||In This Newsletter
From the Authors: The (Free) Shipping News
Travel Feature: Hong Kong
Disney Feature: Fort Wilderness Cabins
Updates: What's New and Changed
Tips: Terrific Taping Tip, Teachers Deserve a Pat On The Back, Multi-purpose Hand Gel
Captain's Corner: Father's Day
PassPorter PhotoPick: Fireworks at Disney's Pirate and Princess Party
Q and A: How can my son protect his camera on rides?
Our Sponsors: We Recommend...
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What's New and Changed
Here are a few items of relevant news:
Disney Pin Celebration 2008, the largest Disney Pin event of the year, will be held September 5-7, 2008 at Epcot's World Showplace. Event Admission is $115 per person (Register by July 7 and pay only $100 per person) and does NOT include theme park admission. Register online at DisneyPins.com
Stuck-at-home Walt Disney World fans can now stroll the streets of the "World" in 3D thanks to Google Earth. You must download and install the free Google Earth software, but once you have it, you can also explore the wider world and a good part of the cosmos as well (it can be pretty addictive). You can obtain the software and learn more about Walt Disney World in 3D from Professor Ludwig Von Drake at the Walt Disney World web site. (If you already have Google Earth, you have to upgrade the software to version 4.3 to use this new feature.)
Our thanks to AllEars.net and MousePlanet.com from which we get some of our news leads.
Hear some news? Be a "PassPorter Reporter" and send it to us!
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From Fellow Readers
Our readers deliver a wealth of information! Here are the winners in this month's tip contest:
TERRIFIC TAPING TIP
"Children are frequently frightened by the unknown. On one of our trips we brought along a friend of my daughter who had only been to Walt Disney World once and had never been on Splash Mountain. The only part of the attraction that she could see was the drop at the end, so she was too frightened to try it. My husband then rode Splash Mountain with his video camera rolling. We sat down for a snack and showed the friend the entire ride. Knowing what to expect, she then rode Splash Mountain and enjoyed every minute. This would probably work for several attractions (where recording is allowed)."
-- contributed by Barbara H.
TEACHERS DESERVE A PAT ON THE BACK
"In 2003 I got hired to teach kindergarten at a nearby school. At the end of that first school year the class gave me a t-shirt that said 'This Kindergarten Teacher Deserves a Pat on the Back!' The children's hand prints are painted on the back of the shirt. Every summer I take my daughter to Walt Disney World and I wear my shirt at least once or twice to the Magic Kingdom. We keep count of how many characters and people pat me on the back. My daughter always enjoys seeing the characters pat me on the back! The t-shirt was the greatest gift a teacher could get, and the pats on the back from the characters made every trip to Walt Disney World memorable."
-- contributed by Kathy E.
MULTI-PURPOSE HAND GEL
"One morning on a recent trip to the 'World' in the rush to get to rope drop I forgot to put on deodorant. As the day got warmer and so did I, I learned that antibacterial gel (that I always carried with me for hands) on a Kleenex works great for freshening up!"
-- contributed by Barbara P.
Send us your tips! You may see them in this newsletter and win a copy of PassPorter!
Want more Disney tips? For Walt Disney World fans, we've collected 500 of the best tips submitted by readers over the past six years. All have been edited for accuracy and categorized. For details, visit the PassPorter Disney 500 info page or the PassPorter store. For Disney Cruise Line fans, we have an e-book with 250 cruiser tips, as well as a special cruise line comparison section and seven customized packing lists. For information, visit the Disney Cruise Clues info page.
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Here is this week's journal entry:
Treasure Hunting Game
Play our fun and quirky treasure hunting game, hosted by Captain Jack Skatt from our book, "PassPorter's Treasure Hunts at Walt Disney World." The Captain makes a study of the delightful details -- sometimes hidden, sometimes in plain sight but often overlooked -- at Walt Disney World and aboard the Disney Cruise Line. Using notes from his journals, he will lead you to this "treasure" at Disney with clues, questions, photos, or riddles. Your challenge is to discover the answer by searching your memory, visiting Disney, or even just looking really hard on the Internet. If you think you've found the answer, e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org -- the first person to correctly submit the FULL answer will receive a free PassPorter enamel pin or PassPorter name badge pin. (Please note: Players can win once every 3 months.)
"Father's Day is fast approaching and I thought I'd skip over to Epcot and see one of my favorite father figures: Marlin at The Seas with Nemo and Friends. What a great dad he is! While I was waiting to get into the pavilion, I happened to look down at the flower beds outside. I was startled to realize the flower beds aren't covered with standard mulch, but rather ... (rest of text obscured by water droplets)"
What are the flower beds covered with outside The Seas with Nemo and Friends?
For bonus credit, locate the photographic evidence in the PassPorter Photo Archive and post a comment with the photo!
Send your full answer to email@example.com -- the winner will be notified by e-mail and announced in a future newsletter, along with the correct answer!
Congratulations to Heather M. who was the winner of last week's trivia contest! Heather was the first person to identify the location of the fountain in last week's clue as the courtyard between the Jazz Inn buildings at All Star Music. Heather was also the first person to identify the photo in our PassPorter Photo Archive. To view the original clue, see last week's newsletter.
If you enjoy treasure hunts, we've got an entire book with over 100 distinct treasure hunts and over 1500 questions, complete with clues and contributions from Captain Jack Skatt. Get more details on "PassPorter's Treasure Hunts at Walt Disney World" book at http://www.passporterstore.com.
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Each issue we choose a special photo from the PassPorter Photo Archive which highlights something beautiful, interesting, humorous, or timely at Disney or around the world. Here is this issue's PassPorter PhotoPick:
Magic, Music, and Mayhem Fireworks at Disney's Pirate and Princess Party
contributed by DawnDenise
(click the photo or link to see a larger photo with details)
You can nominate photos as a PassPorter PhotoPick by giving ratings in the PassPorter Photo Archive (you'll need to be logged in to do this). If you'd like to contribute your own photos to the Photo Archive and be considered as a PhotoPick, please read our Photo Upload Guidelines for details and benefits.
Q and A: With Jennifer and Dave
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tinker me happy asks: "My son has a Nikon D40 and is a bit of a high-stress person. He doesn't want to take the camera on any rides for fear it will get broken/dropped etc... Can anyone give me some reasonable things to say to him to alleviate his concerns?"
Jennifer and Dave answer: "I have a padded, nylon SLR-sized bag for my camera, made by Quantaray (there are similar bags by several other companies). It's very well padded, and just a little larger than the camera itself (although it still has space for batteries, memory cards, and other small accessories). I usually stash the camera in its case, and the case goes inside my shoulder bag for rides. The bag also has belt loops, and hooks for a shoulder strap, so it's very versatile.
Here's a similar case at Amazon.
Bigger bags can be a drag to carry, but it also depends on what gear your son has. If he just has one lens for the camera, the bag I described would be perfect. If he has more lenses, then he either needs a small padded bag for each additional lens (to stash in his backpack), or a camera bag with padded compartments for several lenses. He can find all of those at any decent camera store or electronics store like Best Buy or Circuit City.
I completely understand your son's concerns (I was a teen with a brand new camera, too -- several, in fact), but as long as the camera is protected from bumps and jostling (which is pretty easy to do), then there's nothing a thrill ride can dish out (in terms of bumps, G-forces, acceleration, etc.) that's going to harm a decently-made camera like a Nikon. If his camera bag is inside a day pack or shoulder bag, and he tucks that bag behind his legs or in the baggage carrier some rides provide, it won't be going anywhere. The nylon bags are also good enough to protect from light rain or a few water ride splashes, but for serious water ride action, he should have some zip bags big enough to hold the camera or camera case (preferably the case).
I know a digital SLR is a big investment, especially for a young person, but eventually we all have to come to grips with reality... If you use a camera, it's going to get bumped around. And if you don't use the camera, you'll never have any photos to show. Further, to get good at it, you have to take a whole lot of photos, so the camera is going to have to spend most of its life out of the case. Wear-and-tear is part of the price of getting good photos.
In most circumstances, the damage is going to happen when the camera is out of its bag, not in it. Let's say, you've got the camera hanging from your neck on a very sturdy strap. You bend over, the camera swings forward, and whacks a fence, light pole, rock, curb...."
Have a question? Post questions at http://www.passporterboards.com -- and if you're lucky, you may find that folks have already asked and answered the same question that's on your mind!
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Want To See Your Name in Print?
PassPorter News is published weekly, and this means we're always in need of articles! We're on the lookout for guest columnists who want to contribute articles to this newsletter. No professional writing experience is necessary, just a desire to share your experience with others! Not only is this a great way to give something back to the PassPorter community, but you get to see your name in "print" and receive a $25 gift certificate for use at www.passporter.com.
For details and our article submission guidelines, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Articles about Disney and general travel are welcomed!
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PassPorter only accepts advertising from services of the highest quality -- we recommend these companies because we use them ourselves. Please support our sponsors and, in turn, support this newsletter! This week's sponsors are (in order of appearance):
MouseEarVacations.com -- Disney Cruise Line Special Offers
Mouse Fan Travel -- Decade of Dreams Offer
All Star Vacation Homes -- Choose from more than 150 homes within 4 miles of Disney
||From the Authors: The (Free) Shipping News
Happy Father's Day! Our virtual present for you is free MediaMail shipping in the PassPorter Store from now until midnight on Monday, June 16, 2008. This offer is good on all orders placed between now and June 16. If your items are in stock (our current Disney Cruise Line guide, the first edition of our Disneyland and Southern California guide, Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line, PassPorter's Treasure Hunts at Walt Disney World, and our popular PassHolder Pouches) they'll ship the next business day. If you pre-order PassPorter's Walt Disney World 2009 guide, you'll get free MediaMail shipping on it so long as you order your copy before the end of the free shipping promotional period, plus you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that you're getting an especially good deal on what promises to be a very special book. Click here to learn more about our free shipping promotion.
Spring seems to be slipping away and summer will soon officially be here (at least, in the Northern Hemisphere). The railing of our first-floor deck is festooned with planters full of fragrant herbs and glorious flowers, and our grill is getting a nearly nightly workout. It also means that we're hard at work on PassPorter's Walt Disney World 2009. That new edition, due in October, a little while after summer officially ends, will also mark PassPorter's 10th Anniversary year. And, if all goes well, the new edition will include a special treat for all our loyal readers (no, we're not going to tell, or even hint), and now that we've whetted your appetite for the 2009 edition, we ought to mention that that it's currently available for pre-order.
Now, in non-shipping news... Fred Block, who runs the very popular MagicMeets event in Pennsylvania every July, asks us to remind you that only pre-registered attendees can get in (and we're not going to even tell you where or when you'd have wanted to try to get in). There is no, and we repeat, no, walk-up registration, so please, don't come in hopes of getting lucky, especially if you'd be in for a long drive. Please, save gas! However, if you've got one of the 500 golden tickets, we'll see you there!
As we explained in previous newsletters, sales of PassPorter's Walt Disney World 2008 have been so good that we have none left in the warehouse (although they are still in stock -- for now -- at book stores around the country). If you can't wait for October to get a 2009 edition from us, you may purchase a 2008 electronic edition (download only) or get a 2007 edition at a close-out price. Refer to the 2008 electronic edition for the most up-to-date info, and print-out the pages you'll need when you travel. Rely on the 2007 edition for all our great planning features, PassPockets, and info that's still pretty darned accurate and useful.
PassHolder Pouches are back in stock! Not only that, but we upgraded the printed PassPorter logo to a full-color version that we think is much more attractive than the old, all-yellow version. Order at http://www.passporterstore.com/store/0966899437.aspx.
PassPorter's Disney Cruise Line and its Ports of Call 2008 is in stock! All orders of our cruise guide ship the next business day.
Will you be joining us for PassPorter's Decade of Dreams Tour? PassPorter is celebrating our 10th anniversary in 2009 in a year-long celebration from coast-to-coast! Everyone is invited and all are warmly welcome to join us at all or part of our celebration. We are combining small parties (meets) with grand, multi-day trips, including a 7-night Disney Cruise, a 4-night stay at Walt Disney World, and a Disneyland visit that includes park time and an Adventures by Disney expedition. See our Tour Schedule for the latest details.
|PassPorter's Club Update
1400 vacationers are now enjoying access to all our e-books, e-worksheets, and super-sized photo archive images.Thank you for your continued support!
Our newest e-book, PassPorter's Answer Book is now available for download. This 85-page e-book is full of the detailed, up-to-date information on the topics that really matter to you.
We have a brand new e-worksheet for you to use to plan your next trip (click the link to go directly to it): the Daily Ride and Meal Plans e-worksheet lets you plan the rides, shows, and meals around the park(s) you plan to visit in a single day!
More details at http://www.passporter.com/club
In this issue, Featured Columnist Cheryl Pendry travels half-way around the world to visit Hong Kong. Then, first-time Guest Contributor Anne Topp completes the 'round the world journey as she shares an Australian's view of Walt Disney World's Fort Wilderness Resort. Finally, Jack Skatt is back with a brand-new Walt Disney World Treasure Hunt. Have a great week!
Dave and Jennifer Marx
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|| Travel Feature:
Hong Kong: A Gentle Introduction To A New Part of the World
by Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist
It seems amazing that there is a place halfway around the world from the U.K. in a totally different continent that still retains many traces of its British heritage, but that's exactly what's happened in Hong Kong.
Formerly a British colony, the British acquired Hong Kong from China during the Opium Wars of the 19th century. It was returned to the Chinese in 1997, but 10 years later, it's still very much a mix of the two cultures. Everywhere you look, the signs are in both English and Cantonese and everyone you meet has a good grasp of both languages. That makes it a very easy place to visit and a good introduction to the Asian continent. There's no need for expensive courses in what can be difficult languages (trust me, as someone learning Japanese, I speak from experience!).
Hong Kong is divided into two main areas - Hong Kong Island, which as the name suggests, is separated from the Chinese mainland, and Kowloon on the opposite side of the harbor. The things to do and see are roughly divided in half between the two and there's no real advantage to staying in one area over the other. We were on Hong Kong Island, although a little further out from the central area than I would've liked. Unfortunately, the hotel I originally opted for was full at the time we would be there.
The first thing you need to know about Hong Kong is that there is a lot for visitors to see. Most people we met were just there as a stopover to somewhere else, often Australia, but the city is worth so much more than just two or three nights. We were there for a total of seven nights and, even in that time, we didn't get 'round to see everything we wanted, which surprised us, as we packed a lot in.
The second thing you need to know about Hong Kong is that it's literally packed with people - not visitors, but residents. Much of the territory is made up of steep hills, which makes building impossible. That means that less than 25% of the area is actually developed and that area is home to around seven million people. The only way to accommodate that many people in such a small space is to keep building upwards, and that's exactly what's happened over the years. If you think you've seen skyscrapers, perhaps in cities like New York or Los Angeles, Hong Kong will open your eyes. You've never seen so many all crammed together so tightly.
Hong Kong is also home to a huge commercial district and that means yet more skyscrapers. Banks tower into the skyline and famous brand names can be seen on signs at the tops of many of the buildings - lit up in neon at night, but still just as prominent during the day. It all gives the impression of a very bustling and vibrant city.
Some people we know who've visited Hong Kong reported it's a bit overwhelming, but we loved that feeling and, despite all the commercial and residential buildings and the millions of people living and working here, we found it easy enough to escape from the crowds whenever we needed to, as Hong Kong is home to a surprising number of parks, scattered throughout the city. Some, such as Hong Kong Park are hard to miss. Formerly home to the Victoria Barracks, this park is now home to botanical gardens, an aviary, and even a museum of tea ware!
However, there are other, far smaller parks that you can stumble upon completely by accident. We came across a couple that were not mentioned in any of our guidebooks, yet were complete oases surrounded by the office buildings soaring above.
By now, you've probably got the idea that Hong Kong is a growing city and, as you'd expect from any growing city, it's experiencing growing pains. It's fair to say that the air is not as clean as you'd hope for, as pollution is fairly rife in the city, and traffic jams on the roads a daily occurrence.
That's probably why so many people take the MTR system, the city's subway. It's an easy enough way to get around and reasonably priced, but as we found out during our stay, there are times of the day, particularly the evening, when it's full to capacity. And, unlike many subway systems around the world, cell phones seem to work anywhere underground, which makes for some very noisy journeys!
It's perhaps clear that, although Hong Kong lies on the other side of the world from England, and is part of China, which I'm sure many of us view as having a very different way of life to our own, actually this is one Chinese city with some remarkable similarities to life in the West. It's got a lot of the same issues and, as you look around, you can't help but think that it's just like a lot of other cities in the world, particularly London with all its British influences.
Heading out to Asia for the first time can be a daunting prospect and it's understandable, as it's a very different culture to our own and almost halfway round the world. However, heading out to Hong Kong as your first experience of Asia, as we did, is a great way to get a feel for the area and yet still feel somewhat at home.
In a future article, Cheryl will be taking a look at some of the specific things to do and see in Hong Kong...
About the Author: Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to America. They are in the process of visiting every Disney theme park around the world, having already spent a day in Disneyland Resort Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland so far this year. They are looking forward to returning to America in October to visit both Walt Disney World and Disneyland in California.
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Did you enjoy this article? Have questions? E-mail us at email@example.com or visit http://www.passporterboards.com to discuss your travel plans. Also check out our Article Collection for more great information!
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Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground: From An "Aussie" Point of View
by Anne Topp, PassPorter Guest Contributor
So you're a lover of the great outdoors, and maybe like me you're an "Aussie" lover of the great outdoors. What has Walt Disney World got to offer me, you think? After all, a holiday in a quiet secluded National Park with nature all around you it "ain't." What you need is a cabin at Fort Wilderness.
Back in the land of "Aus," I love to camp in quiet, out of the way places, but I also enjoy visiting popular tourist attractions around the world, and I love the granddaddy of them all -- Walt Disney World. We Aussies have to travel huge distances to get to Florida, and it just isn't practical to lug camping gear with us, so that's why I stay at the Fort Wilderness Cabins. You see, I absolutely love all things Mickey, but sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming. I love Fort Wilderness because I get the chance to leave the hectic pace of the parks behind and chill-out in the forest. Even though the cabins are really just mobile homes, they have been "Disney-fied" by being clad in logs for a real woodsy feel. Each cabin has its own wooden deck area with a table and seats and is surrounded by large trees and greenery, giving you a certain amount of privacy from your neighbors. The cabins are set in what Disney terms "loops," (side streets following a circular route) but we Aussies would call them "courts." A tip for experiencing more privacy and forest feel is to ask for a cabin on the outside of a loop, as you will be surrounded by more trees and shrubs.
I won't go into detail here about the interior of the cabins - photos are available in the PassPorter Photo Archive. I will say that they are very comfortable and offer a large area in which to spread out.
The thing I love most about Fort Wilderness is being able to get up in the morning and sit outside on the decking, enjoying my first "cuppa" of the day in the company of squirrels. Now you Americans may be a bit blase about your squirrels, but let me tell you, from an Australian point of view they are the cutest little fellows. I absolutely love to watch their antics as they scurry about gathering tidbits and the kids will love them too, along with the deer, armadillos, tiny lizards and other animals that call Fort Wilderness home.
There are two pools on offer for guests here. The main pool is located in roughly the center of the resort and is quite large. While it currently lacks the theming of the other resort pools, it is located in a really pretty area. It has lovely green forest as its backdrop and a little river nearby where you can fish and canoe (rental of poles and canoes is available through the Bike Barn nearby). I also understand that this pool is getting a face lift soon, which will add a waterslide, so that should satisfy the kids. The other pool is right amongst the cabin loops, but again it doesn't offer anything special other than a great place to cool off on a hot day, surrounded by peaceful forest.
There are two Trading Posts (general stores), one down by the lake known as the Settlement Trading Post and the other one near the main pool in the center of the park known as the Meadow Trading Post. The Meadow happens to be the closest store to the cabins. Having said that, it is still quite a walk to get there, but I really enjoyed getting up early and strolling through the woods with the squirrels as my only companions, to get our daily provisions before hitting the parks. You are not encouraged to drive your vehicle around the resort - there's nearly no place to park, just to make sure. However, you are allowed to drive to the Meadow Trading Post and park for a short time while you shop. You will only find basic provisions at the stores but enough to get you by.
Getting to the parks from Fort Wilderness can be a bit of a hassle. As the resort is so huge, they have an internal bus system to get you around. You have to catch one of these to take you to the two main terminals from where the park buses and/or ferries leave. These terminals are located at opposite ends of the resort. If you want to go to Disney Studios or catch the boat to Magic Kingdom you need to catch an internal bus down to the Settlement Depot and transfer there. if you want to go to Epcot, Animal Kingdom, or Downtown Disney you need to catch an internal bus going the other way to the front entrance (Outpost Depot) and transfer there. I admit at first it's a bit confusing but you'll soon get the hang it. All this does mean you have to allow extra time to get to the parks, so if you're a person who loves to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, then you are better off renting a car. A car also comes in handy to do grocery runs and to visit other attractions in the area, but as Americans drive on the opposite side of the road to us Aussies, we can find it a bit daunting.
Another option if you want to get around the resort and bypass the internal buses is to rent a golf cart. They're not cheap at $47 plus tax a day, but they would be worth it if you have small children and you're getting home late from the parks, as you won't need to wait for the internal buses to get you back to your cabin. You do need to reserve one as early as possible - you can book up to a year in advance. Oh, and don't forget to recharge them when you park! There are charging posts outside the cabins and at the two main bus terminals, by the lake, and at the main entrance.
Now one bit of advice specifically for Aussie visitors regards the time of year to visit Walt Disney World. We have one very large advantage over Americans, and that is, our main holidays are in January and this coincides with one of the quietest times of year at Walt Disney World. You will find crowds are very manageable and the long waits at rides encountered at other times of the year almost nonexistent. Just be aware that the Disney Marathons are held usually the second weekend in January, and that Martin Luther King holiday weekend also falls in January. These two events usually do have a bit of an impact on the crowd levels, but on those days, why not take the opportunity to visit one of the many other tourist attractions in the area such as SeaWorld, Universal Studios, or Kennedy Space Center to name a few?
There is so much offered at Fort Wilderness that you could easily devote several days to on-site activities, but perhaps I will save all that for another time. What I will say to travelers who love the great outdoors, is seriously consider staying at the Fort Wilderness Cabins. Trust me, they are a quiet, relaxing oasis after all the excitement of the amazing parks.
About the Author: Anne Topp has two children and lives in Melbourne, Australia. She owns her own TV Lighting Production Company and simply loves to travel with her kids. She has been to Walt Disney World twice and has just booked her third trip for January 2009.
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Did you enjoy this article? Have questions? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.passporterboards.com to discuss your Disney vacation plans. Also check out our Article Collection for more great information!
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