Monday, August 31, 2009

Pod Soup: Same Question, Different Answer

I mentioned that I wanted to do an offshoot similar to TV show "The Soup", but with Disney podcasts. Well, I found my first topic quite by accident. Let me introduce the podcasts first.

First podcast is WDW Today. Podcasters: Matt, Mike, Mike and Len. Mongello y'all.

Second podcast is Inside the Magic. Podcaster: Ricky. My first Disney podcast. Ever. I started listening when he was still in single digits, and wet behind the ears.

Now what do these two podcasts have in common as of this week?

Both podcasts tackled a similar question, but gave polar opposite answers. And of course it had to be a hot-button issue, too. To be fair, WDW Today answered this question on a live show a month ago, and the question came up just this week on Inside the Magic.

The question:

If you've got a breakfast reservation at the Polynesian, is it ok to leave your car there for the rest of the day and go park hopping?

When WDW Today answered this question, it seemed that Matt was ready to tell the listener that he should be able to park and stay without a problem. But Mike Newell suddenly discovered he had vocal cords (yeah, who knew?) and completely stood his ground about this being a bad idea. Mike Scopa then piped up in support of Newell. Newell said that the guests of the resort can have a difficult time finding decent parking spaces for themselves when those who park there all day take spaces that guests of the resort should have. Scopa said that he encountered that problem personally as a guest of the Polynesian.

But Newell didn't stop there. He suggested that if you know you're going to want to hop for the day, it's not difficult to park at the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC), and either take the resort monorail or walk to the Polynesian. I completely agreed with Newell. I've walked from the TTC to Polynesian. It's not a far walk. Those with mobility issues would still be able to catch the monorail. One li'l stop.

So as I listened to Ricky's podcast today, I heard myself mentally screaming at my iPod:

"Ricky, Noooooooo!"

Ricky encouraged the listener to go to his Kona breakfast and leave the car there all day.

Gah. I'm disappointed, Ricky. I know this is one of those hotly debated issues on message boards. And yes, I know people who have no problem giving this advice. Technically, Disney gives you a 3-hour pass to park at a resort. I don't think people should park there all day, but they do. Now Ricky is giving his listeners carte blanche to do this, and I cringe. Mostly because I know there's a convenient alternative at the TTC, and nobody would be breaking any "rules".

I have a feeling Ricky's going to get some listener feedback about this advice. Should I email him and give him my .02 on this subject? Ricky, love the podcast, hate the answer. I hope he changes his tune on next week's show.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

August 11th - Food and Wine Frenzy

Well, since it's technically still August 11th where I am, I figure I'd share some thoughts about the mad frenzy this morning calling Disney Dining. Or rather, the 407-WDW-FEST phone number, which dumps you into the main dining queue.

Those of us "in the know" about the Epcot Food and Wine Festival at Walt Disney World can tell you that come late July / early August, Disney will release the information about the special dining events, which I mentioned in the previous post. But once you decide what you want to book, you have to prioritize your choices by the order of which you'd think things might sell out.

For me, that was easy. There was a signature wine dinner held at Flying Fish on October 15th, and some of my friends with an inside track to the restaurant know that prior wine dinners held at other times during the year only hold 35 people. Since this was one of my choices, I decided to try to book this first.

I only wanted three events this year. For the first time since 2003, I decided to skip the Party for the Senses. The money I would spend there would be put to better use at the Flying Fish dinner. So the events I wanted were:

10/15 Flying Fish signature wine dinner
10/16 Todd English's bluezoo™ signature wine dinner
10/17 Mexico Tequila Tasting

Since a friend of mine wanted to go to Flying Fish and Todd's place, too, she suggested we divide and conquer. She would book Todd's dinner, and I would book Flying Fish. So this morning, armed with a note listing the event names as they appeared in the schedule posted by Disney, I set my alarm for 5:50am Central in order to get up and start dialing a few minutes before 6am...which is 7am Eastern, when the dining line opens.

The dialing frenzy began for me and a bunch of friends on the DIS boards. I was lucky enough to have the Disney Dining gods smiling down on me. By some miracle, my call got through almost immediately, and I was talking to a dining reservation agent and quickly telling her that I wanted to book the special events for the Food and Wine Festival. Thank goodness she knew about the festival, because others who posted to the DIS got the worst end of Disney Dining Roulette. They got stuck with cast members who did not know where to find events and put the others on hold in Disney Dining Purgatory, where my friends would be taunted by the "hold" music.

I was finished by 6:11am!

At first, my agent wanted to know the Disney resort I'm staying, and I forgot to grab my confirmation number. Luckily she found me quickly and entered my info. She told me that she could booked a party of two for the Flying Fish dinner and set my mind at ease when she went into the dress code spiel and quoted me the price she would be charging me. I added the Mexico tequila tasting for myself, and hoped my friend was able to book Todd English's bluezoo™. After my card was charged and had confirmation numbers written down, I texted my friend to let her know I was successful. She managed to get Todd English's bluezoo™ as well as every other event she wanted, so I was happy for her.

The people on the DIS who didn't fare well with today's frenzy...I have to feel for them. You would think Disney would give their agents better notice about how to deal with the crazed foodies who book this year after year, but no, they don't. At least I know that while some of my friends were shut out of events, they did find events that weren't sold out before they had a chance to book them.

This pretty much ended my trip planning for October. Now I can relax before my trip.