August 2003
Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the July 29, 2003, Issue #201 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)


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

The time? 1994-1995

Walt Disney World employed 35,000 Cast Members.

A one-day/one-park admission ticket cost $36; an evening at Pleasure Island cost $14.95; and an Annual Passport was $205! Discovery Island was still open and you could visit for just $9.50!

There were 23 resorts -- 20 hotels, a campground, vacation villas at the Disney Village Resort and the Vacation Club (now Old Key West Resort), totaling 20,428 accommodations. The All Star Music hotel would open soon, adding another 1,920 rooms!

Mickey Mania was the Magic Kingdom's daytime parade and everything was Mickey Mouse! The parade celebrated Mickey Times Six: Mickey in Music, Mickey in Time, Mickey in Motion, Mickey in Toys, Mickey in Balloons, and Mickey through the Years!

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FREEWHEELIN' DISNEY!
by Chet McDoniel
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Editor's Note: AllEarsNet® presents the second in its series, Freewheelin' Disney, written with wheelchair travelers in mind. Author Chet McDoniel is a vacation travel specialist for MouseEarVacations.com and its parent company, CruisingCo.com, and is himself a wheelchair user.

All Aboard! Attraction Boarding Procedures Explained

Many folks in wheelchairs know that each and every ride in Walt Disney World has its own unique boarding requirements. Most of the time, Disney is quite good about placing at the entrance of each ride Cast Members who can answer specific questions about the ride's boarding process. However, to be prepared before you even reach a loading platform, ask your travel agent to contact Disney before your trip, or contact Disney directly, to request the "Guidebook for Guests with Disabilities" for every park. You can reach Disney by phone at (407) WDW-MAGIC (939-6244). If you use the Internet, you can download these booklets from Disney's website for visitors with special needs at: http://disney.go.com/vacations/websites/disabilities/index.html

You can also obtain these booklets from Guest Relations in each theme park, but having them before your trip is invaluable for planning. They provide general information, like what lines to use for each ride, whether you have to transfer or not, and the intensity level of the ride. Some explanations in these booklets are vague, but they do help somewhat.

And be sure to watch for other articles in the Freewheelin' Disney series coming soon!

Chet is organizing his first group trip for travelers with special needs, their family, and friends, starting with four nights at the Walt Disney World Resort on May 12, 2004. On May 16, the group sets sail for four nights to the Bahamas aboard the Disney Wonder. In addition, ALL EARS® Editor in Chief Deb Wills will join the group in Orlando.

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CIRCLE OF LIFE
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A 6-year-old female giraffe was struck and killed by lightning at Disney's Animal Kingdom last week. According to a Disney spokesperson, the accident occurred Monday afternoon when a sudden storm passed over the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction. "Betsy" is the first animal to die from a lightning strike at Walt Disney World.

In happier news, though, the baby elephant born at Animal Kingdom on May 22 has begun exploring the savannas of Kilimanjaro Safari with his mother. There's no way to predict when or if guests will be able to see the baby elephant, but the chances increase every day as he continues to roam his new habitat.

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Souven-EARS
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This month, our Souven-EARS Shopper answers specific subscriber questions:

ALL EARS® Subscriber: How about some ideas for when your child just HAS to bring back something for all 25 kids in her class, but you can't afford $80 or $100 for class souvenirs?

Souven-EARS Shopper: Disney sells all sorts of cookies, candies and pretzels that could be shared with a whole class. Prices range from $1 to $25. I found character lollipops that come bundled five to a set for $3.50. For $1.25 per child, you could also buy adorable little tins of candies with beautiful pictures of the various characters printed on them. They are about as big around as a silver dollar, and are available in the main shops in the parks and at some resorts. My only concern would be food allergies -- If you're thinking about bringing back food items for the kids, check with the teacher first.

If candies or other munchies don't sound like what you're looking for, you're very limited. You can, however, buy beautiful pencils for $1 each. You can also buy various sets of ball-point pens, markers, twist-up crayons and colored pencils. Ball-point pen sets are $10 (6 pens); pencil sets contain 8 pencils for $4; colored pencil sets contain 16 pencils for $4. The twist-up crayons are $6 for 10 and marker sets are priced at $5 for 10 markers. All of these items are available at various shops in all the parks and at Downtown Disney. The characters and pictures on the items as well as the selection vary from place to place.

Another thing you could do is buy a gift for the classroom -- a Disney book or video, maybe stickers for the teacher to use when checking papers, a "how to draw the characters" book, or a Disney game for a rainy day activity. You can find all these items at the World of Disney store at Downtown Disney, as well as in some of the parks and resort gift shops. One last option would be to donate a Disney book to your school's library -- maybe a biography of Walt Disney or a book on Imagineering. You could glue a small snapshot of your child in the front of the book and write an inscription under it -- something like, "To commemorate Janie Doe's visit to Walt Disney World, May 2003." Who knows? You might start a trend, one your school media specialist is sure to love.

ALL EARS® Subscriber: What about when you want to bring back a little something for the six or seven people you have lunch with at work?

Souven-EARS Shopper: I'm assuming that you might be willing to spend a little more on these folks, but you gave no hint as to the coworkers' likes and dislikes, occupations or gender.

You could always go food item route, as I mentioned above, buying a couple boxes of different things and letting everyone share. You could also buy mugs for everyone -- they can be found in virtually every gift shop in every park and resort and range in price from $8.50 to about $10. Everyone can use another mug, even if it's as a pencil holder on a desk or at home. Also, if your coworkers work in an office, there are all sorts of cute little note/picture holders, staplers, business card holders, Scotch tape dispensers, pencil holders, clocks and even a Mickey calculator. How about a cell phone case with Mickey, Goofy, Donald or Pooh? These items are available in all the main gift shops in the parks, at World of Disney, and (to a limited degree) in the resort gift shops. Prices start at around $8 and go up to about $25.

There are wide variety of antenna toppers-- the basic black Mickey ball; Minnie ball; red, white and blue Mickey ball; Sorcerer Mickey's hat; glittery pink princess "cone" headdress with veil; Haunted Mansion Mickey ball; Santa Claus hat Mickey ball -- have I forgotten any? Prices range from $3 to $3.50. What about key chains? Disney has key chains with names, with characters, with lights -- you can even find a Star Wars light saber key chain at Tatooine Traders at Disney-MGM Studios. Prices range from $4 to $10.

Do your coworkers like Disney music? What about a park CD? Do they have a favorite character? Maybe a character T-shirt, nightshirt or baseball cap? These items start at $14. How about a visit to Disney's Days of Christmas at Downtown Disney? You could buy each coworker an ornament. Many of the ornaments can be personalized with a name. (Personalization takes a couple of days, so if you decide to do this, place your order early in your vacation, then pick up the ornaments on your way out of town.) Ornaments cost $4 to $12 (some special ones much higher). A more limited selection of ornaments can be found in various gift shops in the parks and resorts, but the big Days of Christmas store has the best selection. Disney pins also make a cute gift for your friends. Ask everyone who their favorite character is before you leave and then find that character on a pin for them. Pins are available everywhere, and prices range from $6.50 to $10.50, with some special pins and sets priced higher.

You'll be amazed at the variety of gifts and souvenirs available throughout Walt Disney World. There's something for everyone's taste and everyone's budget. If you don't see what you're looking for, try the next shop or ask a Cast Member where you might find it.

Have a great trip and have fun shopping!

Look for the Souven-EARS featurette in the monthly ALL EARS® "Bits and Bites" issue. To read Gloria from Miami's other Souven-EARS articles, visit: http://allears.net/btp/gloria.htm

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MOUSEFEST 2003
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What do Deb Wills, Jennifer Watson and Dave Marx, Bob Sehlinger, and Mary Waring have in common? These are just a few of the special guests who will be at WDW for the Mega Mouse Meet on Saturday, December 6, 2003! Everyone is invited to join in the fun! Check out the website and see all the folks planning to attend! http://allears.net/btp/meetandgreet.htm

You can also join Deb, Jennifer and Dave and Allison and Tom Keaney (WhatWouldWaltDo.com) on the Disney Wonder for a 4 night cruise! The incredibly low rates for this cruise will be ending soon. For details visit: http://www.mouseearvacations.com/mousefest.php

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MAGICAL MOMENTS
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Steven and Patty Mandeville share: We were in the Magic Kingdom to see the SpectroMagic parade. As the parade marched by, in between the floats Disney characters were walking back and forth. Out of nowhere, Peter Pan came running by. He stopped, turned and walked back toward (our daughter) Emma who was sitting beside us on the curb. Peter walked right up to her and got down on one knee in front of her. He softly took Emma's hand and asked her if she had been on his ride yet. In total shock and disbelief, Emma could only nod yes to his question. Peter then asked how many times she had been on his ride. Emma quietly replied, "Three times." Peter then replied, "That's because it's the best ride in the whole park!" He looked her in the eye, smiled, then jumped up and said, "I gotta go! Hook is trying to catch me!" Peter ran off the way he came, with Hook chasing close behind. Luck was with us -- we were able to catch this moment on film and make it a special part of our Disney 2003 photo album. Emma has shown everyone who stops by the house her special picture with Peter Pan. This 30 seconds of our 11-day vacation truly made the trip for us. This considerate gesture of Peter Pan made two 40-something parents, just for a brief moment, children again. The possibility of a moment just like this is why we came to Disney. Truly Magical ! Thank you, Peter Pan!

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CFRISKE writes: My magical moment came when I left my tote bag sitting on the bench near the Swiss Family Treehouse. Our children were taking a break finishing their ice cream when our 2-year-old needed to go to the bathroom. When she and I returned from the restroom I sat my bag on the bench while I put her in the stroller. The four of us began to walk toward the Pirates of the Caribbean. We were almost there when I realized I had not picked up our bag from the bench. My husband and son ran back to the spot ahead of us. They found another family of four waiting for us to return. The woman said she knew we would be back and she was holding onto it for us. What a relief, as this was the bag that held our passes, camera, money, souvenir pictures, etc. These strangers saved our day (as well as the rest of the trip). I am still so thankful.

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


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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.