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Questions, Comments, and Corrections

MousePlanet Mailbag for December 12, 2002

We receive considerable feedback regarding our site. Although we cannot publish all of them, the following may be of interest to other readers.

A Quick Note for Our Readers

In light of Al Lutz's and Kevin Yee's recent decision that it was time to move on to new endeavors, some of you may find it a bit confusing that we've included some responses from Kevin Yee in today's mailbag. Though those of us remaining at MousePlanet regret their decision, we wish Al and Kevin all the best in whatever comes next for them.

These emails, and Kevin's responses to them were in the bag, so to speak, before making his decision, and it is my view that after more than three years of hard work for MousePlanet he earned having his last communications with our readers published. And, of course, we think you readers will find it interesting and helpful as well.
       - Alex Stroup, CEO of MousePlanet, Inc.

Today's MousePlanet Mailbag includes feedback for:

Feedback for Ian Parkinson – Disneyland Paris

Terry writes:

First, I'd like to say how much I enjoy your "Disneyland Paris: Unique Journeys" series. I visited Disneyland Paris (DLP) back when it was still EuroDisney (EDL) in the spring of '93. That has been my only opportunity to see the park in person. So many cool things have been added since then, and I'm grateful for the work you've done to help show off the park to those of us who haven't seen it lately, or for those who have never seen it all.

I was pleased to see your most recent feature on the DLP castle. This was truly one of the most wonderful things I saw while at the park, and I'm glad you captured so much of the intricate detail. However, I was surprised that you didn't focus more on the "tree columns" upstairs that support the ceiling. These stood out to me as perhaps the most insipired touches of the whole interior. The stylized branches captured the flavor of the Eyvind Earle's background paintings, and the fiber-optic lights certainly added to the magical ambience of the walk-through attraction. We catch a faint glimpse of the tips of some of the branches in your picture of the central ceiling chandelier, but I think these trees are worthy of their own picture. You might even want to consider two photos... one with fiber-optic lights on, one with fiber-optic lights off. Just my opinion, but I hope you'll consider it.

Thanks again for the work you do to help share DLP with the rest of us.

Terry: Thanks for the praise, and I'm glad you enjoyed the story about the castle. As you say, the trees inside the Castle are great and I wish I had a photo showing the details you mention. Next time I visit the park I will get some more shots of the interior. In the meantime, if any readers have a photo they would like to share of the missing tree detail, we would be happy to publish it in the next reader mailbag.

Angela writes:

Ian, congrats on your lovely site. My husband and I are thinking of spending our Christmas at Disneyland Paris. We have done Christmas in Florida and California, but Paris is nearer for us. Which did you think was the best hotel to stay in, and did you spend Christmas there? What was the food like? We would be pleased to have your opinion, as we are starting to spend the kid's inheritance!

Angela – I'm pleased you like the information and photos of Disneyland Paris, and even better you are thinking of visiting over the Christmas period. Christmas is magical at Disneyland Paris – they really do make a great deal of this special season. You can see what they have on offer in this recent MP article.

I have visited the parks and hotels during the Christmas season, but I have not stayed at the hotels for the actual holiday.

My favorite hotel at DLP is the Sequoia Lodge, even more so at Christmas. This hotel really suits the winter weather, offering a warm and welcome break after the parks. Food at DLP is very varied, and tends to be quite a bit better at the hotels than in the parks.

If you can afford it, go for full service or buffet style rather than fast food. You will really notice the better quality.

My favorite places to eat are the Disneyland Hotel Buffet, Annette's Diner at Disney Village, and Hunter's Grill at Disney's Sequoia Lodge.

Anderson writes:

In the movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, inside one of the rooms there was an iris window that opened like an old camera shutter. I was wondering if you knew how it was built, or if there was a replica at Disneyland Paris.

Anderson – To the best of my knowledge, there is no replica of the Nautilus at Disneyland Paris. They do have an attraction based on the Nautilus that also includes a operating version of the iris you describe. During a visit through the Nautilus walkthrough attraction, the ship is attacked by a large squid, which is repelled by electric shocks that pass through the ship's hull (just like in the movie). Once the squid attack is over, the large iris across the huge dome window closes.

Greetz writes:

I visited your Web site and I must say I agree on your views about the Walt Disney Studios park. We visited the studios last week and we were very disappointed – so much money and nothing to see. I hope they do something about it, but I guess they think it's a wonderful park.

Greetz – I'm sorry you did not enjoy WDS. Like me, you seem to have expected more from Disney than they were willing to deliver. I know that the attendance levels at the new park have not reached the numbers they expected – I suspect many people are not making repeat visits. They will make WDS better, but not very quickly. At the moment there are no new attractions under construction, which means we will not see anything new in the next one to two years.

And now a thread of emails started by Jon from Seattle:

Thanks for the beautiful photos of the castle as Disneyland Paris. Just one little quibble, and I'll bet I'm not the first to point this out. Since the castle is so thoroughly themed to Sleeping Beauty, I'll bet the owl you show us on the first page is actually the one from that film (he helps Briar Rose re-create the Prince by wearing his cloak and hat during the song "Once Upon a Dream"). I'll admit that he does bear a resemblance to The Sword in the Stone's Archimedes, though, so I certainly could be wrong.

Again, thanks so much for all the great features you've done on DLP for us loyal Mouseplaneteers. Someday, I will get there.

I thanked Jon for pointing out the owl issue, and I suggested that it might look like Archimedes as the owl looks down on the Sword in the Stone ceremony held behind the Castle. To try and shed a bit more light on the problem, I wrote to Eddie Sotto, who was the Senior Vice President of Concept Design at Walt Disney Imagineering from 1986 to 1999, and the guy responsible for the design Main Street, USA in Paris.

Eddie Sotto replied:

Fantasyland isn't my specialty. Outside of Main Street I'm not so well informed. This is a question best answered by the Castle's senior designer, Tom Morris. I'm copying him on this and hopefully he can help you.

Tom Morris replied:

Thanks, just checked out your DLP Castle photo essay on Mouseplanet and it's nicely done. I would say it made me miss the castle, but I actually got to breeze through it quickly last Sunday. I do agree with you that it's the prettiest castle in the world, but then again I'm a bit prejudiced!

Looking at the owl detail, I can see how one could be confused. The owl is supposed to be the one from Sleeping Beauty (the one that she danced with in the forrest). However, when you look at this owl it does bear a resemblance to Archimedes, the one in Sword in the Stone. The animators at the studio actually lifted quite a bit of design for Sword in the Stone from Sleeping Beauty (even in Walt's time they occassiionally got cash-strapped!).

It actually really looks like neither owl but rather a "love child" of the two. Don't know how this one escaped our fastidious attention, all the other sculpts in the castle are right on model (as the animators like to say). This one may have been contracted out due to schedule; the better ones I'm sure were done in-house by our sculpture specialists.

It was hard to get everything just right, but I think we nailed most of it.

Did you ever notice the gold-leafed escargot climbing up two of the gold towers? Another piece of trivia! The snails are on the two gold-leafed towers. They are what appear to be bumps from a distance. You can probably get a good look at them from the exterior balcony (I think).

Keep up the good work on MousePlanet!! I'll keep an eye out for your other articles.

And finally, another Tom wrote:

I've seen some artwork from cities of the future (Jules Verne style, black-and-white framed posters on walls in Discoveryland) and I'm wondering were I can find some pictures about them on the Internet. Can you please tell me were they're from or give me a clue were I can find some. Because I think they are pretty cool, but I can't find any. Help me.

Tom – I know the exact pictures you mean; they can be found in the Discoveryland Arcade that runs down one side of Main Street. I will be producing a MousePlanet story soon that contains all the pictures, but to show what we both mean, here is an example.

The posters were created by Jim Michaelson, Maureen Johnston and R. Ziscis. They are in the style of the 19th century French artist Robida, as well as the spirt of the American magazine Popular Mechanics.

Feedback for Brian Bennett – Walt Disney World

Matt R. writes:

Love the site, and keep up the great work. This April, my family and I will be staying at the WDW Swan, which we heard is an excellent hotel. I just can't, however, find a list on your site of nice restraunts, ala the Norway place, that are nice, upscale, not too expensive, but don't have alot of characters running around. If you have time could you just list me a couple restraunts, hotels or parks, that are great places to eat without the sometimes annoying interruption by charcaters (...for nights when I'm not in the mood to be bothered)? Thanks alot, and keep up the excellent site.

Matt – In MousePlanet's WDW Restaurant Resource, you'll find all of the information I have on the restaurants of WDW. I think you'll find it very helpful.

If, after you've checked out the WDW Restaurant Resource, you have specific questions about any of those restaurants, e-mail me back and I'll do my best to help you out.

Amy asks about her recent trip report:

Hi Brian. I am sorry to bother you, but I was just wondering when my report might be posted. I have seen reports for dates past mine already posted and was just curious if there were any problems with mine. Thanks and have a happy holiday!

Amy – Your report is third in line to be added to the archive. I should get that done over this weekend. However, due to the huge backlog I've had over the last few weeks, I don't think your report will be "splashed" on the front page of MousePlanet until early January.

By the way, the reports are put on the site in the order I receive them, not the chronological order in which the trips were taken.

In any case, I am sorry that it's taking so long. Frankly, I'm glad for the backlog because I like having so many reports to share with everyone... the sad thing is that folks have to wait so long to see their report on the site... and for that I'm sorry.

Beth writes:

Thanks for all of the great info! We are planning a family trip January 1 - 6, 2003. What should we expect for the crowds that week, and also how should I pack for the weather?

Beth – All of the days right around Christmas week will be very busy. Christmas week is, in fact, the busiest week throughout the year at WDW! The week following—the one you're asking about—is only slightly less busy, as the holiday crowds start to dissipate and folks head home to resume work and school. The week after you're there, however, is much less busy and that remains the pattern, for the most part, throughout the remainder of January and February.

It's not likely you'll experience much precipitation and average highs are in the 70s and average lows in the 50s. For the trip planner, that means you really have to prepare for anything from warm to cold weather. During the day, you'll probably find it cool in the morning, warming up into the 70s during the mid-afternoon. At night, though, the temperatures drop to the point that you'll likely want to have a jacket and warmer clothes.

I'd suggest you read through the information the Year-at-a-Glance page in MousePlanet's WDW Trip Planning Guide, as it more details that you may find helpful.

Pete writes:

Great site. We are going to Disney World in February. While we are at Epcot, my family would like to go to the Boardwalk. I do believe you can get there by way of the International Gateway. If you can do this, is this an entrance? If we leave by this route can we get back in by this route or do we have to go back to the main entrance to re-enter the park. Thank you

Pete – Yes, you can enter and exit Epcot at the International Gateway and simply walk over to the Boardwalk and back. The Yacht and Beach Club Resorts as well as the Swan and Dolphin are, likewise, within walking distance from the International Gateway.

Finally, a note from Lynn:

Thanks for the excellent Web site! Just a quick e-mail to let you know that all character meals are included in the silver dreammaker package. Apologies if you already have this info.

Feedback for Kevin Yee – Cast Place, etc.

Cast Place

Sarah S. asks a frequent question:

I was wondering if you could provide me with information regarding Disney resort job opportunities for college students during the summer. I was hoping to take part in a program that provides housing and work experience in the park. I know that this program exists, but I don't know the specifics. Could you refer me to a site or provide me with an information number? Thanks!

Sarah – I get this question a lot. You'll want to search for current opportunities by starting at the official Disney Careers Web site. There's a link near the bottom for the Disney College; click that to find out all the updated info you need to know.

Rose A. asks:

My classmates and I are in the process of writing a paper for my college Human Motivation Course. The problem is that we are having a hard time finding information on the inner workings of Disney. We need things like the organizational structure, motivational strategies, and brief financial information for the last five years. I have searched the Web and found quite a bit, but nowhere near enough to write a paper. Any ideas? I could sure use some help. If you do not know, please point me in the right direction, or send this on to someone who could be able to give us a hand.

Rose – This is another question that I see a lot of. Some people specifically want to have access to the training materials. I'm afraid this sort of thing is strictly prohibited. At one point in the mid '90s, I saw a video they used for training purposes purchased from outside called "The Guest." They had paid $5000 per copy of this video (they bought three), so you can understand why they jealously guard their training secrets! The same is true of their printed materials from Orientation and the advanced classes they offer.

Shirley, a cast member from the Disney Store, asks:

As a part-time Disney Store cast member, I had heard we got free parking at the Mickey and Friends garage [at Disneyland]. Since I've had an annual passport, I didn't try it for a while. But one day I did try it, figuring if it didn't work, I'd still get free parking with my AP. Disney Store CMs do get free parking!! That's about the only free thing we get at the Disneyland... but at least it's something!

Shirley – You and others are right; I double-checked, and indeed Disney Store CMs do get free parking at Disneyland (along with your normal discount when purchasing merchandise).

Daniel, a former cast member, asks:

I am a former cast member from the Disneyland Resort with a no rehire status. I recently put in for an appeal. What I did to get the no rehire status, I find a bit bogus. I didn't commit any criminal acts, destroy company property, wasn't insubordinate, or anything like that. I was wondering if you happen to know anyone in casting that can give me some answers, beyond what a casting representative would do while on the job?

Daniel – The way it used to work, only your local manager could assign rehire or no-rehire status. I think that part is still true. Thus, the only way you used to be able to rehire was to convince that manager to change the status, not something easy to do.

I've heard, however, that in recent years even people who have been outright fired (which presumably means no-rehire status) can re-apply for a job after six months. Personally, I don't know why in the world they would institute such a policy; weren’t people fired for a reason? But then, there are doubtless many instances of people fired as required by contract (for instance, for attendance violations) who may deserve a second chance. Still, I rather liked having the manager have the final say. Perhaps the job market has necessitated this ability to re-apply in six months. Strange.

Rodney writes with a comparison between Disneyland and Walt Disney World:

I find it interesting that you have to go through the main gate to "play" after your shift. In Florida you can walk on and off stage anytime. During my lunch or in-between sets, I would go up in the park and eat lunch or watch special events ( New Year's or 4th of July fireworks). It's funny to compare and contrast the little rules of each park.

Rodney – It's for liability reasons. Anyone who comes in via Main Gate has, by virtue of either buying a ticket or "signing in" (so named because in the old days you literally signed your name after showing your ID), tacitly grants Disney less liability when it comes to worker's compensation. If you "sneak in," and get hurt while on Disney property, in theory you are still working. Wanting to close that loophole, Disney requires you to sign in. You can, of course, still sue if you get hurt, but worker safety laws don't cover you. I wonder how WDW gets around that.

Chef Kevin

Karen writes:

I need to know if the waffles and the pancakes served in the Plaza for the character breakfast contain egg? We have a 4-year-old travelling with us, and he is very allergic. And if we ask for things to made without egg, do we have to tell them ahead of time?

Karen – I don't have any special access when it comes to ingredients. The food reservation line at (714) 781-DINE might be able to help you, but the one rock-solid strategy is to make City Hall (or its equivalent) your first stop when you arrive at the Disney park you're visiting. They probably don't know either offhand, but they can call the various restaurants you want to visit and speak with the chefs. It will also work to visit the actual restaurant and request a special meal without the problematic ingredient, but that often takes 15 to 20 extra minutes.

Kent asks:

I can't seem to find your list of Disneyland restaurant recipes. Can you direct me? Also, I'm the dad taking a large group to Disneyland in January. We like to eat in Downtown Disney but the prices are gonna kill me. Come on, $10 for a hamburger at House of Blues. Do you know of any discount coupons, maybe in the local paper, for the Downtown? Thanks

Kent – The Disneyland Restaurant Reviews menus page has its own internal navigational bar along the right hand side. The recipes are listed near the bottom. As a reminder to all who ask, I am not able to obtain any other recipes besides those listed here, but there are directions for you to write Disney yourself and request them!

You'll get no argument from me about the prices in Downtown Disney. Some folks don't seem to mind, but then again, I have to remind myself that there are also people in the world who make six figures in a year (and I'm not one of them).

But you asked about coupons. If there are coupons for anything at Downtown Disney—and I doubt there are—then I haven't heard about them.

John and Houri F. write:

While at the park over the weekend, we noticed that the popcorn vendors close down well before closing time. When we ask why, they simply told us they have to "close out" and it is for "shift reasons," etc. None of this makes any sense to us. We are the customer, and we want some popcorn. Can't Disney keep these stands open all night? Would they really lose money if they left them open? I seem to remember that the popcorn vendors were always open, up to closing, some 10 years ago. It just seems absurd to us.

John and Houri – My heart breaks to hear this story. What you relate is all too true, of course, and I've noticed it myself, but it's heartbreaking to hear others notice it, too. Why? Because at my own Orientation, back in 1987, they drummed into us the importance of Show at all times, and used the popcorn as an example. In those days, the wagons were always full of popcorn, even late at night, because Walt had wanted the guests to never see Disneyland as a "half-show," in a state of closing down.

How far things have come down in 15 years. Now it's not just the vending carts, but also the full-sized restaurants too. So much is closed by 9:00, even when the Park itself doesn't close until midnight!

Anthony D. writes regarding Kevin's recent Coaster Videos article:

Six Flags parks in Europe are more themed [than U.S. Six Flags parks] because they weren't Six Flags parks originally. Six Flags Belgium, for example, was known to us until two years as "Walibi." New rides added by Six Flags aren't themed either.

Anthony – Thanks for the heads up. I got a few comments like this, the ACE crowd continues to amaze me with their knowledge (and love) of the parks worldwide. I guess it's not due to some conscious decision by Six Flags to be more themed in Europe; that's too bad!


GENERAL QUESTIONS

Do you have specific questions about an upcoming trip to Disneyland, Walt Disney World or another park, or do you need help with your trip planning? While you can contact one of the columnists, we encourage you to join our special MousePlanet community on our MousePad discussion board. There, you will find like-minded Disney park fans who can try to help answer your questions.

VOICE YOUR OPINION

Did you read something interesting (good or bad) on MousePlanet, or here in the Mailbag? We'd love to hear from you! Send your comments to the Mailbag here.

We welcome your questions and comments, but keep in mind that all questions submitted to MousePlanet become property of this Web site. Letters of interest to the readership may be published, and may include your full name unless you specifically request that your last name not be published. They may be edited for length or style and in consideration of a family readership. Questions may also be quoted on other parts of the site as well.

PREVIOUS MAILBAGS

2005

• January: 6, 13, 20, 27
• February: 3, 10, 17
• March: 10, 17, 31
• April: 14, 21, 28
• May: 26
• June: 2, 9, 30
• July: 7, 28
• August: 4, 11, 18, 25
• September: 4, 15, 22, 29
• October: 1327

2004

• January: 8, 15, 22
• Febuary: 12, 19, 26
• March: 18, 25
• April: 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
• May: 13, 20
• June: 3, 17, 24
• July: 1, 22, 29
• August: 5, 26
• September: 9, 23, 30
• October: 14, 21, 28
• November: 4, 18
• December: 2, 9

2003

• November: 13
• September: 4, 18
• August: 21, 28
• July: 10, 17, 24, 31
• June: 12
• May: 22, 29
• April: 10, 24
• March: 6, 13, 27
• February: 13, 20
• January: 9, 16, 30

2002

• December: 5, 12, 19

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MousePlanet® is not associated in any official way with the Walt Disney Company, its subsidiaries, or its affiliates. The official Disney site is available at www.disney.com. This MousePlanet Web site provides independent news articles, commentary, editorials, reviews, and guides primarily about the theme park resorts of the Walt Disney Co. All information on this site is subject to change. Please call destinations in advance to confirm the most up-to-date information.