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Lani Teshima, editor

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The Baglady's Mailbag

My last column about upgrading your Disneyland Hotel experience to Concierge Level resulted in a big stack of mail. The mail fell into two basic categories:

  • People who read the column and started thinking seriously about staying at the Disneyland Hotel and upgrading to Concierge on their next trip, or
  • People who had stayed in a Concierge-Level room and wanted to share their experience.

The following are good examples of the kind of feedback I got:


The first letter in my mailbag comes from Stacy, a California native, who decided to upgrade to Concierge after reading my column.

Just wanted to thank you for the wonderful article regarding Concierge Level at the Disneyland Hotel... we have upgraded and can't wait for our early September (after Labor Day) trip.

The entry to the Concierge Lounge at the Disneyland Hotel
The entry to the Concierge Lounge at the Disneyland Hotel

My husband will be attending a conference at the convention center for three days and we have decided to pull our kiddos from school (16-year-old high school junior girl; 14-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter) and attend with him. Unfortunately, convention housing at the Disneyland Hotel (DLH) sold out [quickly] and we were booked at the Radisson. Because this may be our last big "family" trip to the park, I decided to splurge -- I canceled Radisson and booked a three-day package with Disney's travel agency. [This alone was hard for me - by nature, I'm quite cheap and have to know to squeak when I walk.]

I have been nothing but happy with Disney so far, however, they did not tell me about Concierge Level. And being native of Ventura, CA, we usually don't even stay in town. So coming across your article and the "perks," I decided that it was time to be "treated like royalty." Changing to the "C" level was no problem with Disney Travel - they even agreed to waive the $25 fee for reservation changes (told you I squeak - all I had to do was ask).

We are very much looking forward to our visit - Mouseplanet.com has been most helpful - and though I noted quite a few people are concerned with the condition of the park, (our last visit was six years ago) perhaps having that knowledge in the forefront will be helpful.

Stacy P. via email

That's wonderful!!! I hope you get a lot out of the upgrade. Do let me know how it goes, and whether you think it was worth the big splurge. [Boy; this email sure made my day!]

Stacy -- I am of similar mind regarding the concerns about the park's conditions. I know at times the various Mouseplanet forecasts seem gloomy -- trust me that the folks would be far happier spending their Sundays in a well-maintained park than to be the bearer of sad news -- but by visiting as a well-read guest, you can take advantage of the Concierge breakfasts, Early Entry admission, picking up FastPasses earlier in the day, having your packages delivered to your room, and knowing all of the various tips and hints that are sure to maximize your visit. We might not give you a Pollyanna perspective, but you can bet that each MousePlanet team member has a huge spot in the heart for the Disney parks.


My husband and I were upgraded to a Concierge room in June when I took him to stay overnight at the Disneyland Pacific Hotel, but we were not told of any of the things you mentioned. It would have been nice to know about these things -- why don't they give you a list of your "benefits"? I feel ripped off!

Beverly S., via email

Beverly:

Wow, I'd feel ripped off, too!!

You might consider writing a very polite letter to the management at the Disneyland Pacific and explain what happened, and ask them if they would be willing to upgrade you to Concierge on a future visit to the hotel so you can enjoy the benefits you missed out on. At the very least, suggest to them that they make sure the front-line cast members at the check-in counters are aware that not all guests might know about all the Concierge benefits.

Good luck. If you hear anything back let me know.

[Beverly wrote back, saying that she will go ahead and try writing to them.]


I just read your article on the Concierge rooms at Disneyland, and I thought you might find our story interesting.

The first year of the program, we had heard about the deal but it wasn't really economical because we didn't spend much time at the hotels to use the amenities. When we checked into the Disneyland Pacific Hotel, we had arrived a few hours before the check-in time. Although rooms aren't guaranteed to be ready this early, they assured us there was a room ready for us to check into.

When we got upstairs, the room hadn't been touched. It was still very dirty and not made up from the last family that stayed there. We phoned the front desk, just to inform them about what happened. When the bellman arrived, he said to follow him to a new room. He then told us that we had a full and free upgrade to the Concierge Level.

We ended up taking full advantage of the lounge. We got our free Rice Crispy treats with our name in chocolate, mints on the pillow every night, newspapers at the doorstep every morning, and of course the lounge. The breakfast wasn't particularly filling for my big appetite, but the refrigerator was the crown jewel. We took numerous sodas and basically stocked up for our day at the park. This was with the encouragement of the Cast Member.

Throughout the trip when we forgot something at the hotel or needed to change clothes, we would always stop by and pick up some sodas and water. The Cast Members were very friendly and helpful. We also were able to check out in the lounge and bypass the line downstairs.

All in all in was a great benefit for FREE. I would recommend it to anyone who thinks they'll spend a few hours a day at the hotel. The money will then be justified. That's just my opinions and experiences! Thanks for listening and keep up the good work,

Mike, via email

Sounds like you had a marvelous experience, Mike! It was great to hear that they upgraded you instead of making you wait for your original room. It's just one more example of what I think makes Disneyland so special, and worth the extra money -- the Cast Members and the magic Tinkerbell dust that gets sprinkled on everything they touch.


Where the Concierge only elevator at the Disneyland Hotel starts...
Where the Concierge only elevator at the Disneyland Hotel starts...

I just wanted to thank you for giving all the information on the Concierge-Level services at the Disneyland Hotel and Disneyland Pacific Hotel. I have stayed at both hotels but never had the pleasure of that experience! I am planning on going in late August 2001 for my "big" birthday and splurging on the Concierge Level . I was considering getting an annual pass or joining the Magic Kingdom Club to get a discount on the hotel price; do have any advice on which would be better?

Rhonda E, via email

Oh how exciting! What a wonderful way to treat yourself for your big birthday.

You don't mention whether you are planning on getting the regular or gold version of the Magic Kingdom Club (MKC); if your employer is a larger company, you can contact your human resources office to see if you can get the regular MKC application. It's totally free, and gives you the same perks as the gold one, without the magazine subscription. I believe the regular MKC applications are also available through credit unions. Be aware that Disney recently changed its MKC application process; it now requires you to mail the application in to Disney. Come to think of it, I mailed mine in a few months ago and have yet to see my MKC card in the mail.

I'm not sure about the MKC gold cards. They're not cheap ($65 for two years) so you want to make sure to get your money's worth by getting lots of discounts everywhere they qualify at, such as the Disney Stores.

I do know that the hotels provide discounts for both MKC and annual passholders, however their discounts are based on the occupancy rate during your stay, as well as a variety of other factors (probably not unlike those crazy ways the airlines figure out ticket prices!). Since your trip is a year away, you have a very good chance of finding a room with a discount; just don't count on it.

As for an annual pass, Disneyland offers them in tiers with varying levels of benefits and block-out dates. Check the dates to make sure that the park is accessible to you on the days you would normally visit. For example, living in Northern California I normally cannot visit the park on weekdays, so those annual passes that prohibit admission on Saturdays would not work well for me.


Lani, I just read your piece on Disneyland Hotel Concierge upgrade. My family and I have splurged twice on suites and do think it's worth it. My question is, and it might sound silly, but we have never seen the toothpaste, toothbrush or mouthwash you mentioned. Is that something they just started in the last year or have we been gipped? Thank you for your time.

Vicki S., via email

Hmmmm.... well this bit of information came from a person who stayed at the Disneyland Pacific Hotel. Maybe the distribution of toiletries is a bit different there. I stayed in Concierge at the Disneyland Hotel two years ago but do not recall exactly what I got; I just remember it being more than the standard stock. I'm quite sure I got both mouthwash and toothpaste, although I don't remember the toothbrush.

[Vicki wrote back, and promised to let me know after she returns from her Concierge stay this coming October.]


[Finally, there's this correspondence, from Mary Kraemer:]

I liked reading your article about Concierge-Level service at the Disneyland Hotel and Disneyland Pacific Hotel. Although I can't say that I will ever justify that expense (just staying there, much less upgrading), it was very interesting to read.

...and then takes you up to at the Disneyland Hotel
...and then takes you up to at the Disneyland Hotel

When we went to Walt Disney World in Orlando in March, we stayed at the Polynesian Resort and had Concierge privileges as part of our package. It was nothing short of wonderful!

From a birthday cake for my daughter -- delivered secretly to our room (complete with balloons) -- to the instant presto "e-nights" reservations, to more instant presto reservations for the kids to go to places like the Neverland Club, to the wonderful spreads morning, noon, and evening... one of my very favorite perks was the package delivery direct to my room! And the fabulous view rooms!! Spoiled, heck yes! and we loved every second of it. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

One resort perk seems that package delivery to hotel guests went from being a "sent to your room" to a "sent to your resort" kind of affair where you have to go to one of the resort shops to get your stuff. Not so if you're one of the concierge pamperees. Direct to your room. Takes a day to do it, but still!

I wondered if the same applies to the Disneyland concierge guests??

Mary Kraemer, via email

[Over the course of a week, Mary looked into changing her upcoming plans from off-site to on-site lodging at Disneyland. She wrote back with an update:]

Well, I called. We're not staying there. All the suites are sold out for the dates we're going in October. The room rate for three nights at the Disneyland Hotel was $747.50 ($937.25 for Concierge) and $667 at the Disneyland Pacific Hotel ($925.75 Concierge). However, that's the per room rate, and we'd have to have two rooms, and well, honestly? That's just beyond what I want to pay in order to have that nice breakfast.

[When I asked Mary for a clarification, she explained, "Supposedly that was the Magic Kingdom Club rate for a single room (for five people max.). No suites were available -- all sold out already. So, the higher price was to upgrade that exact same room to concierge service. Naahhhh...." 

At the prices quoted to Mary, a room at DLH was rated $249/night ($312 / night Concierge), and DLP at $222 / night ($308 / night Concierge). My experience is that pricing at both DLH and DLP are heavily dependent on demand, occupancy, season and day of week and while never "cheap," can vary widely.

Still, a splurge is one thing; taking out a second mortgage is another.]


Have a great Labor Day weekend! My newlywed husband, Alex, and I will be taking a break from normal civilization as we head to the Nevada desert for "Burning Man." -- Lani

Military Pass Update

Stacy C. recently emailed me about a change in policy for using military Stars & Stripes passports for admission into Disneyland:

"Hello. I've been reading Mouseplanet for a few weeks now as we are heading to Disneyland the beginning of September. I'm a URW (unremarried widow) and when I read about the eligiblity for military and non-military members in a party, I was somewhat surprised. I bought military tickets for my family about three years ago and they did not have problems using them at Disneyland.

"Since I am taking this trip with a friend who is non-military, I was concerned that I may have to purchase a regular-priced ticket. I called ITT on Camp Pendleton today and asked them about the ID-checking. The person I spoke with said that Disneyland used to check IDs a few years ago, and promised me that I would have no problem buying ITT tickets for others in my party and Disneyland Cast Members would not check ID at the gate.

"I just wanted to pass this along; it seems the policy may have changed (recently). I will ask again when I go to purchase my tickets at ITT and keep my fingers crossed when I go to DL. I will also write you an email when I get back to let you know what their current protocal is on military and non-military members."

- Stacy

Thank you very much for this updated information, Stacy! Long-time readers of Al Lutz's Disneyland Information Guide may have noticed that my name is no longer hyphenated... when I un-hyphenated my name, I also lost my military ticket-purchasing privileges. I haven't used a Stars & Stripes Passport for admission into Disneyland for almost four years. When I get confirmation from Stacy we'll make sure to update the information in that portion of D-I-G.

If this is the case, I give a big "hooah!" to Disney for changing this policy. I've always thought that the policy of requiring a military ID card for every person using a Stars & Stripes passport was not in line with the way most places provide military rates (where only a single military host is required to "sponsor" his/her guests).

[...And if you ever question why a military person should be given such a "perk," please rent Saving Private Ryan. --Lani]

ABOUT THE EDITOR

Contact Lani Teshima if you have any travel tips or questions about trip planning.

A Hawaii ex-patriate, Lani is a technical writer for a San Francisco Bay Area software company.

When Lani is not managing the copy editing tasks here, you can usually find her at the gym, slogging away those slow miles on the treadmill as she trains for the WDW Marathon (held in January). She also maintains her internationally recognized Travelite FAQ.

In the occasional spare moment, Lani and her husband, Alex—our MousePlanet CEO and MouseAdventure event coordinator—attend baseball games, and drive down to Disneyland in their 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid (which gets 50mpg).

KEEP US RUNNING!

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