by Brian Bennett
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
Here's the scenario:
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...)
these two trips as separate ones. I just wanted to get a
mix of kids and ages.
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.
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...
Mark writes: Here's a mixed
bag... You've probably heard already, but the Disney Club
will be going away. New/renewal memberships will no longer
be taken as of 12/12/02, and the club will be terminated 12/31/03.
In its place will be a Disney-cobranded VISA card to be issued
by Bank One. Cardholders will be able to earn points toward
discounts with every purchase. I'm going to miss the old DC.
There will be a new restriction at one of my favorite out-of-park
fireworks-watching locations. The catwalk at the top of the
Contemporary Resort will be restricted to California Grill
patrons only. Non-diners will be able to watch from a viewing
area at outside the North end of the Concourse. Again, kind
Comment on your scenario: I hope that
you included yourself, Allan, and Michael either as a hypothetical
to illustrate the scenario or because you have an opportunity
to go but Barbara has a conflict. I'd hate to hear that there
was trouble in paradise.
Finally, a couple comments on your
latest Notes from the World: Tifany asked about the top prize
for the Millionaire attraction. According to Jennifer and
Dave over at PassPorter, it's still a trip to NYC, and you
get a choice of Broadway shows to see. They may have changed
it to be a taping of the syndicated show, but I'm not sure.
Check Jennifer's trip report over at PassPorter.com for details
of Dave's million-point win. Shelley said that her family
"went to DisneyQuest four times and it didn't cost any
extra or use up a plus feature". How the heck did she
do that? What was their admission media? I'd love to get in
there free, if I could.
Yes, I'd heard about the demise of the Disney Club. Personally,
I hope it just dies and Disney renews the old Magic Kingdom
Club. The goodwill that the old Magic Kingdom Club generated
is probably missed greatly at WDW and Disneyland nowadays.
Thanks for the concern. No, Barb and I are doing just fine...
but there is a possibility that she might ditch us boys for
a few days of business during our upcoming Spring trip. Things
aren't finalized yet, but if so, I'll have the boys to myself
for a few days. That's what inspired the scenario in the first
place. Samantha and her girls were tossed in for balance,
but they're completely fictional. :)
Thanks for the comments on Tifany and Shelley's notes. I'll
share them and we'll see if we get a response from Shelley.
I should have thought to ask myself. :(
Dave shared this response
to Tifany's question from last week: Brian,
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? "
We were at WDW three weeks ago - the
1,000,000 point prize was a trip for two to NYC. No one got
close, but one guy won the polo shirt. I was so close - #2
on the board three times. Oh, well.
By the way, thanks for all the work
our site - it made planning the vacation easy. Expect a trip
report in the near future!
Thanks Dave! That's a tremendous help.
Janis writes: Hi
Brian! Just love this site!!! In response to a letter from
Monica about Disney Dollars at the DD Lego store, we were
able to use them there this past June. I, too, was not sure
my nephew would be able to use them, but the CM said "Sure,
no problem!" Just thought this might help some other
readers. Unfortunately I didn't try to use them anywhere else,
so I don't know the other stores policies.
Thanks for the note. Looks like I'll have to
dig into this one a bit more...
Bob writes: Regarding
the reader writing about 4:00p.m. Fantasmic reservations.
If his seating is at 4:00p.m., It takes 10-15 minutes for
a seat, 30-45 minutes for dinner, walk to the amphitheater
(which could be another 10-20 minutes if eating at Mama Melrose's
and the park is crowded) then he would be arriving just 10-20
minutes before the show. In viewing Fantasmic both in February
& May, the amphitheater was full 20-30 minutes before
the show (including the reserved area), so I'd say 4:00p.m.
is a good time for dinner. Remember that the reason for the
program is to bring people into MGM sit down restaurants during
their slow times. Wait until you visit in the Summer &
you eat at 4:00p.m., but it isn't dark enough for the show
Thanks for the help, Bob.
James shares this opinion:
Hello again! Just a note before all you readers besiege Disney
with emails about show closings. My cast member daughter informed
me the reason behind the Hunchback show closing was due to
the stage being a temporary structure. Its permit is expiring
meaning a massive upgrade or replacement. The show is being
archived and might reappear someplace else in another theater.
She is also a sometime participant in the new Magic Kingdom
park opening show. The characters board the train in ToonTown
and ride it to the front of the park. My last visit there
also noted more street performers on Main Street. So take
heart as the tide seems to be turning with more character
and streetmosphere opportunities!
Thanks James. The increased characters is great
and welcome news.
However, I don't mind if Disney is bombarded by emails and
letters from folks that want more entertainment in the parks.
Even with what's been recently added, the amount of entertainment
is still drastically reduced from a couple of years ago.
Dave shares this note: Hi Brian,
great reading your notes, as always. I have additional suggestions
for Cindy, who wrote concerning staying at the Grand Floridian.
Afternoon tea is great if you have the time, and the live
music in the evening, alternating between a pianist and the
orchestra, is also a nice way to unwind. Just a couple pennies
worth of thoughts. Keep up the good work.
Great ideas Dave, thanks!
And now, back to our
regularly scheduled email...
|Alan writes: Brian,
now that Disney has resumed an Early Entry program, you can
bet that the park that opens early will be more crowded. If
the new program works like the old program, it is still a good
idea to consider taking advantage of the early opening, especially
at the Magic Kingdom. I say this because several of the Magic
Kingdom rides that are "slow loaders" like Dumbo or
the Carousel are open early. You can save significant time by
entering early if your plans include these rides.
I am not sure how the early entry
program will affect a park like EPCOT because there are fewer
attractions with long waits there. Certainly, going to Test
Track early is worth the effort for me, and I'd probably be
able to get a second or third ride in by using Fastpass.
Same is true at MGM. The longest lines
there are usually at Tower and Rockin Roller. You could knock
off some of the rides with longer lines early; it really does
make a difference if you are trying to do as many of the rides
Not sure how the program will work
at Animal Kingdom, as I am not sure when the animals are released
from their night pens. As with any other animal park or zoo,
you want to try to catch the animals before they settle in
for the day. Early morning is usually best as many animals
will explore their turf before they lie down and relax. You
may even get to see a lion awake - a rare treat. I generally
don't have a problem getting on the other attractions.
As to traveling from one park to another,
I do it all the time. I always rent a car so that I can do
that without having to rely on Disney transportation. We find
it significantly faster to drive yourself from one park to
the other for all parks except the Magic Kingdom. For the
Magic Kingdom, we park at the Wilderness (OK as we usually
stay there) and take the boat. Admittedly, if you are not
staying at the Wilderness or a monorail hotel, it is a little
time consuming to change parks to/from the Magic Kingdom.
Use of a car does make it easier to
play the crowds. It is something to consdier when you are
thinking about whether to rent or not.
I personally hope that as many guests
as possible take advantage of early entry program so that
Disney recognizes the value of input from their guests. I
am concerned that they will stop listening to the vocal few
(many?), if people don't take advantage of this program. My
wife and I will and will make sure that the cast knows how
much we appreciate the early opening.
|Thanks for your note, Alan. You certainly make
several excellent points that folks will want to consider as
they plan their days in the parks!
|A MousePlanet reader
writes: Hi Brian, just got back from our first trip to WDW.
Loved it! Before we went, I e-mailed you regarding transportation
to Universal. I thought I'd share our experience with you and
We stayed at the All-Star Sports resort
and took a Mears bus to Universal twice. You must call 24
hours in advance in order to make a reservation. Cost is $6.00
each way. We found the service to be second to none. Great
drivers full of information and prompt service. When you are
ready to leave the park, you call Mears' 800 number and make
a reservation a couple of hours before you intend to leave,
although we just walked on one once.
The only thing I must caution your
readers to is the fact that many other companies also offer
shuttle service to Universal. One guy in particular, he had
a plain white van with no company name on it, came around
asking who was going to Universal, and to follow him. Someone
said something about Mears and he stopped short of saying
he was from Mears, but said that he was the back-up van. Luckily
a CM from the hotel stopped the people from following him!
He tried this on both our trips to Universal. Another company
(Yellow Cab, I believe) tried the same thing. Please, please,
if the bus does not say Mears on it: DO NOT GO WITH ANYONE
ELSE! This seems to be a legitimate problem, at least at All-Star
Thanks again for your help Brian and
keep up the great work!
| Thanks so much for the note. Did anyone explain
what the Yellow Cab and "white van" folks were doing
that was a problem? I suspect that their fares were more in
line with taxis ($$$) versus the relatively low fare that Mears
was offering. Can you confirm that?
|The follow-up was:
I think the biggest problem was that they were being dishonest
and indicating that they were working for Mears, when in fact
they were just trying to get fares. One couple had a prepaid
Mears voucher and once the "white van" guy found out,
he dropped them like a hot potato! I'm assuming their rates
are like you mentioned, closer to a taxi's fare.
Thanks again Brian, keep up the great
|Brian writes: Mr.
Bennett, I am 16, and might be traveling to Disneyland, from
Sacramento this January. I'm not sure how you select trip reports,
or who can write them. Is it all possible, if I go, that I could
write a trip report for Mouse Planet?
Thank you for reading. I look forward
to your response.
Go to the main page of MousePlanet's Disney
Trip Report Archive, there you'll find (in the left hand
margin) all the information you need to write and post a trip
report to me.
EVERYONE is welcome to send me a report. I'd love to have
yours when it's ready.
|David asks: Dear
Brian, I enjoyed your account of the Innovation Tour and was
impressed by your knowledge of the history of backstage Disney
World. I was wondering if you knew when Disney World first started
doing tours of the utilidors and other hidden parts of the park?
Thanks for your help.
|Sorry, David, but you have me stumped on that
one. I know that tours have been available for over 14 years
now, but that's the extent of my back stage knowledge.
Lynne writes: Brian, first of
all I want to let you know how much I enjoy your website.
I read it every day and even though I feel I know a lot about
Disney (I've been nine times), I always learn something new!
We're planning our next trip for November/December.
My questions/comment is about priority
seating for Cinderella's Royal Table. What's the deal with
trying to get priority seating there? I got through at 7:02
(two minutes after the phone lines opened) and found that
it was already booked for the day. How can that be? How can
an entire morning sell out in two minutes? Are there that
many operators? It takes longer than two minutes for them
to complete a priority seating...
First off, there are, as you suggested, a ton of operators
on duty taking reservations at any given time. It's not at
all unlikely that the majority of them are handling priority
seatings for Cinderella's Royal Table. Also, I'm sure that
a portion of those available seatings are taken in advance
by guests that are staying at the deluxe resorts in a concierge
area (when the concierge would be able to provide those priority
seatings without problems). Finally, I suspect that some more
of those available priority seatings are held in reserve "just
All I can suggest is that you keep on trying. :)
On much the same topic, Terry writes:
Hello, I have tried for the three mornings in a row to try
and book a Cinderella Breakfast. Each morning I have been
told that they have no room. I call at 7:00 a.m. and by 7:02
a.m. I am told they have no room. In fact, today, Oct. 4th
I was asked "what do you want to book" I said: "Cinderalla's
Breakfast" she then said okay , asked me for how many
people , I told her how many, then I was told - "I'm
sorry that has been filled already". Why wasn't I told
that before asking how many people. And that was at 7:01 a.m.
How can it book that fast? Do they just pick and choose reservations.
I would like to know how to get a breakfast there between
November 30 through December 6th. I was there 4 years ago,
and there was no problem booking, Why Now???????
I AM ALSO A DISNEY CLUB MEMBER. AND
THAT APPEARS NOT TO HELP EITHER.
AWAITING A PROMPT RESPONSE.
[ Editor's Note: The
All Caps were Terry's. ]
I'm sure that there are a ton of operators on duty taking
reservations at any given time, but at 7:00a.m. I also suspect
that the majority of them are handling priority seatings for
Cinderella's Royal Table.
Of course, there are seatings available for differing group
sizes. Perhaps your group size is such that only a handful
of tables are available? In any case, the reservationist wouldn't
know that until they know your group size.
Another issue is that you're already pretty close to your
November/December window. I wouldn't be surprised at all that
all available tables are indeed booked for those dates already.
All I can suggest is that you keep on trying and hope for
a cancellation. :)
One alternative would be to book the new princess breakfast
at the Akershus restaurant at Epcot.
Finally, your comment about being a Disney Club member isn't
a surprise. The Disney Club has never been a help in securing
"hard to get" reservations. The only thing that
really seems to help is staying in a concierge room at one
of the deluxe resorts, and having the concierge make those
Finally, you stated, "Awaiting a Prompt Response."
Since I answer email free of charge, I'm sure you'll agree
that a response within 26 hours is sufficiently prompt. :)
|Following up, Terry wrote:
Thank you very much. I did try again this morning and first
asked if there was still openings at the breakfast and the girl
did ask for how many people. This time I had told only 4 people,
and I was still shot down. I asked if she could tell me how
many I can book, and she was not able to do so. Also, you cannot
book the breakfast until 60 days before your arrival.
Thank you for getting back to me.
Barbara writes: Hi... My daughter
and her fiance will be staying at your Vero resort in a couple
of weeks. I would like to treat them to a nice dinner at one
of the restaurants available as a birthday gift. How can we
facilitate this? I would like to be able to send her fiance
a gift certificate in his birthday card this week. Can you
help?? Thank you!
I'm sorry to be responding so late to your question. I've
been on a personal vacation and only just returned.
You should know, though, that MousePlanet is NOT part of
the Walt Disney Company. In your email you stated that your
daughter will be staying at "your Vero resort,"
indicating that MousePlanet somehow owns Disney's Vero Beach
Resort. That is not the case.
My suggestion would be for you to go to your local Disney
store and buy some "Disney Dollars" which your daughter
can use (like a gift certificate) on her trip.
Michael writes: Hey Brian! I've
written you a couple of times. I've also promised you a trip
report, which has already been started. Got a question for
you, and I'm really hoping to hear back from you before Friday,
cause we're leaving on Saturday.
My 7 year old girl broke her arm today
in two places. Clean break, it'll will heal fine. I'm wondering
if you know about ride restrictions concerning casts. Obviously
the water rides might be out (we're hoping for a water proof
cast), but I was wondering about Big Thunder, Space Mountain,
TOT. I'm pretty sure the RNRC is out, which breaks my heart
because that is all she has been talking about. Of course
we'll ask the doctor tomorrow and get his opinion, but I was
just wondering if Disney had any official policy for this
kind of a situation.
As always, thanks for reading my e-mail
and the wonderful site. Keep up the great work.
I'm not aware of any policy that would prohibit a guest with
a cast from riding any attractions. I think your doctor's
advice would be the most important consideration.
|Louise asks: So concerning
the returned early opening schedule - I understand that when
this was in effect prior to 9/11/2001 only certain areas and
or rides were operating during that first hour. Is this the
case now (well, I mean tomorrow)and can you tell me what those
rides are in the 4 major parks? Thanks for the planning help.
Yes, you are correct. Only a sub-set of park attractions
will be open during Extra Magic Hour each day -- NOT the whole
I don't have a complete list, but I do know that at the Magic
Kingdom, for example, several Tomorrowland and Fantasyland
attractions are included.
|Jill asks: Please
tell how to reach Jutta Levasseur, Egg Artist in German Village.
I don't know how to reach specific people within Epcot. You
may want to try calling WDW's merchandising at (407) 363-6200
and asking if there's a way to be connected to the Germany
Pavilion shops. That might work...
|Shirley asks: I am
curious to know if WDW accepts Discover Card. Someone told me
that there was a time they only accepted VISA. I would be using
it for shopping and dining mostly.
I don't know that WDW ever limited credit card use to only
Visa. Right now, I know that they accept American Express,
Visa, Mastercard, Discover, Diners Club, and The Disney Credit
American Express used to be the "official" credit
card of WDW, but that didn't make them at all exclusive.
Carol asks: I will be at WDW
for 4 days in November 3-6, and it is my second visit. I went
last year with 13 other people, stayed for 10 days and I am
hooked!! But now I will have one day for each park this time.
Do you have any ideas? Epcot in a day....MGM in a day...etc.
I already planned the "Fantasmic Dining Experience"
for Monday, and can't wait. It will be Brown Derby.....but
I digress. How to do right by each park...two people...in
I honestly don't think you can "do right by each park"
in a single day. :) If you look over this page, on the topic
much time to plan for your trip, you'll see that I think
it takes at least 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 days for each park.
I would suggest you read this page on what
to do when you have limited time.
The bottom line is that you'll really have to think through
each park and decide exactly what you want to do so you know,
when you hit the gate, exactly what your game plan for the
day is going to be. Frankly, that kind of detailed planning
goes against the grain of my own personal vacation preferences...
but it's the only way to squeeze things into such a short
You might be well served by buying a copy of Bob Sehlinger's
"The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World," and
using his park touring plans.
|Jeff shares this:
Hey Brian, Like everybody that submits, I want to start off
by saying that I thoroughly enjoy your site every day. I didn't
discover it until AFTER our last trip to WDW in 1999, but I
plan on diving in deep before our next trip in June 2003.
Back in 1999, we took our 3 1/2 year
old son to WDW for the first time. We were afraid that he
wouldn't "remember" much about the trip, but to
this day he reminds ME of things that we saw and did there.
We're all looking VERY forward to our trip in June of next
year when we'll be spending a week at the Contemporary Resort.
One of the things that my wife and
I were concerned with during our trip was becoming lost parents.
During the preparation phase of our trip, while we were buying
film, something I saw leaped off the shelf at me. A disposable,
instant-develop camera. What a PERFECT idea came to me! We
took one along, and each morning before we left for the days
adventure we snapped off two pictures of our son and each
of us kept one in our posession during that day. That way,
should the worst happen and we get separated, we'd have a
picture of him in that days outfit. The camera that we used
(and I won't mention brand names) produced small, 2-inch by
3-inch pictures; easily small enough to fit in a mans wallet
or just slip into a pocket. Thankfully, we never needed to
use them, but what better resource could a Cast Member have
when dealing with an emotional parent than a picture less
than 24 hours old?
I've not seen this tip come up in
any of the articles that I've read, but it may very well be
hidden deep somewhere in your "family resources"
section. In any event, I thought I'd pass it along. We've
made sure to tell all of our friends what we did, and they
agree that it's an easy way to get a little piece of mind.
Tremendous suggestion Jeff! Thanks!
|Teri writes: Brian,
re: Disney Transportation, you might want to visit OurLaughingPlace.com
for their wonderful Transportation Wizard or Twiz feature. They
spent a great deal of time and effort riding buses, monorails,
boats, etc. throughout WDW, got the timing, and entered it into
a database. You can search the database for the routes between
resorts and/or and parks, and compare the times. OLP is a very
pleasant and positive site, and they have done a good job with
|Thanks Teri. It appears to be a very interesting
site. I'll have to check it out more thoroughly. :)
|Carl writes: I've
never been to the Grand Floridian or WDW, your your photos remind
me of the Hotel Del Coronado near San Diego. I'll bet a dollar
that at least some of the architecture for the Grand Floridian
was inspired by the Hotel Del.
|I wouldn't take that bet. I'm sure you're quite
|Jeneen asks: I just
found your web site and it is helping me a great deal plan my
Disney Vacation. I was just wondering if you knew the number
to call and get tickets to the Mickey's Not so Scary Halloween
Party? We are not going until net October but I just wanted
all the numbers ready, thanks!
You can go to this
page for information on the party (for 2002).
You can make reservations, once WDW starts taking them, by
calling the regular reservation number at (407) WDW-DINE.
Well, I hope you enjoyed the reader feedback
for the WDW Trip Planning Guide! Feed free to send more questions
or comments to email@example.com!
Brian Bennett's Disney Trip Planner
Click here to see
some awesome WDW pieces that have run on MousePlanet recently!
here to check out the rest of Brian's Archive, including all of the previously
published "Notes From the World" pieces!
always gotten email about the WDW Trip Planning Guide, but since we added
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!
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!