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MousePlanet Mailbag for May 22, 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 Lani Teshima

In a previous mailbag, Lani had provided some information about fitness centers to reader Lynne T.Shevys responded with the following:

Lani — If you take a look at other Walt Disney World/Disneyland Web sites, most of them actually answer the question instead of offering a phone number to call. You wrote:

“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.”

Isn't that why your site is up? To provide that type of information? Weak...

Hi Shevys. I'm sorry that my suggestion to Lynne regarding gym facilities disappointed you, but I'm glad you took the time to write to me.

The primary reason I suggested that she contact the spa directly was because Lynne did not specify exactly what kind of weight lifting equipment (or other gym equipment and machines) she was looking for, and I felt it would be easiest for her to speak to the staff there directly.

If you had a chance to read the rest of my reply to Lynne, you may have noted that I provided considerable details about the fitness center at the Grand Floridian instead of providing her with just its phone number.

You are quite right, however, that we do not have all of the details of the gym equipment for all resort fitness centers up on our site. As a person interested in staying fit, that is one thing I hope we can slowly add over time to our site. In my own searches for information on this very topic, I found a very difficult time obtaining such detailed information myself.

Again, thanks for dropping your note. — Lani

Shevys replied to my e-mail with the following:

No offense meant with my original message... I do feel like you almost always provide a great answer and a great column.

Keep up the good work.

Thanks, Shevys!

Lani just can't stop talking about the Disney marathon. Others who have experienced it, though, also like to share in the enthusiasm. Charles W. writes:

Early this morning I was sitting here thinking of ways to motivate myself through the heat, humidity and Central American smoke. I thought of all the wonderful Walt Disney World Marathon memories that I have seen in the last 4 years. So from the home office in Houston, Texas, my most wonderful Walt Disney World Marathon memories:

The Walt Disney World Marathon 2000 start — All starts are great, but this year WDW opened the millennium and race with a bang. They started off with a script that closely followed the one heard at Illuminations that year. One of the large drums was setting on the bridge as we crossed under it at the start.

The surreal atmosphere as we enter Epcot in the early morning. For me, it is always a little foggy (most likely an internal fog).

All the folks dashing off the side of the road into the bushes immediately after the start. I have been there and always come out as the embarrassed one. Also the guy who was trying to hide behind a sign post on a highway median (must have been urgent).

The thrill of reaching the Disney Speedway — Wow, you have conquered the first stretch of long road with little spectator support. It's also about a third of the race! Full [marathon participants] to the right, half [marathon participants] to the left...

Full to the right, half to the left... No, it's my other right, dummy. The halfway point is always a tough decision for me. The year I ran the half, I wanted to go right for the full, and when I run the full, I seem to want to go left? I am really mixed up by this point in the race.

The 2001 marathon, where I severely blistered the balls of both feet — For whatever reason, the toe box area of both shoes was loose that morning. I stopped after leaving Animal Kingdom and tried to treat the first blister. Mary, my wife, was supposed to meet me at the AK that day. If she had been there, I would have tanked the run and gone home. She wasn't there because of transportation issues that day, so I ran on. Mile 20, the other foot was blistered and popped. I hobbled home from there. I was paced the last 3 miles by a medic on a bike. He disappeared as I entered the backstage area leaving Epcot. He reappeared at the finish line and was the first to congratulate me. I must have really looked bad.

All the different costumes and unique clothing —In 2000, someone dressed up as Cruella De Vil. Along with her were 15 to 20 runners in Dalmatian garb. Cruella looked me in the eye at Mile 6 and asked if I was one of here puppies. She scared me and I sprinted for the next mile. I also remember the pair of winky shorts (I think some one on this list wore them). Basically these shorts had a smiley face on the rear with one eye winking. As she ran, the face became animated. The shorts were a conversation piece for those coming up from behind.

The effort of each “friend” in the race — Last year I was deeply moved as I volunteered as a course monitor.

I was at the entrance to Epcot and we were told that all runners had passed. About 8-10 minutes later, the crowd parted and here comes a runner by herself.

The crowd politely applauded as she trudged by and about a 19- to 20-minute pace. You could see in her face that at mile 2.5 she knew that she was not going to make the end, and would most likely be yanked off the course as she left Epcot [for not meeting the minimum pace]. Yet, there she was running as best she could that morning.

As she passed, a lady next to me said something along the lines of not believing that they could ever allow someone like that on the course. Before I could say anything, someone else in the crowd responded with, “Well, at least she had the courage to try!” That's when I decided to really work on healing my knee and attempting to run the race again.

The Medal —The first one is still my favorite. It seemed so heavy. I wore it with pride as I hobbled through the parks the next day!

Cinderella Castle — This is the pinnacle of the run.

The look on my family's face after each race — I don't think they fully understand why, but they do understand how, and the dedication required to get to the line. Recently my daughter, who graduates in a couple weeks, told me that she has derived strength and devotion from watching me struggle during the training for each marathon, and that she was proud of my efforts.

Oh Charles, thank you for a wonderful story — I was laughing and crying at the same time! Your tale about the woman who was running really slow was so touching. Shame on the person for making a biting comment, and kudos for the person who said she had the courage to try!

Feedback for Cast Place (Shoshana Lewin)

We are always pleased at the wide variety of readers we have. The following, however, is particularly special: She is June Mosley, the mother of Dana Mosley Sieben, whose reader-submitted Cast Place story, “Magic and Movies” ran this week.

Ms. Lewin,

Thank you for running my daughter's story today. It will never be forgotten. I learned a few things that she didn't share with me back then, such as the story about Mr. Eisner.

Yes, she spent several semesters and summers there, but one time I lost both my daughters to WDW — when the Great Movie Ride opened. Dana didn't mention the fact that she talked Christy into giving it a whirl. Both girls were excited — they thought they would be able to work together.

We were at WDW last month and were talking about when it first opened. Seems Christy ended up somewhere other than the Great Movie Ride because of lack of training and time or some such. I do know that both daughters came out of the WDW experience greatly changed.

There are stories each tell, but they're so numerous! I've told them many times that they ought to write it all down for posterity.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I don't regret supporting them during those semesters. They learned many lessons about life (having fun, hard work, handling complaints and crises), and, of course, how to interact with the multitude of races and cultures out there. Thanks to WDW for giving them the opportunities.

Hi June.

You are so welcome! I think it is so important to have supportive parents, like you, who are willing to let their children leave college (even for a semester) to work at Disneyland or Walt Disney World. If it wasn't for my parents and grandparents, I don't think I would have even had the courage to apply in the first place.

Jillian writes:

Dear Shoshana,

Just yesterday, my best friend told me she had gotten the part of Ariel at Disneyland — I was crushed. Am I a bad friend? No, I am not. I was crushed because I have wanted to be a princess at Disneyland my entire life.

I am currently attending a university and minoring in drama, and I am taking dance classes to freshen up on some moves. Like many girls, I love the Disney princesses. Ever since I could talk, I have been saying that one day I wanted to work for Disneyland. I want to because I have never had so much passion for a company or anything for that matter. So, I have been taking classes and better preparing myself for auditioning when I graduate.

When my friend told me she had made the part, I was confused and kind of sad. I did not understand how, why. She has never taken a class in her life.

True, I haven't tried out yet, so my chances are not ruined. However, after reading your article, I must admit I am a little scared. A lot of what you described in that article is what I am feeling. I will do anything to get that part, and I am scaring myself for thinking that way. I need to hear someone say that it isn't all it's cracked up to be. Can you?

Hey Jillian. When I was in the program, three of my fellow CMs auditioned and were selected for the Disney Zoo Crew (character roles). A lot of times it isn't just being able to dance (although that is a large part of it) it is also based on looks and height. If you are really tall (or short) you won't be cast as a princess, although there are parts for every height. You can go to the Disney Careers Web page and find out more about auditioning.

Since you wrote that you are waiting to graduate to audition so you can improve your acting and dancing skills, don't worry if your friend received a role now. There are some roles where you need A lot of dance training and others that require very little. Ariel is not a dancer — meaning the part goes to someone who looks like she could be a mermaid. When you feel you are ready to audition, go for it! You'll never know till you try.

Good luck!

Doug T. writes:

Hi Shoshana.

I just read your column on MousePlanet about the College Program, and I thought I'd share some info about the program as it stands today.

I was hired into the Disneyland Resort College Program for summer of 2001, and I was one of the campus reps who was supposed to help recruit people for the 2002 program. Unfortunately, after 9/11 Disney chose to cancel the program entirely and save money by just hiring locals. I came back the next summer, and had to find my own housing, which I split with a couple of friends from the summer of 2001 and a friend who hired in specifically to work that summer.

So, Disneyland doesn't have a college program anymore, and WDW has cut back on theirs dramatically. It's really sad, as it was a great program. With luck maybe they'll bring it back someday.

Hi Doug. I think it's just awful that the program ended. I do hope some of the “powers that be” read the series and remember how wonderful the program was. I tried getting in touch with someone in College Relations using the number printed on all of my program information packets — the phone just kept ringing.

If you'd like to share your experience, I'm sure our readers would love to know what happened to the program in its last year.

Brittni S. writes:

The Disney College program sounds great. I'm a Disney addict, I visit both parks in Florida and California about five times a year each and I live in Texas. I'm just curious when they would start accepting applications for summer 2004. I looked at the Disney Web site and it said its not accepting right now. Does the program fill up fast? Is it difficult to get into?

Hi Brittni. Sadly, both parks have discontinued their summer college programs, but WDW does have fall and winter programs, if you are able to leave campus for a semester. You can read about them at their program Web page. There are work opportunities that are not part of the college program at both parks. Since you live in Texas, WDW might be a more feasible place to work (even for the summer as a regular CM) although if you'd prefer to spend the summer in sunny California, go for it.

Just keep in mind if you do come to work for the summer you will be responsible for your own housing and transportation. The amount of people that the  WDW College Program takes each semester varies. I don't think its hard to get into if you know your stuff and show you will be a hardworking, responsible Cast Member.

As far as learning more while you are a CM, you can always see what kinds of programs are available when you apply or get to the resort (they might have job shadowing or networking seminars that you can attend). Good luck!

Feedback for Mark Goldhaber

Jeff C. wrote:

In reading the article on theming, I did not see it mentioned that the Swan and Dolphin hotels are Disney acquisitions and not Disney creations. The builders did not care about the disruption to the Epcot sight lines because it was not their problem. This was pointed out during an architecture tour I took during the early days of the Disney Institute. By the way, I can't stand Michael Graves' work (even his Target tea pots and toasters).

While I'm at it, I will mention that the now-defunct Disney Institute individual program area had a thematic error. At what I would call the Spa building, I noticed there was a stairwell that was utterly devoid of any theming. It was essentially flat, gray paint on concrete and steel whereas the rest of the building had a Roman spa look and feel. The architecture tour guide explained that in modeling the building, the people doing the sight lines missed the stairwell because it was concealed by an outer wall. He told me to write the head of the Institute to see if they could at least paint it into the theme.

Hi Jeff — Glad to see others have a similar eye for detail.

Actually, the Swan and Dolphin are owned and operated by Loews Hotels, which owns the Sheraton and Westin chains. However, the design of the building was chosen by Michael Eisner himself. There is a good description of the selection process, and how Graves won the job over Bob Venturi and Alan Lapidus in the book, Building a Dream: The Art of Disney Architecture by Beth Dunlop.

I attended a couple of programs at the Institute back in 1996, but I must not have been in the building that you describe. Sounds like they were in a bit of a hurry finishing up or something. I wonder if anybody else knows the story about the missed stairwell. I guess we'll find soon out if it gets retouched during the conversion process to the Saratoga Springs theme.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the article!

Patty B. wrote:

I was surprised to see that you live in the suburbs of Albany as I do. I was just curious where you are. I'm in Voorheesville. I didn't realize there were that many of us Disney nuts around! Where have we been hiding? I think we should come out of the closet. Glad to see a “neighbor” posting on MousePlanet.

I'm in Guilderland. Nice to meet you. When my February trip report gets posted (which will be after the November report surfaces; both are in the queue) you'll see that on my last day, I ran into a family from Clifton Park on the bus on the way to the Magic Kingdom. All together now: “It's a small world after all...”

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed the article. — Mark

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