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MousePlanet Mailbag for May 29, 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 Park Updates

Lisa Schultz (from Washoe Valley, Nevada) wrote to us this week after we published news of the death of her good friend Christopher Bowman, the cast member who was injured in an accident in the Hyperion Theater:

Hi Alex.

I just wanted to share a very important part of Chris' life and death with you. It's something I know he would have wanted you — and everyone else — to know.

I have known Chris as an acquaintance since the mid-'80s. He was a very close friend to my best friend Tricia Paul. She and I grew up together in San Gabriel, but I moved away in elementary school to Anaheim. Tricia and Chris were friends in high school and I met him at various gatherings and such over the years.

He was adamant (and I am, too) that if anything should happen to us, our organs should be donated, hopefully to a person to save their life — but at the very least to a medical school to help others more generally.

You see, Tricia had a heart transplant at the age of 18 after a freak virus attacked her heart muscle back in 1985. She passed away January 1993. Tricia was an incredibly special person, as was Chris. In his death, the donation of his organs is his tribute to her, and he told his friends and family this much, as I have done as well.

While I hadn't seen Chris much since Tricia passed away, I know they are having a blast of a reunion in heaven — and I feel so honored to have known him and touched by his final act of giving.

As a tribute to Chris and Tricia, I urge you all to sign your donor cards as well. Its an incredible way to give joy and life to many other families in a time of grief.

Thanks so much for listening,

Lisa

Regarding the Disneyland no-fly zone, described in this week's Disneyland park update, Mike E. writes:

Hey guys, just a heads up on the graphic you posted that depicts the rectangle around Disneyland. That particular indication is a “suggested” boundary only, and is not regulatory in nature.

The TFR (Temporary flight restriction) of the 3-mile radius is just that — temporary. And while it may be around for the foreseeable future, by the FAA posting the dotted line, as opposed to a Blue solid “prohibited” area, seems to indicate it's a temporary move, and not a permanent one.

For the record, I'm a private pilot, former cast member, and avid Mousplanet reader

Pam B. writes:

I wanted to comment on the refurbishment date as “until further notice” for Superstar Limo. I was viewing another Disney Web site and it listed Superstar Limo re-opening on December 12, 2003. Any further news on that? I was viewing either MouseInfo or LaughingPlace. I don't remember which. As I am planning a Christmas trip to Disneyland, I was excited that I might be able to finally ride Superstar Limo. I understand it's not the most exciting ride, but one has to be able to say you've been on it once.

Thanks for all the great work!

Pam — we'll see if we hear anything about this… someone reading this may have also heard something more about this mystery date.

Michael Z. writes:

I'm not sure if you have addressed this yet, but I received a vacation planning video from WDW and on it they omit the MGM brand on everything, simply referring to the park as Disney's Studios. Even all the signage that is up has the MGM taken out, even the water tower! (computer animation?) Is this true? Is the park changing their name?

Hi Michael — I believe Disney quietly changed the official name of the park a couple of years ago. I, too, was surprised when I didn't see mention of "MGM" in the park. The change for the rest of us is slow in coming… eventually everybody will start calling it Disney Studios, just like we no longer refer to Epcot as EPCOT Center.

Feedback for David Koenig

Responses to "Reamin' California Reamin'" keep pourin' in.

Jean writes:

I enjoy your Web site and I particularly enjoyed this article. I am interested in most things Disney, but I don't follow them closely enough to see the patterns you pointed out and I found it very enlightening. And a little depressing that Disney couldn't be a little less bottom-line oriented.

The main reason that I'm writing is to comment on the fact that most people didn't seem to understand your goal in writing this article, based on the feedback letters you posted. I took it to be a factual (and interesting) look at DCA issues with no judgments. If I am correct in my interpretation, I just wanted to say that I felt badly for you for all the David-reamin' that you received. I suppose you don't let it bother you, which is a good thing.

I hope that you will continue to share your observations for a long time to come, I look forward to them.

Kevin Baxter writes:

I mentioned your article in my blog [Web log] on Theme Park Insider, and commented that it seemed like a Disney apologist column. I didn't think it was, but it sure read that way, which may be why you are getting so many “You suck” and “You're great” responses.

Your article does make its points very well and all are true. I especially am bothered by all the complainers who think the California theme is so limiting. I could easily fill that park with great attractions based on a California theme. I'm sure Disney could also if it wasn't so desperate to sell DVDs and plushes. So that is total garbage.

My only problem with the article, I guess, is that you point out that Disney has done all these DCA things before, but you used different parks for each example. Yes, Disney-MGM and Animal Kingdom opened way too small. Yes, Epcot had a lot of movies. Yes, Disneyland opened with a lot of off-the-shelf rides. What you didn't point out was that none of these parks opened with all of these problems. DCA did. And that is one of the things that makes it such a dreadful park.

And you didn't even touch on the lackluster theming. No park in the Disney arsenal is themed as poorly as DCA. I actually really like the Hollywood section, and I think Paradise Pier is nice, as long as you only look at the area fronting the roller coaster. Everything to the right of it is simply hideous. Every other theme is simply underwhelming. I have been to San Francisco a zillion times in my life, so when I have to look at a map to see that I am standing in the “Bay Area” section, the Imagineers have failed and failed horribly.

What also hasn't been mentioned is that Tokyo DisneySea also opened with very few attractions. But it had great theming, so unlike DCA, which is what was drawing people back to the park. If DCA had its current attractions, but Disneyland-level theming, the park could then be compared to half-parks like AK or MGM. The theming of those parks ensured they would be successful a decade after opening. DCA's ugliness does not guarantee any such thing. It could be filled with a dozen fabulous rides and it still wouldn't be a park that locals would flock to just to sit around. And that is where Disney blew it.

Muppet55 writes:

I know that it's late for this e-mail, but I'm so glad that you defended DCA in your last article. I really love DCA, and I know that there are other people in Southern California who also love the park, but I just can't help but feel that I'm alone with my feelings about the park. It seems like everywhere I look on the Internet, there are people acting like a broken record complaining about DCA.

Granted, the Internet isn't always the best place to find reasonable people, but still, it gets very tiring and a bit disheartening. In the past I've done my best to ignore the complaints but they just keep coming by the barrelful.

I guess I'll just have to live with it.

I don't know what it is about this park that seems to incite such strong feelings in both its supporters and its detractors. I do know, though, that while those who enjoy DCA seem upset at the complainers should actually be thankful — the complaints are one reason the park gets better and better.

Doug Higley writes:

“California” is a beautiful word. In fact, my favorite word. But such “passion” because it was misplaced? Or not? Amazing. The title, “California Adventure” can be easily changed to “Disney Adventure”... or “Mickey's Adventure” or whatever. The key is “easily.” Overall theme shmeem.

But whatever the park is or is not, it is in California. It is an Adventure type park. What's the difference if everything in the park has to do with California? Who cares? IMHO that can be easily ignored despite the originally "stated" theme, as is obvious with the new direction of the park. An Adventure IN California. The parks in Florida are Disney's Florida Adventures; this DCA place is California's Adventure park. What's the big hoo-ha? Ride the freakin' rides. Cripes, for passholders they are free! It is what it is...it will be what it will be. So what? Ride!

Bruce writes:

Just got back from our first trip to the Disneyland Resort. As veterans of WDW (40+ trips), we didn't know quite what to expect. Both have their plusses and minuses, but overall I found Disneyland Park to feel much like Mayberry to WDW's Magic Kingdom's Chicago — not a bad thing at all, just a very different atmosphere. Disneyland's feel is much more intimate somehow, maybe because of its size.

As for DCA… well, we bought three-day hopper passes and used two days at Disneyland and one at DCA. We spent an entire day at DCA, and you know what? I have hundreds of memories of Disneyland and two — yes, two — of DCA. Screamin' and Soarin' were the only things I talked about after the trip. This park has a distinctly un-Disney vibe.

We'll probably start going to Disneyland in the fall and WDW in the spring instead of going to WDW twice a year from now on, and I can safely say that unless Twilight Zone is radically different/better than WDW's version, I have no reason to set foot inside DCA again. Been there, done that. I can spend that $50 on a nice dinner somewhere and have an equally good time. I suspect there are a lot of folks who feel the same.

I do envy the annual passholders who aren't out anything financially if they choose to use a day of their year on DCA.

DCA has an “un-Disneylike” vibe by design.

It was supposed to be hip and edgy to attract a new audience. DCA found out the hard way, though, that its most anxious and available audience was, of course, its existing audience and they, for the most part, want "Disney" not hip and edgy.

So here came the character shows, the meet and greets, the kiddie rides, the character dining, etc. DCA is still at that schizophrenic middle ground.

Eric writes:

I was impressed by the depth of thought you put into your comparisons of DCA with Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Disney-MGM Studios. I was also impressed by the depth of thought that your readers put into their responses.

To me, the question boils down one thing: Do you think that DCA will eventually realize its place as a major Disney theme park?

Without having been there, I have to rely on information about attendance and service reductions, which indicate that DCA has not met with public acceptance to this point. Epcot and MGM seemingly have, and I think Animal Kingdom will be on its way with the Expedition Everest ride that is opening in a few years. But DCA seems to have met with more public apathy and criticism than any park before it, and despite its similarities to other parks, does not seem poised to recover as easily.

Do you think that it will, and that some day Disneyland will be a legitimate two-park resort, as WDW was in the 1980s before MGM?

Thanks for a great article.

Certainly, the more additions they make to DCA, the better and more marketable the park will become.

That said, I think the best solution to DCA's woes is to be found outside of DCA. It will take building up the rest of Disney's property in Anaheim to really become a destination resort. A third gate of “grand scale” comparable in impact to Epcot, Tokyo DisneySeas or any of the Magic Kingdom-style parks would do this automatically. It might be possible with a waterpark, highly themed Disney Vacation Club timeshare, and other lesser, but more unique attractions.

In Anaheim today Disney simply does not have what it had in Orlando in the early '80s. Yes, they both had two theme parks. But Florida had two parks that you could easily spend multiple days at each. They had championship quality golf courses. Lakes with boating, fishing and water sports. And much less competition for the tourist's dollar; remember, Universal didn't come along until after MGM.


Contact David here.
Feedback for Cast Place (Shoshana Lewin)

Susan H. writes:

I am a 4 year cast member alumni from 1979 – 1983 who married a 3-year cast member from 1978 – 1982. We actually met at WDW working in the Adventureland ticket booth ("Come to the Tiki Room"). We now have a 17-year-old daughter who is thinking about becoming a new cast member. However, we cannot find a phone number for the telephone interview hotline. Can you help us out?

Sincerely, Susan in Oviedo

Hi Susan,

I wasn't sure which park you were interested in, but here are the job line numbers I found. Both list the available jobs and how to apply for them:

  • Walt Disney World: (407) 828-1000 ext. 1
  • Disneyland: (800) 766-0888

Hopefully your daughter will be able to reach a live person to schedule an interview or conduct one over the phone. However, she might need to be seen by someone in Casting before the final decision is made. Wish her luck! That's so cute that you met your husband while working at WDW. If you ever feel like sharing your story, please e-mail me.

Kuranda writes:

Hello! My name is Kuranda, and my dad is a technician at the Disney-MGM Studios Fantasmic show. I am interested in performing as Ariel in the Fantasmic show. Although, I am only 13, I am willing to I was wondering if you could let me know when your 2004 auditions are, or if you knew of anything else that I would have to complete before I do that.

Thank you for everything! I look forward to hearing from you! Sincerly, Kuranda

Hi Kuranda — I think it's great that you want to work at WDW, but in order to recieve a role as a character, you have to be at least 16. I don't know of any roles that allow you to be hired at 14 (at least not at Disneyland; Walt Disney World might have different age limits). While there are some exceptions made during the holidays (when you see all those kids in the parades), legally you cannot be hired quite yet.

Please check out the Disney careers Web site. It tells you all about the requirements and application process to work in the entertainment department at Walt Disney World.

Don't give up, and good luck!


Contact Shoshana here.
Feedback for Mark Goldhaber

Krissy H. writes:

Mark,

Just a quick bit of feedback about your reply to "Jeff C." in the Mouseplanet Mailbag May 22.

The Swan and the Dolphin at Walt Disney World are not owned and operated by the Loews Hotels chain. They are operated by Starwood. You can find this out in just about every WDW guidebook, as well as the Starwood Web site.

Loews Hotels (Web site) operates Loews hotels only.

Take care, Krissy

Hi Krissy — I stand corrected.

I'm not sure why I had thought that Sheraton and Westin were owned by Loews, but both chains were actually purchased by Starwood in 1997. That'll show me to trust my memory!

Starwood does indeed manage both hotels. The hotels themselves are actually owned by the Tishman Hotel Corporation (in conjunction with Met Life), which had been granted the right to own and build all convention hotels on the Walt Disney World property for the next 10 years. This was granted because of Tishman Construction's role in the building of EPCOT Center. The hotels were originally supposed to be built in the Lake Buena Vista Hotel Plaza Boulevard area.

After Michael Eisner and Frank Wells came on board in 1984, they quickly decided that Disney should control most of the hotel rooms on property themselves. They reached an agreement with Tishman to locate the hotels near Epcot, and to let him use the Disney name on the hotels. In exchange, Disney would get control over the design of the hotels, and Tishman would be forced to live by the same service standards as Disney provided in the parks. Of course, after Tishman's 10 year agreement exprired, Disney went ahead with the construction of convention facilities at the Boardwalk, the Yacht and Beach Clubs, the Contemporary Resort, and the Coronado Springs resort.

Thanks for keeping me on my toes!

Krissy wrote back:

Hey Mark,

It was nice of you to e-mail me back. I apologize if I sounded snotty in correcting you. My husband has worked in the Hospitality industry for more than ten years and it's a pet peeve of mine when hotel brands are incorrectly stated! Looks like you definitely did some follow-up research!

I think that it's good to have outside-branded hotels on WDW property (although I haven't been there yet, but planning to renew my wedding vows there next year-probably on the cruise ship) — I believe that you can get points on your Starwood Preferred Guest Card if you stay at the Swan or Dolphin... to earn free hotel nights to use later!! I'm more of a Hilton girl myself (Hilton Hotels, not Hilton sisters! I wish I had that kind of cash!!)

Again, I was surprised to hear back from you, but delighted.

Have a good holiday weekend.

Krissy

Hi Krissy,

I always return emails. You didn't sound snotty at all, just correcting an error. (And a dumb error at that.) If someone tells me that I made a mistake, I always try to double-check my facts and my sources to make sure. (I double-checked the info on the deal with Tishman in Michael Eisner's book Work in Progress.)

My personal opinion of the hotels is that they are very whimsical, and I might like them more if they were not visible from inside the parks. However, due to their visually disruptive nature, I love to see them out of there. (Just my personal opinion. I still remember the first time I saw them looming over the Eiffel Tower like some awful hallucination, and that pretty much set my mind from there.) I know of many people (via trip reports here on MousePlanet) that do indeed rack up Starwood points at the hotels, or use points earned from business trips to stay at the WDW hotels. I'm a Marriott boy myself, when we're away from WDW and not using our DVC points.

And I enjoy surprising and delighting people.

Have a great weekend yourself!

Mark


Contact Mark here.
General feedback for MousePlanet

Margaret W. writes:

Lani:

This criticism is not aimed at you personally, and I know that Mouseplanet is going through a rough time, but what idiot is writing the main page blurbs? Did you notice that they actually wrote “readers respond to several of our writer's”? I know this error is becoming more prevalent, but if someone doesn't know a basic plural from a possessive, they shouldn't be allowed to publish anything.

Hi Margaret — Thanks for taking the time to write, and letting us know about the typo. As the primary copy editor at MousePlanet, I try to catch all of the errors, but alas, that one slipped through the cracks because the front page has not traditionally had to be approved by the copy desk before publication.

We're going to look at our publishing process and see if we can try to find a way to do a better job at catching any errors.

In the meantime, if you find an error like this, feel free to post a notice about it in the Columns General forum in our MousePad discussion board. That way, corrections can get made by the first staff person who sees your message, and who has the capability to make the correction online.

Thanks again. — Lani (from the copy desk)


Contact Lani here.
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.

PREVIOUS MAILBAGS

2005

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2003

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2002

• December: 5, 12, 19

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