Feature Article

This article appeared in the September 30, 2003, Issue #210 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 feature, which takes you back in history for a glimpse of Walt Disney World through the ages.

Happy Birthday, Walt Disney World! (from the 9/29/78 issue of the Cast Member publication, "Eyes & Ears")

"WDW is 7 years old on October 1st! The 26th Congress of the International Chamber of Commerce begins their week-long session at our Contemporary Resort Hotel with a gala opening ceremony in front of Cinderella Castle Sunday evening with an address by President Jimmy Carter! Other dignitaries include Florida Governor Reuben Askew and Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kwan Yew. Closing ceremonies feature an address by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

"We've come a long way in the past 7 years... but this year has proven the most eventful of all. We have a dedicated Solar Energy Office Building, a new Office Plaza at Lake Buena Vista, and christened a new boat, the Southern Seas."

Also in this issue: "Kraft To Participate in Epcot!"

And a glimpse at the classified ads finds: 1) a three-bedroom house for rent at $150/month; 2) 1967 Firebird for $850; 3) 1975 Pacer (remember those?) at $2,200!

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...in October at WDW!

The month starts out with a 3-day Press Event, and several major announcements are expected to be made, including the closing of The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter to make way for a new attraction featuring Stitch. Remember that the Magic Kingdom will close early on October 8 and Epcot will close early on October 9 as part of the press event festivities.

ALL EARS® WILL BE THERE! Beginning next Wednesday, October 8, watch WDWIG.COM for live updates and reports from the Fall WDW Press Event by Editor-in-Chief Deb Wills (who is attending as a guest of ALL EARS® sponsor MouseEarVacations.com) and Len Testa, a member of Bob Sehlinger's Unofficial Guide to WDW team, who will be reporting exclusively for ALL EARS®.

Also in October:

Mission: SPACE officially opens! http://allears.net/tp/ep/e_ms.htm

Mickey's PhilharMagic will officially open on October 8 in the Magic Kingdom! http://allears.net/tp/mk/mk_phil.htm

In addition, the new WISHES fireworks show debuts at the Magic Kingdom.

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A new exhibit has been added to Animal Kingdom's Conservation Station at Rafiki's Planet Watch: Butterflies! Learn which plants attract butterflies, life cycle information, interesting facts and much more. Several butterflies even fly around the room. The exhibit is linked to the Eco-Web computers so that you can print out information and take it with you.

A butterfly exhibit was in the original plan for Disney's Animal Kingdom. When dedicated space finally became available, the Animal Programs team built the exhibit and opened it last month.

Read more about Rafiki's Planet Watch here: http://allears.net/tp/ak/ak_rpw.htm

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by Chet McDoniel
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Editor's Note: AllEarsNet® presents another 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. The following is an excerpt of Chet's May WDW Trip Report,which included a cruise on the Disney Cruise Line:

DAY THREE: Mickey woke us up this morning at 7:30 a.m. We had a message on the phone saying that there was mail at the front desk for us. It was a "Magical Moments Certificate" celebrating my mom's birthday! Disney always finds ways to impress me. We had our usual cereal bars on the bus on the way Animal Kingdom. We went straight back to Kilimanjaro Safaris to get FastPasses, and then went to the first showing of Festival of the Lion King. That show's my favorite in all of Walt Disney World. Its presentation is magnificent and all the show elements seem to gel really well. After the show we went and rode the safaris, and then went to the Tusker House to have lunch. We bought the Animal Kingdom Meal Certificate, and split a sandwich. After lunch, we went to Dinoland and got FastPasses for Dinosaur. It was at this time that I heard one of the funniest things I ever heard at Animal Kingdom. As we approached Dinosaur, a lady walking in front of us pointed toward the ride, and exclaimed, "Oh, so this is fake, too." (Evidently she was disappointed that there were no real dinosaurs in Dinoland USA.) We then went over and saw Tarzan Rocks. Whereas at the Festival of the Lion King everyone in wheelchairs is seated on the front row, there are three handicapped seating areas at Tarzan Rocks. The front row is a lot of fun because the monkeys come down and play with you. The middle row is great also because the skaters fly right by you. The back row, however, is the least desirable of the three. If you want good seats, plan to be there early, as the first two options tend to go the quickest. After the show, we FastPassed our way through Dinosaur. We were on our way out of the park, when we saw some street performers doing a balancing act. This kind of thing is what I love about Disney World. There are shows going on all the time, all around you, and you never know when the Magic will strike.

And be sure to watch for Chet's Disney Cruise Line experiences coming soon!

Chet is organizing his first group trip for travelers with special needs, their families, 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. If you would like to learn more, email Chet at chetm@cruisingco.com or call him toll-free at 1-866-939-4968.

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When I've shopped in Walt Disney World gift shops, I've always been surprised by the lack of "paper goods" for sale. You know, greeting cards, wrapping paper, notepaper and those sorts of things. You could always find plenty of post cards and a few note pads, but if you needed a birthday card, it was all but impossible to find. So I can't tell you how surprised I was when I visited MouseGear at Epcot recently. Near the cash registers was a large assortment of "paper goods" featuring a wide variety of Disney characters from Mickey himself to Pooh to Tinker Bell.

I found boxes of folded note cards ($5.00) in three different designs: Sorcerer Mickey, the Castle and Pooh. There were pop-up greeting cards, birthday cards, thank you cards and congratulations cards with a Minnie bride on the front ($4.00). Also available were photo frame cards ($3.00), a set of "fold and mail" stationery ($8.00), beautiful Castle gift bags ($2.50) and wrapping paper in two different designs, filmstrip characters and colorful Mickey icons ($4.00). Computer address labels ($5.00), Pooh magnetic grocery list pads ($6.00), Castle ruled "legal" pads ($5.00) and various stationery sets with lots of different characters ($2.50 to $8.00) were also available.

Next time you're celebrating a special occasion at WDW, or you pick up a gift to bring home to that special someone, you CAN purchase a card and wrapping paper to go with it. You can also write your "wish you were here" message on something a lot classier than a postcard. (Don't forget to pack some stamps!)

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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Elaine Burton writes: Our Magical Moment happened while waiting for the IllumiNations cruise from the Boardwalk. I thought we were late, so we hurried over to the dock from the Japan Pavilion. When we arrived there didn't seem to be anyone there. My husband and I decided to split up and make sure we were at the right spot. At 8:15 the gentlemen came out and were preparing for the cruises. My 6-year-old was convinced that her dad was lost and began to cry. One of the gentlemen brought her a balloon and explained to her that it was a "daddy beacon" and that it always finds lost dads. As soon as he tied it to her wrist, Dad came around the corner. Coincidence? No way. It was Magic!


Tony S., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, writes: We "Do Disney" as a party of 10. I am the group leader for my family and my in-laws: six adults, four kids, all with different interests, time clocks, idiosyncrasies, etc. I am that Disney Commando kind of guy who makes the travel arrangements then maps and plans every day out to see everything at the best possible time and location. Of course, doing this with a party of 10 is sometimes difficult, especially on a trip in the heat of July. During our last visit, I was definitely getting a little frazzled from hearing, "Uncle Ant, can we go swimming now?... Can we stop for a soda?... Can we go back to MGM?" You get the picture. For me, my Magical Moment came on the last night of the trip when my family presented me with a Mickey Mouse watch, at midnight, on Pleasure Island, right after the countdown, to show their appreciation for all my planning and pushing. I still treasure that watch.


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


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.