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MousePlanet Mailbag for April 29, 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 Scoping the Parks (Mike Scopa)

Shannon writes:

Hello, I would like to start off by saying that I love MousePlanet. I enjoy all the trip reports and articles. I have a question about discounts to the water parks. I was wondering if Disney still gives annual passholders 20 percent off admission to the water parks? Thank you for any help you can give me.

Hi Shannon – The last time I looked AP holders were given $4 off adult admission and $3 off the children's admission to water parks. I don't believe this equates to a 20 percent discount. This discount is offered to the holder of the AP and three (3) guests.

Kenton Possberg writes:

Mike, we are going to Disney World Feb 17, 2005 for eight nights—a family trip with 10 people total. Wondering if you have any advice, or what services are available in planning for a party this size? Thanks.

Hi Kenton – Well with a large family like that, I would seriously consider Hoop Dee Doo as one of my options. With a large group such as yourselves, you would have a shot at being placed not front row center but certainly close to the stage, and the cast would certainly interact with a large family group. I would also guess that one of your group would end up on the stage.

Also, why not also consider an Illuminations Cruise? Watching Illuminations from underneath the archway between the UK and France pavilions is quite an experience, not to mention the trip to and from that spot. Those two idea could be the highlights of your trip. A word to the wise… book both of these early… especially Hoop Dee Doo.

Why not call today?

Dennis Mattinson writes:

I was reading your article on tips for photographing the “World.” Being a shutterbug myself, I understand the need to organize all those pictures because multiple trips tend to get intermingled and you find yourself not knowing which is which. I also saw mention to something about scrapbooking and thought about a program I had once seen that was a free download and allowed all those digital photos to be scrapbooked without incurring the expense of printing all those shots. It is called Gazo Digi Book (link). This is a nice way to save all those digital pictures in a format on the PC that allows you to look and share the photos as if they were in a photo album. I enjoy your articles and look forward to reading future updates. Keep up the good work!

Hi Dennis – Thanks for the information on that “virtual scrapbook.” I'm sure a lot of people can find use for that.

Emily writes:

Hi, I have a question for you about the hidden Mickeys. What about the one in the Tree of Life? Isn't there supposed to be one carved in the tree? Do you know where it is? It's always bothered me, ever since I heard about it. Or is it just a rumor? Thanks.

Emily – I'm not sure if it's carved in the tree or is shaped by some green moss, but Steve Barrett says there is one on the front of the Tree of Life.

Paul writes:

I just read your article and I must say good job! But, I noticed while reading that you referred a lot to the final video Walt made. Several times you said If we ever get a chance to see it we should. I have found a Web site entitled Waltopia (link) that has both the full 24-minute video and a transcript of it on the site. If you could link it on your site you could allow all who visit a chance to see the true Epcot as Walt envisioned.

Hi Paul – Thanks for the tip. I received mail from other readers with the same information. I think that your suggestion about listing it for everyone is a good idea… one that I hope to combine with other links.

Larry Krueger writes:

Mike, I am hearing very little about E-Ride nights. They used to be announced and posted, but, recently, there is no information. I am headed to Walt Disney World in late May and was hoping to go on one.

Any news on dates of the E-Ride nights or has WDW stopped doing it?

In addition, the last time I went, we were on property, but, this time I will be spending a week in our time share off property and four days on using my annual passholder discount. Do I have to be on property to go on E-Ride or not? Thanks for your help.

Larry – There may be something in the works to replace E-Ride night although with the popularity of E-Ride night this would be risky. And yes, I believe you must be a resort guest to take advantage of this offer.

Alison writes:

Hi Mike! I somehow missed the article on the Disney Zone the first time, so after reading the second part, went back and read the first also. I wanted to offer a little insight from the mind of a 30-year-old. I never associated Disney World with the TV shows because by the time I was a kid there was simply so much television that I don't even think Disney had programming, until the Disney Channel rolled out. For me, my love of Disney World came from the memories and love of my parents.

My father had grown up pretty well off and went as a child all the way from Connecticut to Disneyland with his parents. My mom, on the other hand, had a tough childhood, the only child of a divorced woman. When my mom was 18, her brother was born, and she devoted her life to helping raise him and to helping out her mother.

A few years later, she met and married my father, and a couple years after that had me. By this time, the brother was about 7 and my father decided it was now or never to take him before he got a bit to old to believe that it was all real. My mom thought it was crazy to take a 7-year-old and a 1-year-old, but my dad stood firm. So he packed my mom, his brother in law, and a newborn (me) into the car.

I proceeded to be bad bad bad for the entire trip. I would make such a ruckus that strangers would offer to hold me so that my parents could shovel food into their mouths at dinner. But my father always said that was the best trip. Whatever magic Walt had created, my father was not going to let his brother-in-law miss it.

So maybe when you see a child pitching a fit in a restaurant and you mutter under your breath, “Go Home,” remember that sometimes people have to take the magic when they can get it. Thanks for bringing me into the zone, and by the way, both the brother-in-law and I married people also in the “Disney Zone.”

Thank you.

Hi Allison – Well I have certainly seen my share of babies at a Walt Disney World and have often wondered how much energy it takes for a couple to properly deal with the child and enjoy themselves as well. I even recall one evening last summer at Chef Mickey's where a couple had to take turns holding their child so they could eat and greet Mickey and company. I think you're right in that for some people the magic is a necessity and they get it at any time they can.

Danny Ortiz writes:

Hi Mike! I'm from Los Angeles, California. I'm going to WDW on April 24-30. I'm going on my own. I was thinking if there is a Web site or any suggesttions or tips. How can I get a pen pal or someone to join me at the park? Because both parents are working, and a brother and a sister both work, too! I don't want to go by myself. Can you help me? Thank you!

Hi Danny – I know many people who go to WDW on their own. In most cases, these people belong to one or more Disney Internet communities that have forums similar to what we have here at MousePlanet. Usually after spending time in one of these communities, you are bound to find people who are planning vacations the same time you are. In those cases, you can always arrange to meet these friends at one of the parks. I have done that several times, and have made quite a few new friends who share the passion I have for WDW. So my suggestion is to do a search for some Disney sites that have those forums, and become an active member. Why not start with our Mousepad forum? Good luck.

Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Mike here.
Feedback for Lani Teshima

As expected, we got quite a bit of feedback regarding the interview with Gary Nowak, the publisher of the Web site, which we ran on March 30 (link). Some people were downright rude, but for the most part our readers just had some opinions they wanted to share. Here are just a few. [With yesterday's official announcement by Comcast that it was dropping its bid to acquire Disney, it will be interesting to see how everything plays out. – Lani]

Megan writes:

I loved the article. It gave me a new perspective on things. I do support Roy Disney's opinions about Eisner, but the SaveMichaelEisner site made me see that it really isn't the best idea to run a campaign like that at a time like this. A time when it could leave Disney vulnerable to Comcast takeover. Although I am not particularly fond of Eisner, I guess there are worse things that could happen to the Disney company right now. And I would like to urge other Disney lovers to take a more objective look at the whole situation and keep an open mind.

David writes:

I understand that the 43 percent vote of no confidence against Eisner may have been largely emotionally based, but that is because it has become an emotional issue. I understand Gary Nowak's position and as a cast member, I, too, fear a takeover. However, who allowed things to become so off track as to have lynch mobs storming the castle? The man in charge, Michael Eisner!

As a Disneyland cast member, I can tell you that we feel abandoned and betrayed by this man. There is not just discord at the top, as Diane Miller has said, but it has trickled all the way down to the hourly theme park cast members. If you really want to know what is going on in the park, just ask us; we work there. While Michael was constantly focusing on Orlando, our park has been falling apart. We all know about the lack of anything futuristic or anything even remotely entertaining in Anaheim's Tomorrowland. Only recently (since Roy's campaign) has Eisner started to show up in Southern California.

All of us at the park know that he is only trying to save face with his photo opportunities, and it is disgusting. Everyone is tired of the straight-to-video crap and especially the sequels to animated features (except maybe for parents with small children who use videos as baby-sitting devices). Once upon a time there was such a thing as a good story ending with “Happily Ever After.” Now it might as well be, “To be continued on Disney DVD.”

His children used to run up to us in the park and tell us that they could have their dad fire us (no joke.) Well, it's about time that he knows that, together, we can have him fired.

Ben Tritle writes:

Wow… while I have no problem with someone wanting to create a Web site, I have the feeling Eisner might call and ask him to stop. At least is intelligent; this pro-Eisner site just throws a lot out there and hopes that the person reading will be so blinded by all the mud that they'll believe something.

Even the “links” that are on the site are suspect. Only one of the two are from a reputable business site, and that one is an editorial with little in the way of hard facts to defend Eisner. It seems like the biggest defense available goes to Eisner's first decade. There's a lot there that talks about how the company grew during the first 10 years. Great… if this were 1994, I'd be all over saving Eisner. But it's not… it's 2004 and the lights are dimming.

Evan Millward writes:

Lani, I just wanted to comment on your article about Mr. Nowak's I visited the site with an open mind, thinking I would find some useful facts or something to move my opinion, but all I found was the same thing he criticized Roy for doing, being personal and opinionated. Also, the site tends to contradict itself. Plus, I tend to find that Roy has hit the obvious points about company outlook.

Being a Disney Vacation Club member and an annual passholder at WDW, I have seen maintenance slip, though not as much as some people tend to make it out.

Now, I do admit that if Eisner holds onto the helms until 2006, he really should make these last years his legacy. I agree with Mr. Nowak there, definitely. However, I feel the site is more aimed at shooting down Roy Disney (remember the importance of the name and heritage here) and not of convincing me to support Michael Eisner. Maybe you should take another look at your approach, Mr. Nowak.

Rich Robertson writes:

Mr. Eisner has let his ego and greed get in the way of running the Walt Disney Company.

The no-confidence vote was [a sign], and he should leave yesterday. He has surrounded himself with yes men, as the fiasco of Disney's California Adventure park has shown. [Former Disneyland heads Paul] Pressler and [Cynthia] Harriss have done enormous harm to the Disney image by providing a run-down, second-rate park (DisneyLand) and a third-rate park that must be given away to get anyone to go there (DCA).

The problems have been discussed for a couple of years now, and there is still no wake-up of Eisner. As a Disney stockolder, it is a shame that the only thing to raise the stock price was the Comcast offer to buy Disney.

Fire Eisner and his stooges on the board now!

John Purcel writes:

Isn't it “odd” how when [Nowak] quoted Diane Miller, he forgot to include that it is her publicly stated opinion that Eisner should step down.

Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Lani here.
Feedback for World View (Mark Goldhaber)

Regarding the World View series of articles by former Imagineer George McGinnis about Epcot's Horizons attraction (read part 1 | part 2), Susan Main writes:

Thank you so much for bringing in Mr. McGinnis to do this feature article. I just love the history of everything relating to Disney and, as about a million others, just miss Horizons terribly.

Being able to choose your ending was one of the best things about Horizons, being able to feel like you were traveling through space, and being loaded into the cars and moving sideways was a nice different touch to the ride.

Good for Mouseplanet for bringing such interesting subjects to its Web site! Keep up the great work! It is greatly appreciated, as is Mr. McGinnis' contributions!

Thanks, Susan. I'll pass your note on to George. I'm sure that he'll enjoy reading it.

Mike Parker writes:

Mark, I'm not sure if I should be bothering you with a question like this, but from everything I have seen at MousePlanet, you really know your stuff about WDW.

We have a unique situation and are not exactly sure what to do to handle it. I'll try and be as brief as possible: My family of 10 are all traveling to WDW in october. I guess I should mention that we are staying at the All-Star Movies Resort. My father and brother are airline employees. When we booked the three rooms we needed, the cast member was very nice and suggested that we put two rooms in my father and mother's name, and one in my bother's so that we get the discount for all three rooms, It worked great, or total went from a Disney rate of $2,661 (room only) to a whopping $1330.50. We saved an incredible amount. The problem we didn't foresee is that my family of four (not the airline employees) are arriving at 9:30 a.m., with my father and brother arriving at 6 p.m. We cannot check in until my father arrives.

And that's where our problem begins. The cast member did tell us that as long as we are in the reservation somewhere, and we are, that we could drop our bags at the front desk when we arrive.

My question to you is, being that we have not checked in and received a room key, would we still be able to use the WDW busses to travel to say Downtown Disney? We won't have a rental car and are taking Mears to/from the hotel. We have never used the WDW busses before and weren't sure if we had to present a room key to board or not?

Also, my wife had another idea. Simply drop the bags at the desk, grab lunch in the food court, and then change into our bathing suits in the restrooms (we'd take our suits and towels in a carry-on that we wouldn't leave at the desk) and hit the pool for the day until my father and brother arrive around 6 p.m.

Are we allowed to use the pool at All-Star Movies even though we haven't been given our room key yet, if we will be given it later that day? Also, do you know if there are restrooms in the lobby of the All-Star Movies that would be appropriate to change in. (we wouldn't want to seem out of place by doing so)?

I know it's a pretty wild situation, but any help would be greatly appreciated. We weren't trying to scam Disney out of 50 percent for my family of four's room, but since the cast member suggested booking this way, my father did. We just wanted to make sure we could do something until the others arrive.

Thanks for your help, sorry to bother you with our troubles.

Hi Mike – There should be no problem with you using the Disney transportation or the All-Star Movies pool. If your park passes are not attached to your room reservation, you should even be able to go to a theme park for eight hours before the rest of your family arrives. (If they're on the reservation, they you won't be able to get them until check-in.) And remember, if your father and brother are landing at 6 p.m., they won't be hitting the resort until at least 6:30 to 7 p.m. (possibly later if they're using a shuttle instead of renting a car). Hope this helps, and enjoy your trip!

Marc Lichon wrote:

Please let me tell you that MousePlanet is one of my favorite “morning-coffee” Web sites. You know… the list of news/entertainment sites you visit with coffee in hand before actually starting work! So, let me thank you for helping start my day positively! I love the trip reports; I read them and can almost smell the sweet Florida air and the anticipation of the day.

Anyway, I've only been to WDW twice, when I was 4 (doesn't really count) and last year for our first family vacation. My wife, three kids and I were estranged from the rest of the family for nearly a decade, so soon after things worked out, we all went to WDW, which made it all the more special!

My brother and sister-in-law are Disney dweebs, and I never understood how a couple with no kids in their middle 30s could go to Disney World twice a year; it was weird! But, my kids wanted to go, so we did.

Now, I was raised in a Disney family, but thought I grew out of it as I grew up. But during that vacation I was steamrolled by my own “Disney Zone” realization. This sounds too picturesque to be true, but it absolutely is (after all, this is the Magic Kingdom we're talking about!). It happened in the middle of the first of three days. I was standing at the hub at the entrance near the Walt & Mickey statue, my older brother and I had my two daughters on our shoulders and the Share a Dream Come True parade surrounded us… and it all came together, everything gelled, the planets were in alignment, and suddenly all was well in the universe.

I suddenly remembered all the movies, television shows, and (more importantly) the sense that there were good things in the world; there was I time when my life was simpler and that there was a peace we as adults can never re-create for ourselves! I love my family, but who doesn't want to be a kid again?

I didn't really appreciate the impact, though, until I stepped out of the Disney bubble into my peach-grey cubicle at work. I didn't see it coming… I sat down to log into my computer and rather than land in my chair, I fell down the rabbit hole into the deepest depression I'd ever felt! My mind just couldn't conceive of the fact that I wasn't back in the All-Star Music Resort getting donuts while my family woke, preparing for another magical day (even though I drove nearly 1,000 miles back to Ohio the previous two days)!

I couldn't sit for more than five minutes at a time, and eventually took a walk around downtown to “shake it off,” but couldn't, and took the remainder of the day off to deal with it. Adult life up to that point had been a really rough road, and in the midst of it all I forgot about any magic, so that is probably why I had such a time getting back to reality… I didn't want to go! Man, it's hard to write this without getting a boulder in my throat!

So, I've spent every day since working to get back there. Yeah, I've got responsibilities and I take care of business, but whenever I have a few extra bucks they land in the Disney fund. I've have this ever-present thought/feeling in me that repeats, “I've got to go back… I've got to be there with my kids again…” and (I don't know if this is weird, but) there is a song that wells that feeling up whenever I hear it.

I wrote all of this because I'm looking for the song that plays in the background of several commercials and on the Disney Destinations Web site (link).

Whenever I hear that, I get chills and relive those three days in just a few seconds. Sometimes I use it as a pick-me-up, sometimes I use it to escape the sterilized cubicle walls and the smell of the coffee break room. Listening to it now, actually… sorry.

I don't think I've gone overboard, just making up for lost time! Do you know what the song is and where I can find it? Also, I'm building a DVD of our trip for the grandparents and this would be the perfect background music for the scene where the kids come from around the hub and the castle makes its stage entrance, just like Walt wanted. The more I read the more I realize what a genius he was… 40 years ago he made a decision that made my kids smile just last year, and he knew it would! So, do you know what that song is and where I can get it? I'd more than appreciate your help!

Newly converted Disney-Dweeb, Marc Lichon

Hi Marc – What a great story! If you haven't already, you might want to consider writing up a trip report and submitting to the MousePlanet trip report archives. I've found that writing up a trip report helps me to remember my trips long after the trip is over. Also, I've had a number of e-mail correspondences start based on my trip reports.

As to your question, it sounds like you're asking for the “Where Magic Lives” theme. I agree that it's a great bit of music. To my knowledge, it is not available on CD anywhere. The only place that I've heard it in pre-recorded format is on the Walt Disney World vacation videos and DVDs. I've also heard that it is available out on the web, but as that's not a legal means of obtaining recordings, I don't indulge in it. If you're planning to attempt it, you might want to search your favorite music retrieval method with terms like “where magic lives,” “WDW theme” or “disney world.” Good luck, and welcome to Disney dweebdom!

Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Mark here.


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.


Did you read something interesting (good or bad) on MousePlanet, or here in the Mailbag? We'd love to hear from you! Send your comments to the Mailbag here.

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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