great deal to do with it.

Keep up the good work. Your site gives great information and keeps all of us in tune with the happenings at Walt Disney World, even when we can not make it down there.


Thanks for the note, Larry.

My personal take is that Walt Disney World's guests actually did provide feedback that made it clear that the cutbacks were too deep and too severe. You just can't save yourself to prosperity when your business is in the service industry! You have to spend money and provide outstanding customer service... something that the Walt Disney Company used to know well, and DO well, until the most recent of years.

I hope we've turned the corner and that things will continue to improve.



Jayne writes: Hi Brian, I am planning a trip to the world in early November for a party of four. We are Annual Pass holders at Disneyland and frequent it often. There you can go to city hall and get a special assistance pass by showing a disabled parking permit. My mother has a hard time standing in lines for long periods of time. This pass allows us to enter through the exit or through the fast pass line (without a fast pass), thus eliminating the long waits. The question is, do the parks at Disney world offer this same type of pass or any thing similar?

I want to say thank you for all of the knowledge I have gotten from you. This is an awesome site. I always read Al's updates, and now I read yours too and I'll continue even after our trip just so I'll be in the know. Thanks again and I pray you have had a restful, and safe vacation.


Jayne, thanks for the very kind note.

Yes, a Guest Assistance Card is available. Be aware, though, that you can not simply go to the front of the line using the Guest Assistance Card. Instead, those passes, used in conjunction with Fastpass, allow some special ways of handling the queues to assure access... but not necessarily a "line jumping" privilege.

For your mother's situation, what you'll likely do is have her (along with one or two other members of your party, just to keep her company) will go to a special location where she can wait. Then, the rest of your party will go through the queue. When you get to the waiting location, your whole party will be reunited for the last remaining part of the wait before loading onto the attraction.

Of course, this is a generalization. Actually, things are handled a bit differently on each attraction. You'll be given specific instructions on how to handle things on each attraction when you get your Guest Assistance Card at Guest Relations at each park.

You might want to call Walt Disney World's special assistance phone line at (407) 939-7807 to ask for more specific details about how to handle your situation.



John writes: Brian, I'd be very curious to know what reader/guest reaction is to the Mickey hand at Epcot and the Sorcerer's Hat at Disney-MGM Studios. For my two cents, both are garish and ill-thought additions to the parks, no matter the justification.

The Mickey Hand takes a world-class, instantly recognizable icon and covers it with garish pop art. It would be like adding a giant sign that says "New York" to the side of the Empire State Building.

We KNOW we're in Epcot! The majesty and beauty of unadorned Spaceship Earth is indescribable; to me, the hand looks like so much graffiti.

The hat is, if possible, even worse. The concept of Hollywood Boulevard is gone. It's as if Disney is saying, "This park is no longer about movies and entertainment, it's a big commercial for DISNEY." You can't even get a good glimpse or photo of the Chinese Theater anymore. Worse, the hat is so oversized it completely ruins the forced perspective and visual trickery the Imagineers built into the park. It just seems so out of place as to be almost comical.

Those are my unsolicited views, but I really would be curious to know how other readers and park guests feel.


Thanks John. I don't feel as strongly about the Mickey hand as you do. I don't think it's necessary, but it certainly doesn't add much. On the other hand (no pun intended), the Sorcerer's Hat obstructs the view of what I think IS the icon of that park.



Josh writes: Hi, Brian, I'd like to offer Michael (and several others who have written in recently with similar questions) a parking alternative. Michael asked about parking at the Boardwalk in order to make a quick exit from Epcot after Illuminations.

You suggested parking at the Beach Club Resort and paying the valet parking fee. I would completely agree with that plan if you have small, tired children or are visiting when the parks have extended hours-which often leaves you feeling small and tired at the end of the day.

However, if there are no small children in your party or you are visiting at a time of year when the parks close a bit earlier, there is a pleasant but often overlooked alternative. Park in the normal park lot and then, at the end of the day, rather than sprinting for the exit, relax and enjoy what is probably my favorite time of day at the Disney parks.

After the attractions close, you have the better part of an hour, or sometimes even more, in which to take in the park’s atmosphere. You can stroll around World Showcase Lagoon, shop on Hollywood Boulevard or just sit on a bench near Cinderella Castle for quite a while after the official closing time. With most people thronging the exits and no attractions running, this is an excellent time to quietly admire the parks. Cast members will let you enjoy yourself and they even keep the music playing for those who choose to stay a bit later. I have very fond memories of one trip where my grandmother and I sat at the far end of Main Street in the shadow of the castle watching the people file out while we talked about what a wonderful day we had.

By the time you are ready to leave, you won’t have any real traffic and you will be able to get “home” in no time. This may not be for everyone, but trust me, it can be a very sweet end to a great day. (You can use the $7 you save in valet fees to send me a thank you gift).


Thanks for the suggestion, Josh. It's an excellent one!



Cindy asks: Brian, hi how are you? My husband and I are returning to Disneyworld in December and are staying at the Grand Floridian. We are staying in a lodge room. Is there anything special we should check out at the hotel while we are there? I have stayed at every property but this one.

We have also booked the Discovery Magic package. We are having dinner at the California grill. Any other recommendations for romantic dinning?



The Grand Floridian is a gorgeous resort. You may want to check out the "Fast Facts" page on the resort in MousePlanet's Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide.

Also, I've put together a little photo tour of the resort that you may enjoy seeing.

I don't think there is anything special to check out that you won't find at other Walt Disney World resorts. The resort's lovely grounds, the great new pool, the marina (the boats are fun to take out on the lagoon. I'd personally recommend the water mice, especially. They're a riot!), and the shopping and restaurants all make the list, though.

To answer your question on romantic dinners, I'll refer you to this page which lists some great ideas for planning a romantic trip, including a list of particularly romantic restaurants in the resorts and parks.



Ken writes: Brian, greetings once again from your Williamsburg area NASA geek. Hope all is well with you up there. I assume that soon leaves will be changing and there will be a nip in the air. We seem to go directly from Summer to late Fall here (and it doesn't happen until December). I miss the gradual change of seasons in the north.

First, again I want to thank you for your great web site. There is NO WAY that I could have gotten things figured out for our perhaps one and only trip to Walt Disney World without your help. Thanks so much!! I'm only sorry that you will be there at a different time (otherwise I would love to thank you in person!).

I do have two questions (if you don't mind).

1) Early hours - I know that Early Entry is a really good thing during busy times of the year but I wasn't sure how important they were for the first week of December. Do you have any thoughts on that? My itinerary matches up pretty good with Early Entry other than Friday and Saturday. If I went with Early Entry I would do Animal Kingdom on Friday and the Disney / MGM Studios on Saturday. Since we really want to get to the Disney / MGM Studios soon after arriving, we want to do that on Friday with Animal Kingdom on Saturday. Is that a mistake (i.e., Are we missing something we really should do?). We will get Early Entry in the Disney / MGM Studios the following week so it really boils down to one less Early Entry for the Disney / MGM Studios and no Early Entry for Animal Kingdom.

2) Because you recommend Fantasmic so highly, we really want to see it. We decided we were going to try for a Fantasmic dinner package (the old kind). Then they announced the Fantasmic dinner package test where we could order the dinner package now (with credit card of course). I signed up but could only get a 4:00p.m. dinner package. That means we eat at 4:00 and Fantasmic isn't until 6:00. However, we will get in (like the Candlelight Processional dinner package). I know you sometimes say that you just wait in line. Any thoughts? We might do it anyway to not wait in line.

A lot of this is personal preference but you know so much about it all.

One last question - I'm going to get an Annual Pass (since I have business trips to Daytona from time to time) but I couldn't convince my wife that the rest of the family would go again within a year (I've done most of the planning - she isn't into all this planning stuff). So we went with 6 day Park Hopper Pass's for them. I was surprised at how flimsy the cards seemed. Any advice on how to protect them well?


Thanks for the note, Ken. Regarding your questions:

I don't personally think that you need to plan your trip schedule around Extra Magic Hour. In fact, I very rarely plan from day to day exactly what we're going to do on any given trip. I am doing that on my upcoming trip just because our group size is so large that advanced priority seating plans are going to be very important. Normally, though, just just for me and my immediate family I wouldn't bother. In early December, when crowds are already low, I don't think it will be a bit deal.

Regarding Fantasmic!, I don't recall the age(s) of your kid(s) (or even if you have any), but unless they are very small, I don't think a brief wait is a problem. We've allowed Allan to take a toy or two with him, and he's generally been able to be perfectly happy for an hour of sitting. The main drawback with the Fantasmic! dinner is that the seating that is set aside is far to the right. Personally, I'd probably skip the dinner package and go a bit earlier to sit more in the middle. That is reasonable in early December, but would be a nightmare during high Summer and Christmas season when the crowds peak.

I can't suggest anything special on the park passes. They must be protected, of course, but I usually just keep them in my wallet like a credit card.

Maybe after being at Walt Disney World for a few days, your wife will let you upgrade those six-day passes to Annual Passes after all. :)


Ken follows-up with: Brian,interesting notes about Fantasmic. My kids (13,10, 7) would probably enjoy some down time with the schedule I've set up! :-) Just kidding, I promise to chill some! Thanks for the tip. We thought it wasn't such a bad idea to do the dinner package because we wanted to eat at Mama Melrose's anyway but 4:00p.m.?! That seems early. If memory serves me right (and I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't), I thought you really like Spoodles. Maybe better than Mama Melroses? Maybe we should do that instead?

I forgot about the Annual Pass upgrade idea. Not a bad idea!!! Although my '93 Taurus just required it's 4th transmission so extra cash will probably get tied up in a new car instead!

Thanks again. I wish you good luck with your trip. Not only do you have the big group but it is a popular time of the year too!



I know that Spoodles gets good reviews, but I've never actually eaten there personally.

On the Taurus, all I can say is that you should have bought a GM car (but since I went to General Motors Institute, I'm a tad bit biased.)



Tifany writes: Brian, I have been trying to contact Disney / MGM Studios Guest Relations, and have emailed several people and still haven't received the answer to the question I have. I know that you have cast members that read your site & I was hoping someone could answer the following question.

Do you know what the 1,000,000 point prize is now for Who Wants to be a Millionaire Play It? Has it been changed to or is it the same? I know the grand prize used to be a trip for 2 to New York to watch a taping of the show at the ABC studios, but since ABC canned the show (after playing it too much to compete against Survivor and Friends) it is now playing in syndication.

Will the point prizes still be the same or will they (Eisner & friends) close this attraction because the show it was based on got canceled?

The reason why I am asking is because I have been in the hot seat and got up to two questions away from the 1,000,000 point level; and my husband has been in the hot seat twice! I believe that I have as good a chance as anyone else to get in the hot seat again, and I know that some people have reached & even won the 1,000,000 point question.

I hope you will be able to shed some light onto this question, because the only response I got from Disney was to call ABC in New York and ask them about the taping of the show. ABC, of course, had no idea why Disney had directed me to contact them about prizes that were/are given out at Disney. (It seems there is still a lot of miscommunication with the Suits and the worker bees!) At least our voice was heard and we have EXTRA MAGIC mornings now!!



Sorry, I have no idea... but I will share your note in an upcoming Notes piece and we'll see what response we get.

So folks... what do you know?



Barry asks: Do you have an e-mail address for Don Sullivan?? I did a very dumb thing - - I sent a letter saying I wanted to subscribe to his newsletter and that I was enclosing $12.95 and I mailed it without the money order. I would like to reach him BEFORE the empty envelope to tell him I am sending the $12.95 under separate cover. I tried calling directory assistance in Columbus and there was no listing for Mouse Tips. If you could help me I would appreciate it. I am sooooooooooo embarrassed.


Don and Amy Sullivan can be reached at I hope you do subscribe. Their MouseTips newsletter is an excellent one!



Alden asks: Dear Brian, we are thrilled that Early Entry has been reinstated, but are more confused about where to go when. We will be arriving the Saturday after Thanksgiving (just enjoying the Grand Floridian, not the parks), then onto the parks the next day. The Magic Kingdom is scheduled for Early Entry that day. Will it be horribly crowded? Should we avoid that park altogether, or just go for Early Entry then head out to MGM? We planned our trip at this time because I kept hearing how the first week in December is low crowds. I am now worried that post-Thanksgiving crowds will be huge. (We leave for the 3 day cruise on Thursday, December 5, so just 4 days in the parks)

Thank you soooo much for any advice you can offer.



I can only share my own opinion. Since Extra Magic Hour is a bit different than the old Early Entry program, things won't be exactly the same and it will take a while for things to settle down so we really know how Early Magic Hour affects park traffic patterns.

But based on experience during the old Early Entry program, it's pretty clear that the park that is offering Extra Magic Hour will be significantly more busy than the other parks on any given day. Also, that effect is likely to be multiplied since you're visiting during a holiday weekend. The first couple of weeks in December is less busy, but that doesn't kick in until after Thanksgiving Weekend is good and done.

Bottom line... You really do need to expect the Magic Kingdom to be VERY crowded on that day.

Personally, I wouldn't go with your strategy of visiting the Magic Kingdom first and then switch parks after the first hour or two just because you'll waste so much time in transit during prime park hours. I'd just avoid the Magic Kingdom altogether that day and go elsewhere... but that's just me. :)



Shelley shares this report: Hi Brian, Just a quick note. We just got back from a nine day trip to Walt Disney World and the parks were empty. We didn't need to use Fastpass but one time and were usually done touring the park for the day around 3-4:00p.m. (except on nights we were seeing a night show). We went to DisneyQuest four times and it didn't cost any extra or use up a plus feature (we used those plus features for 2 character breakfasts).

This is in reply to Dianna's note on 9/23/02 I started planning this trip 9 years ago, I own a daycare & it's hard to close for along time. This was hubby's first time & my 12 year old daughter & I haven't been there since she was 3 1/2. Hubby now wants to move to Orlando & work as a paramedic in the area. I hoped to do a trip report, but when we got back I got 3 new children in for daycare. Sometimes a well deserved break can make your job worthwhile again.


Thanks for the note, Shelley!



Neeracha shares another note on DisneyQuest: Hi Brian, I'm a longtime reader and love your column (even though I live on the West Coast and rarely get out to Walt Disney World). I was in Orlando this week for a few days on business, and although I didn't go into the parks, my work colleagues and I went to DisneyQuest for some entertainment after dinner at Wolfgang Puck's. I just wanted to let you know that although the $31.00 admission rate may seem too steep for those without this option on their Hoppers, DisneyQuest offers a late night entry fee of $16.00. I believe it's just offered on weeknights, and is valid for the last 2 hours (i.e. 9-11 p.m.). It was well worth that price - the virtual Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean were both fun, but the best is still the build-your-own roller coaster.

Thanks for all your work on the site.


Thanks so much for the note! I'll share it in on the site in the next few weeks.


Cindy writes: Brian, I am one of your newest MousePlanet dependents! Judging from other emails I've read, it really is an interesting phenomena how we get hooked on your site. Thanks for such an informative and pleasant service!

We are planning our first Walt Disney World trip in April over Easter weekend. I know it goes against everything I've read regarding peak season, but that's the best we could do. Our biggest expense, next to airfare from Tucson, is accommodations. I actually have two reservations pending... one at the All-Star Music and one at the Dolphin using an Entertainment rate of $182.00. The bottom line is a $500 difference for a 5 night stay between the two resorts. My question is, do you think it's worth it? Or should I consider a middle-of-the road option at the Port Orleans? We are a family of four, including two teenagers in tow.



Here's my own opinion. The Dolphin (and Swan) resorts are very nice. They are well appointed, beautiful buildings (if you like that entertainment architectural style). However, they lack in one major thing... Disney Magic. Sure, the resorts are on the property, and they're serviced by Walt Disney World Transportation. They are upscale accommodations, without doubt. But they just lack the theming that takes the guest away to another place.

My opinion of the All Star Resorts is similar, except that instead of being a top-end resort the All Star Resorts are price leaders. Again, they're nice (for the price) and are on property with Walt Disney World Transportation service, but they're just not as "magical" as the themed Walt Disney World resorts.

In my opinion, I'd split the difference on the cost and go for one of the moderate resorts that have significantly more theming.

But that's just me. :)

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!

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Brian Bennett's Disney Trip Planner

Click here to see some awesome WDW pieces that have run on MousePlanet recently!

Click here to check out the rest of Brian's Archive, including all of the previously published "Notes From the World" pieces!

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I've always gotten email about the WDW Trip Planning Guide, but since we added the feedback form to the site several months ago, the number of questions has increased dramatically!  I do my best to answer each and every question personally, but I've noticed that a lot of the questions are asked again and again.  The question that one person asks might very well be the question that someone else is wondering about.  Thus this page!

So...I'll post reader email and feedback every once in a while, because the question someone else asks might be the same one you're thinking about yourself!


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MousePlanet® is not associated in any official way with the Walt Disney Company, its subsidiaries, or its affiliates. The official Disney site is available at This MousePlanet Web site provides independent news articles, commentary, editorials, reviews, and guides primarily about the theme park resorts of the Walt Disney Co. All information on this site is subject to change. Please call destinations in advance to confirm the most up-to-date information.