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MousePlanet Mailbag for March 17, 2005

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

Rosalie Forrester writes:

My husband and I, both in our mid-50s are from Melbourne, Australia and we have never been to Disneyland and we had Anaheim planned before we realised it was your 50th Anniversary. It is also my birthday so we are quite excited about this section of our holiday and really looking forward to seeing everything. My one time favourite wish is to get a kiss from Goofy.

See you in May


Feedback for Shoshana Lewin, Cast Place editor

Louise Hirabayashi writes:

I just re-read your December 11, 2003 “It's Holiday Time” article. I was glad you had such a good time.

I took the 11:30 a.m. tour this past Christmas Eve. We had a terrific Guide, John, who shared much the same information as in your article. I can't remember the last time I was in Toontown; I usually stay away because it's always so full of families and kids. What great decorations! I especially like the Clarabell's frozen yogurt decorations that incorporated ice cream into the design. The Disney people really outdid themselves with the Toontown decorations.

Although I've been to the parks many times, the Holiday Parade was new for me. I loved sitting in the prime tour seats, sipping hot chocolate and eating my cookie.

I met some very nice people on the Holiday Tour, most of whom were Annual Passholders. The price of the tour was higher this year, but worth every penny. I plan on spending some time at the parks during the holidays in 2005 and will definitely take the Holiday Tour again.

Thanks for your terrific 2003 article. I hope all of you with Mouseplanet have a Happy New Year and a memorable 2005.

Louise Hirabayashi

Thanks Louise – Happy new year to you, as well.

I'm glad you and your family enjoyed the tour -- I think it gets better every year. Many of the guides say it is their favorite tour to lead. I asked if in in the future they will expand it to include the Grand Californian and Disney's California Adventure -- of course it would turn into a really long tour -- they said they don't know at this point, but anything is possible....


Jacob Matt writes:

I was wondering if the military discount for the Disney Cruise Line is still available. If not, please send any information you may have.

Thank you in advance for your response and Disney's continued support of our men and women fighting the War on Terror.

Capt. Jay Matt, USMC

Hi Jay – Here's what I found on discounts from Mousesavers

This is from mousesavers:

Special Rates For Military Personnel Disney Cruise Line is extending special rates to military personnel for 3- and 4-Night cruises on selected dates in January and February 2005.

3-Night sailings from $349* per person, double occupancy. Dates that qualify are January 6, 13, 20, 27 and February 3, 10.

4-Night sailings from $399* per person, double occupancy. Dates that qualify are January 9, 16, 23, 30 and February 6.

*Rates valid for stateroom category 11. The number of staterooms available at these special rates is limited. Government Taxes and Fees and excursions not included. See Disney Cruise Line brochure for details and applicable Terms and Conditions. Other discounts do not apply. Active Military ID or activation papers required at port check-in. Thanks to Small World Vacations for info.

This is from Disney Hand:

The last one is Disney itself -- but the dates appear to have expired, please contact them directly for more info as it could all change.

Good luck and God Bless!


Ashley writes:

Hey there Shoshana! My name is Ashley, and I'm currently a freshman in college in NC. I was so inspired by your story - I have also always wanted to work in Disneyland, and I was surprised when I discovered today (via your story) about their summer program. I went to the Disney College Programs website today to check into it, but I could find out how to apply for a summer internship or anything. Could you possibly help me out here?

Hi Ashley – Good news/bad news: The bad news is that the Disneyland College program in its former state no longer exists (I hope they bring it back because it was great).

The good news is that there IS a large college program at Walt Disney World: (keep an eye out on your campus for when they will be coming - look for the mickey signs.) The program web site is

Once you've worked there, you might be able to ask them to recommend you for an advanced intership at Disneyland.

If you have your heart set on Disneyland, contact the casting office and check out this article on the available positions: And then check out the

Disneyland Career site: If you call, let them know you saw the college info and wanted to know if they still do anything (if you go to the site there are no special phone numbers, just the general casting number). You can work at the park and let them know you want to shadow a manager and take on other tasks to really get to know the company. But you will be on your own for housing (although the can probably give you info for getting a roommate).

Disneyland does have seasonal/summer spots whereas WDW is for fall and spring semesters (no summer alone, although you can continue to work during the summer).

Please let me know if you have any more questions and I will answer them as best as I can.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Shoshana here.

Feedback for Lisa Perkis, staff writer

Peggy writes:

Thank you so much for reviewing this movie. The sets are sumptuous and the colors are gorgeous! The casting couldn't have been better. Julie Andrews is a gem for shcwing all her character foils, esp. the booze, in a “kids” movie, no less! My fifteen year old boy and I sat and watched the whole thing, laughing all the way! My little nieces could not believe how naughty Eloise was. She could use a little more supervision! This is a movie I will watch at least twice during the holiday season, but then again, I have been know to watch Christmas stuff all year long, over and over.

Thanks for your feedback. I agree with you--it's one of the best new holiday movies I've seen, and great fun for the whole family. I love Julie Andrews in Nanny mode; it's a must own for her fans.

Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Lisa here.

Feedback for Mark Goldhaber, WDW Park Update/World View editor

Brian Stuarts writes:


I just read your story on the Hilton Head resort. I'm thinking of buying into DVC and wanted to know about the pricing on the kids activities ect. Thanks for your time.

Hi Brian – Sorry for the delayed response. In the aftermath of my return from MouseFest, my whole family ended up spending over a week sick, and I fell behind on my e-mail a little.

Many events are free, including the not-to-be-missed campfires. Those that involve take-away materials generally cost money. As an example, the Gyotaku and Shadow's doghouse crafts were $10 for members, $12 for guests. Make-your-own shark's tooth necklaces at the end of the shark talk with the naturalist were $7. The Disney Discovery Club events were $20 for members, $25 for guests, as were the Kids' Night Out events. Please let me know if you have any other questions. (And feel free to drop my name if you decide to contact DVC.)

Mary Crockett writes:

I have been a life long lover of all things Disney since I was a little girl, making annual trips to Disneyland with my parents. I had always loved people watching, seeing all the different cultures enjoying the “Happiest Place on Earth.” But, I just wanted to express an opinion about the Gay and Lesbian day at the parks. Why are they singled out to have a “special” day? Why can't they enjoy all the fun with everyone else? I am by no means prejudice, but with all the complaining about equal treatment, I find it funny that they need a “special” day. Just my thoughts on this matter.

Hi Mary – We may be doing a story later this year on the Gay Days events at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, and we'll probably ask the organizers a similar question. However, it should be clear that they have not been “singled out” by anyone except themselves. The event is not sponsored by the parks, nor is it promoted by them. However, the parks have become very friendly to the groups, as they bring in a large amount of money for them.

As to “why,” my speculation is that it is a chance for the gay community to get together and have a good time, similar to many other groups that organize conventions to the resorts. It may also be a chance to show that the stereotypical image of families with heterosexual parents at Disney is not the only type of visitors to the park. Maybe also a type of “gay pride march” without the march. Does anybody question why Christian music lovers get a special three-night event at Walt Disney World with the Nights of Joy, which is actually sponsored by and promoted by Disney? What about the Tom Joyner Family Reunion event, which plays to a mostly African-American audience?

To my mind, if a large group of people wants to organize an event at Walt Disney World and will follow the rules of decorum that apply to all guests, I don't care if they're gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, straight, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, disabled veterans, accountants, steelworkers, insurance executives, black, white, brown, blue or purple. I only get upset when they think that the rules of behavior at the parks don't apply to them.

I hope that this answers your question.

Renee Grammes writes:

Hi Mark,

Enjoyed reading your review of Disney resort at Hilton Head. A few questions: what are the ages for the children's activities, arts/ crafts, etc.? How far do you ned to drive to go to a restaurant off the island? Being used to the hustle and bustle of going to Disneyworld, is there enough to keep you occupied at Hilton Head?

Hi Renee – I'll try to answer your questions one at a time.

1. Ages for children's activities: Many are for ages 5 and up, including Gyotaku, birdfeeders, Shadow's doghouses, and Kids' Night Out. Others, such as Disney Discovery Club and the Unbirthday Party, have two separate divisions, 3-6 and 7-12. There are also several teens-only events. Still other events allow children of all ages, including all events featuring Christopher the naturalist and B'Lou Crabbe (if you go, tell him that I said “hi.” ) When you check in, you'll get a sheet full of recreation activities, which will include ages, prices (if any), locations, etc. for all of the week's events.

2. Restaurants: You're certainly not going to want to cook every night, and Tide Me Over closes well before dinner time. However, restaurants are good and plentiful on Hilton Head. For starters, you can walk across the bridge from Longview Island (where the resort is) onto Hilton Head Island proper, and there's good seafood restaurant named Scott's Fish Market right there. We had a very nice dinner there. And what's more, DVC members get a 10% discount there! There are dozens more restaurants within a five-minute drive. You best bet to find a good place to eat is to ask the staff, especially Chef Gordon, who provided a number of great choices for us. Just tell them what kind of place you're looking for, and they should be able to provide you with several alternatives. One place that we ate was about a 20-minute drive, and that was about as far away on the island as you could drive.

3. Comparing HHI to WDW: Well, they're certainly two different worlds. We went to Hilton Head to try to have a more relaxing vacation. In fact, we did even less than I expected. I had a list of things that we could do, including miniature golf, a drive down to Savannah to see the sights, all sorts of diversions. We ended up spending most days either doing the resort activities or just hanging around the beach or the pool. If you're looking for a run-from-sunup-to-sundown type of vacation, you're probably going to have to work hard to do it at Hilton Head. On the other hand, if you're looking for a relaxing vacation with a Disney touch, you'll have a great time. The resort is warm and homey, the cast members are friendly and even more easygoing than those in Florida, the ocean beach and Beach House are great, and -- though the resort dining pickings are slim -- there are many wonderful places to eat on the island. If this sounds like a fun vacation for you (it sure does to me), then give it a try!

Bob Westenberg writes:

I publish IMP (World's Smallest Newsletter). Recent item said that Disneyland - Tokyo, was world's most visited theme park. Someone challenged that. I've checked the internet and gotten conflicting responses. Can you shed some light on this for me?

Hi Bob – According to Amusement Business, which is generally accepted as the authority on such things, the most visited park in the world for 2004 was WDW's Magic Kingdom, with 15.1 million visitors. Second place was Disneyland in California with 13.3 million. Tokyo Disneyland was in third with 13.2 million visitors. In 2003, Tokyo Disneyland was second behind WDW's Magic Kingdom.

Hope this helps.


Bob wrote back:

Thanks, Mark. Looks like I need to publish a correction. I appreciate your speedy and thorough reply.

No problem, Bob. I was kind of surprised by Tokyo's ranking, myself. But then, WDW draws from a much larger international crowd. Good luck with the newsletter!

Donald Suthard writes:

Hi Mark

I enjoyed your recap of the holiday party and shows at WDW. Your comment about the real tree dying before all of the decorations were on it may be true, but Disney used to use real trees in the past. When I worked there in the early 80's they used real trees. They would take 3 big real trees, cut them up, cover them in glitter, and assemble them together to make one GIANT tree. Cast members could see them assembling it behind the shops on Main Street. And when it was all done and on display you could smell it all over Town Square.

Just thought I would share that bit of information in case you were interested.

Hi Donald – Yep. Disney used real trees until 1996, when they finally decided that they couldn't do it in the theme parks any more. If you read Andrew Rich's December 15 piece about the Yuletide Tour here, you may remember a paragraph that he wrote on this very subject:

Here, Mark recounted how, until 1996, Walt Disney World had used real Mount Shasta trees for each park. In fact, each resort Christmas tree required three trees: one chosen for its height and shape, and two others stripped and used as fill-in on the first. The problem was that the trees had to be shipped by rail from California to Florida, arrived in September, and were quite brown and dead by November. So they were painted green and coated in a thick layer of fire-retardant before being decorated, after which it was very difficult to tell that they were ever real trees. Since 1996, artificial trees have been used as the centerpiece trees at the parks; smaller real trees are still used as accents throughout WDW. The Magic Kingdom's tree, like the trees at Epcot, the Studios, and Animal Kingdom, is actually composed of five parts. These are decorated separately and then assembled on-site.

Cheryl Flewwelling writes:

I was reading about the new ticketing at Disney (Magic Your Way). We are going to Disney in April 2005 and already bought our 5 day park hopper plus tickets. I am assuming that although there is a new system, that we can still use the old tickets. Have you received any information regarding this.

We had no idea that the ticket system was going to change and when we bought our tickets at the Disney Store, they did not mention anything and they knew our trip would not be until April 2005.

Hi Cheryl – All park passes purchased before January 2 (with the exception of 1-day, 1-park passes bought after December 2) will not expire and are valid for the same number of days as they were when first purchased. The new rules are effective for the new passes only. Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip!

Michelle Culver writes:

Good Morning Mark and Happy New Year!!

I just wanted to take a moment and thank you for your wonderfully informative article about the “Holiday happenings” at WDW. We are going for the first time during the holidays 12.2.05 - 12.11.05 (this is only our 2nd trip ever) and were worried a bit about missing many of the expieriences happening later in the month. This is our 4 year old's first time to WDW and we want to take a break during the day to give her plenty of rest, what normally has been the times of open to close at the Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom?

Thanks so much and our family wishes you the best for a new year!

Hi Michelle – Thanks for your kind words! It was sort of interesting to look at the Christmas Party after reviewing the Halloween Party last year. Disney sometimes changes things up, but I have a feeling that they're going to stick with the “Party-only” for the first half of the month, then open up the special events the second half of the month when the crowds pick up.

The Party usually runs from 7-12 with the park's regular hours ending at 6 so that they can clear the park. However, you can pick up your wristband any time after about 4:30, and then you can stay in the park when they are clearing out the day guests. Of course, with a four-year-old, you're probably either going to get there early and do as much as you can at the beginning or get there at 7 and go until she falls asleep in her stroller (and then maybe finish the party while she sleeps). A plan of action is a good thing to have. Know what you want to see, and plan it out as soon as you can. The Party guide books should be available as soon as the wristbands are, so if you're in the park before 6, you can plan your show schedule out beforehand.

Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Mark here.

Feedback for Lani Teshima, staff editor

Norman O. Willams writes:

Hello friends

My wife and I lived in San Diego for 13 years and came up to Disneyland almost every year and sometimes twice a year.From 1977-1985, we came up, Disneyland and I share a birthday 17 July 1955! I have a button that says I'm 25 today too.

My wife asked me if she could throw me a 50th birthday and I said Disneyland is already throwing a year long party so let's go there. My family plans to attend on my birthday and I know qwe should be making plans. Is it possible to get a brochure or something in the mail? I would appreciate it, thank you.

Hi Norman – How exciting that you will be celebrating your 50th birthday with the original park!

Are you a member of AAA? If so, I believe their offices should have some packages you can consider for visiting Disneyland next year. We are not officially affiliated with Disney, so we don't have any brochures to mail you. However, if you check with our Disneyland Park Update page (, we update it every Monday, and it includes the information you need for planning your visit next year.


Mary Kraemer writes:

Hey Lani,

First, happy holidays!!! :)

I read your article this morning, and wanted to toss a suggestion out to you.

A couple of years ago (post-9/11), Casey was flying to Colorado, and it would have been the first time he would have gone to the gate by himself (so I guess it was pretty close to after 9/11). Instead, the ticketing agent said I could have a 'special' pass to accompany him out to the gate.

Now, you probably know that I use a Gap messenger bag as my purse, and it holds approximately everything I might need for whatever fate throws my way. That is a LOT of stuff, and yes, you guessed it, I had to spill it ALL out for the security people. They took my little Swiss Army knife, souvenir of Macuser days, and would not give it back, even when I came back through again (and I'd asked when they took it). It was a serious PITA.

So, a few weeks ago, I flew down to DL, where I met up with Vince and the kids (so, hence, a one-way ticket) who got to leave a couple days before me. I was prepared. I went through my big bag (give it up for something smaller? HA!), and I assembled EVERYTHING in ziplocks, so if I had to pull it all out, it would be contained and visible. Of course, all this preparation was for naught, which was okeydokey with me. Anyhow, this might be a helpful little idea, although it does smack of compulsive.

But then again, somebody who is not my husband fondling my breasts in public is also grounds (in my mind) for a good smacking too.

Jeff Carey writes:

If you are bringing a digital camera, consider goingto the photo center on Main Street and copying your images to CD (costs about $12). That way, just in case something happens to your camera or media card, you'll have a backup.

Hi Jeff – That's a very good tip! And CDs barely take up any space in your travel bag, so it's not too much hassle. Your other tip about having items shipped home is good, too.

Katrina Dalton writes:


I enjoyed reading your article on the Disney promotion for the servicemembers and their families. My husband is an active-duty soldier and we are currently stationed overseas in Germany. Will there be any upcoming promotions such as the Disney and how about international discount/promotions? A lot of the soldiers that are serving in Iraq are deployed from Europe. Our families here would like to participate in these fabulous offers, too!

Looking forward to hearing back from you!

Hi Katrina – First off, thank you so much for the tremendous sacrifices you make for our country.

As far as I know, Walt Disney World is not currently offering any specific offers for those in the service. In addition, WDW recently announced a new ticketing system called Magic Your Way, which changes the traditional park-hopper ticketing system by quite a bit (we'll try to continue reporting on this new program), and I don't know if they will announce anything during this process of flux.

One thing you will enjoy hearing, however, is that the long refurbishment of the Shades of Green resort at Walt Disney World is finally complete. Shades of Green is located on property, and is managed by Morale, Welfare, and Recreation, so your family will be able to stay for a rate that is based on your husband's rank. This makes a trip to WDW considerably more affordable than trying to find a room at another on-property resort.

If we do hear of any specials for the military, Mark will be sure to post about it in his WDW park update, which we publish every Monday.

Vera Stanovich writes:

I was disappointed in the Disneyland Website. I could not find the date of the best and biggest event for the celebration. I will have my 65th birthday in May. I performed at Disneyland the year it opened, so it is very special to me to be there. I was a majorette for the Fresno High School Marching Band. I would like to take my grandchildren and stay at Disneyland. Can you help me figure out the best date and where to stay in Disneyland. I took my mother in 1972 and have not been there since.

Hi Vera – If you ever need a quick check on upcoming events at Disneyland, you can take a look at our weekly Disneyland Park Update, available at Just click on the “Park Events” link at the beginning of the update and it'll take you right ot our calendar of events.

As for the start of Disneyland's big anniversary celebration, the first day is scheduled for Thursday, May 5. A couple of important dates to remember:

Wednesday, May 4: Disneyland is CLOSED all day this day in preparation for their big celebration.

Thursday, May 5: The inauguration of Disneyland's 50th anniversary celebration.

Sunday, July 17: Disneyland's ACTUAL birthday/anniversary day.

The 50th anniversary celebration lasts 18 months, through the end of 2006.

Two things to keep in mind: As you can imagine, rooms will become quickly scarce once Disneyland goes into celebration mode. If you have trouble finding a good hotel rate yourself, you might consider contacting your travel agent to do the work for you (such as your local AAA office). Depending on whether your priorities lie with convenience or budget, a good travel agent should be able to find you a package or lodging that meets your needs.

The good news is that by visiting the parks once the celebration opens, you can expect just about every attraction to be open, and ready for business with shiny new coats of paint and polished brass. I'm really looking forward to how nice the park should look come May.

Since the last time you visited, Disneyland has grown quite a bit. There is now a second park (with a separate admission) called Disney's California Adventure. Although it's not the same as the original magic kingdom, it makes for a nice extra day in your visit.

In addition, there are two new official Disneyland on-property resort hotels: Paradise Pier Hotel, and the Grand Californian Hotel. Both serve to shoulder the Disneyland Hotel nicely, with the former being for the more budget-minded, and the latter for those whose money is no object.

Should you decide to have Disney book your vacation for you, you can phone them at 714-520-5060. Otherwise, if you talk to a travel agent, they may offer you some packages at “Good Neighbor Hotels” -- these are nearby hotels that have special relationships with Disneyland.

Have yourself a magical trip. I'm sure your grandchildren will be very excited to take a Disney vacation with grandma!

Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions (just be aware MousePlanet isn't a travel agency, so I won't be able to book any packages for you myself).

Carol Dzengelewski writes:

Good morning!

First of all, thanks for all the hard work that you do at MousePlanet. It's obvious that a lot of work goes into each article written and it is greatly appreciated.

Just a couple of comments on your “Surviving Holiday Travel” column.

Your statement that the secondary screening is done in full view of the public is not really accurate. You can request that the seconday screening be done in a private area.

Below is the TSA web site that states this.

In these days of post 9/11 it is important when you travel to be aware of security alerts and changes and, in general, know what to expect as you pass through the airport security. Airport web pages frequently have this information and appropriate links.

Shipping purchases from WDW is a wonderful service that I've used many times. Beats carrying all that stuff! One thing that you did not mention is that if you are shipping out-of-state you do not pay the 6.5% Florida State Tax. So, if deciding to ship or not to ship figure out the difference between the price with tax and the price with just the shipping.

Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Lani 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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MousePlanet® is not associated in any official way with the Walt Disney Company, its subsidiaries, or its affiliates. The official Disney site is available at This MousePlanet Web site provides independent news articles, commentary, editorials, reviews, and guides primarily about the theme park resorts of the Walt Disney Co. All information on this site is subject to change. Please call destinations in advance to confirm the most up-to-date information.