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MousePlanet Mailbag for January 16, 2003

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

Feedback for Brian Bennett (WDW)

Mike V. asks:

Do you know is the still sell the "Magic Moments Game" down at Disney World? This was the Game Boy-type unit that used the same transmitters as the Magic Moment Pins, and when you were in line for an attraction it would unlock that attraction's game in the unit.

I have a coworker with a 6-year-old who would benefit from this game if they still sell it.

Mike: Yes, the game is still available at stores throughout WDW.

A frustrated Ray writes:

I have been trying for two days to find a link to find out prices and availability of Fort Wilderness campground sites, to no avail. I give up!

Ray: If you go to MousePlanet's "Fast Facts" page for Fort Wilderness Campground you'll find a link (in the upper left hand corner of the page) to the TravelNow system that can provide prices and availability.

Sorry it was difficult to find.

Joanne D. asks:

I am looking for specials on a deal of camping in the Wilderness Park for a week and also including tickets for three adults and two children. Appreciate an e-mail if possible.

Joann: MousePlanet is really oriented toward do-it-yourselfers. We have a lot of information to wade through, though, so for folks that don't have the inclination to do so—or are just overwhelmed by all the details of planning a trip to Walt Disney World—should going to the MousePlanet Travel section. You'll find banner advertisements at the top and bottom of that page for several of MousePlanet's official travel service advisers, who specialize in helping travel planners sort through all the options and plan the perfect vacation.

Of course, you're welcome to browse through the trip planning guides on MousePlanet in case you decide to do things yourself.

I'd suggest you start at the WDW Trip Planning Guide. If, after you'd surfed through those pages, there are questions you don't have answers to, let me know and I'll be happy to help as best I can. Here's one page that you may find helpful as you sort through the various options of admission media.

One other comment I'll share, is that you really might want to look over this page as well. In addition to giving a lot of information on what kinds of things you need to consider when setting up your trip budget, this page gives hints and tips (and some other web references) that can be very helpful in saving money on your trip. Don't miss my plug for MouseSavers.com, a site that provides a ton of information on saving money for a Walt Disney World vacation.

Kayla asks:

Can you put pictures of the resorts rooms on the Web site so we can get an idea of what they look like?

Kayla: I'm actively working on that as we go along. However, you may want to go to our WDW Trip Planning page on accommodations, where you can find links to all of MousePlanet's "Photo Tour" pages for all of the WDW resorts. I do have in-room pictures of some of the WDW resorts in those photo tours.

Davida says:

The page for the map of the Disney Institute is missing. I get the dreaded 404 error.

Davida: Sorry, but I'm not able to reproduce your problem. When I go the Disney Villas page, the map comes up just fine.

In any case, you needn't worry too much about the Villas at the Disney Institute since the resort is closed right now. It is being torn down and will be rebuilt and reopened as Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort in 2004.

Bruce M. says:

I read in an e-mail newsletter a few weeks ago that Whispering Canyon at the Wilderness Lodge stopped operating its own smokehouse and that the food had taken a huge quality hit. I haven't been able to find any confirmation... Do you know if it's true?

Bruce: I'm not aware of that change. Sorry, but I can't help on that one.

[Editor's Note: Perhaps one of our readers can help out? If you've been to the Whispering Canyon restaurant lately, drop us a line and let us know what you thought, and be sure to enter a review in our Restaurant and Hotel Review system.]

Steve S. writes with several questions, and a comment:

My family is planning another trip down to the World sometime around late September/early October. I am a little confused about reserving the room(s). I understand that there are two different groups that I might get when I call to book. Is it not true that each one handles the deposit differently? We are wondering how much of a deposit we will have to make. Your site says that only a portion is required at least 2 weeks after making the request. True and if so, how much of a deposit?

My second question concerns one of the Behind the Scenes tours, the Dolphins in Depth. I had read somewhere that this had been discontinued temporarily. Are you aware if this tour has started up again or will I need to contact Disney to get more information?

Final question (more of an opinion really)....In the past we have stayed at "the resort formerly known as Dixie Landings", however with the number of us attending this trip (minimum of 7) my first selection was going to be one of the All Star resorts. However, I may be able to swing a deal at either the Swan or Dolphin. Am I correct that there is bus service to the Swan/Dolphin and is the "Disney magic" in the air at those hotels?

A side note considering the MousePlanet web site. One of your team requested some comments since the staff changed. I'd like to provide my 2 cents. First, I was one of many who came to MousePlanet because of the reporting of Disneyland by Al. That doesn't mean that I am one of his fans, just that he provided another view of the parks besides the "everything is wonderful" view that most site provide. He also provided some inside dirt and through his articles and the articles of the rest of the staff I felt that I knew a little more of what was "possibly' going on on the west coast. Of course, there was also your information about the parks on the east coast which kept me abreast of what was going on here. So will I keep coming to MousePlanet? You bet. What am I expecting from the site? Just what you have been delivering, which is park information and also every once in awhile some 'dirt' about what is going on behind the scenes. Keep up the good work.

Steve: To answer your questions, the amount of the deposit that Disney requires on their rooms is typically one night's charge. When I recently made reservations for two rooms for three nights each, I was charged (in advance) one night's stay in each room, then I had to pay the balance for the other two nights after checking out.

On Dolphins in Depth, I'm afraid you'll have to contact Disney directly on that one. You can call them at (407) WDW-TOUR to get any specific information.

Regarding the Swan and Dolphin, both resorts are fully serviced by WDW Transportation. Bus service is available, and Friendships run between the two resorts and Epcot and the Studios as well. I get mixed information about the level of service and atmosphere at the resorts. They are convention facilities, primarily, so they cater to the business crowd. That alone isn't a bad thing, but when you add the lack of a themed atmosphere... well, I just don't think it's the same as staying at a WDW resort. That's just a personal opinion, though, so take it for what it's worth.

Thanks, too, for the note about MousePlanet, Steve. It's great to know that we're still providing what you're looking for.


Space Mountain, one of the Magic Kingdom's original E-Ticket attractions.
MousePlanet file photo

Carol asks:

What are E-Tickets, indicated on some attractions in the park. Is it a extra ticket cost, over and above the price of admission? Great site.

Carol: Mike Scopa, a columnist here at MousePlanet, recently wrote a piece on the special "E-Ride Nights" that are held over at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. He gave a pretty good summary of the history of the term, "E-Ticket," which I'll just quote here for you:

"Of course, today's park admission media (the park ticket or pass) gives each guest access to all of the park's attractions. But in the early days of Disneyland and Walt Disney World, guests instead purchased ticket books to go on attractions. These books contained several individual tickets with different letter designations. Every time the guest wanted to ride an attraction, they had to surrender one of those tickets to the ride operator. Starting in 1955, when the park opened, Disneyland introduced the A, B, and C tickets. The D ticket was introduced in 1956 and in 1959 the E ticket was added.

"Eventually, the term "E-ticket ride" became part of the American idiom to describe an exciting event or experience.

"Nineteen-eighty-two marked the end of the E-ticket coupon when Disney replaced the ticket books with admission media that included unlimited access to all attractions in the parks."

Now, of course, all attractions are available with the single park pass, so you don't need to worry about those old lettered coupons at all.

Kent C. has two questions:

Being a Disney fan for a long time, there are a lot of things I know about Disney, but Disney Vacation Club I don't know much about. I was wondering if the points ever have gone up for a resort per night. I know they said it doesn't (I went on December 23, 2002) I just want to check and make sure. Price now is $12,600 for 150 points.

One more question: What kind of Disney discounts do you get? They told us they were better then Disney Club. Was just wondering.

Kent: The total number of points on the points charts (you mentioned in another e-mail that you found them on the site) can not change from year to year. However, the points are shifted depending on demand for various types of accommodations and various times of the year.

The DVC discounts change constantly, but in general we get about the same discounts as one would get with the Disney Club on admission media along with changing discounts at Downtown Disney stores and restaurants.

Bob D. writes:

Just a question. I log into MousePlanet at least every Monday morning to see what you have new. I am referring to your DTP section where you answer e-mail It appears that it hasn't been updated since 11/25. I hope nothing is wrong and I am just missing something.

Bob: No, there really isn't any problems. MousePlanet has just decided to roll my "Notes From the World" piece in with a couple other new features. First, MousePlanet's new weekly WDW Park Update page, is a tremendous new resource with updates, park hours, and other information. By the way, I'm actively looking for new information about the parks and resorts to post on this page, so if you know of any good sources, please send them my way!

The other column is this site-wide Mailbag Column where my e-mail responses will be shared, typically on Thursdays, from now on.

John says:

Enjoyed your photo essay on Hollywood Blvd. And, of course, agree with you strongly about the hat. In spades.

Here's what I found out about it. Perhaps someone has information that trumps this, but what I know came from a senior Imagineer in Glendale (one of the few still around!) whose primary job includes Disney-MGM Studios:

The hat was originally supposed to be outside the entry gate, but because of ingress/egress concerns from the park in the event of an emergency, its location was moved. When it was finally built, the hat ended up costing much more than originally anticipated. More than that, the cost of tearing it down is steep. Too steep for the tastes of the bean counters who run the parks. So the deal as it stands now is to keep the hat up for about another year before bringing it down again.

At least, that's the plan. As you've learned, the days of spending money to make money at the parks are long past (thank you, Michael Eisner and Paul Pressler), and given that there hasn't been a huge outcry about the ugliness and inappropriateness of the hat from guests, they may decide to keep it up a bit longer.

The best news, though, is that the hat was designed to be temporary. It was never intended as a permanent structure. At least, so says Imagineering. Theme Parks may have a different view!

I asked a cast member about the hat during my recent trip and he said that it was expected to remain for 10 years.

I hope you're right, John, and that he's dead wrong.

Jonathan S. writes:

Saw in a recent posting of yours that you updated your list of trip reports that review the auto-train. My report, which was from June 2002, has an extensive discussion of our experiences taking the auto-train this past summer. However, you didn't mention my report. Thought you might want to know.

Thanks for the reminder, John! Sorry for missing your report on the list.

Feedback for Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix

Fred asks:

In October 2001, my family went to Disneyland. I can honestly say I've never had a less enjoyable time at the park then I did on that trip. Because of being what appeared to be short-staffed, there were a number of things closed, including most places to eat. We even had an incident where we were told the restaurants were only open for lunch when we were looking for somewhere to have dinner. Several of the more popular attractions were down and the cast members all seemed rushed and did very little to make our visit enjoyable. I am in a wheelchair and I actually got the feeling that the CMs didn't want to be bothered.

We went in to City Hall and made our feelings known and were given complimentary passes to return at another time. We were only there for the day and so were, of course, only given single day passes to return. The passes are good for two years from that date. However, with all the refurbishments and other closures, I have very little desire to go at this time or any time soon. From reading your site it appears the closures will be in full motion all through this coming summer and so I feel the trip would be a wasted one. I would, however, really like to see the park for its fiftieth birthday.

My question is... do you have any suggestions as to who to contact to see if I can get an extension on the passes or if they can possibly be replaced? I figured if anyone knew, you folks would.

Hi Fred: I did a little checking for you. Your best bet is to contact Disneyland Guest Communications before your passes expire, and explain your situation to them as you have described it to me. They should be able to assist you.

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.

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