- Edition Two
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<< Introduction >>
With Summer gone
and Fall quickly underway it brings a lot of us into Walt Disney World
vacation-mode. In browsing the Message Boards it's obvious many INTERCOTees,
me included (Yay!), are escaping for an Autumn get-away, Happy Holidays
Bonanza or even a respite after the New Year. This edition is full of tips
to assist you in your trip planning. We've included pretty much everything -
right down to individual dining needs. So - put away that winterizing "to-do
list" and start taking more fun-filled notes, like what park to visit on
what day. Be careful with your "lists" as your spouse might wonder what
Dumbo and the Hall of Presidents has to do with raking leaves and storm
<< Walt Disney
World Dining Primer with wendy*darling >>
Planning a trip to W alt Disney World (WDW) can be an overwhelming task… you
need to decide when to go, then how to get there, where to stay, what kind
of passes to get, etc. Add to that the fact that you can choose from nearly
200 eateries on property, and your head will surely be spinning!!
One of the first things you should decide when planning your W alt Disney
World dining is your budget. Depending on the choices you make, you can
spend next to nothing each day for food or do some serious damage to your
credit line! Take at look in Info Central to see sample
for many of the restaurants in Walt Disney World -- you’ll not only be able
to see the types of food they serve, but also how much money it will cost. A
very handy section indeed!.
Let’s look at some categories and your options.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. At least in my family it
is, but I now there are many people who can’t do more than gulp a cup of
coffee before noon. No problem. For the full breakfast fans- you have many
traditional sit down restaurants offering a nice variety of breakfast foods.
Each resort has something to offer for breakfast. All of the Value and
Moderate Resorts have food courts where you can choose as much or as little
to eat as you like. Grab that cup of coffee and a danish and head out- or
sit down for pancakes, eggs, bacon, fruit, muffins… the whole works. The
Deluxe Resorts and Theme Parks all have breakfast offerings as well. Here
you can choose from traditional menu restaurants or character buffets. The
character buffets are a fixed price, all-you-can-eat meal that offer a
huge selection of foods plus one on one interaction with the character at
your table. A great alternative to waiting in line in the parks for pictures
and autographs. Counter service places abound in every park and resort-
where you can pick up coffee or juice and a muffin, bagel or pastry and eat
on the run.
My last word on breakfast is packing your own. To save money- bring dry,
non-perishables from home- cereal boxes, Pop Tarts, bread and Peanut Butter,
etc. and eat in you resort room. That saves tons of money and time. You can
eat while getting ready. The space these foods take in your luggage can be
filled with souvenirs for the trip home!
Lunch & Dinner:
Options for lunch & dinner run the same gamut as for breakfast. You can grab
something at a refreshment cart- like a turkey leg or a hot dog- and eat en
route to the next attraction. You can visit a counter service place like
Pecos Bill’s in the MK where you can choose from a variety of quick serve
meals and dine indoors. Or you can go for a lovely full service meal at one
of the many, many excellent restaurants throughout Walt Disney World. Our
family favorites are the restaurants in the World Showcase for ethnic
variety and buffet meals with or without characters.
Be aware that the table service establishments offer just about the same
menu at lunch and dinner, but lunch prices are always significantly lower.
If you are watching your pennies (and who isn’t?) plan to eat you big meal
of the day at lunch time. You’ll be able to get out of the heat of the day
and get a great meal in a cool restaurant and still have money left for some
yummy snacks later in the evening.
Remember you can use your meal time as a great opportunity to visit some of
the resorts. The restaurants in the deluxe resorts offer some great meals
and give you a chance to dream about where you’d like to stay on your next
trip. It gets you out of the hectic pace of theme parks for a while too.
Once you make some decisions, pick up the phone and call 407-WDW-DINE to
make Priority Seating arrangements (PS) for the restaurants where you really
want to eat. You can begin making PS at 90 days before you dine at most of
the restaurants in Walt Disney World. See our
in Info Central for all the details.
My parting thought for this issue is to take some time to really look at
your dining budget and decide what kinds of meal experiences you want to
have on your next vacation. I thoroughly believe that our dining choices
enhance our trips. They are not merely times to fill up on food- but they
give us a chance to sit together as a family, enjoy good food we wouldn’t
get at home in a terrific atmosphere.
Planning with faline >>
When we last
met we had just completed Step 6 and selected a resort. Now onto Step 7 and
Step 7: How will I get to Disney World? Will you fly or drive?
If you plan to fly, it’s time to begin checking airline rates. I’ve used
atasoftware.com and AAA to compare the rates of a number of carriers at
once. Be aware...these sites are not all-inclusive. For example, you won’t
find rates for Southwest on these sites. You’ll need to go directly to
Southwest’s own web site for that information. If you find a really good
rate, buy the tickets. If not, decide when you need to buy the tickets. I
usually set myself a deadline of three months before my trip. If I’ve not
already purchased by then, I’ll go ahead and buy at the best rate possible
at that time.
For those who are going to drive, you’ll need to consider how long it will
take you. If you need more than one day, you’ll need to plan to stay
overnight in a hotel along the way. You’ll also need to plan to buy food
along the way or pack sandwiches to eat. To figure your driving costs,
consider how many miles to the gallon your vehicle gets. Figure how many
miles you need to drive. Take the miles you will drive and divide that
number by the miles per gallon you get on your vehicle. This will tell you
how many gallons of gas you’ll use. Take the number of gallons of gas you’ll
use and multiply that by the cost of gas per gallon. This will be your
driving expense. Also figure on paying tolls along the way.
Step 8: What sort of park tickets should I buy?
(If you’ve decided on a package which includes your park tickets, skip this
The type of
tickets you buy will depend upon how long you will be there as well as
your touring style. First a quick primer on ticket types:
Premium Annual Passes: When you purchase a new
premium annual pass, you will receive a voucher that you turn in for the
actual park pass when you arrive at Disney World. This process of turning in
the voucher for the pass activates the ticket. For a new annual pass
purchase (not a renewal), the pass is good for one year from the date you
activate it. If your Disney trip will involve 9 or more days or if you plan
to take two trips to Disney within the year that will total 9 or more days,
you might want to consider this type of pass. A premium annual pass provides
you with access to all four theme parks as well as the water parks, Pleasure
Island, and Disney Quest.
Annual Passes: Works just like the Premium Annual Passes
except that you can use it for admission to the four theme parks only. If
your Disney trip will include 7 or more days or if you plan to take two
trips to Disney with the year that will total 7 or more days, you might want
to consider this type of pass.
Four or Five Day Park Only Hopper Passes: Allow you admission
to the four theme parks for either four or five days, depending upon which
pass you purchase. These passes do not allow you to go to the water parks,
Pleasure Island, or Disney Quest. This might be a good option for a shorter
trip in which you will not have time to do any of the “extras”.
Additionally, if you don’t use all the days on your pass, the remaining days
will never expire and you can use those remaining days on a future trip.
Five Day, Six Day, and Seven Day Passes with Plus Options:
These passes work like the ones above, allowing you admission to the four
theme parks for five, six, or seven days developing upon which pass you
purchase. The five day pass allows two plus options; three plus options are
available on the six day pass; and four on the seven day pass. The plus
options allow you to visit the water parks and/or Pleasure Island (but not
Disney Quest). If you had the seven day pass with four plus options, you
could use your options to visit Pleasure Island four times during your stay.
Or...you could go to Blizzard Beach once, Typhoon Lagoon twice and Pleasure
Island once. Be careful, though. If you went to Blizzard Beach in the
morning and Typhoon Lagoon in the afternoon, you would use two of your plus
options. If you go to the Magic Kingdom in the morning and Pleasure Island
in the evening of the same day, you will use one park day and one plus
option. Unused days and unused plus options never expire. You can use the
leftover features on a future trip.
Unlimited Park Hopper: Unlimited park hopper tickets are valid
from the time you check into your resort (even if you check in before the
“official” 3 p.m. check-in time) until midnight of the day you check out.
These passes allow you admission to all four theme parks, Pleasure Island,
the water parks, and Disney Quest. These passes are available only to those
guests staying in a Disney resort and the cost is based on the number of
nights you will be staying.
Except for annual passes, there is a discount for purchasing the other types
of tickets in advance of your arrival at Disney. Tickets can purchased
through Disney on-line, INTERCOT's newest sponsor,
The Official Ticket Center, or over the telephone. They are also
available at your local Disney store.
Step 9: How do I get to and from the airport?
(Skip this step if you’re driving)
My favorite way to accomplish this is by using a town car service. For two
people, this is a bit more expensive than a shuttle but the convenience is
worthwhile for me. As the shuttle charges per person and the town car
service charges per vehicle, it might actually be cheaper to use a town car
service if you have more than two in your party. I’ve used
and have found this to be a wonderfully relaxing way to get to and from the
airport. When you book a towncar service, the car and driver are there to
provide the transportation only for you and your family. With a towncar
service, the driver will generally meet you at baggage claim, load your
luggage into the car and whisk you away to your resort.
The most used shuttle service from Orlando airport is Mears. They get you
where you’re going but you may not get there as quickly. If you haven’t
already purchased Mears vouchers in advance, you will need to proceed to
their ticket counter (It’s located in the baggage area). Once you have your
tickets and all members of your party, you proceed to the Mears loading area
(They’ll give you directions when you buy the tickets). At the loading area,
you check in with the person holding the clipboard. They’ll add you to their
list and tell you to wait. When they have a shuttle (or sometimes a bus)
available for you and your party, you’ll be called and your baggage will be
loaded. Several other parties may also be loaded into the same vehicle.
You’ll then make stops at whichever resorts or hotels are the destinations
of the persons sharing the vehicle with you. Whenever I used Mears, I’ll
swear I was always the last stop on the route! This can be quite
exasperating when you’re excited and want to start your vacation!
Taxis are also available but will probably cost you as much, or more than a
If you decide to use a towncar service, call and book your transportation
with them. Happy Limo, like some others, will allow you a free grocery stop
on the way to your resort. This will allow you to stock up on snacks,
bottled water, etc. that are more expensive once you hit Disney property.
With Happy Limo, you need to make arrangements for your free stop at the
time you make the reservation.
Step 10: What parks should I visit and when?
And...do I really need to plan this in advance?
Especially if this is your first trip, it is highly recommended that you
have a plan before you arrive at Disney. This does not mean you need to plan
every minute of your day. Your plan should not look like this:
10:02 a.m. - Enter queue for It’s a Small World
10:45 a.m., move on to Philharmagic.
There are two basic plan methods for tackling
Option 1: Get up early and take advantage of Extra Magic Hour
Magic Hour is available to guests who stay on Disney property. If you’ve
decided to stay off-site, this option will not apply to you. Scheduled parks
open one hour earlier than usual for Disney resort guests only. The current
schedule is: Sunday and Thursday, Magic Kingdom; Monday and Friday, Animal
Kingdom: Tuesday and Saturday, Disney Studios; and Wednesday, EPCOT. Many
INTERCOTees report that they have been able to cover a good number of
attractions during the Extra Magic Hour (particularly at busy times of
year). If you choose this option, plan to stay in the Extra Magic Hour park
until late morning or early afternoon. Then, either plan to go to a
different park for the afternoon or return to resort for some swimming time.
Option 2: Avoid the park which is hosting Extra Magic Hour and
venture into a different park for the day.
General tips for park touring: Saturdays and Sundays are always quite busy
in the Magic Kingdom. Tuesdays are generally a good day to visit this park.
During busy times, return to your resort mid-day for some rest or swimming
and then head back to the parks in the late-afternoons or early evenings.
EPCOT often doesn’t feel as busy as other parks even during very busy
periods of the year.
Once you have finished this step, you should have a plan that looks
something like this:
Arrive Saturday: Spend day getting settled in and rested from traveling
Monday: Disney Studios
Tuesday: Magic Kingdom
Wednesday: Typhoon Lagoon / Downtown Disney
Thursday: Animal Kingdom
Friday: Magic Kingdom / EPCOT
Saturday: Open for favorite park / leave for home
Step 11: What am I doing in the park once I get there?
After you’ve created the plan which shows which parks you’ll visit on which
days, you’ll want to refine it a bit more. Keep in mind that Disney World is
so large and offers so much, you can’t possibly do it all in one visit. Now
it’s time to go back to those guide books you got back in Step 2. Which
attractions do you want to be sure you see on this trip? Which ones do the
other members of your family want to see? Does the attraction offer fast
When you know which attractions you want to see, create your must-do list.
Note any attractions that have fast pass. Refine the plans you created in
Step 10 to include your attractions list. It might look something like this:
Mission: Space - get fast pass
Test Track - get fast pass
Living with the Land
What’s Fast Pass?
Fast Pass is available on some of the most popular attractions at Disney
World. Rather than stand in a long line waiting to get on the ride, you
insert your park ticket into a machine near the entrance of the Fast Pass
ride. Your ticket will be returned to you along with a slip of paper that
authorizes you to enter a separate ride line at a specific time. For
example, you might receive a Fast Pass for Mission: Space with a return time
of 10:50 a.m. - 11:50 a.m. When 10:50 a.m., rolls around, you’ll be allowed
to turn in your Fast Pass ticket to enter the Fast Pass line and bypass most
of the standby line. The Fast Pass ticket will also have a notation on it
telling you when you are eligible to get another Fast Pass at the same ride
or at a different Fast Pass eligible ride.
When you accomplish your list of must-do’s for the park, you can then begin
to take advantage of some of the other attractions.
Step 12: I’ve gotta eat! Where? When?
Now it’s time to refine your plan a bit more. Go back to your guidebooks.
Are there any restaurants that are must-dos for you and your family? Begin
to plug those into your plan. If the restaurant is an EPCOT restaurant, you
would want to plug that restaurant in on a day you planned to visit that
Many restaurants accept
seatings 90 days before you dine there. For the more popular restaurants
(such as Cinderella’s Royal Breakfast), you’ll need to be sure to call
exactly 90 days in advance and promptly at 7 a.m. eastern time. Your plan
might begin to look something like this:
Arrive Saturday: Spend day getting settled in and rested from travel -
Priority Seating at 5:45 p.m. for Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary
Breakfast at 'OHana’s at the Polynesian at 7:30 a.m.
Lunch at Garden Grill Restaurant in EPCOT at 11:50 a.m.
Dinner at Le Cellier in EPCOT at 6:50 p.m.
Mission: Space - get fast pass
Test Track - get fast pass
Living with the Land
Step 13: What about everything else in the World?
Perhaps you have your heart set on playing a round of
mini-golf? Or mom wants a spa treatment at Disney’s Grand Floridian?
Here’s where you begin putting the other elements of your plan in place.
Your plan may now begin to look like this:
Breakfast at food court
Dad and kids to Typhoon Lagoon in morning. Mom to Grand Floridian for spa
Everyone meets back at resort room by 1:00
Downtown Disney for the afternoon
Lunch at Planet Hollywood at 1:45
Dinner - pizza in room
Breakfast at Boma’s - 8:10 a.m.
Lunch at Flame Tree Barbecue (whenever we get hungry)
Back to room for swim
Beaches and Cream for dinner
Head over for round of mini-golf
Step 14: There is no Step 14!
You’ve done it! You’ve got a complete plan and I’ll bet you’ll have a
Some general tips:
If you’re on your way to Test Track and you find a wonderful group
performing, stop and listen!
If it rains, put on ponchos and go to the park anyway.
Something didn’t go according to plan? So what? Do something different. You
might find that you enjoy it more (or just as much) as what you had planned.
Take lots of pictures but don’t let picture-taking rule your vacation.
Be a kid (even if you’re 60 and have gray hair). Have your picture taken
with a character. Go to a character meal. Get some mouse ears!
Relax! It’ll be fine! You’re at Disney World!
<< Off Topic with
August…the dog days
of summer, the kids are heading back to school and we all want to get that
last barbecue in. A lot of INTERCOTees were kept up late to tune into the
Summer Olympics. We hope that you’re all caught up on your sleep now!
Unfortunately, August also means the start of the hurricane season. Our poor
Florida members started their first round of boarding everything up with the
advent of Charley. As we all know the worst is still to come in September.
All of us here at INTERCOT hope and wish that our members and their families
remain safe during this season.
Too early to start talking football? Not according to WDWacky! Wacky started
the pre-season topic, which proved to be very popular among our INTERCOT
sports fans. The Water Cooler is the place to talk sports and we’ve got a
variety of topics going at any given time. Pull up your recliner and join in
Our resident law enforcement officer SgtTigger reminded us that August 3 was
National Night Out Against Crime – did you participate? Thanks for the info,
Jamie’s Friday parties for the month of August included the Fresh Breath
Bash (honoring National Fresh Breath Day), the Double Hurricane Party with
Bonnie & Clyde (er, I mean Charley), Olympic Mania Madness and the Rock ‘n
Roll Regalia. Come and celebrate Fridays with us in the Cooler! It’s a great
way to end your workweek!
We celebrated the following August birthdays: Zippa D Doodah, ShelbyAD,
disneydeb, ElenitaB, DizneyFreak2002, Brendansmom, Wishing Star,
Disney-4-Me, Deni4000, angel8783, Dopeysfriend, Beach Club Babe,
DisneyJim08101963, Jennib, ChesireLisa, Pongo, Hammer, twistedmickey,
bywheel, Iago, mono, Lizzy, goudaman40 (Tifany), Piglet822, Tynkerbelle,
JerseyMouse, Marker, DisneyDog, Cinderella7299, GBBT, Fantasmic, cjdive,
FROGO823, TiggerMania, mickeyd, ShanPooh, DisneyRN, Lindsey, Buzz Fanatic,
Disney Addiction, Roland, TiggerGuy. I hope all of you had a great day!
August posting milestones were accomplished by PolyGirl40 – 26,000 posts,
WDWacky - 18,000 posts, Melanears – 17,000 posts, Faline – 10,000 posts,
MauiMouse – 7,000 posts, Beach Club Babe – 5,000 posts, Pongo – 5,000posts,
Goofyfanatic – 2000 posts, Donalds Duckie – 1,000 posts, Cosmic Ray – 1,000
posts,. We have four new Senior Cast Members: JerseyMouse, Mickeymousemom,
Nascfan and Chrisx2. Fruitcake made Cast Member status. Congratulations to
all of you and keep up the great work!
It’s sad to see the summer end, but we’ve got the beautiful fall colors to
look forward to! See you next month!
<< Conclusion >>
That concludes this
edition of the Insider. Thanks to everyone that contributed. We'll be back
next month with a review of "Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party" from a
first-timer's prospective. Linda returns with tips on traveling with
children, Ron offers up the latest batch of trivia and much, much more. Stay
tuned. Until then, Happy INTERCOTing!
<< INTERCOT Would Like To Thank>>
The INTERCOT Insider and INTERCOT.com
are supported by the following sponsors who in turn, help us bring the Magic
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more than 7 years now and sells tickets only, at a discount price.
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