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MousePlanet Mailbag for January 13, 2005

Romance and the Disney parks

Did you propose to your fiance while watching Illuminations at Epcot? Was your most romantic dinner at Victoria and Albert's at the Grand Floridian?

Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and we want to hear from you! Send us your stories (or suggestions) about Valentine's Day, love or romance in the Disney parks! We're particularly interested in Walt Disney World, but we'll be happy to hear about any Disney theme park. If we run your message, we'll be glad to dedicate it to your loved one as well.

Please send e-mail soon!

We receive considerable feedback regarding our site. Although we cannot publish them all, the following may be of interest to our readers.


Ken Wirth read “Swim With the Stars,” Frank Anzalone's coverage about Olympic medal winners swimming in a temporary swimming pool erected down Main Street, U.S.A. in Disneyland, and writes:

When I saw this on this and other sites yesterday I wondered if maybe Paul Pressler had returned to Disneyland. Dumb waste of money if you ask me.

How is this an improvement of Disneyland?

I guess the whole pool thing and its intrusion into the park and what to me seemed a waste of money that might have gone to help in the overall park upgrade. I guess I have never thought that the Olympics should be exploited in such a commercial endeavor.

Hi Ken – It might have been expensive, but based on the photos it seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

I think Pressler would have insisted they swim in the hotel pool.

– Lani Teshima, Mailbag editor


Ginny wrote earlier this fall about the Walt Disney World Marathon, scheduled for this coming Sunday on January 9:

I have made plans to travel for the marathon in January 2005 but I was unable to register for the marathon. Can you help me register?

Hi Ginny – Oh dear… it sounds like you're in a bit of a bind. I know that registration for both the full and half marathons have filled up, and that registration was closed earlier this fall.

As far as I know, the organizers of the WDW Marathon event do not provide information in their fine print about stand-by or space-available spots for their event. Both the full and half events have been selling out usually by the end of summer for most of the years that I'm aware of, and unfortunately, I don't think there's any official information for folks in your predicament.

You might want to send email to emmi2@emmi.com—that is the official address of the event organizers. Maybe they can help you.

Your other option is to consider running for a fundraising organization. I heard once that some of these organizers take out “blocks” of seats for the marathon. Organizations such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training have an extremely large and visible contingent at the WDW marathon. Their Web site is at TeamInTraining (link). There are others as well; you might want to do an online search for such charitable organizations as the American Heart Association to see if you can get a spot with them. It will require that you raise money for their cause, however.

Good luck!


Neil writes:

Disneyland started out to be a “family event” in the “happiest place on earth”—however over the years, it's become “Mickey's money-hungry theme park.” Now that they've tried to get their hands into every moneymaking venue in the world, it has turned into a place where a family has to mortgage their home just to spend a day at the park. From admission, to food and souvenirs, prices have skyrocketed out of control.

For their 50th anniversary yearlong party, they should roll back prices for the pubic who have supported them over the past 50 years!


Amanda writes:

Where can I find the big turkey legs at Disneyland? How big are they compared to Walt Disney World ones?

Hi Amanda – There are a couple of different locations where you can buy turkey legs in Disneyland, but they are all in outdoor vending locations, and it appears that they periodically move them around. As of earlier in 2004, the three locations you could buy turkey legs were:

  • Near the Central Plaza (“the Hub”) at the castle-end of Main Street, across from the entrance to Frontierland
  • Near the Matterhorn attraction entrance
  • Along the south side of the Mark Twain dock

They run around $6 or $7 or so, and how they taste seems to vary greatly depending on people's tastes. I like them, but they are on the salty side, and somewhat greasy (compared to just moist/juicy).

I must admit, however, that I like the Disneyland version much better than the Walt Disney World version I've had at their Magic Kingdom. The meat (not to mention the skin) there was like rubber.

Size-wise, however, I think they are all about the same—big. They will easily fill you up in place of a meal, or they can be shared by two people for a snack. If you are on the go and need a quick meal to share, a turkey leg and a soft Mickey pretzel might do the trick!

– Lani


In a previous Mailbag, Kimberly A. asked for more information about the mini-fridge available in Disneyland's Grand California Hotel rooms. Rich Hamilton writes:

The mini-fridge at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel is very high tech. If you take a can of (soda) pop out of the fridge and just look at it, it's added to your bill. Then, if you put it back, it's removed from the bill only if they note it when inventorying the fridge.

Yep! Every item in the fridge is “wired” to the billing system.

And, yes, it's pricey, too. Like most hotel mini-fridge units.

Rich – Yikes! The high-techy part of me thinks that's really cool, but I don't really care that they refund you only when manually inventorying the fridge. I realize it's to prevent people from popping in their own generic cheaper brand items back in, but still, the system should at least flag that something was taken, then replaced, so when they do an inventory they know to double-check.

Thanks for that info. Very interesting!

– Lani

Rich replied:

I think we took the hit the first night, then the next day there was a credit on the bill when they did the inventory. As I recollect, I noted the charge, then we figured out it was credited back.

Needless to day, they're very polite about it. But think of the family whose kids pull stuff out, then put it back. It must be a nightmare for accounting. And could be a rip for those who don't check their bill.

More and more hotels are doing this, too, so it's not just Disney.


Ed added his two cents regarding Kimberly's inquiry:

Hey, Lani!

I'm sure others are writing about this, but I thought I'd ask the obvious question. Regarding the Mailbag for October 21, if Kimberly A. is on such a tight budget, why on Earth is she staying at the single most prohibitively expensive hotel on or near the disneyland resort?

I'm guessing you presumed that the decision had already been made, but I was kind of surprised that you didn't even suggest that she stay at a more cost-effective hotel. They could save literally hundreds of dollars for spending elsewhere, like on balcony seating for Fantasmic, or eating at expensive restaurants.

Anyway, thanks for all of your work. Visiting MousePlanet is the next best thing to being there, for those of us who don't live right next door.

Hi Ed – You make a really good point about Kimberly staying at the Grand Californian. It's quite possible that that was their one big splurge, and that that meant they had to be budget-minded in other parts of their trip.


Patrick Samonte writes:

Does anyone know what they are doing with the Tahitian Terrace area (in Disneyland's Adventureland)? I remember reading somewhere that currently the entertainment department is having a tough time justifying the cost of resurrecting that show, but it seems that with all of the Tiki Culture fans in the area and indeed all over, as well as the popularity of Lilo & Stitch, having a fun "fakey luau" would be a good draw, not to mention something a lot of old timers would enjoy revisiting. Perhaps we could rally the Tiki Culture folks?!

Hi Patrick – The last time we published news about Aladdin's Oasis (formerly Tahitian Terrace) was back in our July 26 Disneyland Park Update, in which David Koenig reported the following:

Long-Awaited Rehab

Beginning Friday, July 30, the Enchanted Tiki Room, the Plaza Pavilion and Aladdin's Oasis will be shuttered for a major, seven-month rehab. One source claims all three structures will be gutted and the interiors rebuilt.

Most in need of attention is the oft-neglected, termite-infested Tiki Room. "The Tiki Room interior will be completely rebuilt with the audio-animatronics sporting new technology," a cast member reported. "The show will NOT change to the one like Walt Disney World. Our Tiki Room will retain the original music and show."

The last few years Plaza Pavilion has served as an Annual Pass processing center, currently handling overflow with primary operations transferred two months ago to the Bank at Town Square. It will eventually be replaced by a permanent AP processing center in the San Francisco District at DCA. One rumor is that the Plaza Pavilion will get new kitchens and return from the rehab as a restaurant once again. Others claim the facility will be converted into a giant pin store/trading center.

The possibility of new kitchens will also determine the fate of Aladdin's Oasis, which had common food prep areas. Some speculate the area, now used as a storytelling venue, may again become the Tahitian Terrace.

Scheduled completion date is March 12, 2005.

I asked David Koenig for an update, and the following was his response:

No, I haven't heard anything else about the Tiki complex update. I'm inclined to believe, however, that Tahitian Terrace won't be returning, but that it will be some form of Aladdin's Oasis for storytime/meet & greet, mostly due to the content of the rehab signs now hanging on the place.


Michelle writes:

We will going to Disneyland for the first time next year July. Can one book a 1 night/2-day stay/package, as everywhere advertises minimum 2 or 3 night stay.

Can you recommend through who I must book as we live in the Middle East. There seem to be loads of different packages if you live in the US but not if you live elsewhere.

Hi Michelle – With the opening of Disney's California Adventure park over three years ago, Disney now considers a visit to the Disneyland Resort in California to be a multi-day trip. I suspect this is the reason you are hard-pressed to find any packages that are only for a one-night stay.

If you cannot stay more than one night, I think your best option is to find a travel agent who is knowledgeable about booking trips to Disneyland, and have them make the appropriate reservations for you. You can go to our MousePlanet Restaurant and Hotel Reviews page and read our reader-submitted reviews of nearby hotels. If you are unfamiliar with the area and would like some visual guidance on where hotels are located, visit the Anaheim Convention Center's map page (link) and download a PDF copy of their local area hotels map. You will find it to be very helpful.

Is there a specific reason why you can only stay one night? Hotels in the U.S. traditionally have a check-in time of 3:00 p.m., with a check-out time of 11:00 a.m. or noon the next day. This means you will not actually have a full day in which to enjoy Disneyland, especially if you have a bit of luggage to carry. If you can afford to add just one additional night to your stay, you will be able to spend the entire day on your second day (that is, your full day when you are neither checking in nor out of your hotel), in which you can go to the park at "rope drop" first thing in the morning when attraction queues are shortest, take an afternoon break back in your hotel, and return for an evening visit. Purchasing a two-day parkhoppper pass will provide provide you savings over the two days, than if you were to purchase a one-day pass.

– Lani


William Turnbull writes:

I recently took my family to Disneyland and I saw a model monorail I knew I should have bought it! Do know anyway I can buy one without having to go back to the park?

Hi William – Your can call Disneyland Merchandise at (800) 760-3566, or you can try MouseShoppe. Good luck!


Marina Wright writes:

How can I get tickets to the Fantasmic dessert area? I have been there several times and want to take a first-time Disneyland guest, and forgot where to make the reservation.

It used to be that Disneyland required interested parties to wait in front of their ticket office early in the morning to purchase tickets for the Fantasmic Dessert Buffet on the day of the show.

This procedure was changed some time ago, and you now have the luxury of being able to phone them in advance to purchase your tickets beforehand.

The number you need to phone is (714) 781-4400, and they will take your Fantasmic dessert buffet reservation request up to 30 days in advance. Their reservation office is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific time, so my suggestion is that you count backwards 30 days of your planned visit, and phone them promptly in the morning.

Keep in mind that Fantasmic itself is currently not showing, while the Sailing Ship Columbia is being refurbished. A quick check with the reservation office shows that they are not booking Fantasmic Dessert Buffet seatings now, and that the show will return in mid-December (which means you might phone them in mid-November.

Fantasmic is hands-down my favorite attraction at Disneyland, and the Dessert Buffet is definitely worth trying once as a splurge.

– Lani


Marshelle writes:

I just read the e-mail from a mother that needed a hotel. I would not avise her to stay at the Best Western Park Place Inn. Here are my reasons:

  • The pool is way too small.
  • The rooms are not kid friendly.
  • The veiw is nothing but a brick wall.

I would really try to find a more kid-friendly place. I heard the Fairfield Inn is kid-friendly, and I believe they have free shuttles (to the park). I hope this helps.

Hi Marshelle – Thanks for taking the time to write.

My preferred lodging of choice is the Best Western Park Place Inn, because I do not use the hotel pool, I do not have children, and I don't care whether I have a view from my room. For me, it's important that we are as close to the pedestrian entrance to Disneyland as possible, and the Best Western works for that purpose.

I haven't stayed at the Fairfield Inn, but I do believe they are somewhat close to the park, within a fair walking distance (and the shuttle, if they are free, could be a plus).

If you have not had a chance to do so, please submit your comments to our MousePlanet Restaurant and Hotel Reviews.

One note: We recently had the opportunity to stay at the Marriott's Residence Inn in Anaheim. Although at a few blocks away it is not within easy walking distance from the Disneyland Resort, the Residence Inn chain is considered a long-stay facility, and we were amazed at how much we got for our price. The room was huge and could easily accommodate a family, and it included a full kitchen. Any family considering a longer stay should definitely look into this place. We were quite impressed.

– Lani


When we ran a reader-review of Disneyland's new Myths, Mysteries and Legends tour back in November (read the review here), we received quite a bit of feedback with range of reactions. The following are some representative samples.

Kelly OConnor writes:

Yes, I too went on the tour, on Thursday, October 21. We also had a wheelchair person in our group, and did not ride the train at all, nor did we climb up the Skyway area at all. In fact, before reading the other reviews, I didn't even know these were parts of the tour.

Anyway, the tour was a complete letdown and bordered on my complaining in City Hall, but I refrained. The Gracey (tour guide)was just about the worst actor one could ever hope for, even at a theme park. I figured he was perhaps a substitute on his first night and that the regular was spectacular, perhaps along the lines of cast member Maynard, but after reading the other reviews on MousePlanet today, it seems we've all been subject to this catastrophe. I had heard that there were auditions for this role and if this was the best that Disney could find, I'm sorely afraid for their current talent booking department.

Conversely, the young lady who began and ended our tour was excellent and most of us were wishing she had done the entire tour. I also thought that if the male host was to be named Gracey, that there might be a tie-in explaining that he was the real Master Gracey from the Haunted Mansion, but even that simple correllation was left out.

The whole experience left me with a negative feeling toward taking any future tours at the Parks. I'd expect for a tour with this dramatic nature that they would hire staff from the parades and shows department rather than from Guest Relations, the latter of whom who are more accustomed to delivering straightforward spiels on the regular tours than fudging make-believe semi-spooky fables.

Our entire group was silent for the entire tour—I think because we were all dumbfounded at how bad the event turned out to be. As a small bonus, it was great riding the Tower of Terror and the Haunted Mansion in silence—I heard more sound effects that night than in my entire history of riding these attractions!


Kevin writes:

I absolutely loved the tour! Total Disney theater at its best. The Gracey character must have had a bad night on your tour because the Halloween evening tour was great. Gracey was in rare form and had our attention the entire time.


Jenny S. writes:

On October 23rd, when I inquired about the tour was told it was sold out for the year and it “may” be back after the holidays. Why offer and advertise a tour, when it is sold out?


Christina writes:

I took the tour on October 13 and I thought it was great. I went with my family and a friend and we all had a fun time on the tour. I thought our Gracey was a fantastic storyteller and I really don't see why every single person that was quoted in the article said they hated it so much. Did everybody who took the tour really have that horrible of a time? I just have a hard time believing that.


Heather writes:

I, too, went on the tour on October 17. I had been looking forward to it as I have been on many other tours at Disneyland and have always been impressed.

The tour was great… until we finished riding Tower of Terror the second time. Once she started telling the stories and I realized that they had nothing to do with the parks I completely zoned out. I thought it would have been better if it was themed to myths that happened at the parks or created some sort of mystery we had to solve by visiting various areas.

For a brief moment I was excited at the thought of getting to visit the old Skyway again, but was thoroughly dissappointed by having to stop just a few steps up. Ultimately I was very thankful when it was over and could resume my life again which seemed to come to a standstill for 2 hours.

As to how to improve the tour… If they insist on keeping the script, what would make it better would be to forget about the walking part and tell their stories with everyone gathered around the large fireplace at the Grand Californian with many, many adult beverages for everyone. Now that would make it worth $25 to me.


Steve Spencer writes:

My daughter and I had a great time on the tour. I specifically went in thinking low expectations because otherwise you get disappointed. Gracey, a female, was, in my opinion, just great. She was kind, yet spooky at the same time. She took special care of my “non-goblin” daughter, which just added to the fun. I saw several poor reviews of the tour, but I wanted to say that we had a great time.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact our Mailbag here.

GENERAL QUESTIONS

Do you have specific questions about an upcoming trip to Disneyland, Walt Disney World or another park, or do you need help with your trip planning? While you can contact one of the columnists, we encourage you to join our special MousePlanet community on our MousePad discussion board. There, you will find like-minded Disney park fans who can try to help answer your questions.

VOICE YOUR OPINION

Did you read something interesting (good or bad) on MousePlanet, or here in the Mailbag? We'd love to hear from you! Send your comments to the Mailbag here.

We welcome your questions and comments, but keep in mind that all questions submitted to MousePlanet become property of this Web site. Letters of interest to the readership may be published, and may include your full name unless you specifically request that your last name not be published. They may be edited for length or style and in consideration of a family readership. Questions may also be quoted on other parts of the site as well.

PREVIOUS MAILBAGS

2005

• January: 6, 13, 20, 27
• February: 3, 10, 17
• March: 10, 17, 31
• April: 14, 21, 28
• May: 26
• June: 2, 9, 30
• July: 7, 28
• August: 4, 11, 18, 25
• September: 4, 15, 22, 29
• October: 1327

2004

• January: 8, 15, 22
• Febuary: 12, 19, 26
• March: 18, 25
• April: 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
• May: 13, 20
• June: 3, 17, 24
• July: 1, 22, 29
• August: 5, 26
• September: 9, 23, 30
• October: 14, 21, 28
• November: 4, 18
• December: 2, 9

2003

• November: 13
• September: 4, 18
• August: 21, 28
• July: 10, 17, 24, 31
• June: 12
• May: 22, 29
• April: 10, 24
• March: 6, 13, 27
• February: 13, 20
• January: 9, 16, 30

2002

• December: 5, 12, 19

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