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MousePlanet Mailbag for April 15, 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 World View (Mark Goldhaber)

Don Poinsette writes:

I was talking to an agent in New York, and she mentioned her daughter was moving to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. My parents live in Hilton Head, so we got to talking about the place.

Now there's a Disneyland Resort on Hilton Head, and it's really nice. It's nothing like any of the parks; it's all about nature hikes, campfires, and sitting under a gazebo and watching wildlife in the wetlands. It has one souvenir/general store that's the size of your living room, and the only “mascot” there is a dog—as in a real live canine. A very relaxing place, but not typical Disney.

But… she mentioned to me that Disney has bought 100 acres just off the island—in a town called Bluffton—and that they're planning on building a theme park of some sort there. Now, I am excited by the prospect of more Disney nearby, but has anyone heard of any plans by Disney to do this? I can't find anything. The agent told me that they've put one horse, one cow, and one sheep on the land and classified it as a “farm”—probably for tax purposes—until they get the park under construction. Can somebody please tell me if this is for real?

Hi Don – I'm actually heading to the DVC resort on Hilton Head Island for a week in July. I'm really looking forward to checking it out.

As far as the rumored theme park in Bluffton, if Disney did buy the land, I feel pretty certain that it will not be used for a theme park. Disney has been rumored to be building parks all over the United States. Many times, Disney actually buys land in those places. However, it's never been for theme parks.

They will continue to concentrate on large resorts, where they can continue to try to keep people on their property for a week or more at a time. Frequently, it will be for office space. Phone centers for the parks or for the Disney Catalog, merchandise warehouses, offices for one of their many subsidiaries. Sometimes, it's just for real estate investment. If Disney were to build another theme park in the United States, which is highly doubtful, it would most likely be in the center of the country, about halfway between their two existing resorts to avoid as much diversion from current travel patterns as possible.

I hope that this answers your questions.

[Editor's note: MousePlanet staff member Sue Holland loves Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort, and has profiled it many times. We hope you enjoy these articles by Sue: “Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort"; “Fun For Kids at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort"; “Enjoying Hilton Head Island Resort” for adults"; “Disney Dining, Private Chef” dining experience.]

Andy Schubert writes:

I enjoyed your article reflecting on the recent events at Disney. One thing you mentioned caught my attention. Believe it or not, it was the mention of the sparse offices.

Though not a practicing architect, my degree is in architecture, and I retain a strong interest in the field. It occurred to me that after a “regime change” at Disney (were that to happen), a very symbolic move might be to raze the Team Disney Anaheim administration building (yes, yes, I know that Frank Gehry is a revered architect with a long standing relationship with Disney including the recently build symphony hall) as a symbolic gesture. In fact, specifically because it is a highly visible and symbolic representation of the shift of focus from the Disneyland Park, to the executives (who largely do not walk the park any longer), the meaning would be all the more paramount. After some initial disbelief that Disney would demolish such a great and significant work, it would soon lend to the very necessary idea that real changes are coming down the pike.

Radical enough for you? Of course, new offices would be built, but nothing as “incredible” as the current structure. I propose that newer, less ostentatious offices could be built at a fraction of the cost, heralding a new era where the money is put where it should be, on increasing the value of the products that the public is exposed to, namely the parks.

Hi Andy – That's a very interesting idea. While not cost-efficient (replacing a perfectly functional already-existing structure with another one), it would definitely be very symbolic. Will it happen? Who knows. I do know that more people at TDA need to be walking the parks. It appears that “Cast Member Matt” (as he has been called on several web sites) has been actually doing that. If he can effect a trickle-down change, that will be extremely beneficial for Disneyland—the park, the cast, and the guests. I guess we get to wait and see what happens.

Duane writes:

Just wanted to pass along this link. [The link goes to a Reuters article at CNN about the end of Disney's traditional animation.]

Hi Duane – I read the original Reuters story. Most reporters still aren't focusing on the key issue. (Though Rick Aristotle Munarriz over at Motley Fool did a story on that issue.) The problem has nothing to do with the technology, and everything to do with story. Strong story and strong characters equals hit movie. Weak story and poorly developed characters equals flop. All the technology in the world won't change that. Thanks for writing!

Nancy writes:

Hi Mark,

Would it be in poor taste to discuss the outrageous prices that Disney charges at the Resort? I find the price of a 16-ounce? (I'm guessing on size) bottle of soda to be over the top. A 2-litre bottle in the market is half the price! (Understandably there is no Disney Magic at a grocery store!) Even water prices are nuts, but considering the taste of the water coming out of the drinking faucet at any given place is nasty, I'm sure it sells quite well. Let's not even discuss the prices of fresh fruit! Just because they can get the outlandish prices doesn't mean they have to charge it. But since the admission prices just went up again, I guess I'm beating a dead horse here. And by the way, all this won't keep me out of Disneyland. I love the place too much. I just walk on with a sigh. Thanks for letting me vent.

Hi Nancy – Yes, the prices for refreshments at Disney resorts are very high. (And yeah, I hate that sulfur taste of the Florida water, too.) On the other hand, have you checked out the prices at your local sports stadium or arena? Or any other place where there is a captive audience? While I hate the prices that I have to pay when unprepared, I don't get too upset, because Disney is not out of the norm in this category. Of course, my solution is to buy my beverages and most snacks at a local supermarket, and then store them in our fridge at our DVC resort. But that's a whole other story.

Feel free to vent. I generally don't mind listening.

Martin from the United Kingdom writes:

Two-part Horizons story by George McGinnis? Can't wait! Sooo many people miss this attraction on so many levels… Only 2 parts though? Any way it could be 200 parts? Seriously, I could never get enough of info and stories about this classic! Many thanks.

Hi Martin – Yep. It's actually long enough to be three or even four parts, plus it's got lots of diagrams of the attraction's layout and plans drawn by George. I haven't heard back from my copy editor, so I'm assuming that I won't have to make a last-minute cut into three parts. I love working with George. His stories are great, and he's fun to work with. We're already discussing possible topics for future stories.

[Editor's note: Mark wanted to share this very recent e-mail from Martin, who wrote as soon as he read part 1 of George McGinnis' series on Horizons, which ran yesterday.]

Hi, Mark.

Oh. My. Word.

I have just read the first installment of your Mouseplanet Horizons feature… Wow! I have researched heavily all the original EPCOT rides, and this has provided an insight into lots of areas I never knew about… such as the escape route behind the Omnimover, and the amount of backstage staircases! Fascinating! And as for the plans and sketches… all I can say is… more please! […]

The only complaint I have about your article is I have to wait for the next installment! You should write a whole book on it!

Many, many thanks.

Martin

Hi Martin – Yep. It's actually long enough to be three or even four parts, plus it's got lots of diagrams of the attraction's layout and plans drawn by George. I haven't heard back from my copy editor, so I'm assuming that I won't have to make a last-minute cut into three parts.

I love working with George. His stories are great, and he's fun to work with. We're already discussing possible topics for future stories. Enjoy the stories!

[Note: Thanks to some additional input from George, the story has been expanded to four parts! Look for Part 2 in World View's scheduled slot on April 28.]

Allen from South Bend, Indiana writes:

Hi Mark. Saw your posted message [regarding WDW's 999 Happy Haunts event in the weekly WDW Update]. A little confused. You heard October 25 dinner and then October 27 gathering. Are they spreading it out to 3-day event? Thanks, just would love to know, as last year's was so great!

Hi Allen – I got those dates from someone who said that they saw them on the Cast Portal. No further info is forthcoming on that yet, not even from the Disney Gallery. Keep your eyes peeled within a month or so. Tickets for the Nights of Joy (early September) go on sale on April 21. Good luck!


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Mark here.
Feedback for Cast Place (Shoshana Lewin)

Feedback continues to come in regarding Tony, a waiter, who had some tips for diners (link). Bret writes:

Tony, the cast member/waiter suggested:

  • 20 percent or more is for great service
  • 15 percent is for average service
  • 10 percent or less is for poor service

This is ridiculous! I'm now supposed to “tip” for poor service?

First, it's 15 percent for good service, it was 15 percent years ago and prices have all gone up, so the amount that 15 percent reflects is more now too.

Great service will get you 20 percent or more.

Average service is average service. A “tip” is not appropriate here.

Poor service, including being “knocked to the bottom of a server's priority list” because they “see you're upset about the wait and figure you're not going to tip well at all” will not only get you no tip at all, but I'll stop by City Hall and fill out one of those forms to enlighten management to the fact that you have no business being a waiter.

Tony, if you want a handout for doing nothing, I suggest you make one of those little cardboard signs and find yourself a freeway off-ramp.

Patrick writes:

I was just reading the reader feedback on this article (April 1 Mailbag), noticing the increasing negativity. I read the article myself and am applauding the “suggestions” that Tony makes.

I have had a lot of experiences dining out at many different places. I am a former cast member (not in foods, thankfully), now residing in the Vegas Valley. I have had both good and bad experiences dinning out. I have had a restaurant manager demoted for complaints about a night. I firmly believe that if you are not going to provide service of an acceptable level (or any service at all) I will not just skip out on the tip. I will contact the restaurant manager on duty, F&B manager (dependent on facility) if previous manager is of no help, or to the corporate office if need be. I have no desire to spend a cent in a place that is not going to treat me with respect, and according to Tony that doesn't matter.

Tim writes:

After reading the “feedback” on the Tony-the-waiter story, I would like to add a couple of comments. While his points were a bit extreme and blunt, most were right on the money. Guests in WDW are often overwhelmed, exhausted, or preoccupied with their kids needs, and this can make a waiters job twice as difficult. It's hard to work somewhere knowing that each and every person who comes in to your job is going to determine your paycheck for the week. Serving is difficult, tiring work, with little reward. People in America are getting more and more demanding with food service these days- expecting discounts, comps or free desserts when one little mistake is made on your order.

One other point: when ordering a meal, when you decide to rewrite the menu to suit your needs, it may cause a delay in the kitchen, which can disrupt the entire flow of the system. Example: many baked dishes are pre-made, ready to go into the oven. If you request one “no cheese, or no tomato,” it requires one of the cooks to scramble to make a fresh one, taking them away from their station, causing other workers to shift their duties, …disrupting flow! It's easy to simply say , “that's your job,” but the truth is the job is often quite difficult and tiring, and you have just made it even more challenging.

Please consider your food service worker, the next time you visit Eisner World.

Finally, after all of the feedback we got, Tony himself weighs in with his own response to the others:

Thank you for posting my article, I was genuinely surprised that you did… knowing some readers would have issue.

I was happy to read some of the reader feedback and wanted to clear up some of the ideas that I might not have conveyed correctly.

First let me write that my list was primarily in recognition of how guests are not always correct. It was not a complaint or plea for my gripe to be published. I love my job. I do have a degree in education, but choose the service industry because of the many people I have contact with. But I don't like rude, cursing or embarrassing guests. You all have seen them at the table next to you at a restaurant. These were the people I was targeting.

Please know that any unhappy guests I get in my section due to reservation issues are certainly met with sympathy and understanding. It's the continual anger that drives me to my other tables. I hardly see it as being obnoxious to pay careful attention to guests that are enjoying the experience as opposed to the surly ones. I guess it's human nature.

I do my best to clear away appetizer plates and anything else before food arrives, but it's difficult to do anything about the new items that appear in the plate's way when arms are full. My restaurant doesn't use the tray and tray jack to hold food. And I certainly ask for assistance, I just don't like to… it's my job to serve, not the guest.

I had included that portion only because of the blank stares I sometimes receive, even after I've asked the guest to move their purse or small child off the table so I can put the food down.

I know food items can become undesirable later in the meal, it was those that finish all of their steak and then complain it wasn't very good that I was referring to. There are guests that would then demand it be free. My advice was to bring up the complaint as soon as possible… it doesn't put the manager's guard up that it's just another comp dinner. Believe it or not there are people that live to scam restaurants and other businesses. But there are people that genuinely have something wrong with a dish, and we want them to be happy.

Again, my article was to bring reality to the situation. The guest isn't always right, or in a good mood, or nonjudgmental.

As for getting things for tables, I'm happy to do it… it's just that there's no server that can be everywhere at once… and scanning the table for stuff that is needed cuts down on trips away from you.

People that drink a lot, I only recommend a glass of water as a buffer so that when the tea's gone… there's still something on the table to drink if the server isn't able to bring the tea refill to you as quickly as you like.

Tipping is certainly earned. I give full-hearted agreement to that. But after hearing what 'great service' I have given, and that 'I'm the best server ever' to then only see a reward of 5 percent from some of my customers prompted me to put a chart out letting people know what is acceptable in the tipping industry. I honestly don't think people know how to tip, because it's not one of those things taught or talked about. It is indeed a guide. We choose the job, sure… but we are much happier when we're paid correctly, as are you in your job.

The money left for a tip doesn't just go to the server. It pays assistants and bartenders... sometimes even the hosting staff. So, it is important for us to give great service because we have to pay others also.

I never meant to imply that anyone should change their name. I just suggested an alternative to hearing weird sounds come across the speaker system when people butcher them.

The highchair and booster seat issues only arise when guests refuse them from the onset and then later change their mind. I wasn't very clear in my article, entirely my fault.

The table with a view that is sat later means that server is now on shift. My restaurant staffs on the half hour. So at 11 a.m. that section may not be open until 11:30. My restaurant has great sections that are all themed differently, but we can't afford to have 26 servers on staff at opening… when we're not busy for several hours to come. It's business sense, not that we don't want you to enjoy what views are in the restaurant, but not all sections are open.

The other items mentioned in the feedback about rushing the guests and not allowing them to speak was fabricated on their part. I love a table in a good mood, I wear a smile constantly when in the dining room because of some of the great guests that I encounter everyday. But too often, there are guests who don't eat out ever… and as a result don't know how to act.

Again, you've seen them on your outings to restaurants …and they're the ones I wish to educate.

Bon Appetit


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Shoshana Lewin here.
Feedback for Scoping the Parks (Mike Scopa)

Judie Borucki writes:

Can anyone tell us why 20,000 Leagues of the Sea submarine ride was done away with at WDW? We are frequent visitors and have been so disappointed since it's been gone. We have to say this was our most favorite attraction! –Judie and Tracy

Hi Judie and Tracy – Well it has been just over a decade since 20,000 Leagues was removed from Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland.

The main reason why the attraction was dismantled was the cost of the maintenance and liability issues.

Water is a big-time enemy for the Imagineers and they did not realize how much of an enemy until they had some history with Florida and it's tropical environment.

There was a constant need to keep the attraction not only in good condition but in safe condition. This meant that everything that the guests would be able to see, both above and below the water, would have to be maintained.

This became so expensive that a decision had to be made as to whether or not to do a major upgrade or dismantle the attraction altogether.

I guess we know which way the decision went.

There have been rumors regarding a replacement attraction that would center around the Disney villains. We'll see.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Mike here.
Feedback for The Trip Planner (Lani Teshima)

Elizabeth Field writes:

Hi! I wasn't sure who to e-mail my question to. I hope I chose the right person. If not, I'm sorry. And if I got the wrong person could you please forward my e-mail to the correct person? This is my question. What special Pirates of the Caribbean event took place on May 20, 2000 at the Disneyland park? I have seen this on a “POTC Event Dangle LE Pin.”

Hi Elizabeth – You are probably talking about the special event that many attendees now refer to as somewhat of a disaster. The general consensus is that Disneyland took a great idea to showcase an attraction, and turned it into a very consumerist merchandising event. Disney has learned much since this event, and they have improved quite a bit.

We have fairly extensive coverage of the event, and here are the links:

Hope this helps!

Justina Arifin writes:

Hi Lani – I have this question that I want to ask. I have Disneyland military tickets for my children, purchased by a friend who is in the military. My husband and I aren't in the military and have regular tickets. When we go to the Park, will we behaving any problem with the children's tickets since our friend won't come with us?

Hope you could help with an answer.

Thanks a lot!

Hi Justina – Although I no longer qualify for military admission, I have been told by a number of folks that Disneyland no longer asks visitors to show their military ID cards when using military admission media. That said, my understanding has always been that the purpose of the military passes were to allow military and their immediate depends into the park at a discount as a means to thank them for their service to the country. I am not sure these discounted passes are meant to be resold or given as gifts to civilian friends, where no military sponsor would be present to go to the park at the same time with.

Have a wonderful visit to the park!


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Lani here.
Feedback for Park Updates: Disneyland

Meredith Boggs writes:

Do you know when the Matterhorn ride will have a Fastpass? The lines are unbearable.

Hi Meredith – This was planned to be installed two rehabs ago, and was pushed to the last rehab (where they practically rebuilt the Matterhorn), but they ran out of time and could not get Fastpass installed and the ride open on time. So they are supposedly doing it when the ride goes back down for rehab in September.


Thoughts, questions, or comments?
Contact our Park Updates: Disneyland staff 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.

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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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