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The Best of Anita Answer
by Anita Answer, ALL EARS® Columnist
This article appeared in the
December 28, 2004, Issue #275 of ALL EARS®
(EDITOR'S NOTE: While members of the ALL EARS® team take some time off to spend the holidays with their families, we bring you a special column featuring the "Best of Anita Answer!" Read Anita Answer every week at http://allears.net/aa/anita.htm -- her regular columns resume in the new year!)
Michael writes: Our family of five has been to Disney World five of the last seven years. My three sons would love to be in the nighttime parade. How can we look into this?
Hi Michael! The Magic Kingdom's nighttime parade, SpectroMagic, does not feature any guest participation. The Share A Dream Come True Parade at the Magic Kingdom, and Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade at Animal Kingdom all have plenty of guest interaction. To participate in Share a Dream and Jammin', you have to get to the parade route very early, and look for the Cast Member who is recruiting participants for that day. Your kids may or may not be chosen to participate. Have a great time! A.A.
Rochelle writes: Hi Anita! I look forward to your column every week. It is a nice way to feel connected to WDW. I was wondering if you could tell me why they make the annual passes out of a paper/cardboard material when they will be used so much more than the park hopper tickets which are made of plastic. It doesn't seem too logical and I was wondering if they had a reason for this.
Hi Rochelle! Paper annual passes (AP) are less expensive to produce than the plastic ones, and less expensive to replace when lost or destroyed. They are printed on strong coated paper, and are difficult to wear out. I have a friend who estimates that his AP went through a turnstile 350 times last year and it was still fine until it expired. If you take minimal care of your pass, it will last the entire year. It's a good idea to store your pass in the special sleeve that it comes in, so that you can't accidentally de-magnetize the strip on the back. Always keep your purchase receipts in case you have to replace a pass.
Not all Hopper passes are encoded on plastic card stock. The passes purchased at The Disney Store are plastic, as well as those encoded on the same card that is used for a guest's resort room key, which must be strong enough to be used in the electronic door locks. Hoppers purchased at park Guest Relations will be printed on the same paper stock as your Annual Pass. You can read more about the paper and plastic passes on Allears.net's Ticket FAQ, on the "Mousecellaneous" questions page. A.A.
Ross writes: Can you tell me what Goofy is? My wife says he is a dog but he has no tail. I have several recent pictures of him and Pluto from the parks. In every one, Pluto has a tail and Goofy doesn't.
Hi Ross! My daughter, Minnie Answer, claims that Goofy is an "Advanced Dog." The real answer, of course, is that Goofy is indeed a dog, albeit a humanized one that walks upright, wears clothing and speaks. Goofy started life as a nameless extra in 1932's Mickey's Revue. Later in the 1930s he appeared in comic strips as "Dippy Dawg," which later changed to "Dippy the Goof," and in 1939 finally became "Goofy" with the release of the animated short film, Goofy and Wilbur. Another mystery solved by dogged determination and research! A.A.
Claudia writes: Can anyone go into The Iron Spike Room at the Villas at the Wilderness Lodge to look, or do you have to be staying there? My husband is a train buff and I know he'd like to see it.
And Ruth Ann wrote: First, I love your column. It's really been helpful. I've not been to WDW yet but am going next month, can't wait! Somewhere in my obsessive reading/planning, I read that there is a train exhibit (miniature village with trains) at the Germany pavilion at Epcot that kids love. Is this exhibit still there? I don't want to mention it to my 5-year-old and have him be disappointed.
Hi Claudia and Ruth Ann! Any guest can visit the Iron Spike Room at the Villas at the Wilderness Lodge, as long as it is during daylight hours. After a certain time in the evening, the Villa building's doors are locked and can only be accessed with a card key. Also, be sure to carry a photo ID with you in case you are asked to produce identification.
And the trains and the village at the Germany pavilion in Epcot are still there, and are a must for any train buff to visit! A.A.
Lori writes: I'm planning on going to Walt Disney World by myself for eight wonderful days. I will be staying at the Polynesian or the Contemporary. My question is that, as a solo traveler, will it be very awkward going to some of the sit-down restaurants? I really enjoy the character meals very much and have a great time every time I go. Any input will be helpful.
Hi Lori! I often travel alone to the World. You'll find that Cast Members are very friendly and talkative if you strike up a conversation with them, which will help to put you at ease. It is sometimes a bit strange to dine alone in a table service restaurant, but there's often so much going on around you, particularly at character meals, that you forget your discomfort after a minute or two. Be warned that some restaurants that serve "family style" are unable to accommodate solo diners. The Garden Grill in Epcot's Land Pavilion is one of those, unless they've recently changed their policy. According to Disney Dining, 'Ohana, at the Polynesian Resort, also serves "family style," but does accommodate single diners. Have a wonderful trip! A.A.
Henry writes: What happens at the parks when thunderstorms pass through? Do many of the rides close down for that period? Do shows still go on?
Hi Henry! It depends on how severe the storm is, and what the attraction is. For instance, I've seen Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain close temporarily when a thunderstorm was nearby, but on New Year's Eve 2002 I rode them both in a torrential downpour. The lightning from a storm is more likely to shut down a ride than a plain old rainstorm. If a ride or show is primarily outdoors, like Dumbo or Cinderella's Surprise Celebration, it will usually be closed or cancelled during a storm. Rides, shows and attractions that are primarily indoors, like Spaceship Earth, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, or The American Adventure remain open even in bad weather. Once the storm has passed, rides and attractions usually resume their regular schedules. Parades are more likely to be cancelled in a rainstorm or high wind conditions, and generally are not rescheduled to perform on the same day unless they are already on the regular schedule. A.A.
Jodi writes: I know this is probably a very silly question but I've got to know -- Are those upside-down trees on the Animal Kingdom safari ride real or Imagineered? Thanks!
Hi Jodi! Your question isn't silly at all -- in fact, it's my favorite kind of question to answer! And the answer is... the trees are Imagineered! The Baobabs ("Upside-Down Trees") seen on the safari are made of concrete. Have you ever noticed that the safari driver's spiel says something about Baobabs only having leaves for three months of the year? I've been on Kilimanjaro Safari during every month of the year and have never seen a sprout, let alone an actual leaf, on those trees!
There is one live Baobab in Animal Kingdom, however. It's located in Harambe near the Tusker House Restaurant. It's very small compared to the bogus Baobabs, but it's alive and sometimes even has leaves! See if you can spot it on your next trip. A.A.
Heidi writes: Where is the best place to download printable envelopes to give to cruise service providers (i.e. servers, stateroom host, assistant server, etc.)?
Hi Heidi! I'm assuming you're asking about tipping aboard the Disney Cruise Line ships. If that's the case, there should be no need to print your own envelopes. Envelopes for tips will be provided in your stateroom a day or two before the end of your cruise. Each envelope has the appropriate position title printed on it. All you have to do is put the printed coupon (if you charge your tips to your account) or cash in the envelope and present it to the Cast Member. Refer to your cruise documents for the suggested amount to tip for each position. Hint: If you plan to charge tips to your account, don't wait until the last night to do it -- the lines at the Purser's desk can be extremely long at that point in the cruise. Have a Wonder-ful, Magic-al cruise! A.A.
Alex writes: I have just two quick questions that I haven't found the answers to. Thanks in advance if you can help me! 1. In Tomorrowland, in the Magic Kingdom, what ride used to be in the spot where the Buzz Lightyear ride is now? 2. I heard that in the Disney-MGM Studios there was a Goosebumps-themed ride. Do you have any information about it?
Hi Alex! Glad to help. You asked two fun questions! One of those attractions has had more incarnations over the last 32 years than just about anything else at the World, and the other one is a definite contender for the most short-lived! Guess which is which?
So, what attraction[s] used to be where Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin is now located?
In June 1972 the ride opened as the Eastern Airlines sponsored "If You Had Wings." This was a slow-moving dark ride exploring the joys and wonders of travel. Guests continued to enjoy it until June 1987 when Disney and Eastern parted company. After Eastern ended its sponsorship, the ride went down for a couple of weeks and re-opened later in June 1987 with minor changes as "If You Could Fly." Closing again in January 1989, it underwent a complete refurbishment and show change. It re-emerged in June 1989 as "Dreamflight" sponsored by Delta Airlines. It was still a slow-moving dark ride with a travel theme, but with a whole new show. In 1996, Delta dropped its sponsorship and the ride was renamed "Take Flight," although almost nothing was changed other than the removal of Delta's logos from the building. "Take Flight" closed for good in January 1998, with its new replacement, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, opening in October of that year. The Buzz ride still uses the original "Wings" ride track and the same Omni-Mover cars with a few modifications, believe it or not!
Now, about that Goosebumps thing... It wasn't a ride, it was a [very bad!] show based on the series of scary kids' books by R.L. Stine.
The [very bad!] show was performed on an outdoor stage built to look like a loading dock at the very end of New York Street in the Disney-MGM Studios. Guests' Goosebumps experience culminated in a walk through a [very bad!] funhouse made up mostly of mirrors and cheesy effects, finally (mercifully?) dumping guests into a gift shop that sold Goosebumps merchandise and pictures. The [very bad!] show opened on October 8, 1997, and faded away into obscurity sometime in late 1998 or early 1999. It was so Very Bad that I couldn't even find a reference as to when it actually closed -- apparently no one noticed? I think it took me more time to research it than the show actually ran.
Allears.net still has a dusty old press release from 1997 talking about the attraction. Click http://allears.net/news/dd1097.htm for details if you dare, but beware! Some things are better left buried... A.A.
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.