Our readers deliver a wealth of information! Here are the winners in this month's tip contest:
"My 14 year old daughter has been an avid pin collector for many years. She will choose a pin as a keepsake wherever we travel, not just Disney. Where to put this enormous collection? I went to the local art/craft store and bought blank canvases in different sizes. She painted on them with acrylics, and then pushed the pins through for display, placing the pin backs behind for security. Disney sponge-shaped stamps are a great way to decorate the canvas! We finished with a grosgrain ribbon to hide the sides of the canvas, and hung it on her wall. Pins can be grouped together by theme or displayed randomly. "
-- contributed by Ellen G.
"Pack outfits, not individual pieces. You’ll spend less time in the laundry room and look better if you choose a color scheme and only pack clothing in those shades. This way your clothing is always coordinated and you can change quickly if there‘s a spill."
-- contributed by Cris S.
ANIMAL KINGDOM ADVICE
"When going to Animal Kingdom make sure to dress your family in bright colors like yellow and red. Avoid green, blue or brown as there are so many trees in Animal Kingdom it will be harder to easily see your family members."
-- contributed by Kalli M.
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.
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.
The Captain is on vacation this week! We figured it was only fair since we are all at MouseFest to give him the week off as well. Check back next week for an all new Game and to see the winner of the November 29th game.
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:
(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.
amedeers asks: "Which of the water parks is better for a 5 year old? I have never been to any of the water parks before and we will only have time to visit one."
Dave and Jennifer answer: "The distinctions between the two are fairly narrow for these purposes. Blizzard Beach has somewhat "finer" gradation between children's age groups - an area for kids under 48", and a more challenging area for ages 12 and under. Typhoon Lagoon just has the area for kids under 48." Since your child is probably under 48", either will probably suit your purposes. I'm sure your child will be delighted, regardless. And if one park appeals more to the adults in the group, rest assured that your child will be well-served at either park."
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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Future Newsletters: 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 email@example.com. Articles about Disney and general travel are welcomed!
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Our Sponsors: We Recommend...
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):
We wish our fellow Americans a very happy Thanksgiving tomorrow. We have much to be thankful for -- healthy children, a comfortable home, a supportive family, a successful book series, a thriving web site, and great team members. We're particularly thankful for YOU, our wonderful community. You continue to amaze us with your support and acceptance, and your willingness to share your experiences and knowledge with us and your fellow travelers. Thank you for making PassPorter (and us!) a part of your lives.
The new PassPorter's Walt Disney World 2008 copies are all settled in, pre-orders are shipped, and new orders now ship the next business day. Please keep in mind that Thanksgiving and the day after are holidays here in the PassPorter office (as well as at UPS), but all new orders will ship out next Monday! And while we don't have an online equivalent of a "black Friday" (otherwise known as the Day After Thanksgiving), this is a good time to start placing orders for PassPorters as holiday gifts. If you order now, you can choose Media Mail for low shipping rates and not worry about getting it in time for the holidays. Visit the PassPorter Store to start your shopping.
MouseFest News: Wow, we have less than two weeks before we leave for our MouseFest trip! MouseFest registration is now closed, but we're pleased to report that 770 folks registered for MouseFest 2007! Fourteen of our PassPorter Guides (moderators) are attending, as are five PassPorter authors (beyond the two of us!), and more than 250 PassPorter community members and readers!
In this issue, PassPorter author Dave Marx returns from his latest trip to Tennessee to give us a look at Nashville, and PassPorter Feature Columnist Cheryl Pendry is back to give us her take on the the adults-only restaurant onboard the Disney ships, Palo. Finally, Jack Skatt is back with a brand-new Walt Disney World Treasure Hunt. Enjoy!
Jennifer and Dave
PassPorter Publishers and Authors
Did You Know?
Book your vacation with
MEI & Mouse Fan Travel by 12/31/07 we’ll make a donation thru the Make-A-Wish folks benefiting theDream Team Project
Special Offer -Disney Cruise Line® 9/27/08 – 7-nt Caribbean Save up to $664*
Credit Card 101: What The Fine Print Really Means! by Sandra Bostwick, PassPorter Guest Contributor
There’s more to charging a Disney resort or cruise vacation than choosing between umbrella drinks on your private balcony or a juice box at the food court. Your PassPorter can help you with those details, but if you are using a credit card, you need to beware of the lending villains and their sneaky lending terms, hidden fees and bait-and-switch interest charges.
With all the attention on predatory mortgage lending and the sub-prime mortgage disaster, credit cards may be the next likely place for lending villains to lure unsuspecting borrowers! The bottom line is that credit cards make their money in late fees, cash advance fees, balance transfer fees, and interest. That sounds fair enough, as long as everyone is honest, right? Well, even if the fine print is visible to the naked eye, what does it mean?
Here are some communication basics to start with. Ask lots of questions and don’t stop until you understand. Write down the name of whom you spoke with, the date and time of the call, and take careful, legible, notes. If the representative speaks too quickly, say you are writing and ask them to repeat or speak more slowly. If you feel that someone is reading a script, be careful! Many scripts are unclear and can be misinterpreted in ways that will cost you.
Have an accountant or financially gifted person review your terms. Of course, since credit cards CAN say “We’ve changed our minds and it will probably cost you” at any time, you should never run up charges that you couldn’t pay off with back-up cash sitting in an interest bearing account JUST IN CASE!
The good news is that The Fed is looking into changes that may protect us all from sudden rate changes, tricky wording, and evil credit card tricks in the future. The bad news is, until that happens, you should understand these tips. You are probably thinking that this sounds like as much fun as a time-share salesman’s presentation when all you wanted was the free vacation, but try to stick with it! Here are some tips to help you navigate the murky waters of the credit card seas:
A “fixed” rate is not fixed. That’s the simplest way to say it! A credit card company can raise its rates with no reason and a written notice. If you see “fixed rate” on any agreement, and you are counting on that rate, you are gambling. One major card DOUBLED its “fixed” rate this year, even for card members who followed the rules. This can cost plenty if you carry a large balance and don’t have a reserve to pay it off!
Some low interest promotional offers backfire if other charges are made, creating a second balance which accrues interest at higher rates. Payments can be applied to your low interest balance first while interest adds up on the other purchases until your promotional offer is paid to 0! This is usually explained in the fine print somewhere, but is easy to miss. To avoid this, cancel any automatic payments, get your balance to 0 and put the card in a drawer BEFORE you take advantage of a promotional rate!
Some good low interest offers will allow you to keep charging and apply your payments to your higher interest balance so you avoid finance charges. This is a great deal, but don't miss a penny in your payments and don't be late!
A low interest promotional offer with Deferred Interest must be paid IN FULL by the Applicable Expiration Date. Retroactive interest all the way from the date of purchase will be added to your bill if you get your dates wrong or don’t pay in full. OUCH! If you pay in full by the due-date, though, all the accrued interest is removed.
Some low interest promos can have tricky wording for the Applicable Expiration Date, so you don’t realize the promo has expired. Applicable Expiration Date is a tricky concept. If your promo expires the first cycle that INCLUDES January 1st, but that cycle BEGINS on December 1st, your true expiration date is December 1st. You must ask the representative two questions: 1: "What is the exact date that STARTS the cycle when finance charges begin?" and 2: "What is the exact date to pay my balance to 0 in order to avoid charges?" If the answer to these two questions don’t match, you don’t have the date you need. If you are given a phrase that includes a date, but requires interpretation, you are not safe. (This sounds silly, but people I advised to ask these questions endured plenty of scripted double-talk before they got the dates. Be persistent!) Once you get the exact date, mark it on your calendar. If the date is on the first of the month, make sure your mark is at the end of the previous month to avoid calendar page flipping shock. If your card uses two cycle billing, (below) this is an even bigger expense!
Here’s how Two cycle billing takes away your grace period and can cost you interest for up to four months.
- Your card balance was paid to 0 on January 1st.
- You charge your $5000 Disney family trip on your card on January 2nd.
- Your February statement does not show interest, since the previous balance was 0.
- You send $200 payment on time for February payment, but leave a balance.
- March statement surprises you with two months of interest charges back to January 2nd!
- You pay down to 0 immediately and cut up your card.
- Your April statement comes and STILL charges interest on the average balance of the previous two months.
- You pay that interest to 0 and, with a second month with no balance, you are finally free at a cost of about $200 if your interest rate was 12% and you made no other charges. If your rate is 24%, the cost goes up big time for the benefit of delaying payment for a short time.
If you’ve made it this far, pat yourself on the back. You’ve earned a few extra treats for your vacation. The best news is that Disney has plenty of options to suit most budgets and smart planning should get you your key to the kingdom and plenty of magical surprises. Say hello to Mickey for me!
About the Author: Sandra Bostwick is an occupational therapist, music therapist, and adjunct professor at CountyCollege of Morris. She owns Creative Learning Studios and enjoys motivational speaking and writing. She has experience in the travel and entertainment industry on land and sea, but dreams of earning a Walt Disney World cast member pin one day. She is an expert peer reviewer for the PassPorter Guides and can be reached at Speed_of_light_2@yahoo.com.
Special thanks to Larry Bostwick, a financial wizard who looked over this article and did the math.
Having just got your taste buds watering with thoughts of dinner at Palo, the Disney Cruise Line’s adults only restaurant, feature columnist Cheryl Pendry now takes you on a culinary tour through their other offerings...
Dinner at Palo is a delight. Hopefully by now you’re convinced of that, but dinner isn’t the only meal you can enjoy at this beautiful restaurant.
If you’re lucky enough to be enjoying a cruise that’s longer than three nights, then you can sample the Champagne Brunch, which is generally held on days when you’re at sea. Before we first tried this on our cruise around the Mediterranean, we had heard great reports about this – and we could quickly see why.
The second you walk into the restaurant, you’re greeted by a complimentary glass of champagne. If you don’t drink alcohol, then you can always request a freshly squeezed orange juice instead.
The next thing you notice is the amazing array of food on display. There’s so much of it that you’ll be glad that your server is there to take you on a guided tour of it! With different sections for fish, meat and bread, there’s also a dessert section that seems to go on forever. This is not the place to come to if you’re trying to stick to a diet, as there are literally hundreds of temptations waiting for you.
As if that wasn’t enough, your server will then take you through all the hot dishes that you can order a la carte, alongside the buffet items. The choices when we were there included a selection of pizzas, including a dessert pizza featuring a very unusual combination of jelly and peaches on a sweet dough. It sounded as if it shouldn’t work, but somehow it did. Fish, meat and vegetarian items rounded out the choices and they were just as good as anything that’s served up at dinner.
You come away from your tour of the buffet, really wondering where on earth you start. It’s a daunting task, but someone has to do it! We sampled as much as we could, but we both found ourselves quickly filling up and, by the time it came to those wonderful desserts, there wasn’t much room left. Be warned – you really need to come here with an empty stomach to fully enjoy what’s on offer here and one thing’s for sure, you won’t leave here hungry.
Something else well worth sampling at Palo is the High Tea, traditionally offered on the 7-night and longer sailings, whether you’re a tea fan or not. As a Brit, I love my cup of tea morning, and night, but I’m very much a traditional tea drinker. If it’s not my beloved brand of PG Tips, then it’s not a proper cup of tea to me, but bravely I ventured forth to sample some of the unusual blends of tea that they have on offer. It’s a daunting task, trying to pick one, when you really have no idea about the different types of tea, but our server was really helpful and found one that I was able to drink, although truth be told, it didn’t come close to my PG Tips!
There’s more to this experience than just tea though. This is a traditional afternoon tea and you can expect to be served up with finger sandwiches with some wonderful fillings. The cream cheese and cucumber, smoked salmon and sour cream and prawn sandwiches are exactly what you’d expect to be presented with at this type of meal, but the chicken and curry one is a bit of a surprise.
Then it’s on to the scones, complete with your choice of cream and jam, and if there’s any room left after all that lot, then desserts await you. The chocolate éclairs are lovely, but the real winner for us was the trifle. Never before have we had such a great trifle. In fact, it was so good that we went back for seconds. And that’s the beauty here. At either the Champagne Brunch or the High Tea, if you want more, then all you have to do is ask and your server will bring more out to you.
Both meals are a real treat and fit in perfectly with the wonderful theming of both the Disney Magic and Wonder, allowing you to almost take a step back in time to days when these experiences were more commonplace.
Like the dinner at Palo, you do need to book in advance for these meals. If you’re in staterooms category 1 – 3, then you can book online at 105 days out, while Castaway Club members can book up to 90 days in advance. For everyone else, reservations can be made at 75 days out. There may also be reservations available when you board, but be sure to check that out as soon as you get on board.
There’s a $10 charge for the champagne brunch at Palo, while High Tea incurs a $5 per person charge. The only other charges are for any specialty drinks, smoothies, bottled water or alcoholic beverages (except for the complimentary glass of champagne) and any tip you want to add.
About the Author: Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to America. They were on the first 11 night sailing of the Disney Magic around the Mediterranean and are now looking forward to returning to Walt Disney World this month.