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MousePlanet Mailbag for January 6, 2005

Romance and the Disney parks

Did you propose to your fiancé while watching Illuminations at Epcot? Was your most romantic dinner at Victoria and Albert's at the Grand Floridian?

Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and we want to hear from you! Send us your stories (or suggestions) about Valentine's Day, love or romance in the Disney parks! We're particularly interested in Walt Disney World, but we'll be happy to hear about any Disney theme park. If we run your message, we'll be glad to dedicate it to your loved one as well.

Please send e-mail soon!

We receive considerable feedback regarding our site. Although we cannot publish them all, the following may be of interest to our readers.


Feedback for Mike Scopa

Penny Rushing writes:

Hi Mike.

I read your update… very informative!

I am planning my trip to Disney for my family for our very first trip ever, and I am trying to decide when the best time to go would be.

I am thinking possibly January?

I have been doing research via books and Internet and it seems that Jan has the smallest crowds and cheapest prices to stay. I have one child and he is 9. If I am going to pull him out of school for a week to go, I want it to be well worth the trip.. I know that we probably will not be able to do the water parks.. And that is OK. I would really rather focus on the parks themselves.

Do you have any suggestions? I am really kind of just going blind here.

Thank you for any feedback you can supply.

Hi Penny, I always maintain that anyone planning a trip to WDW should always customize the trip to best suit their vacation needs. If you go in January my suggestion would be to go sometime during the second half of the month. Please note that the WDW Marathon is on January 9th and the crowds may be high the week before or week after this event. Keep in mind that going in the off season could mean some attractions and shows may not be running. If you have several targeted attractions to experience you may run the risk of them being down for maintenance. It is so difficult to predict the weather for January. My guess is that most of the time the daytime temperatures will be between 50 and 70 but there's no guarantee. If you are looking for both light crowd periods and lowest prices (and by lowest prices I am talking about on-site resorts) consider the following 2005 time periods:

  • Jan. 1st - February 16th
  • Nov. 27th - December 19th
  • August 21 - September 30th

You will probably get the best prices and lowest crowds for these three periods. You will see the lowest crowds in January but also probably the highest number of down attractions. Second to January is November, although you have the added Christmas celebrations. Late August will give you the best opportunity to have the best of both worlds. And if you can time it right, no school time will be missed. A family of three can nicely enjoy a room at Pop Century. The value is outstanding so keep that resort in mind. Again, do what's best suits your need. And if stuck you know where I read my mail.

Penny replied:

Hi Mike!

Thanks so much for your imput! I had originally planned on the 8th of January for a week. I am glad you told me ..now I will bump it to the next week to avoid those crowds. I wish we could do August but we already have that planned out for a cruise with my hubby's parents. We're hoping NO hurricanes. I hate the idea of alot of the rides being closed though..

This is our first time ever and I really want to see as many as I can. Do they announce before hand which ones will be down?

So we can be prepared before we get there. I got a rate of 77.00 per night as of right now at Pop Century. When they announce whatever deal they do at the end of the year, I'll just jump on that.

But shoot, at $77 that is still a great deal to me. We are going to try to get some of those casual lunch and dinner certs before we go. My hubby wants to have those expenses paid for before we go. I noticed they were in abundance on eBay, but MAN! expensive. I know that a couple of the entertainment clubs sell them for $11 a piece. They sell them for almost triple that on eBay. Do you have any suggestions regarding those?

I bought one of those entertainment books for Orlando and there are several buy one get one free dinner certs at some of the downtown orlando restaurants.. I am planning on staying a week but I figured that if we get a 5 day park hopper that would suffice. the only thing is we want a pass to go to disney quest for more than one trip.. Do you know if they offer a hopper for that place too? (without having to pay for the ultimate park hopper). With us not going to the water parks. It's just not worth paying all of that extra money. Well thanks so much hon for all your help!

Hi Penny. Speaking from experience I can tell you that hurricanes are no fun, especially in Florida. As far as scheduled attraction downtime announcements go, keep tabs with Mark Goldhaber's WDW Updates as Mark keeps a close eye on what's up and running at WDW.

During value season you can get a $49/night Annual Passholder rate at Pop Century. I believe that January is within that value season. Have you thought about purchasing on Annual Pass to get a better rate? Plus you can use your AP to get lunch discounts throughout the resort. Sometimes the AP pays for itself quicker than you would think possible.

Although I have never used the Quick and Casual Vouchers many people swear by them. Check out FloridaOrlandoTickets.net (link) for details on these vouchers. I have heard that www.hotwire.com offers good prices on these vouchers but you have to sign up for a membership. If you bought an Ultimate Hopper Pass you would have your multi-day admission to Disney Quest.

For 2004 advance purchase prices are:

  • 4 nights/5 days - $275.84 Adults (10 and older); $221.52 Children (3-9)
  • 5 nights/6 days - $310.98 Adults (10 and older); $249.21 Children (3-9)

For comparison:

  • Regular 5-day Hopper Pass: $244.95 Adults (10 and older); $195.96 Children (3-9)
  • Disney Quest: $33.02 Adults (10 and older); $26.63 Children (3-9)

I do believe that the Ultimate Hopper Pass may be your best bet. Hope this helps.


Bridget Donovan writes:

Mike,

I enjoyed reading your Oct 1st musings on Disney World. You seem to be a subject matter expert so I thought I'd take a chance and seek your advice on a few things. My brother, his wife and 6 yr old daughter are staying at the Polynesian Hotel for 5 nights starting next Sunday, Oct 17th. I'm paying for their vacation and would like to try to secure a room that looks out on Cinderellas castle. I didn't purchase the top tier package, but rather the middle tier package which included meals etc. Do you have any advice on how I can request such a room?

Also, I've read some complaints from patrons whose rooms were located near loud performance venues of the hotel (drum playing or music). Do you know the layout of the Polynesian to suggest which branch of the hotel would ensure a quiet room with a view of the castle? Lastly, I read where you mentioned "Its a Small World" is closed until next year. Is that really true? If so, I'm devastated my niece won't get to see what was always my personal childhood favorite. Thanks in advance for your column and hopefully your advice.

Hi Bridget. This area of room requests has recently started going through a transition period. In the past guests could fax their resort four days prior to their arrival and send a detailed requests. In place was a room assigner who would try and meet these requests. This practice worked well for many guests. I know that every time I Faxed my request it was met.

Late last year resorts like the Wilderness Lodge stopped accepting such Faxes and instead would go with requests which came via the Central Reservation Office or Walt Disney Travel Company. However, I am not certain that all resorts have followed WL in doing so.

My suggestion would be to do the following: If the reservation was made through a travel agent then that agent (official owner of the reservation) must make the request. The agent should know the proper avenue to take to make this request. Contact your agent and hope for the best. If you have made the reservation directly then you could both call the CRO and Fax the Polynesian (407-824-3174) with your request.

Since the reservation starts on the 17th I would send the fax the Wednesday before. If you fax the resort I would start the fax with a complimentary statement on the resort. Then include your name, address, telephone number, reservation number, arrival and departure dates, and your request.

Regarding views of Cinderella Castle from the Polynesian, you are limited to some key longhouses... Tahiti, Hawaii, and possibly Tuvalu. I believe Hawaii is concierge level.

The best site for information on the Polynesian Resort is Tikiman (link). as Steve Seifert has put a lot of love and effort into this outstanding site. I guess if I wanted a view of the castle I would request a Lagoon View at the Tahiti Longhouse. I do feel that it would have been best to have made this request at the time the room was booked.

"Small World" is going through a major rehab and will not reopen until sometime around March or April. Some assumptions are that the entrance and exit will be switched to help accomodate wheelchairs and to also coincide with the construction of a new stroller parking lot area near what used to be the original exit. I hope this helps.


Dawn Osif writes:

Mike: During our June trip to WDW we took in the second Fantasmic show. What a great decision that turned out to be. First, all the other rides in the park are less crowded during the first show. Second, you can walk into the second show 5 minutes before it starts and have a great seat. No more hour waits for us!

Hi Dawn – Great idea. Whenever there is an option like a later Fantasmic show or later parade (especially in the Magic Kingdom), it's best to make use of the early performance by visiting your favorite attractions while the show goes on. Most families with young children usually go to the early shows which means less of a crowd later.


Bob Catinazzo writes:

Hi Mike, I frequent the site and message board daily and I just wanted to drop you a line stating how wonderful your article on Wishes was! Keep up the great work. It's efforts like that, that keep me coming back to the site.

Hi Bob, Thanks for the kind words. I am privileged to not only be a content provider for Mouseplanet but to also be surrounded by some pretty talented people. We do it all for people like you. Mike


Judie Borucki writes:

Hi Mike

We just returned from WDW and were totally inpressed with EPCOT's Food and Wine Festival. We ate and drank our way around the world on several different days! It was fabulous! We would like to plan a return trio for next year; do you know the dates for next year's Festival?

Hi Judie, I too was impressed with this year's F&W as Epcot's World Showcase was certainly bustling with activity. I believe that from now on the Food & Wine Festival will start around the first of October and run through to almost Thanksgiving. My guess for 2005 is Oct. 3rd thru November 20th... just a guess. It's a safe bet that all of October will see Food & Wine next year.


Martin Meek writes:

Hello Mike, I cant seem to find you book at any store... so how do i get one?

We will be taking our vaction near christmas next year

Hi Martin, I currently do not have any published books on Walt Disney World but would be interested in your thoughts as to what you would look for in such a book. You never know.


Tate Calvert writes:

Where can one buy your book "Scoping the Parks" and I really like the inside info on WDW. Attendance numbers, employees, how often the lamp post are painted, what all is found at the bottom of rides

Hi Tate, I'm sorry to say that you cannot buy my book because there isn't one, although the thought has crossed my mind. If you are looking for some WDW trivia I would point you to DisneyWorldTrivia.com (link) where you would get a jump start into the world of interesting facts and figures on Walt Disney World. And as far as a book goes... hmm. Thanks for the note.


Jim Barrow writes:

Hi MIke, Where can I buy your book?

Hi Jim, Presently my "book" is in my head. You are not the first and probably not the last to ask that question. Maybe it's time. What kind of a WDW related book would interest you?


Mashelle writes:

I hope that when i go to WDW this December 27 more days, that I do not do anthing dumb. I have been lucky not to see any one acting dumb. However I have worked my share of counrty fairs and I know what some of the cast menbers go through. Great story. Have a magical day.

Hi Mashelle – You make a good point. It's very hard to imagine what the theme park cast members go through in a normal day. I think this site gives us a good perspective on what it's like to be in their shoes. Thanks for the note.


Tracy writes:

Mike, I just returned from Disney World and agree with all of your suggestions! Especially the one about the parking for guests of the resort. I too thought about that while waiting in that long line. Excellent ideas!

Hi Tracy – Funny how many of us think the same thoughts while in long lines at Walt Disney World. Many of mine were written on the back of my resort parking pass while waiting in a long line of cars at the Epcot Toll Plaza. Thanks for the note.


Jennifer writes:

I think most of your ideas are great... except one. I do not think that allowing one-day guests to go to the front of the line of an attraction is very fair. As someone who has to drive 10 hours (or fly) to get to WDW, and stay for several days to do all that I want my family to get to do, your suggestion would make our stay less efficient, and we'd end up getting to do less during our stay. I would gladly pay more money to get to go to the front of the line, as I'm sure, would other guests, and such a suggestion should not be limited to one-day guests. These guests obviously are at an advantage in that they would mainly be representing people who live close enough to go more often than those of us traveling from further distances.

Also, the on-line priority system reservations sounds awesome, but many people have to change reservations from time to time, for various reasons, and this system would make it very difficult for guests to receive refunds. Thank you for taking the time to write the letter to Disney.

Hi Jennifer – There is no question that the thoughts I rambled about in my article would obviously have to be carefully studied and probably tweaked. Your argument about allowing someone to get to the front of the line and adding even more frustration to your wait time is well taken. That thought crossed my mind. Your argument would certainly be true if there were huge numbers of guests with one day passes who would use this option. My guess is that if that was the case then the WDW powers that be would say, "Nope...bad idea."

If the numbers were relatively small then the impact would certainly be pretty close to the impact the regular Fast Pass operation works now. Your point on cancellation of the online priority seating is a good one. Of course cancellations could be handled with a phone call...at least that would be my guess. Thanks for putting some thought into these suggestions. I was hoping that someone would really dive into these ideas and toss them around with me. Thanks for a great letter Jennifer. Regards, Mike


Bruce Hennigan writes:

We have a ritual of going to WDW every other December usually during the second week of December. The festive feeling is indeed apparent and no matter how bummed out you may be by the holiday rush, you will be inspired! We always attend Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and then attend the Candlelight Processional on a dinner package the next night. It is a one two punch of holiday fun. Year before last, we went to the Hoop De Doo and there is a special holiday slant to the show. We've seen it dozens of times, but the Christmas version stands out as our favorite!

Also, we travel around the resort and try and see the Christmas tree at each resort. The decorations are themed to the resort hotel and it is worth the trip to see them all. My favorite, of course, is the huge tree at the Grand Floridian covered with life size mirrors and bird cages. Have fun this hoilday!

Hi Bruce, Your note makes an important point in that it's not necessarily the theme park attractions that are the draw for the holiday season in WDW. I know the attractions are the last thing on my mind when I'm there in December.


Sheri Niklewski writes:

When I saw your article, I thought I'd read it for research since we're going a family trip there for Christmas and New Year's. My husband and I also went there for Thanksgiving, thinking we'd a get a quick preview. All I can say is that I totally agree with getting into a Disney Zone with the "Christmas Trestle" at Epcot. I followed your suggestion on standing about 50 feet in front of the fountain and face out towards World Showcase. This was on our last night there and it was about 6:30. I was totally blown away. I literally could not speak. Not only with the lights, but the huge tree and then the topper of the entire evening. The fountain show went off with Christmas music playing. I didn't know where to look.

After about five minutes, my husband was ready to get warmer and asked if I was ready to leave. I couldn't answer him and just slowly shook my head no. This will be my daughter-in-law's first Christmas as part of our family. She loves everything about the holiday and I cannot wait to show her this very special time. We also caught a little bit of the Candlelight Processional and I know she'll need a tissue or two. Disney does Christmas right - they didn't have anything going on until the day after Thanksgiving. Retail stores sure can take a lesson from this. Thanks for a great article. I'm passing it on to my family so they have an idea of what to expect. I did but I was still floored.

Hi Sheri, Sometimes it's next to impossible to describe something so that the words do it justice. The "Christmas Trestle" as I nicknamed it, is EPCOT's Lights of Winter. Why does it affect us the way you mentioned it affected you? My theory is that the combination of music and lights trigger memories from Christmas past and brings us all back to those magical childhood Christmas years. It is impossible to do it justice in words...but you've got my vote.


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PREVIOUS MAILBAGS

2005

• January: 6, 13, 20, 27
• February: 3, 10, 17
• March: 10, 17, 31
• April: 14, 21, 28
• May: 26
• June: 2, 9, 30
• July: 7, 28
• August: 4, 11, 18, 25
• September: 4, 15, 22, 29
• October: 1327

2004

• January: 8, 15, 22
• Febuary: 12, 19, 26
• March: 18, 25
• April: 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
• May: 13, 20
• June: 3, 17, 24
• July: 1, 22, 29
• August: 5, 26
• September: 9, 23, 30
• October: 14, 21, 28
• November: 4, 18
• December: 2, 9

2003

• November: 13
• September: 4, 18
• August: 21, 28
• July: 10, 17, 24, 31
• June: 12
• May: 22, 29
• April: 10, 24
• March: 6, 13, 27
• February: 13, 20
• January: 9, 16, 30

2002

• December: 5, 12, 19

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