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MousePlanet Mailbag for March 25, 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 Screen reViews with Alex Stroup

Keith Bell from Roswell, New Mexico, writes to Alex regarding his Screen reViews review of the new Disney movie, Miracle, starring Kurt Russell:

Dear Mr. Stroup:

I enjoyed your review of the film Miracle; it made me want to see it. How interesting it is that the filmmakers document the "malaise" (I remember Carter's infamous speech!) of the late 1970s. That is an important backdrop against which the now-legendary hockey match-up between the United States and the Soviet Union was played.

Sir, it is also an historical fact that the Soviet Union did want to annihilate the West, and I remember as I watched that match (yes, I saw it) realizing that it really had taken on metaphoric meaning for Americans. It is not jingoistic nor chauvinistic to remember the Soviet Union as an institution that wanted us gone from the face of the earth. I thought that after the Iron Curtain fell in '89, and confirmation of its mindless aggression towards us came to light from KGB archives, that we could all agree about this. But I suppose history is being rewritten yet again: Communism is once more just a benign political philosophy, Alger Hiss was framed, and the Hollywood Ten were just lodge brothers. George Santayana is as prescient as ever.

Thank you for the kind words and I understand what you are saying about the era. I agree that the Soviet Union was a very bad thing and I did not mean to imply otherwise in the review.

However, in seeing the trailers for Miracle, it was a concern for me (and others I've spoken to) that the movie would be overly reductive. That the symbolism of the game as a victory of would be made a literal battle and of Communism. Which it wasn't, it was still a game played by 20 young men who just wanted to win a game. And I was gratified to see it wasn't.

And it is possible to agree that we were right to oppose Communism without thinking it a battle of pure good (us) versus pure evil (them). In the end, I feel that does as great a historical disservice as those who pretend that Stalin's Soviet Union was a social paradise.

John Reynolds writes:

Dear Mr. Stroup,

I enjoyed your film review of Miracle. However, you said:

“Other than a passing reference to Russia's invasion of Afghanistan, there isn't enough shown of Russia or Russians for them to be the bad guys in this film.”

The hockey team we defeated represented the Soviet Union, not Russia. Russia was only part of the Soviet Union. The Soviets murdered 22 million people during their rule of their empire. The Soviet Union was “evil” in the same way Nazi Germany was evil. Soviet hockey was a key part of the propaganda machine of the empire.

In the same manner that the Nazi Olympics represented something very bad, whose defeat by Jesse Owens was remarkable, so did the Soviet Union.

For some reason, certain segments of American academia seem unwilling to make the same connection with the Soviet Union they are willing to make with the Nazi regime. This dishonors the millions of Ukrainians, religious persons, and others killed by Soviet tyranny.

John Mark Reynolds Ph.D.
Director
Torrey Honors Institute
Biola University

John – Thank you for the kind word and the correction. In the first draft of the review, I mostly used “Russia” and “Russians” out of habit. Lani Teshima, our esteemed copy editor, called me on it and came away with the mistaken impression I was insisting on that usage, and it wasn't changed.

The point I had made was that even when it was the Soviet Union, most people (including those in the film) still said “Russia” and “Russians” when referring to it. But I did think changing it would be a good idea and I failed to review the final version before publishing the article.

I don't disagree with you on the terrors of the Soviet Union. However, while I will have to disagree with you that Jesse Owens vs. Nazi Germany was remarkable in any real sense (though it may have been ironic from the German point of view). If it was in fact something more than a symbolic victory when we won that hockey game, I have to wonder if it was equally important when the Soviet Union beat us for the Olympic gold in basketball in 1972 (though if the Soviet Union has ever produced a basketball movie, I can't find it).

John replied:

Thank you for your thoughtful letter.

The Soviet Union made a great deal of propaganda use of the basketball win as a matter of fact. They took sports victories seriously and their defeat in ice hockey was “not funny.” Dictatorships take such nonsense very seriously oddly. People who line up to look at Lenin in a glass case do not perhaps have a great sense of self-irony.

In any case, I enjoy your careful reviews which are literate (as one would expect) and enjoyable. I do think that disdain (and even loathing) of the Soviet Union is good fun and good for the soul. As a Russo-phile (and an Orthodox Christian), I certainly would never want to see hatred of Russians confused with the dislike of the Soviet system or barbarism.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Alex here.
Feedback for Mark Goldhaber

Victorria Bonnie Johnson writes:

I'm trying to find an old co-worker of mine from when I worked at Disney's Magic Kingdom and Epcot parks in the summer of 1983. She was the daughter of Bill Sullivan, the operations guru at Disney World.

Do you know how I could go about finding her? Any help would be appreciated.

Hi Victorria – I really wouldn't know where to start. I know that there are Walt Disney World College Program and cast member alumni sites out there, but I can't recall the URLs at the moment. I'll submit this note for the mailbag column, and maybe one of our readers might be able to point you in the right direction.

Good luck.

Karen Williams writes:

It was great reading your review on Wishes. We were there for the Christmas holidays and it was fabulous. Do you know if Disney has put out a soundtrack with music from this spectacular display? Thank you.

Hi Karen – Thanks for your kind words on my review. On another discussion board that I participate on, a Wishes soundtrack has been a topic of discussion for months. Here's what I know right now. There was a soundtrack that was put together and given to the press at the preview in October. The track divisions have been changed since then, and there is a version of the CD that was ready but not put on the shelves yet for some reason. Everybody is waiting for it to come out, but there's no word on a date yet. If it is released, maybe I'll put it into the weekly WDW Update when I hear it.

Thanks for writing!

Donna Schraeder writes:

Would you happen to know where I would write to Diane Disney Miller? I enjoyed your Web site and thought you might know, seeing as how much info you do know. Thank you.

Hi Donna – That's a question I haven't been asked before. My best guess would be to contact her through the vineyards that she and her husband, Ron Miller, own:

Silverado Vineyards
6121 Silverado Trail
Napa, California 94558


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Mark here.
Feedback for Shoshana Lewin

Jason Q. writes:

I was curious about the Disneyland College Program that was discussed in January 8 mailbag, so I emailed the WDW College Program Recruiting Division. I would have just posted the e-mail here but it contained a footnote saying that “any use, dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication by anyone other than the named recipient(s) is strictly prohibited.”

So without “copying,” they basically told me that they did work with Disneyland on a pilot program but the program was not successful and was put on “indefinite hiatus” after the Disneyland program had already been greatly reduced. They also pointed out that the similarity between the two programs was in name only.

So, I guess those of us in college who dreamed of a Disneyland College Program are just going to have to move on over to WDW.

Hi Jason – Sad, but true. The Disneyland program is now only a shadow of its former self, while the WDW version continues to thrive. I'm fairly certain the program cuts weren't due to lack of interest—I've received many e-mails from people who want to participate. I tried calling someone in College Relations at Disneyland during my senior year in college (2000) and was unable to get in touch with anyone.

I've had many friends who've participated in the WDW program and had a great time (although it was a six-month program, which doesn't work for everyone).

If you still have dream of the college program—and want to stay in the West—you can shadow your manager and attend career-building programs through Disney University (if they are still offered).

I hope that now that the park is under new management they will reinstate the Disneyland College Program.

As soon as we find out if they will bring it back we will, of course, post something on MousePlanet.

The following are letter exchanges with two aspiring cast members. First, Betty writes:

Hi Shoshana. I've been enjoying reading your site this evening. I would like to work at Walt Disney World, but haven't found a comparable site for information for cast members at WDW. Do you know of one? Thanks

Hi Betty – Actually the stories and info at Cast Place on our site applies to both parks. Did you have any specific questions that I can answer for you?

[Betty] Thanks for answering. No, I don't really have specific questions. I've always wanted to work at WDW, and now I'm finally beginning the process of getting my resume together. It's something I've always wanted to do. So I guess I'm just hungry for reading stories about what it's like to work there, what people think about it, what the processes are, etc. Thanks.

Did you want to work in the park itself or more in corporate? Have you checked out Disney's WDW job site (link)? They will have more info on the many positions around the resort. Please let me know what happens.

[Betty] What I actually want to do is work as a Wedding Events Manager. I think that would be so much fun. I guess that would be my dream job! I have some background in that. I will probably apply as an events planner, since I have more experience in that. It's been some time since I did any wedding work.

I would do almost anything to get my foot in the door, I suppose. I've had a lot of experience in restaurant management, too, although that's not top on my list of a dream job. But again, anything to get in the door. I do want guest contact, since I would enjoy that.

Yes, I have checked out their site, and am getting the daily e-mails from Monster.com about job openings, so I've seen that they're not advertising for any of the things I feel qualified for yet. But I've put together my resume on their resume builder, and am just waiting for a couple of people to give me the okay on using their names for references before I post it. I figured I wanted to have it ready to go if I saw a job opening posted in an area that I'm qualified for. In the meantime, I'm spending a lot of time looking around Web sites to try to find more information about things that can improve my chances!

Thank you for asking… I'm always open to any more suggestions when you think of them!

Here's the number for WDW Fairy Tale Weddings: (407) 828-3400. They have a Web site (link) but it didn't seem to be working. You might be able to make a contact that way—or at least find out what the job entails. You can also try Walt Disney World's Magical Gatherings Web page (link). They plan the family reunions. Hope that helps.

[Betty] You know, I never thought of contacting them directly and just asking some questions! That's a great idea! Thanks!

Joey writes:

Dear Ms. Lewin, My name is Joey, and I have an audition for an atmosphere character in a couple of weeks at the Disneyland Resort in California. Now I've never done anything like this, I was wondering if you or someone you know who went through the process of the audition could give me some pointers or tips for the audition and interview process, I would greatly appreciate this. Thanks.

Hi Joey – You've come to the right place—actually Cast Place. You'll find audition stories and interview tips (the reader stories are on the right side). Arrive early (make sure you know where you are going and give yourself plenty of time to get there). Dress properly. Be energetic and smile. If you are trying out for a specific character do a little background research by watching the movie that character is from. Rent the Disneyland Fun Sing-a-Long Songs video and you'll see cast members at their perky best. Remember: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Good luck and let me know what happens!

[Joey] Thank you so much for getting in touch with me, your tips and the Web site you gave me will work out great, and that Disneyland Fun Sing-a-Long Songs, my little sister has a copy of it so it works out perfectly. Again thank you and if you don't mind I may have some other questions or concerns when the audition gets closer.

I'm glad I could help. Please don't hesitate to ask me any questions.

[Joey] I have a few questions, I went on the MousePlanet site that you told me to go and I didn't really see any tips for the interviewing. Was there one particular one I should read really well? I was told that I would have to do a character dance, is that something that I need to make up myself or are they gonna teach it to me and have me perform it? And one last question, they also told me I would have to do some improv, how would I do that and what do I do for it? Because being a character I know I'm not supposed to talk, so how would I gesture that? I really do appreciate you helping me out on this very much, I've wanted to be a character at Disneyland since I was little.

Read our article, “Hiring In at Disneyland” and zoom in the side bar for more tips.

They will probably teach you a dance. For more on that, go to Disney's Career Web page (link). Improv means they will give you a situation and you will have to figure out what to do without a script. If you are supposed to be sad, put your hands over your eyes and pretend to cry. If you are happy you can clap. If you think someone is cute, put your hand over your heart and point to the person.

[Joey] I'm sorry to inform you that I didn't get the part for the Disneyland character. I did my best, but I wasn't what they were looking for, or thatŐs what they told me. I did however manage to make it pass the second set of cuts, and as I was walking out, I was approached by a lady who asked me to do another audition, but this time for Innoventions. After waiting in a room for three hours, they finally called me in and I did my spiel. But again they told me I wasn't what they were looking for.

Anyway I just wanted to tell you, thank you so much for all the help and information you gave. It was very helpful, and I do hope to audition again when they come up. So again, thank you for all your help and I hope to keep in touch with you in the future if I happen to go out for another audition.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Shana here.
Feedback for Kevin Krock

Kathy writes:

Kevin Krock mentions in his review of the new Pirates of the Caribbean DVD that he was surprised that it included a Windows-only disc. He obviously doesn't use a Mac to navigate the various Disney Web sites or he would know they have a definite preference for Windows. Blast and Toontown are not Mac compatible, you can't order tickets on the El Capitan Web site, and many features of Disneyland.com don't work, such as the calendars, and most of the flash animation. We figured it has something to do with the friction that exists between Disney management and Steve Jobs.

It is frustrating, and I don't know if they realize that it alienates a good number of computer users because they don't create their Web sites (and now it appears their DVDs) to accommodate both platforms equally. We'll still buy the DVD but it would be nice to view the Windows-only features as our 7-year-old is a major fan of the attraction and would probably love to convert his image into a pirate.

Hi Kathy – Actually, I have four Macs at home and have been using Macs since their introduction, so I'm no stranger to the whole Windows/Mac OS debate that has been going on for almost 20 years.

Also, I did not say that I was surprised that there was Windows-only material on the DVD, but rather I said, “In a seemingly odd move, Disney put most of the attraction-specific material on the Microsoft Windows-only DVD-ROM content.” By that, I meant that it was odd that they didn't just include the attraction material as part of the DVD that could be viewed on a set-top DVD player.

As far as I could tell, none of the DVD-ROM attraction-related video clips or still galleries needed to be put in that format, and the primary DVD bonus content only has a relatively short nod to the attraction that inspired the movie. Sure, there is some of the DVD-ROM content that only works in that format, like the morphing program, but stuff like video and stills should be put in a generally accessible format.

With regards to Disney's preference for Windows, it has much less to do with a personal dispute with Steve Jobs than it does with programming laziness and plain ol' economics. The technology and software exist to create platform-independent DVD-ROM content, but since it takes a bit more work—which means time and money—Disney has opted to take the least expensive and easiest route and program only for Windows.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Kevin here.
Feedback for MousePlanet

Mike writes:

In two updates, I read about a “Rumored Rocket Rod Replacement” and that “workers with blueprints” were walking the Rocket Rods track. Do you have any more information regarding this? Will there be another attraction there?

It's a shame seeing it sit there vacant. Please share any rumors you might have.

Nope—sorry, Mike. If any of our readers are hearing anything, we encourage them to send in their comments.

Megan asks:

Why don't you have a Save Disney banner up on your site? just wonderin'.

Hi Megan – We have made a conscious decision not to run a Save Disney banner at our site. The reason for this is because we are a news and information resource for the Disney consumer, and not a traditional fan site. We believe that journalistic independence are important for our professional integrity. We are perfectly fine if our individual writers choose to advocate varying views and positions, but we as a publisher do not want to appear biased in our coverage. That way, when we write about Roy Disney, for example, we will not be accused of publishing a positive story only because we officially endorse his campaign.

Some comments from our readers stand on their own. For example, Jeffrey Contompasis writes:

If Tom Brady got to record the “I'm going to Disney World (Disneyland)” commercials, does that mean that Jake Delhomme gets to do the following?

Announcer: “Jake Delhomme, you and the Carolina Panthers just lost the Superbowl. What are you going to do now?”

Jake Delhomme: “I'm going to Disney's California Adventure.”

D'oh.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact our MousePlanet Mailbag here.

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