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MousePlanet Mailbag for March 6, 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

Melinda B. writes:

Brian, I hope that this will enlighten readers who are uncomfortable about “religious services” at Disney possibly no longer being offered.

We are preparing to go to Disney for the first time. We travel a lot and God is always with us. So for people to be upset about a service that may possibly no longer exist because they can't worship is so silly. To miss the service because it was enjoyable is one thing. Worship is of the heart. It is an attitude that is an outward sign of how you love and respect all of God's creation. So this means to be considerate, compassionate, for crying out loud... it even means don't litter!

Worship can be a state of thankfulness, singing songs of praise together with your family, preparing a service time with a story and finding a place within a park to share time together, wherever two or three are gathered in unification.

Personally, I am so thankful for my family and this opportunity, for Web sites like yours where we trip planners with shoestring (infant size 3) budgets can gather helpful information. I am especially thankful for Mr. Walt Disney and making his dream a reality. My prayers are there for the people who need to understand this. Open the eyes of your heart and see this truth. It is what you make it to be.

As for being Catholic, I grew up Catholic. I am no longer practicing . I am a Christian, we share communion every week at church and when we travel, God is always with us. So to show our love we pray together, sing together, always a bible in the van and we even take our communion with us. It's about a relationship with God... not a service.

In closing I also need to find a list of the restaurants that honor the meal vouchers that are included with the package/hopper passes. We are planning carefully and want to project accordingly. What are the choices of places they can be used and the limits involving the use? God Bless! Melinda

Melinda — I would disagree that being upset about a service they may possibly no longer exist because they can't worship is so silly. You and I might not be concerned about how or where we worship, but obviously it is a bigger concern for other folks.

On the issue of the restaurants that participate in any given package deal, I'm going to have to leave that between you and your travel agent (or the Walt Disney Travel Company). Policies and procedures change so often on those deals, that it would be best for you to get an official list and have that available when you make your meal plans. I would hate to provide you with information that is dead accurate when I give it, but which is a bit out of date when you go on your trip.

Eva from Long Island, New York, writes:

Can you tell me how I can contact Disney's horticulture staff (particularly, those at The Land at WDW) via e-mail?

The reason I ask is that I purchased a "Mickey's Mini Garden" a plant growing in a glass jar from cell tissue propagated at The Land, and I was wondering what is the plant's genus & species name.

Eva — On this page you'll find a phone number that will allow you to contact Disney's horticultural staff. Sorry, but I don't have an e-mail address for them.

Karen D. writes:

Dear Mr. Bennett, When will the list of Night-Of-Joy performance artists be available for review. So far, the only artist I know of planning to attend is Rebecca St. James on September 5, 2003. I have tried to verify this on several links, including nightofjoy.com, but have not found a list anywhere. Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

Karen — I don't have any better sources to find out about the Night of Joy performers than NightofJoy.com or NightofJoy2000 at Tripod.com. I'd suggest you keep checking those sites periodically until closer to September.

Todd A. writes:

I am soo excited to read about your recent family reunion trip. This is exactly why I am OCD [obsessive-compulsive] about your site. We get the positive items along with a balance of the things we want to watch for so we don't get swallowed up and taken advantage by the big Disney machine.

We are so thankful for the heads-up you provide through your site, though we are not happy with the new format. We really liked your column when it stood alone. (And think it merited it) However your trip report is wonderful. I absolutely look forward to those who are articulate enough to detail the really meaningful portions of their vacation. We need their detailed reports to help the rest of us to live vicariously though unable to take a Disney trip at will.

The trip reports purpose is twofold, to glean wonderful trip ideas and try to put ourselves in the place of the travelers, remembering when we were there.

When a trip report can help us to recall the Spanish recording of the monorail or perhaps the feeling of just relaxing in the lobby of our favorite Disney resort. Ooh man, that is the exactly the reason why we frequent your site. I get so excited about the next trip.

I just wanted to thank you, I get a lot out of the information you provide.

Thanks for the very kind note, Todd. In just a couple months, I'll be going back so you can expect another report in mid-May or so.

Marion writes:

I stumbled onto your Web site while doing some research about the Disney Vacation Club (DVC). We are seriously considering buying in but wanted to dig a little first. We live in Maryland and therefore don't foresee traveling to Florida every year with our two young children. One of the things I'd like to use the club for is vacations nearby through the Interval International arrangement. How hard is it to get desired accommodations through them? Of course our sales person made it sound like it's almost “ask and you shall receive” but from reading your entire Web site I didn't get that.

I also don't understand why, for 160 points at high season, you can get a whole week in a one bedroom when it is many more points than that for a week at Disney at peak times. Why don't they make it more point-affordable to stay at Disney as they obviously want our vacation dollars for food and all that great Disney stuff!? I also plan to call some of the resellers since I'm thinking we could get more points for our purchase price than we are looking at directly through DVC. It also seems like it would get cheaper and cheaper to buy in the closer it gets to 2042 since you'd have fewer and fewer years to enjoy the benefits of membership.

Your Web site was very informative and I really appreciate the info and insight in it. If you would have time to respond to this email I would be very grateful.

Thanks in advance.

Marion — The Disney Vacation Club (DVC) sets point values for the various times of the year based on a supply and demand philosophy. You need to keep in mind that the DVC is owned and operated by a different business unit than the Walt Disney World Resort. They want to make their own business unit profitable, even if it means less synergy with the other parts of the company. It doesn't make sense from the big picture perspective, but that's why things are so odd around DVC land sometimes.

I don't think you'll go wrong with a reseller. The DVC does have to approve all resale purchases, but they seem to approve all reasonable offers. (Although I do know that they have rejected a few in the past.)

Regarding the use of Interval International, I only have one personal experience to share. I started the process of trying to trade out to a resort in Hawaii a few years ago, but backed out for personal reasons. We had no offers at all, but we only had our trade request in for a couple of months and that was almost a full year before the time we wanted to trade out. I've been told that trading out is no problem, and I have no reason to doubt that is true, but neither can I confirm it by personal experience.

Steve R. writes:

Brian, I just finished your most recent trip report and enjoyed it very much. We also had a family reunion of sorts in 2001 (also 12 people from age 2 to 85) so I know what some of the trials and tribulations are. I'm glad you all seemed to have a great time.

If I can impose, I do have a couple of questions. How were your Mom and Dad able to buy the additional DVC points for the stay? I assume they found them on one of the Web sites. Did the owner transfer them to their account or make the ressie for them? Can I ask what they paid per point? Was it an easy transaction?

I've been faced several times with needing additional points for a larger villa and, so far, I've resorted to borrowing points. I'd like to know if this “other option” is viable.

Steve — I'm glad you enjoyed the report. We really did have a great time considering the weather and crowds.

My Mom and Dad bought 150 points at Old Key West through a DVC point reseller. They didn't “rent” them, they bought them... so they'll have those points in future years too (after they "pay me back" for my points that we used on the trip). I think, from your question, that you misunderstood that.

We bought the points through Time Share Store. There's a link to their site from my DVC section on MousePlanet if you'd like to check it out. The sale went well, I think. The points had a particular price on them, we offered a little less, and the sellers accepted. The DVC had to approve the sale, but everything happened very quickly and efficiently.

Stan writes:

Do you know where the web site is to purchase the Disney meal vouchers. Some goof is selling this information on Ebay. What a shame.

Stan — I'm not sure if I'm going to answer your question because I'm not exactly what's being sold on Ebay, but I'll give it the ol' college try.

There are only two types of meal vouchers that I'm aware of at WDW. The first is for package deals sold by Walt Disney Travel, which include accommodations, park passes, and meals. Those packages are generally sold at a premium price. It's usually much less costly to buy everything a la carte, so you can make sure you'll use what you buy. The vouchers that come with such a package deal are usually dated, though, so I don't think you'd want to buy them via Ebay.

The second type of voucher was called the Animal Kingdom's Meal Plus Program. By buying a meal certificate for $10.99 plus tax for adults and $5.99 plus tax for children, guests were entitled to one fast food meal and beverage, one bottled soda or water, and one ice cream or popcorn per certificate purchased. Unfortunately, that program ran during the Summer of 2002 and is no longer available.

Stan got curious about these vouchers, and after some research, wrote back:

Dealpass is the company that is selling on Ebay for between 2 and 4 bucks a pop. On this site you are able to sign up for a buck and have a 30-day trial membership, which you can cancel at anytime within the 30 days by a 1-800 number given on the site.

So you sign up for a buck and then you are able to buy up to 40 Disney Quick and Casual Meal Vouchers for $11.25 each and then you call the 1-800 number and cancel. So people are buying the 40 max and selling them on Ebay for almost twice what they paid, with only the buck overhead they paid for the trial membership. For whatever reason these expire on May 31, 2003. I have e-mailed people who have purchased these and say that they are more than worth it. Might be something you would want to put on your site. It's a shame that they are selling the site address on Ebay.

Thanks Stan. Looks like you found out more than I ever knew about this thing.

Suzie asks:

Do you have or where can I find a recipe for the walnut dressing served at Disney World in Orlando? It may have been served with Quail Salad Waldorf, but it was also listed in the cookbook from quite a few years ago, sold at Disney World. I believe there was also a recipe for mandarin orange salad.

Suzie — I don't have that information myself. I'll make sure to ask your question in an upcoming mailbag (usually published on Thursdays on MousePlanet) and we'll see if we get any reader responses.

A reader asks:

I saw your A to Z and other guides on the MousePlanet site and had a question about finding the value of used media before we go to Orlando.

My wife and I have gone to WDW about 5 times in the last 7 years, and each time purchased multi-day park hopper plus passes. We didn't overly plan for each day, and ended up with what we know are extra unused days on each ticket. (that is, maybe we decided to go to Universal Studios Florida or Seaworld and ended up spending 4 days in the WDW parks on a 5-day trip, but purchased a 5-day pass anyway). There were a few trips where we didn't go to any water parks or Pleasure Island so we know those entries are still available to us.

We now have a pile of passes saved up and would like to know what days/parks are on them. We will be going again in December and would like to know how much to budget for tickets for whatever days we don't have.

Is there an online resource that lets me look up a pass number to see what is left on there?

To the best of my knowledge, the only place you can have those passes scanned to know for sure what value remains on them is at Walt Disney World Guest Relations at one of the theme parks or at Downtown Disney. Each of the parks have a Guest Relations window that you can visit from outside the park gates, so you should be able to accomplish your goal without going too far out of your way.

You might want to talk to the Guest Relations cast member and see if you can have the remaining value of all those passes consolidated on new passes. For example, if (in your name) there are two or three passes with a day or two on them, you might be able to have the prorated value applied to the purchase of a new park hopper.

Of course, the key is that only the person that actually used the pass in the past can legally use them in the future (or have the value of the pass placed on a new one for that same person to use).

Also, don't forget that some of those passes might not include access to Animal Kingdom. Since that park only opened in 1998, and the traditional Walt Disney World policy is for old passes to only be good at the parks that were open at the time the passes were purchased, that might be an issue. I've heard that Guest Relations is a bit lenient on passes that do not include Animal Kingdom, however, just because they want to encourage anyone that would ever want to visit that huge park to do so.

Amy writes:

You have been an excellent source of Disney info for me in the past. Can you please advise? I would like to book an inexpensive package (hotel and hopper passes) as economically as possible. Obviously the Disney Travel is most expensive. I have investigated and found reasonable pricing with GetAwayToday.com. Since I will not be needing airfare, can you recommend any other companies in which to check out? I'm looking to stay right across the street on Harbor Blvd. Thanks so much

Amy — I'd suggest you contact MouseEarVacations.com as one alternative. Pam Schuck, from MouseEarVacations, has helped me personally in the past.


Contact Brian at brian@mouseplanet.com.
Feedback for Lani Teshima

Mandi writes:

Please help! My family and I will be going to Disney World next week, and I need to know if my 9 month old will be allowed on any of the rides in the parks? We will be visiting Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and MGM.

Mandi — Brian Bennett, our WDW content provider, has put together a wonderful little guide called “Walt Disney World with Kids.” It contains a wealth of information to help plan your upcoming visit to the resort with your little one.

Specifically, the two pages you will want to read are the ones listing height restrictions, and about Disney's “Rider Switch” system, which allows you and the adults in your party to “swap” places really easily so that someone can always watch your baby.

Have a wonderful trip.

Kimberley writes:

Hi. I am in the Unitd States Coast Guard, and was wondering about California Adventure tickets for myself and about five other active duty personnel. We want to go in March for a morale event, and I am not sure how to go about buying the tickets. Is at the gate the sameprice, or should we buy in advance? I would appreciate if you e-mailed me back. Thanks.

Kimberly — I went ahead and made some phone calls for you. It appears that the San Pedro Coast Guard station does not have an MWR (Morale, Welfare & Recreation) office that sells park tickets. They referred me to the nearby U.S. Navy base, where I was able to speak to a person who provided me with the information you needed.

The MWR ticket offices still sell tickets to the Disneyland Resort, but life has gotten a little more complicated now that Disney opened a second park (Disney's California Adventure).

If you only wanted to visit a single park for just one day, you still have a good deal by purchasing a single-day ticket for $35.50 ($30.50 for children). However, that is apparently the only ticket they sell. If you wanted to visit Disneyland in addition to Disney's California Adventure park, the $35.50 ticket will not let you do so.

Since you are based in San Pedro, the ticket agent at the MWR office said that your best bet if you want to visit for more than one day, or visit more than one park, is to purchase a special Southern California resident discount ticket. For the regular one-day ticket price of $47, these tickets come with a special bonus of letting you in to the second park on another day (in effect, a two-day ticket with no park-hopping privileges). We cover the details in our Park Update: Disneyland column.

Since the SoCal promotion runs through May 16, you have plenty of time to use it for your morale event.

Have a wonderful time!


You can contact Lani here.
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