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INTERCOT > Interactive > INTERCOT Insider Archive > August 2004

Intercot.com INTERCOT Insider
 August 2004 - Edition Two

Brought to you by INTERCOT's network of sites:
INTERCOT - Walt Disney World Inside & Out
INTERCOT West - Disneyland Inside & Out
INTERCOT's WebDisney - Guide to Disney on the Internet
INTERCOT's MousehutMail - Free Web Based Email
INTERCOT's Thrillride Experience - Thrill Ride Parks & Attractions

This newsletter and other past issues can also be read online at; http://www.intercot.com/interactive/insider/archive

<< Introduction >>

Heidy Ho INTERCOTees.  The warmth of summer is in full swing, but there are cool things inside this months insider... where we'll introduce you to INTERCOT's newest sponsor and announce more accommodation specials. Linda (faline) continues our vacation savings theme and offers up planning input to help reduce stress for the first time Disney traveler - as well as tips a repeat visitor can utilize. Speaking of cooling off, we'll also visit the Disney Water Parks with Jeanne and  Beth takes us on a journey to some Florida beaches, while Ron returns for our latest History lesson.  Grab a glass of coke, print the insider out, go sit next to the largest air conditioning vent you can find and pretend you are in Ice Station Cool sampling flavors from around the world!

<< INTERCOT Partners with Official Ticket Center >>

INTERCOT is proud to announce a new affiliation with the Official Ticket Center. This partnership allows INTERCOT guests to buy their Theme Park, Dinner Show and Attraction tickets in advance of their arrival in the Central Florida area at a discounted price. The Official Ticket Center has been in business for 7 years and is Walt Disney World’s, Universal Studios and Sea World’s #1 guest service provider for the last 3 years. Read member feedback below;

"I've purchased thru them before and had great experiences!! I'm so glad they are a sponsor of INTERCOT now, so we can help keep INTERCOT free and running!"
-Dreamin' of Disney

"We've bought our tickets from them this year and were glad we did. We saved a lot of money on those tickets !!"
- alittle figment of your imagination

"Wow! This place does have some great prices. Particularly on the dinner shows."
- Posterchild

"OOOOOOO COOOL! We were debating doing a day at Disney Quest in October but the cost seemed kind of high, $10 less for each ticket will certainly help! That's $50 savings for us!"
- mickeynuts

"I just wanted to post that I have been purchasing tickets thru the Official ticket center for at least 4 Years. They do a great job and have good prices. Nothing but positive experience thru them."
- Jerseychic

Buy & Price Tickets Now!

<< Disney Vacation Planning with faline >>

Planning Your First Walt Disney World Vacation:
You’ve decided to take the family to Disney World this year and you’ve never been before. It needs to be a special and magical vacation. How do you make sure of that? Which parks do you visit? Where do you stay? How do you put all the details together? You begin to think it’s hopelessly complicated and feel overwhelmed by all the details......Aaarghhh!!!!!!!!!!!

If you take it step by step, you can plan a wonderful vacation and it really won’t be very hard to do at all. So, first, take a deep breath. Good! Now, let’s start planning!

Step 1: Decide when you’ll go to Disney World and for how long.

For some of you, this will be very easy as the timing of your visit will be dictated by other circumstances in your life. If you have children and you don’t want them to miss school, you’ll need to visit during a period of school vacation. If you have only specified vacation times, you’ll need to go at that time. Others may be more flexible in when they can go.

Regardless of the time of year you go, you can have a good time if you know what to expect.

January and early February - Variable weather. It can even be cold enough to require winter jackets but can be warm enough to go swimming. Pack for all types of weather. Lines are short and you’ll feel like you have the parks to yourself.

Presidents’ Day week - Easter - The weather is still variable at the beginning of this period. By the time Easter arrives, the weather is starting to heat up. You can expect to wear shorts during the day, though you might still need a sweatshirt for the evening. This is spring break period. Crowds are extremely high during Presidents’ Day week and Easter week. Crowds for the rest of this period can range from moderate to high.

The week after Easter - mid-June - Heat and humidity begin to rise. By mid-June, it’s really hot and humid and there can be daily thundershowers. Crowds are relatively low and wait times are usually manageable.

Mid-June - mid-August - Very hot and humid. Daily, and sometimes intense, thunderstorms can be expected. There are significant crowds throughout this period and lengthy wait times for popular rides are the norm.

Mid-August - mid-November - Though this period begins very hot and humid; things have cooled down considerably by November. Daytime temperatures are still moderate but you may, again, need that sweatshirt for evening activities. This is also prime hurricane season. While it will be rare to experience such a storm, it (or a tropical storm) is possible. Crowds have dropped again and wait times are short.

Thanksgiving Week - The humidity has dissipated. Temperatures can range from chilly to moderate. The parks are extremely busy and long lines can be expected.

The week after Thanksgiving - The week before Christmas - Weather is generally nice. You can usually expect moderate daytime temperatures that allow you to wear those summer shorts. However, it is also possible to experience a cold snap when gloves and coats might be needed. Crowds again are low and you can experience many attractions in a short amount of time.

The week before Christmas - New Year’s Day - Weather can be variable and can range from cold to mild. The parks are packed. Long lines dominate.

Okay. Have you picked the time of year when you’ll visit Disney World? As part of this step, you need to choose the number of days you will visit the World and the exact dates of your travel.

Step 2: Buy a guidebook or two. (You can also borrow from a friend or visit your local library.)

Favorites among INTERCOTees are: Passporter (which also serves as a planning guide); Bob Sehlinger’s Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World; and/or Birnbaum’s Official Guide to Walt Disney World. Personally, I prefer the Official Guide which provides basic information and doesn’t appear intimidating.

If you have children, I’d also suggest you consider Disney World For Kids By Kids.

You can order any of these books at Amazon.com, an INTERCOT sponsor. After all, you’ll want your kids to help plan this trip as well!  Once you have your guide(s), spend some times going through them as you may need some of this information to complete the next steps.

Step 3: On-site or off-site?

The next decision you need to make is:
Should we stay on Disney World property at a Disney resort or should we stay outside Disney World?

Personally, I prefer staying at a Disney resort. I’ve only taken one vacation to the Orlando area where I stayed totally off-site and would probably not do this again. That’s not to say that there aren’t good reasons to stay off-site. Some folks decide to stay off-site because they are traveling with a very large group and they are able to rent an off-site house that accommodates all of them for an extremely reasonable rate. Then, again, you might have use of your aunt’s condo so your accommodations won’t cost you anything if you stay off-site. Whatever your reasons, this is totally a subjective decision. If you decide to stay off-site, you will probably need a rental vehicle so you should figure the cost of this into your budget.

There are a number of resorts in the area surrounding Disney World which might accommodate you if you decide to stay off-site. Here are a couple you might consider; the Radisson Resort Parkway or All Star Vacation Homes.

If you decide to stay in a Disney resort, you have some additional decisions to make.

Step 4: Decide which Disney resort is best for you
(Skip this step if you’ve decided on off-site accommodations.)

Disney Resorts fall into several categories:

Campground - Disney World has a wonderful campground. If you have a tent; pop-up; or an RV (from Class C through Class A), you can camp under towering pine trees. The accommodations for my first three trips to Disney World were a tent pitched in Disney’s campground. It was a wonderful and quite inexpensive way, to stay on Disney property. If you’re a camper, throw the tent in the car (or van) and head over to Fort Wilderness. It’s the best campground I’ve ever been in.

Value Resorts - Value resorts offer you and your family basic accommodations. The rooms generally feature two double beds and will accommodate a family of four.

Resorts in this category are:
-All-Star Movies
-All-Star Music
-All-Star Sports
-Pop Century

Moderate Resorts - Moderates offer rooms that are a little larger. One of these resorts will accommodate a family of five though most still only accommodate a family of four. Moderate resorts have a bit more landscaping, the pools are a little more upscale and they may have a sit-down, full-service restaurant.

These resorts include:
- Caribbean Beach
- Coronado Springs
- Port Orleans - Riverside
- Port Orleans - French Quarter

Home Away From Home Resorts - These resorts provide more space than most other accommodations within Disney World. They also have kitchen areas. Some may include multiple bedrooms and amenities such as washers and dryers. Some will even accommodate a party of up to twelve, though at a price (of course). The only one I have any experience with is the cabins at Fort Wilderness (same campground, very different place to stay). These cabins include a pull-down Murphy bed in the living area, a full kitchen, a full bath, and a separate bedroom in the back.

These resorts include:
 - Beach Club Villas
- BoardWalk Villas
- Fort Wilderness Cabins & Wilderness Homes
- Old Key West Resort
- Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
- Villas at Wilderness Lodge

Deluxe Resorts - The Deluxe resorts provide the highest level of service within Disney World along with richly themed surroundings. Some of these rooms will accommodate families of five.

These resorts include:
- BoardWalk Inn
- Contemporary Resort
- Grand Floridian
- Polynesian

- Swan
- Dolphin
- Wilderness Lodge
- Yacht Club
- Beach Club

You need to determine which resort your wallet will tolerate. Additionally, you need to determine the general area in which you want to stay as well as the resort theme that appeals to you. This is where the INTERCOT discussion boards and your guidebook(s) comes in. After familiarizing yourself with the various resorts, what they look like, and where they’re located, you should be ready to make your decision. Have you picked a resort?

Step 5: Should I book an all-inclusive package?
(If you’ve decided to stay off-site, skip this step).

Disney offers many all-inclusive packages. You can book a package that includes your room and unlimited park hoppers (Tickets that allow you entry into all the theme parks as well as the water parks and Disney Quest). You can also book packages that provide you with additional dining and recreational features. You may decide you want to know that the whole thing (regardless of where you eat or where you play) is paid for before you arrive. In that case, a package might work for you.

Step 6: Book your resort or resort/package combination.
You can do this yourself by contacting Disney directly. I’d recommend you save yourself some hassle by using Magical Journeys to handle this for you. They’re experts at getting the best rate possible for you. Additionally, if a discount comes along later for which you qualify, they’ll make the change for you and you don’t have to do anything else. As easy as pie!

I'll be back next month with the remainder of your planning needs. We'll discuss transportation, tickets and itineraries. See you in August!

<< ALL STAR Vacation Homes Special >>

ALL STAR Vacation Homes is extending a Special for INTERCOT Readers. If you mention intercot.com when making a reservation you will receive a savings of $175 off Estate Homes or $125 off any other private pool home reservation. To redeem online, please enter this promotional code, when prompted by our secure online booking engine: INTERCOT

(Valid only with a 7 night or longer reservation; not valid during peak/holiday seasons or with any other discount or special; may not be applied to condos/town homes)
More Details & Information

<< Visiting Florida Beaches with MNNHFL >>

Disney World vacations are always jam-packed with activities and adventures, but some folks still manage to fit in a day at the beach while they are in Orlando. Here is a brief synopsis of local (east coast) beaches and an update of what hazards to be on the lookout for while enjoying your day in the sun.

Beaches--North to South:

Daytona Beach—World famous because of the hard-packed sand that allows cars to drive right on the beach (subject to a fee). Other attractions—a Boardwalk with arcade, pier, band shell, restaurants and concessions. Restrooms at the Boardwalk and crossover parking areas. Lifeguards on duty where posted. Can get very crowded on weekends and holidays. A touristy area.

New Smyrna Beach—Sand and surf conditions similar to Daytona Beach, but more scenic and less crowded. Cars allowed to drive on the beach (subject to a fee). Lifeguards on the main beach in town, not on outlying stretches. Restrooms at major parking lot and crossover areas. Restaurants nearby, but no other concessions, so you might want to bring food and beverages.

Playalinda Beach (Cape Canaveral National Seashore)—A very long and beautiful beach with large sand dunes and many parking lots and crossovers to beach. There is a National Park Service fee to enter the area. Never crowded. Restrooms at parking areas. Please note—The beach at crossover #13B has an unofficial designation as a clothing optional area. There is a county law against this, but it is not enforced consistently here, so you might want to take that into consideration when visiting this particular beach. No lifeguards. No concessions or restaurants, so make sure and bring food and beverages

Cocoa Beach—Nice sand and surf, especially at Jetty Park, next to Port Canaveral (fee). Lifeguards on duty where posted. The main beach area can get very crowded on weekends and holidays. Not many parking lots (fee), so most folks park on a side-street (using parking meters) and use a crossover to access the beach. Bathroom facilities only near parking lots. A touristy area. Restaurants and concessions close by.

Patrick Air Force Base Beach—Long stretch of beautiful sand and wave conditions that attract a lot of surfers. More crowded near crossovers and parking lots, but you can walk to areas that are not crowded at all. Restrooms only near certain parking lots, but not all. No lifeguards on duty. No restaurants or concessions.

The beaches south of this area become rockier and are usually not as good for swimming, although there are certainly some exceptions to this.

Hazards to be aware of at the beach:

1. Rip Currents-- Rip currents (also called rip tides) are the number one hazard on this part of the coast. Troughs in the ocean floor that allow receding water to flow out faster than water in the surrounding area cause them. If caught in a rip current, a swimmer will suddenly find himself being pulled quickly out to sea. Before entering the water, keep an eye out for any inconsistencies in the surf---unusually turbulent water or unusually calm water. It is always wise to swim near a lifeguard stand so that help is nearby if needed. If in doubt about your swimming abilities, DO NOT enter the water. The primary thing to remember if you are ever caught in a rip current is not to panic and not to try and swim straight to shore, which will only exhaust you and put you at further risk. Swim parallel to shore until you feel the current release you and then swim to shore.

2. Sharks—Not uncommon to see, but shark bites themselves are a rarity. Early morning and late evening are the main times that sharks are actively feeding, so you may want to avoid swimming at those times. Keep an eye out for increased numbers of seabirds (pelicans, gulls, etc.) feeding offshore. Wherever there are schools of fish for the birds, there are potentially sharks feeding there too. Do not wear jewelry or anything else shiny that sharks might mistake for fish scales, and do not enter the water with any open or bleeding wounds that might attract sharks.

3. Other Marine Hazards—When the wind blows from the southeast at certain times of the year, small Man-O-War jellyfish wash into shore. If you see these strange, gelatinous-looking creatures in the water or on sand, DO NOT touch them, as they have tentacles that can cause a painful sting. Also recent years have seen an increased number of “red tides”. These are algae blooms in the water that release toxins into the air that can irritate the respiratory system. If you find yourself inexplicably coughing at the beach or your eyes start to itch and burn, it may signal one of these red tides, and the only way to alleviate the symptoms is to leave the beach and drive inland.

As you can see, a day at the beach is fun, but people should always be aware of the potential hazards. Florida recently adopted a standardized flag warning system for beach-goers swimming near lifeguard stands:

GREEN—Low hazards, calm conditions
YELLOW—Medium hazard, moderate surf and/or currents
RED—High hazard, rough conditions, strong surf and/or currents
RED over RED—Water closed to the public
PURPLE—Marine pests present

So stay safe and have a great day at the beach!

<< Off to the Water Parks with Piglet822 >>

My son and I had the opportunity to both Typhoon Lagoon (TL) and Blizzard Beach (BB) this past month. We had a great time at both parks and it’s hard to decide which is our favorite.

The feel at Typhoon Lagoon is more tropical and I felt, relaxing. We went with two of my girlfriends and their kids. My son and the two girls took off as soon as we hit the park. They hit the slides and then came back to the wave pool, a favorite of my son. We actually didn’t see them for several hours.
The wave pool at TL is 400 feet long, 600 feet at widest and holds 2.75 million gallons of water. Guests can body surf in waves up to 6 feet tall. The wave pool at Blizzard Beach is much smaller in comparison and the waves are more for bobbing. Tubes are available at BB for use in the wave pool on a first come – first serve basis.

Another big draw at both water parks are the two lazy rivers. Known as Castaway Creek in TL, and Cross Country Creek in BB. The only difference between the two is the theming and the length. Cross Country Creek is about 900 feet longer than Castaway Creek. You grab a tube, available at the many entrances, sit back and relax. You can get tubes for singles, doubles, or small children.

Before writing this, I spoke to my son about what he liked best about the parks. Being the quiet kid he is, (quite unlike his mother) I didn’t get much of a response but he did say that he liked Blizzard Beach for the slides. BB has more slides and if you’re looking for thrills, this is the place. The home of Summit Plummet, which my son did do. It took him all day to work up his nerve but he said it was “good”. Told you, he’s quiet. Summit Plummet is 120 feet high which makes it the worlds tallest, fastest free fall speed slide. You will reach 60 mph and I’ve been told, quite the wedgie. There is a minimum height requirement on this ride of 4 feet.

Both parks offer a variety of foods or you can bring your own cooler, which is what we did. The only restrictions are alcohol and glass containers. Neither will be allowed in the park. Upon entry to both parks I was politely asked by a CM if they could look in my cooler which of course I had no objection to.

You’ll also find an area at the parks devoted to those little swimmers, up to 48” please. I don’t have little ones so I’m unable to tell you exactly what each area offered but after reading descriptions to both, I would have to say that the area at BB offers a bit more.

Certain swimming devices are permitted are both parks. Plastic goggles that do not cover the nose, swimmers aid devices attached to the body, Coast Guard personal flotation devices (PFD), water wings and flotation sewn into the bathing suit are permitted in shallow water. Items not allowed at the water parks include rafts, snorkels, masks, fins, swim attire with rivets, buckles or exposed metal, and fun noodles. The only exception to this would be at Shark Reef at Typhoon Lagoon. If you have your own mask and snorkel you are welcome to use it, however the mask must have tempered glass. Fins are not allowed.

The water at both parks is heated and the water temperature is around 75 – 80 degrees. There are two exceptions. The Shark Reef at TL, and the melting snow in the ice cave of Cross Country Creek at Blizzard Beach.

One suggestion I'd like to make for those planning on visiting the water parks, especially Blizzard Beach, water shoes are a must. Or some type of shoe that can be worn comfortably all day and get wet. Typhoon Lagoon is not too much of a problem when it comes to shade but BB is. The pavement is sprayed in places by small sprinklers but on a hot Florida day, does not do enough to keep your feet cool. On our recent visit to BB during one wait period, my son had to wait in a shady area while I held our place in line. Simply because the pavement was too hot for his bare feet. Inexpensive pairs of shoes can be picked up at Wal-Mart or K-Mart for as little as $5 or $6. It's a wise investment.

If you arrive at the park and realize you’ve forgotten your towel, no problem. You can rent towels for the day, a wheelchair if needed, or life jackets. Lockers are also available. Parking at both water parks is free of charge, and Disney resort guests can take advantage of the free Disney Transport shuttle buses.

More information on either park can be found in INTERCOT’s Theme Park section, just click on water parks and there are two separate links to take you to Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. I think you’ll have a hard time deciding which water park is your favorite, too.

<< History & Trivia with WDWdriver >>

When Magic Kingdom guests are riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (TTA) attraction they often wonder about the futuristic model city that they see along the way. What is it? Where did it come from?

It is called Progress City, and it was part of the "Progressland" attraction that Disney and General Electric created for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. Progressland later became the Carousel of Progress attraction at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Progress City became part of the scenery on the TTA attraction. Progress City was Walt Disney's model for his planned city of the future, Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow (EPCOT later renamed Epcot).

Built at 1/8 inch scale to the foot, The model city covers 6,900 square feet. The model includes 22,000 scale trees and shrubs, and has 4,500 structures that are lit from within. There are 1,400 working streetlights about one inch tall each.

Try to get a good look at the model city the next time you ride the Tomorrowland Transit Authority.

<< Conclusion >>

That concludes another Edition of the Insider. We'll be back next month with more news, topics and tips. Until then, stay cool, keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for those stars.  Oh, and... Happy INTERCOTing!

<< INTERCOT Would Like To Thank>>

The INTERCOT Insider and INTERCOT.com are supported by the following sponsors who in turn, help us bring the Magic to you!

Magical Journeys
Magical Journeys is your Disney Vacation specialist. Start planning your Vacation Discount Dreams today!
Website: http://www.yourmagicaljourneys.com/

Radisson Resort Parkway
Right in the heart of action! Only 1.5 miles from Walt Disney World is an oasis of ponds, beautiful landscaping, serene waterfalls and relaxing options hiding in every corner.
Website: http://orlando.guestselectresorts.com?pid=INTERCOTN

All Star Vacation Homes
When you need a home away from home, look no further. From comfort to luxury, All Star Vacation Homes has it all in four series of homes to fit any taste and any budget just moments from the magic of Walt Disney World!
Website: http://www.allstarvacationhomes.com?ovchn=OTHER&ovcpn=Listing+Sites&ovcrn=intercot&ovtac=AD

Happy Limo
Providing ground transportation to the entire state of Florida.
Website: http://www.quicksilver-tours.com

The Official Ticket Center
Walt Disney World’s, Universal Studios and Sea World’s #1 guest service provider for the last 3 years. The Official Ticket Center has been servicing vacationers for more than 7 years now and sells tickets only, at a discount price.

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