MousePlanet Mailbag for February 26, 2004
We receive considerable feedback regarding our site. Although we cannot publish them all, the following may be of interest to our readers.
Feedback for Lani Teshima
The Trip Planner
Rob Sykes asks a number of travel-related questions:
Hello from New Zealand. I'm not quite sure who to send this to,
so thought you might be able to pass it on to the right person.
I'm a Disney fan (always have been) from New Zealand who had
the amazing opportunity to visit Disneyland for the first time
in 1997... Now I am married with two great little kids and have
decided to visit Disneyland again for the 2005 50th Anniversary...
My wife and I will visit alone.
We have a few questions and wondered if anyone had any other
1. We are planning on visiting in October 2005 to catch the Haunted
Mansion Holiday layover as well as the overall resort Christmas
transformation. Would this be worth our while, or should we visit
at another time of the year.
2. We are not sure whether we should begin to book accommodation
now understanding that rooms will fill quickly for next year.
3. Should we wait until the media release in July for more details
before making more firm plans?
4. Should we stay in a surrounding hotel/motel to save a bit
of money, or splash out on a resort room?
5. We think we will buy a 5-day park hopper pass so that we have
access to both parks. Where is the best place to purchase these
so that we know we're getting a good deal?
Sorry about asking so many questions. We are just very anxious
to make sure that we don't miss out and that we are well planned.
This will my wife's first visit to Disneyland. I'm impressed that
she is humoring me and coming to on the trip, so I want this to
be just as special to her as it will be for me.
Any advice will be much appreciated. Thanks so much for this
wonderful site. I check every week on Monday nights (NZ time)
to get my weekly fix of updates. Without your site, I'd feel very
out of touch considering I'm way around the other side of the
1. Going to the park during the holiday season If the Holiday
period is special for you and your wife, and you have never visited
Disneyland during this time, I think it would be a great time to
visit. The weather's not too hot, and although you might face some
rain, it should be comfortable enough if you wear a light sweater
or jacket. Just make sure to time your visit so as to avoid the
actual holidays (Thanksgiving weekend is the weekend of November
24 for 2005) and the last two weeks of Christmas through New Year's.
Also, keep in mind that the primary visitor at Disneyland lives
in Southern California, and is likely to visit on a weekend. If
you can time your trip to span the weekdays, it will be less crowded.
2. When to book? If you already know exactly what days you want
to visit, you might want to start calling around. Many places will
not let you reserve more than 365 days before your date, so you
may need to wait until this fall. That said, I would check first
in case they are willing to take your reservation early.
The only thing I would avoid is buying airline tickets now. With
hotel reservations, you will probably not have to pay a deposit
for quite a while, so canceling it will not cost you a penalty.
3. Wait until July for more details? That depends. Do you think
you will decide against your trip if you don't hear much more? If
your trip depends completely on what may happen, then you might
benefit from waiting. However, the park will have some offerings
for the 50th Anniversary. If you want to make the trip anyway, don't
let the number of celebrations or new announcements dissuade you
4. What sort of lodging? That depends greatly on how much of a
splurge this trip will be for you. There are a number of nice hotels
and motels nearby, even a few on Harbor Boulevard that are closer
to park entrances than the official Disney hotels. If, however,
you want an immersive experience, you can't go wrong with a stay
on-property. The Grand Californian Hotel is particularly nice, and
is a new hotel you have not had a chance to visit, since it is new.
5. Admission media Disneyland is almost always offering
some promotion or another, but they often have a limited date range
for which they are valid. My suggestion is that you wait until closer
to your actual visit to see what is available. We always try to
provide information on Disneyland promotions in our Park
Updates: Disneyland column that you read on Mondays, so keep
an eye on that.
Depending on what promotion is available at the time, you might
even consider purchasing a Deluxe Annual Pass.
Hope this helps!
Scott Shudy writes:
I was wondering if you had a phone number or contact information
for the Disney Welcome Center in Ocala, Florida? I read that you
can buy two-day non-park hopper tickets there for $99. Do you
have to be an AAA member to receive the discount?
I appreciate your help.
Hi Scott The Ocala Information Reservation Center is no longer operating. They used to offer substantial savings, however, I suspect you may be able to get the same discounted tickets
at your local AAA office.
Good luck, and happy travels.
Updated 2007-06-17; Ocala center no longer operating. -- AR
Mark Miller writes:
Lani, what's the update on the 5-for-3-day passport plus from
AAA? I'm especially interested in the unlimited FastpassI
heard they may have canceled that feature. Any info would be great,
We'll be traveling from Tucson mid February.
The following information is from AAA and is current. Hope this
Disney's Passport Plus Package for 2004 includes:
- Disneyland Resort Park Hopper Ticket
- $10 ESPN Zone Arena Game Card
- Preferred Seating at select shows in Disney's California Adventure
- California Diamond Fun Book (one per package)
- Free parking at Disneyland Resort Theme Parks
Prices are as follows:
An additional handling fee of $10.00 will be charged per mailing
Cindy Hanks writes:
You mention the use of 2-way radios. Folks should also be reminded
that the use of these requires some etiquette. Many folks don't
use them for what they are designed for a 30-second I'll
meet you at 3:00 kind of thing.
Folks were so impressed with themselves having these silly things
that they used them to have long conversations about non-vacation
things, while on ridesapparently they were bored with narration.
For example, my Backlot Tour at MGM Studios consisted of hearing
my neighbor's detailed account of his home renovations. Perhaps
you could just remind folks to try to think of others and
not use them on a ride.
Hi Cindy I couldn't agree with you more on the basic etiquette
of two-way radios. As they become more common, it seems that people
have less and less knowledge of radio etiquette.
Although I am not a licensed ham radio operator, I am fortunate
to use a radio on a fairly frequent basis (I am a volunteer emergency
response team member at work), and everyone must take a basic radio
etiquette class before being allowed to sign out a radio there.
Adrienne Krock, our Parenting in the Parks editor, has
written about FRS radios, although the series did not go into
the details on radio etiquette. Since radio use has become so common
in parks, it may not be a bad idea for us to provide a basic primer.
Ahh, an idea for a Trip Planner article! Thanks for the inspiration,
Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Lani
Feedback for Mark Goldhaber
Dan Young writes to us after reading retired Imagineer and
contributor George McGinnis' World View series on monorails (on
the Mark V, and on
the Mark VI)::
Hey there, Mark. I enjoyed Mr. McGinnis's articles about the
development of the monorails. There was one piece of information
missing from the most recent article. Mr. McGinnis talked about
the fold-down seats in the center of the compartments. You even
showed a view of the mockup, with those seats intact. As everyone
who's ever ridden one of these knows, the seats don't exist. My
question is why? It looks like they would have been a perfect
fit. I've even pulled down on the center piece, thinking it looked
like a bench seat. What happened?
Hi Dan According to my correspondence with George, he is
under the impression that they are still there, but folded up and
locked in place with a key. I'll forward your note to him, in case
he'd care to comment.
Mark and Dan The fold-down seats, while they turned out
to not work well operationally, served a purpose at the mockup meeting.
The compromise of flexible seating moved the project forward with
Michael Eisner accepting the idea. There was concern in Florida
that the seating issue was going to delay the project. I'm sure
the seats are there. There would be no reason to remove them, for
the seat bottoms serve as a nice surface to lean against. The design
was based on a Lockheed 1011 jumpseat, which I observed on my trips
to Canada. It was a simple, compact design. I felt bad about their
cost of manufacture when the seats weren't used, until I heard how
the compromise saved the day. Thank you, Dan, for your interest
in the monorails.
Thanks for the reply, Mark. Do you know the reason why these
aren't used? Seems to me there's plenty of room to make people
a bit more comfortable.
Dan, again from my correspondence with George, we agreed that it
seems that the process of converting the seats from up (to allow
greater capacity during peak periods of the day) to down (to allow
more seating during non-peak periods) might have been too labor-intensive
for monorail attendants, as the process of locking and unlocking
the seats in each car would take quite a bit of time and slow down
monorail operations. I think it's officially a mystery. I'm hoping
to take some photos in April/May if I can.
Very cool. I received a response from George as well, agreeing
with your assessment. Thanks much for the info!
Suzette Mako writes:
I am curious to see if you know anything about perks for organizers
of groups to WDW. For example, for some vacation destinations
(I have done this specifically with ski and spring break trips),
the organizer receives a free (room, entry, other) for securing
X number of paid group members. I would like to see if
similar perks are available in connection with WDW. Have you any
leads, resources or other related information? Thanks so much.
Suzette I'm not sure that Disney gives trip organizers perks
unless they're travel agents, but I can't be certain. Back in 1986,
we accompanied my parents on a business convention where my stepmother
was the travel agent, and they definitely got discounts and/or free
rooms, but that was at the Buena Vista Palace (now Wyndham Palace)
in the Downtown Disney resort area. Your best bet might be to call
Walt Disney World Resort Group Sales by calling (800) 327-2989,
or check out their Web page (link).
Sarah McCoy writes:
My husband and I just took a trip to Disney with his family the
first week of December. We had a great time, but there were a
couple frustrations and I wanted your input.
1. My father-in-law purchased the 5-day park hopper passes for
the whole family using his military discount. We were thrilled.
Our first day at the parks was on a Monday. My father-in-law couldn't
join us until late Monday afternoon because his Air Force duty
had run two days longer than expected. We enjoyed the parks on
Tuesday and then my father-in-law unexpectedly received orders
to return for duty on Thursday. He left Wednesday to return to
Charleston for duty. In total, he got to enjoy a day and a half
at the parks.
He left the ticket with us. Thinking we could give it to a friend
of mine who lives in the Orlando area. This was ideal since we
had considered meeting my friend at Epcot for dinner after she
got off work.
We noticed the back of the ticket said it was nontransferable.
I stopped in at guest services and the person I spoke with assured
me that no one else could use the ticket. He suggested that we
try to sneak my friend in on the ticket in the hopes
that no one would ask for her ID. He also said that she'd have
to have her fingers scanned when they took the ticket.
We didn't want to take the chance of my friend paying $7 for
parking and then getting turned away at the gate, plus we were
a little annoyed that a cast member had suggested we lie to get
my friend in. My friend would have spent money in the park, but
as a result of the WDW policy we ended up leaving Disney property
and eating with her elsewhere. I guess that's Disney's loss.
Here are my questions:
1. What is Disney's reasoning behind the nontransferable ticket?
If you purchase a ticket doesn't it become your property to dispose
of as you wish?
2. Here's the next situation. When my father-in-law purchased
the tickets, he was asked for the names of each of the ticket
holders. The ticket office misspelled my husband's name (Bobby)
and instead wrote Barbie. When we went through the
turnstiles at the parks, my husband got yelled at by a cast member
for not having the right ticket. It was very embarrassing when
he had to try to convince them that the Barbie ticket was his.
3. I have a question. Does Disney have an address where you can
send comments/complaints? I'd like to compliment them on their
accessibility for wheelchairs and mention the experiences I've
related to you.
4. Our overall impression of WDW: the cast members seemed tired
and overworked. How sad.
Sorry this was such a long e-mail.
Hi Sarah Brian is currently on sabbatical from MousePlanet.
I've been responding to many of the e-mail messages sent to him.
I'm unfamiliar with the military discount passes, so I'm not certain
as to whether they require the same biometrics scanning as the annual
passes. If so, then you were wise to not attempt to have your friend
use your father-in-law's pass. If the biometrics scan does not match,
proper procedure is to ask for ID. Non-matching ID would reject
I'm not sure if they would confiscate the pass or return it to
you. The purpose of the nontransferable ticket is to ensure that
the person who first uses the ticket is the only one to use it.
With standard passes, this is not as much of an issue. However,
discounted passes and annual passports understandably have more
security required. With the annual passes, obviously they want to
make sure that the pass is not abused by getting multiple people
in on different days, which would defeat the entire purpose of the
With discounted passes (such as the military salute discount),
the passes are generally targeted at a specific group of people.
The passes are nontransferable to prevent an unscrupulous person
from buying large quantities of passes and selling them for a profit.
What shocked me about your note was the cast member's suggestion
that you try to sneak your friend in. Aside from the fact that it
almost certainly wouldn't work if there was a finger scan involved,
they are advocating dishonesty and breaking the rules put in place
by their employer. This is not the Disney way. I would bet that
the cast member's manager would probably reprimand them (or worse)
if they heard about the incident.
As to your second question, see the above concerns regarding abuse
of discount passes. In response to your third question, you can
e-mail WDW.Guest.Communications@disney.com, or write to
Walt Disney World Guest Communications
PO Box 10040
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-1000
On your last point, I have read many stories from people who found
the Cast Members dispirited and tired. I'm not sure if it was due
to short-staffing at the time of your (and those with the stories')
trip, or other things I've heard (cast deployment system, loss of
faith in corporate management, etc.), but I have also heard stories
of great Cast Member interaction. I guess it's just a consistency
issue, and the fact that they have a need for more staff than they
can hire with the Disney attitude.
Thanks for writing!
Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Mark
Feedback for Mike Scopa
Scoping the Parks
Michael Niehaus writes:
Mike, I am going to WDW in May and read that priority seating
for the round table breakfast could be booked 60 days out. I called
to get seating for chef Mickey's 90 days out and was shocked to
hear that Cinderella's roundtable was booked already 90 days out.
Either Disney is changing continually, or bad information is
Hi Michael Unfortunately as policies change within the Walt
Disney World Resort, sometimes the only way this information gets
out is through word of mouth.
Cinderella's Round Table is by far the most popular character meal
and it actually can be booked three months ahead (or 90 days). Restaurants,
character meals, and dinner shows may be booked anywhere from 30
days out to as much as two years out.
I always go to the Priority Seating Calculator Web site (link)
for the latest information on Priority Seating policies.
There's a trick to getting a Priority Seating request for Cinderella's
Round Table. The key is to call WDW Dining at least five minutes
before 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time.
May I suggest that you book the Storybook Princess Breakfast character
meal at Norway in World Showcase?
You won't see Cinderella but you get more bang for your Disney
Dollars as you may see Snow White, Princess Aurora, Jasmine, Mary
Poppins, Belle, Esmeralda, and others.
Thanks for the note.
Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Mike
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