February 2003
WDW Bits and Bites

By The ALL EARS® Staff

Feature Article

This article appeared in the February 4, 2003, Issue #176 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

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Ever wonder what Walt Disney World was like way back when? We rummage around in our archives for this monthly feature, which takes you back in history for a glimpse of Walt Disney World through the ages.


So what was Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland like when it opened more than 30 years ago?

The goal of Tomorrowland was to offer a glimpse into the future, leaving the past and present behind.

Among the attractions when Tomorrowland opened in 1971: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Fantasyland Skyway from Tomorrowland, Grand Prix Raceway, Flight to the Moon, and America the Beautiful.

The 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction was inspired by Jules Verne's 1870 novel of the same name. Guests boarded one of 12 submarines and departed from Captain Nemo's base, Vulcania, to adventures designed by Imagineers. (The submarines were actually built in a Tampa shipyard.) You could see divers, a giant turtle, Viking ships and the lost city of Atlantis. Air bubbles created the effect of the submarine diving into the water.

The Skyway first made its debut in 1956 in Disneyland. In the WDW version, there were 64 four-passenger gondolas that transported guests between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, affording spectacular views. If you were lucky, as I was once in the 1990s, you could have even caught the Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks from the Skyway!

The Grand Prix Raceway had Imagineer-designed cars with 7.5 hp engines and even a roll bar. Cars traveled at 7 mph and passed in front of a grandstand. Special effects created the sounds of a car's engine revving.

The Flight to the Moon, later home to Flight to Mars and subsequently, Alien Encounter, gave us our first introduction to Mr. Tom Morrow. The pre-show area with the Mission Control Center showed various rockets launching, then you went into one of two ships for a flight to the moon. Special effects made you feel as though you were overcoming the gravitational pull of the earth. After narrowly escaping a meteor shower, you returned safely back to Earth.

Monsanto Corporation sponsored the Circle-Vision 360-degree film America the Beautiful. Nine screens surrounded guests with 35mm synchronized motion pictures and stereophonic sounds. You visited far-off places like Hawaii, and Alaska, as well as national parks, historic landmarks and major cities.

For your eating pleasure, there was Tomorrowland Terrace, which featured a Broilamation machine and conveyor system capable of cooking 3,000 hamburgers per hour! The stage area was home to a variety of musicians and, in the early days, you could dance here! The Lunching Pad was also part of Tomorrowland where you could get hot dogs and sodas.

And for the future? It was projected that by 1972 a new system of travel called the WEDWay PeopleMover, sponsored by Goodyear, would transport guests around Tomorrowland!

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March 25 will be your last chance to see the Wonders of China Circle-Vision 360-degree movie in Epcot's China pavilion. After that, the theater will be dark until May 23, when a new and long-awaited movie, Reflections of China, will debut. Nine cameras photographed the cultural and scenic images of seven Chinese cities over a two-month period in 2002. Updated shots of many of the landmarks in the current movie (such as the Great Wall and Tian'anmen Square) will be showcased in the new movie, along with new images of Beijing, Harbin, Urumqi and Shanghai.


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Looking for ideas to celebrate Valentine's Day at WDW?

Enjoy a romantic evening walking hand in hand along the beach at the Polynesian or Epcot Area resorts.

Have a spa day together.

Dine at California Grill high atop the Contemporary Resort or at the Grand Floridian's elegant Victoria and Albert's.

Rent a one-bedroom Disney Vacation Club villa and enjoy your own jacuzzi in the privacy of your room!

Take an evening carriage ride at Port Orleans Riverside or Fort Wilderness.

Enjoy a cruise at sundown from Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter to Downtown Disney.

Treat yourselves to room service breakfast on your resort balcony!

Slow down and do something different that makes you smile!

Subscriber Kelly Kostrzewa writes: Here's a suggestion for a really romantic night which was our first night of a seven-night trip to WDW: 6 p.m. dinner reservations at the Contemporary's California Grill. Great one-on-one time with a glass of wine on the walkways overlooking the entire park from the top of the hotel. Catch the monorail after to the Polynesian where you can stroll on the beach and docks at dusk with hardly a soul around. We had planned to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the Polynesian dock (all the benches were free and we were alone there 1/2 hour before the show), but then quickly changed our minds to go to the Magic Kingdom. We hopped on a launch and were the only ones on it -- our own quiet, private cruise to the Magic Kingdom. Once inside, we were so relaxed that the throngs of people on Main Street didn't even faze us and we watched the fireworks together, which was really special. To this day, we still talk about wishing we could go back to our FIRST day at Disney, not even the whole trip!

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Ever since we launched the Concierge Lounge section on AllEarsNet, many of you have asked for our first-hand reports on the various resorts. Well, in the interest of research <grin> we recently began staying at various WDW Concierge Resorts. Our first efforts review a late 2002 stay in the Animal Kingdom Lodge Concierge level and an early 2003 visit to the Yacht Club Concierge level.

The short story is we LOVED the Animal Kingdom Lodge Concierge service, but were rather disappointed with the Yacht Club Concierge. Read the full reports at: http://allears.net/acc/concierge.htm

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Reporter Scoop Sanderson, the well-known Disney street atmosphere character who covers Main Street USA, has had a Limited Edition Pin Trader Pin made in his honor -- and the only way to get this pin is from Scoop himself. You can't buy it, and you won't get it by asking -- only Scoop can decide who he'll bestow his hand-enameled pin on.

To try to catch a glimpse of this new pin, guests can join Scoop for his "One o'clock Pin Talk" every Sunday through Thursday at Exposition Hall in the Magic Kingdom. You'll learn how pins are made, how to trade, play games like Secret Pin Trader, and possibly have a chance at obtaining one of the 750 Scoop Sanderson Pin Trader pins.

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Elizabeth Shannon of Massachusetts writes: My fiance and I took my three kids (ages 6, 10, and 14) to WDW this past September, our second trip and the kids' first. I wanted to make it memorable, especially for my daughter, the youngest.

One of the more memorable tidbits was when I sprinkled her with pixie dust (aka Wilton's yellow cake glitter) in front of Tinker Bell's Treasures shop. She had flecks of yellow dust on her arms and in her hair. We immediately ran into the shop letting the Cast Member know that Samantha had been summoned. Both Cast Members fell right into the role, telling my daughter that Tinker Bell needed to be awakened. They brought out a stool and wand and instructed my daughter to wake Tink up by tapping on her box. Lo and behold, Tink awakened and flew about the store! Samantha was given a Tinker Bell pin for her lanyard and a certificate. She was pleased and thrilled -- I was crying.

I thanked the Cast Members and we proceeded out of the shop. I spent the remainder of the day at Magic Kingdom sprinkling my daughter with "dust". My fiance and sons stepped in to say they just saw Tink fly into the tree, store, cave, etc. We would chase her about, not finding her, but still having magical moments. When it came time to see the parade, Peter Pan's snowglobe came by with Peter beckoning for Tinker Bell, asking her where had she been all day.

I nudged my sweet daughter and whispered in her ear that Tinker Bell had been chasing her most of the day, causing Tink to be late for the parade. Samantha beamed with excitement, and hasn't stopped talking of her special day ever since. Her only regret was that she never thought of a special happy thought that would make her fly. I told her we would just have to visit again and hope Tinker Bell remembers her favorite visitor. I have sworn the men in my life to secrecy and they will die a slow torturous death if they breathe a word of the true origins of the dust.


Anne Miller shares: Several years ago, we took our then-5-year-old granddaughter for her first visit to Disney World. When we reached the Magic Kingdom, Chloe asked if she might buy a Minnie Mouse dress, and of course Grandma was quick to oblige. Chloe immediately changed into her new outfit, and we headed for Mickey's house to get his autograph. All of us were completely thrilled when Mickey, upon seeing the dress, dropped to one knee, took Chloe's hand, and mimed how much she meant to him! She talked about the experience throughout our four-day stay, and even now, as a pretty cool 11-year-old, she still cherishes the photo of Mickey "proposing" to her in her Minnie dress. He may do this for all the costumed girls, but in Chloe's mind (and ours) it was a unique and magical moment.


Each month in our WDW Bits and Bites issue we share ALL EARS® Subscribers' Magical Moments stories. Send yours to allearsnet@yahoo.com


Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.