MousePlanet's weekly mailbag compilation

by Stephanie Wien, contributing writer

In this week's mailbag, MousePlanet staff writer Brian Bennett answers recent letters in response to his Eyes on Orlando column as well as general travel questions. First up are responses to Brian's article marking his "Anniversary of Sorts." Susan Edgington writes:

Great article! I have to say that most of the things on your list would be on mine as well! I like how you made a list of a lot of detailed things that most people don't really think of. I mean, a lot of people make lists of favorite rides, shows or restaurants, but you included things like the gardens, the lobbies, the smell of the bakery, etc. Those are the things that make Disney so special!

I wholeheartedly agree!

Lynne Brochu writes:

I just have to comment on how much I love to read your articles! I, too, live in a cold climate (Massachusetts) and would love to move to Florida. I am a Disney World fanatic and a day doesn't pass that I don't think about being there. I have to go online and read MousePlanet,, and, just to see what is happening.

I have been 14 times (twice this year), and I just can't get enough. My husband and I have four daughters, and of course they are fanatics, too. My youngest will be 3 later this year, but has already been to Disney World four times! It is wonderful to read how you've made your dreams a reality and I hope some day we can do the same! Happy Anniversary!

"As long as there is imagination left in the world..."

Nikki Chatelain writes:

Your "Anniversary" column really touched me because it symbolized everything I love about Walt Disney World. People who have never been (and some people who have!) ask me what keeps me going back to Walt Disney World year after year, and for me, it's all of those little things that make each and every trip so very special. We've just booked our annual "Escape from Mardi Gras" trip for February (we live in New Orleans), and I was already anxious to get back to the World before I read your column - now I can't even sit still!

Thank you for sharing your memories with fellow Disneyphiles like myself.

Thanks for your kind note, Nikki. We're happy to host you every February.

George writes:

I always enjoy your columns. Thanks for the 10-year column. Truly brought back some great memories of my own.

The question is, though, what don't you like about Walt Disney World? Most of us would be hard pressed to answer that one. Thanks and keep up the great work.

Thanks for your note! I really appreciate the kind words. What don't I like about Walt Disney World? Sounds like an idea for a future article.

Jan writes:

Thanks for your wonderful walk down memory lane. I've read every one of your trip reports, and consider you to be the "grand old man" of both Walt Disney World trip report writers and webmasters (although you're hardly "old"!) Your DVClubber site was the one I'd check everyday for new trip reports or trip plans. Glad you still love going to "the World"!

Thanks, as always, for your kindness and encouragement! (And thanks for admitting that I'm not that old. Forty-three is still on the front side of the mountain, isn't it?)

Dave Welty writes:

I really enjoyed your article! I am glad you are back on board with MousePlanet. It was because of you in large part that my wife and I decided to become DVC members. I am a former Disneyland Cast member (Adventureland and Frontierland Attractions 1987-1990) and we are Disneyland AP holders. This December will be our first trip "home" to Saratoga Springs We have 3 kids (16, 3, and 4 months) and our two older kids love Disneyland, so we are really looking forward to our first trip to the World. I look forward to reading more articles!

I'm sure you'll enjoy your first trip, Dave. Walt Disney World is a marvel to behold... Especially for the first-timer from California that figures they know all about Disney.

I'd love to hear back from you after your trip to see what you think of the differences between the two resorts.

CJ writes:

Why did you feel the need to insert your religious views in a column about Walt Disney World? One of the reasons why I enjoy Disney is because it provides a relief from the arguments and politics of the "real world."

Epcot and Animal Kingdom both attempt to be educational and adhere to current scientific thinking. This includes the theory of evolution, which has tremendous amounts of evidence supporting it as opposed to pure ideologies such as creationism or intelligent design. However, the Tree of Life itself carries no direct statement of evolution beyond displaying ancient extinct species at its lower levels.

However, while you and I may oppose each other's scientific vs. non-scientific views of the origins of the universe, I feel that should have no bearing on our shared fandom and enjoyment of Disney and its parks. Please refrain from inserting purposefully divisive statements in your articles in the future.

The statement wasn't "purposefully divisive" although I can see how you would disagree with what I wrote. I'm sorry that you were offended by it.

Next, Brian answers some general questions about travel to the Walt Disney World resort. Carrie Teramoto writes:

Did you recently do an "Eyes on Orlando" about the Fantasmic show? I would like to know what is the capacity of the theatre and if the dinner package is a must do to consider.

We are going to WDW in the beginning of October. Do you think we would be able to get in Fantasmic! without a dinner package?

I've never written an Eyes on Orlando piece on Fantasmic. I'll consider it for future story ideas.

Here's a great page on MousePlanet that answers your questions about theater capacity and the like. According to that page, "The Hollywood Hills Amphitheater seats 6,900 people. It also can accommodate up to 3,000 more standing viewers."

My personal opinion is that the Fantasmic Dinner option is a convenience, but is hardly necessary. Especially during the slower times of the year (September to early November and mid-January to mid-March), you're actually better off showing up a tad bit early for the show and finding your seats yourself. The reason is that the dinner option viewing area that is set aside for those guests is way to the far right-hand side of the Amphitheater. While no seats in the Amphitheater are "bad," those are certainly far from the center.

My suggested bottom line is this: If you are already planning on having dinner at one of the Studios restaurants that offer the Fantasmic Dinner option, then by all means do so. Otherwise, go to those restaurants at lunchtime, save a bunch of money, and go to the show early and get even better seats for Fantasmic that night, or even some other night during your trip.

Jacob writes:

Can I have a list of the names of all of Blackbeard's wives featured at the mausoleum after exiting the Haunted Mansion attraction? I've checked all other Web sites and yours is the closest I can get to them but I cannot make them out from your picture. Thanks a "crypt-full"

"Bluebeard" not "Blackbeard" is the name of the man whose mausoleum is at the end of the Haunted Mansion tour.

The engraving on the front of the mausoleum states:


Here Lyeth his Loving Wives

Penelope Died 1434
Abigail 1435
Anastasia 1436
Prvedence 1437
Phoebe 1438
Evgenia 1439

Seven Winsome Wives
Some Fat, Some Thin
Six of Them Were Faithful!
But the Seventh Did Him In!

By the way, it's great to hear from a fellow Disney fan in the UK! My family, on my father's sided, came over to the United States from Wigan, not far from you since you're in Liverpool.

Stanton writes:

We're headed to Florida in November. I love your columns and would appreciate your opinion on some stuff. Thanks!

1. We're staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge and Pop Century (expensive and cheap). Do you know what decades are closest to the bus stop at Pop century if we don't want to pay a premium?

2. When headed to MGM, is it better to ride Tower of Terror and Fastpass Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, or ride Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and Fastpass Tower of Terror first?

1. The '60s are closest, being directly adjacent to Classic Hall where the bus stop is located. The '50s and '70s would be tied for second with the '80s third and the '90s a distant fourth.

2. I would head first to get the Fastpass for Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and ride Tower of Terror. In general, I think that Rock 'n' Roller Coaster's lines form sooner than lines for Tower of Terror. However, to be frank, in November it's not likely that you'll find much difference either way.

Finally, Brian (with a little help from fellow MousePlanet staff writer Mike Scopa) answers a question about the upcoming MouseFest events. Jan Calcaterra writes:

I sold your parents' home in Clinton Township a few years ago. In talking to them, I mentioned how much of Disney fans we are. In turn, they told me about you and your Web site. I often check it, and enjoy all the info, as we are big fans. We go about 8-10 times a year. We bought a townhouse close and rent it out short-term and of course we use it quite a bit.

I see you are having a Mouse Meet. We will be there Dec 1-9th and we would love to join. Please tell me more about it. The Dole Whip meets sound like fun. We love the stuff and plan our day around Dole whip every trip! Looking forward to hearing form you.

First, it was fun to hear from you! I spent many happy years (high school and college) in that Clinton Township home.

The MouseFest activities are generally free (other than having to pay for whatever activities or snacks are involved in that particular event and with a few exceptions such as contests and so on). Mike just wrote an article on MouseFest and the various activities that are planned.

I would strongly encourage you to read Mike's article because it gives a fabulous overview of what MouseFest is, how it has evolved over the years, and what kinds of events make up MouseFest. The official site of MouseFest is

MouseFest's "MegaMeet" is the large gathering of almost all MouseFest attendees that takes place on December 9 at either the Walt Disney World Swan or Dolphin (the final location hasn't been determined).

If you wish to attend any of the special events, you are encouraged to sign up at the official site as a MouseFest attendee. You can also sign up for the various meets and events there. I believe that I'll be at the MegaMeet (at the MousePlanet table, of course) on Saturday. Maybe I'll see you there!

Mike Scopa adds:

Brian is correct. With the exception of a few very specific meets, like an Illuminations Cruise and of course special sit-down restaurant meets, all activities are free. Well, there is a hidden cost and that is that sometimes you get caught up in trying to do so much you end up paying for it with a lack of sleep. As Brian mentioned, the site is the best place to read up on all the Mousefest 2006 activities.

Looking forward to meeting you at the Dole Whip meet, Jan.