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MousePlanet Mailbag for July 22, 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)

In our Park Update: Disneyland for June 21–27, David Koenig reported about a harrowing incident where a young child was discovered roaming the rooftop of the Grand California Hotel. Marc Ricketts writes:

Hi David. What I find disturbing in this tale is the statement, "Here's hoping that they visited the room and kicked those horrible people out of the Grand Californian. It makes you wonder what kind of people are staying in some of the most desirable and expensive rooms at the Grand Cal!"

Unless there is information that is not contained in the story, I consider this to be highly presumptuous. None of us know the circumstances that led to this incident.

Now, if the parents were passed out drunk in a pool of their own vomit, or if the girl's weird uncle was encouraging her because he thought it was cute, then, yes, you can probably safely call these people horrible.

But:

What if a single parent was taking a shower and didn't realize the girl could access the balcony, perhaps left unsecured by housekeeping or the previous occupants?

What if the entire family was napping, and the little girl awoke before everyone else, then wandered outside while they slept? What if the girl's brother just cut his foot, and while Mom or Dad was attending to that, the girl slipped outside?

What if she was left in the care of her teenage sister, who promptly left her alone to make out with that really cute guy next door?

I've heard "Tears In Heaven" [Eric Clapton's song for his late son, who died as a toddler in a fall from an open window in a tall building], so know full well how this could have ended. Lest anyone think I don't take child safety seriously, earlier this year I reported a foster family for suspected child abuse. But if you're going to call someone horrible parents, it seems that you should know all of the facts first."

And, David, if it's not clear, the last sentence of the post refers not to you, but to the person that wrote to you about this incident.

Thanks, Marc. Fair enough. The quote was obviously opinion on the part of Mr. Titizian. Certainly there could have been any manner of extenuating circumstances, some of which you've cited. But in addition to the regular door lock, those patio doors have a higher security latch well out of reach of a five-year-old, and I think the likelihood is far greater that these parents were being dangerously negligent.


One of our MousePad members, "10-8," posted the following information on our discussion board:

What disturbs me about this article is how uninformed the writer of this article is. I was there. For those of you that are unfamiliar with my posts I work for Security and make it a habit of not posting here, because a majority of topics discussed and the appropriate answers could compromise our initiatives, however, for someone to say that there was no Disneyland Security response proves that they did not do their research before writing.

Being that the incident was at the Grand Californian Hotel, hotel trained officers respond. Most park officers can't tell you the room number from the outside of the hotel, but Hotel Officers can. Inside the Hotel several officers were responding and did locate the room in question just as the child was pulled back into the room by the parent who was napping beforehand. It was a very serious and thorough response, and one that I'm proud to say I was apart of. So just because the one officer observing the scene on the parkside (who was from the hotel) seemed passive and overly calm, know that hysteria and panic just makes things worse. He was communicating vital information in a professional and efficient manner.

Good news, although doesn't make me much feel better about the safety of this child. – DK


In our Park Update: Disneyland for January 26 – February 1, David Koenig reported about an incident at the Mad Tea Party teacup ride in Fantasyland, which resulted in its spin being tightened. Neal Paton writes:

David – My family and I have been Premium Passholders for many years now, and are very dedicated Disneyland parkgoers. So, I'm not coming from just a single visit's experience. We're there nearly every week. My daughter and I rode the teacups last night and the tightness issue is still a problem. Since they slowed the "spins" down the line waiting to board the teacups has also "spun" down.

Lately the wait time is equivalent to about two capacity loads. It's very evident that riders are very unhappy about their experience after getting off. Many cups will barely spin at all. Even the, seemingly, strongest of riders aren't able to get the cups to do much. If Disney were to loosen the cups up just a little it might make a big difference. They don't need to spin uncontrollably. However, they do need to spin! The Teacups have been transformed into a glorified "Dumbo" ride.

Thanks for listening.

Neal – Dumbo without the elephants. And the flying. And the control over the vehicles. A more apt comparison might be a park bench.

Thanks for writing, Neal. I wish there was something more we could do.


Eli Chance writes:

Mr. Koenig, I was just curious as to what your take is on Michael Eisner and if you agree with Roy Disney's opinion that Eisner should be removed, and if so what kind of a person would have to be in the CEO position, that could truly bring back the old traditional ways of Walt Disney, mainly in Disneyland. Thank You.

Eli – Thanks for the note.

I am someone who believes in Disney maximizing profits by building itself up, not by tearing itself apart. Traditionally, Disney's genius (both creatively and financially) has been creating strong products and nurturing its body of work, so that they remain popular and profitable for eternity. They also "held back;" they didn't oversaturate the market (keeping demand always higher than supply) and they didn't gouge the customer (creating goodwill). Eisner has turned that upside down, for short-term stock gains.

Current thinking is to ignore the past and the future, and obsess with only today. I believe Disney needs new co-leadership, just as in the days of Walt & Roy Sr. and of Eisner & Wells. One person who will drive the company forward creatively and keep things "sincere." One person who will make sure everything makes sense financially. These two should understand and respect each other's "goal," and work together to rebuild Disney into the world's foremost source of high quality entertainment.

Don't know if it will ever happen, but if there's anything I've learned from a lifetime of Disney watching, it can't hurt to dream.


Carlos writes:

You mention in your Mouse Tales article, posted June 15, 2004, Disneyland will have the May 4, 2005 closure and that this would be the first schedule park closure in nearly 30 years. I thought the park itself didn't start full, daily operation (meaning running and opening the park year-round) until sometime in the mid to late '80s. Am I wrong in that assumption, if you could please elaborate?

Pam writes:

Just a question, didn't the park used to be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and wasn't that done until the early '80s? I thought when I first started working for them they still followed that policy and then it was changed to seven day operations. The only thing I am sure of, I am not old enough to have been working there 30 years ago.

Pam – My bad. I should have written "20" not "30 years." Disneyland went to 365-days-a-year operation in February 1985.


Regarding David's article, "Winding Down the West," published back in December 20, 2001, David writes:

As to the Winding Down the West update, for the Universal stunt crew to work at Knott's was always common, as most of them started at Knott's to begin with. There are only two or three regular venues for Wild West stunts in Southern California. During the boom times of plentiful cash in the late '80s - early '90s there were quite a few places (Knott's, Universal, the real Calico, Movieland Frontier Town [now demolished] and a few corporate picnic parks [some in the local canyons and the one at Camp Frazier in the former Lion Country Safari]). Having worked the corporate picnic circuit as part of another stunt show, we ran into the Knott's/Universal team quite often. These were the days of Young Guns/Quigley Down Under and similar movies, when the West was a big draw for a while.

As a whole, it was not uncommon for the stunt actors to work a few days of the week at Universal and a few more at Knott's


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact David here.
Feedback to our Mailbag

Regarding Disneyland's anticipated 50th anniversary celebration next year, Dennis Mattinson writes:

I love the way that people are complaining about things Disney isn't doing for the 50th anniversary of Disneyland. At last check our economy was still in limbo, companies are still not turning a profit, there is still a war going on and people still are not traveling like they were pre-9/11.

All the things that people are proposing take a lot of money to implement. Sure, I hate Eisner as much as the others who withheld their votes but I understand that a company has to do things with sound business decisions in mind. Doing things haphazardly leaves the door open for Comcast to come in and take over and break up all the units and sell them off so it can get it's hands on ABC/ESPN.

The turn around date for travel to be back to normal (pre-9/11) is 2007. That's 3 years from now and if God forbid something else should occur, that date is going to be pushed back more. That's a long time for the airlines, theme parks, resort destinations, etc. to have to wait for them to begin to climb out of the red.

Be thankful that you have had 50 years of enjoyment from Disney in the theme park market and over 75 years of Mickey to make you smile and laugh. Things don't get too much more American than Disney.

So to all those griping about things not coming quick enough or free giveaways and things of the like, when was the last time you saw any company doing the things that Disney does? Be happy that you have Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. These places are indeed the most magical places on earth and I for one am pleased to see that they will continually improve themselves so that we will have them for at least another 50 years!


Jeff writes:

I really don't know what the big deal is about the 50th Anniversary plans for Disneyland next year. True that the plans are not over the top, but I feel they are dignified for such an anniversary. Plans for the 50th should have been made a long time ago. But unfortunately, with Eisner making budget cuts, Cynthia [Harriss] and Paul [Pressler; both former heads of the park] only worrying about merchandise events, things fell apart. Please also take into consideration the travel conditions of the world a few years ago when plans needed to be made, and the economy taking a turn. But with Matt [Oiumet, current resort head] and his right-hand man (forgot his name, sorry), it seems that things are turning around. And the crowds are certainly proving it this past spring and early summer.

I feel the treatment of the castle will be very classy with the crowns and slight paint treatment. With the drawbridge supposedly going to be in working order, it should make for a great beginning and ending of each day.

True that there is no big new attraction planned for the opening, but the re-engineered Space Mountain and new Buzz Lightyear attractions opening later in 2005 should help in the lengthened anniversary celebration.

It's nice to see that a new parade is coming. It's about time!! Sorry that it doesn't have an anniversary salute. Could you imagine pulling floats from the past out of the mothballs or reconstructing some from the past parades in one new parade. I would love to see parts of the Party Gras floats and costumes. Maybe even how the character's costumes evolved over the years.

The new fireworks is fine with me. The Wishes fireworks needed to be changed for pollution reasons/community noise, etc., so a new fireworks show is great. Besides, getting a new show for the celebration is a good thing.

With Disney being Disney, I'm sure there will be some surprises thrown in along the way. Maybe there will be a entrance contest like the 30th anniversary.

I believe that they should look to the past for some ideas. Remember this is billed as the Happiest Homecoming on Earth and homecomings to me represent reliving the past and looking to the future. Think of it as going back to a college reunion. You want to relive those great days, but you also have a chance to show off photos of your children, which represents your future.

A recent e-mail by Mike Ricciardi had some great ideas (June 24 Mailbag). Yes, if possible, the Golden Horseshoe Revue should be restored. That would be a great success. Bring back the Keel Boats or are they beyond repair. Maybe a small amount of new ones wouldn't breat the bank. Heck, I would even bring back Magic Journeys in Tomorrowland for a few showings a day sharing the theatre with Honey, I Shrunk the Audience.

I just wish that Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln would be there in some capacity. Come to think of it, I will also miss the Country Bears. It would be cool if they could make permanent type signs for certain areas with a few photos attached explaining what was originally on the site. It would bring in the nostalgia for the celebration.

The anniversary has also brought out renovations that would never have taken place. Matt has started in the right direction spiffing up the place that the old regime left behind. Not only will Disneyland look clean and in like-new condition for the anniversary, but will be a legacy for the future. Heaven knows certain areas needed it.

It's true that the other Disney parks are in on the celebration, but remember that many of these new attractions or fireworks or shows would have come anyway. It was a way to tie the parks together for a year or so. You have to remember that DLP doesn't have the finances to add anything more than a new fireworks show. Hong Kong Disneyland was opening anyway, not because of the 50th. Tokyo Disneyland is an entity of its own. That's why they get so many great new attractions and a wonderful new park. WDW always needs to grow. When you are the top vacation spot, you need to keep things fresh. It just seems like they are getting a lot because there are four parks to consider.

I certainly hope there will be more surprises for us. I think there will be. You won't be surprised if you know everything in advance. That's how you get disappointed. The place will be decorated from top to bottom that I'm sure someone will complain about. It will look great, but it will also feel great no matter if there is a new attraction or not.

Thanks for listening. I just wanted to give you my observations coming from both points of view.

For the future, decisions should be made for the submarine ride, Great Moments, the monorail, and any other new attractions. If signs are posted during the celebration, this would show that the company is not forgetting about the future. Having a "coming soon" or "for 2006" signs in certain areas with the crowds that will be there will create a "we gotta come back" attitude.

I'm sure all will be fine.


Evan writes:

Folks, don't get me wrong, the 50th may seem lackluster right now. But, the mentality behind [resort corporate office] Team Disney Anaheim's plan is that the nostalgia and the celebration itself should pull in size enough crowds and attention. Within the next few years following the 50th anniversary, expect those much anticipated new attractions and whatnot. But, for now, just enjoy your time spent at a "work-in-progress" Happiest Place on Earth!


Brian Martin writes:

I grew up an hour's drive north of Disneyland and remember going there twice a year with my family. When I was old enough to drive I got an annual pass and was there as often as 6 days in a week some months.

Disneyland Resort should be proud to be turning 50. There have been a lot of attractions come and go, that is the nature of this sanctuary set forth by Walt himself. Rehabbing existing rides is good to give a fresh clean look and feel for such a grand occasion; but I agree with others that there should be some new attraction that is unique to Disneyland Resort (for the time being). I love the to see familiar attractions at other Disney Parks, but too many and it looks as if there are no fresh ideas. Imagineering is known for creating the impossible. Who would have thought robotic birds could sing so many years ago.

Disneyland was in constant transition until it stalled as of late. Upper management should realize what a precious jewel they have in this first-of-it's-kind Park, and give it the attention it deserves. A fresh coat of paint never hurt anything; however; the Park deserves so much more as do the Guests who visit.

Yes, Walt Disney World may get more attractions; but Guests should also realize that in Disneyland Resort space is in short supply. A new attraction often means an existing attraction must say good-bye. If Disney takes away "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln"; perhaps replace it with something similar to the "Hall of Presidents" or "The American Adventure." Yes, that is again borrowing from another Park, but if you have seen either of these attractions you'd agree they'd be a good addition to DLR.

Disneyland Resort is quaint; it is cozy. It will not ever be (nor should it attempt to be) Walt Disney World. Walt put his own stamp of approval on this his first Park. Disneyland's 50th Anniversary should be nothing short of honoring the Man behind the Magic.


Carol Z. writes:

Good morning!

It's wonderful to see Disneyland getting the much needed rehab after years of neglect. For years I watched the Park deteriorate and it just broke my heart. I've been following the progress of the rehab on MousePlanet. One issue I haven't seen addressed—the costumes for cast members working rides. They add so much to the total experience. It's wonderful to go to the Haunted Mansion and be greeted by the "Maid" or "Butler" like they do a Walt Disney World. I'd love the see the costumes back for the Matterhorn and other rides too. Any word on this?


Josh Sarvinski writes:

I have a few idea to celebrate DCA's 5th anniversary by opening a new section in the Timon parking lot. One idea is to have a big replica of Mount Shasta. It would be a roller coaster and on the inside it would circle a big pit of lava.

Another ride would be like a wilderness tour where you would ride in Jeep Wranglers and there would be waterfalls, mountain lions, bears, bugs, etc. Of course there would be other rides too but these are just a few. I am currently working on sending these ideas in to Walt Disney Imagineering. I would make sure they only use these ideas for DCA only. Not for Walt Disney World since they always get the better stuff. What do ya think?

Hi Josh – Thanks for taking the time to write. Your ideas certainly sound better than some of the ideas I've seen over at DCA, although I don't know if they would want to spend the effort to build a brand new roller coaster for DCA, when they just opened Tower of Terror this summer. Your jeep ride sounds interesting. Were you thinking something along the lines of Jungle Cruise with fake animals, or Kilimanjaro Safari Tours with real animals over at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom in Florida?

-- Lani Teshima, staff writer & editor

Josh wrote back:

Thank you for responding! I would want the jeep ride to have animatronic animals only because you never know what a mountain lion or bear would do. They could attack someone ya know. It wouldn't be like a safari though because I don't know if you have been to Mt. Shasta, CA but it snows there and stuff so it would be animals that live there. I think with the technology they have I was hoping they could make like animatronic lizards and stuff that crawl on the car but are somehow magnetized so the guests can't grab them and stuff. Thank you for responding to me once again and I hope you do the same for this message!

Hi Josh – Well, a Jungle Cruise-like jeep tour of the California wilderness might be interesting!


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

Amy writes:

Hi Lani,

I am not sure if I am directing this question to the right person, and forgive me if I have bothered you. I am giving the gift of a honeymoon to my sister and her new husband to WDW for a week next month. They will be staying at the Boardwalk. I would love to have some sort of welcome gift waiting for them when they get to their room. Are there any services that would cater to my requests? I do not want the typical fruit/champagne basket. I would actually like to have something like a 6-pack of beer for him and diet coke for her, and some goodies that I know they will love? Any information you may have will be greatly appreciated. I love this Web site and your columns and I thank you for taking the time out to read this.

Hi Amy. Lani referred your letter to me as one of the WDW subject matter experts at MousePlanet. Wow, what a wonderful wedding gift! Your sister is very lucky to have you as a sister.

Now, to the business at hand. You don't mention whether they will be staying at the Boardwalk Inn or the Villas. I know that DVC members can pre-order groceries before arrival at the Villas by faxing the form that I've attached to the number on the form. However, I'm noticing that there is no beer on the list. Other options are contacting the resort directly (Front Desk: (407) 939-5100, Fax: (407) 939-5150) or calling the Disney Florist at (407) 827-3505 weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., as they are said to be able to provide anything, floral or not.

Congratulations to your sister and her fiancé, and good luck in getting the goodies delivered. (If you don't get a positive response from any of the leads that I've given you, let me know. I may be able to help you set something up through alternate means.)

Mark Goldhaber
Columnist/Editor
World View/WDW Update
MousePlanet.com


Kyle Fox writes:

I am writing this for I am looking for any information about Alien Encounter merchandise, especially the Skippy doll. My girlfriend and I went on vacation back in Feb. 2003 and she loved the Skippy character but at the time did not purchase it. She's been looking ever since the closing of the attraction for any of the merchandise. Do you have any info where to find the Skippy doll or Alien Encounter items for sale?

Hi Kyle – Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any Alien Encounter merchandise remaining, even at the warehouses. Your best bet may be to check out eBay. Sorry I couldn't provide more promising news.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Mark here.
Feedback for Lisa Perkis

Regarding Lisa Perkis' review of Disneyland's new "Discover the Magic" walking tour, Bob Starcher writes:

Hello Lisa!

I loved your article about the new tour, it sounds great! I think Disney has a great idea there!

The one thing you didn't point out however, is what age would be best for the tour? I know it depends on the "mentality" of the child as some 12 year old boys may feel they are to old for such things, but a 16 year old girl may still want to act like a little kid. While a one year old may not get much out of it other than seeing the characters. Also I'm not sure if the cast members tend to "talk down" to the kids a bit like as to preschoolers. But it sounds like the best ages would be 5 to 12. Is that about right?

Thank you, and keep up the good work on MousePlanet!

Hi Bob! I would say the ages of five to twelve are pretty accurate. Strollers are not recommended on the tour, and there's a pretty good amount of walking. I think any older than twelve and the kids might not want to enter into all the dramatic play elements of the tour.


Bob Fike writes:

Hi Lisa,

My wife and I do not have any kids, but would like to take the tour. Can we go? Can we rent kids some where?

Thanks soooooo much for your helpful article and time!

Hi Bob! You know, a few people have asked about taking the tour wanting to know where they could rent kids. I know they bill the tour for families with kids because most of the time the tour guides are directing comments and activities towards them. It was fun as a parent to be able to watch my kids have a blast. Do you have any nieces or nephews? Or maybe you have friends with kids that would love an afternoon off while you took them on the tour. Good luck and thanks for the e-mail


Regarding Lisa's June 23 Parenting in the Park article, "Keeping Kids Cool at Disneyland," Lisa notes: "I got a lot of responses about the places I failed to mention! I guess all I would say is that I wrote about places that my family particularly enjoys when we go to the resort, and every family has their own cool spots. I did like the tip about the Disneyland hotel and the Rustworthy at DCA is another good place for kids to get wet."

Mark writes:

What about the SS Rustworthy? Should be a 4 towel rating as.


David writes:

You forgot to mention the water play area at DCA over by the ship at Pizza Oom Mow Mow and Splash Mountain at Disneyland.


Brian Seed writes:

OK, to beat the heat AND the crowds, we go to a spot in Disneyland that I think practically nobody knows about!

From the hub, enter Frontierland. To your right is the pin cart. Walk behind the pin cart and you will follow a short, rather unimproved path into the bushes and then you will come to a couple benches looking over some water and then back out into the hub. This spot is completely shaded, very cool and since nobody knows about it, no traffic. It is a great place to sit and people-watch! Continuing down the path takes you to the Plaza Gardens.

Kelli writes:

You simply cannot forget about the Haunted Mansion! That is our family's #1 place to cool off! You never have to wait too long outside in the sun and once inside....brrrrr I mean aaaaah! It is so refreshing. Hard to think about as I sit here at my desk in Seattle but three weeks and we'll be back at our favorite vacation spot....Disneyland!!! Woo hoo!

Dean Paul writes:

Lisa, I know you were concentrating on the parks themselves, but my favorite place to cool off (and it doesn't require an admission), is at the Horseshoe Falls at the base of the Bonita Tower of the Disneyland Hotel complex.


Regarding "Better than Disneyland," Lisa's two-part article where a Disneyland native compares the original park to Walt Disney World (Part I | Part II), Mary Kraemer writes:

Hi Lisa,

I live in California, and DL is "my" park. We've gone to WDW several times, and it is a wonderful place to visit.

I read your article with interest, and I felt like I knew what the answer would be: WDW hands down.

I was so pleasantly surprised to read your last paragraph:

"It's great fun to visit Walt Disney World and experience all the amazing attractions, but it's even better to come back to Disneyland and look up at the light still shining in Walt's apartment on Main Street and realize there's no place like home."

That sums up my sentiments perfectly. DL was Walt's creation; WDW is a fabrication, although a nice one. Now, when we take family photos at the park, it's not usually with the castle in the background; it's the Matterhorn!

Thanks for your article!


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Lisa 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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