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Everything but the Parks
All you can do without visiting the theme parks
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Sue Holland

Sue's Reader Mailbag

Friday, May 23, 2003
Text and photos by Sue Holland, MousePlanet staff writer

[Although all of our reader feedback is now published in a single Mailbag column on Thursdays, Sue wanted a chance to clear out her cache, which has been building up for some time. In the future, reader comments to Sue and her responses will be published in our regular Mailbag column. - Ed.]

Suzanne asks:

Do you think the crowds at DisneyQuest on a Saturday will be manageable, or are my husband and I biting off more than we can chew trying to keep track of five kids at once? Also, is it a safe assumption that most attractions are included in the admission price with the exception of a few games that dispense the “tickets for prizes"?

Suzanne — Unlike the Magic Kingdom, Saturday at DisneyQuest is not significantly more crowded than any other day. During school vacation periods it is common to find large groups of local children from camps or daycares on a day trip to DisneyQuest, but those usually occur Monday through Friday.

Suzanne had five children, ages 7, 10, 12, 12 & 14, which makes a DisneyQuest visit easier than it would be if the children were younger. There is so much to do inside, I would be comfortable letting the 4 older children go off on their own provided they can be trusted to not leave the building. The 7-year-old would need adult supervision, and may be unable to do some of the attractions. Everything is included in the admission price except for those “ticket for prizes" games, and those are grouped together so they're easy to avoid.

April asks:

Is the comedy club (at Pleasure Island) like Whose Line Is It, Anyway? in terms of style? I love the show and improv comedy. Is there a hip-hop music club or some place that plays urban music?

April — The Comedy Warehouse is improv comedy, featuring five talented actors in each show. Every show is different, and the format is very similar to Who's Line except there is no Drew Carey-type host. BET Soundstage plays urban music, and only people 21 years of age or older are allowed inside.


Improv comedy is performed nightly at the Comedy Warehouse.

Johnathan asks:

Can you stroll Animal Kingdom and World Showcase and enjoy yourself during the Thanksgiving weekend? I remember you had luck touring Blizzard Beach on Thanksgiving; is it a good bet for the holiday(weather permitting!)? How is Comedy Warehouse that weekend? Doable?

Jonathan — While every park will be busier than usual on Thanksgiving weekend, World Showcase in Epcot will still be less crowded than it was during the Food & Wine Festival! It should be very pleasant. Animal Kingdom can be pretty crowded, but getting there early and using fastpass can help make your visit enjoyable. We enjoyed one Thanksgiving day we spent at Blizzard Beach. The weather was warm, and the crowds were small. Comedy Warehouse is a little risky. In 2002 it was great, but in 2001 many of the regular actors had arranged time off for the holidays so the shows consisted of mostly subs and less experienced people. The crowds were not significantly worse than any other weekend, though.

Stefanie asks:

We have been warned multiple times that we must be at the entrance when the park opens to guarantee admittance [for our trip] December 26 through January 3. Disney said that once the park is full it is closed for the day. Does that mean even if we are staying on-site we might not get into a park? If we enter the park and then it closes can we still return that night?

Stefanie — Disney has several stages of park closure, which affect people in different ways. The first step generally means people not staying in a Disney resort will be turned away, but Disney resort guests are still admitted. As things get busier, even Disney resort guests may be denied entrance into a park, but that happens very rarely and does not last for the entire day. They continually monitor the situation and if a park is closed to everyone at 2 p.m., it's entirely possible 45 minutes or a couple of hours later that guests will be admitted again. The safest thing would be to enter the park early and not leave until you are finished, but that makes for a very long and tiring day. Wherever you plan to spend New Year's Eve, definitely plan to be in that park by dinnertime.


Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Melissa asks:

Are their fun free things to do around the Animal Kingdom Lodge or other hotels while we are stating at the AKL?

Melissa — There are a number of things to do at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Besides the pool, playground, fitness center and arcade, there is a nightly storytelling activity around a fire. Animals are active all evening, and if you are not staying in a room with a savanna view there are many viewing locations that are open to the public. Cast members will be out to answer questions or explain any animal behavior. Animal Kingdom Lodge is also home to two excellent restaurants — Boma and Jiko.

Diane asks:

If we purchase an annual pass, do we get a discount on the additional 5–day hopper passes that we will be needing to purchase?

Diane — No, the purchase of an annual pass does not grant discounts on any park passes for the four main theme parks. There is a discount to renew the annual pass at the end of your year, provided you do not let the pass lapse at all.

Elliot asks:

My wife and I are considering taking our 9- and 12-year-old daughters to Disney World for three days beginning the Sunday, April 27 after Easter (April 20). What type of crowd should we expect? Many Disney sources indicate the weeks before and after Easter are very crowded.

Elliot — You will be arriving just as everyone else leaves, so there should not be heavy crowds during your trip. The really busy period runs from the week before Easter through the Sunday after Easter. Once you get beyond that, the crowds shrink considerably.


One of the two heated pools at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort.

A reader asks about Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort:

Are the pools heated? I'm sure it will be cool if not cold in early March.

The pools are definitely heated, and get a lot of use in early March. We've visited the resort in March 2003 and 2002 and although the air temperature can be a bit cool, the pools are quite warm.

Michael asks:

My wife and I are considering becoming passholders this year. I was wondering if you had any further information on whether there would be resort discounts offered in 2003.

Michael — Historically there are always passholder discounts offered, but when rooms are booking quickly the discounts may not be announced until a few months prior to arrival. In 2002 and so far in 2003 there have been many discounts on Disney resorts, and although I do not have any inside information I expect the discounts to remain plentiful through 2003. The current discount codes can be found at MouseSavers, and you may find one that matches or beats any passholder discount.


Disney Vacation Club is Disney's version of a timeshare.

Tim asks:

With the closing of the Disney Institute and the new hotel in the works, is this a direct result of failure/lack of interest in the Institute theme, or is it simply DVC demand overtaking its usefulness?

Tim — Disney has admitted that the Disney Institute never was as popular as they had hoped. Disney Vacation Club on the other hand sells out faster than Disney predicts, and thus far does not show signs of slowing down. It's strictly my opinion, but I see the closure of Disney Institute as a way to eliminate a resort that wasn't meeting the profit targets Disney expects, while at the same time providing a new Disney Vacation Club resort for members to purchase more quickly than waiting for the location proposed near the Eagle Pines golf course. The Disney Institute buildings that were knocked down to make room for the new resort were quite old and very ugly compared to the other buildings and other resorts, so the overall area will be upgraded when the Disney Vacation Club (Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa) resort opens.

Nikki asks:

I was wondering if you thought it was worth getting a preferred room at this resort. My family is taking our first WDW trip November 28 through December 7 and staying at the All–Star Movie. My children are ages 5½, 3½, 16 months. Are the Fantasia buildings that much closer?

Nikki — In my opinion, no. Movies is extremely well laid-out and the Fantasia, Toy Story, and 101 Dalmations sections are all equally close to the main building. I've stayed in Toy Story twice and Dalmations once, and every time my room was closer than some of the “preferred” rooms in Fantasia. Plus, in Fantasia there's the chance your room would face the big pool, which can mean pool noise well into the evening.

Even the furthest buildings (Love Bug) at Movies aren't as far away as the furthest buildings at the other All–Stars. I'm assuming you've got a stroller for the little one. I wouldn't bother with the preferred room — I'd rather spend that $10 on something else.


Typhoon Lagoon water park.

Michelle asks:

At Typhoon Lagoon, how safe is the Summit Plummet? My son is 13 and we both enjoy thrill rides. I'm a big girl. I'm 5-foot-10 and weigh 280 pounds. Big but healthy and very active. Will I be able to go on most of the thrill rides there? Will Summit Plummet be safe for me?

Michelle — Summit Plummet appears to be very safe. I'm too cowardly to go on it, but I've seen all sizes of people on there and don't think your size will be an issue at all. The water slides and the rides in the parks are generally built to accommodate people who are your size and larger, so you should be able to do everything with your son.

Michelle also asks:

Isn't there some kind of pass to get ahead of the line for the more popular rides?

This is Fastpass, and it's free. It's only on certain attractions — you put your park pass in the machine, it reads it, and gives you a slip of paper with the 1-hour window of time you can come back and ride without going through the regular line. You can't get another fastpass until the time indicated on the slip of paper, which will be five minutes after the start of your ride time or two hours from now — whichever is sooner. When you enter the parks, pick up a Guide Map. The Fastpass attractions are all listed in there.

Rob asks:

On my last few visits (year 2000 and before), the first show at Comedy Warehouse each night, they have done a pre-planned skit about the guy selling duck hats. Do they still do this?

Rob — Seen it for at least a year or two. Most recently it was performed during the Christmas season, but not in the past couple of years. They have one very short scripted piece they still do occasionally — a spoof about finding your car in the Disney parking lots at the end of the day.

Well, that wraps up the article this time! Feel free to ask questions of me or any of the people at MousePlanet.


Contact Sue at sue.holland@mouseplanet.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sue has been hooked on Walt Disney World since her first visit in 1972 with her parents and younger brother. She kept returning more frequently until she moved to Florida in 1986.

After joining the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) in 1997, she now visits almost monthly. She also spends time at the DVC's non-WDW locations, and is experienced with the Disney cruise ships.

She takes many of these trips on her own, but she's also toured WDW with large groups of people, including families, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

She works as the Administrative Services Division Head for a large residential facility administered by the Florida Department of Children and Families. She currently resides in Southwest Florida with her teenage son.

Sue is one of our most prolific trip report writers. Read her trip report archive here.

You can contact Sue here.

Get the latest info about the resort at “Park Update: Walt Disney World.”

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