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MousePlanet Mailbag for April 24, 2003

We receive considerable feedback regarding our site. Today's mailbag is full of lots of feedback and responses from our writers, so kick back and enjoy!

Feedback for Shoshana Lewin

The feedback to Shoshana regarding her comment about Steven Sondheim simply refused to quit! Skypp C. writes:

Shoshana – I respect your opinions, but as a critic, you suck.

I agree that the content of his musicals are dark and morose, but you're overlooking the fact that that the content is the surface level of the shows and have the ability to make us think. These shows actually speak volumes about society. A good theater student would recognize that. A good student and a good critic would also recognize that these lyrics are more than face value. It may seem “gross” to you and a downer, but the lyrics are teaching you a lesson and are encouraging you to think.

Sherman music doesn't really encourage you to think. Intelligent people can recognize the difference… however, you have not shown proof that you do.

Hi Skypp – If you'll look at my original articles, you'll notice I was not writing a critique of all musicals, just the Disney animated ones. This became an issue when I agreed with another reader about Sondheim — that's all. Intelligence was never an issue. I enjoy musicals for the way they make me feel and I don't like feeling depressed, grossed out or “less intelligent” because I enjoy happy musicals. People should be able to enjoy something without having to think about the lesson behind it. The Sherman Brothers make me smile, and often — but not always — Sondheim doesn't. Thank you for your letter.

Kelly P. writes:

I don't really enjoy Sondheim that much, either. And I have a problem with people labeling him the “greatest” musical genius when there have been so many. To me, all his stuff sounds the same.

I also don't understand why someone would use epithets like “juvenile” regarding your comments, just because they don't agree with you. That's bordering on name-calling.

I just wanted you to know that I enjoyed your articles. People don't write often enough when they like something, but they sure write often enough to complain. I think people should try to maintain a Disney attitude and not be so hypercritical about this free Web site. We're lucky to have people like you who are willing to write about one of our favorite topics.

Thanks, Kelly

Thank you Kelly for your kind words! It is so seldom that people write when they agree with you. I'm glad you enjoyed the article and I hope you continue to enjoy all the articles on MousePlanet.

Dear Readers,

There has been quite an uproar lately about my opinion toward Stephen Sondheim — which all came out a response to a letter several weeks ago. We all have our own opinions, and what you have seen are mine. I never said I was a theater critic, but I am a theater lover — and a musical lover. If you don't agree with me, that's fine. This discussion ends here. If you want to talk more about Disney musicals, I'm all ears. However, if you wish to talk more about Sondheim, feel free to start a thread in the MousePad Entertainment forum. Thank you. — Shoshana

Feedback for Cast Place, with Shoshana

On Shoshana's debut article in our popular Cast Place column, “College With the Mouse, Part One: Mouse U — from Missouri to Anaheim,” Josh U. writes:


Let me just say, I continue to enjoy your articles on MousePlanet.

For the record, you,re a very lucky person. About the same time you were discovering a Disney College Program at Disneyland, I was fighting tooth and nail with a recruiter to even allow me to be considered for Disneyland rather than Walt Disney World. I too was in Missouri, but not at Missouri University. Nevertheless, I ended up spending time in the cesspool of WDW, know that your experience was very rare and count your blessings!

Keep you the good work.

Thanks Josh. I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. I hope you get the chance — even for a few months — to work at Disneyland. It might be after you retire, but don't give up on that dream!

Feedback for Todd Regan

MousePlanet's intrepid Dusty Traveler wrote a sad farewell to Central Florida's Cypress Gardens. Sarah M. writes:


Thanks for your well-written article on the closing of Cypress Gardens.

I grew up in Orlando and my family made occasional visits to Cypress Gardens. As a little girl my favorite aspect of the park were the ski shows. I loved the Hatfield and McCoy feud ski show. It was great! I seem to recall that Cypress Gardens was especially popular with the senior citizen crowd. My grandparents loved it. I do have some pictures somewhere, but they are all from the '80s. I'm so sad to think it is closed now. I hate to think that such a beautiful place will fall into disarray.

Thanks for the update.

Thank you, Sarah. I hope Disney, Six Flags, or Cedar Fair takes advantage of the plants and animals or buys the whole park. However, I fear that it will all just be sold off at auction and then the land will be developed into housing tracts. It is just so sad to see yet another icon of Florida's past slip away.

Sarah replied:

I read on CNN that Jeb Bush is considering taking it on as part of a state project called the Florida Forever program, which was established to conserve environmentally sensitive land. I look forward to seeing what the outcome is.

Sarah — Now that is an interesting concept! Let's hope that the gardens remain in at least some form. I wonder if Jeb would be “conserving” the water ski shows as well. Hmm.

Thank you so much for forwarding this along!

Caswell A. writes:

Dusty Traveler,

I just read your article on Cypress Gardens. My parents used to take us to Disney every summer, back in the '70s and early '80s. On just about every trip, we would go over to Cypress Gardens. Although I thought it was boring (I was a kid, what did I know), I have many found memories of the water skiing shows. I'm sorry to hear of its closing. My guess is, some developer will probably buy it and turn it into a golf course and high priced houses.

Thanks for writing this story.

Caswell — Thank you very much for your reply.

I can understand why you would find the gardens a little boring when you were younger. Cypress' target market was of retirement age. However, the ski shows and animals were compelling to people of all ages. I fear that your thoughts on what could happen to Cypress Gardens may actually come to pass. That land is simply too valuable to just sit idle. Although, you never know, someone in the industry may still buy them out and reopen it.

Take care, and thank you for writing.

Bob L. writes:

For what it's worth, just last summer here in Los Angeles, my wife and I enjoyed Cypress Gardens vicariously by way of a 50th anniversary showing of This is Cinerama at the Cinerama Dome (in three–projector Cinerama!).

This film (the top-grossing flick of 1952) apparently was responsible for really putting Cypress Gardens on the map. One of the highlights of the travelogue featured the Florida attraction with all the flora, the water skiing and, of course, the Southern belles in glorious Technicolor. The breathless, gee-whiz narration and storyline were 1950s cornball in the grandest sense but, nonetheless, it showed this charming attraction in its heyday.

Thanks, Bob. The information about This is Cinerama is priceless.

Feedback for Adrienne Vincent–Phoenix

Kudos are coming in to Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix for the images she took for our Walt Disney World Spring Desktops. Mike B. writes:

Hi, Adrienne,

I was just admiring the spring break pictures you posted on MousePlanet, and was wondering what type camera/film you use. The one that really caught my eye was the Illuminations shot… I've never been able to get one with that much color and clarity. I also admired how you were able to snap places like [the] China [pavillion] without anyone in the picture!

I enjoyed your piece, and look forward to hearing from you.

Hi Mike.

Thanks for your note. I've received quite a few questions about those photos. I use a digital camera for all of the photos I take for MousePlanet. Specifically, I use a Sony Mavica FD85, which, amazingly, is only a 1.3 megapixel model.

For daytime outdoor photos, I shoot with normal outdoor white balance, normal exposure, but I always use a flash. That helps with color saturation — if I don't use the flash, the colors are often muddy.

The Illuminations photo was taken with the “night” setting — basically a long exposure. I had the camera balanced on a fence, and tried to anticipate the shells. I've seen the show a few times, so I have a pretty good idea of when things will explode. My Mavica is quite sensitive to red light, something common to digital cameras in general. That is why we went with the blue photo you liked. Any of the photos of red shells “burned” too much — all the camera saw were red blobs.

We were really fortunate to visit Epcot on a fairly uncrowded day in March, but my husband and I had to demonstrate a lot of patience to get those shots — me, as the 100th person stepped into my perfect shot, and my husband, as he stopped yet again to figure out where I had disappeared to. “Oh, look honey — there's nobody in the butterfly garden!”

Feedback for Lani Teshima

After publishing articles on exercising at Disneyland, as well as on the Walt Disney World Marathon, Lani now gets inquiries related to staying fit while on vacation. Lynne T. writes:

Lani — Do you have any idea what resorts and/or places in Walt Disney World have fitness rooms? We're staying at Port Orleans resort beginning next week. I like to run in the morning but lift weights after that. Are there fitness rooms I could run to in the a.m.?

Thanks! Can't find much info on this on the WDW and related Web sites.

Our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide includes a list of on–property fitness and health clubs, with their phone numbers.

Although it does not appear that Port Orleans has its own fitness center, Old Key West Resort nearby has something called Slappy Joe's Massage Room — I don't know if they have a full fitness center, but you can phone them at 407-827-1677 to find out.

I do know that as a guest of a WDW on-property resort, you can also purchase passes for the health club at the Grand Floridian (407–824–2433). St. John's Health Club has treadmills, Stairmasters, elliptical trainers, as well as good complement of Cybex equipment. They even have free weights if that is your preference. They are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. I believe you can purchase a one-day pass for $15, or a length-of-stay pass for $30.

Unfortunately, the Grand Floridian is some distance from Port Orleans. Unless you have your own car, getting to and from the Grand Floridian may end up eating quite a bit of time in your day.

What kind of weight work do you like to do? It's difficult to put in a full workout on vacation (unless you are specifically taking a “fitness vacation” at a spa). When I'm home, I, too, combine resistance training with my cardio workouts (mostly free weights but some Body Masters equipment). However when I'm traveling, I find it difficult to get a satisfying workout in because of various factors (lack of time, easy access to facilities, and so on). Instead, what I do is to take a rubberized resistance band with me. These take up almost no room in a travel bag, but you can get almost a full workout from one of these — and in fact, I sometimes use these bands during my regular workouts at home.

Make sure you find the optimal resistance for you (as they come in different strengths), and take some time to get used to the band exercises before your travel. Most of them come with brochures showing the different positions. If there is a trainer at your gym who uses bands, consider arranging for a training session with the person so you can learn how to use them correctly.

One more thing — if you like to run, don't forget that WDW has both a 10K in the fall, and a very popular marathon in January.

Have a great vacation!

Feedback for Mike Scopa

When Mike wrote, “How not to Spend the Night in the Magic Kingdom,” a belated April Fool's story about how he found himself accidentally in the park after closing, Mike's in-box was deluged with e-mail. The following are some representative samples.

Timony W. writes:

Great story! Maybe someday you could get permission to spend the night there with the maintenance crew to see what really goes on.

Tim — I'm sure they work hard. When the park opens each day everything always looks freshly painted and clean. And sometimes there's a flower or shrub or tree that wasn't there the night before. Thanks for the note.

Dan Y. writes:

I read articles written by you and others on this site to gain more information about the parks, and occasionally to enjoy a good story. This night in the Magic Kingdom story contained neither. I usually enjoy your writing, but this time you really let me down and wasted my time. Just thought you'd like to know.

Hi Dan, I'm sorry that my article disappointed you but also am glad that you took the time to drop me a note to let me know how you feel.

It's important for me to understand what my readers like, and I hope that I can win you back with my upcoming articles.

Thanks again for being honest with me.

Dan replied:

You haven't lost me, Mike. And I guess I have to sort of apologize for the caustic nature of my last e-mail. I'm usually a pretty mellow guy, but we all have our moments, don't we? Keep the good stuff coming — I appreciate your insights!

Hey Dan, Not only are you mellow but also classy. How many people would write back and apologize… especially when it's unnecessary to do so?

Everyone here at MousePlanet appreciates the feedback we get and you were justified in letting me know how you feel.

So keep those cards and letters coming, Dan.

Michael P. writes:

Hey Mike. Just read your story, funny.

Here's a story for you: In the '60s my sister worked at Disneyland. That's when they still closed on Mondays and Tuesdays for repairs and stuff. Well, then they had cool benefits for cast members. One of them was movie night at the park, on I think the first Tuesday of the month.

Anyway, we would enter through the main gate and walk through the park to the Fantasyland Theater (long gone). It was strange walking through the park when there's nobody in it.

It was like being in the Twilight Zone all the lights were on music playing. It was cool and scary at the same time.

I've never forgotten it.

Hi Michael. Thanks for the story.

It sounds pretty much how most of us envision how it would be… surreal. I'll bet that's a memory that will last forever.

Thanks for sharing that memory.

Rodrigo Hernandez from KOST radio writes:

I produce a hugely successful morning show in Los Angeles called “The Mark and Kim Show.” We work a lot with Disney. Dick Cook and Roy Disney are huge fans of ours. (As a matter of fact, we're going to do a Breakfast with Winnie the Pooh at Disneyland to promote the new ride.)

I was reading your report thinking to myself, “He would be a great interview!”

You got me! Hook, line and sinker... That's what I get for playing an April Fool's joke on our listeners!

Pat yourself on the back...

Rodrigo Hernandez
Producer, “The Mark and Kim Show”
KOST 103.5, Los Angeles

Hi Rodrigo — Glad you liked it. I wonder how many other April Fool pranksters found themselves caught “hook, line, and sinker”?

Continued good luck with the show, and say hi to Dick Cook and Roy Disney for me and everyone at Mouseplanet.

Jim K. writes:

Hi Mike — Just got reeled in to your “Falling Asleep in the Magic Kingdom” story. It was very funny — you totally had me. Well done.

Hi Jim, If it made you smile, dream, or laugh then the author is pleased. Thanks for the note.

Keith C. writes:

Mike, I enjoyed your story — it really drew me in, which I suppose makes the “joke” aspect of it all the more effective. But I'd have to say that it's bad form to attempt an “April Fool's” joke after April 1st. Beyond the breach of “April Fool's etiquette,” my bigger concern is that it may give people ideas. Is the prospect of being banned from the park enough of a deterrent? Perhaps, but I'm not sure.

As a former cast member, I've heard of guests “stowing away,” and they are not looked upon kindly. It's my understanding that they are pressed with trespassing charges (no, the Disney guards can't press charges, but they can and will call in the Orange County Sheriff). And they will be banned from the park. Guests are often banned from the park even for something as relatively minor as shoplifting. I would be astounded if you ever set foot in any Disney park again after stowing away.

In the current climate, where terrorism is such a concern (and Disney parks have been specifically targeted), stowing away is a worse idea than ever. I would be very surprised if a stowaway didn't receive a great deal of attention from the FBI and other authorities well beyond the Orange County Sheriff.

I've never seen the Magic Kingdom after closing, but I've spent many, many hours in Epcot after closing (officially, that is — when I worked second shift, I often had to stick around as much as three hours after the park closed, to make sure there were no stragglers left). It's really not as exciting or magical as you might expect. If anything it's a bit surreal, but not much more so than being the park among the handful of stragglers at closing. Throw in a handful of third-shift Custodial and Maintenance workers (who in my experience, aren't a very chatty bunch), and you have that coveted after-closing experience. It's hardly worth being banned, let alone the other probable consequences.

Hi Keith — You're probably right about me stretching April Fool's a few weeks.

I wonder if more of MousePlanet's readers would have suspected an April Fool's joke earlier in the month.

Thanks for pointing out the consequences for stowing away in the parks. I was remiss in mentioning that important point.

Also, your point on the post-9/11 atmosphere is well taken. We all should be aware of increased security measures being taken by Disney's theme parks.

Thanks for the note.

Marilyn writes:

That was an unnerving shaggy dog story. I bought the story hook, line and sinker. I really thought you had spent the night at the Magic Kingdom. I have always wondered what happened when they closed the parks and I thought I would find out today while reading your piece. I was so excited that the laundry is still sitting downstairs and my hungry dog is still hungry. I have to get moving now but thanks for the long break from reality.

Hi Marylyn — Gee… sorry about the laundry and please convey my apologies to your dog for keeping him from his meal.

But I'm glad I was able to drag you from reality if just for a brief time.

Now fold that laundry and feed that pooch.

Heinz S. writes:

I have to tell you I loved your article. It was awesome. WOW! You kept me hooked until the very end.

Now I have to have my wife read it as a night in Disneyland has always been a dream of mine.

I'm just afraid of being kicked out for life.

Hi Heinz — I agree.

Is lifetime banishment worth it?

Probably not.

Glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for the note.


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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