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MousePlanet Mailbag for January 9, 2003

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

Regarding our Park Update: Disneyland column

Disneyland cast member Mark writes:

Hi MousePlanet,

I am a Disneyland Resort Cast Member, and have been for the past month and a half. First off let me start by saying that you shouldn’t be so negative to Disney. Disneyland is a great place, and all the refurbishments are due to continue to maintain the quality of the park and keep it up to speed. Knott’s Berry Farm hardly puts its attractions down for refurbishments. Did you ever ride Calico Mine Ride lately? It looks like poop. You know they could’ve done better but they just don’t want to. At least at Disney, they maintain the quality and the magic.

Also the main reason for the extensive downtime for the closures in Frontierland is the introduction of Fantasmic! Ever notice how all the attractions down are mostly dealing with the Rivers of America? Think about it. Why would they need to refurbish the canoes? I just went on it recently and saw backstage that they’re plenty of canoes to replace it. They’re draining it to place back the effects for Fantasmic! See Disney is always doing something positive. We’re constantly thinking of you as a guest.

Feedback for Brian Bennett (WDW)

A hopeful Aly writes:

I am trying to find a page that has pictures of all the animals on the Tree of Life [at Disney’s Animal Kingdom]. Do you know if one exists?

Sorry, Aly, but I do not. I understand that over 300 animals have been carved into the tree. A page with all of those images would be a pretty big job.

Jan writes:

I just got back from visiting the Mouse! I made it to the RADP-meet [a gathering of people who participate in the rec.arts.disney-parks Usenet newsgroup] and had a wonderful trip overall – the only negative was the rain (horrible) and the bathrooms in the parks (WDW has clearly cut back on staff to keep these spotless – or maybe people are just pigs!). Anyway, I wanted to check up on the trip reports that had been posted while I was gone, and found that the last one is John Singh on Nov. 25. Here’s the link I use.

Have you had any more since then? I hope everything is OK with you, and that the apparent lack of new reports is not because your are having a rough time in any way.

Jan: There have been a bunch of new trip reports since then. However, we’re breaking in a new working editor, so maybe he missed doing the updates correctly. I’ll dig into it and get back to you when I can, but since I’m at WDW myself right now I’m not checking my email regularly. Thanks for the note, and I’ll get back with you as soon as I can. :)

– Brian

[Editor’s note: We have since corrected this error. Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Jan.]

Sheri writes:

I purchased some charms for the outfitters at Animal Kingdom, and the jeweler that I took them to put on a charm bracelet wrecked them. I want to know if the charms can be purchased online or ordered from somewhere if they can’t be fixed.

Sheri: I’d suggest that you call WDW Merchandising at (407) 363-6200. If you have the SKU (merchandise inventory) number, it will be very easy to get replacements. If you can’t, they still might be able to help you if you can clearly describe the items you’re talking about replacing.

A readers asks about marathon weekend crowds:

Hi Brian. I love the site. I’m going to Walt Disney World from January 8 – 15. I recently found out that the Disney Marathon (other than the shopping ones they have daily) is January 12. What kind of effect will that have on the crowds? Where exactly is the marathon? If it is in the Magic Kingdom, can we totally avoid it at MGM, etc? Also, I was wondering if I should make priority-seating arrangements. Is it usually quiet enough that I don’t have to? Thank you so much

Lani Teshima, a MousePlanet staffer, wrote a piece on the Marathon, which we published on MousePlanet just a few weeks ago. You might find it helpful for background information.

You will find, I’m certain, that crowd levels will be much higher over the weekend of the marathon. Crowd levels will drop off after Sunday, but you need to expect Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to be very busy.

The full marathon is 26.2 miles long, and runs from Epcot, to the Ticket and Transpiration Center, to the Magic Kingdom, to Animal Kingdom, to the Studios, and back to Epcot for the finish. It pretty much covers the whole resort. The half-marathon is 13.1 miles long, overlaps most of the first half of the full-marathon course, and ends near the Magic Kingdom.

Ron writes:

We are traveling from Maryland to WDW for our 14th trip. The trip will talk place from Dec. 26 to Jan 6. We should see an array of crowd levels during our trip. My question is this; I understand through conversation that there are days of the week that you should avoid certain parks; for example,. Mondays are typically busy at Magic Kingdom, and so on. Is there a list available with that info?

I’d suggest that you go to the “Developing a Daily Game Plan” page in my WDW Trip Planning Guide. You’ll find my suggestions on which park to go to on which day there. About three quarters of the way down the page is a chart that summarizes crowd levels in the parks by day.

Nikki writes:

My name is Nikki and I’m a 9th grader in Massachusetts. I am required to research a person whom I consider to be an icon. I choose Walt Disney. I was curious, and want to know if this source is accurate. I would like to know where you got your information, and if it is credible.

Nikki: I use several different sources for my Web site.

First, there are several annually published guide books on Walt Disney World. I do draw on those as background material and to check my facts.

Second, I use Disney sources. Walt Disney World publishes notes from its own seminars, prints its own theme park guide maps, resort maps and transpiration guides, and so on. All are useful.

Third, I use other WWW sources including publically accessible newsgroups.

The main thing, though, is that I write from my own personal experience.

I’ll leave it to you to decide if my material is sufficiently credible or not.

Sara asks:

I would like to know the address of the Auto Train Station in Sanford so that I may find how to get there once I am in Sanford. I need to pick the highways and streets to get there. Nowhere do I see an address of the station or a section map showing its location. I know there are signs but I have to be in the general vicinity to get to the signs. Thanks.

Sara: I’m sorry that I don’t know the answer to your question directly, but if you go to the “Amtrak’s Auto Train” page in my WDW Trip Planning Guide, you’ll find a link to Don Weinstein’s excellent Auto Train site. If you can’t find the address there, I’m quite sure that Don would be able to help you out.

Feedback for Lani Teshima

After we published “The Walt Disney World Marathon: Not just for athletes” in November, we received the following from Terri in Florida, who writes:

The Boardwalk Inn is not on the half-marathon course as your photo caption says – it is on the full-marathon course, toward the end.

Hi Terri: Thank you for your clarification. You’re quite right. Checking the official course map (available as a PDF from the Disney Sports Web site) shows that the Boardwalk Inn is right past the 24-mile marker for the full marathon (26.2 miles).

Nancy asked the following about the upcoming Walt Disney World Marathon’s Expo at Coronado Springs Resort:

I’d like to know who is going to be appearing at the Expo, and when they are going to be speaking or doing a seminar. Can you help me get to the right source for that info?

Nancy: As the marathon weekend fast approaches, the Disney Sports staff have announced this official seminar schedule:

Friday, January 10, 2003

  • “The Galloway Training Revolution!” with Jeff Galloway: 4:30pm – 5:00pm
  • “Medical Advice for Runners: Ask the Expert” with Florida Hospital: 5:00pm – 5:30pm
  • “Olympic Marathon Panel” with Keith Brantly, Jeff Galloway, Julie Isphording, and Bill Rodgers: 5:30pm – 6:00pm

Saturday, January 11, 2003

  • “Olympic Marathon Panel” with Keith Brantly, Julie Isphording, and Frank Shorter: 12:00pm – 12:30pm
  • Greg Meyer: 12:30pm – 1:00pm
  • Nancy Clark, MS, RD: 1:00pm – 1:30pm
  • “Medical Advice for Runners: Ask the Expert” with Florida Hospital: 1:30pm – 2:00pm
  • Jeff Galloway and Mark Will-Weber: 2:00pm – 2:30pm
  • Jon Hughes and Allan Steinfeld: 2:30pm – 3:00pm
  • “Running Faster As A Masters (40+) and Doing It For A Cause” with Dr. Tommy Owens: 3:00pm – 3:30pm
  • “Olympic Marathon Panel” with Jeff Galloway, Julie Isphording, Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Frank Shorter: 3:30pm – 4:00pm

[Editor’s note: As you read this, both Lani and Alex Stroup have left for Orlando to participate in the marathon. Best wishes to them both for a successful run. Expect an article about the event when they return.]

Better late than never! The following e-mail came from “Driftwood” regarding our October article, “Whose eBay Auction Was It, Anyway?” about 13-year-old Holly Lehto, the winner of a special Disney auction that allowed her to meet Drew Carey and the cast of the popular TV show:

I enjoyed reading your article about Holly and her experience with the Who’s Line show. However, a suggestion would be for those new readers that may not understand all the abbreviations would be to spell them out! Either that or do what most writers do and use the full name for the first use in the article followed by the abbreviation in parenthesis. Disney’s California Adventure (DCA) for example... While I may understand what DCA means, you have to wonder how many others don’t understand all these wacky shortcuts. Just a suggestion, take it how you want! I enjoyed the article though, very well done.

Driftwood – we try to be conscientious to use a full name upon first reference, but sometimes our articles sound like alphabet soup. I’ve taken your request to heart and we have since updated our internal style guide to keep acronyms to a minimum.

Howard writes:

As I read of Holly’s experience, a rush of thoughts came to mind: first, what a wonderful young lady Holly seems to be – good manners, appreciative, and just plain nice, how gracious the cast of Whose Line is, and the fact that Disney still makes dreams come true (with a little help from Holly’s parents, of course). It is experiences like this that will forever touch lives like Holly’s with the Disney magic, and indelibly ink on the heart a love for DCA (which was mentioned has already happened for her). It was wonderful to read your upbeat story and to find that Holly was so different from Veruca Salt. It’s just another example of the fact that there are some wonderful teenagers around today, and how thankful I am that her being who she is was rewarded with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Thank you, Howard – How true; I couldn’t agree with you more. I had no idea that I would encounter such a charming young lady until I interviewed her. She was an absolute joy, and I’m glad that I was able to convey this in the article.

Feedback for MousePlanet

Jason C. writes:

I just wanted to say keep up the good work. I have been an avid daily reader for years... even though I am on the other side of the world. MousePlanet is turning more upbeat, informative and professional. I love everything except responses to readers’ e-mail. They just don’t grab me as much as the rest – but love the photoessays, news and updates. Also love Everything but the Parks – the contributors all sound very personable and charming.

Sean Mitchell writes:

The recent reader mail section the site ran made me wonder... Is there a Disneyland place for MousePlanet any more? I do understand that the site is undergoing a change with the departure of Al Lutz and Kevin Yee, but it at the moment looks like there isn’t anything on the way to fill the hole that this left. Again, I do appreciate that the transition is still going – but the last few weeks have seen scant coverage of anything West Coast, and a very dominant Walt Disney World slant. This even carries through to the current masthead, with editors for all parks except the California ones. MousePlanet has been a favorite site of mine for years now, and I’d hate to see it go from being a “Disney Park” catch-all to a Florida-only site. But, if that is the way that it must be, so be it.

Tim Barnes writes:

Hi Alex, and Happy Holidays! Since you’re open to feedback, I thought I would weigh in on the “dull, lifeless” comment posted in your recent column.

We all know that Al Lutz and MousePlanet were synonymous, and to be honest his leaving does seem to me, to leave a big hole on the site. Since I go back to his original “DIG Site,” he is what eventually led me to MousePlanet in the first place, and largely why I logged on everyday.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all things Disney, and a child of the original Park, what with growing up here in Southern California. I enjoy the reviews, purchase from MouseShoppe, love David Koenig’s comments, and will continue to visit on a daily basis, but since my main Disney interest is Walt’s Park I will also make a special effort to stop by MiceAge – daily.

I have one genuine concern that I hope you will address online to state whatever position you are taking, and future for the site. I don’t wish to take anything away from all who have contributed to MousePlanet with comments, columns or photos concerning the upkeep of the Parks and the general direction of the Outdoor Recreation division – most particularly the incredible cast members – thank God for them! However, without Al’s constant watchdog approach, and particularly the “Disneyland Blues” column, I’m extremely concerned that the Walt Disney Company might not concern themselves with MousePlanet the way they have in the past. (I’m noting the recent “press conference” – an obvious attempt to manipulate the online media to their favor.) Things seem to finally be turning around in Anaheim, and I’m convinced it was, as Mr. Eisner calls it “the damn Internet” that mostly did the trick.

I guess what I’m really saying is that for all its entertainment value, and general information, I would hate to see Mouseplanet wind up another just “fan site”. I’ve got plenty of those stored away in my “favorites” file already, but visit them rarely except to see the occasional Park construction photos. Please don’t drop the ball, now that we seem to have the suits on the ropes a bit.

Please don’t “let the bad guys (i.e. accounting) win.” The bean-counters have been running the show far too long, and online sources like MousePlanet have been nothing short of a godsend for anyone who cares about the quality of the product (or lack thereof) of The Walt Disney Company, including the so-called “legitimate” or mainstream media.

Keep the torches burning.

Thanks for letting me vent.


Michelle Culver writes:

Hi Alex!

I just finished reading your response to Richard A.’s e-mail. I apologize that there are people that think that they are the end-all and be-all out there. There is such a thing as constructive criticism. I would imagine that would be more of what you are looking for? Myself? I love your Web site. That would be why I joined!

However, with everything that I do love about it, I have to say just one, yet hopefully constructive, thing. The reports on Disneyland can be way too negative. I understand this is what gets people’s attention. Coming from a site that apparently loves Disney with readers that get useful info from it, many of whom (from the types of questions I see) have not a real grasp on Disneyland as many of us seasoned people do, they take their fist impression of not only your site but Disneyland as well. I understand as well as the next person that the information that you are reporting on is interesting, (that is why I read it), but how about the things that are going right at D-land? The improvements they have made. I thank you, though, for encouraging me to get my writing pen out to write to D-land higher-ups to express my “I’m on top of the ant hill” views about how they are running the place I love that was opened by a man that had my family in mind when he opened it before we were born.

Thank you again for your wonderful site and the info you have always been so kind to provide. I always look forward to your next installments and letting me dream on my lunch hour about my next Disney trip. Here’s to wishing you and yours a wonderful Holiday season and a very bountiful and blessed New Year!

Stephen B writes:

Well, I don’t know how boring MousePlanet is. It certainly seems a lot more homophobic now. I refer of course to the indomitable Messrs. David Koenig and Brian Bennett. Its a shame too because of the barrage of banners on your site I assumed you could use our money. I guess I was mistaken. What? You request evidence? Fine.

In his 10/8/02 column, Mr. Bennett agrees with a reader who compares homosexuals to alcoholics and drug addicts. In his 7/22/02 column, a reader thanks him for his assistance in avoiding Gay people in the area.

David Koenig makes absolutely no attempt to hide his contempt for Gays in his first book, “Mousetails, A Behind the Ears Look at Disneyland.” It was for this reason I never bothered to purchase his other books. I’m guessing that diversity training is not a requirement at MousePlanet. At least with Fab, Jim, Kevin, and Al at the site coverage was more balanced.

Oh right, First Amendment. Yeah, you have that. But so do I. And I have a feeling that a lot more Gays and Lesbians will be exercising theirs against MousePlanet. I bet they will also let their thoughts be known by NOT clicking any of those banners on your site.

Stephen B.

PS: Dare ya to print it!


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.


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.



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