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MousePlanet Mailbag for April 28, 2005

Can you believe we are only a week away from the beginning of Disneyland's 50th anniversary celebrations? In its honor, our mailbag this week consists primarily of reader mail focusing on this event.

James P. McDonald writes:

I am very saddened by the announcement that Disney Magazine has been told to quit publication as of last week. I was planning to be a lifetime subscriber and was good up to 2007. The Internet just does not cover all the info as good as the Disney Magazine did. At least in the magazine you get all the future info in one issue without having to look all over the Internet. The next issue was to cover the plans for the 50th Anniversary Celebration.

I would also like to know regarding the WWWD Pins from the Founder's Legacy at waltwouldwaltdo.com, if I should still graciously give out some WWWD pins at Disneyland this year (to the cast members that do something special for a guest) or wait until the waltwouldwaltdo.com Web site is back up? The Web site was “hacked” according to Tom. I have written Tom a letter to the Founder's Legacy P.O. box, but thus far have not received a response back.

Hi James – We, too, are saddened by the ceasing of publication of Disney Magazine. We thought it was a high-quality magazine that gave us many nuggets of good information.

As for the WWWD pins, as long as you have some on you, why don't you go ahead and give them to worthy cast members on your trip? It doesn't matter if their Web site is down. That doesn't stop cast members from providing their impeccable customer service, so it shouldn't stop you from acknowledging them!

Send us your Hidden Mickey and vacation photos

Disney Magazine always had a section in their edition called “Bulletin Board,” which was similar to our Mailbag. It had a collection of reader–submitted comments, stories, and photos. With the folding of Disney Magazine, we would like to pick up the torch and start running reader–submitted photos.

Send us your Disney vacation photos (including vintage ones from your youth), or Hidden Mickey photos showing the subjects either in the shape of, or “wearing” mouse ears inadvertently. The ears were usually made up of something unexpected, like an object in the background or a shadow. If you have such photos, please free to submit them; we will be glad to continue on the tradition by running them here.

In order to send us your digital photo, please first e–mail us here using our feedback form. We will contact you so that you can email us your photos.


Chuck Samson writes:

What is the exact date of the original opening of Disneyland?

Hi Chuck – With all the focus paid to the big May 5 celebrations, it's easy to get confused about the actual anniversary date. Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955.


Paula writes:

I wonder when will Disneyland 50th be end? Please let me know, I don't want to miss it.

Hi Paula – With all of the resources Disney theme parks expend on special events such as their park anniversaries, they have to keep their celebrations going for as long as possible. For the most part, events such as the Happiest Homecoming on Earth, which celebrates Disneyland's 50th anniversary, are usually 18 months (a year and a half) long, ensuring that Disney can encourage as many people to visit as possible.


Wendy Thomas writes:

I heard that for the 50th Anniversary Disneyland is guaranteeing every ride to be open… Does anyone know what date this extends through if it is true? We are planning a trip in early October and would like to know.

Wendy – Unless they cancel Christmas this definitely will not last beyond summer. In September, Haunted Mansion will close to put on the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay and then again in January to remove it.

Similarly, “it's a small world” will close the second half of October and then again in January to deal with those Christmas decorations.

Some early reports are that Pirates of the Caribbean may close for six weeks sometime in October, but we haven't confirmed that yet.

In each week's Disneyland Park Update article we publish there is a section that lists all known upcoming ride closures and refurbishments. This changes as dates are revised, cancelled, or added but you might want to keep an eye on it.


David Alonzo writes:

I guess my first memory of Disneyland was probably about 1974. I was 3 at the time. I remember I had a red beanie type hat and my parents had me bundled up. We were waiting for my Aunt Shelley, as she was a cast member and was getting off of her shift—she was going to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade with us. In my mind, if I look back, I remember all the twinkling lights in the trees in the hub and looking down Main Street and seeing all the lights on the buildings—I was just fascinated.

Another funny, early memory, for me, was the day my parents tried to convince me that Disneyland was on fire. It must have been one of the hottest days in July 1974. I remember I had my red Mickey Mouse balloon and we spent a lot of time on 'indoor' attractions. I was fascinated by Mission To Mars… and how my seat vibrated and then lowered. “WOW,” I remember thinking… as I sat there with my legs dangling - swinging back and forth (Mickey Mouse balloon still tied around my wrist.)

After two times on Mission To Mars, my parents and my Uncle Bud had just had it with the heat. So, as we exited the attraction, I remember walking through Tomorrowland and my parents said, “David, we have to go now—Disneyland's on fire—one of the Rocket's going to Mars must have exploded—we have to go.”

The whole idea didn't make much sense to me… I mean, no one else was leaving. Why were we the only ones that were evacuating the Happiest Place on Earth? I remember questioning my parents the whole time as we scurried out of Tomorrowland down through Main Street.

Today, we laugh hysterically about this story. “Hey Remember the time we told David Disneyland was on fire?!” It's total comedy to us now… but as a 3 year old, I was so baffled by this.

I have many many other stories, but these are some of my earliest… .and I thought I'd share.

Enjoy!


Nancy Schofiels writes:

Hi. Just wanted to say the 50th celebration sounds fun. My sister and I were at Disneyland the day it opened. She was 5 years old and I was 8 years old. We were able to shake hands with Walt Disney and get his autograph. My father was part of the press (for the L.A. Examminer newspaper) so we were able to be part of the picnic given before the opening.

Disneyland was every dream I ever had. The rides were so real to me. The Adventureland river boat ride was so exciting when the driver shot the hippo with a gun. (They don't do that anymore). Sleeping Beauty's Castle was every little girls dream. Also, as rides opened, I rode the Flying Saucers that floated on air. We saw the Carousel of Progress that showed fantastic things of the furure (like a microwave oven). Who knew?

Walt Disney was way ahead of his time. He was a very kind man and really wanted children (of all ages) to live their dreams (like Tom Sawyer Island).

I am now 58 years old and have three children and six grandchildren. We all love Disneyland (and California Adventure) and have annual passes so we can go when possible.

Congratulations to all at Disney and we look forward to many more happy memories at your park.

Hi Nancy–Thanks for sharing your memories with us. You will be happy to know that Disneyland finally brought back the pistols to the Jungle Cruise ride, to provide some original authenticity to the ride.


Lynda Robertson writes:

Hi! I am sending you a note for my very first time. I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and my husband and I are taking our two daughters to Disneyland for the 50th Celebration and I would appreciate any tips that you could give me. We are actually driving down for the first time, so that we may get the opportunity to see more of California than we have in the past. Our last visit was March 2004, and this time we plan to arrive in Anaheim sometime on the 17th of July. “The Day!” I have a few questions for you though:

1. Would you advise even trying to enter the park that afternoon? The 17th?

2. Does Disneyland ever close the gates to people because they are too full?

3. I have already purchased 5 day passes for everyone, if we do try to enter the park on the 17th, do I need to get special passes?

4. Any advice you can give me on how to make the most of our days would be greatly appreciated. I visit MousePlanet every day and appreciate all that you have to recommend to people. My kids are 10 and 12 and have no trouble keeping up with my husband and I. We are already planning to be in the park for as many hours as possible and have never even considered leaving the park mid day for a break. Thank you for all your help! Lynda

MousePlanet staff Alex Stroup provided Lynda with the following response:

Hi Lynda, thanks for the e–mail.

Whether you should try to get into Disneyland on July 17th will ultimately be a personal decision on how much crowding you're willing to withstand. Obviously, three factors are going to combine to make for what should be a spectacular crowd:

1. It is summer

2. It is a Sunday

3. It is the 50th birthday

Just those first two reasons alone make it safe to predict a huge crowd. The third sends it into the stratosphere unless all the locals are so spooks by the predictions of huge crowds that they don't show up (certainly possible, but this is such a landmark date that I doubt it).

The answer to your second question is that they do close the park at a certain level of attendance and it is easily possible that by the time you get there you wouldn't be allowed in. I do expect this will happen, but it wouldn't be possible to know for sure until you were actually there. However, if the gates are still open, special passes will not be required and your normal tickets will suffice. You don't mention it, but if you are staying at one of the Disneyland on-property hotels (Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier Hotel, Grand Californian Hotel) then you should be able to enter the park, even if the gates have been closed because of the crowds.

If the gates are open and you do go in, the kids “keeping up” with you and your husband won't be so much be the issue. The crowds will make sure that it isn't going to be a mad dash from one ride to another. Instead you'll need to pick and choose what you want to do and be prepared for a good wait to actually do it. If there is any special ceremony for the anniversary, it will likely be in the morning so you'll miss that. Other things may very well be going on throughout the day and stopping by City Hall or other guest assistance locations and asking what's going on that evening might be a good idea. Expect people to camp out for the fireworks show early and be prepared to have little chance at prime viewing areas for that.

Finally, normal procedure on days where they close the gates due to attendance is that they stop letting new people in, but people already in can leave and return. If you are there in time and just want to catch the fireworks or something, you might hop in, confirm you can leave and return and then go back to your room or DCA until later in the evening. Though this would be a pretty limited use of one of the days on your 5-day ticket.

Again, I can't really advise you on what you should do. That is a personal decision on how important it is to actually be there on July 17, 2005. But the best thing is to go in saying that you're there just to be there on a key date rather than to really experience the park. That way any stuff you get to do will be a bonus rather than grumbling that it was too crowded and you only got on a couple rides.


Gene Van Buren writes:

Are you planning to reward loyal patrons with a retro admissions fee during your 50th Anniversary cellabration? My family and I have been thoroughly entertained at your Los Angeles location on inumerable ocassions. However, your rates have become astronomical and have limited our visits.

Hi Gene;

Thank you for taking the time to write to MousePlanet.com. Unfortunately, I think you have mistaken us for the official Disneyland Web site. We are not affiliated with the Walt Disney Company in any way. If you would like official information, you can visit http://www.disneyland.com.

Regarding your concern about the cost of admission to the parks, many agree that the prices are quite high. There are a number of ways that visitors can try to economize and budget their trips, though, and we have a number of articles at our site that talk about this (for example, our “Souvenirs on a Shoestring” article here at our site).


Linda Scott writes:

Will there be specials for people who are turning 50 this year? I will be 50 two days after the party begins.

Hi Linda, and thanks for taking the time to write. So far as we know, Disneyland is not doing anything specific or special for people who share birthdays, or the same age as the park.

That said, if you plan on being the park to celebrate, make sure you stop by City Hall and pick up a Happy Birthday sticker. Tell the cast member at City Hall that you are the same age as Disneyland, and they may be able to squeeze in that information on the sticker for you. I am sure you will encounter lots of greetings from cast members about your being special!


Jennifer Wilson writes:

Fifty years ago, Disneyland opened and my parents got married. For their honeymoon they flew to Disneyland. I was wondering if anyone could get a letter from Disneyland to honor their anniversary. It seems like a nice thing to do seeing as that is where they spent their honeymoon 50 years ago. Anyway congratulations Disneyland on 50 magical years.

How wonderful that your parents and Disneyland share an anniversary! You might try contacting Disneyland Guest Relations at (714) 781-7290, or writing to them at:

Disneyland
Guest Relations
1313 Harbor Blvd.
P.O. Box 3232
Anaheim, Ca 92803-6161


Janis Morehead writes:

My father, George Kuntze, started working at Disneyland in 1954, before the park opened. He worked there until November 1961. Are there any events for the 50 year celebration for past employees?

Hi Janis--I asked David Koenig, who sent out his feelers. He said that there are supposed to be unofficial reunion parties for several subgroups (security guards, characters, etc.), but the main event is the the big semi-official Alumni Club banquet on July 31, which we wrote about in our February 7-13 Disneyland Park Update:

“The Disneyland Resort Alumni has announced that their 50th Reunion/Dinner will be held on Saturday July 30 at the Disneyland Hotel's Grand Ballroom. 1400 former cast members are expected. If you are an Ex-Disneylander and would like to be a part of this once-every-five-years event, please contact Yumiko Esail either by email: Yume@Pacbell.net or by mail at:

P.O. Box 2762
Toluca Lake, Ca. 91610-0762.

The club will announce additional details, including cost and entertainment, by the end of the month.”

I suggest your father contact them.


Melanie Darling writes:

Hi Disney people!

Guess what!? Disneyland and I were born on the very same day! We're going to be 50 together!

I have pictures of myself at the age of 4 watching The Micky Mouse Club House! I've always been fascinated with everything Disney. My family moved to Southern California when I was 5 years old, from Michigan. We were a poor family (7 kids) and I remember dreaming about going to Disneyland someday.

When I turned 10—I went for the first time! My gosh! What a dream-like day that was! Holding my little ticket book to go on the rides, (I loved the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse SO much I must have stood in line 4 or 5 times for that one!) seeing all the wonderful things that I'd seen on television. Just incredible.

Once I grew older I returned to the Magic Kingdom many many times. I even asked dates to take me there in high school! I love Disneyland so so much. And when my daughter (now 27 years old) turned 10 - we celebrated her birthday by taking her and her friends to Disneyland and having a party there. I even have some pictures from that.

Anyway—I guess I'm saying that Disneyland has always been a magical place for me—I've always had a connection to it knowing that we celebrated our birthdays together each year. Thank you thank you thank you for bringing magic, excitement, and so many beautiful memories to me throughout my life time.

Disneyland has kept this almost 50 year old's inner child alive and sparkling.

Happy Birthday to us!


Terri Bellante writes:

We are the gals, all born in 1955. We went to Capuchino high school in San Bruno, California (some of us even went through grammar school together) Throughout our busy lives we all try to get together at least once a year, because we number in the 20's it is quite the task. We want to make this the biggy! What better place than Disneyland! Let's celebrate together!

Hi Terri—How exciting! Your get-togethers must be real fun! Do you have a group photo you would like to share with our readers?


Debbie Howard writes:

Growing up going to Disneyland has been an enjoyable experience. When Disneyland first opened my parents took me there. I still have the 45 record I made singing with “Davy Crocket” that I made there in Frontierland.

I have seen many changes in Disneyland and will soon be a grandmother and will enjoy sharing the experience with our new grandson in the coming years. You have always kept the park clean and nice to visit and have made our stays there with our handicapped son easy and fun for him.

Your accomodations for him have been great—just wish there could be a spot where wheelchair-bound spectators could watch the parade without craning around inconsiderate others who insist on standing in front of them. But overall you have made my 50 years of coming to Disneyland very fun memories and always something to look forward to when returning. Thank you and Happy 50th!

Hi Debbie – If you speak to a cast member, the parks almost always provide a reserved area for handicapped seating. Those who have used such areas report that their view is impeded, and that the parade performers will often take an extra moment to give a wave, a smile, or a wink your way.


Allan writes:

I've been a longtime Disney fan and I heard that Disneyland in Anaheim, Califonia is having their 50th Anniversary! I heard all sorts of changes would be made but I'm disappointed that Space Mountain will not have a loop of some sort. Why does Disney Paris have a loop on their version of Space Mountain and the special effects looks great! I have always been curious on why all the other Disney parks go the extra mile whether being detail in the rides, buildings and attractions! Everyone who usually goes to Disney World and then goes to Disneyland always say, “Hands down” that Disney World is 100 times better! It's a shame to see the park that started it all is always being outclassed by the other parks, granted it is the original park but the money should be invested properly into the attractions and atmosphere. I still love going to Disneyland but I just wished they spend more money on the attractions just as the other parks do! Thanks.


Bill Holliday writes:

Are you going to have special tickets and special hours? We was there for the 25th Birthday July 17, 1980 and at that time we had to order special tickets and the park didn't close it stayed open all night. I remember bringing my camper so we could go out to the parking lot for a few hours sleep after we could not stand up any more. Any it was a super fun time I just came across the special badges that was given out as you enter the park I am sure that some place we still have the hats and other things that given all so.

If there are going to be special reservations for this I would like to know so we can order them. All so need to know about handycap one of us will be in a wheelchair my son can to transfers to rides but anable to walk very far at time .

Please let us know so we can make the plans for a place to stay near the park

Hi Bill – How exciting that you had the opportunity to visit Disneyland for its 25th birthday. Visiting again to celebrate the park's 50th anniversary will be that much more special for you, I'm sure.

Disneyland begins its big celebration on May 5. They do sell commemorative 50th anniversary tickets with a nice design, but they are not discounted. I'm sure they will also have longer hours, although I don't think they will be open for 24 hours as it was for you in 1980.

One important note: The park will be completely shut down and closed on May 4 in order for them to spruce up the park and be ready for the big celebration. Keep that in mind should you decide to visit then.


Vicki Fisher (Sedin) writes:

I for one am very excitied about Disney's 50th celebration! My dad was one of the auditors for Walt Disney back in the 50's and we got to go to Disneyland before it opened to the public. I have been going at least once a year ever since I joined the WED Imagineering Team from 1978 to 1982 and worked on the EPCOT project. I have many memorabilia from both times of working with Disney. My dad (Elmer Sedin) received two original paintings, one signed by Walt Disney and a sterling silver charm bracelet which was given to my mom by Walt Disney. I also have several items because of working at WED.

I am 56 years old and was 6 when I saw Disneyland for the first time. I miss some of the old time rides they used to have, like the mobile home which was right outside of the entrance to Tomorrowland. It was supposed to be a home of the future but was already behind the times when it opened. Also Tomorrowland had a ride called Flying Saucers, which only lasted a short time. I entered some of my Disney items at our fair a couple of years ago and plan to do it again this year to celebrate the 50th birthday!

Again, I am a loyal fan of Disneyland and of course EPCOT since I helped to work on it. I was a secretary and typed some of the descriptions of the different pavilions.

Thank you for letting me write to you.


Kathleen writes:

Writing this to you to let you know I was there on Disneyland's opening day 50 years ago. I turned 53 in January of this year. My mother took me through the front gate in my baby stroller, and she said there were camera's everywhere. This was the biggest thing to happen to California.

From that 1st day on I spent many times going to disneyland. Our family lived not far from there, and my sister in-law worked at Bank of America for many years. I am much younger than my two brothers and one sister. Today I have over 36 nieces and nephews. I have been married to a great man for many years and we have 3 wonderful children, and one great grandson. I grew up around all the Disney movies, and today I still love watching them by myself or with family.

I met Mr. Walt Disney a couple of times when I was 17 years old. I was looking into getting a job with Disney. I had filled out some paperwork and was waiting around the submarine where the mermaids were. I believe I was eating an ice cream when this nice–looking man walked up and just started looking around like he was checking things out, he looked at me and said, “Hello, I am Walt Disney,” holding his hand out to me. We talked a little bit and than he said good–bye. I saw him again several months later in passing. We did not speak but he did say, “Hello, Kathleen.” The man had a very good memory.

Things came up where I had to go back to Arizona so I was not able to pursue my job interests with Disney when I first checked into it. I would love to be a part of your big celebration 50th anniversary—it's hard to believe that much time has passed. But we do still love the fantasy of it all. Thank you, and please have a happy, happy day!


Peggy Boerger writes:

Disneyland is celebrating its 50th anniversary, so are me and my husband. We could not afford to spend our honeymoon at Disneyland in 1955. But starting in 1964 we tried to spend time with Mickey etc. I am now looking forward to spending time at Thanksgiving with my family. If you have anything special planned for that time please let me know. I may have missed the opening - but I want to be there to celebrate your 50th and our 5oth wedding anniversary. What better place than Disneyland Thanks for any information you send. Congratulations!

Hi Peggy –Your best bet is to continue reading our “Park Update: Disneyland” column that we publish every Monday. It contains news and information about the most current goings on at Disneyland. I'm glad to hear that you will have the opportunity to visit the park during its big birthday celebration.


Jorge Ramos writes:

I think the Disneyland tickets and all the other park prices will go up about $10 in the U.S. parks. I'm not going to talk about the Disney parks in other countries because their currency is different.

The Disney theme parks usually raise their prices once a year, and they have already raised their prices for 2005. I'm sure they will go up again for next year.

Does the parade described on the page, do those floats come to the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida… (Orlando)?

Hi Jorge – Although I'm not sure what page you are referring to, it is not uncommon for parades (or attractions) to get imported to different parks. One example is the Cinderellabrations parade, which began at Tokyo Disneyland and will be starting in Walt Disney World.

Thank you for taking the time to write!


adsneyday writes:

Will David Koening's The Golden Anniversary Special Edition book Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-ears Look at Disneyland and the audio CD, A Walk in the Park: A Guided Tour of Disneyland in 1955 be sold at my local book stores or will I have to wait for it to be sold on e-bay.

You will be happy to know that you can purchase the book from MouseShoppe (link). The copies available there are autographed by David, and the shop is owned by MousePlanet staff writer Adrienne Vincent–Phoenix. Happy shopping!


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

GENERAL QUESTIONS

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2002

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