October 2004
WDW Bits And Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the October 5, 2004, Issue #263 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.

October is a happening month in Disney history -- just take a look!

Walt Disney World itself opened October 1, 1971!

October 1, 1979 - groundbreaking ceremonies for Epcot took place.

(By the way -- Happy 22nd Birthday to Epcot, which opened October 1, 1982.)

Other notable events in October include:

October 24, 1971 - Electrical Water Pageant debuted in the Seven Seas Lagoon.

October 1, 1983 - Horizons Pavilion opened in Future World at Epcot (officially closed on January 10, 1999).

October 2, 1987 - Disney Dollars, which first came in one and five dollar bills, debuted as the "official currency" of the Walt Disney World Resort.

October 1, 1988 - Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort officially opened, with 768 rooms in the Martinique and Barbados village sections.

October 19, 1989 - Wonders of Life Pavilion (including Body Wars, Goofy About Health, Anacomical Players, Hands On Exhibits, and Cranium Command) opened in Future World at Epcot.

October 1, 1991 - "SpectroMagic" debuted in the Magic Kingdom.

October 1, 1995 - Disney's Vero Beach Resort, part of the Disney Vacation Club, opened in Vero Beach, Florida.

October 3, 1996 - "IllumiNations 25," celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort, premiered to guests at Epcot.

October 7, 1998 - Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger spin opened.

October 15, 1998 - Fantasmic! officially premiered in the Disney-MGM Studios.

October 1, 1999 - The christening of the Disney Wonder took place at Port Canaveral.

October 1, 2001 - "Tapestry of Dreams" officially opened as part of the "100 Years of Magic" Celebration.

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ALL EARS® Photographer Dotti Saroufim attended this year's first Party for the Senses, a grand tasting event that's part of the annual Food & Wine Festival. Here are a few of her observations:

We met friends outside World Showplace at 6 p.m., a half hour before the start of the event. Those with Party for the Senses reservations are accorded VIP seating at the America Gardens Theatre for the Eat to the Beat concert (Kool and the Gang, in our case), but we opted to head to World Showplace early to guarantee seating for our party of 11. After our names were checked off the list of attendees, we were each given a small card good for our dish and souvenir wine glass...

At approximately 6:15 p.m., most likely in anticipation of the crowds arriving from the concert, those already waiting were escorted into a large room filled with artwork, funky furniture, cool lighting and Party for the Senses signage... At 6:30 p.m., we were allowed into the hall, and we dashed to a large table situated between "center stage" and a second stage where the musicians were already performing. Many tables, both large and small, were scattered throughout, and high cocktail tables (on which to set your glass and dish, but without seats) were in abundance. I saw very few people who were left without a place to use as home base...

Chefs came from as close as the Walt Disney World Resort and as far away as Peripignan, France, and the food offered was, in a word, scrumptious. After sampling one item, I'd swear I had a new favorite -- until I got to the next one. There were very few offerings that didn't warrant a repeat visit, but time (and space!) kept me moving from one to another. I know that each of us had personal favorites, but a big hit among many of those at our table was the Asian Tuna Taco. Prepared by Michael Thompson from Disney's Polynesian Resort, this small perfectly crisp taco shell was packed with a flavorful filling and topped with rare tuna. (All right I lied. I did go back for seconds there.) Another culinary delight was the Beef Confit with Rock Shrimp Mashed Potatoes and Watercress Lobster Oils, prepared by Brian Piasecki of Le Cellier Steakhouse in Epcot. The shredded beef, tender and delicious, topped a small mound of mashed potatoes that hid the tasty surprise (for those who didn't read the menu carefully) of a large shrimp within. Yummy!

On of my surprise favorites of the evening was the Spice Cured Wild Boar Tenderloin, the creation of Robert Denninger from Disney-MGM Studios Catering. I don't know exactly what I expected wild boar to taste like, but this succulent cut of meat, delicately spiced and sitting on a bed of smoked corn cakes, was a definite hit for many of us...

Want to read the rest of Dotti's mouthwatering Party for the Senses review, complete with photos?


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Senior Editor Debra Martin Koma makes a few quick dining observations from her two summer jaunts to Walt Disney World:

--Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge continues to delight and entertain. Though none of my family opted for the All You Care to Eat platter on our recent visit, we still had more than we could eat. The fresh starter salad, laden with crunchy veggies and topped with the Cafe's famous Apple Vinaigrette dressing, was almost a meal in itself, and was followed by warm cornbread -- mmmm. The meatloaf came with plenty of fresh broccoli, perfectly steamed, although the accompanying mashed potatoes were slightly spicy and on the dry side. The grouper was tender and moist, and came with crisp haricots vert that were a nice change from the mushy overcooked vegetables one often finds in the mid-range restaurants. Finally, although the pork chops were slightly overdone, they were nonetheless tasty, and were accompanied by wonderful onion rings. Add to this more-than-passable meal the entertainment value of seeing my husband perform, along with all the other dads in the restaurant, The Buttercup Dance, well... what more could a family at Walt Disney World ask for? Special kudos to our server Raging Bull (Ralph), who kept the Magic coming, airplaning straws at my unsuspecting son and fashioning an interesting piece of headgear out of an Aztec-patterned napkin. Whispering Canyon is still crazy after all these years! - http://allears.net/dining/menu/whispering-canyon-cafe/dinner

--Here's a counter service restaurant tip: If all you see on a menu is combo-type meals, don't assume that you have to take the works. You can usually order a sandwich sans fries or chips, and they'll deduct the cost of the sides you're not getting. I've tried this many places, most recently at Typhoon Tilly's (at Typhoon Lagoon) a few weeks ago. I knew I couldn't eat an entire "chicken wrap basket meal," so just ordered the wrap alone. It was delicious, and big enough to split even without the fries. Generous amounts of chicken with shredded cheese, tomato, onion, spinach and a peppery mayonnaise wrapped in a soft flour tortilla made for a very filling, and slightly less expensive, lunch. - http://allears.net/dining/menu/typhoon-tillys/lunch

--Captain Cook's Snack Company, the 24-hour fast food place in the Polynesian, offers a great variety of prepackaged salads and sandwiches for reasonable prices. A small tossed salad, which came with a hard-boiled egg, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and a generous amount of lettuce, was only $2.99, but perfect for someone (me!) who'd missed dinner and needed a late night snack. And for you Perrier drinkers, they now carry individual PLASTIC bottles of the sparkling water, much more convenient than the former green glass. - http://allears.net/dining/menu/capt-cooks/lunch-dinner

--I keep trying to have a bad meal at the Hollywood Brown Derby, but they just won't let me. Every time I visit, I come away liking this restaurant a little bit more -- and for an in-theme-park spot, that's saying something. On my family's last visit, we had excellent service and food that rivaled some of the finer fine dining establishments on Disney property. After some rather weak cocktails (our only complaint of the evening), we enjoyed our meals thoroughly. My pan-fired grouper was white and flaky, with a hint of lemon zest in the butter sauce, and was accompanied by asparagus roasted in balsamic vinegar and garnished with fresh ginger. The presentation of my husband's Ahi tuna was most artistic, and the attendant wasabi-enhanced whipped potatoes had just the right amount of zing. My son enthusiastically enjoyed the grilled salmon and even ate every last morsel of the gorgonzola polenta on the side. Too stuffed to even contemplate dessert, we left the Brown Derby convinced that this is the best table service restaurant within a Disney theme park, surpassing even our long-time fave, Le Cellier in Epcot. - http://allears.net/dining/menu/brown-derby/lunch-dinner

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Disney's Golf Courses going GPS! That's right, they will soon have Global Positioning Satellite technology available to guests on the courses! The GPS equipment on each Disney golf cart will allow the golfer to get the exact distance between the ball and the pin. It will also show stats, location of golfers in front and behind, as well as hazards and weather conditions. Cast Members will be able to tell where the carts are on the course and determine if there are any bottlenecks. Plus, you'll be able to use the computer to request refreshments from the beverage carts. The GPS will soon be online at Eagle Pines and Osprey Ridge. The other courses should get GPS sometime in 2005.

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Deb Wills recently found herself at Coronado Springs and decided to check out Panchito's Gifts and Sundries, the resort's general store:

Located in El Centro,the main building, Panchito's offers a bit more selection and space than its fellow moderate resort shops, probably because it is also a convention hotel. You will find your basic Walt Disney World merchandise, t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc., but also a few selections catering to the business crowd. For the golfer in your group, you will find WDW logo merchandise such as character wood covers with Goofy and Mickey ($20), towels, ball markers and of course, golf balls. Nearby is a Ralph Lauren clothing area complete with pants, long sleeve shirts (with a discreet Mickey on the pocket at $39) and also a selection of black belts. I mention the belts because this item is rarely found at the WDW gifts shops... but it's an often forgotten item left at home.

For the little ones, there are the create-your-own Disney charm bracelets starting at $1 for the elastic and $4 for each Disney themed charm, or $2 for a keychain. I've noticed these in many Disney shops in the last few months. While it sounds inexpensive, those $4 charms can add up!

It wouldn't be Coronado Springs without bright, colorful Mexican-themed souvenirs! On a cart located near the front of the store you'll find small pinatas ($5), colorful ceramic boxes ($8), maracas ($3.50 for one) and even an assortment of flamingos of different sizes.

Disney at Home items, snacks, liquor, books and items from Disney Tails (souvenirs for your pets) as well as the standard sundries are also available here.

The Coronado Springs logo clothing features a yellow sunburst. In addition to the regular ornaments, pens, postcards, magnets and mugs, there were a couple of items that caught my eye. First, a bright yellow, zippered hooded sweatshirt for $48 (OK, I didn't say it was a bargain, just that it caught my eye!) that would be perfect for those cool evenings at WDW or on the Disney Cruise ships. Another item I really liked was the ceramic travel mug! For $12, this travel mug makes you feel like you're sitting at home with your favorite mug filled with coffee. It'd be great in the car, in the office, or at your computer table.

Oh, and I did want to mention the frosted cordial glasses. If you want to collect something from all over WDW, these $8 glasses can be found in all the resorts, as well as at a number of attractions. They are small and easy to transport home. They are also a relatively inexpensive item that you could add to your collection on each visit, because they are frosted and sport the logo of the resort/attraction.

Lastly, I found character T-shirts ($19) that are "shrink-wrapped" to the size of your hand, with Stitch and Tinker Bell featured. These would be great to throw in your backpack if you need a dry shirt on the fly, say, after riding Splash Mountain or Kali River Rapids.

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Epcot Food and Wine Festival: October 1 - November 14! Includes the special Eat to the Beat Concert Series - Nightly at 5:45, 7:00 and 8:15 p.m. at the America Gardens Theatre! - http://allears.net/tp/ep/foodwine.htm

Meet Artist David Doss! David will be exhibiting his work during the Food and Wine Festival, October 1-12 & November 9-14 in the Festival Center. Be sure to tell him hello from Allears.net! - http://www.davidedoss.com/

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party: October 1, 3, 8, 12, 14, 17, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 29, and 31, 2004 (but October 31 is sold out) - http://allears.net/tp/mk/mnssh.htm

The Central Florida 2004 Race for the Cure to benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation will be held in the Disney-MGM Studios on Saturday morning, October 9. ALL EARS® Editor-in-Chief Deb Wills and Senior Editor Deb Koma will be walking in the 5K event. If you're in Orlando that weekend and want to walk with the Debs, you can pre-register at the event's website. You can also register the day of the event. For more information or to pre-register, visit: http://www.komencentralflorida.com/

Rehabs scheduled during October:

Animal Kingdom: The Boneyard will be closed through October 14, 2004.

Magic Kingdom:

Frontierland Shootin' Arcade will be closed through October 9, 2004.

Ariel's Grotto will be closed through November 11, 2004.

Magic Carpets of Aladdin will be closed through October 19, 2004.

Cinderella's Golden Carousel will be closed November 2 - 14, 2004.

Disney-MGM Studios: The Magic of Disney Animation will be closed through October 17, 2004.

Blizzard Beach closes for its annual refurbishment October 24 - December 11, 2004.

Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba will be dark (closed) October 17 - 20, 2004.

For a complete list of rehabs, be sure to check: http://allears.net/tp/rehabs.htm

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Tiggy67: I am not sure if this counts as a true Magical Moment since it didn't happen right at Disney, but right before. My daughters, ages 6 and 7, had been asking for a few years, "When can we go to Disney?" Well, my husband and I decided to surprise the girls and take them this last September. I don't know how, but we managed to keep it a secret for almost a whole year. The day before our trip I told the girls that we were going somewhere the next day and they had to go on a scavenger hunt to get clues as to where we were going. They found an electronic Disney Yahtzee game, and Mickey cookies and still didn't catch on. On the very last clue, they came to some "Fairy Dust" and were told to "wish upon a star" to go anywhere they wanted, and then turn on their tape recorder. As soon as they turned it on, their favorite song, "The Main Street Electrical Parade" played. I cannot even begin to tell you how magical that moment was. My parents were here to watch and there was not a dry eye in the room. The girls were completely speechless and thought we were kidding. I told them to go to their rooms and there I had their suitcases laid out with new Princess T-shirts and Disney Dollars for spending. I would highly recommend doing this for your children if you can possibly keep a secret. It was truly a Magical Moment!

Rachael Swann-Thomas: On our last trip to WDW, my two sisters and I were waiting in line for Snow White's Scary Adventures. Being a long-time Disneyophile, I must have referred to the ride by its full name, Snow White's "SCARY" Adventures, once too often. Needless to say, this caused some anxiety in my 6-year-old sister, Reghan. The closer we got to our turn, the more nervous she became. We were three groups away from getting on the ride (after a lengthy summertime wait) and Reghan decided she was too scared to ride. My sister Erica and I tried to reassure her that she'd love it -- with very little success. I'm sure she was about to make a run for it when Snow White and ALL seven dwarfs appeared! She was so excited when Bashful took her by the hand to ride WITH her that she forgot how scared she was! It was such a magical experience watching her clutch Bashful's arm during the scary parts and kiss him goodbye after this special ride. I gave him a big kiss too to thank him for riding with her. Now when we visit, Snow White's Scary Adventures is our favorite Fantasyland ride! And I often catch Reghan peeping around corners looking for her bashful friend that shared her Magic Kingdom adventure!

Karl Fasold: Our Magical Moment occurred during the afternoon parade at the Magic Kingdom. Our then 3-year-old daughter's favorite character was Piglet. She'd been excited about the trip and the prospect of seeing Piglet "in person." Since neither my wife nor I could remember seeing a Piglet meet and greet, we'd been trying to temper her expectations by reminding her that "Piglet is very shy," so we might not see him at all. During the parade, the 100-acre wood snowglobe turned a corner and came by -- and who did we spy but Piglet! Kathryn was very happy, but that was nothing compared to what was coming -- the parade stopped for an audience-participation segment, and who came over to dance with Kathryn but Piglet?! It's the unscripted and unforeseeable "magical moments" that keep us going back to WDW.

Niki Koullias: When I hear the word Disney the first thing that comes to my head is, of course, magic. While growing up, my parents took us to Walt Disney World at least every other year. When I married we shared our honeymoon in Disney and from that moment on my husband fell in love with the Magic of Disney. On that honeymoon we were fortunate enough to enroll in the Disney Vacation Club, which will bring our family close to the magic every year. Years later, we plan our trip every year and cannot wait for the moment to arrive when we get in the car and begin our 19-hour drive to Orlando. People ask us "Why Disney? Don't you want to go anywhere else?" Why Disney? Where else can you find rides, clubs, swimming pools, boat rides, fireworks, spas, great food, and awesome shows? Where else can you walk down a street and see your child's face as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs walk past or if she gets a special hug from Mickey Mouse himself? Where else can you see the stories you knew as a child come to life before you? Where else can you see love and happiness and magic everywhere you go? Disney has enchanted our family for years and will continue to do so. We have never been disappointed with a Walt Disney World Vacation. It is a beautiful place and we have shared enough Magical Moments there to remember for a lifetime.


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.