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PassPorter News Brought to you by PassPorter Guidebooks
November 15, 2012 * Issue 9.46

In This Newsletter 

From the Founders: Speed Planner Updated!

Travel Feature: Finally Forty Inches (Part 1)

Disney Feature: When Does Your Walt Disney Vacation Really Begin?

Updates: What's New and Changed

Tips: Great Greeting Cards Tip, Check Travel Items Expiration Dates, Disney PhotoPass CD Tip

Captain's Corner: Get Published!

PassPorter PhotoPick: PassPorter's Walt Disney World 2012 on an iPad!

Q and A: My dd is worried-will she be too old for character meals? UPDATED IN OP

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What's New and Changed

This week we have 3 news bulletins:

Starbucks to be Added to Main Street Bakery and Fountain View Bakery Next Year Starbucks coffee is coming to Walt Disney World! The Main Street Bakery will close for rehab in January 2013 and will reopen in early summer 2013 with Starbucks coffee drinks added to the menu. The Main Street Bakery will keep it's name and theming and will continue to serve most of its traditional baked goods and breakfast items. During construction the ice cream sandwiches will be available at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, and warm cinnamon rolls can be had at Gaston's Tavern in the new Fantasyland. The Fountain View Bakery at Epcot will close in March 2013 and will reopen featuring Starbucks in mid-summer 2013. Starbucks will be added to locations in Disney Hollywood Studios and Disney' Animal Kingdom at a later date.
Comments: 1

This updates page 232 of PassPorter's Walt Disney World guidebook

The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow at Disney's Hollywood Studios A new walk-through attraction will officially open on December 6, 2012 at Disney's Hollywood Studios. "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow" will take guests on a journey through the movies to explore Jack Sparrow's adventures. The new attraction is on Mickey Avenue, in the former location of Journey into Narnia.
Comments: 1

This updates page 180 of PassPorter's Walt Disney World guidebook

Valet Parking Price Increase at Walt Disney World Resorts Valet Parking at Walt Disney World resorts has increased from $12 per day to $15 per day. Self-parking continues to be free to resort guests.
Comments: 49

This updates page 035 of PassPorter's Walt Disney World guidebook

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'While planning and packing for your trip. Add to your list of things to pack, greeting cards. We take blank greeting cards. We will fill them out for our cleaning fairy (as we call her/him), and we keep some on us so if a CM adds magic to our day we can return the magic. '
-- contributed by Jessica
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'Remember that those small travel bottles of shampoo, conditioner, soap, and everything else will go bad. Put the purchase date on the bottle and after a year, toss it. '
-- contributed by Susan
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'In order to create "magic" in your Disney Photopass pictures, be sure to make those changes to your pictures BEFORE you order the cd. Disney will allow you to add characters and other "magical" enhancements to your pictures and you can have them added to the cd free of charge. It is super cool!'
-- contributed by Vanessa
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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:

PassPorter's Walt Disney World 2012 on an iPad!

Photo by Jennifer Marx

(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

wheezie asks: "My sweet, sweet 12 yr old dd is convinced she'll be the oldest kid at any character meals we have ressies for. We have ressies for Crystal Palace, Cape May, Akershus, and 1900 Park Fare. Dd is very image conscious, like most preteens. *sigh*

What do you think? Too many? Will she feel out of place? I do want to keep some of the meals for my 7 yr old son, b/c I know he'd enjoy them. I'm just trying to balance things out. NON Character meals are WCC, Liberty Tree Tavern, Garden Grill (Candlelight Processional package-is that a character meal too??), and 50's Prime Time, although some of these meals will be cancelled once I finalize our days.

Any meals listed that you think should be cancelled? Thanks for all your advice!

Edited to add my update: We went and had a great time, though both kids had the flu. Dd had FUN, though she would never tell you that. She's still trying to pretend she's too old, too cool, whatever. :p We enjoyed the characters, but the food was typically not good AT ALL-especially Chef Mickey's. *shudder*"

Dave Marx answers: "Garden Grill does have character visits, too. Chip, Dale, Pluto, and Farmer Mickey, if I remember correctly... (PassPorter Walt Disney World 2012, page 263... yep! my memory's still good!)

Now, as far as other kids thinking she's too old? Only older kids would think that... younger kids don't look down at older kids, they're more likely intimidated by them. smiley for ;) And if older kids are at that same character meal? They're not likely to consider a younger kid to be too old for something that they're doing themselves. smiley for ;)

Too many character meals? That's a matter of taste. If several family members are character-obssessed, I doubt they'll be complaining. Personally, all those buffets and family-style meals would wear thin on me - I'd be yearning for more variety, and fewer hikes to the buffet line."

Did our message board members agree with Dave Marx? To see other answers that wheezie 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: Speed Planner Updated!

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

One of PassPorter's very first e-books, PassPorter's Speed Planner: The Easy Ten-Step Program to a Perfect Walt Disney World Vacation by Justine Fellows has been updated with new tips, ideas, and pricing! The new version has ten new pages and interactive worksheets that you can use to help you plan a great vacation, simply and quickly. If you have already purchased PassPorter's Speed Planner 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 (monthly and annual) can download the latest version using the Concierge Desk. You can also buy the Speed Planner e-book for just $5.95! Check it out!

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 Guest Contributor Brian Rawson shares information on Finally Forty Inches (Part 1). Then PassPorter Featured Columnist Cheryl Pendry gives us a glimpse into When Does Your Walt Disney Vacation Really Begin?. 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:

Finally Forty Inches (Part 1): Disneyland Attractions for Little Ones
Brian Rawson, PassPorter Guest Contributor

On last year's Walt Disney World vacation, my 39-inch, 3.5 year-old daughter watched longingly while "everyone else" rode Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster.

Sure, she loved playing in the awesome little playground under the Frontierland train station and goofing off with cast members in Rock Around the Shop, but she also talked about riding Splash Mountain continuously for the next 11 months.

40 inches is the first major height requirement for Disney thrill rides. This is the height required by the most popular "Disney mountains" in California and Florida: Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain. 40 inches is the height requirement for a number of other thrilling attractions including Soarin', Tower of Terror, Star Tours, Radiator Springs Racers, Test Track, Dinosaur, Silly Symphony Swings, and Jumpin' Jellyfish. There are some Disney Mountain exceptions with more stringent height requirements: Matterhorn Bobsleds is 42 inches, Grizzly River Rapids is 42, and Expedition Everest is 44.

I was excited for her when she surpassed 40 inches earlier this year, and was pleasantly surprised when we arrived in Disneyland and she was just over the 42 inches mark in her favorite running shoes. We were there for a week, and we eased in a few "new to her" thrill rides every day.

My girl loves roller coasters as much as I do, perhaps even more. So I made a mental plan for helping her try all the roller coasters during our vacation, and hopefully the other thrill rides, too. This included warning her about the frightening components of each attraction that I knew of. I didn't want her to freak out like one of my six-year-old cousins, who refused to ride any dark ride for two days after her parents talked her into riding Space Mountain. I tried to talk my daughter through just about everything, with mixed success. We spent a week visiting Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, and we never tried more than three new thrill rides in one day.

We love roller coasters, so the first attraction we experienced after a long day of flying was Gadget's Go Coaster. As expected, she totally loved it, riding much of the circuit with her hands in the air, yelling, "Whee!" Rodger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin wasn't the same qualified success, as the weasels scared her so much that she stopped steering and I had to take over. She cheered loudly when Jessica Rabbit defeated those nasty weasels. This dichotomy would continue for much of the remainder of the trip.

Later in the trip, I talked her into riding Matterhorn Bobsleds, which was my first roller coaster at the age of five. I forgot how intense the Yeti was. My daughter wouldn't let me forget. She loved the rest of the ride, but not the monster, who pops up screaming several times. (I thought it was just once? I must have closed my eyes as a child.)

And my questionable parenting didn't end there. I didn't do my homework regarding Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. We used FASTPASSes to minimize the anticipation time. I also told her that there would be ghosts, but I honestly thought they would be friendly ghosts, like the Haunted Mansion. Almost immediately, our roller coaster car was chased by a huge, fiery, nasty-looking space ghost, who followed us around and screamed at us. The on-board sound system in Space Mountain makes it very realistic. This ghost scared me. My petrified daughter clung tight to me until the ride was over. "Dad, I liked the roller coaster, but that ghost was too scary. Can we ride it without the ghost?" I guess I need to plan another trip to Disneyland.

We did the other Disneyland Mountains later in the trip. Splash Mountain was a huge success, despite the fact that my daughter insisted that it was Roger Rabbit who was in trouble with that nasty "weasel" (fox). She loved the drop, and tolerated the nasty fox. She would have liked to ride it over and over again all day. Although she really wanted to know the story, and I couldn't relate it quickly enough and clearly not enough to satisfy her curiosity. I will have to show her my "Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby" Disney book when I go back to my parents house.

Big Thunder Mountain took a bit of convincing. I eventually figured out that she wanted to ride the roller coaster, but did not like the name "Big Thunder Mountain." So we just got in the line to ride "that fun-looking train." She was a bit nervous in the bat-cave scene, but was strangely silent for the rest of the ride. At the exit, I convinced her to pose for a picture near the exit because she was grinning ear to ear. I still wasn't sure just how much she liked it, and I casually asked what she wanted to do next. She didn't say anything, she just grabbed me and ran right back in the entrance for another lap. The next lap wasn't quiet. She had questions about everything, including, "Dad, why did they feed the goat dynamite? That's just silly."

Star Tours: The Adventure Continues was the last big ride to try in Disneyland. She was very nervous about it. She didn't want to do it. But I talked her into trying it once. Again, we used FASTPASS to minimize fear based on anticipation. Our ride took us through the storm troopers, to Kashyyyk (Chewbacca's home planet), interrupted by Admiral Ackbar, and dropping into the space battle and city traffic of Coruscant. My little ride-junkie liked flying around Kashyyyk, but did not like the battle sequences at all. So no more Star Tours for her.

I should also note that it was a challenge to get my daughter on Pirates of the Caribbean, even though she's experienced it several times previously. I realized that it was the word "pirate" that frightened her, so I talked her into riding a boat ride past a restaurant. We boarded without incident, and as soon as we were past the fort and into the town, she looked at me very seriously and loudly asked, "Daddy, why aren't you singing?"

Here's a quick summary of my daughter's favorite rides. Most are fast outdoor attractions:
• Gadget's Go Coaster
• It's a Small World
• Mad Tea Party
• Astro Orbiter
• Splash Mountain
• Big Thunder Mountain
• Jungle Cruise
• Enchanted Tiki Room

The following attractions were too frightening for her to experience more than once. Dark rides and monstrous encounters dominated her frightful experiences:
• Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy (It scared me too!)
• Matterhorn Bobsleds
• Star Tours: The Adventure Continues
• Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
• Haunted Mansion Holiday
• Snow White's Scary Adventure
• Pinocchio's Daring Journey
• Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters

To be continued in Disney California Adventure…

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About the Author: Brian Rawson is a single dad, now living near Calgary. His father took him on the Matterhorn Bobsleds when he was five, and since then, he has travelled extensively to feed his roller coaster addiction. He has ridden around 200 different roller coasters and experienced all the "Disney Mountains" in Florida, California, France and Japan.

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:

When Does Your Walt Disney Vacation Really Begin?: Making the Most of Every Moment
Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist

When does your Walt Disney World vacation REALLY begin?

Now surely, if ever there was one, that's got to be a simple question… doesn't? Well, yes, and no.

The answer is always going to depend on you as an individual, and your perceptions. For some people the moment you really start your Disney vacation is passing underneath those gates, as you enter Walt Disney World. Others will say that they're not really at Disney until they've seen the castle. But what about those of us with slightly longer journeys to even get there? There are so many points at which I could truly say, "That's when my Disney vacation truly starts." There are no right or wrong answers, but these ten points may give you some fun food for thought.

Point 1: Leaving the house Now you could argue that the second you leave the house, and start your journey to Disney, that's when your vacation begins. It's at that point that everything (hopefully!) is packed, and you're off, leaving your cares and the real world behind you. However, if you’ve got a long journey ahead of you, perhaps hours of driving or flying, it may not really feel as if your vacation has started.

Point 2: Arriving at the airport Now, if you're flying, another point where you could say your vacation starts is when you get to the airport. The worry about getting there on time, and whether you're going to make your flight (surely, we're not the only ones who think like this?!) are gone from your mind. Now you can concentrate on the flight ahead of you, and the destination you're heading to. However, there’s still check-in, unless you've done it already online, checking in your bags, if you have them with you, and the dreaded clearing of security to do yet before you get on your plane.

Point 3: Getting on the plane So now, having ensured that you're not a security risk, and all your bags are (hopefully!) safely on your flight, you’re on board. You can relax, and feel like you're really starting your Disney vacation. Well, yes, and no! Of course, there could still be delays. There's nothing worse than sitting on the tarmac, waiting for the go ahead to take off, knowing that your precious Disney time is ticking away.

Point 4: Take-off Once you get to take-off, perhaps that’s the point where you really emerge into your Disney bubble. Now you're in the air, and you're on your way, but of course, you still have a few hours' travel time to get to Disney. In our case, it's nine and-a-half hours, which is essentially a full working day, which can be quite depressing at the start of the flight, knowing you have all that time still ahead of you.

Point 5: Landing So what about landing? Now you're in Florida, you’re in Orlando. You can almost taste the Disney magic! Of course, there’s still the taxiing to your gate, getting off the plane, getting your luggage, and for us poor international travellers, we still need to officially be allowed into the country!

Point 6: Leaving the airport In which case, how about once you get through all of those phases, and are finally outside Orlando International or Sanford International Airport? I know that, for us, the second the doors open to the outside world, and we felt the heat, we know we've arrived! Usually, as we tend to visit in the winter season, it’s a shock to the system, but if we've left behind exceptionally cold weather, it’s a pleasant shock too! But, you do still have to actually reach Disney.

Point 7: Passing under those Walt Disney World gates Aah... the moment that so many of us wait for, and dream about. You pass underneath those familiar arches, take a deep sigh, and you're back in the Disney bubble, into a magical land, where nothing from reality can trouble you. This is surely where your vacation starts? Well, as you might have guessed by now.... yes and no! You still have to get to your resort, and while it can be a fast process if you have a rental car, or a town car service, if you’re on Disney’s Magical Express, you may have other stops to make first before you get to your resort.

Point 8: Arriving at your resort Now you’re finally there. Not only are you on Disney property, but you’re actually at your resort, waiting to check in, so that’s surely the point at which your Disney vacation begins, isn’t it? On the flip side, you’re not yet in your room, and you’re not yet in a Disney park, which brings me to...

Point 9: Getting into your room Once you step into the room that’s going to be your party’s home for however many nights you're at Walt Disney World, suddenly you do get that "homey" feeling – well, at least we do, and I'm sure that's not just because we're Disney Vacation Club members, and are welcomed home. So that's it, surely? Well, there is just one more to cover...

Point 10: Entering a theme park Whichever your favorite is, for some people, a Disney vacation doesn’t truly start until they step foot into the parks. It could be that glimpse of the castle for the first time, or seeing the Tree of Life or Spaceship Earth, but this is what we all come to Disney for, after all.

Of course, for those of you who drive to Disney, there may well be similar points along your journey, where you pass the next hurdle, and are that little bit closer to your destination. It may be a state line, or it may be the end of a day’s drive or waking up the next morning, ready to start all over again. If you’re taking the Auto Train, a lot of the same points from flying can be applied, from boarding the train, to actually leaving, to arriving.

So which of those points do you feel is when your Disney vacation truly starts? I think, if I’m honest, I’m a traditionalist – it’s point 7 for me, as that’s when we enter the Disney bubble, and our vacation is finally underway, after all the stress of getting there.

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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

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