April 2004 WDW Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the March 30, 2004, Issue #236 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. This month we step back to 1992:

Why '92? Well, in "the real world," Tiger Woods, 16, became the youngest PGA golfer in 35 years. Microsoft announced Windows 3.1, upgrading Windows 3.0, and Ross Perot said he'd run for President on the Larry King Show.

But, in Walt Disney World, 1992 marked the kickoff of the 20th Anniversary Celebration!

As part of the anniversary festivities, two major attractions opened: Splash Mountain in the Magic Kingdom and the Voyage of the Little Mermaid in the Disney-MGM Studios. Also opened in '92 were the Dixie Landings Resort (now Port Orleans - Riverside), the Disney Vacation Club Resort (now Old Key West Resort), and the Bonnet Creek Golf Club.

At the Magic Kingdom, the afternoons in 1992 were highlighted by the Surprise Celebration Parade, while the evenings featured SpectroMagic! Aladdin's Royal Caravan made its way down Hollywood Boulevard at the Studios every afternoon, and Surprise in the Skies, with boats, fireworks and hang gliders, soared over Epcot's World Showcase. (Do you have photos of either the Surprise Celebration Parade or Epcot's Surprise in the Skies? If so, please let help us fill in our archives! http://allears.net/forms/feedback.htm)

Ed McMahon's Star Search was being filmed at the Studios, Mickey's Starland Show featured Goofy and Max, as well as Darkwing Duck, Baloo and Louis, and admission to Pleasure Island was just $11.95.

In May 1992, Disney resort guests were treated to the debut of a program that's now known as Extra Magic Hour, which allowed them to enter the Magic Kingdom one hour before its official opening time, four days a week.

And elsewhere in the World, let's not forget that EuroDisney opened in 1992!

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Did you realize that there's a large cultural exhibit area in the back of the Japan pavilion in Epcot? To make your way to this area, the Bijutsu-kan Gallery, cross the bridge that leads into the Castle. (Just before the bridge, stop and look on both sides of you -- there are two Samurai warriors on horses.) The current exhibit in the gallery is "Tin Toys," which were introduced in Japan in the early 1900s, as part of the transformation that the Japanese Emperor planned for his people. The earliest tin toys came from Europe and were very popular. Soon Japanese toymakers were duplicating the tin toys and creating new ones based on Japanese folklore. Many of the tin toys are spring-operated and can be wound to "come to life" to the delight of those playing with them.

The toys, which include aliens, robots, spacemen, vehicles and more, grew in popularity around the globe during the '50s and '60s. Japan's Tin Toy Master, Teruhisa Kitahara, has seven toy museums in Japan with almost 50,000 tin toys, many of them rare. A small portion of his collection is what's currently on display in Epcot's Japan. The variety and detail (and yes, there are some vintage Disney ones, too) are amazing. Be sure to stop by and take a look.

For photos visit: http://allears.net/tp/ep/e_jap.htm

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Happy 6th Birthday to Animal Kingdom on April 22!

Dinosaur will be closed for refurbishment April 19 through June 1.


The "Home on the Range" pre-parade will precede the "Share a Dream Come True" Parade through April 16.

Snow White's Scary Adventures will be closed April 19 through May 21.

Grad Nites, special hard-ticketed private parties for graduating high school seniors, are being held this year on April 23, 24, 30, and May 1. Since Grad Nites begin at 11 p.m. and run until 4 a.m., the Magic Kingdom closes at 7 p.m. on those nights. Want to learn more about what a Grad Nite is like? Read Regina Mayorga's firsthand report at: http://allears.net/tp/mk/grad.htm


Restaurant Akershus in Epcot's Norway pavilion will be closed for lunch and dinner April 18 through May 10. The Princess Storybook Character breakfast is still available during this time. http://www.allears.net/menu/menu_psb.htm

11th Annual Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival runs April 16 - June 6, 2004. As part of the festivities, the "Flower Power Concerts," presented in the America Gardens Theatre, feature entertainment of the '60s and '70s.

Some of the 2004 festival highlights include: Entrance Plaza Topiaries with The 'Fab 5' enjoying a magical gathering, and Tinker Bell; the Fragrance Garden in the French pavilion; the River Garden, adjacent to the German pavilion; unique Julia Barton topiary sculptures from the United Kingdom; and the Ultimate Backyard Gardens, presented by The Home Depot. http://www.allears.net/tp/ep/flogar.htm

Note for Annual Passholders: Passholders will have the opportunity to purchase four exclusive Flower and Garden pins. Each will be limited to a quantity of 3,000 and priced at $10.50 plus tax. Pins will be available in The Land at Epcot on the following dates: April 17, May 1, 15 and 20. One pin will be released on each of these days. There is a limit of two per Passholder per day. You can also get the Festival poster for 50 percent off the regular price. Check out http://www.disneyworld.com/flowerandgarden for complete information and details.


At the Polynesian Resort , the Niue and Rarotonga longhouses are closed for refurbishment and are tentatively scheduled to reopen on May 2, 2004. http://www.allears.net/acc/faq_poly.htm

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It's going to be an adventure like no other! It's the 1st Annual FreeWheelin' Disney Mobility Impaired group trip to the happiest place on Earth! Deb Wills from Allears.net joins Chet McDoniel from Cruising Co., Etc., to kick off the FreeWheelin' trip May 12, 2004, with four nights at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Group participants are invited to an EXCLUSIVE IllumiNations Dessert Party in one of Epcot's private party areas. On May 16, the group, led by Chet, sets sail for four nights to the Bahamas aboard the Disney Wonder. Chet, a wheelchair user himself, is a self-proclaimed "Fan for Life" of Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line. He and his assistants will lead the group throughout the trip to ensure that their vacation goes as smoothly as possible.

If you haven't reserved your space for FreeWheelin' 2004, you need to act fast. The FreeWheelin' list will be finalized soon, so please let Chet know if you're interested. You can go for the whole FreeWheelin' trip, or you can attend just the land or sea portion if you'd like. The deadline for registration is April 7. Chet can be reached at chetm@cruisingco.com or call him toll-free at 1-866-939-4968.

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For Disney pin-trading enthusiasts, there's a lot going on this month!

From 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily, visit the World of Disney's Villain Room at Downtown Disney Marketplace. Guests can make up to two trades from the pin book, which contains a variety of different trading pins. Before the 2:30 p.m. pin trading, there's a little pin trivia test, in which guests can show off their skills and test their knowledge about pin trading, its history, pin terminology and more!

Mickey's Pin Trading Nights are held 7 to 10 p.m. Thursdays at the All-Star Sports Resort and Fridays at the Contemporary. Children ages 3-9 are welcome in the Kids' Zone!

Finally, Scoop Sanderson, Main Street Gazette Reporter, Town Councilman and Disney "Pinthusiast," continues his pin trading talks at Magic Kingdom's Exposition Hall, Sunday through Wednesday at 1 p.m.

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Donna St. Jaques writes: My magical moment happened this October. I am a very big Disney fan and (of course) my favorite character is Mickey. I have been to Disney World many times with my children. This time the ladies in my family took a magical vacation alone, without the men. I have many pictures of Mickey Mouse with my children, but none of them have me in them. I always wanted to have my picture taken with Mickey but never had it done. Thanks to my Aunt Barbara, it happened! We went to Mickey's Toontown Fair to visit Mickey. I was like a little kid when I walked in. I saw Mickey and had time with him by myself. I finally had my picture taken with him. It came out great! When I got home and showed my husband, he said, "You finally did it!" The picture now sits on top of my TV. It's the best picture in the house!


Tenpatch shares: My friend Bonnie and I accompanied our friend, Kathy, to the Walt Disney World theme parks for four days. Kathy had metastatic cancer and had less than a year to live. Although Bonnie and I both had been to these theme parks several times before with our own families, we saw a Magic unlike what we had ever seen before! Kathy told us she was able to forget her illness for hours at a time as she laughed and smiled and enjoyed every ride to its fullest! We did make Kathy take a motorized wheelchair from place to place to minimize her bone pain, and she drove it around everywhere with her Mickey Mouse ears, beeping her horn at anyone in her way. She was thrilled to discover she had a first row seat just about everywhere. Bonnie and I both watched the parades, fireworks and shows with Kathy like it was our first time ever. The Magic was to watch our sick friend Kathy, a serious professional special education schoolteacher, again become the kid we knew since childhood. To me, that alone was immeasurable MAGIC!


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