May 2004
WDW Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the May 04, 2004, Issue #241 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 1994. Lots of changes were happening at WDW 10 years ago. Two new resorts opened: the Wilderness Lodge and Phase One of All-Star Sports (the first value resort). The Polynesian Resort added Hawaii, a three-story Concierge building.

In Epcot, Captain EO was replaced by Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. Actors Rick Moranis, Marcia Strassman and Eric Idle, featured in the 3-D film, were part of the dedication ceremony. Spaceship Earth reopened with 15 new scenes and a new soundtrack. The Land debuted two new attractions: The Circle of Life movie, with characters from The Lion King teaching about the environment, and Food Rocks, the Audio-Animatronics musical revue about healthy eating. The Circle of Life is still shown, but Food Rocks closed early this year to make way for Soarin', due to open in 2005.

The first Flower and Garden Festival was held in Epcot! Holidays Around the World premiered as well, with a two-week celebration. Among the Candlelight Processional narrators were Phylicia Rashad, Robert Guillaume and Robert Urich.

The Disney-MGM Studios opened Theatre of the Stars, a brand new theater on Sunset Boulevard seating 1,500, hosting a magnificent production of Beauty and the Beast. Also opening that year was the anchor on Sunset Boulevard, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. (This week, Disney's California Adventure debuts its own version of the Hollywood Tower Hotel.)

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The latest Disney Vacation Club (DVC) property at Walt Disney World opens on May 17, 2004. (An official grand opening will take place during the DVC Member Celebration on May 27.) Saratoga Springs is located at the site of the former Disney Institute, overlooking the lakefront district at Downtown Disney. The first phase will open with 184 vacation homes. When the resort is completed in 2005, there will be 552 vacation homes, making Saratoga Springs the largest DVC development to date.

The resort recaptures the feel of the upstate New York country retreats of the late 1800s with its colorful Victorian architecture. High Rock Spring, which cascades down rockwork, empties into a clear, freeform heated pool. This pool area offers a water slide that winds through rocks and passes under a bridge overlook, two whirlpool spas, an interactive children's wet play area, and the "On the Rocks" pool bar.

Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa will hold an Open House for the general public this Friday, May 7, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you're driving, park at Downtown Disney's Parking Lot Q -- there will be signs posted about the event.

ALL EARS® Editor-in-Chief Deb Wills and Senior Editor Debra Martin Koma will be staying at the new resort in early June. Look for their extensive review next month!

Current photos:

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During May 9 - 22, the Extra Magic Hour schedule will be expanded to include times in both the early morning and evening, allowing more playtime in the theme parks for Disney resort guests. For details, visit:


Epcot's 11th Annual International Flower and Garden Festival is in full bloom throughout the month of May. This month you can catch the following musical groups:

Orleans - May 2-5
The Grass Roots starring original lead singer Rob Grill - May 6-9
Dave Mason - May 10-13
The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie - May 14-17
Eric Burdon and the Animals - May 18-21
Paul Revere & The Raiders - May 22-25
Arlo Guthrie - May 26-28
Felix Cavaliere's Rascals - May 29-30
The Buckinghams - May 31 - June 3

For more Flower and Garden Festival info:

Artist Signing at Flower and Garden Festival: Meet nationally known artist David E. Doss at the Flower and Garden Festival in Epcot, May 21 through June 6. He will be featuring his three new Disney images: "Mickey & Donald's Fun in the Sun," "Mickey's Ice Cold Drinks" and "Mickey's Dance." Be sure to stop by and say hello from ALL EARS®!


Star Wars Weekends at Disney-MGM Studios: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, May 14 to June 13, 2004. Celebrities from the Star Wars films will be on hand each weekend, beginning with Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett) and Jake Lloyd (Young Anakin) the weekend of May 14. In addition to celebrity autographs, there will be Star Wars trivia contests, plenty of costumed characters, and the hands-on Jedi Training Academy. For more info:


Pleasure Island celebrates Cinco de Mayo tomorrow, May 5, with Mexican-themed entertainment and activities, including live music, pinatas, stiltwalkers, and "Mexican Hat Dance Fanatics" who teach the dance and award prizes for best (and worst) performance. Entertainment begins at 7 p.m. and is included in regular Pleasure Island admission.

Ironman North America will host the Florida Half-Ironman Triathlon at Walt Disney World on May 23. This is one of only two Half-Ironman events occurring in North America in 2004. Athletes will vie for 30 qualifying spots in the 2004 World Championship at Kona, HI, and 170 spots in five full Ironman North America events.

Celebration Exotic Car Festival will be held on May 23 on Market Street in Celebration, Florida, with displays by Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and more, to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. (You'll need to provide your own transportation to Celebration.) Celebration Event Hotline: 1-407-566-2200.

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Beginning later today, May 4, watch AllEarsNet® for live updates and reports from the Disneyland Press Event! ALL EARS® Editor-in-Chief Deb Wills is attending the event as a guest of Tonight Deb's spending "An Evening in the Twilight Zone," as Disneyland celebrates the opening of its own Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Tomorrow, she'll be on the spot as Disneyland unveils plans for its 50th Anniversary Celebration! Be sure to check often!

And for a little taste of what the California version of the Tower of Terror will be like, don't miss the special report by our West Coast correspondent, Barry Wallis, who attended the attraction's preview a few days ago:

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Cheryl writes: Our family's Magical Moment came this past February. My 5-year-old nephew Zachary loves Indiana Jones. For months he wore his Indiana Jones hat on a constant basis and was even given a "lever" (leather) coat for Christmas so that he would look just like Indy. Before our February trip, Zachary was told he would be getting a new Indy hat, since his was getting worn out. On the day we went to Disney-MGM Studios, Zachary wanted to see the Indiana Jones show first. We went to the Indiana Jones shop and asked if we bought a new hat whether "Indy" would be able to sign it or do something special. We were told, "No." The hat was purchased anyway without Zachary knowing, and when we entered the Indy theater we asked the Cast Member there if Indy could sign the hat or something.

Immediately she took the hat and said she would do something. Then she put our entire party in the VIP seating area, and told us to stay seated at the end of the show. When the show was over, Indy came back onto the stage area, with his hat on. He came over and asked to speak to Zack. At that point he took the hat (which really was the one we had purchased) and gave it to Zack. Zack, who is never at a loss for words, stood frozen in his place while Indy posed for pictures, signed his autograph book and talked with Zack about Indy. To Zack and our entire family, this was truly a Magical Moment.


Allysen shares: I have always loved Disney. Then I married Ed who loves Disney, too. We have visited Disney many times. We have two children and we tend to go to the All-Star Resorts when we visit. One magical moment we have is to take the kids to the Mickey (a concrete type fixture beyond the Surf's Up Pool) at the All-Star Sports. We have the kids sit near the Mickey statue and we take a picture of them. It's fun to see them through the years as they grow. When our daughter came down for the first time, she didn't talk much, but we were so happy that she answered "Disney World" when asked where we were. She said that right in front of the statue. It is funny that the memories one has can be so unplanned. Thanks for the memories.


Laura B. writes: My 3-year-old daughter Madison is a true Disney princess. We were at the princess breakfast in Norway when Princess Aurora came over to meet her. Madison starting singing "Once upon a Dream" and Princess Aurora started singing with her. They sang the whole song together. Needless to say, I had tears streaming down my face. It was truly a magical moment for our family.


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