MousePlanet Mailbagby Stephanie Wien, staff writer
Just like the first buds poking their way out of the soil, the mailbag peeks its head out from its winter hibernation lair. Catching up on some items, we start this week's mailbag with letters sent to staff writer Steve Russo in response to his article, "The Magical Express Debate." (January 28, 2011):
Jim D. writes:
I had another response to Amanda's comment: "3. It killed me not being able to stop and get something to eat or buy a few groceries and sundries for my room on the way in."
You can order groceries online and have them delivered right to your room. My family has made use of this service several times over the years, and as Disney Vacation Club members we often have meals right in our rooms. We have also been using Magical Express right from the beginning and have never had a single problem.
That's great advice. I've not yet used an online grocer but I once rented a car at the Dolphin just for a shopping run. I had a great rate on a compact and it was well worth it for the savings we realized on that single trip.
Rae M. writes:
This is a very timely article for my friend and me; we're going to Walt Disney World to run the Princess half for the third year. Since 1997, I have been going to Disney two to four times a year to run the endurance races. I have ALWAYS rented a car because I personally wanted the flexibility to come and go on my schedule. The sole purpose of purchasing an Entertainment Book was to use the 'free weekend day' car rental coupon which generally resulted in about a $100-$160 cost for renting the car from Thursday to Monday.
However this year when I tried to book our car not only would none of the car rental agencies accept the coupon the cost of renting just a compact car for the same number of days was $465! The fine print said it is 'President's week." Who the heck celebrates President's week? To say the least we were stunned at the fees and feel like this is a giant price gouge.
Now with that all being said we are going to give Magical Express a try and I have to say with much apprehension because of the time involved. While we don't commando park there is something to be said about walking across the street, getting in the rental car and arriving at the resort 20 minutes later. Those fees for the rental car are just exorbitant beyond belief. Have you ever heard of such a jump in fees before? Craziness!
A thought regarding President's Week… It's typically a week off for most schools so Disney World is very busy. I'm sure those extra crowds are sucking up available rental cars so the rental companies can afford to leave the prices high. My personal experience with rental cars says to keep trying. It seems rates fluctuate almost daily.
I will admit that also enjoy not having to round up all my belongings to take them with me on the bus to the resort, however I need to point out that the last time I used the Magical Express my luggage didn't arrive to my room until approximately nine a.m. the next morning. To be fair we were a late arrival (I think we got to the resort (Coronado Springs) at about midnight), so I am glad they didn't wake us up at say two in the morning to give us our luggage, and I did pack extras in the carry-ons just in case our luggage became lost so we weren't without anything. I am mostly neutral about it as I've used it and had no serious issues with it and I do appreciate the early pick up since security issues at the airports can be hit or miss (sometimes it moves like molasses in winter other times it's smooth as silk.)
I believe Disney altered its policy regarding overnight delivery of bags some time ago. For late arrivals, they will not deliver them until the following morning unless you specifically request they do.
That's a great point about the airport Security lines.
We have used Magical Express a few times, and we love it. Another reason that was not mentioned, but I am sure applies to more people besides us is that we don't want to have to drive! Everybody's idea of a vacation is different, but that is important to us. My husband drives a lot for work all day long, every day. He is so relieved to park our car at our home airport and be done with it until we return.
We are planning our trip to Walt Disney World for this summer and are staying on property and using Magical Express. We are also adding a day at Sea World and I asked hubby about renting a car for that day. He said, "Nope, I'm not driving." So Mears for that day it will be. The only tricky part for me this time is choosing an air carrier. I am trying to find the best deal, has a direct flight, one that works with Magical Express AND doesn't charge extra for bags. So that may be a new twist to the debate about Magical!
I'm with your husband on the non-driving vacations. I really don't want to deal with traffic, less than courteous drivers, etc. Having said that, we leave for Walt Disney World in 2 days and I'm renting a car! I debated with myself but this trip there are 6 of us (including the grandkids) so a grocery trip is a must, we have a resort change mid-week and we're planning some off-site activities. I'm hoping it all goes smoothly.
Jonathon E. writes:
Somehow, someone has deceived us into thinking the magic bus saves time, and money; neither is true! They claim you don't have to wait for luggage at airport, but what they don't say is you have to wait four to five hours later for your luggage to be delivered. Where is the magic in that?
From the time our plane landed until the time we actually arrived to our hotel, it took three hours and then another three hours to actually get our bags delivered. After all was said and done at check out time we had to do the same in reverse! My family has a travel agency and knows the going prices for Disney packages. What Disney does not tell you is the difference between all included packages and free!!! Don't tell my left pocket it's free, because my right pocket has already paid for it. Buy the 2011 Unofficial Guide, and find a better way than Disney's official guidebook! By the way the tragic express bus is owned by yellow cab; in short it's the old Mears cattle bus! Not exactly honest!
Thanks for the input. This column generated a lot of feedback and the majority was positive. I can understand your frustration at waiting 4-5 hours for your luggage but I believe that is the exception. In my own experience, our bags are usually in the room inside of two hours.
I'm not sure I get your point about the cost of Disney's Magical Express. It is free. You seem to imply its cost is included in a "package" but that cost will be there if you use Disney's Magical Express or not, correct. I'm a Disney Vacation Club member and we use Disney's Magical Express all the time with no additional cost.
Yes, the service is run by Mears but that's pretty much common knowledge so I don't perceive any dishonesty.
Are there better ways? Certainly but they all carry a cost. Just my $.02.
Next, staff writer Chris Barry shares some letters, starting with one in response to his wish for souvenirs from the now-shuttered Toontown Fair (Top 5 Souvenirs I'd Like From Mickey's Toontown Fair, January 7, 2011).
I loved your article! Minnie and Mickey's houses are favorite spots for my children. Every time we are at Walt Disney World, they have to stop and visit. We always have to say they are very busy so they are probably not at home right now, and every time, one of the kids will say, "they just might be there."
If I could have just one souvenir, it would be Minnie's armchair. Every time we visit I take a picture of my daughters sitting in this chair grinning ear to ear. It is really sweet to look at the pictures and see how they have grown since our last trip.
We will miss their houses, but we are looking forward to exploring all the new areas being developed. We are also keeping our fingers crossed that Minnie and Mickey's house reappears one day...
I have several pictures of my daughter sitting in Minnie's armchair as well. It has sort of marked the time for us also.
Definitely looking forward to the changes, but we'll all miss Toontown.
I got a gift years ago. It is a series of four AT&T special-edition lithographs for AT&T true rewards members. The four lithographs are Bambi, Snow White, Pinocchio, and Cinderella. I was told they could be worth some value. Can you help me?
I have seen these out there on the market. In great condition, they should be worth around $150.00 or so, for the whole set. Keep them in good condition, away from sunlight and most importantly, enjoy them.
We are on a plane home from Disney World and were told at Epcot that the Hummels will no longer be sold there. We went to the art store at Downtown Disney, which is where we found a couple not available at Epcot, but they also discontinued. We also bought one every year and had a couple left to purchase. Do you know where we can buy Disney Hummels besides EBay?
That's a shame. What better place to sell these figurines than at Walt Disney World. There are some for sale right now at DisneyStore.com. Keep in mind that they are Goebels and not Hummels. Most people refer to them as Hummels, but if you're searching the Internet for them you'll get different results if you search for "Disney Goebels" than if you search for "Disney Hummels." Search for both and you'll get the best results.
There are many different places on the web where you can purchase these figurines and not necessarily from a secondary market like eBay. There are limited quantities available right now on shopHummel.com. These seem to be some of the figurines I remember seeing in Epcot. Good luck in your search. Let me know how you fare.