March 2006
Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the February 28, 2006 Issue #336 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

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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 travel now to the beginnings of Epcot with author Lou Mongello, who takes us back to 1987, in the Wayback Machine!

It's been a little while since I've fired up the ol' Wayback Machine, so let's climb on board, kick the tires, light the fires, and visit the "Vacation Kingdom of the World" and remember what it was like way back when. Everybody ready? Here we go! Everything looks good. Flux capacitor is... well... fluxing... (Ooops! Wrong movie!)

<insert dream sequence music and blurry visual effects here>

I wanted to visit a really exciting, interesting time in Walt Disney World's storied history, and today I've chosen 1987. More specifically, the holiday season. Why? Well, there was some pretty funky stuff going on around this time, and this is my one shot to check out some things that... well... just aren't gonna last that long.

So, what should I be wearing in 1987? Well, according to Mickey and pals, I should be in my requisite shiny silver jumpsuit. (It's what all the cool kids will be wearing, I hear.) OK. Maybe not. Mickey sure was dressed like a kind of hippie Buck Rogers, with the spacesuit and rainbows, but that's neither here nor there. Maybe I'll just whip out a pair of my acid washed jeans... Oh! Better yet! Maybe my Cavariccis! (Yes, I owned a few pairs. Please don't beat me up. High school was bad enough.)

OK, on to WDW. Attendance just topped more than 250 million guests. Pretty impressive if you ask me. And how does Disney say thank you? In true Disney style, if you ask me! "When you wish upon a car... " Huh? Yeah, that's not a typo! Disney ran something called "Everybody Wins Weekends," during which each and every single guest who passed through the gates of the Magic Kingdom or Epcot won a prize! But Lou... A CAR, you ask? Yup! Between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. every day, someone would win a brand spankin' new 1988 Chevy Cavalier or S-10 pickup truck -- every hour! In that same span of time, other people would win cruises for two on Premier Cruise Lines' vacation to the Bahamas (Gee... think maybe Disney should start its OWN cruise line?). OK, so not everyone won a car or cruise, but other prizes included theme park tickets, Disney Dollars (like cash, but more fun), limited edition pins, food and more!

Oh wait... before I get all mushy about WDW in 1987, I need to first remove my hat, and let's all share a moment of reverent silence for... If You Had Wings. After Eastern Airlines' sponsorship of the attraction ended, it was unceremoniously transformed (in about five days) into "If You Could Fly" -- a shell of its former self. And sorry, but having Magic Journeys move into the old home of the Mickey Mouse Revue on December 15 was no consolation. I guess the "Disney-MGM Studios" Preview Center at the Walt Disney Story Theater on Main Street, USA, is supposed to make me feel better? Well, based on some of the drawings and film I see here, I guess it kinda does.

One of the things I really like about this period in WDW's history is that Disney was feeling quite patriotic, just like me. Santa may have the spotlight around this time of year, but Disney was going to really give what they called a "Star Spangled Salute to America." It might be the season to be jolly, but it was also a time for the "All America Parade."

Read the rest of Lou's article here:


Lou Mongello is the author of the Walt Disney World Trivia Book and owner of You can purchase Lou's book through our bookstore:

Meet the Author - Lou Mongello:

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by Debra Martin Koma
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Sometimes you get lucky - you're in the right place at the right time. And lucky I was back in early December when I had the chance to sit down and chat for a few hours with Margaret Kerry, the original reference model for Disney's beloved character Tinker Bell.

Kerry was in Orlando for a number of public appearances, brought to town by the NFFC (National Fantasy Fan Club, a club for Disneyana enthusiasts) and its president Kendra Trahan. We met at the Beach Club, which was all decked out for the holidays, and a hungry Kerry asked if we could stop for a bite somewhere. We wandered over to the resort's new Beach Club Marketplace, where, in what I was soon to learn was her uniquely childlike way, Kerry ordered a Smucker's Uncrustable, a molded peanut butter and jelly sandwich, for herself, which she deemed just "perfect." After finding a quiet and comfy spot in the Beach Club Villas' library-like Breezeway, we spent a delightful two-plus hours getting to know the woman who was really Tink.

Now a sprightly 76-1/2 years old (and, as she told me, "Don't you forget it, Kiddo!"), Kerry considers herself lucky, as well. Back in the early 1950s, she was a beautiful dark-haired young dancer/actress with some modest success in film and television, having started acting when she was about 4 in the "Our Gang" comedies. In fact, she had a role in "If You Knew Susie" in 1948 with the Hollywood legend Eddie Cantor who, by the way, gave the actress (nee Peggy Lynch) her new, more sophisticated stage name. She had just finished a stint as an assistant dance director for the movie "I'll Get By," when her agent called her with an interesting proposition: Would she be interested in auditioning to be a model for an animated character?

"I thought, 'How do you audition for something like that?'" recalls Kerry. "I worked up a three-and-a-half-minute pantomime to a 45 rpm record and pretended to fix breakfast, dropping eggs, closing the refrigerator door with my foot, things like that. I did it for (animator) Marc Davis and (director) Gerry Geronimi and afterward they asked me if it would be 'convenient' for me to come back next Tuesday. Convenient for ME? No one had ever asked me that before! They chose ME! And then they added I should bring my bathing suit!"

Kerry duly reported for work the following Tuesday at 10 a.m. and spent the next six to eight months working on a "cold, dark and dank" soundstage acting out the movements and attitude of one of Disney's most enduring characters. Davis would tell her to pout or walk, and Kerry would respond, usually capturing the essence of the little pixie to the animator's satisfaction in one or two takes.

"It was not pleasant, walking around the soundstage in my bathing suit all day," Kerry notes, adding that it did have its redeeming moments. "One day, Buddy Ebsen (the popular dancer/ actor of the day who went on to play Jed Clampett on TV's "The Beverly Hillbillies") came by the soundstage. And two or three times Walt himself stopped by. I introduced myself to him one day, probably said something pert, and told him that I'd gone to school with his daughters -- one was older, one was younger than me. He surprised me when he said, 'Yes, they liked you!'"

For the rest of Deb Koma's profile of the enchanting Margaret Kerry, visit:

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Steve Barrett, author of "Hidden Mickeys: a Field Guide to Disney's Best-Kept Secrets"and webmaster of, suggests looking for these Hidden Characters when at Walt Disney World:

1) On the Kilimanjaro Safari Ride in Animal Kingdom, study the rock formation as your vehicle arcs around the lion area. Spot Donald's cap first, then his face and eyebrows, and watch as his beak moves into position to complete his face!

2) Outside the Stage 1 Company Store at Disney-MGM Studios, search for the spilled purple paint that forms a classic Mickey (it's close enough) on the cement below a lion's head on a wall near the Muppet Show exit. (Thanks to Dusty Madere, Malcolm Cleveland, and Darren for informing me about this Hidden Mickey.)

3) Inside the gift shop at the exit from Mission:SPACE at Epcot, stare at the ceiling at both sides of Mickey's side profile to find side profiles of Goofy (with his ears stretched out) and Donald! (Thanks to Michelle Anderson for telling me about these Hidden Characters.)

Learn about more Hidden Mickeys:

Purchase Steve's book in the book store:

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Animal Kingdom's new Expedition Everest has inspired several innovative desserts around Walt Disney World:

--The "Everest Cake" is a summit of fluffy white meringue crowning a warm chocolate "mountain," found at Whispering Canyon Cafe in the Wilderness Lodge.

--At Boma - Flavors of Africa in Animal Kingdom Lodge, there are "Snow-Capped Everest Cakes" soaked in Amarula, an African liqueur, and topped with white chocolate "snow."

--The "Expedition to Everest Sundae" at Jiko - the Cooking Place (also at Animal Kingdom Lodge) is a caramelized banana split with Amarula, chocolate and vanilla ice cream, malted whipped cream peaks and chocolate wisps.

--The "Everest Snowball" at Shutters at Old Port Royale at Caribbean Beach Resort is Oreo cake dipped in white chocolate and coconut, served with a chocolate cookie and chocolate and strawberry sauces.

--California Grill at the Contemporary Resort features a melange of fluffy vanilla sponge cake with honey-scented cream, peaches, nectarines and crunchy candy crumbles to recall the the peaks of Everest.

--Narcoossee's at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa offers up the "Everest Expedition" brown sugar tart in a chocolate and raspberry sauce with mounds of vanilla ice cream "snow."

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Expedition Everest continues to dominate the Disney headlines. Periodic openings took place during February and you can expect more of the same in March. Although the attraction is not officially open during what's known as the "soft opening," this is the time when details are being worked out, and guests MAY have the opportunity to ride -- there are no guarantees it will be open when you visit Animal Kingdom. However, if you're willing to wait around outside the entrance to Everest on the off-chance that you might be able to ride, be sure to head over to Asia while you're in the World.

Learn more about the attraction and read our Preview Weekend Report with photos at:

ESPN The Weekend - March 3-5, 2006 - ESPN and Walt Disney World Resort will again offer fans the opportunity to see and hear ESPN personalities and current and legendary athletes during "ESPN The Weekend Presented by Speed Stick(R) 24/7," a one-of-a-kind sports-themed special event at Disney-MGM Studios.

Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Downtown Disney will host an authentic Irish celebration of St. Patrick's Day on March 17. Raglan Road's house band Tuskar Rock will perform traditional and contemporary Irish music; Jay Shanahan, Fear an Ti (that's maitre d' in Irish), will entertain with Irish music and storytelling; champion Irish dancer and native Dubliner Danielle Fitzpatrick will demonstrate Irish dance steps; and Celtic Pulse, led by Myra Waters (a former dancer with Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance), will perform high-energy Irish step dancing throughout the evening. Raglan Road's retail store Shop for Ireland will stock custom clothing and novelty items to help revelers celebrate St. Paddy's Day in style. Raglan Road is open from noon to 2 a.m. On March 17, there will be a $15 cover charge per person from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Pleasure Island will celebrate St. Patrick's Day March 16-18, from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. The island will turn "green" with live music, videos by Irish artists, leprechaun characters and stilt walkers. Pleasure Island club admission is not required for this event.

The Atlanta Braves are at Disney's Wide World of Sports for spring training for the ninth year. Individual game tickets for the Braves home spring training games are currently on sale through Ticketmaster (407-839-3900 and and at the Disney's Wide World of Sports box office. Prices range from $13.50 (general admission lawn seats) to $22 (lower reserved).

Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex will also host an array of Major League Baseball's biggest stars as part of Round 1 of the highly anticipated inaugural World Baseball Classic, March 7-10. The 16-team tournament is sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) and will feature many of the best players in the world competing for their home countries and territories for the first time ever. Among the players scheduled to appear: Manny Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, Bobby Abreu, and Miguel Cabrera. Individual tickets for World Baseball Classic games are currently on sale through Ticketmaster (407-839-3900 and Information on World Baseball Classic six-game ticket packages is available by calling 407-939-GAME (4263) and online at Additional information on the World Baseball Classic can be found at


Rehabs and Closings:

Pirates of the Caribbean in the Magic Kingdom will close March 1, 2006, for a rehab that will see the addition of new characters and features from the popular film, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl." The attraction will feature the addition of buccaneers Captain Jack Sparrow and his nemesis Barbossa, who will add a twist to the attraction's old storyline as they race to be the first to claim a cache of plundered treasure. The attraction will reopen in time for the July 7 debut of the new movie, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest." Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Resort in California will also close in March and will reopen on June 24. (WDW) and (DLR)

Liberty Square Riverboat will not be sailing until summer 2006 due to an extensive rehab.

Downtown Disney - The World of Disney (Marketplace) is undergoing a rehab until April 2006. The store remains open, although some areas may temporarily be closed.

The West End Stage and the Hub Stage at Pleasure Island will be under refurbishment beginning March 20, continuing into late 2006.

Caribbean Beach Resort - Martinique Pool closed for rehab March 1 - 10, 2006.

Polynesian Resort - Longhouses are undergoing extensive rehab, with minimal effect on guests.

Wilderness Lodge - Roaring Fork Snack Bar closed for rehab in January and will reopen sometime in March 2006. Readers report that one side of the counter service restaurant is open in the mornings, serving some breakfast items.

Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort - Tubbi's, the 24-hour buffeteria located in the Walt Disney World Dolphin, is closed for renovations, and will reopen in early April with a fresh look and a new name. The Dolphin's convenience store closed February 21 as part of the refurbishment as well.

Yacht and Beach Club Resort - The Sandcastle Club closed February 21 and is set to reopen March 17. Use the Boardwalk's Harbor Club during this time.

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Pam: One of our favorite magical moments happened at Disney-MGM Studios. We knew they were taping the Millionaire Show the days we were there, but thought they had sold out of tickets. My husband asked a Cast Member if they had any more tickets, and he gave us 14! We were so excited! They pulled our group out of line and we got to sit in really good seats. Meredith (Vieira, the show's host) was as nice as ever. Mickey and Minnie came out, and they gave all the audience members gold Mickey ears to wear for the show and to keep! How cool is that? I love Disney World and can't wait to go back next January!

Anne: Thanks so much to for your wonderful presentation of information, tips and memories. The first of many trips to Walt Disney World began when our son was 5 and continued on until he was a young man. When he was engaged to our new "daughter," Matthew and I were discussing wedding and honeymoon plans. "Don't you know where we would like to go, Mom? " They are a very outdoorsy couple and I expected they would be looking at mountain hiking or something similar. "No, I want to take her to Disney and show her what a wonderful time I had as a kid." Well, my heart was a puddle, and it became our great joy to give them that trip as a wedding gift. Christina had never been before and true to his word, Matthew showed her it all. When they returned and I looked at their pictures, one very simple one stood out to me above the rest. As a special treat, they were at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, but Matthew had even taken her to "Dixie Landings," our favorite Disney resort and where we had stayed so many times as a family. There they were, the two of them, on the bridge. The magic continued, when last fall, the four of us went together.

Astrid Aalund: There are Magical Moments in the least expected places. I had purchased the IllumiNations music months ago and was waiting for the "right time" to crack open my CD. I just got a new car and this was it, heading for a family weekend in Plymouth in a new car with my new "vacation" music. Fireworks have always made me happy-teary-weepy, so there I was, driving my new car with the music crescendos, picturing the fireworks in my mind, happily driving down the highway, blubbering and sobbing the entire time. Wonderful! It's amazing to me how the place just stays with you.

Nicole Taylor: My husband and I took our 4-year-old daughter to Disney right before Christmas. We were walking in the area by the Magic Carpet ride when our daughter suddenly flew out of the stroller and started running. My husband and I both looked up just as our daughter reached Jasmine and Aladdin. They were walking to their "Meet and Greet" area and asked if she wanted to walk with them. Without even looking at us she said, "Yes," and headed off with Jasmine and Aladdin. I started crying, but was able to capture a picture. Our daughter is still talking about her special walk with Jasmine and Aladdin. Thank you, Jasmine and Aladdin, for making our week a special one!


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


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.