My Pal Mickey
Would you like to have your own personal tour guide within the Walt Disney World Parks? Would you like that tour guide to
crack some Jungle Cruise-like corny jokes from time to time? Would you like to have that tour guide be the Mouse, himself?
And would you like to be able to experience all this for a mere $8 a day? (assuming rental option is implemented) If you answered
"yes" to these questions, then Pal Mickey may be just right for you!
I recently had the opportunity to experience the much talked about Pal Mickey while vacationing at Walt Disney World. After
hearing the pros and cons of this technological marvel, I was eager to make my own judgment call on his merits.
I "rented" My Pal Mickey at the Animal Kingdom Lodge on May 14, 2003. I arrived at the not-yet open, gated doors of the
Zawabi Marketplace at about 7:25 AM. A Cast Member the night before had stated the store often opened as early as 7:30 AM,
(it is slated to open at 8:00 AM), so I wanted to be there early to receive my new gadget.
Sure enough, at 7:30 AM sharp, the gates were rolled back and the store was ready for business. I quickly made my way to
the cash register to begin the rental process. The Cast Members on duty were still learning how to process this transaction
and how to activate the Mickey plush. After a few minutes, a bit of paperwork, and a credit card transaction (more on this
later), I was able to receive the much-coveted toy.
Where would Mickey and I travel? What would he tell me? Would he live up to the hype I had built up in my mind about him?
What would his first joke be? All of these questions flashed through my head. And then I squeezed his hand… and heard
the giddy "Mickey" voice and familiar giggle. Mickey was ready to start our adventure together. He began by telling a joke.
Question: "What says Zzub, Zzub, Zzub?" Answer: "A bee stuck in reverse!"
Mickey and I quickly boarded our bus to head to Animal Kingdom. While riding the bus, I quickly perused the "tips" sheet
provided to me when renting My Pal. I learned that Mickey was capable of playing three games, how to activate him for the
aforementioned game playing, and how he would alert me to his "tour guide tips and information." The Cast Members at the Animal
Kingdom Lodge also instructed me to make sure Mickey was "facing forward" when entering the turnstiles at the parks. Apparently,
a sensor in his nose was capable of receiving downloads as to what park he was in, etc. Cool!
After hearing several jokes and trying out Mickey's games, we were ready to take on Animal Kingdom. Would he really
know we were here? I marveled at how such technology could truly work. But indeed, after entering the turnstiles, Mickey was
ready to tell me all kinds of facts about the park. He eagerly "vibrated" to alert me that he was ready to begin talking.
And talking and talking. Mickey was quite a chatterbox telling me about the animal life in the Oasis, quoting bits of trivia
about DinoLand, and talking about nearby attractions as we passed by.
Mickey drew quite a bit of attention from fellow park guests, as well as Cast Members. Everyone seemed intrigued by what
the Mouse had to say. Guests looked on in amazement, as I would hold the plush toy to my ear to hear his latest remarks. Cast
Members quipped, "Do you like using him?" "Is he helpful?" "Does he talk too much?" "Did he tell you about the Anteater?"
In general, the buzz was all about the Big Cheese. Should it be any other way?!
After spending several hours at Animal Kingdom, I decided to give Mickey a whir at another park. How would he make the
transition? Would he be able to tell we were somewhere new? Hakuna Matata, Mickey did just fine. After entering MGM Studios,
he was instantly acclimated. He eagerly began his chatter about the park, Sunset Boulevard, etc.
I decided to take Mickey for a ride on the Tower of Terror. While entering the queue, the two Cast Members working chuckled,
"Oh, he likes this ride. He will have plenty to say after exiting it!" This really built up my anticipation, as I could hardly
wait to hear his response. I had seen postings on the Internet as to what his reaction might be, but I wanted to hear it firsthand.
After exiting, sure enough… Mickey was chattering away! I won't divulge his exact words, though. For that, you will
have to have your own Pal Mickey. I can't spoil all the fun, now can I?! My Pal Mickey
Continued – Page 2
As Mickey and I continued touring MGM Studios, his witty quips, funny jokes, and cute games kept me entertained through
out the day. I found him to be a welcome addition to my vacation. He provided a new, different level of "fun" and "magic"
to my trip. I found myself anxiously awaiting his next word. And I liked the attention he garnished from others. I genuinely
found him to be exciting.
The next morning, with sadness I returned My Pal Mickey to the Zawabi Marketplace. This time, however, I was not eagerly
waiting for the store to open. I did not want to part with my newfound friend. The Cast Member on-duty also seemed surprised
by the transaction, commenting, "we don't get too many of these back." She had to review her notes to process the transaction.
Sure, I could have kept him. After all, he was essentially paid for. But after much debate, I decided I could always rent
him again on a future trip. It could be something to look forward to.
So, here are the my final thoughts:
- He is a relatively inexpensive gadget that will keep the young and young-at heart entertained and delighted. At only $8
a day (if you choose to rent him), he can be a great way to pass time in the queues, teach newbies a bit about the park they
are touring, and provide a little extra magic.
- He will definitely be noticed. After all, he is Mickey Mouse! Since he is a new-fangled gizmo, others
will look-on to see what he is, how he works, etc. Expect people to comment about him and to ask you questions.
- He has a lot to say. With over 700+ phrases programmed into this small plush Mouse, he doesn't ever seem to be at a loss
- Although the rental process, itself, was simple, I would like to see some improvements. Waiting to rent him at the beginning
of my park-touring day (from the resort gift shop) slowed me down in my touring strategy. I typically start my day very early
and end it around 9 PM or so. I would love to see a plan where you can "rent" him the night before - at the shop's closing
time then return him at closing time the following night. This perhaps, is not something that would work out ideally for everyone.
But with my individual plans, this would have been a great bonus.
- He comes equipped with a "belt clip" to fasten him to your belt for easy handling. However, he did not stay fastened to
the clip. I would like to see some sort of lanyard-type, neck harness for easy portability. Also, with his low-volume, having
him at waist-height made him difficult to hear. I constantly found myself picking him off my belt clip and raising him to
my ear. Eventually, I carried him in my hands for more ease in usage.
- Renting him: "Rent him today, return him by 12:00 noon the following day for $8 (plus tax)." You can rent him for additional
days, for additional money. You are charged (via credit card) for $50.00 upfront at the time of rental. If you don't bring
him back - you have "bought him." Otherwise, you have to know how much you desire to pay for renting him - based on the posted
days vs. cost chart at the rental/purchase location. You will also be responsible for ensuring he is brought back at the proper
time as to not incur any additional charges that you were not intending on. For example, had I returned Mickey on Day 2 at
3:00 PM, I would have paid for another day's rental. In short, know ahead of time how long you plan to keep him, so you can
see what is most cost-effective in terms of buying vs. renting.
- You can outright purchase him for $50. He is then yours for keeps! No worries about rental return times, as he is yours.
- Do not get him wet!
- He does have an on/off switch located inside him. You will have to "unzip" him to locate this switch.
- He is available at select resort and park gift shops.
- Keep him facing forward (nose upfront) when entering a park and touring with him. This is how he "receives" information
about his location.
- Enjoy him. He is new and exciting. So take some time and just "play!"
Hopefully this will give you a little preview on this charming little toy. And may you experience some magic of your own,
maybe with your own Pal Mickey in tow.