We receive considerable feedback regarding our site. Although we cannot
publish all of them, the following may be of interest to other readers.
Feedback for Brian
The regular "Notes from the World" question-and-answer column now
appears each Thursday, as part of the new MousePlanet Mailbag feature.
Enjoy! -- Brian
Danny R. writes:
Not sure if this question is too simple for you. Having read
your excellent Web site, all the questions seem very sophisticated
- my problem is that I live in the U.K., am planning a trip to
WDW in Florida in May 2003 but cannot seem to find any objective
advice over here as to where the best place to stay is. We will
be over for 14 days and the basic two options appear to be - stay
in an All-Star Resort Hotel for the full 14 days or stay at Lake
Buena Vista (Holiday Inn Family Suites) just outside and get a
10-day pass using the other days to see other sites or rest? If
we stay at either do we need to hire a car or is public transport
sufficient? We will be bringing our 4-year-old daughter. I'd appreciate
any help/suggestions - apologies if this is too basic a question
Danny, I can't tell from your note if you've yet had a chance
to read through MousePlanet's
WDW Trip Planning Guide. There you can find all kinds of information
on planning a trip to Walt Disney World. There's information there
on the resort hotels (including room rates), parks (including admission
media), and all other aspects of planning a trip down to see the
You may want to read through those pages to get more background.
Basically, though, you've come across the age-old "on-site
versus off-site" accommodations issue. My personal preference
is to stay on-site and use Disney's transportation. You wouldn't
even need to rent (hire) a car in that case, so long as you planned
to spend the whole 14 days at Walt Disney World. If you choose to
go off-site to Universal Studios or Sea World, you could rent a
car just for the day and still save a lot of money.
When you stay off-site, you may be fortunate enough to find
a resort that offers some kind of shuttle service. I don't know
if the Holiday Inn Family Suites does so. If they do, you need to
ascertain what the shuttle schedule is. For the Disney resorts,
the shuttles run continuously. You may have a 15- or 20-minute wait
if you just missed one, but that would be about the worst-case scenario.
Many off-site resorts, though, run shuttles much less frequently.
Even with the lesser convenience of staying off-site, the reduced
cost may be worthwhile. It's really up to you to judge the differences
and decide what would be the best solution to meet your needs.
Scott wrote to share a bit of good luck, and to ask for
Help! I've got what is not an unattractive
dilemma. We (myself, wife, 6-year-old daughter and 19-month-old
son) are heading up to WDW this weekend.
We originally had reservations at Port Orleans Riverside,
but I called this morning to double-check if there were any available
Florida-resident deals on Deluxe Resorts. Lo and behold, they
had both Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge available for
only $60 total more for both nights! As they did not have any
Savannah rooms available (not even at full rate), and we are planning
to spend one of the two days at the Magic Kingdom, I opted for
an upgrade to the Wilderness Lodge. Please tell me I made the
right choice (and if I didn't, please lie and say I did).
But the point of my correspondence is not to seek a pat on
the back for my luck and/or lodging choice; it is regarding a
more practical matter - room selection. I am booking a standard
room, and even after reviewing the info page, I am unsure as to
what room request to make. We want to be close to the bus, marina
and pool, if possible. Also, what is the policy on upgrades? Can
I ask for one at check-in? Do they ever provide them free-of-charge?
(typical American; always looking for something for nothing).
As always, thank you for your expertise and patience.
I don't have to lie. I think you did well to get into Wilderness
Lodge at that price! The Lodge is a very nice resort, I'm sure you'll
enjoy your stay very much.
I would suggest you look at my "fast
facts" page on the Lodge. You'll notice, under the heading,
"Preferred Room Locations," all of my suggestions for making those
room requests. Note, too, that the first floor is on ground level
(actually one level below the lobby), so beware about asking for
a first floor room.
You can always ask for an upgrade. It can't hurt... but don't
be disappointed if an upgrade is simply not available.
Pat E. says:
First off, I'm a great fan of your site. Along with Pete Werner
and Deb Wills, I probably spend more time with you folks in the
months leading up to an Orlando trip than I do in Orlando after
the planning is done. I greatly appreciate the resources and data
offered. While I'm a 20-year, 25-trip vet of WDW, the knowledge
I've gained in the two years since I've discovered Internet sources
have made me a lean, mean, budgetary machine. My wife and I got
out of our last trip, seven days/six nights, for about $1150.
Three years ago, staying at lousy motels and eating food bought
at Wal-Mart, that figure was over $2000. And I thank you!
In trying to give back, I'm writing my trip report for our
last venture, which took place in late September. As a graduate
of the Penn State School of Journalism and as a current employee
of a publishing house, I was embarrassed this morning to find
my current draft is 15 pages and almost 10,000 characters long.
And I've still got two days about which to write.
My question would be do you have a size limit on these things?
As a reader, I liked them long and in-depth, so I could begin
to visualize what the writer saw, thus helping me choose where
to put my time and money. But darn is this thing long. I find
the normal rules of my life -- get to the point -- just don't
apply when I'm in Dis-mode. Your guidance at this point would
Pat -- No, there are no such rules. Write what you think you
need to to document your vacation in whatever way you want. I just
appreciate your willingness to share it with me after you've finished
Kelly S. wonders about time share presentations.
My family is headed to Orlando in a week and
I'm curious if you could recommend any resorts to do the timeshare
spiels to get free or reduced tickets. I have heard horror stories,
but I don't believe that all the resorts can be so awful in terms
of them holding you captive all day instead of just a couple hours.
If you have the time to reply, I would appreciate any info you
have on where to go to so we don't waste a whole day listening
to a sales pitch for something we don't really want to buy. I'm
hoping that the fact we will have two little ones with us would
help get us out the door quicker. Thanks in advance!
Kelly -- My wife and I attended a timeshare presentation one
time, back in October 2000. We had received a solicitation by phone
for free accommodations if we attended a presentation at Westgate
Lakes Resort. We ended up upgrading our accommodations (as we had
extended family with us that trip and needed extra room), so we
did pay some money.
Anyway, you can read my
story about the presentation. Just scroll about halfway to Wednesday,
October 25 and you can read the whole thing. Kevin Yee also included
the story in his recent column, "Got
Any Time to Share?"
We were originally told the presentation would take about 90
minutes. We were held captive for almost three hours. Still, it
was worth it for the price break we got on the accommodations (which
were very nice, I must say).
We left our son with the grand parents during the presentation,
so I'm not sure if having kids along will help or hinder your desire
to get out quickly.
We'll be at Walt Disney World the week of
Christmas and was wanting your expertise on do's and don'ts on
ordering for Carly, our soon-to-be 4-year-old. I had read somewhere
about the suggestion of just asking for an extra plate and sharing
with our daughter. Are the children's portions pretty substantial
or are they kid-sized? Also, it seems to me I had also read that
even though it's not on the menu, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
can be ordered at any time. Any kid's food tips would be appreciated
from you or the other MousePlanet faithful.
Glenn -- It's funny that you should ask, because I've just been
rereading my own most recent trip reports in preparation for my
own upcoming trip. The one thing that struck me is that I mentioned
several times that we over-ordered food for the boys.
I would strongly suggest that you just get the extra plate.
Our boys just couldn't do a kid's meal justice between the two of
Joe wanted more information about the "Rehitchin' Ceremony"
at the Contemporary Resort:
My name is Joe and I have a question about
getting rehitched at Epcot, where basically your waiter renews
your vows Goofy-style in the Garden Grill at Epcot. Have you ever
heard of it? I read about it on the Intercot boards and when I
called Priority Service reservations, she said she never heard
about it. I said I saw it on a "unofficial" Disney site, and she
said, "Well, there's your problem," and repeated that she never
heard of it. I would really like to do this, so I was just curious
if I got a uninformed cast member, or if the program is no longer
Joe -- The "rehitchin' ceremony" is a very informal, fun, and
free little gimmick that is available over at the Garden Grill.
Basically, your server and any available characters (and other servers)
take on the task of helping you and your significant other renew
your vows. How well it all goes and how funny it turns out depends
a lot on the server and the supporting cast, as well as the reaction
of the guests (you and your loved one). Whether or not you get a
certificate and cake seems to vary, too. Sometimes the ceremony
is done and it's just for fun with no giveaways, so if you just
decide to have fun, anything you get as a gift can just be a fun
Unfortunately, as you have experienced, many of Disney's reservationists
are not even aware, so if you'd like to do it, just ask your reservationist
to make a note of it on your priority seating. If they say they
don't know what you're talking about, just ask them to humor you
and put on the note that you'd like a "rehitchin' ceremony."
You may want to stop over at the Garden Grill sometime before
your priority seating (even a day or more before) and confirm in
person that the note is there. As an alternative, you might be able
to take care of it right when you show up for your table.
Unfortunately, when the reservations folks aren't well-trained
about these special little things, they're not able to do as good
a job as they might otherwise.
Joe wrote back a few days later with an update:
Thank you so much for the info. I called back and the next
cast member was much better. He said he never heard of it but
instead of just brushing me off, he actually took the time to
ask someone else about it and it sounds like it's going to happen
and be a lot of fun. I still can't stop thinking about the first
cast member's negative comment when I mentioned I saw it on a
"unofficial site". Web sites like yours and Intercot make me more
excited about going to Disney than the Disney Web site ever has.
A quick question from Judith B, in Lafayette, CO:
Can I upgrade my seven-day Park Hopper Pass
to an Annual Pass at the Guest Services in Downtown Disney, or
do I have to go to one of parks?
Judith -- You can take care of that upgrade at Downtown Disney
Anton writes with a positive review of Happy Limo:
In your most recent Q & A, Douglas wrote, "The
only disappointment we had was in Happy Limousine. I would not
recommend them to anyone." I just wanted to offer another experience.
We used Happy Limo earlier this month for our trip, and the experience
was wonderful. The person who took my order on the phone was very
warm and pleasant. We were offered a grocery stop when we arrived
but didn't need it. Although we only paid for a sedan (Cadillac
Deville) on the return trip to the airport, we were given a free
upgrade to a super-stretch limo! As we were staying at the All-Stars,
we found this form of transport hilarious (I mean, we'd only paid
$50 a night for the room). We watched Harry Potter on the
flatscreen TV on the way back to the airport and thought this
was the perfect way to end our trip. So I would recommend Happy
Limo. I guess it's like everything else about Walt Disney World
vacations, be it a resort or a restaurant... with so many people
taking trips, some will have bad experiences (as I'm sure Douglas
did), so you have to look at more than one opinion.
Keep up the good work...
I'm glad you had a better experience, Anton. As you pointed
out, not every experience is going to be perfect. Unfortunately
for Douglas, he had the bad one this time around.
Finally, Anne asks:
As with most of your readers, I'm addicted
to MousePlanet. Our trip is November 30, 2002 through December
4. We're closing in fast and I check MousePlanet everyday. You'll
be seeing my trip report early 2003!
We'll be staying at the Fort Wilderness cabins during this time
and I understand that they show Disney movies at the Camp Sing-A-Long
with Chip and Dale. What are the chances that Treasure Planet
would be shown, do you think? Its release date is November 27.
Anne -- The movies shown at the campfire program are generally
the older ones. I called Fort Wilderness today and confirmed that
the likelihood of every showing a first-run film at the campfire
is pretty much nil.
Do you have specific questions about an upcoming trip
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