How can it already be December? MousePlanet writer and MouseTales author David Koenig starts us off this week with a letter on his September 25 article, "Is World Showcase Finished?"
Erik T. writes:
Wonderful article as always! I so enjoy your insights.
I have thought much about what you said about the slim chances of Management adding any more countries to the World Showcase at Epcot. I agree that adding one nation wouldn't really be cost effective enough to draw the kinds of crowds that a new "E" ticket would.
However, consider the possibility if Imagineering added several countries at one time. The design and construction costs would be significantly less as you already have the design/construction team working on one country it really isn't much more work to add a couple more. There could be a bigger advertising blitz since Epcot would be having a major expansion. It would be less expensive to build facades than it is to research and develop a new "E" Ticket (Not to mention the usual one year rule of actually getting the attraction to perform consistently without having to go 101). Finally it currently takes anywhere from two to three days to properly explore EPCOT, more countries would require more time in the park giving more opportunities to increase revenue. Shopping and eating are two of the major reasons for visiting the Showcase of Nations—both of which actually bring in revenue where as attractions take time away from those two very profitable portions of the Disney Experience.
One nation is not really worth the money for an expansion but four or five nations, now that's a reason to visit Epcot. Now comes my wish list for nations: India, Brazil, Peru, Australia, Kenya (or any African nation), or Russia. I visited in 1988 and participated in an Epcot survey and Russia got 90% of the votes for the next pavilion; I still think it is popular today. Some other countries that would be a wonderful addition are: Bali, Tahiti, Ecuador, Turkey, or Saudi Arabia.
At least with my list we get some interesting countries to represent some other continents on this planet.
I agree that adding multiple countries at one time would create more publicity for Epcot, but I suspect it would be less-buzz-per-dollar-invested (am I coining a new marketing economics term?) than if it opened multiple countries separately. World Showcase opening a new country in the foreseeable future is a long shot; the odds on your proposal would be incalculable.
We can always dream!
Mailbag editor Stephanie Wien answers the next group of mail about visits to the Disneyland Resort.
Carla G. writes:
Starting in January 2009 if you purchase a vacation package that includes a multi-day ticket that you use on your birthday, you can choose one of the following instead of free admission on your birthday: A birthday fun card in an amount equal to the price of a 1-Day Magic Your Way Base Ticket for you to use on your birthday for merchandise, recreation or fun activities at select participating locations at the Walt Disney World Resort or; A special birthday Fastpass badge for certain attractions at the theme park you visit on your birthday (for you and up to 5 guests) or; A 1 day Magic Your Way Base Ticket for you to use any time until your next birthday.
This info came off a Walt Disney Travel Company brochure and also says the number of Birthday Fastpass Badges is limited and may not be available after 11:00 a.m.
I'd like to know if the same offer is good for annual pass holders. Have you heard anything?
Yes, this offer is also available to annual pass holders. You can only pick up the offer on the day of your birthday though. Thanks for reading and writing to MousePlanet!
Doug B. writes:
Our family has had Annual Passes (APs) for the Disneyland Resort for several years. We allowed our "deluxe" APs to expire at the end of October in order to take advantage of the Costco AP offer.
It was $249 to renew our APs through Disney. The Costco APs were $269 but included a $50 gift card for each AP that was purchased. In our case, that worked out to $150. We used the gift cards to add parking to one of the APs. We used the remainder to purchase some do-dads and two meals each. We made a couple of food purchases at outdoor vending carts that are cash only. We have a bit of money left on one of the cards and our cash outlay for the day was $14. Not bad.
P.S. The flag retreat ceremony on Veteran's Day was very well done and very moving.
That Costco gift card offer is a great deal. I'm glad you were able to take advantage of it and save money on your trip. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the flag retreat as well. It's a favorite of many of our readers.
The final group of letters in this week's mailbag are answered by staff writer Steve Russo.
I'd like to piggyback off the recent email from Bill B regarding staying off-site vs. on-site:
"Something to the effect of staying on-site gives you a Disney vacation while staying off-site gives you a trip to Florida with some Disney thrown in."
As my family and I are exactly three weeks away from our visit to Walt Disney World, I am confronting this debate head-on when I say that we are staying at the Polynesian.
Most detractors point out to me that staying off-site is far cheaper than staying on-site. Point taken- absolutely correct. But I have crafted what I believe to be an effective counter argument: As a native New Jerseyan, I like many others vacation "down the shore" fairly often. For those not from the Garden State, "down the shore" means "at the beach", but that's a whole different story. When these detractors vacation at the beach, they typically rent a home or stay in a hotel in a beach resort town; having a place on the beach block (walking distance to the beach) is considered the ultimate in terms of location and as expected commands a high price.
So when the topic of my Disney vacation comes up, I ask them: "Instead of staying on the beach block, why not just stay at a hotel off the Garden State Parkway. When you want to go to the beach for the day, you can drive the half-hour or so, find parking (which you'll probably need to pay for), and you're all set." After blank stares, I hear back: "That makes no sense. We like staying close to the beach so that we can have a mid-day rest. Why would we stay so far away from the action, and worry about finding parking? Who wants to drive so much on vacation anyway?" Etc.
My Disney vacation is no different. Seems most vacationers prefer to stay at the actual destination vs. on the fringe- but for some reason Disney invokes a different reaction.
I do want to point out something important: I consider myself to be quite fortunate that my family has the means to visit Disney every 3-4 years, and can stay at the resort of our choice. I don't take that for granted. But note that for my family it is a 3-4 year cycle- to do it every year would be cost-prohibitive and probably make the experience less special for us (as a wise man once said, that's MY OPINION, what's yours?) We're willing to wait to make it the experience we really want.
While I could go on and on, I'll stop here. I considered writing to you a few weeks back on this subject during your Pet Peeves articles, but if you choose to write a separate article on the on vs. off debate, I hope this is of assistance.
Thanks for that feedback and the suggestion. I actually wrote fairly extensively on the on versus off-site debate in my book, but, it might wind up in a column as well. The concept of "Where to Stay" is an interesting one.
Sylvia L. writes:
I always read a trip report by you when we are heading back to Disney World. My husband and I go at least twice a year and stay at the Boardwalk Villas. This November we will be taking our grown kids again. One new wife and one new "significant other" will be experiencing the world for the first time! Thanks so much for sharing your humorous and upbeat reports. You sound like an awesome family. We're a pretty tight knit bunch too. No grandkids yet though. Disney is a special place for us.
Thank you for those kind words. Enjoy that trip in November and write your own trip report. I'm suffering from withdrawal and could use a vicarious trip to the Boardwalk Villas
Rod S. writes:
I just wanted to commend you on having the strength of character to retract and apologize for a momentary lapse in an otherwise faultless column. I'm sure that anyone who reads your statement will accept it and continue to enjoy your articles in the same way that I will. I'm sure that a weaker person would have quietly removed the article without explanation so kudos to you.
Thank you for those kind words. While I'd like to think "strength of character" had something to do with it, the fact is it was the only course of action to take. It was inadvertent and due to some extenuating circumstances but... there's still no excuse. MousePlanet demands better, the readers deserve better and I expect better of myself. It's an embarrassment I'll have to live with for some time and could have so easily been avoided. But, as an old co-worker once said, "that's all spilt milk under the bridge".
I do thank you for that vote of confidence and I appreciate that you will continue reading. Thanks so much for taking the time to write.
(Send an email to Stephanie Wien)
Growing up in Upstate New York, Stephanie (@MPStephanie) made frequent family trips to Walt Disney World in Orlando, which instilled an early love for Disney theme parks. When her work took her to Orange County in California, she naturally became a frequent visitor to Disneyland, and developed a love for the park that started it all. Stephanie is now back in Upstate New York and working as an engineer. She has also completed several runDisney races, including the Walt Disney World marathon in 2007 and 2008 as a part of Team in Training, and is currently training for the Goofy Challenge in 2013. She makes as many trips as she can to experience the Disney magic, especially as part of the MouseAdventure staff team.