November 2004
Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the November 2, 2004, Issue #267 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.

This month we'll step back to 1988. Seven Walt Disney Resort hotels were open or about to open, and typical hotel rates included: Contemporary Garden Wing $135; Polynesian Village Resort $135; The Disney Inn (think Shades of Green) $125; Disney Village Resort Treehouse Villa (think Saratoga Springs, Disney Institute) $250; Grand Floridian Beach Resort $250 for Concierge; Caribbean Beach $65; and Fort Wilderness Campground $30 with hookups. (Prices were for value season and standard view unless otherwise noted.)

Epcot's longstanding tours, Gardens of the World and Hidden Treasures of World Showcase, were offered for $12 per person.

A 3-Day World Passport for resort guests was $77 for adults and $62 for children under 10; a 5-day World Passport cost $107 for adults and $85 for kids. World Passports were valid at Epcot Center and the Magic Kingdom. An Annual Passport was $165. And the one-day ticket price? A mere $28!

On the dining front, Le Cellier in Canada offered buffeteria service for lunch and dinner, featuring pork pie, rib roast, fruit platters and desserts. The Contemporary's Pueblo Room served dinner on the fourth floor, while the Top of the World (now California Grill) offered breakfast, lunch and dinner. At the Polynesian, folks dined at the Coral Isle Cafe (Kona Cafe), the Papeete Bay Verandah (now 'Ohana) and the Tangaroa Terrace. At the Walt Disney World Village (now Downtown Disney Marketplace), you could still dine at the several restaurants located on the Empress Lilly Riverboat. And who remembers Minnie Mia's Pizzeria?! As for the always popular character meals, breakfast was $8.95 and $5.95 respectively for adults and children at the Contemporary, and on the Empress Lilly, $7.95 and $5.50.

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Souven-EARS
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This month, ALL EARS® Editor-in-Chief Deb Wills visits the the Wilderness Lodge Mercantile in the Wilderness Lodge:

Just off the cavernous lobby of the Lodge, near Guest Services, you'll spot a Disney character totem pole. Besides being an excellent place for photographs, it also welcomes you to the front entrance of the Mercantile.

Within the shop, you'll find smaller versions of this totem pole, as well as a variety of merchandise reminiscent of Yellowstone National Park and the Jackson Hole area. There are also Wilderness Lodge specific "themed" items, Disney plush and sundries. The Mercantile has its share of generic Disney and Walt Disney World merchandise and, of course, also sells Wilderness Lodge logo clothing. And the Disney Tails pet merchandise, which seems to be everywhere now, also makes an appearance in this store.

I really enjoyed looking at some of the rustic merchandise, such as candles and frames. Birdhouses were available for $30, and the Wilderness Lodge even has its own logo-branded Lincoln Logs, which can be yours for $50! There are all kinds of little bear figurines, and for something more unusual, you can get your own Giant Sequoia Seedling for $10. It seemed that some of the larger items would be a nuisance to carry back home on a plane. I'd recommend shipping these -- an inquiry at the register will give you the details.

With the Disney Vacation Club's Villas at the Wilderness Lodge here too, there is a larger selection of food and snacks available. However, I was disappointed in the limited amount of Disney Vacation Club merchandise and hope they get some in for when I stay there in January!

I've grown to really like the unframed watercolors of the various resorts and have started collecting the smaller ones to put up in my office. These are for sale from $18-$24 unframed. The colorful 5x7 photo note card is a less expensive alternative at $4, and would look great framed. Put some Wilderness Lodge pins on the mat and you've got a lovely keepsake of your trip.

A nice touch is that on Monday and Friday evenings your kids can go for storytime and pin trading from 7-7:30 p.m.

My favorite item at the Mercantile is one of the logo mugs. This Wilderness Lodge mug is not only huge, but the handle is a replica of the character totem poll located outside the store. For $12, I deemed it my pick of the store!

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YOUTH GROUP SAVINGS/FUN
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Have a group of kids? Want to save $127 per person on a 5-day park ticket or $113 on a 4-day ticket? Then read on about Disney's Youth Education Series (YES).

I'm Rob Petrillo, a Scoutmaster from New York City, and every four years I take my Boy Scouts to Walt Disney World and save a bundle. We last went in February for eight days and it cost less than $600 per person. That fee included a 4-day PremEar Package (4-day park hopper pass, water park or DisneyQuest ticket, special behind-the-scenes YES program, and a T-shirt), Amtrak transportation, charter bus transfer, all meals, and campground fees at Disney's Fort Wilderness -- as well as custom-made troop T-shirts/hats. Anyone who has been to Walt Disney World before knows that this is a GREAT deal!

Disney's Youth Education Series is a program for all organized youth groups of 10 or more (ages 3-22). Groups have a choice of special 3-, 4- or 5-day packages with substantial discounts. The regular 5-day ticket is currently $275.84, but if you attend with your youth group your cost is $148.50. Plus, for every group, two FREE tickets are provided for adult chaperones. In addition, for every five youth members, one adult may purchase a ticket at the special youth discount price.

As part of the package, your group can take part in a special Youth Education Series program in various curriculum areas within Walt Disney World. Many include special behind-the-scenes tours of Walt Disney World. Each participant also receives a free YES T-shirt. Also available are counter service lunch/ dinner tickets to make mealtime easy for your group. Each $10 ticket is good for a combo meal with beverage and dessert at numerous restaurants in the World. To further keep costs down, try camping out in the group camping section at Fort Wilderness ($10 per night) -- right across from the Magic Kingdom. Tents are available to rent or you can bring your own.

For more information on the various youth programs or to download an application go to: www.youtheducationseries.com [4] (an official Disney website). For questions about the package I put together for my troop, email me at: rpetrillo@bsa-gnyc.org .

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MONTHLY REMIND-EARS
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Stitch's Great Escape officially opens on November 16! Annual Passholder and Disney Vacation Club Member Previews are being held November 5, 6, and 7. http://allears.net/tp/mk/mk_sge.htm

The Ninth Annual Super Soap Weekend, being held November 13-14 at the Disney-MGM Studios, will feature Susan Lucci ("All My Children") and a star-studded lineup of more than 30 actors and actresses from the ABC Daytime dramas. http://allears.net/tp/mgm/m_supersoap.htm

Epcot's Food and Wine Festival continues through November 14! Eat to the Beat Concerts are nightly at 5:45 p.m., 7 p.m. 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 November 9-14 in the Festival Center. Deb stopped by to see him in October and enjoyed seeing his beautiful artwork in person. She learned that he's working on a new Disney item, too! Be sure to tell him hello from Allears.net! http://www.davidedoss.com/

Festival of the Masters at Downtown Disney: Held November 12-14, 2004, this event will feature more sculptors, photographers and painters than you can shake a brush at -- all showing off their creations. Some 150 award-winning visual artists will transform Downtown Disney into an outdoor gallery during the 29th annual festival. There are also children's activities and live entertainment. There is no charge for admission. http://allears.net/btp/festmast.htm

And, of course, Thanksgiving and holiday celebrations begin at the end of the month, including the relocated Osborne Lights! http://allears.net/tp/holiday.htm

For a complete listing of events visit: http://allears.net/pl/events.htm

Rehabs scheduled during November:

Magic Kingdom:

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

Cinderella's Golden Carrousel will be closed November 9 - 11, 2004.

The Country Bear Jamboree will be closed to prepare for its special holiday show from Monday, November 15, through Saturday, November 20, and will reopen on Sunday, November 21, 2004.

Blizzard Beach is closed for its annual refurbishment through December 11, 2004.

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

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INNOVENTIONS EXHIBITS
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Fantastic Plastic Works is sponsored by the Society of Plastics Industry, Inc. Three areas to explore include the "Magic of Plastics," "Design Studio," and "Manufacture and Create Zone." The Design Studio allows you to virtually design a plastic robot that will compete in a foot race. In the Manufacture and Create Zone, you can watch the molded plastic parts be made and take home your own plastic robot! Fantastic Plastic Works is located in Innoventions East.

Where's the Fire? is the other new exhibit at Innoventions and one we recommend, especially for families! There is an interactive game house where teams search to find the fire hazards in their "home."Each side of the house has six rooms for you to explore using special "flashlights." The other neat part of this exhibit is the Play It Safe Maze. Children learn how to exit their home in case of fire, learn about safe places and more. Parents participate, too! The maze is geared for children under 5. Those older will appreciate the interactive game house. You can even get your photo taken alongside the 30-foot fire truck! This is the largest Fire Prevention exhibit currently in the United States and is presented by Liberty Mutual. Where's the Fire? is located in Innoventions West. (Editor's Note: Deb Wills says she's not a big Innoventions fan, but this new exhibit is a winner!)

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MAGICAL MOMENTS
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Gretchen Wesner: My magical moment was when we got to Peter Pan's Flight in Magic Kingdom, and the line was too long for our 5- and 3-year-olds to wait. As we were explaining to them that we wouldn't be able to ride, a couple with a sleeping infant came by and offered us their FastPasses! They had gotten them earlier in the day and now could not use them since their little one was snoozing. We thanked them profusely. It was great to have others share the magic with us.

Victoria Critchfield: This past September we took our grandsons and my husband's mother to Walt Disney World. Our magical moments included: Seeing 80-year-young Eliza trying to shoot Zurg; having her hand "licked" by Pluto; watching the look of wonder on her face seeing Magic Kingdom for the first time; seeing "the boys" (ages 6 and 7) FINALLY getting to see the Haunted Mansion; Justices' dream girl (Minnie) giving him a hug and then him whispering to me, "Grandma, I won't tell Mickey that she kissed me!"; Damek getting to ride Br'er Rabbit (his term for Splash Mountain) twice in a row... These magical moments make wonderful memories for all of us. Our adult daughter went along to help us with her nephews and got to see her dream date Goofy and get her picture with him! Yeah! After the trauma that the weather had given to all the wonderful people, there it was -- a magical, wonderful vacation!

Patrick Dennis: Our Magical Moment came on an Extra Magic Hour morning at Magic Kingdom... My 6-year-old daughter was dying to meet Cinderella at the Judge's Tent. Once we got to Mickey's Toontown Fair, the rope dropped and that part of the park opened. Cinderella was standing outside along with the mice. My two girls, 6 and 3, got in line. Once their turn came, the lady assisting Cinderella stopped the line and asked whose child this was. She then told me that my daughter would escort Cinderella inside. My wife was videotaping and was fighting back the tears. Cinderella talked to Abby and asked her a lot of questions. My wife didn't even realize that our youngest, Anna, was walking in with the mice. Magical Moments are the reason we are headed back -- twice in a year. We can't wait and are counting down the days.

Niki Koullias: Everything about being at Walt Disney World is magical, but sometimes you get an extra special bit of pixie dust thrown your way and your magical vacation turns extraordinary. Being Disney Vacation Club Members, our family gets the opportunity to visit Disney at least once a year and sometimes even more than that. One of our special moments was when we were in Epcot's Canadian Pavilion and saw Off Kilter play. When the show was over, Mark from the group came down and started to talk to us. He was very friendly and my daughter, who was only 2 at the time, was infatuated with him. The year after, when we went back to Epcot, we dropped in on another Off Kilter show and as we walked in Mark yelled in from the stage, "The next song is to our little princess, Fotini." He remembered my daughter's name! She was in total shock! Now every time we go back to visit Epcot we always stop by Canada and see Off Kilter... and Fotini always gets a special song!

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LEND US AN EAR!

If you or someone you travel with have a special need and have recently taken a Disney cruise (perhaps you use a wheelchair, or you have a vision impairment), we'd love to hear about your experiences. Tell us about your cruise and what you would recommend to others, along with any helpful tips or suggestions. Please email us at allearsnet@yahoo.com

Thanks!


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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.