Actually it was in June 2001, remember the disney club too
Taken from another site
Upon reading a little newsletter for the Disney Club, I noticed a blurb about Early Entry. It said that on select days, a caravan of characters would visit certain resorts. This was a compromise of some sorts for losing Early Entry days. Here's the article:
"Disney's Character Caravan is one of WDW Resort's newest and most convenient ways to meet everybody's favorite pals. On certain mornings, wonderful Disney Characters appear at participating WDW Resort Hotels. The caravan is a memorible way to start the day as the characters give Guests a warm send off right to their resort.
To give Guests a better chance to meet with Disney characters, this new kind of cherished memory replaces Early Disney Theme Park Entrance (Surprise Mornings) with brand new morning magic--bringing the characters everyone loves right to them.
Disney's Character Caravan is exclusively for Guests at selected WDW Resort Hotels. . ."