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MousePlanet Mailbag for August 26, 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 Mike Scopa

Sally Drennan writes:

Mr. Scopa,

Ever since my daughter was smaller, she watched the Disney Christmas Parade that aired on Christmas morning! This past year, we realized that parade and other events were prerecorded the first weekend in December. I e-mailed Disney and asked them if that would be the case this year. I was told this information is not availble to the public.

We are planning a trip from Dec.2-6 with hopes of seeing this parade as it is taped. Who can give me information of when this will be recorded? I was made aware of the 2003 taping because of Clay Aiken fans who knew weeks ahead of time that he would be there the first weekend in December taping the parade that is hosted by Regis and Kelly! Thanks for any information you may be able to pass along!

Hi Sally – My guess, and it's only a guess, is that the Walt Disney World Christmas Parade will be taped on the weekend of December 3rd. I think one of the reasons why the parade is taped so early in December is that all the decorations are fresh and look their best and the weather is pretty dry.

I don't expect we'll hear the exact taping dates until late October or early November.

I think many people want to see this parade taped in the hope of getting on television and watching themselves on Christmas morning. Last year I was one of those people who got their 15 seconds of fame… but I can tell you it takes a large chunk out of your day.

The parade is taped in bits and pieces and then spliced together in the studio. This means that it takes forever to tape it all. I think it took three days last December to collect all the footage.

Kelly and Regis usually show up for one day, sit in their parade location, and read copy as if they are right there as it's happening… but they aren't.

If you want to be there to see it taped you will be committing to a large portion of your day.

Send your thoughts, questions, or comments for Mike here.

Feedback for Lani Teshima

Daniel Carrera writes:

I had the opportunity to read Mike Scopa's article about how busy Walt Disney World is on July 4th. Well, first of all, I want to tell you that I live in Mexico.

I'll be visiting the Disneyland Resort in California in July 3rd, 4th, and 5th with a group of about 11 people, and we were wondering if as Walt Disney World, Disneyland gets very crowded those days. Also, if you could help us, we wanted to know which are the most “popular” rides in the Resort, so we can get early a Fastpass and don't spend hours in the queue.

What can you recommend us if we visit Disneyland those days? Is it going to be “extremely” crowded? And also, where can we get disccounts to visit Disneyland?

We will be thanked if you answer this mail

Hi Daniel – The Fourth of July (Independence Day) is one of the primary holidays in the U.S. (after Christmas Day and New Year's Eve, and about equivalent to Labor Day and Memorial Day). Because the Fourth of July is the only big holiday in the middle of the summer and one where most people get the day off, the Disney parks are always traditionally quite busy. Add to that mix the fact that this year's Fourth of July falls on a Sunday, and you can expect the park to be much more crowded than usual. I also suspect that many people will have Monday, July 5th off (employers would give them a day off on the Fourth of July, except that it's already a weekend day).

As a bona fide three-day weekend, you can expect the entire weekend to be extraordinarily crowded.

To add more factors to this, many Americans are taking their family vacations within the country because of the hassle of air travel, and the uncertainties of being at war. And because Walt Disney is known as having been a very patriotic American, many people associate Disneyland with patriotism (for example, the park holds a daily flag-lowering ceremony at sunset), so people may particularly gravitate towards the parks for this patriotic holiday.

The bottom line is that this year's Fourth of July weekend has the risk of reaching maximum capacity in Disneyland. Be prepared for extremely long lines in hot weather.

Definitely take some of the tips from Mike Scopa's article about the Fourth of July. Consider reading my article on dealing with hot weather, as well (link).

The most popular rides you will want to go on are:

  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Splash Mountain
  • Indiana Jones

In general, all of the attractions that use the Fastpass system are considered popular rides. And since you have such a large group, it may be best if you grab a guidebook such as Bob Sehlinger's “Unofficial Guide to Disneyland.” His is one of the few books that rate the various rides for different age groups, so you can all decide what rides are best for the various members of your party.

As for discounts, you can take a look at our Discounts and Promotions section of the Disneyland park update (link), as well as visit Mary Waring does a great job of posting discounts.

The parks will be very crowded, but I think you can still enjoy yourself as long as you take it easy and realize you won't be able to see everything all at once. Since you are there for three days, spread out your strategy, making sure to incorporate breaks (including naps or pool time), and you should be able to have a great time!

Elizabeth writes:

My husband and I have decided to make a trip to Disneyland in a couple of weeks. I bought a Premium Annual Pass to help save on money since we will be staying at the Disneyland Hotel (we will be going down again at the end of November and the annual pass will come in handy at that time, too).

I have called and talked to two different people about this, and I have even sent an e-mail through the Disneyland Web site asking the same question. Each person gave me a different answer… 3 different answers! So I thought, “Hey, those people at MP know what they are doing. Maybe I should contact them again.”

So here I am and here is my question: We will be staying at the Disneyland Hotel July 11 through July 16. I will use my annual pass for the room. I am also a AAA member. When we go to pay for our room, can we use our AAA membership card to save an additional 10%? One person told me yes, one said no, and the other said that AAA and the annual pass both get the same discount this summer… which, in fact, they do not. I would appreciate any help you might be able to give me. Thank you for your time.

Hi Elizabeth – Sorry for not replying to you right away. I had to check with our contact at AAA for you. According to her, you may only apply one discount to the room, not two. You can find out which is cheaper, and go with the cheaper rate, but otherwise you cannot combine them.

Hope that helps. And have a wonderful trip!

Ron writes:

You did not mention in your advice to Elis. that Disneyland will also have their share of large ride referbishments going on in Dec. as well as her missing the matterhorn if she visits this fall.Also larger crowds in Dec. than average fall time.

Hi Ron – You're quite right! Thanks for the reminder, and thanks for taking the time to write.

Cindy Larsen writes:

How can you find out if a ride is scheduled for maintenance if you plan for a vacation, and you definitely want to enjoy the attraction, such as in the Rock 'N Roll Coaster (in Walt Disney World's Disney-MGM Studios)?

Hi Cindy – Sometimes we know quite a bit in advance when an attraction is going to be down for scheduled maintenance or a major overhaul. For those that we know, we try to make sure to include it in our weekly park updates. For example, a substantial number of rides will be undergoing spiffying up in Disneyland as the park readies itself for its 50th anniversary celebration next year.

The best you can do is plan based on known information, and the rest is up to luck. For example, a ride can go down because of a mechanical problem the day you visit that park, and you will not be able to go on the ride through no poor planning on your part.

Good luck, and have a wonderful trip!

Send your thoughts, questions, or comments for Lani here.

Feedback for Shoshana Lewin

E-mail continues to arrive for Cast Place editor Shoshana Lewin about Disneyland cast member Maynard. Jon M. writes:

Well I am an A.P, and my wife and I absolutely despise Maynard. So the cast members who are so sick of being asked where Maynard is should feel vindicated. He currently works the Tiki room and when we see him we make sure and walk away really fast. The guy is just obnoxious and his “performance” in the Tiki room show is rude, overshadowing, pandering, distracting and cheapens the experience of a beloved attraction.

It's funny, but we thought we were among the few who knew and were rather annoyed by this CM, but after asking other Guests it seems we are but 2 of a chorus of annoyed voices about the annoying obnoxious cast member known as Maynard.

William Shandling, curious about a Jewish mezuzah on Main Street in Disneyland, writes:

My name is William Shandling. Me and my family are APs and visit Disneyland often. On our last outing, July 1st, as we were leaving the park, we noticed something that we had never seen before. On the door of the fake facade to the right of the Crystal Arcade, we saw a mezuzah, a sacred object that Jews put on the door jam of their front door.

What was even more interesting was that the first time it was put up, it was clearly improperly placed. You are supposed to hang a mezuzah slanted, so that it leans toward the door. When we saw it, the mezuzah was hanging correctly, but we clearly saw the two other holes that idicate that it was origanally placed wrong. We also noticed the dedication on the door for which the mezzuzah was hung for: Benajmin Silverstein, obviously Jewish.

When I went home, I consulted my Disneyland books: Mouse Tales, More Mouse Tales, Magic Quizdom, and Disneyland Detective, none of them had any mention of this specific dedication. Furthermore, there is nothing on the Internet about it, almost like it doesn't exist. I speculate if the dedication has always been there, then at least the mezzuzah was added during this past refurb because, if it has been there for a while, then they did not ever cover up the holes from the first time it was hung.

Do you have any information about Dr. Silverstein, or any suggestions on how to get more information about this dedication? Perhaps a question could be posed to your weekly update readers? I found this particularly interesting because there does not seem to be any other religious references in the park.

Thank you for your time and hope to hear from you soon.

Hi William – Don't worry—you aren't losing your mind: Benjamin Silverstein is complete fiction. I noticed the mezuzah during a Holiday Time Tour I took a few years ago and wrote about it in 2003 in a review of that tour (link).

“…We then walked north to the mezuzah on Main Street at the office of Dr. Benjamin Silverstein, where Lera Rae explained the basis of Chanukah. (Although there were no decorations to be found, I'm glad Disneyland added this component last year as it was missing the first year.)”

I was very curious about this since there are no chanukah decorations up in the park and finding anything Jewish is rare. So I did some digging for an article that ran in the Jewish Journal of Orange County.. It took them several weeks to get back to me since most of the people that work there didn't know it was there. Here's the scoop:

While walking down Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A., one might look up and notice that the windows above the stores are covered with the names of the men and women who helped build the park more than 48 years ago..

However, if you peak in a doorway along the Emporium on the west side of the street (before reaching New Century Jewelry) there's one name that's a bit different from the rest: Dr. Benjamin Silverstein.

It's not just that Silverstein's name is on a door rather than a window. It's that if you look to the right of the door, you'll find a mezuzah on the workplace of the only fictional person on Main Street—Dr. Benjamin Silverstein, general practitioner, only exists at the “Happiest Place on Earth.”

Don't worry if you missed seeing the mezuzah during your last visit; the well-hidden piece of Judaica (which does have a scroll inside, although its authenticity has yet to be verified) has only been around for a few years.

When former Disneyland president Paul Pressler, who recently left the company to head Gap, Inc., took the position in 1995, he expressed concern that, during the holidays, there was nothing in recognition of Chanukah, according to John McClintock, regional market publicity manager for the Disneyland Resort.

So the decorating team at Disneyland placed a menorah in one of the upstairs windows on Main Street and—as Disney is notorious for its storytelling—created the name below to go with it.

But despite the welcoming sign on the door, “Have a fever? Have the Flu? Come on in and we'll cure you,” if you do get nauseous from one too many spins on the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, it might be best to stick to the First Aid Center.

I hope this helps.

Brian Lane writes:

RE. MousePlanet Mailbag for June 17, 2004 regarding a tale shared by Pam in a Cast Place piece about guest experiences (link), a Disneyland cast member writes:

"… We think we all are great Cast Members, and we all add to the magic of Disneyland. Maynard doesn't, because he never seems to notice that he isn't supposed to be the center of attention. If anyone is supposed to be, it's the mouse out in Toontown…”

Maynard isn't on-site much of the year. Despite this, he gets the lion's share of praise. He's also called back season after season by a very conservative—and frankly group-think minded—management, which frowns on idiosyncrasy and egocentricity. This tends to indicate he's doing something right as far as the Guests and management are concerned. The motto “It was all started by a mouse.” doesn't mean it's only about Mickey et al. The strolling bands and various street entertainers certainly are centers of attention. The Jungle Boat and Canal Boat narrators are central to both rides.

Cast Members are called Cast Members not attendants, associates or park workers as they're expected to be part of the Disney experience. That experience is intended to entertain and amuse the Guests. If Maynard is drawing attention to himself by being outstanding in both meanings of the term, I sincerely hope more Disney Cast Members are allowed and encouraged to be outstanding.

As an aside: Given some of the letters in Cast Place [example “Tony's Story” and the one referenced above], I doubt all Cast Members are great. The letter complaining about Maynard is a poison pen letter. It complains about Maynard being “one of the most self-centered Cast Members I have ever encountered. He forgets about everyone else, including his fellow Cast Members” If Maynard forgets about everyone else, its odd so many Guests remember him making their visit special. I find it rather telling that one of the lines in the complaint is “...we get quite tired of Annual Passholders endlessly asking for him” Poison pen indeed!

Our readers couldn't get enough of Shoshana's article about visiting the park by yourself (“Party of One: Going Solo at Disneyland,” July 13, 2004). Kevin O'Neal writes:

Thanks for this article. I was at the park(s) last year on the 4th of July and at first it was intimidating but then it became fun. I could do whatever I wanted! I've also met people there and even going on the tram solo was and is still weird but it's something I'll need to get over.

Anyway, thanks for the great tips and for bringing this topic to life.

Hi Kevin – I'm glad you enjoyed going by yourself. The first step is always the hardest—but it gets easier each time. And going on the 4th! My hats off to you for braving the crowds.

Heinz Schoner writes:

Hi, I wanted to tell you i loved your article on going to Disneyland alone. I live in Reno Nevada and was born in Hunnington Park, CA. So i get homesick for Disneyland and come down about 3 or 4. Thanks again.

Hi Heinz – I'm glad you liked the article. I totally agree with you about the atmosphere at the park. Sometimes just people watching from a bench on Main Street or the balcony at River Belle Terrace can be enjoyable—and there is no pressure to run to another ride. Hope you have a wonderful time in August!

Tom Jukes writes:

Are you a mind reader? I too am an AP holder who leaves about 60 miles away. I am almost always going to the resort by myself. This past trip was Sunday and as I was going for Grizzly Rapips, Tower of Terror, Screamin', and Sorian' I was thinking “MousePlanet should list all the rides that have a single rider line.” And you did it!

This was by far a very useful and wonderful article.

Thank you!

Hi Tom – We don't read minds here (at least not officially). Hopefully a single rider will soon appear at Tower of Terror. For the moment, I think the best use of a single-rider pass at Disney's California Adventure is Mulholland Madness, as the stand-by line can take a very long time.. Enjoy your solo trips.

Louise Hirabayashi writes:

Many thanks for publishing this great article. I've been an annual passholder for 5 years and have gone to the Anaheim parks solo many times. It was tough the first year to say “one” when asked about it.

People think I'm “brave” to venture out to the parks on my own. My response to them is if I don't go on my own, I probably wouldn't go at all.

Please thank Shoshana for her article. Who knows—maybe I'll run into her at Disneyland or DCA one of these days.

Hi Louise – I'm glad you enjoyed it. I think it is great that you did the Fantasmic Dessert Buffet (still haven't had a chance to do that yet.). I agree with you: if I didn't go alone, I wouldn't go at all. I hope I will run into you at the parks at some point—I'll be the the “party of one.”

Clara Doray writes:

I just had to comment on your article. I am frequent “solo-flyer,” and for the most part, I wouldn't have it any other way. When you love something and others don't share your passion the way you do, it's better to just enjoy what you love by yourself. I love eating in restaurants alone, “helping” other guests as you stated in your article, and just basically doing what I want, when I want. Thanks for showing everyone that people who go alone aren't weird, (as my friends think I am) that we are just people who want to have fun!

Nutsy MacLewis writes:

I just e-mailed this because I read your “Going Solo” article and liked it. I'm a Solo-Goer myself, usually Thursdays (once a week or every other week—or, during the summer, every other-other week, and maybe a full day if I've lacked in attendance for some time).

I like going by myself. My brother and I moved down here to be closer to Disneyland, and without a Premium Passport I'd feel lost. I love the place too much to express in words. Some people love cars, some people love food, I love Disneyland. When I was younger it was a goal to get down here, and now I can go to my “laughing place” whenever I want. I ask for nothing else; except perhaps to get some books published or win the lottery and then go to the park on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. That would be happiness.

I usually walk through the place, enjoying the atmosphere for the most part, and video-taping anything that catches my eye. Something new or beautiful or nostalgic, usually. The only times it seems a bummer to be alone there is when some macho screwball decides he wants to pick on the “loner” to impress his girlfriend or buddies. I don't mind, I can take care of myself, but it still sucks.

The only other time it's a bummer is when you see romance all around and you think 'this would be the perfect place to fall in love'. I actually prefer to go alone, since most people find a way of ruining the experience with complaints or something.

That's all I wanted to say. Going alone to Disneyland is an experience in itself, if you can do it and feel confident about it. My brother tried it once—once—and, unfortunately for him, he decided to have lunch alone (yes, alone!) at the Blue Bayou restaurant. Some wise-guy in a passing Pirates boat said, “Don't worry, pal, I'll come and eat with you!” That did it; my brother has not come to the park without me or my parents ever since. That's the kind of experience that kills going solo.

Take care and keep going to the park when the spirit moves you!

Hi Nutsy – I'm sorry that happened to your brother. Some people can be real jerks and one person can ruin something for many. I hope he gives it another try one day.

Mark writes:

Your Party of One article was really well written. It is a great experience to go thru the park by yourself sometimes. I did it a lot in '95, when I had a AP and in '98 when I was an Imagineer.

I'd like to suggest that if you can edit what you already wrote, please change your description about the Pinocchio ride entry to say to watch for overanxious children climbing into the back seat of your car as you get into the front row and push down on both rows' safety bars. It is possible that the ride operator can be so engrossed in a phone conversation and aware that you're going to ride alone that he or she doesn't see the child behind you rush into the back seat while a single rider in the front blindly pushes down the back row safety bar.

Also, if you go alone to Disneyland on a crowded day, you might not get a row to yourself on Pirates and you might be asked to share a vehicle on any of the 2-row dark-rides, Space Mountain, and maybe even the Mad Tea Party. At least those are all the rides I had been asked to share on in 1995. And for historical (or Walt Disney World) purposes, I was also asked to share on the PeopleMovers and Skyway.

Here's some other advantages to going alone:

*On Star Tours, if you go often enough to know how many seats there are per row, and you are being directed to the far cabin, if you can count the number of riders waiting in the near cabin and notice there's room for one more, you can ask to be sent in there—that could save you 3-4 minutes.

*At all the theater shows, especially the Fantasyland theater, you can arrive just before showtime and find single seats available all over the theater. When the nearby guests hear you asking if that one seat is available, they nearly always start up a conversation.

Other fun things to do when you're alone at the park:

*Regularly pop your head into City Hall. (it goes with your comment about helping/eavesdropping) I once volunteered/got enlisted by the folks at City Hall to be a tour guide/interpreter for some folks visiting from Eastern Europe who didn't speak any English, but could understand my limited ability to speak Yiddish—and from reading your article, it sounds like you have at least as much Yiddish ability as I do. (The trouble I had explaining the names of some of the rides to those people reminds me of the time a blind man (who was at Disneyland by himself) standing outside the Swiss Family Treehouse asked me how he could go in or find the disabled access entrance to the Treehouse.)

*Check out ToonTown late at night because sometimes some of the characters will be looking for someone to ride with on Gadget's Go Coaster. They wait until late at night so that they're not accused of making the line longer.

*Disneyland Railroad: If you're by yourself, you can ask to sit up in the locomotive, with the engineer and fireman. They have a whole lot to talk about. I don't know how much of it is scripted. I don't recommend this during summer because of the heat, but it's nice and warm for a cold winter night. I think you can only board the locomotive from the Main Street Station.

In general, keep your eyes and ears open for anyone else that's in the park by themselves. They'll appreciate spending even just a minute or two talking with someone who's also there alone.

Thanks for the great tips, Mark!

Regarding Pinocchio: Usually I end up pushing down the back bar even before I get in (sort of a blocking move), although the ones who usually try to join me are over-anxious adults.

I know that if they do need to seat someone with you on tea party, the CM makes sure you are OK with it—at least that is what I did when I operated it. I've never hit Pirates or Space in the middle of the day (considered the most crowded), so I can't update you on the seating situation there.

I love that you led a tour in Yiddish—I wish mine was that good. I know some general expressions and some Romanian/Hungarian phrases my Zayde taught me that really would not come in very handy.

I'm glad there are people like you out there who are willing to help those in need.

Send your thoughts, questions, or comments for Shoshana 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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