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MousePlanet Mailbag for July 1, 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 Cast Place – Shoshana Lewin

Regarding a CM's response in a recent Mailbag to her comments about Disneyland cast member Maynard in a Cast Place column, Pam Baca writes:

Hi Shoshana,

I am the Pam who asked the cast member about Maynard. I'm sorry I apparently wandered into forbidden territory by asking about Maynard, but one thing struck me about that cast member's letter.

The cast member mentioned that they are tired of being asked about Maynard by AP's. Well, why do so many people ask for Maynard? Why do we know his name and not the names of his fellow cast members? Because he goes above and beyond, that's why. I have seen Maynard at two different attractions and he does not overshadow the attraction. He adds to it. When I walked up to the Mansion and he was at the door, he was not just an attractions operator, he was the evil butler and I was really going into a haunted house.

I don't know the man or have any idea about how he interacts with his fellow cast members, but it sounds like the cast member who wrote, and those people he/she wrote on behalf of, are jealous because guests don't ask for them. If guests asked for them, it would be different. Maynard goes above and beyond to make our experience unique and enjoyable. Maynard immerses us in the magic. I think Walt would have loved him.

He bridges the gap between show and cast member. By the way, I am a little miffed that the cast member did not read the start of my letter, which was very complimentary to the cast members we met. We think just about everyone there is terrific, Maynard is just goes above and beyond. Just for the record, I am neither a regular nor an annual pass holder. I am a plain, old ordinary once a year tourist from Colorado.

Thanks much!

Hi Pam – Over the years there have been other cast members like Maynard who people looked forward to seeing each time they met. These are cast members who don't just treat what they do like an average job, they know they are in the business of happiness. People ask for Maynard because their friends have had a memorable experience with him. All cast members can make this kind of magic—but many choose not to. I was there for three months and in that short time I had a few people who remembered me (and who I remembered). Please continue to “look” for Maynard and maybe other cast members will strike the same chord in you.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact the Shoshana here.
Feedback for the Trip Planner – Lani Teshima

Elizabeth writes:

Hi! I was hoping you might be able to help me out. MousePlanet has been so helpful to me in the past I thought I would see if you could help me again. My family and I are planning a trip to Disneyland CA this fall. When we go to Disneyland we always go in the fall becausewe like the smaller crowds. We usually go right around the end of October, beginning of November. This year has been tough for us to decide when to go due to the rehab for the Matterhorn. I was wondering if you had any idea what the crowds and weather tend to be like during the first week of December. We don't mind drizzly weather but we don't necessarily want to get drenched.

Thank you for any help you can give me, and thank you for all the past times you have helped me!

Hi Elizabeth – I can certainly sympathize with your desire to avoid the hottest months for the parks. It gets pretty hot and miserable during those summer months.

My experience is that December provides cool days and chillier evenings. Average temperatures are around the low 70s during the day, and high 40s at night. The median temperature, according to Weather.com (link) is 58 degrees. That's pretty nice.

Although the average rainfall for December is 1.29 inches, higher than the summer and fall seasons, it is considerably drier than the early months of January, February and March, which average over 2.5 inches.

My suggestion is that you go prepared. Consider carrying an extra pair of socks and a packable rain jacket in case the weather turns. A compact umbrella might be OK, but I would avoid it just so you don't worry about poking people's eyes out in crowds.

One huge advantage: If you go in early December, all the holiday decorations will be up. You'll be able to enjoy the big Christmas tree on display in Town Square, for example. In fact, with that kind of decoration, it might feel more appropriate with overcast skies!

Have a wonderful trip, Elizabeth.

A number of people offered to help with Christal's concerns, published in a previous Mailbag, about being too large to fit on rides at the Disney parks. Natalie V. writes:

You can let Christal know that I'm 5'6" ish and 250 pounds and my husband is 6'2" and 350, and we fit on everything at Disneyland. At Disney's California Adventure, the only thing we have troble with is the Orange Stinger, as you mentioned and the Maliboomer. If she has a large chest like me, it can be uncomfortable. Otherwise she can enjoy her visit to Disneyland without worry.

Regarding the difficulty in fitting into ride units at Great America, Marc R. writes:

Hi Lani,

Saw the e-mail today about Great America. Assuming you're talking about Paramount's park in Santa Clara, I live about 20 minutes away from it.

I can also confirm that some of their seats are tight for me (5'10", 225), although I've always squeezed into them. However, for the sake of accuracy, wanted to point out that none of their rides have a combination of seat belt with an over the shoulder harness. There are, however, some with a seat belt-lap bar combo. Most noticeably is the horrific wooden coaster, The Grizzley; I've seen more that one person give up and get off. Greased Lightning (formerly Tidal Wave) was also in this category before its removal. I haven't ridden their drop ride recently, so it's conceiveable that they added a seat belt, but it doesn't look like it from the pics on their site.

Of course, there are other parks called Great America, so if you were referring to one of those, never mind. Cheers, Marc.

Hi Marc – I think I wasn't being very clear when I talked about the shoulder harness and seat belt. The seat belts, as I recall, don't go around your waist, but instead, are used to snap the end of the shoulder harness to a buckle located between your legs. In my recollection, even if you could pull the harness down most of the way, if that seat belt buckle couldn't snap, you were outta there. And of course, those belts were not adjustable.

Sean C. writes:

Re: Your reply to a correspondent's queries regarding large adults on Disneyland attractions.

It may be noteworthy that one other attraction at California Adventure may be difficult for large people to ride: The Maliboomer. Its restraint system does not appear to have been designed and built for people over a certain size. I am a 5'-10" male and I weigh close to 250 lbs. I was barely able to fit into the seat with the restraint secured.

Regarding a review she read on our Hotel Reviews page, Stacey writes:

I read in one of your hotel reviews of a room at the Comfort Inn Maingate was only $30 a night and it gave the Web site and how to get that room price. When I went to the Web site and did what was suggested, I was only able to find a room for $63.74 a night, nothing cheaper. Is the price in the review really old or am I doing something wrong? I was really excited when I read this review; it had nothing but wonderful things to say about the hotel and that the price was wonderful. I am trying to do a Disneyland trip on a budget, and the price of this room was a dream, especially for the type of hotel it was. Please get back to me as soon as you can.

Thank you for your time and all that you do.

Hi Stacey – I wanted to make sure I was reading the correct information, so I went to the hotel review that you mentioned. Unfortunately, the person who wrote the review did not get the hotel room for $30, but got the room for “$30.00 off the rack”—that is, they were able to get a $30 discount on the standard rate.

One thing about hotel room rates that will help you in your planning, is that they fluctuate wildly based on the time of year, the day of the week, and whether there will be a high demand on the dates of your trip. For example, summer is considered “high” season, so you will tend to find fairly high prices. On the other hand, an off-season rate will generally be lower.

To give you an idea of numbers, I punched in three different dates at the hotel's Web site to see what kind of numbers they provided.

Saturday, July 3 (holiday weekend in high season):

  • Rack rate (no discount) $109.
  • Internet rate: $81.74 ($27.25 off, almost $30 off)

Saturday, August 21 (high season):

  • Rack rate (no discount) $99.
  • Internet rate: $74.25 ($25.25 off)

Saturday, October 16 (low season):

  • Rack rate (no discount) $69.
  • Internet rate: $51.75 ($17.25 off)

As you can tell, the prices from three sample dates vary quite widely. In addition, the discount for the July 4 weekend is just shy of $30, which is very close to the discount mentioned by the reviewer. However, it should be noted that the rack rate (full price) during low season is cheaper than the discount rate during a holiday weekend in high season by almost $12! If you are trying to figure out how best to save your budget, one big consideration should be in choosing a date in the low season, as the example above shows.

Based on the discount rates, my general impression is that Comfort Inn Maingate gives its guests 25 percent off if they book using the Internet rate. That's not bad at all.

I checked two travel sites: Expedia and Travelocity. For the mid-range dates of October 16 to 17, it looks like the lower end prices are running around $50. In addition, you might want to check the individual motel chain Web sites, such as Best Western, to see what rates you can find for your travel dates.

One thing to be very careful about—make sure that the hotel you make you reservation with, tells you if there are any additional fees that they add when you check in. A few years ago during the height of the California energy crisis, a number of hotels were charging a surcharge to cover for the extra cost of electricity, even though they did not state this at the time of reservation. Other hotels will charge for daily parking (as much as $10 a day!), or for the shuttle to and from Disneyland.

One way to save money is to look for a motel that offers continental breakfast. By not having to buy breakfast, you can easily save $10 a day or more (especially if you have kids). In addition, consider bringing a cooler with you (either in your car trunk if you are driving, or a collapsible one in your luggage). Keep the contents cool using the ice from the motel's ice dispenser, and keep snacks and easy lunch munchables in the cooler. You can take some of these smaller snacks in with you to the park (granola bar, veggie sticks, fruit roll-ups, and so on), and have a nice lunch back at your room (or by your motel's pool if they have one) with sandwiches, chips, fruit, and soft drinks—this will easily save you $20 and up for meals. Focus your money on one big meal a day where you get to eat in the park. That way you still get to enjoy the experience, but it will not bust your wallet.

Finally (and this is especially if you have kids), consider purchasing “souvenirs” at someplace other than inside the park. There is a nearby Wal-Mart, for example, that sells a ton of Disney merchandise. If your children are small and it doesn't matter whether the shirt says “Mickey” or “Disneyland” on it, you will save at least 50 percent on your souvenirs.

Good luck on coming up with a trip within your budget. It's definitely possible to have a wonderful time without spending your last penny!

Have a wonderful journey.

Stacey wrote back:

Dear Lani. Thank you so much for getting back to me and for your money-saving tips! they are wonderful ideas. I do have two children, 3 and 13, but the only time we can go this year is in July. Even though I have been to Disneyland several time growing up, this will be the first time in July. I look at the MousePlanet site almost everyday and read tips and tricks of the trade—they have become so helpful. Tell you staff and friends there, thank you for me! As for the hotel review, thank you for clarifying that. I figured I had misunderstood something. Thank you again.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact the Lani here.
Feedback for Scoping the Parks – Mike Scopa

Regarding Mike's very popular article about the Disney Zone, Wende writes:

Hi there. I just finished reading the Disney Zone and even though I onley visited Disney World once in my lifetime, I spent most of my life wanting to visit and hope some day to see it again. It was 1990 when I saw the parks for the first and only time but I was amazed at the size, having only experienced Disneyland, I really enjoyed being able to see the Magic Kingdom, eating in the exotic resturants of the world and seeing all the attractions of the parks, although the Carrousel of Progress was not exactly as I remembered and our trip was just one week. I wouldn't have traded that for anything, except more time to see everything. It was fulfillment of a wish I had had sence Disney World's opening. It was the best birthday present I had ever gotten and something I'll always treasure. Thanks, Uncle Walt, for giving us a wonderfull world.

Hi Wende – It sounded like your 1990 trip made quite an impression upon you. It would be difficult for me to put into words what kind of an effect 14 years of change would have upon you today. Hopefully you'll get a chance to visit Walt Disney World again and see if these changes have enhanced your enjoyment of The Disney Zone.

Thanks for the note.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact the Mike here.
Feedback for the Mailbag

Elizabeth writes:

I have a question. I thought that I had read, not that long ago, at MousePlanet that Disneyland's Space Mountain was not going to have a loop once the rehab was finished. My nephew just got back from Grad Night and said that several cast members had told him that Space Mountain would have a loop. I was wondering if you guys had any extra information on this.

Hi Elizabeth – Our information about the rehabbed Space Mountain is based on a number of interviews with individuals involved in the planning of the attraction, as well as a visual confirmation of an illustrated design (it may have been a copy of a blueprint but I cannot confirm this) that happened during the recent 50th Anniversary media event. If the loop was inserted since that time, I am not aware of it. A loop would be fun, though, wouldn't it?

– Lani

David Koenig adds:

Track layout will be absolutely the same, but with a launch start instead of chain ramp. This is from someone involved in design of the ride. As my corrections [of information disseminated by CMs] illustrate, don't believe everything you hear from hourly CMs.

David Maxey writes:

Hi. I already made a comment to David Koenig about this, but in all the stuff I've read about the current state of affairs at Disney, I haven't read anything about the exodus of talent from ABC News. Great news personalities like Anderson Cooper and Aaron Brown have fled from ABC. I think that's a big issue in discussing Eisner's handling (or, rather, mishandling) of his conquests.

I hope some commentary can be written on this subject.

Thanks.

After we published a rather impassioned e-mail from M. Daren Quigel to David Koenig in our May 20 Mailbag, we received (and ran) quite a few comments from our readers. The following, from Stephen Halpin, has been approved for publication by David:

Dear MousePlanet,

I tend not to read the column on days that the mailbag appears but was intrigued today with the headline concerning David Koenig and a letter by M. Daren Quigel. While the responses printed today had the overall arching theme of opinions and discussions in general I would like to respond directly to the questions about what David Koenig's legacy and life's work will end up being.

David Koenig and I have forged a friendship these past several years (despite being on opposite coasts) because of our mutual love of things Disney. The friendship started from a single e-mail to David telling him how much I enjoyed his books and his columns on MousePlanet. That e-mail began a friendship that has included many hours of talking about things Disney. We have visited the Disney parks on both coasts together and we have introduced each other to our wives and children. Since David took the high road in his reponse I would like to offer the following thoughts:

David Koenig's life's work is not everything Disney. David has a writing career that is completely seperate from his work about Disney. I think there are many people who assume that David is compensated for his work on MousePlanet. My understanding is that he is not. And I have never gotten the impression from David that his book writing has made him a lot of money. In fact, he laughed when I once suggested (kiddingly) that the income from the books was making him rich. Even when our discussions turned critical about the current state of affairs at Disney, the overriding thing that came through from David was how much he enjoyed the Disney experience.

Most importantly, David Koenig's legacy will be that his work in his career as well as his work about Disney was enjoyed by many people. He made us think, he challenged us and he entertained us. And he did it with an incredible amount of class and respect. His legacy will be that he was a good friend to many people and was repected by enough people within the Disney Company for them to sit down and offer their opinion about their careers and their company. Most of all, his legacy will be that he was a devoted husband and a loving father. And that is not too bad a legacy to leave behind.

Stephen Halpin


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact the Mailbag 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.

VOICE YOUR OPINION

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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2002

• December: 5, 12, 19

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