MousePlanet Mailbagby Stephanie Wien, staff writer
We're in the thick of the holiday season now, and the Midwest has been buried under snow. I'm sure we're all having dreams of Disney vacations to take us away from it all, so let's get to this week's mailbag and spread some cheer. Our first letter is shared by Mouse Tales author and MousePlanet columnist David Koenig.
Troy H. writes:
I am currently deployed in Afghanistan, and being away from my family and the Disney parks has really been tough. I just wanted to send an email and say, thank you! I’ve read all your books since being here, as well as many other Disney park related books including a couple different versions for Walt's biography. Your books have given me the chance to make a brief escape from the reality of this place and take me to the Happiest Place on Earth where all my childhood and family memories are. Your books are awesome and highly entertaining so again THANK YOU!
Thank you for your kind words and especially for your service. I sincerely appreciate it.
Next, staff writer Chris Barry answers some letters about Disney "Stuff," including this first letter in response to his article on the newly opened Disney Store in Times Square, New York ("Stuff From the New Times Square Disney Store," November 26, 2010).
Roberta M. writes:
I went to the San Francisco Disney Store and found your observations about the Manhattan store to be comparable. The new store is wonderful, full of lovely things to look at, multiple cashiers for speedy checkout and friendly staff. Merchandise is organized in a similar way to the Manhattan store. Tinkerbell San Francisco t-shirts and hoodies greet shoppers at the entrance. The merchandise was a bit picked over by the time I got there; not all items were available in all sizes. But, all in all, a good shopping experience.
Glad to see they had some city specific merchandise in one of my favorite towns anywhere. I'm willing to give The Disney Store the chance to come back and be what it really should be. I hope they answer the call and keep improving the stores.
I'd like to order a set of the transportation buses ["Disney Toy Vehicles," August 15, 2008]. Do you know where I could do so?
I think the best thing to do, aside from heading to Orlando or Anaheim, is to call the Walt Disney World Merchandise number. Call 407-363-6200. Tell them what you are looking for and they'll ship to you. I have used them a few times and they have always been very helpful. Good luck and thanks for reading.
Josh F. writes:
Chris, I hear you ["Top 5 Things I'd Rather Be Doing at Walt Disney World," December 10, 2010]. I think everyone that has the motivation to visit this site longs to be back at the world. I grew up in Ronkonkoma and have since ascended Upstate to the Albany area so this freezing weather makes it even more difficult. My wife and I are in our mid-thirties; we have three children and have been blessed to be able to go to Disney World twice a year for the past six years. We do a "family" trip and then my wife and I go to the Food and Wine festival in the Fall. I would rather be walking in and out of the World Showcase myself, sampling a beer or nice drink in each Pavilion. Merry Christmas.
Sounds like a great schedule you've worked out for you and your family. We took our first adults-only trip this past spring for the Flower and Garden Festival, and it was amazing being there just the two of us. Completely agree about World Showcase. Walking through and sampling during Food and Wine, or any time for that matter, is a blast.
Merry Christmas to you as well.
David G. writes:
I have been reading your column for the whole two years. I enjoy it very much. Mostly a lurker to boards but thought I'd write to say thanks for all the great column. I especially enjoy the Top 5 because, unlike some others, you make the hard decisions and limit your list to five. I also like how you include your family in helping you make the lists.
So, on to my suggestion for a Top 5. How about the top 5 things you wish you could have experienced? Perhaps there are things you never got to see at Walt Disney World? If not, perhaps some things at Disneyland you wish you could have experienced (Flying Saucers anyone?). For a sample (and because you deserve to read a top 5 that isn't your own once in a while) here is my list:
#5: World of Motion - I did not make it to Epcot until 2007 (and I am plenty old enough to have gone in the Eighties). Just to have ridden that curving loop up and around with the wonderful view of Spaceship Earth would have been fantastic.
#4: Plaza Swan Boats - It seems like it would have been the Tomorrowland Transportation Authority on the water and provided some intersting viewpoints of the Magic Kingdom.
#3: Radok Block in the World Of Energy-I am sure the videos I have watched online do not do it justice. The mixture of art, technology and story would have been incredible to see.
#2: River Country - The Ole Swimmin' Hole. A simpler water park for simpler times. Going down a slide with a view of Bay Lake, could it get any better?
and #1: Stitch's Supersonic Celebration - Just kidding! It would have to be Horizons. One of my life's regrets is waiting so long to make it to Walt Disney World. Looking back, I don't know why I waited so long. I missed early Epcot and everyone's favorite extinct attraction, Horizons. A long, audio-animatronic filled ride with some incredible technology and an optimistic outlook. Sigh!! At least I remember riding Adventures Thru Inner Space.
We'll that's my list. I hope I see your own list as a top 5. Thanks again for all your hard work.
Thanks for the kind words and thanks for being a reader for so long. It's good to know there are some people out there tracking my MousePlanet career!
This is actually one of my Top 5 lists that have been on the back burner for quite some time now. I, like you, didn't get to Walt Disney World until this century, (hard to believe) but I sunk in pretty deep immediately. We started going consistently. I started reading everything I could about the place and really immersed myself in its history. It's amazing how it could have such an affect on someone so quickly, isn't it?
Staff writer Steve Russo shares this letter in response to his article, "Hyperion Wharf" (December 3, 2010), detailing Disney's plans for the former Pleasure Island area.
Leslie Ann writes:
I absolutely HATE the name Hyperion Wharf. I understand it was the name of the street where Disney's first studio was located, but that doesn't mean that it is a good name for what will be a major attraction. Doesn't Disney do focus groups on this type of thing? Also, I am another one who unfortunately never made it to Adventurer's Club, and personally I don't understand why it could not have been resurrected in some way as a dinner show a la House of Blues, Hoop Dee Doo, or the luau. These are all very popular attractions - why couldn't Adventurer's Club somehow be retooled to keep the theming, the atmosphere and yet be independently profitable? Also a comedy club could also be independently profitable as well - if House of Blues can stay and have separately ticketed events, why can't the comedy club and Adventurer's Club?
We have gone to the West Side, have shopped at the stores and we have been less than impressed. It is depressing to go into the shell of Virgin to see the high-priced, boys answer to Build-a-Bear [Ridemakerz]. No way were we spending $100 for a designer remote-controlled car. We did go in the mismatched sock store - but I cannot see that store actually having staying power. What on earth is Disney thinking, moving away from attractions and towards stores? Each of the stores - from magnets, to magic, to socks and build-yourself cars is a "one hit" type of place.
With the second redesign of Fantasyland, Disney is showing that it can and does make mistakes. My opinion is that Hyperion Wharf needs to be sent back to the drawing board, just like Fantasyland was. New name, keep the old successes, brainstorm new ones and stay true to the Disney magic, which is not found in outdoor shopping malls.
Finally, a question from a reader about monitoring crowds. We welcome your opinions on this, via our twitter account, Facebook page, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. How do you find out how busy the Disney parks are?
I was wondering, do you have your "small" Disney army of people reporting on the crowds at the park when they go? By Facebook or Twitter? For example, I live in So Cal. Today I am wondering about going down to the park, but would love to know if parking is bad, if the crowds are bad. Didn't know if you have volunteers that do this at all. I know I couldn't find anything like this online.