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MousePlanet Mailbag for November 13, 2003

We receive considerable feedback regarding our site. Although we cannot publish all of them, the following may be of interest to other readers. It's been several weeks since our last Mailbag, so this one's longer than usual.

Feedback for Shoshana Lewin

Regarding “The Guest Experience,” Shoshana's Cast Place article where cast members share their experiences, Howard writes:


What a refreshing article you presented in MousePlanet. In a time when there is lots of negativism and complaining about the Disney Company, this piece reminds us that there are still those CMs that care, go the extra mile, and make the Disney magic happen. I am certain that the majority of the CM's actually fall into this category, while I would also like to believe that the majority of guests also fall into the category of respecting and appreciating the CM's that make the magic happen.

It's a shame that the CM's have encountered the turbulent times within the company that they have, and through no fault of their own. But these submissions by Kenny and Andrew show that believing you can make a difference, you can. I loved Kenny's reply to the lady who thought the Electric Controlled Vehicle should be moved off the curbside viewing area into the wheelchair area...a simple smile (so important in communicating) and a "No." How perfect a response, maintaining control of the situation and putting that lady in her place. Kudos's to Kenny!

As for Andrew, and having the job he did (surveying guest who throw up after Mission:Space...ewwwwwww)... I'm sure something like that could easily discourage a CM but he didn't let that happen. Instead, he continued to look for opportunities to make the magic happen, and then...he did just that for a 5 year old who will probably never forget Goofy's Happy Birthday just for him.

What wonderful stories these are, and I hope we can read more of them in the future. While yes, there are admittedly things that needs fixing in Disney land, looking too long and hard at them, we can lose focus on all the good things that are happening- the magic if you will, as illustrated in this wonderful article. Let the magic continue!

Thank you Howard for your nice words. I'm glad you enjoyed the stories. As was brought up in "Pollyanna": "If you look for the bad expecting to find it, you surely will." These CMs looked to make the best of what could otherwise have been a bad situation. And from the other stories I've received from both guests and CMs -- which will be printed soon on MousePlanet --- these wonderful CMs are not the minority.

A reader writes:

Hello there, I'm just writting to say thanks. I have read many of your pages and it is really interesting to hear about the backstage secrets that I dont already know about from being a cast member. Most of them were shockingly revealing to me and amazed me. I have been working at Disneyland for about eight months and during that time I never imagine that things like what you describe in your pages can actually happen, like cast members being thieves and everything.

I haven't read all of your pages, but I am looking forward to reading them all. once again i want to thank you for all the inside secrets that go on in the park.

Well, I hope that most of your experiences as a CM are positive ones and that you see the good secrets as well as the bad. Good luck making the magic!

Carl Starrett writes:

The Brother Bear overlay and the Red Creek Challenge Trail is a little ironic because Brother nothing to do with California. The setting is clearly either Alaska or Canada. I don't the we've ever seen the Northern Lights in California and the two moose are a take on the Mackenzie Brothers out of Canada.

Excellent point, Carl. They have about the same link to California as the Lilo and Stitch connection at Pizza Ooh Mau Mau in Paradise Pier.

Peter writes:

Hi - Do you know who I can call or where I can apply for a Club 33 membership?

I can afford the fees, I just dont know where to begin.

Thank you.

Good news Peter. While they try to keep the inside a secret, obtaining info is easier.

Write to:

Disneyland Resort
Re: Club 33 Info
P.O. Box 3232
Anaheim, CA 92803

Hopefully, it won't take too long to get a response. Good luck!

Feedback for Mark Goldhaber

Regarding Mark's three-part series [read: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3] that examines the windows above Main Street, U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World,Justin Ponzi writes:

Hello Mark,

What a wonderful series of articles describing the tribute windows. I have always been considered a Disney expert (read: fantastic) by family, friends and fellow CMs, but one subject that I have never had good answers too were all of these windows. Unfortunately, my own research on this subject has not progressed much in several years.

I am not certain about the Magic Kingdom, but at Disneyland there is at least one window tribute that is not on Main Street. I believe that Harper Goff's window is in Adventureland, the reason is not at my immediate disposal.

Anyway, thanks again for sharing your hard work. I look forward to your next series about the hidden Imagineer tributes, as the Imagineers are my second most favored thing in the world, next to Walt.

Hi Justin – It took a bit of work for me to track down the information on some of these. The information book that they keep behind the desk at City Hall was helpful with some of the names, I found some great information via the Internet (though finding the right search query was an interesting exercise), and Dave Smith at the Disney Archives was a great help with those that I couldn't track down anywhere else.

That's interesting information about Harper Goff at Disneyland. Maybe I'll try to follow up on that one.

I'm glad you enjoyed the series, and I hope that I have something that's new to you in the hidden Imagineers article. I wanted to be an Imagineer for a long time, but these days I'm not so sure with the job security issue. (That doesn't stop me from collecting Imagineering paraphernalia, though.)

Thanks for writing!

Justin wrote back:

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the quick reply. If you don't mind me asking, what discipline were you considering practicing as an Imagineer? I am always interested to talk to others who follow the Imagineers. For I too have been working towards that goal since I was 9 and that was long time ago. My love affair with the Flower St. Gang started after i had read the last section in Christopher Finch's wonderful book “The Art of Walt Disney” and was solidified the first time I stepped foot in the Magic Kingdom some 28 years ago. My life's mission was to become one he people who made the rides work and now I am an electrical engineer with a deep passion for ride systems.

Even though there are questions about one's job security within Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI). In reality, it is not much better in most places right now. Fortunately several key items, in my opinion, have occurred to help bolster WDI.

First was the departure of Paul Pressler, I could go on for days, but as a The Disney Store CM I know what it is was like working for him, not directly of course. Second, was the promotion of Jay Rasulo, even though I have not personally experienced Disneyland Paris, I am most pleased with reports of how well that property has progressed in recent years and am encouraged for future developments here in the States. Lastly, was that whom ever took over the reigns had to understand that the Guests do not just come to shop. but to experience new unique adventures and the old classics that the Imagineers are so good at creating. I for one am moving, albeit at slower than expected pace, towards transferring into WDI.

I hope that you too will someday be able to achieve your dream.

Hi Justin – Sorry it took so long to reply this time around. I was on a family vacation without access to email.

The desire to work for Disney was kind of a growing thing with me. I always enjoyed all things Disney, but it never really occurred to me that Disney could actually be a career option until after seeing Disney highlighted in “In Search of Excellence” in a Management class in college. The desire fermented in me for a while, and I sent my first resume after meeting the presenter of a session on Disney hiring and orientation procedures at a technology conference and asking him for information on whom to target my resume to.

I originally had thought of myself as a story man, maybe writing stuff for Imagineering. I especially thought that I would be able to contribute in "plussing" attractions, as my occasionally nit-picking ways help me to see additional improvements to already great ideas. (Of course, others just think that it makes me an egotistical pain in the neck. It probably works both ways.) I also considered doing computing support for initiatives, but I never got very far. Part of my problem was that I wasn't really focused enough on making it happen. I guess I had too much else going on in my life at the time. Now, I've got too many tethers to staying where I am, so I've come to terms with not working for Disney, and I content myself with writing articles and trip reports for MousePlanet.

I agree that things are looking up a little for Imagineering with the replacement of Paul Pressler by Jay Rasulo, but there are still prevailing issues with upper corporate management that keep the outlook questionable. As we still feel that we don't want to move in the near future due to our desire to keep our current medical teams for certain family members, I'm going to have to keep my Disney dreams on hold. Good luck with yours, however. Let me know when you make it inside the Mouseworks!

Tina Lincoln writes:

Your work is fascinating and very much appreciated. My family never visits Main Street without stopping to pause for a moment and gaze up at the window with Walt Disney's name on it. My husband likes to show it to others who may not have known it was there—proud that he learned of it on a backstage tour.

Do you have all of this information compiled in a book anywhere. We will be going back to Walt Disney World next months and would love to have it with us when we walk down Main Street. We are also very interested in hidden Mickeys and am anxious to read about the other tributes to those who worked for Walt Disney.

Hi Tina – Thanks for the compliment! I've actually had friends ask me if I was writing a book on Walt Disney World, and I even started putting one together at one time. However, I really couldn't come up with a good way to differentiate it from all of the great books already out there. Also, I'd need a lot more material to be able to fill a whole book. Thanks for thinking that my work is worthy of one, however. One of the benefits of writing for MousePlanet is the instant feedback that I'm able to get from readers. If people like what I'm writing, or if they don't like it, I get to find out right away.

If you want to have the listing of windows when you return to Walt Disney World, you can always print out the three columns and bring them along. (I guarantee that they'll be much smaller than a whole book! ) The next article is scheduled for Friday (I just sent it to my copy editor last night), so look for it then. I expect to mention hidden Mickeys in my September article, but only in passing. Maybe I'll see if I can put something together during my October trip for a later column. Thanks for the suggestion!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a great trip!

Jeffrey Contompasis writes:

Are they going to continue the tradition of moving the Haunted Mansion to a different land? Main Street? Kind of a neat concept considering Main Street has been bare of big attractions, but it kills the momentum of moving people into the park.

Adventureland? A Haunted Temple or Palace? It could be Asiatic themed with the story of ancestors condemned to stay in residence. I'm still holding out for Tomorrowland. A Haunted Station. Alien spirits. The technological meets the supernatural. Put it right across from Star Tours.

I'd go just to see the three hitchhiking ghosts redone as Yoda, Obi-Wan, and Anakin.

I can dream, can't I?

Hi Jeffrey,

I'm sorry to have to tell you, but there won't be a Haunted Mansion at Hong Kong Disneyland. In fact, there won't be a lot of things that you might expect in Phase I of Hong Kong Disneyland. For starters, how about Fantasyland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, and Main Street, U.S.A. as the only lands? There'll only be about a dozen or so attractions and two hotels with a combined 2,100 rooms.

Your ideas are certainly interesting, but we won't see anything like that at Hong Kong Disneyland in the near future. Keep on dreaming, though. Remember, "... if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true."

Thanks for writing!

Tim Glidewell writes:

Next year we are taking our son (18); son and daughter in laws (2 sets); an extra family friend; and my wife and I (total 8) to WDW to celebrate our 30th and my son(s) graduations.

We have stayed twice at the All-Star Resorts and enjoyed them but this year we are hoping to use our Marriott Points or Hilton Points or a combination for our trip.

We prefer staying at a Marriott (more points available) but are there any good one's that allow the same privileges as staying with Disney on the resort? We cannot go until 8/04 as that a good time?

I am a Disney nut as well and enjoy reading your column.

Hi Tim – Wow, congratulations on all the milestones! And that's some crowd you're bringing! Maybe some day I'll write a column about our 23-person invasion of the World.

I'm sorry to say that there are no non-Disney hotels that have all of the privileges of staying at a Disney-owned hotel. However, some have more of the privileges than others. (The following information is to my best recollection. You may be best off confirming any issues that are most important to you with the resort that you're considering.)

The hotels with the closest set of benefits would be the Swan and Dolphin Resorts, which are run by Starwood Resorts. The benefits there are the same as at the Disney resorts except:

Disney won't transfer your luggage to another Disney resort for you if you change hotels during your trip.

You cannot charge your purchases at theme parks or Downtown Disney to your room. The resorts' theming is less whimsical and/or less complete than at the Disney resorts. The other hotels with some Disney benefits would be the Downtown Disney-area hotels (the Hilton, Wyndham Palace Resort & Spa, Grosvenor, Best Western Lake Buena Vista, Courtyard by Marriott, Doubletree Guest Suites Resort, and the Hotel Royal Plaza).

Disadvantages here are:

  • No luggage transfers.
  • No room charges.
  • The resorts are not themed.
  • You are ineligible to purchase Ultimate Park Hopper passes.
  • You cannot have your Downtown Disney or in-park purchases delivered to your resort.
  • Buses shared with all of the Downtown Disney-area hotels drop at the TTC for the Magic Kingdom, and in the parking lots at the other parks, instead of the bus stops right by the park entrance.
  • Not all hotels may participate in the Extra Magic Hour and/or E-Ride Night. It's probably best to confirm with the individual resort.

So the bottom line is that you'll have to decide whether any of these benefits are make-or-break for you.

As far as going in August is concerned, it depends on your preferences. The first half of the month is still in the midsummer peak season. Crowds are large, but park hours are long, there's more live entertainment, and season attractions (such as Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress) are open. The second half of the month, crowds drop as kids return to school, but the park hours also shrink, live entertainment decreases, and seasonal attractions close. It's hot as blazes the whole month, though.

Disney may repeat some version of their Fairytale Vacation Package again next year, so you may be able to find some great rates at Disney resorts in that time frame. I wouldn't count on it, though. I'd make refundable reservations elsewhere once you set your dates and keep checking for discounts.

I hope you have a wonderful trip. Oh, and don't forget the trip report when you get back!

Tim replied:

Okay so I will take a cruise with my points! We booked our vacation on our own last time because I understand that going through WDW travel has some hidden charges plus a bunch of freebees included that you probably will not have time to use.

What is a good Web site for making these travel arrangements that knows WDW and can help me shape the visit. Also what is the minimum time we should plan on being in Florida in order not to be rushed. The one thing I know that is different between the California Parks and the Florida parks is the longer hours in California. We probably will want to visit the Cape as well. We have used Birnbaum’s stuff in the past. Is it still the best? Also what columns (such as yours) cover WDW and what is happening?

Thanks for your time.

Hi Tim – Sorry for the delayed response this time. I was mostly offline for a long weekend.

I also forgot that, if you stay at a Downtown Disney resort, you do not get free parking at the theme park lots as you do at Disney resorts and (I believe) the Swan and Dolphin. However, since it appears that you've already decided to stay at a Disney resort, it won't figure into your decision.

As I'm a Disney Vacation Club member, I don't book my vacations in the standard fashion, so I haven't had any experience with booking through Disney since 1995. I've heard varying reports on booking through the Disney, some of it revolving around whether they apply the Walt Disney Travel Company (WDTC) rules or the Central Reservations Office (CRO) rules. I don't know for sure which rules apply when you book online, but I'm sure that one of our readers will be able to answer the question.

As far as other web-based travel companies go, I would be remiss if I did not mention Travel Now (link), which is a MousePlanet sponsor. I've also heard some good things about Mouse Ear Vacations (link), which is handling travel arrangements for MouseFest 2003, and Kingdom Konsultants (link), which also does itinerary planning. If you contact Kingdom Konsultants, tell Pam that Bagheera says "hi." She'll understand.

There is no minimum time for a trip to Walt Disney World. You will not see everything that there is to see unless you've got a month or more. Grab Birnbaum's, Passporter, the Unofficial Guide, or any other guide of your choice. Take a look at everything that there is to do and prioritize what you want to do. I don't know if you'll be there in the crowded first half of August or the second half of August with the shorter park hours, but you'll need a week at minimum to keep from running yourself ragged. If you want to see lots of stuff outside the theme parks, allow more time. Or, just decide what you really want to see, and skip the rest if there's no time. I haven't been to Cape Canaveral in many years. (I think it may have still been Cape Kennedy at the time.) However, I've heard that it's a great day trip. Maybe they'll be flying the shuttle again by the time that you go.

As far as what columns cover Walt Disney World, in addition to mine (which really doesn't cover the current events so much as the back stories), there's the weekly Walt Disney World Update and Sue Holland and Mike Scopa's columns here at MousePlanet. In addition, some of my favorite sites to visit are Deb's Unofficial Walt Disney World Information Guide (link), WDW Magic (link), and Steve Soares' Walt Disney World Live Entertainment site (link). I have dozens of sites bookmarked, personally, and check different ones for different reasons. If there's something else that you're specifically interested in, I can see if I have an appropriate link for you.

Enjoy your trip planning, and your trip!

Tim replied:

Thanks for all the neat info. I am now a Mouseplanet member and even wrote a review for the Hilton Garden Inn in Garden Grove. Published at last!!

Anyway we have decided that we will "package" our own trip and will pre purchase the 5 Day Park Hopper Plus. Who do we contact for the best price?

We are CSAA members, Disney Club members (until 12/03 because it is ending), Disneyland annual pass holders, and are willing to "join" whatever will allow us the best deals and savings especially on housing as we are considering the All-Star Music or Pop Century unless a bigger resort saves us more money in the long run. Our dates are August 12-24, 2004.

Any ideas?

Thanks so much.

Hi Tim,

Welcome aboard MousePlanet!

There are a couple of things to think about when purchasing a pass. Would it be cheaper for one person to get an Annual Passport (or Premium Annual Passport) and use it to get an AP discount on the rooms? The discount could pay for the AP and then some, and there are other AP benefits, as well. Also, for a short stay, if you get a regular AP instead of a PAP, you should be able to buy whatever additional admissions you might need (water parks, Pleasure Island, Disney Quest) for less than the difference in price between an AP and a PAP.

You can make a reservation now at whatever resort you can get the best price at, and then change the reservation as the discounts become available. Check out MouseSavers (link) for the best discount information available on the Web. Disney Club discounts on passes expire when the Club ends on December 31, but there are still pre-purchase discounts if you buy the passes at your local Disney Store instead of at the gate.

Another thing to consider, now that you're a member of the MousePlanet community, you should spend some time looking around on the MousePad discussion boards. Many questions that you have are probably already answered on many threads on the WDW board, and if you post a new question, I or one of the many other active members will be glad to answer it for you. Some of them have more expertise in certain areas than I do. (Yep, I can admit it.)

As far as financially contributing to MousePlanet, on just about every page of the MousePlanet site (except the front page), there is an Amazon Honor Box in the right-hand sidebar. You can make direct contributions to MousePlanet by clicking on the box and using the Amazon system. Just enter an amount, select a credit card, and submit the form. Thanks for your support!

Tim writes again:

I just saw on WDWIG. That Alien Adventure is being closed and even replaced.

Is this true? Why are they closing this ride? I have great video of my son in law’s nervous looks in the seat next to me.

We were hoping it would come to Disneyland some day and now we understand it is gone.

Hi Tim,

Yes, it was [a feature story last week at MousePlanet]. The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter had its last showing the evening of October 11. It then undergoes a lengthy (rumored at 10-12 months) rehab, and will emerge as a new attraction entitled "Stitch Escape!" Not many details are currently available about the new attraction.

I've heard several reasons as to why they might be replacing Alien Encounter. Dwindling crowds, parents taking little kids because "no rides at the Magic Kingdom can be too scary" and being proven wrong, a desire to put Stitch somewhere in the parks, and many others. The actual reason may come out, in time. In the meantime, the fact that this attraction never made it to another Disney park after all this time, despite the fact that it was planned as another signature attraction to be installed everywhere (think Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan), points to the fact that this attraction did not have the desired impact.

Sorry to say, but I guess that your video will just have to do. I feel the same way about the video I took of the original Journey Into Imagination, before they redid the pavilion and lost the fun, the inspiration, and the joy of the original. There is but one constant: Things Change.

Regarding “Hidden Treasures,” Mark's article about often-overlooked interesting things at Walt Disney World, Matthew writes:

Hi! Thanks for doing a story about these little details. You haven't mentioned (yet) the writing on "Dinosaur". Can't remember the specifics, something like CTX-WDI-97 or something. But the reason I wrote was to ask you a question. I basically lived at Epcot while I was there for a college program, and I noticed some numbers on Spaceship that I really would like to know more about. On the mural right before you enter the building, there is a satellite with numbers on it, some black, some red. Do you know what these stand for? I've stared and stared for a long time, and you'd put my mind (and curiousity) to rest if you can answer it.

Hi Matthew – I didn't have room to fit everything into the article, and since I'm not sure of the specifics of the Dinosaur tribute, it was selected to hit the cutting room floor.

I don't recall the details of the mural that you're asking about, but I'll see if I can put it on my list for my October trip. If I find the satellite, I'll let you know.

Thanks for writing!

Lori Holihan writes:

Mr. Goldhaber,

When we called WDW-DINE at 7am on make our 60 day advanced priority seating for Thanksgiving we were told that Disney changed their policy in August to a 90 day policy without notifying the general public. The Disney employee I spoke with said that not even they knew until the day the policy came out. Furthermore, only the people who heard through word of mouth were able to book for Thanksgiving in Disney.

Apparently, there were many disgruntled Nov. vacationers calling in who were very angry that the trip they had been planning (us for 18mos.) would include no Thanksgiving in a Disney restaurant. It's one thing to miss out when it's an even playing field, but in this case the general public didn't even get a chance. Since we've been reading your articles to aid in our trip planning, we thought that you would be the right person to send this information to. Thank you for your time.

Hi Lori – Thanks for writing. I'm sorry that your Thanksgiving plans went afoul. One thing that you may want to try is calling back occasionally (even as late a Thanksgiving Day) to see if there were any cancellations anywhere. Sometimes, people book two Priority Seatings in case they change their plans, and if they cancel the PS, it may become available. Alternatively, you could check at the dining locations that you're looking for on Thanksgiving Day to see if they had anything open up that Disney Dining hasn't been made aware of yet.

To further assist in your trip planning, I'd recommend that you read our weekly Walt Disney World Update column, published each Monday here on the site. In addition to the latest-breaking information at Walt Disney World (which is sometimes delayed in getting into our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide on the site), the Update also includes a current list of announced and unannounced rehabs that we become aware of. The change to Priority Seating was our top story in the August 4th update.

I'll see if I can find any locations on our site that contain the old information so that we can update it to the new 90-day rule. If you found the old 60-day rule still on the site, please let me know where you found it so that we don't miss it.

Thanks for reading MousePlanet, and I hope that you can find a suitable location for Thanksgiving dinner.

Lori replied:

Thanks for the reply Mark! On the MousePlanet site under the heading of "Walt Disney World Restaurant Resource" (which is what I referred to in researching priority seatings) there is a Priority Seating section that refers to character meals and there are several bullet points - the second one refers to the 120 & 60 day rules. You may want to update that for anyone who goes into the site specifically for dining info. Thanks again for the reply. I'll definitely use your tips on trying to fit something in on Thanksgiving. Have a great day.

Lori – I just thought of another resource that you may want to refer to in the future, regarding Priority Seatings. While the 60/90/120/180/etc. rules have been replaced for the most part, still has a great wealth of information about planning your priority seatings. In the meantime, I'll send a note to the person that's responsible for the Restaurant Resource and see that it gets updated. Thanks for pointing it out.

Feedback for Trip Reports

Stephen Pirak writes:

First, let me say that I have very much enjoyed the trip reports you have posted on this site... all types, Disneyland/Walt Disney World, adults, families, etc. Also, I appreciate the hard work that goes into maintaining this exceptional portal for folks to share their love of all things Disney.

However, I must object to your posting of language used in the recent Anthony Mathenia trip report. Specifically, I am referring to a passage where Mr. Mathenia is discussing the Festival of the Lion King show at Disney's Animal Kingdom and refers to the show as being "too gay for him." Did he mean that the show was not to his liking because he does not care for broadway type shows? Did he object to the theme of the show? From what I recall from the Lion King movie, there are no same sex themes present in that story. Or, more likely, was he unable to articulate what he did not enjoy about the show and fell back on a derogatory remark that he felt was sure to be understood by "normal" readers.

Not to be too graphic, but the literal translation of "too gay" would have to be a performance that included same sex romance/sexual acts of some kind. Broadway shows, exciting performances, singing and dancing are not, by their nature, "gay." In my visits to Disneyland and Walt Disney World, I have noticed that a significant portion of cast members are African Americans, Asian Americans, etc. Would you have posted a report that included a reference to a show that was too "Black" or too "Oriental" based on its theme or cast member content? Or if the state of Israel had an exhibit in Epcot would you post a report that complained of it being too "Jewish"?

I guess I should be glad that Mr. Mathenia didn't use any number of words that homophobes usually use in these situations... I won't detail them, but I'm sure you can guess the sorts of words I mean.

I know that these postings are not written by the MousePlanet employees, but also I do realize that these postings are edited by same. Disney, both in it's parks and in the entertainment products it produces, has always strived towards inclusivity, describing the aspirations and hopes of the human race as a whole, and has always seem to have been a company that celebrates our differences and at the same time declares that it's a "small world after all". As a site that celebrates the spirit of Disney, I would hope that your goal would be to do the same.

I hope that I can continue to enjoy your site without feeling as if the participants and editors do not welcome me as a member of the "Disney fan family" because of the sex of the person with whom I share my life. Maybe I'm overreacting a bit, but the sentiment expressed in that portion of Mr. M's trip report was all too clear.


Thank you for your letter. You raise a very valid concern, and it is one I failed to consider when reading the report before publishing it.

When I read that passage, and considering the nature of the Festival of the Lion King show, I read it to not mean "homosexual" but in its original meaning of "merry" or "lively," or as the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary says it, "keenly alive and exuberant." In rereading that passage of the report, I still think it very likely that was what Mr. Mathenia intended.

However, that is certainly no longer the primary meaning of the word; it is definitely a loaded word, and its more modern definition could be used pejoratively in this instance. But that just never occurred to me during a quick read-through. I will go back to Mr. Mathenia, and depending on what he says his intent was, we'll either remove that passage or rewrite it to be clearer.

Thank you again for bringing this to my attention.

Alex Stroup

Mailbag Items and General Comments

In our September 4 Mailbag, reader Doreen inquired about health food stores near Disneyland. MousePlanet staff member Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix adds two more options:

Both of these are closer than Mother's in Costa Mesa (by the way, Mother's has a slightly closer location to John Wayne Airport. That is over at Jamboree & Michelson—literally a couple of blocks from the airport.

In the same Mailbag, we ran feedback from Keith regarding the Tower of Terror. He wrote back with the following:

Lani, thanks for running my recent correspondence on the Tower of Terror. I didn't feel that it necessarily warranted a response, but what baffles me is that you felt that Richard K's letter did--and so effusively at that. It reads like the typical mantra of the Disney apologists and spin-meisters, "everything is fine", and the stripped-down attractions are "even better" than the originals.

I'll agree with Richard that the "Fifth Dimension," is "not what the ride is about"—nor is the exceptionally elegant pre-show (the library), the hallway, or any other single element. These elements are all part of a cohesive and extraordinarily effective whole. Can the ride still "work" without one of these elements? Possibly. Would it be as "good"? Highly unlikely, especially when the "replacement"—while a nice effect in its own right—is decades-old and has already been seen by countless millions.

As to Richard's description of the scene, it is flanked by what appear to be objects behind a scrim, not in "glass cases". I don't recall the specifics (I haven't been to WDW in more than two years), but I instantly recognized the objects and symbols as those seen at the opening of the original Twilight Zone series. The scrim makes the objects appear slightly gauzy, rendering an ethereal, other-worldly effect. It's similar to the effect used in the Haunted Mansion's graveyard scene. It's subtle, but very effective, and helps to further establish the very unsettling mood of the scene.

As to the "track" that Richard mentions, there is none. The elevator cab rides on a trackless guidewire or "puck" system (such as is used by Universe of Energy and the Great Movie Ride). What is somewhat visible is the vehicle's path, but it's well worth noting that the path cuts across what is otherwise a highly-polished (or even mirrored) floor. It gives the scene a sense of vertical depth (visually expanding the "displays" on either side). What's more, it makes the unpolished "path" appear as a bridge "floating" freely in space. Even to my sharp and critical eye, it took a second or even third trip through, to realize that in fact the entire floor was solid. It made me very uneasy (OK, scared!) the first time through, to think that the cab was travelling over a space of indeterminate depth, on a narrow, borderless "bridge." The combination of these and the other effects that follow, work extraordinarily well at disorienting the rider—indeed, thrusting them into the "Twilight Zone".

Only time well tell how well the second incarnation of the Tower works. But given what I've seen so far—from the cheapened exterior, to the reports of the "magic mirror" effect being used in place of the "Fifth Dimension"—I don't hold much hope that it will be a worthy successor to the original.

Hi Keith – Thanks for your response. My not writing you a reply to your long and thoughtful e-mail (which we ran today) was in no way a slight. We felt it merited publishing, and stood well on its own without a reply.

Keith replied:

Thanks for the quick response, Lani. I didn't take the lack of a reply as a sleight, and I apologize if I came across that way. My point was that I felt your rather effusive response to Richard gave far more credence to his comments that they merited. Of course it's your choice to respond to whomever you wish, but I have to say in all honesty that I was disappointed. There are so many Disney "apologist" sites out there, and some that are in all likelihood even partially or entirely driven by Disney marketing, that I come to MousePlanet [...] for a more critical, or at least more balanced view of what's happening within the Disney organization. Again, it's not my place to tell you what to run or two whom you should reply—but I would feel remiss if I didn't point out what I see as a minor failing to MousePlanet's readers.

Jim Montgomery writes:

I am a 36-year-old father of four. Disneyland has always been a magical place for our family. We have recently relocated to Florida and will soon be buying Season Passes for Walt Disney World. So at this point I can only comment on Disneyland as former Annual Passholders.

I think it is past the time that Mr. Eisner steps down. He has had numerous opportunities to improve the product and has fallen short continually. For lack of better words. DCA is an abortion of a park. The theme makes absolutely no sense. Duh. I bet if you did a poll, most visitors are from California or the West Coast. They have seen the State of California before. Why waste your time and effort on this theme. He had ample opportunity to bring in Buzz Lightyear ride and others.

I do give them credit for a Bug's life children's area but use some more of the recent movies to theme that park, plus the upkeep in Disneyland has been atrocious, as well as the fact of how many years has the! re not been a new ride?

Are they ever going to do something with the Submarine Lagoon? Walt is probably spinning in his grave over the stupidity levels managing the park. When you walk into a Disney Park, it is meant to be a magical experience. We don't need just another Paramount or Six Flags theme park. Leave that to them. Disney is meant to be an experience from the minute you enter the park. I do have to give credit to the day to day Cast Members who attempt to keep Walt's dream alive but as far as management goes. It is time for a change!

John writes:

I wrote to Disneyland last week to point out to them that, after the death of one of their guests and the injury of several others, they still had an image of Big Thunder as the lead photo on's "Attractions" page. I implied great outrage at this and said that, in light of the accident and the incredible number of attraction closures at the park, I would be canceling my visit.

I found Disneyland's response highly predictable but nonetheless amusing. This is a far cry from 25 years ago, when I once received a phone call directly from Dick Nunis after expressing disappointment that some paint was peeling on Main Street. Wow. What a change!


Thank you for your e-mail to the Disneyland Resort.
Each attraction in the Resort undergoes a thorough refurbishment each year. These refurbishments are done for numerous reasons. First and foremost is our concern for safety and the work completed ensures a safe operation for the year. The work also enhances the appearance of the attractions, as the figures and articles are thoroughly cleaned, painted and oftentimes, replaced.
The refurbishments are time consuming because they are intricate and technical in nature. Track is removed, water drained, and sometimes, whole systems are replaced. Due to the number of attractions that the Park has, and the fact that we are open daily, it is necessary to have the refurbishment schedules overlap so that the work can be completed within a year's time.
Again John, thank you for contacting us. Comments such as yours are welcomed in that they assist us in evaluating our operation and our success in generating happiness among our Guests. We hope you will have the opportunity to visit the Disneyland Resort soon and that our attractions and entertainment will delight you in every way.
Dan Anderson
Guest Communications
Disneyland Resort

Hi John;

Hmmm... it's kind of interesting that they didn't mention the accident at all, but instead chose to refer to the whole thing as a refurbishment, as if it was all scheduled. One wonders if they weren't erroneously talking about the Florida version (which is on scheduled rehab).

That said, I do have some sympathy for them (some). They must have been deluged with a lot of angry correspondence, and they were probably extremely limited in what they could say so as not to implicate themselves in any future criminal or civil litigation. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the "standard replies" related to Big Thunder are probably screened by Disney attorneys as canned scripts.

Thanks for sending us the info!

John replied:

Then again, think of all the things they could have said. One possible script comes to mind:

"Thank you for your e-mail. We certainly understand your concerns, and at this time we're hope you will join us in sending our thoughts and prayers to the family of those involved in this tragedy. We're sorry if our Web site left you with a bad impression and we are working to get the image replaced for the time being. While we do regret that you will be changing your travel plans, we believe that our schedule of refurbishment and attraction improvement will make Disneyland an even more magical place for the future. I have passed on your concerns to my managers and appreciate your taking the time to write. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and we hope we might have the pleasure of seeing you and your family and friends at Disneyland again in the future."

Tell me if that wouldn't be a more reasonable response to a complaint and even (perhaps) assuage a little anger? My point is, Disneyland takes the extreme position on "canned responses," which come across as if they don't care at all what their guests say or think.

Barbara writes:

Dear MousePlanet, My family has greatly enjoyed your previous coverage of the past special events at Disneyland. Did you cover the recent Shag Enchanted Tikis Room Event and will you be posting an article and photos? Reading about an event on MousePlanet is the next best thing to being there in person!

Barbara – The Shag Enchanted Tikis Room Event was strictly a merchandise event, with no special presentation or show at the Tikis Room for us to report on. What we have heard, however, is that Disney management may have grossly underestimated the popularity of the artist, who has an extremely large and loyal fanbase. Several hundred people were lined up outside the park by 6:00 a.m. that morning, and the smaller editions of the limited edition merchandise sold out before many of the eager fans had a chance to enter the store. As a result, we've seen some of the event merchandise on Ebay go for several times their original price.

Bob Briggswrites:

Hello. Disneyland has got to quit being so cheap! We went over Sunday afternoon 9/28 to hop on the monorail from the Downtown Disney station for a couple of hours only to find that they are running only one train. Now, i knew from reading MousePlanet that they took a lot of flack for trying the idea of just running it for hotel guests but running one is absurd.

All the other parks have all the newest high-tech attractions and what seems like unlimited budgets. And what do we get at the one and only original? Cutbacks galore, a watered-down version of Tower of Terror, and one monorail running! And here's the kicker: The way Disney thinks of its resort, they think people are treating it like an "attraction." Well guess what, Disney? It is! Hopefully they will start to listen before people don't care anymore if they visit or not. Thanks MousePlanet...keep up the great work!


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.


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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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MousePlanet® is not associated in any official way with the Walt Disney Company, its subsidiaries, or its affiliates. The official Disney site is available at This MousePlanet Web site provides independent news articles, commentary, editorials, reviews, and guides primarily about the theme park resorts of the Walt Disney Co. All information on this site is subject to change. Please call destinations in advance to confirm the most up-to-date information.