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MousePlanet Mailbag for December 9, 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 Alex Stroup

Concerned Ex-reader writes:

I think you are taking kickbacks from the park and will tell others so.

Concerned Ex-reader – Man, I hope that's true.

I'm not exactly sure what we would be taking kickbacks on, but I'm sure the combined nefarious mental powers of MousePlanet and the Walt Disney Company could come up with something.

I look forward to the upcoming day when I'll be able to quit my day job and live a quiet life on a Carribean isle living off the afterglow of my illicit $4.63 cents from additional movie ticket purchases based on my movie reviews.

Those will be days of sunshine and happiness.

Sadly, the plot is now ruined. Curses, you insightful reader!


Michael Patalano writes:

I enjoyed your review on The Incredibles, however, I have one problem. It is when you said, “…they've again avoided the pitfall of Disney's other animated films where every voice is a somebody….” I have three problems with that.

1. I consider Craig T. Nelson and Samuel L. Jackson to be definate somebodies.

2. In addition to the Toy Story characters, Pixar has had other 'big' voice talent on call. Wouldn't you consider Billy Crystal, John Goodman, John Ratzenberger, David Hyde Pierce, Bonnie Hunt, Brad Garrett, Mike McShane (at least in England), Phyllis Diller, Ellen Degeneres, Jennifer Tilly, and Geoffrey Rush to all be B and C list actors? I certainly do.

3. Since when has Disney relied on big-name actors (I think you're thinking of Dreamworks there). Chicken Little will only have Don Knotts. In Mulan, Eddy Murphy is it. Atlantis only has Michael J Fox. In fact, with the exception of Home on the Range, the last Disney film to have more than one famous person was The Empereror's New Groove, and before that The Lion King (which was made ten years ago). To say Disney relies on famous voices would be like saying The Incredibles is rated R… simply not true.

Anyway, I just have one small thing to say in that I think Pixar has perfected the human once when they did Al (from TS2). That cheesedoodle scene with him sleeping was probably the most realistic thing I have ever seen before.

You make a good argument, Michael.

I was making more of an argument of perception, and you seem to show that my perception was wrong. Going over the movies released by Pixar and Disney since the first Toy Story, you are correct that Pixar has made more prominent use of recognizable actors. Though the gap at Disney was hardly as long as The Lion King to The Emperor's New Groove. Just as one example, Hercules (1997) used Danny DeVito, James Woods, Rip Torn, Bobcat Goldthwait, Matt Frewer, Amanda Plummer, Charlton Heston, and Wayne Knight in parts of various sizes.

And yet my perception has always been that with Disney's in-house features I spend more time trying to figure out who I am listening to. But then it could just be that with Pixar movies I'm more involved and have less opportunity for my mind to wander.


Kevin Baxter also writes regarding Alex's The Incredibles review:

Hi, Alex!

Not sure if you cared, but PDI has only created Antz and the Shrek movies. DreamWorks Animation created Shark Tale. DreamWorks owns 40 percent of PDI but owns all of DWA. (All this stuff is at SF Gate). PDI is behind Madagascar, the trailer of which is now showing before Shark Tale. DWA is behind Father of the Pride on NBC and next year's Over the Hedge (I have no clue what banner the Aardman movies, like the upcoming Wallace & Gromit movie, will fall under, but I assume it will be DWA, as the newly formed IPO plans on releasing three animated films a year).

As for your review… I liked the film, but didn't you find it a little too familiar? X-Men in the first act, True Lies in the second, Spy Kids in the third. It just didn't seem to go anywhere new or exciting like Finding Nemo or the Toy Story movies did. (And that's knowing Nemo stole a little too much from Toy Story 2.)

But all that would be fine if it wasn't for Bob. He is easily the worst character in the film and he is the focus of the movie. It's bad enough how mopey and self-involved, but his loserishness makes him an absolutely wretched father and husband. I just couldn't get beyond how borderline abusive his whininess is. And to top it off, his refusal to grow up and find enjoyment in his family almost causes the death of not only him but three-quarters of that family. Loser!

But it is funny you mentioning Superman in your article, because I think that is another problem with the film. His family members all have interesting superpowers and his are so boring. He's basically Superman, and even Superman had Kryptonite. Where is Bob's Kryptonite? Maybe it's the complete inability to care about anyone but himself! Ha!

Fortunately the film is zippy enough that most people will probably skate over the main character's unworthiness as a main character, but I think it will be a subconscious reason people won't return to the theater, as they did for Shrek 2 or Finding Nemo.


Tina Brooks writes regarding Alex's review of National Treasure:

I disagree. I do not think the movie was boring. You have to let go of reality and let your imagination take over a bit. People who think the movie is boring “think” too much. When you go to a movie like this (fiction) you have to let go and just enjoy. It was definitely worth seeing in the movies.

Tina – As always, I don't expect everybody to agree with my response to a movie (and sometimes I don't even expect the majority to agree).

I disagree, though, that this one asks you to check your brain at the door. More than most action/adventure movies it engages you intellectually; going to great lengths to put together a plot and series of clues that makes sense (at least within the fiction of it).

Also, as I admitted, I enjoyed both Con-Air and The Rock, two movies that were much more mindless than this one. For me, the problem wasn't the need to check my mind at the door, but that once doing so there wasn't anything to engage the adrenals.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Alex here.
Feedback for Kevin Krock

Glenn asks about some home theater questions:

Hi Kevin,

I've emailed you before about Song of the South. However my question relates to something you mentioned in your Mulan review. HD-DVD. I've never heard it mentioned before. Will there be that much of a difference? I'm guessing yes, or it wouldn't be offered, right? I don't know that we'll repurchase, but I'll see to believe.

As a follow up to Song of the South. I'm guessing no good news on that front, eh?

Keep up the great work. We do pay attention!

Hi Glenn – Thank you for the kind words and taking the time to write. I'll start with the answer to your second question first, since it's quick: Unfortunately, no new news on Song of the South, and I'm guessing we will not hear anything about it in the near future.

As for your first question, well, there are a whole bunch of factors that play into HD-DVD, so I'll try to whittle it down to a couple of key issues and hopefully avoid massive confusion—which, as you'll see, is almost unavoidable when talking about this subject.

First, HD-DVD does indeed promise to provide stunningly high-resolution pictures that rival theatrical film detail in your home. If you have seen an HDTV picture, you kind of get the idea of what is possible. The standard NTSC TV signal we now see on TV and DVD contains 525 horizontal, interlaced scan lines that are 427 pixels across. However, an HDTV signal (depending on which one of the 18 “standards” you look at), has up to almost double the number of scan lines and over four times the number of horizontal pixels. That's a lot of additional video detail to gain by moving up to HDTV and HD-DVD, which is a good thing.

However, this brings up a big issue for most people—you will need to own an HDTV in order to watch an HD-DVD. For most people, a good-sized HDTV (40-inch or larger) is still out of reach and will be for a few more years. Granted, they have dramatically dropped in price over the last few years, but spending a few thousand dollars for a TV is not very high on most family's financial priority list.

Second, HD-DVD requires an enormous amount of storage capacity. A standard DVD holds over 8 gigabytes (GB) of data, but an HD-DVD disc will hold upwards of 30 GB! The problem with this? There are two competing formats to achieve the capacities required to hold a high-definition movie: HD-DVD and Blue-Ray. The HD-DVD format is developed by the DVD Forum Steering Committee, the same group that formalized the current DVD format. Blue-Ray is developed by Sony (surprise, surprise). The biggest difference between the two is that HD-DVD has a lower data storage capacity than a Blue-Ray disc, but HD-DVD can store more high-definition programming because of more efficient compression. Both formats allow for backward compatibility, which is a necessity, but the big question is which studio will commit to a particular format.

Currently, most of the studios are waiting and watching to see which format gets its act together with the best copy protection first. Unfortunately, the end result will be that there will inevitably be two formats that consumers will need to choose from in the next year or so, and the confusion will be similar to that of the old VHS/Beta war of yesteryear. This is bad for both consumers and the studios, so hopefully things will be quickly ironed out, but I'm not holding my breath. Plus, I don't have an HDTV to watch an HD-DVD on yet, so until that happens, I too will wait and watch.

So, what is Disney doing about high-def DVD? They have stated that they will begin to release titles in high-def DVD (no format has yet been specified by Disney as far as I know) in a couple of years, so they are actively working to release as many of their movies as they can on standard DVD before 2007 or so. This is one of the reasons they have accelerated their Platinum titles to two a year. Will it be worth upgrading your current Disney DVDs in a couple of years? Disney is going to have to make a pretty darn strong argument for why we should ditch our old DVDs, but they sure got me to sell off my VHS tapes. With the right mix of additional material and the promise of film quality video at home, they might convince me again, but there is a lot of additional and costly home theater infrastructure that you and I will need to put in place before buying that HD-DVD box set of Pixar flicks.

I hope that helps a bit.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Kevin here.
Feedback for Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix

Ursula LeDesma-Kietzke writes:

I have been hearing that there is going to possibly be a new Finding Nemo ride, as well as a Buzz Lightyear. Is there any truth to this? If so where would these attractions be located?

Ursula – The Buzz Lightyear ride is going to be a copy of the one already located at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Florida, and is currently under construction in Tomorrowland at Disneyland. The ride is supposed to open next May.

Some work is being done in the Submarine Lagoon, and there is a great deal of speculation that this will eventually be the site of a new Finding Nemo attraction. Disneyland has not confirmed anything, but our weekly Park Updates have had several photos of the work being done now.

– Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix


Elizabeth writes:

The Candlelight Processional with Marie Osmond, do you have to have special tickets for this? I think I'm missing something here. What is so special about Candlelight dining package reservations? I have a feeling I don't know all that is going on. I'd appreciate it if you could help me.

Elizabeth: As you know, Marie Osmond will be narrating the Disneyland Candlelight Processional on December 4 & 5 at Disneyland.

In the past, the Candlelight Processional was held on Main Street, and the majority of seating was first-come, first-served. Hopeful visitors would spend the entire day camped out on the curb along Main Street to get a decent spot on the ground. There was very limited chair seating, and that was reserved for VIPs and Club 33 members.

In 1998 Disneyland moved the show to the Fantasyland Theater, which has seating for 1200 people. Then last year, Disneyland moved the ceremony back to Main Street to make room for the Snow White musical show. Unfortunately, this again meant that there was almost no seating for the general public, but Disney offered a “dining package” which allowed people to get reserved seating—on chairs, even!—at the Candlelight shows without waiting in line all day.

Disneyland had said that they would not offer the dining packages this year, but have apparently changed their minds. We published this in the November 15 Disneyland Park Update.

Here's how it works: you first need to decide which night you want to attend (Dec. 4 or 5), which show you want to attend (5:30 or 8:00), and what restaurant you want to eat at. There are 6 resort restaurants participating in the program, and they have different purchase minimums.

Once you've determined this, call Disney Dining at 714-781-3463 for reservations. The less-expensive restaurants fill up fast, so don't wait too long. And make sure that you schedule your reservation to allow you to get to Disneyland 30 minutes before your show—if you want to catch the earlier performance, you need to be there by 5:00, so plan for a late lunch or early dinner NO later than 3:45. You must schedule your meal before your show, which is why the later showings sell out much faster.

When you get to the restaurant, remind them that you are dining as part of the Candlelight package. Each restaurant has a set minimum that you must spend per person in order to receive your tickets—no splitting entrees!

You will receive your tickets at the completion of your meal—they were presented in a very nice little folder last year. When you get to Disneyland, you'll probably be instructed to line up outside the train station, and then they'll let you into the seating area. Once inside, seating is first-come, first-served. The narrator's podium is on the RIGHT side as you face the stage, so if you want to be closer to Marie, those are the seats you want.

If you want more information about Candlelight, you can read this article I wrote about last year's show

If you want to know more about the restaurants you have to choose from, our Disneyland Restaurant Resource may be of help, although some of the menus are out of date.

– Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix here.
Feedback for Shoshana Lewin

Jane Haddock writes:

During the week of September 19 to 24, my family and visited Disneyland. We did have a good time but due to the shorter days we felt extremely rushed. We have a large family of 7 (2 adults and 5 children). We were not advised of the shorter days for Disneyland at the time of booking. I think this be brought to the attention of all travellers. We were also quite upset with the fact that most attractions were not open. We spent a lot of money for a family our size to come down have a great time. We cannot afford to spend this kind of money on a regular basis so you can see why we are frustrated.

Hi Jane – I am so sorry that you had a problem. We, unfortunately, are not offical Disneyland. You might want to contact Disneyland guest relations:

Disneyland Guest Relations
1313 Harbor Boulevard
Post Office Box 3232
Anaheim, CA 92803
(714) 781-7290

I hope they can help you out.

During the off-season (after summer) many attractions go down for repairs and the hours are shorter. Space Mountain, for example, has been down for over a year. They have closed many attractions to prepare for the 50th anniversary, which starts May 2005. When you booked they should have made clear that the hours could change with very little notice (I think it says it on the guidebook).

Please let me know if you get a response so I can save other families that kind of frustration.


Heather E. writes:

Dear Shoshana,

I'm sorry, I'm not a cast member, former or present, but so far this is as close as I have gotten to obtaining any information on how to go about applying for a job at Disney World. I have exceptional artistic ailities, and have been encouraged by my teachers to look into working for Disney. My theater teacher especially, and she keeps telling me to look up Disney Institute, but I can't find anything.

Oh, by the way, I am from Bossier City, Louisiana. I will be graduating this year, and I have lots of ambition and talent and determination, i just don't know where to focus it. I am a performer, and i love it, and well, before i get off the subject, could you please send me something, some kind of requiremaents, or a website to go to, or something. I'm desperately needing to find out if this is even possible, and what scholarships I need to apply for.

Hi Heather – I'll try to help any way I can.

First, check out this Cast Place article on “Working for the Mouse.”

Then go to Disney's official careers page (link). Poke around on the WDW site and you can find info on performers and any job under the sun. Hope that helps!


Sonia writes:

Hi Shoshana,

I'm Sonia, an Italian girl of Rome.

I would like to go to live in the U.S.A. and work there. I like so much the world of Disney and I thoght was a good idea to work in Disneyland. I'm 17 years old and I studied foreign languages at school.

I just want to ask you if I have to be 18 to work there and I have to finish school, and if they get people of other countries or just American people? It would be great for me to work there!

Please give me some advice. Thanks a lot.

Hi Sonia – There are many opportunties for international students at Walt Disney World in Florida. Disneyland doesn't have a program like it (although I have seen people from other countries work there).

You do have to be 18 to be in the WDW international program. Go to the Walt Disney World Careers Web page (link). The only qualifications are:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have good conversational English
  • Be willing to share living quarters with other participants
  • Be outgoing, enthusiastic, and flexible

You can be 17 for some positions at Disneyland—to see what is available, visit Disneyland's Careers page (link). At Disneyland, you will need to find your own place to live—at WDW they will have housing for you.

Hope that helps … good luck!


William Shandling writes:

My family and I first noticed that the mezuzah was missing after the refurb for that part of Main Street about two months ago. Being Jewish, and proud to see a piece of our heritige in the park, we went to City Hall to investigate its disappearance.

The first time we went, the cast member was suprised to hear that it was not put back up after the refurb. She doubted us for a minute, but we stated that we knew the mezuzah was origionally put up facing away from the door, which is incorrect; it should be put up tilting towards the door, leading into the house.

We told her that we knew it was missing because the crews pacthed over all four mezuzah holes, the two original holes, and the two correctly hung holes. After telling this to the cast member, she realized that we knew what we were talking about.

She told us that the mezuzah was one of her stops on the holiday tour, and she called a “facilities enhancement” individual informed him of the problem, and thanked us for informing her. A month later we noticed that the mezuzah was still missing, went back to city hall and the same thing happend. I am glad to hear that this has finally moved to the top of Disney's to-do list.

Hi William – Thank you for your story. I was there over MouseAdventure weekend (in October) and went to show my cousin the mezuzah (which is the first time I saw it was missing). I was very upset when I discovered it was missing—and even moreso when I found out it was taken. I'm also glad that facilities is taking care of it and that observant guests like yourself pointed it out to them. I'll be at the park in late November for the Holiday Tour and as soon as it is back up, we will let everyone know in the update.

[Editor's Note: Shoshana has since confirmed the existence of the mezuzah, and reported it in our November 23 Disneyland Park Update, as promised.]


Joe writes:

I was a cast member in the College Program at the Disney-MGM Studios in Fall 1998. When a guest asks what time the 8 p.m. parade is, they really want to know when the parade will be at their viewing location. Sure the parade starts at 8 p.m., but it can't be at all places at that time. And in these days when the World Series doesn't really start at 8 p.m. and movies have 20 minutes of commercials and previews before they start, it's really not as stupid a question as it first sounds. Didn't they used to teach the answer to this question during Traditions/training?


NTSC Mickey writes:

I really enjoy both the Cast Member and Guest columns. I especially like the poignant stories. One thing has always bugged me, though…

Cast Members always find it sooooo funny when guests ask what time the 8 o'clock parade begins.

Actually, it's a very valid question! What they're really asking is what time does the parade that starts at 8 o'clock reach this point. The answer could be anywhere from 8:00 to 8:20!

So Cast Members… The next time someone asks, just answer their question! Also, thanks for your efforts. Yours is important work.


Tom Jukes writes:

I just wanted to give you a heads up. Just returned from Disneyland and was surprised at a change in the single rider passes. Indiana Jones no longer has a Single Rider Pass. But California Screamin' does. I rode Screamin' with someone I did not know, but enjoyed it all the same.

Hi Tom – The California Screamin' single rider line is relatively new (yeah!) It changes a 60-minute line into 5. The rumor is Tower of Terror will be getting one soon (possibly), although I don't know how they could do that unless they had the single riders come in the exit. Enjoy the solo ride!


Sinead Duignan writes:

Dear Lani, I am about to graduate from the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England and am wanting to branch into thje area of public relations. I am having difficulty trying to get information on Disney's press office and i came across your site and was wondering if you would know such details.Is this a site that you have set up on your own or do you actually work on behalf of the Disnet press office?

Lani Teshima responded:

Hi Sinead – Thank you for taking the time to write.

Since you did not provide me with your academic background, I am not sure if you are looking for an internship to augment your degree (in journalism, business, or marketing, for example), or you are considering a completely new experience.

Your best bet is to contact the Disneyland Press and Publicity office directly. You might phone them at their officially published phone number (714) 781-4500, or write to them at the following:

Disneyland Press & Publicity Office
Team Disney Anaheim
700 West Ball Road
Anaheim, CA 92808 USA

I assume that phoning the official number and inquiring about their internship opportunities may lead you to the person or office you need to speak to.

Since you are obtaining your degree from a non-U.S. university, I presume you are not a U.S. citizen. I do not know if this will prove a hindrance, as much may depend on how you plan to garner your experience. If you expect to continue university (for example, at the graduate level) here in the U.S. and you wish to intern for experience only, your options may be considerably different than if you were hoping for an employee sponsorship for an HB-1 visa.

The best of luck in your pursuits, and for life after college!

Aloha,

– Lani

Shoshana replied:

Hi Sinead. Lani gave you some good advice. It couldn't hurt to call Press and Publicity and see if anything is open—if anything they will direct you to the casting office—but you won't know until you try. Often times with professional positions, it is a matter of seeing if a position in available (unlike in the parks where they are constantly hiring). You also might want to check out www.disneycareers.com, which is where Disneyland posts its openings and tells you what experience is needed for the job. Shana

Good luck and let us know if you have any more questions.


Marcus W. from Wichita Falls, Texas writes:

Hello. Marcus here, I attended and had my interview for the Disney College Program on November 16, at the University of North Texas. I had to drive an hour and a half from Wichita Falls to Denton in the pouring rain. I think my interview went really well, I listed operations as my top choice, so some questions reflected on that.

Kristen was the cast member that I gave my interview to, she even asked me of what to do if an upset person wants on Space Mountain, and it is closed. I was prepared for that one, after reading all of your wonderful articles on the program. This Web site really sparked my interest in it, thanks so much.

Been a Disney World vetern since 1985, when I was 5. I am waiting on pins and needles for a reply. I wore my long sleeve Disney Grand Califorian dress shirt, and my lucky Lion King tie, and my perky smile. I would love to meet some of you all down there, if I get to go. I will keep you up to date.

Hi Marcus – That is so great! We'll all keep our fingers crossed and are glad we were able to help. Please keep us posted when you hear something and let us know where you will be working … our readers love saying “hi.”


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Shoshana here.

GENERAL QUESTIONS

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