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MousePlanet Mailbag for May 20, 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 Mouse Tales (David Koenig)

M. Daren Quigel writes:

Until today (after following a link to info on Roy Disney's “Destino”), I had never heard of you personally, or “MousePlanet” either. It wasn't five minutes before I experienced an uncomfortable feeling with your work, as well as the entire concept of MousePlanet as a whole. While Walt Disney spent virtually his entire adult life actually creating and inventing “things,” it would appear that you and MousePlanet are spending your entire careers critiquing and analyzing the work of others. This brings to mind the old cliché that, “Those that can do, and those that can't, teach.” Being a baby boomer myself (53), I abhor what I see as not the evolution of Walt's dream, but sadly the unfavorable mutation/degradation of said dream.

You are obviously highly versed in the entire Disney phenomenon, but to make a life's work of picking apart/applauding/reviewing that same work runs contrary to everything that my parents ever instilled in me. I was always encouraged to make my own way in this world, and blaze my own trail as it were. You on the other hand (and the entire MousePlanet board and crew), seem to have firmly sunk your teeth into the coattails of the Disney empire, and are basically catching a free ride through life by making a living off of criticizing the hard work and creativity of others. If your opinions are so incredibly profound, why aren't you working at Disney, or building your own empire? What will your legacy be? What will your leave behind for future generations?

Perhaps this is actually a symbiotic relationship, not unlike like the little “cleaner” fish that latch onto large aquatic animals, but at first glance it appears to be more closely related to a tick that has latched itself firmly onto a dog's butt, and that cannot be viewed as being symbiotic. I have no personal agenda to forward here, nor do I have a personal stake in anything even remotely related to the Disney Co. or MousePlanet. I simply felt compelled to express my feelings about what I had accidentally stumbled into. If you haven't already hit the 'delete' button, thanks for at least taking the time to finish reading my thoughts on the most uncomfortable first impression I felt, while reading your work.

For whatever it's worth, I have also always despised the supposed “work” of Rex Reed, and Siskel and Ebert (R.I.P., & now Roeper). Art and entertainment by its very nature, is subjective matter. This automatically makes any critique of the realm to be moot and invalid to the overwhelming majority. Why anyone even bothers to pay attention to it, I will never understand. I, for one, find myself to be perfectly capable of making my own decisions about what I like, and what I don't like. I can only assume that there must be millions of other mindless drones that find this to be either a painful process, or one which they are totally incapable of performing. How else can one explain how you/they remain gainfully employed?

M. Daren – Thank you for your letter.

As will hardly surprise you, I could not disagree more—as would the tens of thousands of people who visit our site on a daily basis. They come here for the analysis, the reviews, the anecdotes, the inside information, and the community that has been formed over a common interest. In our case, that mutual passion is Disney, but for thousands of other similar media, it could be movies, politics, religion or stamp collecting.

Their subjectivity is what makes discussion of art and entertainment so fascinating. Certainly there are people who could not care less what anyone thinks about anything. Fortunately, our staff and our readers find education and entertainment here and return frequently—despite M. Daren's disapproval. We realize we have a lot to share and a lot to learn.

Walt did prize creativity, originality and breaking new ground. Just as he treasured history, constantly reflected on his heritage, and understood the value of community. He respected teachers and appreciated constructive criticism. He enjoyed his leisure time. And perhaps most importantly, he was an excellent listener with a voracious appetite for learning.

Regarding David's article, “A Tall Order: Tower of Terror Aims to elevate DCA's Fortunates,” which ran on May 4, Jeff writes:

I have enjoyed coming back to this Web site and reading all the stories, commentaries, and updates. I am an annual passholder to the Disneyland Resort and have been a passholder for 10 years, before Disney's California Adventure was even a concept. I have also visited Disney World twice.

After reading your article about Tower of Terror's need to give DCA an identity and a boost in its attendance, I think that it will boost attendance to some degree; however, I believe that Soarin' Over California is the one attraction that already has given DCA its identity.

I have read in one of the articles that Soarin' Over California will be constructed in Florida; however, until then, it is an attraction unique to DCA only and is considered by all of my Southern California acquaintances (annual passholders and non-passholders) as THE ride in the park. It fits into the theme of the park, and it has an interesting gallery of pictures inside the hangar that I think inspires the spirit of the attraction. However, I feel that Disney doesn't know how to market the attraction. It's really not a thrill ride; although, those who are afraid of heights can get plenty scared. However, the satisfaction factor of riding it is very, very high. Living in Southern California, I really never saw Disney strongly marketing this attraction to lure park guests into DCA.

With the amount of advertisements I have seen for Tower of Terror, I am curious to see how much of an increase in attendance it will generate. At least Disney is smart enough to open the ride just before the summer season to attract the thrill-seeking teenagers who will be out of school soon. I think you are right in considering the new ride an almost make-or-break addition to DCA. The high cost of the attraction plus its success at the Disney/MGM Studios really don't give Disney too many excuses to use if DCA's version doesn't hit a home run. It's just too bad that Disney didn't really try to cultivate the park beforehand. If Tower of Terror succeeds well, I am hoping that its success will lead to more changes to make the park better.

If Tower of Terror brings more people into the Hollywood Studios area of DCA, Disney needs to do something with the space around Superstar Limo and Hollywood and Dine. That space is a vacuum, and it could be used for either an indoor/outdoor dining area or the possibility of creating a new attraction.

I hate to say it, but either demolish the rides in a Bug's Land and start over (the theming and design of the land is wonderful, but the rides are extremely lacking in concept, design and satisfaction), or expand the area of a Bug's Land and build rides that are more appealing. This area of the park was supposed to answer the critics who said there weren't enough attractions for kids or families with toddlers.

After seeing the documentary of Walt Disney inside the Art of Animation building of DCA, I was struck by Walt's decision to build Disneyland in the first place based partly on the lack of places to take his daughters and wife to have fun together as a family. He felt that there should be a place where families could go together and have fun together. Since DCA didn't fulfill that basic concept initially, Disney hastily put together A Bug's Land. However, it seemed as though the Imagineers really weren't pushed very hard to come up with concepts that would still fulfill Walt's idea of the FAMILY TOGETHER enjoying themselves. Only very small children can enjoy a Bug's Land, very seldom can the parents.

Overall, I still do enjoy going to DCA; however, I have to admit that partially it is because I know it won't be as crowded there as it would be at Disneyland. I feel kind of bad saying that, but it is the truth. After fighting crowds for so many years, it is sometimes nice not having to. However, I am a Disney fan, and I am always pleased to see people enjoying themselves in the two theme parks. I just hope that Disney is able to cultivate DCA into a theme park worthy of being a partner to Disneyland.

I love Soarin', but I don't know that it's given DCA its identity. If you've never been to Anaheim before and someone says “Disneyland,” immediately you think of the castle or Mickey Mouse or the Matterhorn. When they say, “DCA,” you think “carnival” or “uncrowded.” If you've never been, you don't think of Soarin' because, as you pointed out, of the marketing problem. Soarin' has not been marketed well; however, for an E-ticket it would be challenging for an ad to capture its unique combination of “gentle” thrills.

Kevin writes:

Great article about “ToT.”

My feeling is that TDA is finally on the right track. But I still don't think there is enough to do over at DCA. I got to experience the ride at the KLOS party last Thursday and then again this past Sunday during a soft opening. I think that the same hoopla that occurred when Indy opened will happen again for ToT. On Thursday, the line was clear back to the Hollywood and Dine area and possibly wrapped around to the Muppet attraction. So I can see the line for ToT getting bad, very bad.

I know that the new president, Matt, stated that he wants to concentrate on getting DCA up to par with Disneyland, which, he stated, will probably take about 10 years. It needs it.

Anyway, thanks again for the article. I loved the analogy of the party dress on a pig. That was great!

It is a welcome relief to see DCA finally receive a permanent upgrade, rather than trying to resell basically the same park with smoke, mirrors and duct tape.

Lisa writes:

I enjoy your insights on all things Disney, but I have to disagree with you about DCA not having a "weenie" until TOT appeared. The California Screamin' roller coaster is one of my all time favorites. I call it "roller coaster's greatest hits" as it contains all the best parts of other coasters into one ride.

Can we say that DCA finally has two E-ticket rides now?

DCA already had a few E-ticket rides, notably Screamin', Soarin' over California, and Grizzly River Run. The problem has been that none of these have provided the dual purpose of the best Disney weenies (the castle, the Matterhorn, Space Mountain, Tower of Terror), which is to serve both as a positive iconic landmark for the park and as a visual draw to magnetically pull guests into other areas of the park.

Soarin's building is dull. I don't think Grizzly Peak, due to its positioning in the narrow center of the park and its action being confined to a back corner of the mountain, successfully draws visitors' attention and excitement as it should. The knock against Screamin' is that it has become a negative iconic landmark—it's a major reason people think of DCA as a "carnival."

Mike writes:

I always enjoy your articles. I am an annual passholder who lives in Utah. I've seen advertisements for the Tower of Terror on television here and it does not specify in the ad that the new ride is at DCA. It says that the ride is at the Disneyland Resort. I actually had someone in my office yesterday ask me if I'd heard about the new ride opening up at Disneyland.

I think that a lot of the people from Utah (and perhaps visitors from outside of Southern California who visit Disneyland every three to five years) tend to get a multi-day pass when they visit Disneyland, so to them (and to us annual passholders) DCA is just like a small add-on the Disneyland. The first time you visit DCA you will try all of attractions—unless you've been to Orlando, in which case you may skip some of the repeats. On subsequent visits to DCA, you would be more apt to only ride Soarin', Screamin', Grizzly Rapids (depending on the weather) and now Tower of Terror. You might ride some of the carnival rides if the lines were really short and you had already visited all of the major attractions at Disneyland.

So, does adding the Tower of Terror make DCA stand on its own? No. For those people who buy the single-day pass, I think that most of them will still be disappointed. Also I think that many people who have seen an ad on TV will buy a single-day ticket to Disneyland expecting to see the new ride. DCA needs four to five major attractions before it will be able to stand on its own.

I still think that Disney MGM Studios is a half-day park, unless it's the first time that you're visiting it. But they've added Tower of Terror, Rock And Roller Coaster and are building the Stunt show from Paris, so little by little the park has more to keep you there the whole day. Animal Kingdom, of course, is still in need of more attractions, but it is a nice park for about half a day.

Even so, I have rarely visited the Orlando parks without a multi-day pass. And when I have, I have never bought a single-day Animal Kingdom pass.

Jeff writes:

Well, I have never been to an opening day. My boss mentioned that I should be taking some vacation time. I asked him for a day. :)

I really, really, really wanted to check out the Tower. I figured it would have the whole Disney package. I was not let down!

It's amazing how quiet and smooth Tower is. Drop rides in other places are so loud (the braking systems)! Even in the waiting/boarding area... nothing but what they wanted you to hear! I was amazed to see that the elevators are double decker! That's a lot of weight to be pushing around. Even with a counter weight, there is still inertia, right?

One employee let an effect technique slip. He was measuring people's skin temperature with some sort of laser sensor. When asked about it, he mentioned that one of the effects uses thermal imaging. If people's skin temp (due to sweat evaporating) is too close to the ambient temp the effect stops working. WOW! That's really, really neat way to get the effect. Very impressive! The employee rode the ride to verify that the effect was working correct.

I stood in line when the sign read 75 minutes, then 45 minutes, then 60 minutes (I rode it three times). At one point the sign said the wait time was 35 minutes. I didn't think that was too bad for opening day. Then again, it's not summer or a weekend.

I was impressed how smoothly the line moved. It only paused once when they had trouble with one of the elevators. I guess they had to shut it down for a bit. By the time I got to the loading area, the system seemed to be running again.

As far as DCA goes. I find the park enjoyable. I like the feel of it. Even Bugs Land that is more directed at kids is visually appealing to me. Maybe it has something to do with known characters that cause people to complain. DCA doesn't have as many character/story tie-ins in each of the sections of the park.

As the park matures, things will get better in people's eyes. It seems to me that there are many ideas that can be fit into that park.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact David here.

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