MousePlanet Mailbag

by Stephanie Wien, staff writer

Happy New Year to everyone, and congratulations to all the runners who completed a race at Walt Disney World over marathon weekend. Our first mailbag of 2011 starts off with staff writer and Mouse Tales author David Koenig sharing a letter in response to the personal note on his column, "Locker Out." (December 21, 2010.)

Tim H. writes:

Thank you for your comments regarding Disney. Like you and so many fans of the mouse house, I watch every little nuance and shift, just to see that the company (sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing) lives up to Uncle Walt's standards. My condolences regarding your family. My situation is similar. In May 2008 my Brother passed away, and my Mom just three days later. It's hard, but know that it does get better.

As kids our Grandparents would take us to Disneyland once a year. Unlike most kids, who seem to walk through the gates as soon as they're out of the womb, I didn't make it until I was eight. In retrospect it was perfect. I had always loved history, and Disneyland to me was historic. Mr. Lincoln and the Haunted Mansion were then, as now, my favorites. I remember one year, I was wearing my cub scout uniform and Civil War cap that they used to sell in Frontierland. As I was roaming around Tom Sawyer's Island, a big burly security guard, dressed as a cavalry officer walked up to me, ramrod straight and saluted me. For me that was heaven. I was being allowed to time travel, and there was only one place it could happen- Disneyland.

Today, as I'm sure you've noticed, the park is gone increasingly cartoony, and that feeling that Walt wanted to convey, a sense of pride in our country's history, has been lost as Disney the corporation tries to shoehorn everything into a narrow marketing box. Those Civil War caps are long gone, replaced by Mickey Mouse hands in Frontierland (don't get me started on Disneyland's merchandising just now), but I take a glass half full attitude. As long as Walt's place is around, things can change.

Thank you again for your passion and concern for the happiest place on Earth. Have a happier and healthier 2011.

Much appreciated--and fully in agreement.

Staff writer Chris Barry answers some questions about Christmas collectibles in response to his article "My Other Disney Christmas Houses" (December 24, 2010.)

Lynne A. writes:

I love reading your articles. Thank you for taking the time to write them. As I read this one, I wondered, have you ever tried searching the huge Bronners Christmas store in Frankenmuth, MI? They have a tremendous amount of village pieces, and I mean a HUGE selection and beautiful lay outs. Since we are in Illinois, we visit the store at least once a year, but they do a great mail order business as well. I don't know if they show any of the village pieces online, but it would certainly be worth a phone call.

I have never been to Bronners, but once I got your email, I went to and checked them out. Looks like a fantastic place. They don't seem to have any of the Disney houses I am looking for. They do have some of the newer Dept. 56 ones like Tinker Bell's Lighthouse, which I am contemplating for my wife, the big Tink fan. I will keep them in mind for future purchases. Thanks for putting them on my radar.

S. B. writes:

I'm wondering where you are located and storage tips. We are in North Florida so the humidity is my fear. I won't let my Hallmark ornaments go in the garage. Don't think it's safe for them and think they will yellow and stuff. Also have things similar to yours.

Nice collection. Thoughts?

We are on Long Island in New York. We have extremely cold winters and hot sticky summers. What's worked best for me has been my attic. Everything is wrapped and boxed. The Christmas houses are all in their original boxes and in their original styrofoam packing. Our attic is very dry. No humidity. Even on the stickiest summer day, the attic stays dry. It can be painfully hot, but there's no moisture up there, which is the real killer to collectibles. We have had some Christmas candles melt in the attic, so we don't do that anymore, but all of our holiday decorations have survived the extremes up there quite well over the last 11 years. I always recommend tissue paper or paper towels to wrap ornaments and things. Stay away from newspaper.

Good luck and thanks for the nice comments about my collections.

Brett L. writes:

I love reading your articles. My family are avid Disney fans and we go to Disney several times a year. We just got back from the Christmas Party in November and loved it very much. We have done everything on your recent top 5 article [Top 5 Things I'd Rather Be Doing at Walt Disney World, (December 10, 2010)] except stay in the Polynesian, but we will put that on our places to stay list. We always stay at Animal Kingdom or Wilderness Lodge. If you haven't stayed at Animal Kingdom I highly recommend you do. Keep up the good work; your articles help fill the void until our next trip.

We would love to stay at Animal Kingdom or Wilderness Lodge, but we're a family of 5 and can't fit in a standard room at either. My wife and I stayed at Wilderness on a recent adult's only trip and we loved it. We'd love to stay there with the kids. Make sure you stay at the Polynesian. This past summer was our first and we loved it. Can't wait to go back.

Next, staff writer Steve Russo shares some letters in response to his article about Disney's Boardwalk Resort (December 17, 2010).

Judy writes:

I still love reading all your articles! You are becoming more and more hilarious with each one. I find myself laughing out loud at times. I hope your wife appreciates your comic genius (although we wives seldom do.) Our home resort is Saratoga Springs, but we try to stay at Boardwalk whenever we are lucky enough to get a room about 7 months in advance.

Try Bay Lake Tower, you will love it! It has beautiful views, pool is great, exclusive top floor for a drink and viewing nightly fireworks. Also, the beach has a nice area for sunbathing and at night, watch the beautiful Electric Water Pageant sail by. Oh, did I mention a 5 minute ride to Magic Kingdom by monorail? Or a great 10 minute walk? Laugh as you go by people herding towards boats, buses and monorails as you skip merrily to your resort.

Try Bay Lake Tower, or you will wake up some morning with the LITTLE GIRL CHAIR in your bed! Or your garage door will transform into the Big Clown Head! (That is a fun slide). We just came back from a Thanksgiving trip, weather was beautiful and Christmas decor inspiring as always. And the old Noodle station was open and serving LOBSTER ROLLS!

Of course my wife appreciates my humor - she just rolls her eyes a lot. Bay Lake Tower is in our plans - probably for one of our next "solo" trips. I'm hoping to spend two nights there as an add-on to a Boardwalk stay.

Linda L. writes:

When we stayed at the Boardwalk last spring we went over to Epcot in the morning. We fast passed Soarin' then had breakfast in the food court outside. By the time we ate it was time to go on Soarin'. It was the best use of time and the breakfast included the standard adult meal of eggs, potatoes, biscuit and bacon or sausage. On the dining plan it was a quick meal. We are planning on returning in May and will probably do this at least one morning.

That's a wonderful plan and a real advantage of getting to Epcot early.

Judy writes:

Happy 2011! And "drivel-on!" We love it. It occurred to me that we who take frequent Disney World vacations (OK, we are exclusive vacationers for life) are aging with Disney. Or going forward. When we started with Disney World on our honeymoon in 1972, only the Magic Kingdom existed. Monorails had doors like DeLoreans. We loved it and vowed to return.

Fast forward 20 years. We returned when our son and daughter were in their teens. Those years were filled with maniacal runs from attraction to attraction, and trips to Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. My husband and the kids flew down Humunga Kowabunga. Later, we took vacations with the young marrieds, looking around thinking, am I too old to be in line for Rock 'N Roller Coaster?

Now we are back spending most of our time in the Magic Kingdom, just when we were convincing our twenty-something kids Epcot is the best park! We watch with delight as the little ones meet the characters, we sing along on "it's a small world." We smile knowing our children are seeing Disney World through the loving eyes of parents.

I wonder, will my husband and I be hit by a giant wave at Typhoon Lagoon again in our sixties? Yikes! Or will we stay back and leisurely walk the parks, picking attractions carefully? Will we end up on power scooters? No matter what, we will continue to go, to stay alive, stay connected, be invigorated with youth all around. Let the oldsters go to Vegas, we will love all things Disney until they scatter our ashes over the castle! Is that allowed?

It certainly is allowed. Thanks for the trip through time. We seem to be birds of a feather although our trips started a bit later than yours.

Finally, Walt Disney World update writer and podcast host Mark Goldhaber helps out a reader with a Disney World vacation planning question.

Angela B. writes:

I am bummed I just noticed your articles now! Oh well, but maybe you can help me out a little.

We will be at Disney World on January 29-February 5th. We are staying at a moderate resort. We booked it in November but were never offered any free Disney meal plan. I did notice it goes only until the third... however, can we still get this option? I mean would it be worth calling to discuss?

Also, We didn't get park hopper on our park tickets, but opted for the water park option? Knowing Blizzard beach is closed is slightly disheartening. Would maybe have chose slightly different had I known that in advance. Can you give any advice here as well?

You can book free dining through Monday, December 20, so if you call now you should still be able to change your package. Be aware, though, that if you have a discounted room reservation you'll lose that discount if you apply the free dining. If you don't already have a discounted room, you may want to compare the discounts between the free dining and the room-only discount (25 percent on moderates).

In addition, since the price for the park hopper and water park add-ons is now the same, they may allow you change your park passes around.

Good luck, and enjoy your trip!



  1. By danyoung

    Nice mailbag. Just a note to Steve Russo. Judy wrote -

    Let the oldsters go to Vegas, we will love all things Disney until they scatter our ashes over the castle! Is that allowed?
    And your response was -

    It certainly is allowed.

    I'm sure you meant that it's allowed that Judy and company continue to go to WDW till they die. WDW frowns on the spreading of human remains in their parks, whether it be in the Haunted Mansion or via plane flying over the castle!

  2. By srusso100

    Quote Originally Posted by danyoung View Post
    Nice mailbag. Just a note to Steve Russo. Judy wrote -

    And your response was -

    I'm sure you meant that it's allowed that Judy and company continue to go to WDW till they die. WDW frowns on the spreading of human remains in their parks, whether it be in the Haunted Mansion or via plane flying over the castle!

    LOL. Thanks, Dan. Yes, I meant that it's allowed to "love all things Disney", not scatter the ashes. Thanks for catching that.

  3. By New Orleans lady

    My first WDW trip was at age of 50. I have been 14 times since. I am 62 years old and my last trip was in 2008. Yes, most of the time we do have to rent ecv's. We have arthritis and my sister has diabetes and is legally blind and we still love wdw. We will continue to go until we are physically unable.

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