MousePlanet Mailbag

by Stephanie Wien, staff writer

I hope all of our readers in the United States had a great Thanksgiving weekend. This week's mailbag is a varied mixture, kind of like the many containers of leftovers filling many of our refrigerators. First, staff writer Mark Goldhaber answers some questions about Walt Disney World vacationing.

Justin writes:

I purchased the $125 "4 days, 4 parks" pass in 2008. I tried to use them last weekend for the Food and Wine Festival, but I was told they expired. They required me to pay additional funds to purchase a 3-day park pass. I'm on the hunt for information concerning this promotion. Would you be able to help?

My memory is a little hazy, but I seem to recall that the 2008 Play 4 Days pass did not have an expiration date until it was used, then it was 6 months from first use. Had you used the first day of the pass already?

Unless there's something on the ticket that says otherwise (you did keep the tickets after they called them expired, right?), I would say that you've got a pretty good claim. Write to Walt Disney World ( and spell the situation out for them. If you can include the ticket numbers of the "expired" tickets in the email that would probably help.

Justin replies:

They took my tickets. I was lucky to get a photograph of one ticket. I sent an email to the address, and I hope I hear back.

Michael H. writes:

We are in Orlando for the IAAPA convention and spending a few days at Disney World. On Saturday we spend the day at Magic Kingdom. We went back to the hotel after dinner for a short rest, returning at about 9:10 pm. The Electric Parade was moving down Main Street and the sidewalks were wall-to-wall people. My son was set on going on Space Mountain, so we headed to fight the crowds down the right side of Main Street. When we got to the end of the circular street, Disney Cast Members directed us to the right, through the gate to backstage and behind Main Street. We exited out the Cast Members only gate next to the Plaza Restaurant. I am not sure if this is something that is done regularly at the park, but it sure was an interesting experience.

Disney does divert foot traffic backstage from the gate by Tony's Town Square to the entryway by the Plaza Restaurant (and back the other way as well) during peak times when the traffic jam on Main Street gets to be too much. I've been routed through there on multiple occasions. I believe that they also route traffic between the Firehouse gate in Town Square and an entryway near the First Aid station, though I've never gone up that way.

It doesn't happen all of the time, and I expect it has to do with either the size of the crowd in the park on a given day or the size of the crowd backed up trying to get to Main Street. After all, if the crowd overflowed the walkway into the street, that would cause many more problems.

Enjoy IAAPA and thanks for writing!

Next, staff writer and collectibles aficionado Chris Barry answers some questions about certain Disney items. Remember, there are only 25 days until Christmas!

Margie writes:

Would you happen to know where I could buy a Disney Christmas village lightup Casey's Corner?

There are only three ways to purchase any of the Disney Christmas Village pieces.

1 - eBay or something similar online. They do come up every once in a while, but you will generally pay more.

2 - The parks in the Christmas shops. They are not always available. I didn't look in any Christmas shops on either of my last two trips, so I do not know what is currently available.

3 - The Walt Disney World Merchandise Mail Order. Call the following number, 407-363-6200. Tell them that you are looking for the Disney Christmas Village Collection and they can tell you what is available. They are very helpful, and will ship to you for a fee. I believe you can also request items through email @

Good luck in your search.

Linda writes:

We want to buy the Disney castle and the railway station. Maybe you can tell me where I can buy this. I live in the Netherlands, and it's not available here, but it is our wish to get these two things for Christmas.

I love getting emails from readers overseas. Thanks for reading MousePlanet and for contacting us.

There are really three ways to get these Disney village Christmas houses.

The first one and, of course, the most fun is to visit the parks and buy one there. This option seems like it would be geographically unacceptable to you, so your other two options are:

1- eBay or another site like it. Make sure you search the internet for Disney Village Christmas Collection Cinderellas's Castle or Disney Village Christmas Collection Main Street Train Station. This is, of course, not a guarantee, but many of the Village Collections have been discontinued and they can only be bought on the second hand market.

2- Call Walt Disney World Mail Order Department and ask them which houses are currently available in the parks. They are usually very helpful. They have called actual shops in the parks and described items I was looking for and did their best to help me find them. You can order and pay with a credit card. The number is (407) 363-6200. I'm not sure which buildings are currently available, but they will be able to assist you the best.

Photography expert Frank Anzalone answers a question about how to photograph reluctant family members in this letter.

Lisa L. writes:

I am taking my girls (ages 14 and 10) to Walt Disney World in February. It is the first time for both and I want to make sure to capture the experience. My dilema is that the 14 year old HATES her picture taken. (It all starte day she turned 13)

Any advice on how to get great shots when the person you're trying to capture is trying at all cost to avoid the camera? I don't want to ruin the experience for either of us.

This is a good question! I would treat the quest as if you were the "stealth photographer" (not stalking!)...

If your daughter just doesn't like those "pose with the character" or "stand here in front of the castle" set-up shots don't put tension into your vacation by trying to get that shot. Example - You could let the kids walk to the castle and as they look and take in the surroundings (and are distracted by all that), you could capture some of that feel as if you are just taking a picture of the castle itself. Think "capture the action" instead of "capture a posed image." I would think if you do this enough, you will get the images/feel of your family at the Disney Parks.

You might also try this: Set up some shots with your 10 year old with those great backgrounds and characters. Just her alone. Have some fun with it—while almost ignoring the other one—never ask her to pose. She is probably just waiting for you to ask and give her the opportunity to saying "no." Don't ask! After a while, I would bet your 14 year old would not want to be 'left out' of the fun and vacation pictures... And, without your prompting, the 10 year old will give her a little sibling pressure too.

Good luck, and, have faith. It's just because she's 14... but she won't be 14 forever.

Finally, staff writer Steve Russo shares some additional stories of Stupid Guest Tricks (November 19, 2010).

RT writes:

Great article as usual! As a Cast Member working at an outdoor location, I was asked for directions quite often. I always enjoyed being asked where the exit was as thousands of people were streaming by at park close. Some guests would plus that though:

Guest: Where is the exit?
Me: Straight ahead, just follow all these folks heading that way.
Guest (surprised): Oh, are other people leaving now too?


Guest: Where is the exit?
Me (pointing): Straight ahead.
Guest (suspiciously): Are you sure?
(I also got "no it's not! I just came from that way and it wasn't there!")

It's always nice to hear from a cast member. Thanks for providing a few more anecdotes on the "overwhelmed" guests.

Laurie W. writes:

I mentioned your article to my husband and he reminded me of something that happened on our last trip. He and my son were heading over to ride Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom when they overheard a woman tell her husband..."I don't know how Disney expects us to believe all these animals are real. They look so fake." They had just exited Kilamanjaro Safari!

Wow, that's incredible. Thanks for sharing.