March 2003
Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the March 4, 2003, Issue #180 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.

We were wondering about Disney's boat-building recently and ran across this item, from a 1973 issue of the Cast publication Eyes and Ears:

"The 42 men in the Metal Shop in the Facilities Division are familiar with three different types of vessels because, since opening, they have become tradesman in the art of building boats."

"When the Rivers of America needed another boat, the next question was, 'Who will built it?' After much investigation, pencils, paper, and figuring... everything pointed to the building right here on property. Thus, the Richard Irvine became the first attempt at boat building for the metal shop."

"The Irvine is a 400-passenger sternwheel paddle boat which is a replica of those river boats that paddled up and down the Mississippi River in the 1800s. Construction took about six months."

"Of course, the Metal Shop can't take all the credit. The Planning Department begins months ahead of time to prepare production schedules and lists of materials. The Mill Shop, Paint Shop, Staff Shop and Electric Shop all contribute their part to the finished product."

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The main themed pool at Port Orleans Riverside, known as Ol' Man Island, has reopened after renovation. The island now sports a geyser that sits on a small island in the pool and shoots water through the pile of rocks and other "debris". As part of the enhancement, the Imagineers came up with a new twist to the storyline. The cranky "Ol' Man" was trying to stop the geyser from erupting and tried to block it up with anything he could find! While his efforts failed, it creates a different kind of water experience for kids.

The bridge that used to span the pool was removed for easier viewing by the lifeguards. The pool and spa surfaces were refinished and a transfer area (with handrails and steps) for guests in wheelchairs was created.

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Tapestry of Nations debuted in Epcot in October 1999 as part of the Millennium Celebration. When it opened, 120 puppets (some 18 feet above the ground) moved effortlessly through World Showcase to an infectious, rhythmic music that you couldn't help but sway to. Originally, three identical parades occurred simultaneously, in three segments of World Showcase. The artistry and excitement that exuded from this production was very impressive -- from the music, to the creative puppets, to the smiles on the Cast Members, to the costumes and all the colors... it was vibrant and alive. Originally led by the Sage of Time, this blending of cultures was one of Disney's longest parades ever -- lasting from 23 to 32 minutes. It was a beautiful sight to hear and watch the parade from a distance, making its way around the countries... The lit torches, the colors of the costumes, the playfulness of the puppets. The music was an original score by Hollywood film composer Gavin Greenaway and the puppets were designed by artist Michael Curry, whose famous creations include the award-winning puppets for The Lion King on Broadway. The larger-than-life puppets interacted with the crowd, which especially seemed to delight children... and children of all ages.

After the Millennium Celebration concluded, the parade was shortened, reformatted and renamed Tapestry of Dreams. Many felt that this new incarnation was not nearly as special as the original, but it retained much of its original beauty and artistry -- and a shorter Tapestry was better than no Tapestry at all. Very sadly, however, the parade's last performances were March 1, 2003.

ALL EARS® subscriber Robert J. Guenther recently wrote: "I can vividly recall the first time I experienced this production, how awestruck I was by the amount of creativity and vision that went into it. I was literally moved to tears by its beauty, majesty, and profoundly global spirit. It was wonderful to see Epcot finally present a 'parade' of its own, especially one that so succinctly captured the essence of that park. Not only was Tapestry a perfect concept for the Millennium Celebration, but it also promised to be an enduring one for World Showcase for years to come (or so I thought at the time)...Without a single intelligible word, 'the Tapestry of Nations (wove) itself together' with a universal refrain, wrapping its larger-than-life arms around the people of the world, uniting them in peace and global harmony.

"It was an incredibly beautiful and moving spectacle to witness, and I returned to do so countless times, both alone and with visiting family and friends. One particular evening stays in my mind, when I stood in Germany in an unrelenting downpour as the cast proved their steadfast commitment to the Millennium Celebration ideal, "We go on." Despite the added weight of rainwater to the puppets and the staunch opposition of the wind, the performers proudly refused to accelerate their pace or abbreviate the production. The show was presented in its entirety with defiantly smiling faces, to the thunderous applause of the guests lining the promenade under ponchos and umbrellas. I remember clapping for so long and so hard that my hands actually ached afterwards."

ALL EARS® Editor-in-Chief Deb Wills recalls the last performance of Tapestry of Dreams she saw, and cried through, just a week ago: "Last week, I had the honor of standing next to three women who, as it turns out, had worked in the parade and knew many of the performers. We stood and talked for a bit when the parade was over. I thanked them on behalf of so, so many of us guests who loved the parade and were touched by it. I told them that, no matter what, they should always remember the magic of the parade and how they touched so many lives... because it's that magic that makes WDW so special! By the end, all of us were crying and we hugged good-bye. I will always remember how the performers in both Tapestry parades ALWAYS smiled and were so into their roles. Sometimes I would watch only the performers' faces... In my opinion, this was one of Disney's best parades, ever. I will greatly miss Tapestry of Nations and Tapestry of Dreams."

Tapestry of Nations Photos:
Tapestry of Dreams Photos:

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The ALL EARS® Subscriber Disney Trivia Contest is over and we've sorted through nearly 1,600 entries to come up with our GRAND PRIZE WINNER, David Guddeck! Congratulations to David, who answered all 10 of our trivia questions accurately to win the 4-night stay at the WDW Swan and Dolphin Resort.

Thanks to everyone who participated! Be sure to keep watching as ALL EARS® unveils new and exciting contests and giveaways throughout the coming months.

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I'd been hearing rumblings recently that one of my favorite World Showcase restaurants, Le Cellier in the Canada pavilion, had slipped in both service and food quality. I'm very relieved to report that neither was the case during my visit to Le Cellier with friends last week.

A sudden downpour had made this usually jammed restaurant foyer even more crowded and added to our wait to be seated, despite our Priority Seating arrangements. This is not uncommon at Le Cellier, my only recurring complaint at this restaurant. Once we were seated, however, our server Shawna couldn't have been more accommodating and efficient. The hearty cheese soup, seasoned with real bacon bits and accented with a dose of Moosehead Lager, was as flavorful as ever. Another member of our party tried the Shrimp Cocktail as an appetizer and we were all wowed by the clever presentation -- pretty pink shrimp served with a spicy wasabi slaw tumbled out of a tipped-over white Chinese take-out box!

The appetizers weren't the only good things about this delicious meal -- to read the rest of ALL EARS® Senior Editor Debra Martin Koma's review, please visit:

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The McCahans share: Our Magical Moment happened in the Magic Kingdom. Our daughter Madison was 3 at the time, and she loves all the princesses. We were at the "Share a Dream Come True" parade and Madison was sitting on her daddy's shoulders. As Cinderella came by, she threw Madison a kiss. Madison threw her one back and Cinderella caught it and put it on her cheek. Madison was so excited. The look on her face is one we will never forget.


Michelle Carrasco writes: Usually your stories are about kids, but this one happened with my husband. We were on our last day at the parks, in the Magic Kingdom, and we were tired and hot. My husband was being Grumpy instead of Happy, so I decided he needed a "pick me up". I went out to one of the balloon vendors and bought one. I gave the balloon to my husband and told him, "You can either keep this or give it to someone who you feel deserves the smile of a balloon." My 12-year-old son didn't understand why my husband would want to give it away.

My husband was looking and looking (and getting a bit aggravated, thinking it was a "chore" to give away a balloon), when down the sidewalk came this adorable little girl with a very spunky walk followed by her mom. My husband stopped them and asked the mom if he could give the balloon to her daughter. He said he had found his "special person" to give it away to. The mom was shocked and surprised, but very pleased. My husband leaned down to give it to her when I noticed her button: "It's my birthday today." I asked her if it was her birthday and she said, "Yes!" I asked her how old she was and she very proudly held up three fingers. It brought tears to my eyes and my husband was in the best mood after that.


Each month in our WDW Bits and Bites issue we share ALL EARS® Subscribers' Magical Moments stories. Send your Magical Moment story to


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.