March 2005
WDW Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the March 1, 2005, Issue #284 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
STEP BACK IN TIME
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

The ALL EARS® team periodically receives mail asking, "Whatever became of this attraction?" We went to Lou Mongello, author of the "Walt Disney World Trivia Book: Secrets, History & Fun Facts Behind the Magic," to help us out for this edition of Step Back in Time, as we fondly recall Mr. Toad's Wild Ride:

Merrily on our way to nowhere in particular... well, maybe to extinction.

"Mr. Who?" asks the wide-eyed child about to enter The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, dragging his exhausted parents on for the third time today. Sorry, my friend, he isn't the "lost" Power Ranger, he's not "Experiment 213" from Lilo & Stitch, nor will you likely see him in the "House of Mouse" or "That's So Raven" on the Disney Channel. No, Mr. Toad was born in 1908, a little bit before your time, in a popular tale called the "Wind in the Willows," by Kenneth Grahame. In 1949, he and his oddly named friends, including Moley, Mac Badger, Ratty and Winky, were adapted by the folks at Disney into the feature film, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.

This unique fable first made its way into Disneyland in 1955, just a few years after the film's release. Its success at the box office made it a perfect candidate to draw in adults and children alike to Walt's new family destination. In fact, it had everything Imagineers could ask for -- adventure, wackiness, and low cost of production. A dark ride through Mr. Toad's adventures in England was a perfect fit. Oddly enough, though, although the attraction was (and continues to be) a hit in Disneyland, characters from the film and attraction do not appear elsewhere in the park, whether it be character meet and greets, or even cameos in other attractions or shows.

When Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom opened on October 1, 1971, Mr. Toad had secured himself a place among other Disney greats in Fantasyland. Surrounded by such classic characters as Snow White, Peter Pan, and Pinocchio, Toad was clearly among Disney royalty.

Want to learn the rest of the story? Read Lou's complete article at: http://allears.net/tp/mk/toad.htm

Do you have photos of this WDW attraction for our archives? If so, please send them to allearsnet@yahoo.com

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
DINING OUT
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

As much as we try to stay current with what's happening at all the restaurants in Walt Disney World, we can't eat in EVERY location EVERY time we visit! That's why we love to get restaurant reviews from our readers. Here's just a sampling of some of the latest:

Patricia and Craig Heil visited Epcot's Bistro de Paris on Valentine's Day. Here are excerpts of their experience:

This Valentine's Day we found ourselves at the French pavilion in Epcot. We decided last minute to eat at the parks, and a wonderful Cast Member got us a Priority Seating at Bistro de Paris. We had been meaning to try this restaurant for some time and we were happy with our choice!

Bistro is quite romantic and designed in an art nouveau style... Although there was a special Valentine's Day menu, we made our own choices. We started with a cheese platter that included some beautiful greens in a vinaigrette and some toast rounds. There were six different cheeses and they were wonderful. Craig thought some were too strong, but I have never met a cheese I didn't like. There were not many toast rounds so we used our bread with the rest of the cheese.

I decided on the Grilled Tenderloin of Beef served with potato Emmenthal gnocchis, mushroom jus and green asparagus ($32). The beef was very nice and cooked exactly as I asked (medium), but the filet at both Jiko and Todd English's bluezoo are better. Craig made the better choice with his Ribeye Steak -- flambeed with cognac, potatoes pont-neuf with shallot confit, and Madagascar green pepper sauce ($28). The steak is flambeed by your table and you can smell the butter! The flavor was fantastic and I wished I, too, had ordered it.

For the complete review and photos: http://allears.net/din/rev_bistro1.htm

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Donna shares her opinion of a recent stop at Jiko at the Animal Kingdom Lodge:

While John and I were at WDW on our last visit, we dined at Jiko. This wasn't our first time there, but it was our first time at the bar at the "Cooking Place." Here is a little info from our visit:

The Cooking Place provides a wonderful opportunity to sit and watch the flatbreads and appetizers being put together! Right in front of us we watched as Melitiza and Jeannette, both from Puerto Rico, put together all the delicious appetizer plates that were being served to the many guests dining at Jiko that evening. Off to our left, Edwin, also from Puerto Rico, was making flatbreads and putting them into an oven to bake. Our server was Omar from Morocco. As we chose appetizers, he guided us to the most suitable wines. And he was quite good at it! And since John and I were not only sharing our appetizers (well, most of them ) we also tried each other's wine!

During our evening we shared glasses of Neil Ellis Sauvignon Blanc, Rodera Stellenbosch Syrah, Clos Malverne, Gamekeeper s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, and Anura Pinotage. Each was delicious and was a wonderful accompaniment to the appetizer we were having.

For the complete review: http://allears.net/din/rev_jiko3.htm

Want to read more reviews sent in by recent visitors to the World? Take a look at: http://allears.net/din/reviews.htm

And, please, send YOUR reviews via our feedback form: http://allears.net/forms/feedback.htm

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
FREEWHEELIN' DISNEY
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

by Chet McDoniel, ACC

Editor's Note: AllEarsNet® presents another in its occasional series, Freewheelin' Disney, written with wheelchair travelers in mind. Author Chet McDoniel is a vacation travel specialist for MouseEarVacations.com and its parent company, CruisingCo.com, and is himself a wheelchair user.

Getting Around the World

So, you've made it to Walt Disney World! Finally! All of that planning, anticipation, and waiting has now paid off. You've made it to your resort and now you wonder, "How do I get me and my wheelchair to the parks?" Well, here are some excerpts of a guide I've written to some of the transportation options provided by Disney:

BUS: The bus is the most common method of transportation to and from all the areas of Walt Disney World. For the most part, unless you are staying at one of the monorail-serviced resorts, this will be your method of transportation. Disney has several different bus configurations. They have everything from stairs that turn into ramps, ramps that extend from the bottom of the bus, and the latest, a ramp that unfolds from the floor of the bus. All loading of folks in wheelchairs occurs from the back door of the bus.

MONORAIL: The monorail is a little easier of a load process for most. It involves a cast member putting down a little mobile ramp that you can simply drive up on and into the monorail car. Some have reported that this ramp is difficult for their wheelchair to climb. Mine has no difficulty, however, mine is also quite powerful (what can I say, I'm a daredevil!). Some have reported being scared to "gun it" because they might go flying out the other door. You may ask to wait until the exit doors are closed, and you can also put the chair/ECV into manual and have someone push you up if you are concerned. I actually prefer the monorail load as opposed to the bus because there is no tie down procedure, and therefore it takes less time. Make sure you apply the brakes, though!

BOAT: The boat situation is much like the monorail, however, there is one extra item of concern the water level! Simply ask the pilot if the water level is OK for you to board and to disembark. They know the procedure, and can make the judgment call. Some boats throughout Walt Disney World have the option of the mobile ramp like the monorail. Some have ramps attached to the boat or to the dock. While others simply pull up to the dock and you may go from one to the other with no ramp needed. I've found, however, that many of the boats do not really have a place for my wheelchair, and I do tend to avoid them when alternate transportation is available.

As always, when in doubt, ask a Cast Member!

Chet is organizing this year's group trip for travelers with special needs, their family, and friends. He will travel with the group to Walt Disney World and on the Disney Cruise Line, sharing all of his insider tips. This year's trip is scheduled for November 1-10. It includes a 5-night stay in Walt Disney World, and a 4-night cruise aboard the Disney Wonder. In addition, ALL EARS® Editor in Chief Deb Wills will join the group in Orlando. If you would like to be sent details, just email Chet at chetm@cruisingco.com or call him toll-free at 1-866-939-4968.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
MONTHLY REMIND-EARS
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Lots of doin's around the World this month!

Crush 'n' Gusher Debuts at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon on March 15: Typhoon Lagoon emerges from its winter rehab on March 13 and debuts a new attraction, Crush 'n' Gusher. You'll have three entrances to choose from and then travel along a series of flumes and spillways that weave through what appears to be a rusted-out tropical fruit facility. Each path will range between 410 to 420 feet in length and feature varying degrees of slopes and turns. http://allears.net/btp/faq_tl.htm

It's a Small World reopens on March 19. Since closing last May, the attraction has been given a complete overhaul with new paint, refurbished dolls, a new sound system and the addition of a couple of new audio-animatronics. http://allears.net/tp/mk/mk_small.htm

Cinderellabration, the new Castle stage show imported from Tokyo Disneyland, will "soft open" on March 17! The show picks up the story of Cinderella after the royal wedding depicted in the classic Disney animated feature, bringing to life the coronation of Cinderella and the festive celebration that follows. http://allears.net/tp/mk/cinder.htm

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Special Events:

Auto Show in Motion, March 3-6 in the Epcot parking lot, brings along more than 150 of the newest cars, trucks, and SUVs. For more information visit: http://www.autoshowinmotion.com. On the right side, click Select Location and choose Orlando.

St. Patrick's Day at Pleasure Island: On March 17, 18 and 19, from 7 p.m. - 2 a.m., visit Pleasure Island to "ShamRock 'n' Roll" by visiting eight Clubs O' Fun!

Atlanta Braves Spring Training at Disney's Wide World of Sports: Grapefruit League games are played throughout March. http://allears.net/btp/wwos.htm

2005 Cheer and Dance Competitions: On March 12, 2005, the National All-Star Cheer Championships will be taking place at the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Theater, and will be open to all guests with regular park admission to the Disney-MGM Studios.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Rehabs and Closures:

Areas still closed for rehab include: Typhoon Lagoon (until March 12), the Land Pavilion (until April 1), and It's a Small World (until March 19).

Plaza Pavilion in Tomorrowland is closed and will reopen this spring as the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station with a menu featuring Asian-inspired dishes like chicken, shrimp, or vegetarian noodle bowl, pork steamed bun with Asian slaw, stir fry, fried egg rolls, pot stickers, and mandarin orange and cashew chicken salads, with a ginger-infused creme brulee for dessert.

The Studio Catering Company at Disney-MGM Studios will reopen soon with a completely new menu, featuring flatbread sandwiches like a steak "gyro"-style sandwich with roasted red pepper hummus and tomato and onion relish. The kids' menu will include items such as a grilled chicken wrap with lettuce and cream cheese, while desserts will include seasonal fruit tarts, lemon curd in a meringue shell, and panna cotta with strawberries.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
MAGICAL MOMENTS
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Katrina Robinson: We were at the Magic Kingdom over Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend for my daughter's first birthday. However, it was my 3 1/2-year-old son who had a truly magical moment on this trip. On our last night there we had planned on watching the SpectroMagic parade. Instead we ended up in a deserted Toontown so my son could ride Goofy's Barnstormer. This is by far his favorite ride. There was no one else there and my son rode it 16 times in a row. A very wonderful Cast Member named Steven even asked if he could escort Brice on the ride because his dad and I had done it enough. We agreed and watched closely from the take-off area. You could hear Brice AND Steven laughing and screaming at the top of their lungs! On his very last ride, the entire crew boarded with him, six Cast Members in all, while one stood by to man the ride. When they returned, Steven pulled out a special Magical Moment certificate for a Goofy's Barnstormer Frequent Flyer award and also gave him a Goofy pin! This was the highlight of our trip and something I don't think my son or I will ever forget!

-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-

Amy Calvo: My boyfriend of five years, Ryan, recently went to work for Disney's College Program. We go to school in New York City, so before he left, we planned monthly "mini-vacations." I was so sad the first few weeks, and I had to make a conscious effort not to cry every time we spoke. That all changed when I took my first mini-vacation to see him. The first day, I traveled to the Magic Kingdom feeling nervous -- what if things were different between us? I stepped aboard the Bomakandi Bertha, the finest boat on the world famous Jungle Cruise, and I felt a rush of emotions. There was the love of my life, cracking jokes and sharing his love of Disney with everyone on board. It brought me such joy to see him bring out joy in others; I can't compare it to any other experience in our lives. I watched Disney Magic happen that day for hours -- I think I could recite all the jokes from memory -- and I can't wait for next month's trip. So what was my Magical Moment? Knowing that the guy I love is a Magic Maker!

-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-

Chuck Mathis: We were visiting Epcot and found ourselves in Italy. My wife is Italian and was enjoying her second trip to WDW. My son dragged me to the fountain in the back of the piazza in Italy. He asked me for a coin to throw in the fountain for a wish. Con Ti Partiro, sung by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman, played in the background -- my mother-in-law's favorite song. My son threw his coin, and I asked him what he wished for... he wished that his grandma would return. You see, my mother-in-law had passed away just three months earlier and had made quite an impression on my kids. They loved her dearly and missed her tremendously. I had to sit for a moment to dry my tears; I had even more trouble explaining to my wife why I was upset. I'll carry that memory with me forever... forged in a little corner of Italy by a 3-year-old!

-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-

Each month in our WDW Bits and Bites issue we share subscribers' Magical Moments stories. Send your story to allearsnet@yahoo.com


-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-

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.