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MousePlanet Mailbag for April 21, 2005

We are just a few short weeks away from the start of Disneyland's 50th anniversary celebration. A number of you have been sending us anecdotes and tales of your wonderful memories of the park. If you were there in the first years that the park opened, we would love to hear from you! Have you been back since? What were your impressions of the park at the time? What do you think of all the changes that the park has seen? Send us email HERE.

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

Feedback for Mark Goldhaber

Brandon Grego writes:

I was just writing to say how much I enjoyed your history of the world saga. It was everyting I wanted to know. DO u have any other articles around that explain the history of other aspects of disney?

Hi Brandon – Thanks for your kind words. I'm hoping to return to the series in a couple of months, picking up with the beginnings of Epcot Center.

To my knowledge, the only other historical saga on the site is Jason Schultz' Magic Kingdom Chronicles (link), which describe the history of Disneyland

We have a few shorter pieces, such as the two–part series on the Mark V and Mark VI monorails, the four–part series on Horizons and the two–part series on Dragon Tower. I hope to have more stories from George McGinnis and Paul Torrigino this year. Is there anything in particular that you're looking for? We can put it on the list of possible future pieces.


Sean writes:

Do you have any biographies of Walt Disney or picturess or videos on Victory Through Air Power? I am A 8th grader making a report on Walt Disney, A National History Day report and I have looked at your Web site, and it is difficult to find information.

Hi Sean – We haven't written any biographies of Walt here on the site, and I don't think that we've done any in–depth coverage of Victory Through Air Power except as part of the DVD release. I'd recommend that you see if you can find the Walt Disney on the Front Lines DVD from the Walt Disney Treasure collection to see Victory Through Air Powerand some commentary on the film, and Walt Disney: An American Original by Bob Thomas for a great biography of Walt. I don't know whether or not they'd be available in your local library, but you can probably try to find them in an online search.

Good luck with your report!


B. Green writes:

Hi Mark! Thank you for your wonderfully informative Web site! Our family will be moving to Hilton Head Island this summer, and we were wondering if the summer camp is was just available for guests who stay on premises, or if local families could visit/take part on a day camp–type basis?

We would appreciate any insights that you have!

Hi B. – As far as I know, the activities at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort of for guests of the resort only. I believe that there are some other resorts on the island that do have children's activities that are available to the general public, but I can't confirm that. Think of the Disney activities as similar to the activities available at the Disney Vacation Club resorts at Walt Disney World, such as the craft projects and unbirthday parties. They are announced only in the resort newsletter. I don't think that they have somebody checking IDs when you go, but I think that for every activity that requires a reservation, they do ask for your room number. Of course, you could always call the resort and ask if you could come anyway.


Dave writes:

I saw your comment in the Walt Disney World Park Update regarding room requests. Here is my bit of advice: Make your request when reserving the room but call the resort directly within the week prior to your visit. When I last was at Disney, I requested a non–smoking room. Unfortunately, Disney (like many hotels) only notes this as a “request” and requests are not guaranteed.

I called the resort directly (do not ask them for reservations because you will be transferred out to their Central Reservations) and simply informed the operator that I wanted to confirm my reservation for arrival on xxx. When the operator confirmed the reservation I responded “and that was for a non–smoking room, correct?” The operator started to inform me that requests cannot be guaranteed, at which point I explained my daughter's allergies. She promptly said “Oh, thank you for letting us know. We will make sure you have a non–smoking room.” They have always been helpful when I call. Dave

Hi Dave – I'm not sure when you were last at Disney, but the policy hasn't been in effect all that long. I'm not sure if your strategy would still be effective or not, since the word has been passed to the resorts not to take requests outside of the system. However, I can tell you that if you need a non–smoking room for medical reasons, Disney will do their best to accommodate you. Also, you can make that note when you make your reservation. Whenever I make a reservation, I specify that we need non–smoking for asthma and allergy reasons. When I get my confirmation paperwork, it says “Non–smoking room requested for medical reasons.” Never had a problem, and I've never faxed or called a resort.

I'm thinking that they may have just made a note on your reservation similar to theones that I received, so that it was treated as a reservation modification instead of a special request to be handled outside the system. You probably would have gotten the same response and responsiveness if you were to make the same note to the Reservations Center.

Just my two cents. Thanks for writing!


David Rafaidus writes:

I have been told on several occassions that Walt Disney World was originally planned to be constructed in Palm Beach County, Florida. Is this true? Do you have any information about Disney and Palm Beach County? Thanks! Your History of the World articles are fantastic and impressive.

Hi David – That information is absolutely correct. When Walt first started thinking about an “East Coast Disneyland” back in 1962, it was planned as a partnership with RCA, much as Disneyland was built in partnership with ABC. RCA brought an eccentric billionaire named John D. MacArthur into the venture. MacArthur would contribute 12,000 acres in North Palm Beach as his contribution to the partnership, Disney would design, build and operate the park, and RCA would provide the financing.

Well, RCA started running into some business difficulties and had to back out of the project. Disney backed out as well. First of all, Disney wasn't really thrilled with MacArthur's eccentricities, and he also didn't want to have to compete with the beaches for his guests. He also didn't want people tempted to come into the park wearing bathing suits. It wasn't until November of 1963 that Orlando was chosen as the site.


Melanee Berman writes:

I just had a quick question. We just recently moved to Alabama and are thrilled to be 8 hours from Walt Disney World. So we were planning a trip during the Happiest Celebration on Earth when we find out we are pregnant. We are due in August and will probably wait until a few months afterward to go to Walt Disney World. Will we miss out on the celebration? I hate to e–mail you when you probably get tons already from your website, but I checked all over and none specify the actual dates the Celebration is lasting. Thanks, I appreciate your time.

Hi Melanee – Congratulations on your bundle of joy on the way! That's even more thrilling than Disney!

Don't worry about missing the celebration. It's scheduled to run for 18 months, and as far as I know the only things that will be going away after the celebration are the Cinderellabration show in front of the castle and the golden castledecorations. (I'm not counting Lucky, since he's only going to be there for a couple of months, anyway.)

Don't worry about emailing me. While it sometimes take a while to respond to the mail that I get when real life intrudes, I enjoy reading them all.

Enjoy that little one when he or she arrives!


Sarah writes:

Hello, I'm tourism student and I'm doing a work for university about the history of Disney Orlando. Can you give me some information about it in Spanish, or can you tell me some good webs when I can search the inforamtion please?

Hi Sara – Unfortunately, I really don't know of any sites in Spanish that have information on Walt Disney World's history. Your best bet may be to find the sites about Disney history that are in English and use a translation web site (like babelfish.altavista.com) to read them in Spanish. I'm sorry that I can't help you more.


In a previous Mailbag, reader Stephen asked about Phantom Manor, the Haunted Mansion of Disneyland Paris. Mark has obtained some information from David Loyd–Hearn and Martin Smith.

David Loyd–Hearn writes:

Hi Mark,

Stephen's question about Phantom Manor is an interesting one. I have had the pleasure of experiencing both the Vincent Price and modern Phantom Manor. Musically, there is no difference.

What happened was that the opening version of the Mansion had Vincent Price as the Ghost Host in the Foyer, Portrait Gallery and Doombuggy loading, along with his laugh as the Phantom in the graveyard/ghost town scene.

There were a number of complaints made by the French that the attraction was in English. Therefore, two weeks after opening (about 26th April 1992), they got rid of the Vincent Price Ghost Host, replaced by a French host.

Thankfully Vincent's laughter can still be heard in the Graveyard though and that wonderful orchestral score still is there for all to hear!!! Making Phantom Manor my favorite incarnation thus far.

Martin Smith writes:

Hi, Mark I hope this is the right address to write you with this information! Regarding the question from Stephen Fox in MousePlanet's Mailbag about Phantom Manor's (DLP) score – The Vincent Price narration was scrapped soon after park opening since it was all in English. Management realised the visuals in PM were so good the story was told without a narration (almost true... but with a mixture of the cancelled–before–opening Gracey storyline still in place it may not be totally apparent to a first time guest.) To this day, only a few words of Vincents remain in the ride, in the finale scene of the Wild West town in hell (the scene that replaced the traditional graveyard scene.) The spiel in the stretch room is in French, Madamme Leota still has the French and English spiel from 1992. Thankfully, the majority of the Vincent Price musical score is still in use today—and it is certainly the best Grim Grinning Ghosts / Haunted Mansion rendition anywhere. Phantom Manor dosn't use any of the Walt Disney World/Disneyland California Haunted Mansion score. Some parts are similar, but its all new material recorded for DLP.


Steve Seifert writes:

Mark, I read on an earlier mailbag a message from a Patricia Spendley asking about the Polynesian. I was very surprised and honored that you linked my web page about the Polynesian. I read the MousePlanet every day at work during lunch and there is always something interesting to read. I would be happy to help Patricia with any questions or direct her so she can find some reviews including my own experience from last summer. I also get many reports emailed to me so I can give her a good idea of what the majority thinks of the resort. Thanks for the great work you all do there at MousePlanet. Aloha Steve (aka Tikiman)

Aloha, Steve! I'm pleased to hear that you read MousePlanet. We always try to give people the best advice that we can. If we know about a definitive source elsewhere on the Internet, we're not shy about sending people there. Your site would be one of those sites. Thanks for doing such a great job on it.

I'm not sure when this month Patricia's trip is, but I'll pass along your note just in case she hasn't left yet and has more questions.

Thanks for checking in!


Rob Fisher writes:

I've almost done it and it was a most enjoyable day! All four parks with two major rides in each park along with a few minor rides thrown in. Instead of the two minor parks I included a walking tour of Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge. I want to talk to someone who has done six major parks in a day, four in Florida and two in California. If I can't find anyone who has done it I guess I will just have to give it a go.

Hi Rob – Wow, that sounds like a heck of a challenge! I know of a couple of people who have done Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort in the same day, but not all six parks.

If you decide to give it a try, don't forget to send us your trip report for the site! I'm sure that it would be a great read.


Lisa Cherrie writes:

In reference to Jeffrey Contompasis comment about the one day Park Hopper Pass (“...it now appears possible to buy a 1–Day Park Hopper Plus Pass and visit all 4 major theme parks and 2 minor attractions. I challenge someone to actually do this most insane thing.”) It can be done! (If you skip the water parks.) I've done it a couple of times as an Annual Passholder. It works best by taking your own car, and hitting only the major attractions at each park. The four park marathon day begins at Disney's Animal Kingdom as it opens (Kilamajaro Safaris, Dinosaur, Festival of the Lion King). Immediately drive to Disney–MGM Studios (Tower of Terror, Rock–N–Roller Coaster). Then, drive to and park the car at Epcot (Spaceship Earth, Mission Space, Test Track), then monorail to Magic Kingdom (Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain Railroad, Haunted Mansion, Mickey's Philharmagic). You won't have time for fireworks, shows, or parades, but you will get every penny of thrill squeezed from that one day ticket! One caveat: you must do this on a day when MK is open until at least 11 p.m., midnight is even better. No whining about sore feet, and be sure to eat on the run! (Eating not recommended near your trips on Mission Space, Tower of Terror, or Rock N Roller Coaster.) So, next time you're ready for my version of the Disney Marathon, let me know!

Hi Lisa – Sounds like fun! I haven't done more than three parks in a day, but then I haven't felt the need to take the challenge. Next time you do it, please consider writing and submitting a trip report to the site. I'm sure that it would be a fun read!


Robin Wilkerson writes regarding Danny Dillion:

My family always made it a ritual trip when we went to MGM–Studios to see Danny and sing along. It was always a high point of our trip. Is there a website or other way to express condolences to his family?

Hi Robin – I haven't heard anything about a memorial at this time. If you're planning a trip to Walt Disney World in the near future, you could stop by the Rose & Crown to see his wife Pam perform and talk to her there. If you won't be in the area for a while, you could try sending a note to Pam c/o Walt Disney World Guest Communications, PO Box 10040, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830–0040

If I hear of any other way to contact his family, I'll let you know.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Mark here.

Feedback for MousePlanet

Jennifer writes:

Hello, My name is Jennifer and I really enjoy this site. I am writing mainly because I am extremely upset with The Disney Company.

I was informed recently that Disneyland prices again rose. The price is $53.00 dollars for a single park ticket! How can Disney expect the average family to enjoy Disneyland. An average family of 4 with children over 10 are paying over $200 dollars just to enter the park, not to mention the price of food which also rose.

How can they raise the price of a park where most of the rides were closed? From January to March there was really no reason to go to the park. I am only 21 years old and cannot believe that I am saying that Disneyland is not what I remember. How can a theme park go from magic and joy 10 years ago and turn into an empty park where parents have to tell their children we cannot afford to go to Disneyland. Every child has the right to go to Disneyland. I wish there was someway to stop the greedy stock holders from wanting innocent Disney money. How do they expect people to enjoy a park... a park that when they were little they were allowed to enjoy.

I wish that they could remember what it was like to go to Disneyland when it was magical. Disneyland wasn't just a theme park... it was a whole different world. It was a place where a little girl really could become a princess (not because her parents bought her a $50 princess outfit, but because it felt magical).

I just wanted to to express my disapointment in Disney and this was the only place that I thought someone would care. I would write a letter to Eisner... but honestly he wouldn't care... l he cares about is millions of dollars in his own pocket. I hope he knows that that money is the money of hundreds of thousands of little wishes that has crushed with his greed!


Misty Fenn writes:

For many years I have watched Disneyland fall into evil hands. It's been very painful to watch this. Disneyland has captured my heart, and millions of others as well. The problem lies with the non–emotional attachment with the people who run everything. To them it's just away to make large sums of money. But for those of us who believe in the magic of pixie dust and burried pirate treasure the magic only exist in video clips of Walt Disney. He knew the true definition of good clean family fun. With so many video clips it's easy to see just what he stood for.

Disneyland is much more then a theme park it's an American tradition for many families. Walt knew the recipe for success and you should follow his example. He may be gone but his legacy lives on. And in honor of the man who started it all his dream needs to be respected. He is the best example of thee American dream that the world has ever seen. His spirt lives in thee imagination of all of us who dare to dream. Walk ing down the streets of mainstreet you can almost see him pondering his next adventure for all of us to see. I wonder how it is that I never knowing Walt personaly could respect him so, because his dreams became our dreams since he was so willing to share them.

As far as the Anniversary I believe Walt would of wanted more attractions to thrill his guest. After all he knew how to think larger then life. I think he would have also added on to fantasyland so more attractions could coinside with the animated features. After all fantasy is an important part of dreaming of thee impossible. I feel the magic needs to be put back into Disneyland, it's our connection to our nations architural hual history as well. For me Walt was a wonderful man he took great pride in doing things the right way. As Walt steps into the history books as agreat man let his endevers live on in greatness. In some ways Walt was just like you and me, and that's what makes him unforgetable. He laughed like we do,and he wanted to share that happiness with all of us. And that is a beautiful setiment. So bring on the pixie dust it's time for a change in the wind, says I.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact the Mailbag editor here.

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