August 2004
WDW Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the August 3, 2004, Issue #254 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.

Five years ago, on August 15, 1999, the Disney Wonder cruise ship made its maiden voyage with a 3-night cruise. With a crew of 950 and approximately 2,600 passengers, the ship joined the Disney Magic taking guests on 3, 4 and 7 night cruises through the Bahamas and Caribbean.

August is also an attendance milestone month! In August 1972, WDW attendance passed 10 million (Magic Kingdom was the only open park). Then, 20 years later, with Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios and Magic Kingdom open, WDW welcomed guest number 400 million! In August 2003, the water parks saw guest number 50 million enter through their turnstiles.

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EPCOT'S GALLERIES
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World Showcase is known for many wonderful things -- the architecture, culture, restaurants, entertainment -- but its art galleries are an often overlooked aspect. These aren't your typical theme park showcases, but real museum quality collections.

China features the "Land of Many Faces." There are more than 50 recognized ethnic groups in China, and this exhibit highlights four prominent cultures: Miao, Naxi, Yi and Mongolia. The displays include clothing, musical instruments, handcrafted objects, jewelry and ceremonial wedding outfits.

Japan's Bijutsu-kan Gallery has hosted several exhibits that kids as well as adults seem to love. Japanese Baseball and Karakuri - Magical Toys of Japan are two recent crowd-pleasing exhibits that come to mind. Today you can find yet another very kid-friendly exhibit: Tin Toy Stories. The earliest tin toys came from Europe and were very popular. Soon Japanese toymakers were duplicating the toys and creating new ones based on Japanese folklore. During the 1950s and '60s, tin toys spread around the globe. The toys included aliens, robots, spacemen, vehicles and more. Japan's Tin Toy Master is Teruhisa Kitahara, who has seven toy museums in Japan with almost 50,000 tin toys, has a small portion of his collection now on display in Epcot.

Animales Fantasticos, Spirits in Wood, can be found in the Mayan Ceremonial Hall in Mexico. The villages around the city of Oaxaca are home to gifted artisans who create wood carvings of animals, mythical characters and humans. As the display explains: "Today, these fantasy animals have emerged from the woods. They have been set free by the artisans who captured them in the branches of the trees. These brightly colored animals have traveled far from their home in Southwest Mexico, but bring with them their legendary playfulness."

The Gallery of Arts and History in Morocco includes beautiful mosaic art, pottery, ancient musical instruments and jewelry.

In Norway, the Heritage through Design Gallery is located inside the Stave Church. Actually, it is the Stave Church itself that represents the country's movement from the Viking Age to Christianity in the 12th century.

The sixth World Showcase Gallery is set to open in September at the American Adventure Pavilion. The American Heritage Gallery will debut with a three-year exhibit called "Echoes of Africa," which will feature 15 to 20 important pieces at a time from the Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection, spanning the entire region of Africa. Also featured will be the works of approximately a dozen contemporary artists.

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DECATHLON PIN PURSUIT
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Beginning August 12, the newest Pin Pursuit, themed in honor of the Olympics, gets under way. Never tried a Pin Pursuit before? Here's how it works: Visit one of the participating pin stations (ask at Guest Services or Guest Relations) to pick up a map (one per person) and begin your pursuit. You'll have to then stop at each of 10 other stations located all over Walt Disney World, where you will get a stamp on your map by answering a question or trading a pin with a Cast Member. Once you have all your stamps, go to Disney's Wide World of Sports to collect your final stamp and your complimentary Mickey Mouse Olympic pin. Pin Pursuits are lots of fun and NO purchase is required. Since the 10 stations in this Pin Pursuit are spread out, you'll probably need a car. Each location will have its own Decathlon Pin for sale featuring a favorite Disney character. For details visit: http://psc.disney.go.com/eventservices/event_wdw4002.html To learn more about Pin Pursuits, read about the Villaintine's Day event at: http://allears.net/btp/vill.htm

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KINGDOM CONSTRUCTION
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Walking through the Magic Kingdom these days feels like walking through a construction zone. There are huge areas walled off in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. We continue to get emails from readers asking what is happening, so thought we would update you on these projects.

Tomorrowland's Alien Encounter attraction is being reworked to eliminate the scary alien and instead invites Stitch (aka Experiment 626) to come for a visit! The basic show features of the theater will remain the same, but the overall tone of the attraction will be lighter and more family friendly this time around.

It's a Small World is currently closed until Spring 2005. During this time the attraction is undergoing a complete refurbishment with new paint, refreshed characters and a brand new sound system. There have been rumors that the outdoor facade will be changed to more resemble the enticing one in Disneyland, however at this point, those are just rumors.

Also in Fantasyland the work continues on the former 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea area. As previously reported, this site is being restored for future development. The ride building and parts of the rockwork were removed first, so that trucks could move in and out of the area. Then everything except the north and east walls of the ride building are being removed. The volcanic rockwork will be chipped apart by backhoes and the ride building itself will be demolished. When the attraction closed several years ago, ride elements that could be recycled were removed. Horticulture Cast Members will redistribute as much landscaping as possible. The next phase will be to bring in about 70,000 cubic yards of dirt that will be compacted, graded, and planted, and an irrigation system will be installed. When the walls do come down, you'll see a 4-6 foot berm all around the former lagoon.

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ORLANDO NFFC
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The NFFC, The Club for Disneyana Enthusiasts, is an international, nonprofit organization committed to preserving and sharing the rich legacy of Walt Disney. The NFFC provides its worldwide members with news and events geared to enhance their enjoyment of a common focus -- the love of all things Disney.

The World Chapter, based in Orlando, will be holding a very special event saluting longtime Disney artist Ralph Kent on August 21. It will be a night to remember, with many special speakers and guests. You must RSVP and receive confirmation to attend. For more information on the NFFC visit: http://laughingplace.com/Info-ID-NFFC-Main.asp or email worldchapter_nffc@hotmail.com

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MONTHLY REMIND-EARS
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The Tampa Bay Bucs are in town for their training camp, now through August 18. Sessions are open to the public free of charge! Just visit the tent to the right of the complex's main entrance to receive a complimentary admission ticket, then enter using the special gate for training camp guests. (NOTE: Only the training camp sessions are free -- there is still a charge to enter the Wide World of Sports complex.) General daily practices will be held each morning from 8:30 to 10:45 a.m. and each afternoon from 2:45 to 4:45 p.m. (Schedule is subject to change without notice.) For the latest practice times call 407-939-GAME (4263) or visit http://www.buccaneers.com/trainingcamp/trainingcampmain.aspx

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Magic Kingdom E-ride nights, which allow Disney resort guests to spend three extra hours in the park, continue August 4, 6, 9, 11, 13. For more information on E-ride Nights, visit: http://allears.net/tp/etik.htm

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Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba at Downtown Disney's West Side has some great summer discounts:

--Disney resort guests (including guests staying at the WDW Swan or Dolphin, or the Downtown Disney Hotel Plaza area resorts) can purchase one child's ticket (ages 3-9) at 50 percent off the regular price for every full-priced adult ticket purchased. This offer is good for performances through August 21, 2004.

--Florida residents can purchase a Category 2 ticket for 20 percent off the regular price now through the end of September.

--WDW Annual Passholders can purchase Category 2 tickets for 25 percent off the regular price now through the end of September.

http://allears.net/btp/cirq.htm

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Rehab Reminders of previously announced closures:

Donald's Boat in Toontown is closed now through August 12, 2004. http://allears.net/tp/mk/donald.htm

Jungle Cruise will be closed August 22 - September 5, 2004. http://allears.net/tp/mk/mk_jcr.htm

Tom Sawyer Island is closed now through September 25, 2004. http://allears.net/tp/mk/mk_tsi.htm

It's a Small World closed on May 2, 2004, for a rehab of the characters and sound, and will reopen Spring 2005. http://allears.net/tp/mk/mk_small.htm

ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter is closed and will reopen in the fall of 2004 as Stitch's Great Escape! Carousel of Progress is open while Alien Encounter is being renovated; Timekeeper is operating only until August 14, 2004.
http://allears.net/tp/mk/mk_cop.htm
http://allears.net/tp/mk/time.htm
http://allears.net/tp/mk/mk_sge.htm

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MAGICAL MOMENTS
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Tammy Hux-Boykin writes: My husband Russ, daughter Sara (2 1/2 years) and I took our first ever together as a family trip to WDW. Sara, like all toddlers, is very adventuresome so for extra security we had her wear her body harness and tether strap while we were in the parks. When we visited Animal Kingdom, the first characters we came across were Lilo and Stitch. Sara wanted to go up and visit and get autographs "all by herself" (parents of toddlers are well-acquainted with that phrase!) so I tucked her tether inside her harness, handed her her autograph book and pen, and got her in line while Daddy got positioned to take photos. When Sara's turn came, she walked up to Stitch and handed him her book to sign. Lilo came over and hugged her, and made a fuss over her cute outfit and her hat, then she nudged Stitch and handed him Sara's tether strap. Stitch took the strap and started leading Sara around (to Sara's great delight) while the Cast Members with the characters called out, "Look everybody! Stitch has a pet human!" All the adults just roared with laughter while Sara posed with her newfound buddies. She still talks about it whenever she sees Stitch on TV or in photos.

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Monique remembers: When my daughter was 4 we had a wonderful breakfast at Cinderella's and as we walked out Fantasyland was just about to open. I wanted to make a mad dash for the Dumbo ride, which I did, with my daughter saying, "Slow down." Then she saw Mickey at the top of the ride and she started pulling me saying, "Wait for me, Mickey!" When we got in line there were about eight people in front of us, but a cast member came up to us and said Mickey wanted to ride Dumbo with my daughter. What was funny is that before our trip we watched all those videos with characters riding the rides and we said that never happens other than to make the movie. My daughter just loved it and we got lots of pictures and a certificate. Then as we got off the ride Mickey took her hand and we walked over to where the old 20,000 Leagues ride was, stopping to see a few characters on the way. Thank you, Mickey, for waiting for my daughter. Even though she is 8 now she still remembers her ride with Mickey.

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Maria M. shares: We went to celebrate our daughters' birthdays, Christina turning 9 and Jackie turning 7. We stayed at the Pop Century and had a wonderful experience. I was checking in and mentioned that the girls were celebrating their birthdays. Karen (the BEST Cast Member ever) asked when we planned on celebrating them. I told her on Friday, and then she asked the girls who their favorite characters were and what were their favorite colors. Friday arrived and the girls had a wonderful time wearing their birthday buttons and Christina announced that the day was perfect and could not be any better. I agreed, but Karen had a surprise up her sleeve. She wished the girls a Happy Birthday as we walked through the lobby and said to be careful opening our room door. We arrived at our room and carefully opened the door and, to our wonderment, we found two balloon bouquets with cards attached! Christina's was pink and had a personalized card signed by Ariel with a picture and Jackie's was purple and had a card signed by Cinderella! They were not generic cards. The characters each said something unique about each girl and how much they enjoyed meeting them that day. My daughters' eyes were full of "happy tears" and Christina announced: "Mommy, my heart can't handle so much happiness... it's flowing out my eyes." Of course, the happy tears were flowing everywhere and as my husband and I looked at each other, we knew that every penny that we worked to save was worth it just for that one moment of pure Disney happiness. I called and thanked Karen, but I do not think she really realized what a gift she gave our family.

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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 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.