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PassPorter News Brought to you by PassPorter Guidebooks
November 01, 2012 * Issue 9.44

In This Newsletter 

From the Founders: Safe After the Storm

Travel Feature: Finding Your Favorite Characters

Disney Feature: Disney World and Down Syndrome - A Winning Combination

Updates: What's New and Changed

Tips: Photographic Memory for Lost Child, GAC Tip, Do Less, Enjoy More

Captain's Corner: Share Your Recent Photos!

PassPorter PhotoPick: Ariel's Undersea Adventure - Magic Kingdom

Q and A: Cruising after Hurricane Sandy - what to expect?

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What's New and Changed

This week we have 4 news bulletins:

Wreck-It Ralph Appearing at Disney Parks Ralph, from Disney's new movie, "Wreck-It Ralph," is now appearing at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. At Disneyland, Ralph and his pal, Vanellope Von Schweetz, will be in the Tomorrowland Starcade. At Walt Disney World, they can be found in The Magic of Disney Animation at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
This updates page 180 of PassPorter's Walt Disney World guidebook

Disney to Acquire Lucasfilm The Walt Disney Co. has announced plans to acquire Lucasfilm, the studio behind Star Wars and Indiana Jones. The purchase also includes special effects company Industrial Light & Magic, Skywalker Sound, and video game company LucasArts. Disney announced a new Star Wars film to debut in 2015 and expects to produce more feature films in the Star Wars Saga.
This updates page 999 of PassPorter's Walt Disney World guidebook

Earl of Sandwich to Open November 2 at Disneyland Downtown Disney District The Earl of Sandwich, already a popular dining destination in Walt Disney World's Downtown Disney, will open in the Downtown Disney District at Disneyland on November 2, 2012.
Comments: 49

This updates page 125 of PassPorter's Disneyland Resort guidebook

Walt Disney World Resort Scooter Rental Company Policy Change Walt Disney World's resorts now have a list of five "preferred" vendors for electric scooter (ECV) rentals. The vendors - Apple Mobility, Best Price, Buena Vista, C.A.R.E, and Scooter Bug - will be the only vendors allowed to drop off and pick up scooters from Bell Services without the renter being present. All other vendors will have to schedule a time with the guest for both pick up and drop off.
Comments: 9

This updates page 036 of PassPorter's Walt Disney World guidebook

Tip: Need more news? Read, sort, and search all the PassPorter news bulletins at the PassPorter News Desk!

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Disney Tips:
From Fellow Readers

Our readers deliver a wealth of information! Send us your tips! You may see them in this newsletter and win a copy of PassPorter! And you never know -- your tip could even appear in a future edition of a PassPorter guidebook.

'I take a full photo (digital of course), of each child every day - before we leave our hotel. I also take a close up. That way, if for any reason they are lost, I know exactly how their hair was done (we have four girls) and what they were wearing that day. When asked for a description, I can just show the police/security the photos I took. We've had to do this once for a child lost in the Magic Kingdom, and it worked perfectly well - the security guard didn't need to rely on my memory, and was able to describe my daughter to all Cast Members with no problem. She was found in less than an hour. (She didn't think she was lost because SHE knew where she was and where we were eating for dinner!)'
-- contributed by Teresa
Save This Tip

'In obtaining a GAC (Guest Assistance Card) at Walt Disney World, we always take our card from the previous trip and ask that they do the same thing for the current visit. This saves time and explanations of medical needs on every trip.'
-- contributed by Jan
Save This Tip

'The best tip I can offer is to slow down and enjoy your vacation. On our vacation last summer, I tried to do so much that I missed a lot of what I wanted to do. This year, I am going to try and slow down and really take advantage of all Disney World has to offer. '
-- contributed by Kendra
Save This Tip

Want more Disney tips? Look for the concierge bell icon in future newsletters and throughout the site. When you see the bell, tap it to view and save the tip to your personal tip collection!

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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PassPorter PhotoPick
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:

Ariel's Undersea Adventure - Magic Kingdom

Photo by GrumpyGoofy

(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.
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Q and A: With Jennifer and Dave

KristinJF asks: " DH, my parents, and I are scheduled for the 4 day cruise on the Dream leaving Sunday, Oct. 28. With tropical storm/hurricane Sandy approaching the Bahamas in the next day or two, should we anticipate any itinerary changes or choppy waters for our cruise? I got pretty sick on our last 7 day Western Caribbean, so I’m pretty nervous about choppy waters, plus it’s my parents’ first cruise with Disney and I don’t want them to miss Castaway Cay!

(Sympathizing with those of you who are scheduled to sail this weekend in the thick of it!)

Any previous experience or guesses as to what to expect on a post-hurricane cruise?

Dave Marx answers: "These things can be unpredictable, of course. Based on the current NOAA map, the storm will be well north of Port Canaveral by Sunday, so your departure will probably be unaffected. Wind-generated chop probably won't be an issue by then, though swells on the open ocean between Port Canaveral and the sheltered waters of the Bahamas may be higher than usual. I doubt rolling seas will be an issue once you're in the Bahamas.

Your itinerary will likely be more affected by storm damage in Nassau and Castaway Cay than by ocean conditions. If damage is light, they may only need a day or two of cleanup. Since the storm is currently scheduled to hit Nassau on Thursday night, they'd have 3 full days for clean-up before Monday's regularly scheduled visit - they may be able to keep to the original itinerary. If they need three or four days for clean-up, they may simply shift port visits around - perhaps the day at sea first, then Nassau, then Castaway Cay. If things are even worse, the cruise line might substitute Key West for Nassau, take a day at sea, and visit Castaway Cay on the last day.

There have been times when Castaway Cay only needed a single day for clean-up. After a couple of really bad hits, they've been closed for over a week."

Did our message board members agree with Dave Marx? To see other answers that KristinJF received, check out the rest of the thread on the PassPorter Message Boards..

Have a question? Post questions at -- 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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From the Authors: Safe After the Storm

Hi, {{user('firstname')}}!

Our thoughts go out to all those affected by Superstorm Sandy earlier this week. We know many of you have been impacted in one way or another. Even those of us as far inland as Ann Arbor, Michigan had power outages. The PassPorter office was closed Tuesday-Thursday due to a power outage. We apologize for the delays in responding to orders and answering e-mails, and we appreciate your patience with us as we work through the backlog. Please also note that we were unable to record a PassPorter Moms Podcast this week due to the power outage, but we'll return next week!

PassPorter's Club UpdateMore than 1500 vacationers are now enjoying access to all our e-books, e-worksheets, and super-sized photo archive images. Thank you for your continued support!
  • A revised version of PassPorter's Disney Weddings & Honeymoons e-book is ready for download. Updates include Escape package pricing and new cake options for 2013, a promotional $10,000 minimum for Wishes events on select dates in 2013, Florida resident discounts on Wishes events, information on Wishes dessert parties at the Contemporary Resort, and updated Disney Cruise Collection information. If you have already purchased PassPorter's Disney Weddings & Honeymoons from the PassPorter Store, you can download the revised version for FREE by logging into your account, locating the e-book in your order history, and clicking the download link. PassPorter's Club Passholders can download the latest version using the Concierge Desk.

In this issue, PassPorter Featured Columnist Cheryl Pendry shares information on Finding Your Favorite Characters. Then PassPorter Guest Contributor Phyllis Tate gives us a glimpse into Disney World and Down Syndrome - A Winning Combination. Finally, Jack Skatt is back with a brand-new Walt Disney World Treasure Hunt.

Jennifer and Dave Marx
PassPorter Founders and Authors

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Travel Feature:

Finding Your Favorite Characters: Character Meet & Greets at Walt Disney World
Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist

There are many reasons to head to a Disney theme park.

But if you have younger members in the family, there's probably a good chance that the characters that Disney is so famed for will be involved somewhere along the line.

Having said that, we have no kids, but you can often find us hanging out, waiting to meet some of our favorite Disney characters. And over the years, we've learned one or two things about finding the characters in a Disney park.

The first thing we do before we even head out on a vacation is to decide exactly how much of a sport we're going to make our character hunt this time around. We've had vacations where we've only seen the characters at the meals that we've booked with them, while on other occasions, we've chased them down at every signing we've seen, aiming to fill our autograph books as much as we can. Of course, if you choose the latter approach, you need to appreciate that';s going to cut into your vacation time, and may leave you with less time for riding attractions.

If you decide to go for the first approach, then hunting down your characters is simple. You need do no more than grab your PassPorter's Walt Disney World (you do have a copy, right?) and turn to the Feasting and Snacking chapter. Take a look at what meals tickle your tastebuds, and whether the characters there are ones your family will want to see, and go ahead, and book it.

What about if you're on some serious commando character hunting, seeking every single one in sight in every park? Although this sounds exhausting, this can be a huge amount of fun, as we discovered on one of our vacations. We made a vow to try and fill as much of our autograph books as possible, and we did it, all but about four or five pages. It was hard work, and we definitely needed a plan!

You’ll find that the major characters, the likes of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto all draw huge crowds. It's no coincidence that they're often positioned at the entrance to parks to help distract people from their thoughts of hitting the first ride of the day. It all helps to control visitor traffic. Here, some decisions are needed. Do you want to enjoy Soarin' or Expedition Everest with little or no wait? If so, you need to hit them early on or grab FASTPASSes. If not, then you can enjoy some character time.

Pick your lines carefully, and if they're all pretty long, then think about whether you all want to be in the photo. If not, then you can always split up.

Don't assume that the character meet and greets, such as the ones in Town Square, Future World in Epcot or the Character Landing in Animal Kingdom will be mobbed. We've found exceptionally short waits at all of these locations. It's worth taking a look. Where there's a line for more than one set of characters, then sometimes you'll find one line is very long, while another is pretty short. While the princesses were mobbed, the last time we visited Town Square, we saw Mickey and Minnie with only a five minute wait.

Keep your eyes peeled for characters, and learn where they hang out. They can be devious sometimes! While much of the time they will be obvious, we've found Aladdin and his friends hidden away at the back of Epcot's Morocco, Buzz Lightyear and Woody at the entrance to Tomorrowland, and even the Queen of Hearts wandering around in the walkway behind the Epcot Character Spot.

If you want to get a heads up, then check out Steve Soares' excellent website, or ask when you arrive at a park. These days, character hunting is so much easier, with details printed of where you can find them, and when. If you don't see your favorite on the list, it's still worth double checking, as things can change. As soon as you've got those details, make sure you're in line before your chosen character comes out. Trust me, once they're out, everyone will make a beeline for them, and you don't want to join the line, just to be told by a Cast Member that the queue has been closed ahead of you. We’ve had that happen to us on many occasions, and it's not a good position to be in, particularly if you have a child with you and you have to explain to them that you can't see Princess Aurora, Stitch, or Chip and Dale.

It’s also worth knowing that the characters come out in different garb, depending on the season. During the holidays, you'll often find them dressed up for Yule. One of my favorite memories is of Donald in his seasonal lumberjack outfit, while we were also lucky enough to snag Belle on a cold day close to Christmas in her beautiful (and no doubt warm!) red dress, which was a rare and wonderful photo opportunity for me. Don't forget that, as a Christmas treat, the characters may also visit the on-site resorts, most commonly the deluxe ones.

Sometimes, you get unusual sightings at certain times of the year. The classic example has to be Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, the only time you can usually guarantee a chance to meet all seven of the dwarves, rather than just Dopey on his own. Easter brings out Mrs. Bunny, while if you like a new character, then the chances are, unless they become exceptionally popular, your best bet is in the six months or so after their movie debuts. You don’t see much of Koda and Kenai from Brother Bear or Wall-E any longer.

The true moral of character hunting is like just about everything else Disney. Do your homework beforehand, thinking about which ones you're most desperate to see, then try and find them when crowds are low, first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Keep your eyes peeled for any unexpected sightings, and plan ahead. Oh, and good luck with your character hunting -- it's a huge amount of fun, and very rewarding, if you decide to take the challenge on.

Reader Comments (2) - Comment on this article

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About the Author: Cheryl is the author of the e-book, PassPorter's Walt Disney World for British Holidaymakers, and is the co-author of PassPorter's Disney Vacation Club Guide: For Members and Members-To-Be. Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to Disney, and they have travelled around the world, visiting every Disney theme park on the way.

Questions, feedback, or corrections about this article, or just want to give kudos to the author? Share a comment here or e-mail us at Also check out our Article Collection for more great information!

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Disney Feature:

Disney World and Down Syndrome - A Winning Combination: Walt Disney World with Special Needs
Phyllis Tate, PassPorter Guest Contributor

For our family, Down Syndrome and Walt Disney World are a winning combination.

The days spent at the Walt Disney World Resort have been magical for Andrew, the youngest of our four children, who has Down Syndrome. The preparations for upcoming trips and the reminiscing upon returning home have also brought much joy and opportunity for learning. From his first trip as a 6-year-old small enough for a stroller to our last trip with a 15-year-old who decided a wheelchair might not be such a bad idea after all, we've had some interesting experiences.

Our first trip with Andrew in 2003 didn't hold any major "special needs" challenges. Although Andrew was 6, it wasn't much different than having a typical preschool-age child. He was happy to be in the stroller, napped when he needed to, was thrilled by the characters, and was small enough to be carried as we waited in line for attractions. After the trip, he loved watching the videos and looking through the pictures. So a year and-a-half later we decided to go back for his 8th birthday.

This time around, he had expectations of where we were going. He was excited to be returning to Walt Disney World! But would he understand that the first two days were for traveling? We knew we needed to prepare him. We created a book entitled "Andrew’s Trip to Disney World." We had a page for each day showing what we would be doing. The first day was "Drive to Aunt Teresa’s house," with a drawing of a minivan and a house. The second day was "Drive to the hotel," again with a drawing of a minivan and a hotel. Then we made a separate page for each day in the park, using photos from old brochures. We were always working on calendar skills, so we put the day and date on each page, especially focusing on his birthday.

While still a wonderful experience, this second trip had a few challenges. We had moved three months before, and during the move Andrew had developed an aversion to sitting in restaurant chairs. So at every meal on that trip, Andrew sat in my lap. We have photos at Cinderella's Royal Table and Liberty Tree Tavern that remind me how tiring that was! But I wasn't going to let that prevent us from having fun and I knew there was no reason to fight it, so we just carried on. Thankfully he outgrew that phase! This time around, Andrew was also a little wary of characters and not always happy about having his picture taken. We have many photos of him with his eyes closed, which was his way of not cooperating. He still pulls that one on us sometimes but we've learned to warn the photographers and tell them not to be concerned.

In 2008, we visited the Orlando area with extended family, this time spending only one day at the Magic Kingdom. It was late March and rather crowded. By this time, we had learned about the Guest Assistance Card, which was a huge blessing. Andrew was now 11 years old and much too big to be carried. While generally a well behaved and happy child, he could sometimes become very stubborn and difficult to handle. My biggest fear was that he would get tired of standing in line and just sit down. If he did that, it might take a really long time to convince him to get up. The Guest Assistance Card allowed us to use an alternate entrance on the rides that had that option.

In December 2010 we spent our longest time at Walt Disney World. We had five days in the parks in very cold weather. On day three of that trip Andrew was really tired. Having very low muscle tone causes him to tire more easily than typical children and having pronated arches causes his feet to hurt. We were visiting Animal Kingdom and he wanted to sit down at every possible chance. We tried our best to convince him to ride in a wheelchair, but he insisted that he wanted a stroller. We had him try to sit in one to see that he simply wouldn't fit anymore, but he still refused a wheelchair. We ended up leaving Animal Kingdom and later going to the Magic Kingdom where his energy returned and we were able to enjoy the rest of the day.

In August of 2011 Disney released a Free Dining special that I couldn't resist, so we booked another five-day trip for the week after Thanksgiving. Andrew was very excited and looking forward to the trip. To help him understand just how long it was until the trip, I bought a 100 chart from the school supply store and started a countdown. Every morning at breakfast we stamped a Mickey face on the chart, starting with 100 and counting down to one. I also kept an abacus in the kitchen and moved a bead over each day. If I ever forgot, Andrew was quick to remind me!

On this trip, by day three or four, Andrew was again very tired and said that his feet hurt. This time he was willing to get in a wheelchair. He was able to enjoy the rest of the day and by the time we left the park he stood up and commented that his feet no longer hurt.

Walt Disney World is one of Andrew';s favorite topics of conversation. We have photo albums from each trip and any time a visitor comes over, Andrew wants to show them the photos. He tells them about the characters and the rides, describing Big Thunder Mountain Railroad as the ride that goes up and down and side to side. The magic of Disney is a language everyone can understand!

Some of my happiest memories are of Andrew riding The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Watching a video of that from one of our earlier trips brings a smile to my face. I doubt anyone has had more fun on that ride than Andrew. For someone who has carried around a toy Tigger for many years, what could be better! As many families of special needs children have found, Walt Disney World is a place where our kids can be "normal." Sure, we have our challenges, but with the incredible hospitality of the Disney Cast Members, our kids shine.

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About the Author: Phyllis has spent the past 21 years homeschooling her four children. Now that three of them have graduated, she has a little extra spare time and enjoys spending it planning the next trip to Walt Disney World. In January, 2013, she'll again be at the most magical place on earth with all four children, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, and two precious grandsons making their first visit!

Questions, feedback, or corrections about this article, or just want to give kudos to the author? Share a comment here or e-mail us at Also check out our Article Collection for more great information!

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