A Foole's Tale
Lack of planning turns a family's Walt Disney World
trip into a disappointment
Friday, April 1, 2005
by Mike Scopa, staff writer
Have I ever told you about Auggie and June Foole? They were
a lovely couple but didn't always take care in planning everything
including the birth of their lovely daughter April. You see, April was
a surprise addition to their family. But what wasn't a surprise was how
April was so totally submersed in the Foole gene pool.
And when April grew up, she married Martin Hardy, who was just like Auggie;
improvised everything and lived life for the moment.
You say you have never heard of April Foole before? Well, pull up a chair
and let me tell you about April's very first family dream vacation to
Walt Disney World. Well, it wasn't much of a dream.
So let's begin with what we can appropriately call April Foole's
Approach to a Walt Disney World Vacation.
April was grocery shopping one day when she overheard someone talking
about their recent trip to Walt Disney World in Florida. Florida
in June, April thought to herself. The kids are out of school
now so we can go on a vacation! Marty and the kids would love that! That's
for me and my family. Right then and there, April decided that she
would surprise husband, Marty and her two kids with a weeklong trip to
Walt Disney World. Not one to show any patience, April decided they would
go right awaynext week.
April neither took the time to do any research on Walt Disney World nor
had any inclination to put together a plan
she just wanted to go.
As a result, April was about to get quite an education regarding what
consequences await those who, like her, go wildly (and blindly) to Orlando.
Her very first lesson was when she got home and called a travel agent.
I want to go to Walt Disney World! The agent stammered a bit
when April told her she wanted to go the very next week. This is
a busy time of year so I don't know if I can find any good airfare for
you, the agent said. April didn't care; now that her heart was set,
she was ready to go. Then when the travel agent began to ask a series
of questions about her trip, all April could answer was, I don't
know. April thought she could figure things out when she got there.
How hard could it be? After all, planning just took the excitement out
So let's see what happened.
On the outside looking in
The FooleHardy family flew down to Orlando just one week from the
day she decided to go to Walt Disney World. Since it was a lastminute
decision, she really didn't have much to select from regarding prices
or flight times. It was a very expensive flight, paying full fare for
their coach seats. By purchasing their tickets so close to the day of
their flight, they also got flagged for a secondary security check at
the airport. When they got on board, they couldn't all sit together on
Since April never did any research, she was not aware of the pros and
cons of staying onproperty in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel.
With a case of ignorance is bliss, they ended up staying in
a hotel outside the property because she thought it was cheaper. It didn't
make a difference, did it?
Had they stayed onproperty, they could have taken advantage of
the Magical Express transportation program Walt Disney World was offering
during its 50th anniversary celebration. Instead, they rented a car to
get to their hotel.
The FooleHardys could have arrived very early in the morning to
Orlando International Airport and enjoyed part of the day in the parks
before they even checked into their hotel. Instead, they landed in Orlando
at about 2 p.m., and immediately checked into their hotel around 3 p.m.
and headed off to Magic Kingdom.
After they checked in, they were ready to go to a theme park. Driving,
they had to pay for parking. Yep, April did not know that parking was
free for resort guests.
April assumed the FooleHardys could just walk up to the park entrance
and pay their way in. She never even thought about admission to the theme
parks until they got off the parking lot tram in front of the Ticket &
Transportation Center near Magic Kingdom.
The FooleHardys had to wait in line for 30 minutes to get to the
front of the ticket window. It took another 15 minutes for the attendant
behind the window to explain the Magic Your Way ticket program and all
the options (while everyone else in line glared at them). April didn't
want to hear about all those options or take the time to think about whether
they needed them or not. The whole family had gotten off the tram almost
an hour ago and all they wanted to do was see Mickey.
They just bought a 7day base ticket because that's how long they
were going to be there. Options? Forget that; April thought those were
just unnecessary extras Disney tried to add on to increase the price of
Because April didn't know you can buy tickets before arriving in Orlando,
she did not save any money. But more importantly, she and her family spent
almost one hour at the Ticket & Transportation Center before finally purchasing
As the FooleHardys headed for the monorail, April looked at her
watch. It was almost 5 p.m. She thought they were doing well.
Ignorance certainly is bliss.
No Clue Touring
When the FooleHardys arrived at the Magic Kingdom, they were immediately
drawn to the beautiful castle at the end of Main Street. Following the
landmark, they walked through the castle to Fantasyland, then spent the
rest of the day enjoying as many attractions as possible.
Since it was late in the day, most attractions that offered Fastpass
had already dispensed all of their Fastpass tickets for the day. Of course,
the FooleHardys didn't know about Fastpass, so they paid no attention
to this matterat least for now.
With no rhyme or reason to how they would tour this theme park, they
basically got in line to whatever attraction they were close to and hoped
for the best. As you can imagine, since Fastpass distribution was over
for the day, the standby queues for the more popular attractions
were a bit long.
After an hour or two of attractionhopping, the family decided to
eat. They tried to get into Crystal Palace, but discovered that the wait
was 45 minutes. It was getting late, so they walked around looking for
a place to eat and ended up with burgers at Pecos Bill's. Ahhh, food.
April and family sat down to eat and talk about their first day in Orlando.
Midway through the meal, they heard some loud music outside and a few
minutes later, noticed some colorful lights outside as well.
One of April's children left the table to check out this musicandlight
combo. She came running back to the table yelling, It's a parade!
It's a parade!
April thought, No one told me about a parade. Of course April
and family had no clue about Spectromagic because once again, she
had not done any research, and when they entered the park she had not
picked up a park map or a show/attraction schedule card.
She was unprepared.
They disposed their meal and went outside to watch the parade. Of course
since the parade had already started, there were no good viewing spots.
They ended up seeing the parade from just outside the restaurant. April's
children kept having to leap up to see over the heads of those standing
in front of them.
Imagine what a good viewing spots they could have had if they known when
the parade was scheduled to start.
After the parade, the family took in the Country Bear Jamboree, then
made their way to Splash Mountain. Much to their relief, the wait was
only 20 minutesalthough April could not understand why the lines
seemed suddenly shorter than earlier in the day.
When they got off Splash Mountain, they immediately went over to Big
Thunder Mountain Railroad. As they got into its cars, they heard some
distant music but couldn't figure out what it was. As their runaway train
took off, they heard some rumblings
or was it an explosion?
They caught a glimpse of something in the sky. Fireworks?
Wishes was just starting. April and family didn't know about Wishes,
nor did they know when it was being shown because they did not pick up
Although they were enjoying the ride, part of their attention was diverted
towards the castle and the fireworks.
When they got off Big Thunder, they immediately headed for the castle
to watch Wishes. They managed to see the finale, but only from
The attractions seemed to be closing, so they headed for Main Street
U.S.A. They decided to stop in the Emporium and look around
it appeared like most of the guests were shopping there, too, so it was
elbowtoelbow in there. Since it was difficult to shop with
so many people, they left the theme park and decided to return to their
It took the FooleHardys almost an hour to get back. There were
lines at the monorail, lines for the tram to the parking lot, and a lot
of cars trying to leave the parking lot at the same. To make matters worse,
they had difficulty finding their way back to the hotel.
On the drive back, April thought about the day's events and wondered
whether there was something she could have done differently for her family
so things would be a bit smoother for this vacation.
Everyone was exhausted from the day before so the family slept in until
about 9:30. There was a restaurant next to the hotel and so they had breakfast
at 10:30 before heading off to Epcot.
They arrived at the Epcot toll plaza around 11:30. As Marty paid for
parking, April looked around at the other cars, and noticed some of them
were just flashing a card and not paying for parking. How is it
they are able to avoid paying this fee? April wondered.
It was well after noon before they entered the park. They immediately
jumped on Spaceship Earth and enjoyed that attraction very much. They
spent most of the afternoon checking out the Future World attractions.
It was at Test Track that they noticed guests gathered around its Fastpass
distribution area. After observing guests and how they used their admission
media to get their Fastpass tickets, April walked up and inserted her
A Fastpass came out with a window of time from 4:10 to 5:10. April looked
at her watch. It was only 1:45. She couldn't go on the ride for another
three hours?! That was unreasonable. April tossed her Fastpass, thinking,
This doesn't work.
They tried to get into a few restaurants but found that they had to wait
at least 45 minutes. April noticed that many of the other guests were
only waiting for five or 10 minutes, but she couldn't figure out what
sort of special privilege they had that allowed them to cut in line and
get seated ahead of the FooleHardys.
It was around 7 p.m. or so when April noticed the monorail as they approached
the front of Epcot. This gave her a great idea. How would you all
like to go back to Magic Kingdom tonight and try and see the parade and
the fireworks? she asked. She got a unanimous yes from
They headed towards the front of the park.
Not realizing that a paid parking ticket for a day is good for other
parking lots, April assumed they would have to pay another parking fee
at Magic Kingdom. April thought she was being smart by taking the monorail
instead, then returning to Epcot via the monorail to pick up the car.
It took them about 35 minutes to get from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom
When they tried to enter the turnstiles, they ran into a problem. The
cast member at the turnstile told April that their Magic Your Way tickets
were base tickets that did not have the parkhopper option.
They could not enter.
April now realized the value of a parkhopper option.
However, instead of going over to Guest Services to see if she could
add the option to the ticket, she simply found herself getting angry and
frustrated. Why didn't she already know this? Perhaps, April thought,
she should have invested some time and research before jetting off for
this Walt Disney World vacation.
The FooleHardys left the park slumped in disappointment, and headed
up to the monorail to return to Epcot. Their look of disappointment began
to fade, however, as the monorail approached Epcot.
What was going on?
As the monorail went around Spaceship Earth, they could see something
going on near the countries.
It was Illuminations.
One of the children crossed her arms and pouted. We missed these
fireworks, too! she said, the look of disappontment returning to
her face once again.
April felt really bad. Had they stayed in Epcot, they probably would
have been watching Illuminations instead of being stuck on the
At that moment, April wanted to comfort her daughter and apologize for
not having planned better. I may be a Foole, but I'm no fool,
she thought. When we get back, I'm going to sit down and try to
do what planning we can for the rest of our trip!
Don't be an April Foole
My guess is that most of you reading this are somewhat informed on the
need for research and careful planning for a Walt Disney World vacation.
And if you aren't that informed, then I'm not doing my job.
This little fictional story about the FooleHardy family could easily
happen to a family who is not prepared for a week in Orlando.
Could other things happen to April and family on this vacation? Sure.
Let's say that for day 3, they decide to spend the entire day and evening
in Magic Kingdom, and it happens to be an Extra Magic Evening Hours day.
Imagine April and her family being forced to leave the park while others
stay because Extra Magic Evening is only for resort guests.
This is yet another lesson for April.
Eventually, everyone slowly understands the whole picture and assembles
a plan of action for a future visit to Walt Disney World.
April eventually understands what Priority Seating is all about and by
day 4 has got it down to a science.
Even an April Foole can learn.
So if you have a friend or relative who is planning their initial trip
to Walt Disney World, don't let them be like April. Share your knowledge.
They will be grateful because you will help them
Remember the Magic!
Have you met Aronda Parks? I'll tell you about the book she wrote about
making memories at Walt Disney World.
Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Mike here.