MousePlanet Mailbag for April 22, 2004
We receive considerable feedback regarding our site. Although we cannot publish
them all, the following may be of interest to our readers.
In today's mailbag, Mike shares more of the tremendous amount of feedback
he got from his article The
Disney Zone, which ran on March 19. Mike says it's set a record
for the amount of feedback he got (and so much of involves readers sharing
their personal experiences), and this is just a fraction of the comments
Feedback for Scoping
the Parks Mike Scopa
My sister and I treat each other to Disney trips whenever we
can find any excuse to go. Our zone is the Epcot entrance
plaza. We can't help but dance as we pass under Spaceship Earth.
It's transportation not away from life, but to where life takes
on new perspective. We've celebrated our families there, made
life-changing decisions, and we've mourned the loss of life. For
those who go to take everything they can, they will walk away
empty. For those who go to give their appreciation and thanks,
they walk away filled.
One year while in our 20s, we sat on the curb waiting for the
parade beside two beautiful white-haired ladies. We could tell
by their conversation that they were sisters and after talking
with them, found that they were. We watched them walk away that
night hand in hand. I looked at my sister and without saying a
word we knew. Years and struggles would not keep us from each
other and this place. We need it much more than it needs us.
Thank you for your article.
Michelle What a wonderful letter. You have pointed out that
as guests we should recognize that there are other visitors who
also share the same passion as ourselves.
When you come to think of it our old pal Walt has overachieved.
He has not only created places where families can enjoy each other
but also a place where we can meet our extended family.
The next time I'm under Spaceship Earth and see two people dancing
I might just have to walk up and say, Hi Michelle!
Mike Just wanted to let you know that I couldn't agree
more with what you wrote regarding the Disney Zone. I'm younger
than the group you talked about (I'm 26, so I didn't grow up seeing
Darby O'Gill as a first-run), but I grew up with Disney
having a special role in my childhood.
In the years since my first trip with my parents, I've gone through
college (twice), figured out my way in the world, and ended up
working a high-pressure IT [information technology] management
position. And every time I go back to Walt Disney World, I'm the
little kid who saw the castle from the ferry for the first time.
All the responsibilities and cares of adult lifestudent
loans and deadlines, office politics and development cyclessuddenly
don't matter. WDW lets us be kids again, for a few days at least.
The biggest thing we have to worry about is getting to a priority
seating on timeand if we're late, it's OK. That's why I
keep coming back, and I think why a lot of people keep coming
Thanks for articulating it so well!
Jeremy You're absolutely right. The draw that keeps bringing
us back is the knowledge that when we do return once again our everyday
responsibilities, deadlines, concerns, and cares are checked at
What do you get when you do that? You get a very happy child
that's what we all remember, and that's why we keep coming back.
Hey there, Mike. I enjoyed your ponderings on the zone
and its possible origins, but I have one item of contention: You
suggest that a majority of people in the zone grew up in the '50s
and '60s. You failed to consider that the children of the Disney
[baby] boomers would also grow up to zone out in Disney parks,
during Disney movies and here on Disneyana-loving Web sites.
Many of my friends that grew up '80s had parents who attended
or longed to attend Walt's first park in Anaheim. So when WDW
opened, the boomers took my generation of zone-heads to the park.
And we went back again, and again, and againheck, my family
is going back next week, but having blossomed from 5 to 15 members,
we're creating a third generation in the zone!
Those same boomers that witnessed the rise of Disney on television
via the Disneyland show in its many guises later pounced
upon the premium Disney cable channel when it was first introduced.
I still remember the day the cable man came to install itthe
whole family gathered together to watch it.
The zoners of the '80s were at a prime age when the canon of
films were released on VHSwe were able to see, at our leisure,
all the films that so affected our parents, and in turn affected
us. And that includes Darby O'Gill and the Little People.
And finally, when the studio started putting out its best work
in years, the children of the 1980s were the target audience for
the film that issued in the second golden ageThe Little
If you need evidence, look around the parks
thirtysomethings are everywhere. Even those of us without children.
We collect, we visit, and we pass on the love of the brand that
defined our parents' age and our own. Don't forget about us!
Hi Heidi Excellent points. What I meant to say in the article
is that the exposure of the baby boomer generation to Disney on
television marked the beginning of the nurturing of the Disney Zone
I have created my own zone-heads in my family and hopefully
future generations will continue to enjoy this phenomenon.
I agree with you that the Disney Zone is something for all generations.
There is no denying that.
I think, however, that the seeds were planted in the '50s.
Hey Mike Long-time reader, just never written to you before.
Your article on the Disney Zone actually carries a little of that
magic, too. As I read, the things you wrote got me a little misty
eyed because I know exactly what you mean and I long to go back
and experience that magic. I was there three weeks ago, and before
leaving the Magic Kingdom for the long ride back to Miami, I stood
underneath that train station, and did kinda the same thing that
As my family went about getting their things out of their locker,
I walked away for a second, found a penny-pressing machine, and
pressed my penny with an image of Mickey riding a locomotive.
I walked out toward the flagpole. Main Street was deserted, everyone
had left and I felt as if the castle, the twinkling lights in
the trees, the music, were all for me. My penny is
still in my wallet as a symbol of the magic of that moment. I
think I may have started a new tradition for myself, and I've
been going to Disney for 27 years. It's never too late to start
a new tradition at Disney. Keep up the good work. Disney Magic
Hi Carlos I have a confession to make. That gentleman you
refer to in my article is actually me. That particular moment occurred
the first time I visited Walt Disney World with my family.
I was very appreciative of the memories that were borne on that
vacation, and was very moved by all that happened.
Also, your description of being in the Magic Kingdom with few people
around and the feeling of it all being for you is something that
I long to experience on every visit.
Mary Jo writes:
I felt like you were talking directly to me when I read your
article. I waited a long time for my first visit to WDW.
I was one month shy of my 40th birthday and I counted down the
days for nearly a year and as it got closer to the
day I drove my co-workers, friends and husband crazy with my neverending
planning and discussions and hopes for my trip. I found out later
that most of them secretly felt I would come home disappointed;
that this amusement park (their words) could never
live up to this 40-year-old's long-time expectations.
Well, on our first morning as my husband and I crossed over to
Magic Kingdom on the ferry boat (it had to be the ferry
boatI needed to see that I really was finally going
to this happy place), I broke down in tears. Then my husband,
seeing me so happy, nearly started cryingand then
we were laughing to hide our embarrassment. I'm sure everyone
else on the ferry thought we were crazy!
Well, that was in 1990, and since then, we have made eight more
trips and I have cried eight more times on that ferry boat watching
the beautiful castle come closer and closer, and knowing that
for the next few days I will be completely immersed in Disney
magic and pixie dust and all those things that make dreams come
Hi Mary Jo I was talking to you. It seems that way
because you understood what I was saying and you recognized the
feelings that I was describing.
Your recollection of the ferry trip from the Ticket and Transportation
Center to the Magic Kingdom made me recall my first trip to WDW
back in 1975.
I remember being so anxious to see the castle. For many of us,
the castle is the icon and the symbol of what WDW is all about.
To this day is there anyone who does not immediately look to gaze
upon the castle once they've emerged from under the train station
at the Magic Kingdom?
You realize, of course, that from now on every time I take the
ferry from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom, that I'll be thinking of
you and thinking, I wonder when Mary Jo is making her next
trip to Orlando.
Mike Last year, I took my parents to WDW along with my
wife and two kids (age 5 and 3). They had not been to the park
since about 1980, while my family and I have been there annually
for about nine years (yes, my wife and I went before kids, too).
Something that my mother noticed, that, in hindsight I realized
too, was that the place is just chock full of families. And not
just families being together, but families having fun, enjoying
the place together, and not worrying about other things. It's
a place where a father is just as likely to wear a silly hat as
the young kids, and teenagers are not worried about being trendy
but just want to have fun.
I know that my parents truly enjoyed the trip with my family
(and watching their grandkids act like they own the placeyes
they are very familiar with WDW), since they have booked a trip
for this year with just the two of them.
They obviously saw that there was plenty for two retirees to
do and enjoy. Plus, I think they'll spend a fair amount of time
just sitting and watching all the happy families enjoy themselves.
Hi Rob This is so true. As many will find out when you visit
WDW as an empty nester you tend to observe young families and remember
the good times you had together.
This is not to say that you will not still feel like a child again.
It just means that your Disney Zone may be a bit different than
I, too, entered the Disney Zone every time I went to Disneyland
(lived near there for five years and went every weekend) and every
time I venture to WDW (about three times per year). It never ceases
to amaze me how we can leave all our cares behind and enjoy the
magic that is Disney.
Yes, I believe it relates directly to childhood, as I remember
three generations of my family sitting in front of the TV on Sunday
nights watching the Wonderful World of Disney and I would
just be so excited to see Tinkerbell go across the televisionit
was magic! Of course, we had to watch 60 Minutes with that
darn stop watch ticking, and then The Sonny and Cher Show
Going to Disney brings back great memories of my grandmother,
who watched those shows with me and passed away when I was 12leaving
a huge hole in my heart and whom I will forever missbut
I know she is with me all the time. And when I see Tinkerbell
fly from the castle before the fireworks, I especially think of
her and it brings tears to my eyes.
Now, as for the folks that aren't mesmerized by the Disney charmmy
husband included, who stays home while I meet friends on trips
to the World, and my parents, who wonder Why do you always
go there? when they were the ones who brought me there in
1971 and 1973 and I have been going back ever sincewho knows?
I don't get why they don't get it, and they don't get why I get
it! I will stick with my side of the story and keep going! Thanks
for a great articleMousePlanet is such a great site!
Hi Susan Not only is there a bond of understanding between
those of us who have experienced the Disney Zone, but there is also
a bond of frustration that we feel in trying to understand not only
why others do not get it, but what we can do to help
them get it.
Maybe someday we'll figure it out.
I just finished reading your article on the Disney Zone. It's
excellent. I'm 48 and I agree with your connection to childhood
theory. I always looked forward to watching Walt on TV every week.
And I've always considered trips to Disney parks as a trip away
from all of my worldly troublesa vacation from
I really appreciate your article because it puts into words the
connection that I could never explainit was just there.
My family, who didn't grow up with Walt, doesn't have the same
connection I do.
Keep up the good work.
David Thanks for the kind words.
I think you phrased it best when you said a trip to Walt Disney
World is a vacation from life.
I wish I had said that.
I just loved your article! I had to e-mail my sister to tell
her to read it. You pretty much hit everything right on.
I was born in '68. I can remember being a little girl and having
to ask my mom if I could stay up past my bedtime to watch The
Wonderful World of Disney. I can also remember watching, with
my mom, some of the old episodes of The Mickey Mouse Club.
And I have fond memories of my parents taking my sisters and
me to Disneyland for our family vacations. I can't remember how
often we went, but it seemed often. I can remember not being allowed
to drive the Autopia cars because I was too short. I always had
to be a passenger with my oldest sister driving.
I also have another memory that I will never forget. I was very
young, and my family and I were standing in line for the Haunted
Mansion. Well, I guess my parents knew I wouldn't like the ride
(now my second favorite ride. Pirates is still #1 to me). So when
I asked my mom what we were waiting for, she said, Oh, this
is a model home. My mom was big on going to look at model
Well, I bought that hook, line, and sinker. I screamed the entire
time I was on that ride. Right after that we went on It's a Small
World. Well, I feel sorry for anybody riding in our boat, and
it you are out there reading this I do apologizeI screamed
the entire time!
Oh, I just thought of one more memory that always gets me choked
up. Late in the evening, my mom all of a sudden comes to a stop.
We all tell her, Let's go. What are you waiting for?
She says, Ya know, we've been standing in lines all day,
I feel like just standing here and pretending that we are in another
line. About five minutes later, TinkerBell was flying above
us. Just thinking about that specific time has me all choked up
We still went to Disneyland even in my teen years. I still have
a big pin and free pass I won from the 30th Disneyland Anniversary.
The only reason I won that was because I got stuck carrying everybody's
jackets into the park and I had fallen behind.
Another childhood memory. When my son was 4 years old when we
took him to Disneyland. My husband and I couldn't afford it, so
my dad had given us the trip as our Christmas present. It was
a nice time, but it wasn't quite the trip I had hoped for with
Well, last year, with my son now being 13 years old, we took
a wonderful trip back down to Disneyland. He didn't want to go
to Kiddieland, as he called it. We stayed at the Grand
Californian Hotel. What a wonderful place. I even had my oldest
sister come along (I even let her drive me one time, for old times
sake, in the Autopia cars). We had so much fun!
Once we got back home, my son said he had fun, but that I wasn't
allowed to tell anyone. He said, Teenagers aren't supposed
to enjoy that. I don't quite understand his thinking on
that, but I was thrilled to have him tell me he had a good time
after all. Before we left on vacation, I started calling my son
Grumpy. I still call him that, and it has basically become an
affectionate nickname that he seems to enjoy.
We are going back again this year, sister included. And we are
going back again the following year for the 50th anniversary.
This group will include my sister and husband, and my nephew,
and nieces and their husbands. New memories to make. I have to
tell you, I wish TinkerBell was still flying.
This last time at the park, one night I just stopped. Everybody
was wondering what I was doing. I said, If we wait a few
minutes do you think Tinkerbell would come out? Do you know
how hard it was to convince my son that she really did that? I
have a 35 Anniversary book about Disneyland and they have a picture
of her flying. I think he still doesn't believe me.
The Disney Zone is definitely in me. When we were at Disneyland
when my son was 4 they had the Lion King Parade going on. For
whatever reason, that parade really choked me up. The song at
the beginning of the movie
whenever I hear it I get all
emotional. I can't even explain it. My sister won't even open
her Holiday Haunted Mansion CD because she says just hearing
it will make her want to jump in the car and head down to Disneyland.
I tell her, Don't forget to pick me up. Apparently
she has it, too.
I think a lot of the Disney Zone does have to do with childhood
memories. My husband does not have the Disney Zone in him.
I think my husband had only been to Disneyland once as a kid,
and his first Disney movie he ever saw was after we were married;
Cinderella came out in theaters and I took him to go see
it. I felt so sorry for him that he had never seen a Disney movie
before. He was either 23 or 24 at the time. That's just sad to
have to wait that long to see your first Disney movie. I'm hoping
to get it in my son, though.
I recently bought the Disney movie Robin Hood on DVD.
My son was very pleased that I bought it. He said, I like
that movie. I remember when I was really little you woke me up
at night because it was on. He was so little. How can he
remember that? My son just informed me that I also did that with
Alice in Wonderland, too.
OK, getting choked here. But he is right; we watched it together,
just the two of us. He remembers me and my husband taking him
to see Snow White and Aladdin in the theater. Oh,
and who can forget the first time he saw Old Yeller. We
both cried. I think I've planted the seed.
I'd tell ya about my son's favorite Disney character but he would
kill me. Ah, but I can tell you this. My son's favorite character
is also, I just found out recently, my dad's favorite character.
So sorry I rambled. Once I got going I couldn't stop. All the
memories started flooding back. And it's not very often somebody
lets me talk Disney with him or her.
I love your articles and Web site. I visit your site everyday!
Keep up the good work.
Uh oh, here I go again. When we were planning our last Disneyland
vacation, my son kept asking what was the big deal about Disneyland.
My husband and I told him that this is the happiest place on earth.
It lets us old people (we are in our late 30s but our son still
considers us old) be a little silly, 'cause in the real world
we have to always be grown-ups. He still wasn't getting it. Well,
I think he gets it now. Also, I am happy to say, my son no longer
calls it Kiddieland. He now calls it Disneyland.
Elizabeth I think your letter is proof regarding how memories
are made forever as a result of the Disney Zone. I love the story
regarding your mom and the Haunted Mansion
pretty cool. I
remember seeing Old Yeller in an old movie theater in my
home town. I remember holding my breath when Tommy Kirk shot that
I think I was either 8 or 9 years old when I saw that movie.
It sounds like your son has found the Disney Zone, and I believe
that you've most likely helped your husband catch up to it as well.
Maybe your son had something there. Instead of Kiddieland,
maybe the appropriate name is Childrenland.
Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Mike
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