PAL MICKEY -- The new interactive plush Mickey Mouse that allows you to make your way around the WDW resort
with your own personal guide.
What it is: A 10 1/2-inch talking
Mickey Mouse plush toy that uses wireless communication technology to provide guests with up-to-date information about the
theme park attractions, parades, shows -- he can even tell the time. Pal Mickey also shares stories and can play a variety
How it works: Turn Pal Mickey on using the button on his back, then clip him to your belt or waistband,
using the pager-type clip provided, making sure Mickey is facing forward. As you're walking through the park, Mickey will
giggle and shake when he has something to say. Just squeeze one of his hands or tummy within 15 seconds and listen. "Using
infrared technology, Pal Mickey not only knows where he is in the parks, he knows where he's been, so he doesn't keep repeating
the same information," says Linda Conrad, one of the Imagineers who worked on the toy. "He has 700 pieces of information to
share on everything from the parade times to attraction wait times." A sample of what Mickey might say: "I hear Belle is over
in France about now. Let's go say hi!" If you miss what Mickey said, and want to hear it again, press his hand or tummy within
15 seconds and he'll repeat it up to five more times.
Worried about germies or sticky hands all over your rented Pal Mickey? Don't! Each rented
Pal Mickey is thoroughly washed and sanitized after every use. If repeated washings start to wear on Mickey, he's pulled
from duty and replaced.
Where you'll find it: Pal Mickey is
available at resorts and selected theme park gift shops.
Pal Mickey is available in Spanish at these locations: Main Street
Cinema - Magic Kingdom; Darkroom - Disney-MGM Studios; Camera Center Epcot; Disney Outfitters - Disney's Animal Kingdom; Once
Upon A Toy Downtown Disney Marketplace for sale only, not rental.
How much it costs: Pal Mickey may
be rented for $8/day plus tax. When you rent Pal Mickey, a Cast Member will charge your credit card with a $60
deposit. If you return Pal Mickey before noon the following day, the $60 deposit will be refunded and you will be charged
$8 plus tax. (You may also rent Pal Mickey for several days: $16 plus tax/two days, $24 plus tax/three days, $32 plus tax/four,
five or six days). If you decide you want to buy Pal Mickey instead, he costs $56.33 plus tax (in other words, $60).
Should you want to keep Pal Mickey after you've rented him, your $60 deposit will be used as the total purchase price.
Debra Martin Koma, ALL EARS Senior Editor: I had the chance
to rent a Pal Mickey this weekend and by the end of the day I was thinking maybe he was more of a pain than a pal.
As promised, Mickey giggled and shook whenever I passed an area
about which he had something to say. For example, when I passed Epcot's American Adventure, Mickey pointed out to me that
the flag on top of the building only has 15 stars, and explained why that was so. (The original flags had the same number
of stars and stripes as there were states -- as the country grew that became a little unwieldy, which is why our flag now
has 50 stars, and 13 stripes for the original colonies.) As I passed through Canada, Mickey explained to me that I could say
either "Hello" or "Bon Jour" there, since many folks in that country are bilingual. When I crossed the bridge from World Showcase's
United Kingdom into France, Pal Mickey pointed out that it was a good spot from which to watch IllumiNations that night.
But Pal Mickey was not without his drawbacks. A few times, he
got a little confused. For example, Mickey thought I was still in Disney-MGM Studios around 4:30 p.m., and he reminded me
that the parade would be starting in a half-hour -- at the time I was actually walking past the Yacht Club resort. Another
problem with Pal Mickey is that you really can't hear him very well if you have him clipped to your waist. I found myself
doubling over, straining to hear over the crowd noises, and having to make him repeat his message several times. Mickey also
wanted to tell me something a little TOO often for my taste -- as I walked around World Showcase very quickly, Mickey giggled
and shook every few minutes, in each country pavilion. He also started giggling several times during a Davy Jones Flower Power
concert, wanting to tell me one of his very corny jokes, which was very distracting.
By far my biggest annoyance was at Pal Mickey's clip. When I
used it as directed by the instruction booklet, Mickey fell off every few minutes -- every time I sat down, leaned over, or
climbed stairs, he would be pushed up off the clip and onto the floor. I found that by turning the clip upside-down, and using
the hinged part of the clip on Mickey's strap, he stayed put much better.
My bottom line? Speaking as a grown-up who's been to WDW a few
dozen times, Pal Mickey was a cute novelty as a one-day rental, but I don't think I'd buy him. On the other hand, I think
kids are going to love him and want him for their very own.
Lewis Morrison, 4/03: We got to use a prototype
Pal Mickey for a week when we were at WDW in January 2003. We had four kids with us, ages 8, 9, 11, and 14, plus four adults.
We all had a great time with Mickey and we were able to provide feedback to the cast member who loaned him to us.
Our biggest complaint was one of yours as well: Mickey kept falling
off of the clip or the clip kept falling off of us. We tried it both ways just as you did, with the spring clip attached to
us and with the spring clip attached to Pal Mickey. Both adults and kids had this problem. We recommended that each side of
the clip be a spring clip instead of just one side. Another problem was battery life. We have no idea of knowing how fresh
his batteries were when Disney loaned Pal Mickey to us, but they only lasted through 6 of the 7 days we had him. That might
have been because we were giving him quite a work out, though.
We also agree with you that in noisy park situations we had to
get him to replay his message to understand the whole thing. In the quiet of the resort room, however, he was just the right
volume when we were playing games or he was telling jokes. His trivia game was enjoyed by the adults as well as the kids but
"Mickey Says...", a version of Simon Says, was just mildly entertaining to the younger members of our group. It appears to
be aimed at preschool children who would probably find it to be quite a bit of fun.
He was very good at warning us about keeping him dry when we
were near an attraction where he could get wet. No Kali River Rapids for this mouse! He surprised us when we got off of the
front row of Tower of Terror by saying it was scary and asking if we could sit in the back row the next time.
We enjoyed his corny jokes quite a bit and with a big group of
us to pass him around no one mentioned getting upset with being bothered by too many interruptions from our pal. The kids,
even the teenager, would all vie to see who got to carry Mickey each morning although he always got passed around to all of
us every day. And when he would vibrate we all wanted to know what he had to say.
We all had a great time with Pal Mickey and were a bit sad when
it came time to return him. Would I buy Pal Mickey if we all go back for another week? Probably so, although $50 is a bit
steep. It was a lot of fun to test Pal Mickey for Disney, too. The next time a cast member asks you if you have a few minutes,
always say â€œyesâ€. No telling what fun might be in store for you.
David and Hadley B., Livonia, Michigan, 4/03: I am surprised to hear that you had problems. We did not have any issues,
and even commented that he was well thought out and tested in the typical Disney style. After trying to buy him for almost
three weeks, we bought ours at the Wilderness Lodge on Wednesday, April 23, and took him straight to Magic Kingdom. After
the parade we had a short discussion with one of Mickey's programmers who was testing him at the time. The programmer explained
that Mickey receives a large download when you walk through the turnstiles. This might explain why he was confused if you
exited EPCOT from the international gateway (not the main turnstiles).
We were surprised to learn that he did not have volume control,
but found the volume to be set perfect. We would leave him on the clip (a very nice addition, imagine carrying him all the
time), he would shake, I would pick him up, and hold him to my ear to hear what he had to say. If he were any louder, I think
he would be annoying the other guests.
I never had a problem with him falling off his clip, and suggest shutting him
off if he gets annoying. Although the jokes are corny, the kids like them, and it keeps them entertained while waiting in
line or for a show. The question to ask is: "Is Pal Mickey a tour guide or an entertainer?" The answer depends on how well
you know the parks. We are nuts about Disney, are there all the time, and he did not tell us anything we did not already know.
But, we had a blast with him trying to find all of the 700 different things he said (like searching the park over for Hidden
Mickeys). For WDW beginners, he would make a great tour guide: talking about the rides, noticing the details, and getting
a seat early for parades and shows. There is also talk of Pal Mickeys that speak other languages. I think that would be a
huge help as private tour guide for non English speakers as they tour the parks. I am hoping they add transmitters everywhere,
like the resort hotels, the cruise ships, Cast Away Cay, California Adventure, the Disney stores in the malls, and at home
from the Disney Website. Imagine the possibilities! Granted, we are more than a little obsessed.
Kennyk, 4/03: Well my daughter and I were number 2 and
3 for the purchase of Pal Mickey on Tuesday in Old Key West. We used him extensively throughout Epcot, MGM and Magic Kingdom.
We did not have a chance to visit Animal Kingdom with him.
We did not find the belt clip a problem, I kept him hooked to
my Camera strap and my daughter to her fanny pack belt.
I must admit we did find some idiosyncrasies with him as mentioned.
He did go off and stated that there was a parade starting in a few minutes while we were at DTD. We asked a CM while there
and found out that there was a parade of characters in one of the stores at that time.
While in the Haunted Mansion ride my Pal stated about something
to do with the organ playing but went off way after that ride sequence but my daughters went off right at the organ point
in the ride.
We also found some erroneous information given out by Pal. We
have been in contact with the marketing manager for Pal and have given her all the problems that we have experienced so far.
When we return to WDW in September we are looking forward to
using him again within the park system.