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Pal Mickey
by Dave Marx, Author of PassPorter Travel Guides

April 24, 2003

Who’s 10 inches tall and is destined to become the most popular tour guide at Walt Disney World? Pal Mickey! Pal Mickey is Disney Imagineering’s latest, plush innovation, a soft, loveable toy that plays games wherever he goes, and becomes an instant tour guide whenever he enters a Walt Disney World theme park. 

Resembling a cross between Baby Mickey and the fully-grown Mouse, Pal Mickey is programmed with over 700 voice messages and 100 minutes of audio. Thanks to a special radio receiver, he knows just where he is in the park and can recite park touring tips and fun trivia for nearby attractions. He even knows what time it is! "Say, ‘Fantasmic!’ will be starting in about an hour," he might note while you tour Disney-MGM Studios, "If ya wanna see it, now’s a good time to go grab a seat!" He also remembers where he’s been, so he won’t repeat the same tip over and over again (frequent visitors beware, as eventually Pal Mickey will run out of tips to share).

Mickey doesn’t just blurt out this information, either. He’ll giggle and shake when he has something to share, and usually won’t speak during shows. Squeeze one of his hands or press his tummy within 15 seconds, and he’ll share his secret. If you want to repeat the message up to five times ("Here Mommy, listen!"), just press his hand or tummy again within that magic 15 seconds. Small children will probably want to carry him in their arms, but he also comes with a nifty belt clip for hands-free adult touring. He’s also designed to be easily cleaned and stand up to typical small-child and theme park hazards.

While we didn’t have a chance to take Pal Mickey for a walk, we’re itching to try. Everyone will have a chance very soon. Disney will start rolling out its new creation this week, starting at the gift shops in the deluxe resorts. He should be available in theme park shops by the time a month has passed.

Pal Mickey can be rented for $8 per day, or purchased outright for $50 including tax. Rental units will be thoroughly sanitized after each use, but we suspect very few rentals will make it back into Disney’s hands—he’s just so irresistible! Disney’s got its own solution for that problem, too. Renters must put down a $50 deposit. A renter who can’t pry Pal Mickey away from his/her toddler (or spouse) is free to keep him, and will end up paying $58 for a used toy. While we usually don’t recommend this kind of purchase, we suggest that you get a peek at someone else’s Pal Mickey or try him out in the store. If you like him, buy him outright.

Pal Mickey’s creators are looking forward to many more Pals, designed to cater to a variety of ages and interests. Dave’s hoping for a Pal Jessica Rabbit, but the toy's creators (and Jennifer) aren’t sure Dave’ll get his wish.

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Updated 11/21/03