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MousePlanet Mailbag for Thursday, October 21, 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 Lani Teshima

Kimberly A. writes:

Hi. We are planning our first trip to Disneyland, and we have heard that the price of a single pop is like $2.59 ea. I have been told that at the Grand California Hotel (where we are staying) they sell a souviner travel mug that is refillable while there). Do you know if it is refillable through the parks or just at the hotel?

And please excuse my not knowing, but we have never stayed in a hotel before and I am not sure. Does it cost to eat what is in the room fridge? I have been told it is full when you get there, but I don't know if you pay more when you leave according to what is left or not.

My husband and I are trying to decide weather or not to do the Fantasmic desert buffet for our trip. It is very expensive, but I have heard it is worth it. Please let me know what you feel, our boys are 8 and 10 and this will most likely be there one and only trip while growing up to Disneyland

I would also appreciate any help on inexpensive places to eat...we are not bringing a car so on site is it. thanks so much for any help...

Hi Kimberly – The location that sells the refillable mug is White Water Snacks, located in the Grand Californian Hotel. While you can refill it all you want, you cannot take it into the parks to refill. Since you are staying at the Grand Californian, though, it might be worth purchasing so you can enjoy the soft drinks at your hotel, and your swimming pool area.

My understanding is that the mini-fridge is not standard in your room, but that you can request one with your reservation.

If your room comes with a stocked fridge, yes indeedy, you will be charged for anything you eat out of them. Stocked fridges are notorious for being very expensive. A can of soda pop might cost $4 a can! We were recently at a Grand Hyatt in Seattle, where I believe soda cost $5 a can. Hard to believe.

Since stock fridge items are so expensive we've never used them ourselves, so I don't know exactly how charging them works. I believe housekeeping checks when they clean the room, so that they can make sure items are restocked, and they will add that charge to your bill that day. Sometimes I wonder if those fridges have sensors and charge you automatically when you remove an item, kind of like a vending machine. I'm not sure. I just know to stay away from those expensive things.

If your room comes with a stocked fridge or you get no fridge, consider picking up a cheap styrofoam cooler, or bring a collapsible cooler with you (you can use it as one of your carry-ons). Stuff it with hotel ice, and keep drinks and snacks in them. That will help you keep some of your snack costs down. Keep in mind you won't be able to take the cooler into the parks, although you can take small packages of snacks such as fruit roll-ups for your kids to help tide them over in between meals.

As for the Fantasmic Dessert Buffet, it is definitely something I would recommend everyone try at least once, especially for a special occasion. The last time I went was the night my husband proposed to me, so of course that was very special!

Keep in mind they don't have a child's price for the buffet. The food is nice, and you definitely want to make sure to only have a light supper so you can eat as many pieces as you can manage, but the big experience is to sit at the balcony for the great view. It sure beats having to wade through the crowds and sit on the ground for a few hours.

I believe Disneyland will now take reservations a month in advance, so it won't be too late for you to phone in your reservation for your trip should you decide to do it. You will definitely feel very pampered and decadent. Make sure to bring a camera with you, and have the cast members take photos of you and your family at the balcony as well! Such memories are to be treasured, and photos are the best way to remember.

I hope these help you answer your questions. Feel free to ask me if you have anymore.

Aloha,

– Lani


Sometimes it seems like the only time we hear from a lot of readers is when we publish something they don't like or agree with. So we were very pleasantly surprised when we got such great feedback about Lani's “Souvenirs on a Shoestring” article on how to stretch your souvenir budget. The following are just some samples of the positive feedback that came in.

Simone M. writes:

I really appreciated your article on cheap souvenirs. As a Southern California local who refuses to take the plunge and purchase a Disneyland annual pass, it hurts my wallet just to get in to the park as often as I do, so I've had to be ingenious with how I spend my dollars once I'm in there.

I've found that, other than taking home a map from every trip, my collector's instinct is completely satisfied once I've purchased a fortune card from one of the many fortune-dispensing machines in the park. They're only 25 cents, and they have fun facts on the back, along with a thematically written fortune. I have dozens of them (I only allow myself one per trip). My favorites are from Fortune Red in Pieces of Eight [in New Orleans Square]. I don't know if they have fortune machines in Walt Disney World, but for Disneyland, I can get away with spending exactly 25 cents on trinkets all day and go home happy.


Becky Barker writes:

I know you're probably busy so I'm sorry to waste your time but I just wanted to let you know your “Shoestring Souvenir” article was awesome! The goodie bag idea was great! I only wish I could've read it before my trip last January.

Thanks again!


Faye Gurrola writes:

You have a lot of great suggestions. I really appreciate having all the ideas in one quick and easy-to-read report.

Thanks a lot!


Kevin O'Neal writes:

What a great article! Thanks for the ideas and suggestions. I'm always having people ask me to pick stuff up for them at the park(s) and this will be on my list of things to do for souvenirs.

These will also be great gift ideas as well.

Hi Kevin;

I'm glad you found the article useful!

If you stay at any of the Disneyland Resort hotels, make sure to go to the hotel concierge desks; you can get free Happy Birthday buttons with a person's name. You can pick up one for a friends with an upcoming birthday.

I don't know if it they still do this, but the bank on Main Street used to give out free pressed pennies. I couldn't verify at the time of publication whether they were still doing this.

Always check the Disney Gallery and the Disneyana Store. If there is an upcoming promotion or a special event, they sometimes have free promotional posters, postcards, or flyers they are giving away. We got Pirates of the Caribbean posters before the movie was released this way.

Many of the restaurants in Disneyland have various promotions -- spend at least X dollars (usually around $20) and get a free pin or patch.

Hmmm... I guess I just forgot about these when I wrote the article!


Daniel writes:

Just wanted to say that that was a great article on souvenirs! I love shopping at Disney World and your article gave me some great advice! Thanks!


Kelly Dixon writes:

Is there a military resort in Orlando, Florida?

Hi Kelly – You are probably thinking of Shades of Green. It's not run by the military, but by MWR (Morale, Welfare, & Recreation), for the benefit of those in the military as well as the U.S. Department of Defense. Shades of Green is located on-property at the Walt Disney World Resort, and rates will vary depending on your rank—E1 through E5s (enlisted personnel) only pay $72 for a standard room (whereas an O4 [in the Army, that would be a major] might pay $104 for that same room), so it encourages those of all ranks to stay there.

Shades of Green had an extremely extensive rehab that lasted over a year, and they have just reopened recently.

You can get all the infomration you need from their Web site, at http://www.shadesofgreen.org.

Hope that helps!


Sherry writes:

We have never been to Disneyland but are currently planning a trip! We are very excited, however, concerned that my husband will not be able to ride the rides. I measured my husbands waist and it measures about 80 inches around. He is nearly 400 lbs and 5'6", so not too tall. So, what do you think?

Hi Sherry – We recently had a reader, named Christal, who was concerned about the same thing (link). A number of folks offered tips (link), but the general consensus was that the Orange Stinger and Maliboomer were just about the only rides at the Disneyland Resort (and those two are in Disney's California Adventure) that were tough to fit into.

Sherry, I don't know if your husband requires the use of an ECV (electric convenience vehicle), but he might wish to do rent one at the parks so he can get around more easily.

You will be happy to know that if he has difficult getting in and out of rides, that the cast members will be very accommodating. Many ride units have wide bench-type seating (such as the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean) so he can take up as much space as he needs.

Have a wonderful vacation. Your first trip to Disneyland—how exciting! :)


Susan writes:

Is the Disneyland Pacific Hotel (next door to the Disneyland Hotel, close to the monorail station) still there? Beside the 3 Disney-owned hotels, can guests at any other close place use the monorail to enter Disneyland or California Adventure? I stayed at the Disisneyland Pacific in 1996 and it was the perfect location without the high prices.

Thanks!

Hi Susan – Yes, it sure is! However with the opening of Disney's California Adventure park in 2001, Disney remodeled the old Pan-Pacific Hotel, and reopened it as the Paradise Pier Hotel.

The monorail can be ridden by anyone who has admission media into Disneyland, but the monorail does not stop in Disney's California Adventure. It does go through it, though, as it drives over the model of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge near the entrance to DCA.

If it's been seven years since your last visit, you will be pleased to know that the entire area around the Disneyland Resort has been updated to look pretty spiffy. The stretch between Disneyland and the hotels is now part of Downtown Disney, a thriving and very popular shopping district. While the monorail ride is always fun, the walk to Disneyland from the Disney hotels is more pleasant because of Downtown Disney.


Shannon Nakatsu wrote:

So, what's your take on how well they stick to schedules with respect to refurbishments? Hoping that the Matterhorn will reopen on time since we get there a week after it's scheduled to be ready to go again. Any thoughts? Thanks again,

For the most part, they're pretty good. I think they make a real effort to meet their publically posted deadlines. That said, they are known to revise their schedules... so instead of just letting a deadline lapse, they might continue to revise their rehab dates and tweak them as they go along.

In general, it's best to keep your fingers crossed.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact us at the Lani here.
Feedback for Shoshana Lewin

Blaine writes:

I hope I don't sound rude but it's so funny how Disney's cast members seem so happy all the time. I wonder what they're getting paid. Correct me if I'm wrong I read somewhere a full-time cast member works 35/hrs week. Is that true? ANd what is the starting wage and how often does it raise and how much money does it raise?

Hi Blaine – I do know that wages vary depending on position, seniority and timing (third-shift custodial makes the most money of anyone). Everyone makes at least minimum wage... go to their hourly jobs page (link) and you can see what the hourly rates are for a variety of roles. Many of the roles are unionized. From what I understand, you get yearly reviews with your lead/manager and at that time you would be considered for a raise (that might have changed however).


Laura writes:

Hey Shoshana. I was reading the mailbag,and noticed the option of riding up in the locomotive. I'm a former Disneyland Steam Trains cast member and know for a fact that they took that option out because they were afraid people would get heatstroke and get hurt. It's also a really strange place to ride (I've done it on a training run) because when the train stops, you can get thrown to the side or forward...and when they go for water, you can get wet.

Just thought I'd let you know!

Hi Laura – Thank you for the heads up. I know some guests who hoped to have that experience when they went to the park. I'm sorry it hasn't worked out to continue to do that.


William Shandling writes:

Shoshana,

That was by far the best collection of stories I have ever read. Keep up the great work.

Hi William – Thanks! I'm so glad you enjoyed them. It is sometimes hard to put it together and not get teary-eyed, as I've heard happens to others.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact us at the Shoshana here.

GENERAL QUESTIONS

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