December 2005
WDW Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the November 29, 2005, Issue #323 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? Each month we visit a time gone by in Walt Disney World history. We now travel back to February 1982 and the first issue of the Epcot Center Construction News! The newspaper was published periodically to keep construction employees and support personnel working at the Epcot Center site better informed. At the time this paper was printed, there were almost 4,000 in the onsite work force from 24 prime contractors and more than 500 subcontractors.

According to the publication, Phase I was supposed to include the following pavilions in Future World: Universe of Energy, World of Motion, The Land, Imagination, Communicore, and Horizons. In World Showcase, construction was under way for Canada, United Kingdom, France, Japan, the American Adventure, Italy, Germany, China and Mexico. Phase I was set to be completed on October 1, 1982.

Phase II was scheduled to begin once Epcot Center opened, with some major activity scheduled: In Future World, there were plans to work on a Life and Health Pavilion, Living Seas Pavilion, a Space Pavilion, and an additional restaurant and museum.

In World Showcase, there was a signed contract with Spain for a pavilion, and an African Pavilion was planned. Discussions were under way with Israel, Venezuela, and Denmark to sponsor pavilions, and reportedly there was still room for five additional pavilions.

As we know now, some of Phase II became reality for Future World, but most of the World Showcase plans did not come to pass.

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TRUE CONFESSIONS
FROM THE HOT SEAT
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ALL EARS® Subscriber Kate Meyer recently wrote us about her experience at Disney-MGM Studios' Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Play It! and shared some tips:

Ever since I first saw the Millionaire show in 2004, I was determined to make it into the Hot Seat...and I did! I was in the "Hot Seat" on Tuesday, October 24, 2005, and even though I didn't get the cruise (i.e., 1 million points), here are some tips for fellow players:

1. Press the button to the correct answer as soon as the corresponding button's light appears lit (usually after choice "c" is announced).

2. Wear something interesting. Before I got in the Hot Seat, I was on camera because of my funny T-shirt that read, "Trust me, I'm a Lawyer." (I'm a law student.) It's a nice consolation in case you don't make it all the way! The Cast Member who helped me after my stint mentioned how my shirt had caught the eye of the cast.

3. Be CORRECT -- that's more important than speed. I was initially #3 from the fastest-finger contest, but moved right up to #1 with the correct answer. After that, I stayed there!

4. If you get to go up...take a big drink of water before you go! My mouth was all cotton-y up there, and the only water they give is for the host du jour!

5. Play to the audience. I appealed to the audience for moral support, and they were always so supportive, with claps and cheers. Let it strengthen you!

6. Disregard time. I think WDW has a new "Millionaire" policy in place, where no one carries over to the next game. I was overly conscious of the game going long and gave all my answers hastily. Take all the time allotted -- it really does help!

7. Don't underestimate "phone a complete stranger." I used this lifeline to buy some time, but the woman on the other end had a husband by her side who got the answer INSTANTLY. Guess I know who the other couple on my cruise would have been...

8. Lastly, Accra is the capital of Ghana! Go figure... (I guessed "Mali.") Oy, geography!

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VISIONS OF SUGARPLUMS
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Walt Disney World pastry chefs are again showcasing their talents with new elaborate holiday gingerbread and chocolate creations stationed around most of the resort hotels. Be sure to include some resort-hopping during your December WDW vacation, so that you don't miss the following highlights:

The Beach Club Resort lobby features a life-size carousel made completely of edible ingredients (including 100 pints of eggs and 50 pounds of dark chocolate), while small gingerbread houses and collectible pins depicting the gingerbread carousel will be sold in the merchandise stores. Chefs will give demonstrations throughout the day, giving tips to guests on how to decorate their own gingerbread creations.

Over at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa the annual life-size holiday gingerbread house is again open. Inside this engineering and culinary marvel that takes more than 500 hours to bake and assemble, you can purchase Santa lollipops, gingerbread cookie people, gingerbread ornaments, gingerbread cookies, stollen bread, Grand Floridian chocolate logo boxes filled with truffles, peppermint bark, and miniature gingerbread houses.

The Contemporary Resort also features a holiday toy shop made of sugar and chocolate. Pinocchio is showcased in this shop, which is located on the 4th floor of the Contemporary Tower.

Santa's Bakeshop, located in Liberty Inn at the American Adventure pavilion, spotlights Santa's Gingerbread House, a life-sized structure made entirely of gingerbread, cookies and icing, concocted from more than 800 pounds of sugar and more than 1,000 eggs. Christmas cookies and hot and cold beverages are sold inside the gingerbread house.

And finally, if you visit the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant at Disney-MGM Studios you'll find a 4-foot replica of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror made entirely of gingerbread, icing and sugar.

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SOUVEN-EARS
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This month's Souven-EARS Shopper, Senior Editor Deb Koma, writes: Ssssh... Don't tell Mickey this, but, even though they aren't originally Disney-affiliated, I've always been a Muppets fan. And can you blame me? I grew up watching Sesame Street every morning, then, as I got older, The Muppet Show every evening -- I think I loved Kermit even more than the Big Cheese himself. It's no wonder I always gravitate to the Stage One Company Store, found at the exit of MuppetVision 3D in the Disney-MGM Studios -- it's been the source of some great, hard-to-find Muppet memorabilia. And these days, to my delight, it seems that the collection's grown.

Whenever you're in a Disney shop, you can be sure to find lots of beanies and plush -- and this shop is no exception. Most of the characters featured in the nearby 3D attraction (Statler and Waldorf, Scooter, Gonzo, the Swedish Chef, Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant Beaker, Miss Piggy, and, of course, Kermit the frog) are represented in the soft, cuddly toy department (which run $12-$13). But even better, you can now find an entire line of 4-inch action figures ($8 each), featuring many of the same attraction characters. For the older child (or the young-at-heart adult), there are also playsets that showcase a variety of the beloved and even lesser-known Muppets, such as Janice, Clifford, the Muppet Newsman, each with his or her own accessories ($10).

There are also limited edition figures, with the characters in unique costumes. My favorite? The very special version of my man Kermit dressed as Indiana Jones ($15), complete with leather jacket and fedora. He's just dashing.

There's a generous selection of apparel, including a wide range of t-shirts ($19-$23) that reflect the images of just about any Muppet character from the attraction you can think of, including that wild man drummer, Animal. (My personal pick is the "Bottoms Up with Beaker and Bunsen" tee -- those Muppet Labs guys just crack me up!)

Other smaller items include a Kermit belt ($12), a two-pack of brightly colored Muppet rubber bracelets ($6), an assortment of Muppet pens ($4), and, something I found most unusual, drumsticks sporting the image of Animal ($7).

Finally, it may not be easy to tuck into your suitcase, but if that huge, shaggy orange Muppet, Sweetums, is your fave, there's a giant-sized version of him for sale, too ($50). Hey, that's what shipping is for, right?

(Deb notes that in addition to finding more Muppets items in the Studios, she's also spotted them in other shops around WDW. In fact, it seems there's a Muppets explosion -- they're featured in recent Disney catalogs, too!)

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Have YOU done some serious souven-EAR shopping on a recent trip to Walt Disney World? Drop us a note at allearsnet@yahoo.com and tell us about your fabulous finds so that we can share them with others!

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MONTHLY REMIND-EARS
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The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights is back again this year, running now through January 8, 2006. As snow falls overhead, the Streets of America backlot cityscape at Disney-MGM Studios comes alive with millions of sparkling lights each evening. The light show is in collaboration with Arkansas businessman Jennings Osborne, who developed the display for his daughter. The dazzling spectacle is included with Disney-MGM Studios admission. http://allears.net/tp/h_osb.htm

Epcot's Holidays Around the World will keep you hopping between the World Showcase Holiday Storytellers, the Lights of Winter Arch, Mickey's Tree Lighting Ceremony (nightly at 6 p.m.), and the Candlelight Processional -- guest narrators accompanied by a massed choir and orchestra for a retelling of the Christmas story. For the listing of December narrators visit: http://allears.net/tp/h_cpfaq.htm

Over at the Magic Kingdom, 14 nights of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (remaining nights are November 29, December 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18 and 20) light up the lands with special holiday shows, fireworks and treats. http://allears.net/tp/hol_mk.htm

Downtown Disney's Festival of the Seasons features festive window displays and decor, nightly tree lightings, concerts by visiting Magic Music Days musicians at the Dock Stage at Downtown Disney Marketplace, a strolling brass quintet, toy soldier stilt walkers, photos with Santa, and more: http://allears.net/tp/holiday.htm#dd

Disney's Wide World of Sports - Pop Warner Superbowl, youth football national championships, celebrates its 76th annual event and its 11th consecutive year December 4-10 at Walt Disney World Resort. http://allears.net/btp/dwws.htm

New Year's Eve Celebrations at WDW - Pleasure Island, Cirque du Soleil, more details to follow. http://allears.net/tp/nyeve.htm

For detailed Holiday Happenings information visit: http://allears.net/tp/holiday.htm

To see our entire Calendar of Events, visit http://allears.net/pl/events.htm

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Rehabs and Closures:

Magic Kingdom

Liberty Square Riverboat will not be sailing until mid-2006 due to an extensive rehab. http://allears.net/tp/mk/rboat.htm

Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress will be closed for a brief refurbishment December 12 - 16, 2005. It will reopen Saturday, December 17. http://allears.net/tp/mk/mk_cop.htm

Disney-MGM Studios

'50s Prime Time Cafe will be closed from early January until January 28 for a rehab. http://allears.net/menu/menus.htm

Water Parks

Blizzard Beach will be closed from October 23 until December 24, 2005 for its annual rehab. http://allears.net/btp/bb.htm

Typhoon Lagoon will close for its annual rehab starting December 25, reopening in the spring of 2006. http://allears.net/btp/faq_tl.htm

Contemporary Resort - http://allears.net/acc/faq_con.htm

Now through 2006, parts of the South Garden Wing will be closed for refurbishment.

Now through February 19, 2006 - Tower room refurbishment. One floor will be blocked off at a time.

Polynesian Resorthttp://allears.net/acc/faq_poly.htm

Longhouses are undergoing extensive rehab, and there is minimal to no impact to guests.

Bookmark our frequently updated list of WDW Rehabs at http://allears.net/tp/rehabs.htm

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MAGICAL MOMENTS
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KENKATHAUB: Our recent visit to the Magic Kingdom was filled with one unexpected "Magical Moment" that really made our vacation special. We would love to thank the bus full of pirates headed to the Not So Scary Halloween Party from Old Key West on the night of Tuesday, October 25, 2005, for their hearty pirate reception when we boarded the bus with our 3-year-old grandson "Captain Hook." The pirate cheers and ahoys were the highlight of our evening. Our grandson could not stop talking about his pirate friends on the bus. Later that evening we were unexpectedly asked to ride in the double-decker bus that led the late parade. As we rode along the parade route waving to the crowd, "Captain Hook" continued to look for and wave to his pirate friends from the bus. Thank you again pirate friends from Daisy and Donald, Cruella, Sleeping Beauty, the Knight and Captain Hook.

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Gilly8944: On a recent visit to the world, my granddaughter and I spent a long, hot day at the pool and then went to Mickey's Backyard BBQ in the evening. Upon leaving Fort Wilderness we were the only two people who boarded the bus for the Ticket and Transportation Center. While my granddaughter was trying every seat on the bus I was chatting with the driver and I told him how tired and hot I was and if Disney made wishes come true I wish that this bus would take us straight to the BoardWalk Villas and bypass the transfer at the Transportation Center. A minute later the bus driver was on the microphone to us and told us he had received clearance to take us directly to the Boardwalk. He changed the marquee on the front and side of the bus to read special. When we arrived at the bus stop all the people in the waiting area were staring at us to see what was so special. Indeed this was our magical moment and it just doesn't have to happen in the parks or at a restaurant; even the bus drivers can sprinkle pixie dust. Thanks, Disney.

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Roseann M.: My family went to Disney World for a few days to get away from the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma. My boys, ages 5 and 10, have both been going to Disney World since they were a few months old and to this day love visiting with Mickey Mouse and the Hundred Acre Wood gang. We had to board our dog at the Epcot kennel. Our dog's name is Chardonnay. We have always called her Char for short. To our surprise, one of the employees at the kennel was wearing a name tag that said 'Char' on it. Guess who is proudly wearing that name tag now! Even my dog got some special treatment during her stay at WDW!

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Mike Scupin: Both of my daughters worked at Disney and were very good friends with the characters, which resulted in their being in tune with "Magical Moments." On one of our trips to the Magic Kingdom we saw a little boy about 7 years old as we were getting onto the Snow White ride. He was crying his heart out while his dad was explaining to the attendant that his son had lost his Peter Pan hat while inside the ride. The attendant was trying to explain that he could not stop the ride while they looked for the hat. When we got off the ride the little boy and his dad were sitting at the exit and the little boy was still crying his heart out. My oldest daughter immediately sprung into action with a plan. She told my wife and other daughter to keep an eye on them while she and I went to purchase a Peter Pan hat. We found my wife and daughter following this family going through the castle. Just as we were approaching them, the 3 o'clock parade was passing the castle. My daughter walked up to the young man, kneeled down and explained to him that Mickey Mouse had heard of his plight and wanted to be sure he had another hat. She explained that Mickey had wanted to bring it to him personally, but because of the parade, he had asked my daughter to bring it to him. As we walked away with no further explanation, the dad's mouth was hanging open, the mom was in tears, as were all of my family, and the little boy was jumping around in excitement. Not only were we allowed to create a magical moment for that family, but we created one for ourselves that will live in our hearts forever!

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