May 2006
Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the April 25, 2006, Issue #344 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 with author Lou Mongello, who takes us back to 1982...

I love Walt Disney World. No big surprise there. And while I'm someone who enjoys change, and looks forward to what Disney has planned on the horizon, I can't help but fondly recall the WDW from days gone by. I am a purist... a nostalgic at heart. While I love a good Yeti as much as the next guy, I miss the House of Magic, Mr. Toad, and the ticket kiosks scattered about the parks. Fortunately, my memory hasn't completely faded just yet, and with the power of imagination (Lou starts singing the old "Journey Into Imagination" song in his best Billy Barty Figment voice), we can take a trip together in my Walt Disney World Wayback Machine.

Like the music channel VH-1, I also "Love the '80s," so I've set the dials to January 1982.

There's something called "EPCOT Center," which I just HAVE to check out! They've been talking about this thing for almost 20 years, so I can't wait to see this incredible glass-domed city of the future. Here is where 20,000 people, all of whom are employed, will live, work and play in a climate-controlled environment. This amazing, utopian city will have no slum areas, is supposed to utilize the most cutting-edge of technologies, and will showcase the forefront in industry, government and education. Like the Magic Kingdom, this city uses a hub-and-spoke model, where a transportation network radiates outward through four primary spheres of activity around the central core. The dense, central area has businesses and apartment housing, while further out becomes a more suburban model. I definitely have to check out the seven-acre recreation deck located above the pedestrian and shopping areas of the city. What's REALLY cool is the transportation lobby below the city! Here, Disney uses two disparate, electric-powered systems: a monorail for long trips and a WEDWAY People Mover for shorter ones. I love the WEDWAY in the Magic Kingdom, so this is gonna be great! Who knows, I might just have to move here myself...

(Insert dream sequence music and blurry visual effects here.)

*POOF* It's January 1982, and it's a heck of a lot warmer here than it is in Jersey. I'm driving around, looking for that big jetport they were supposed to build, but no dice. Hmm... No matter. I should see that big dome any second now... any second... here it comes... ummm... huh.

A Cast Member in her dashing, double-knit polyester costume points me toward EPCOT Center (although she did look at me funny when I asked where the city was). She tells me it's not open yet, but I slip her a twenty and she gives me the go-ahead to go look around.

Hey... Wait a second! That's not a dome! It's a geodesic sphere! And those aren't houses! They're big buildings shaped like a wheel, or a pyramid... and that one has solar panels on it!

Time out.

OK, so Walt Disney's vision of EPCOT, the city, never came to be. His vision of an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow -- this living, breathing community -- died along with Walt in 1966. When Imagineers went about the task of picking up the pieces and deciding how to proceed now that their leader was gone, the idea of EPCOT lived on, but not as Walt had wanted it to be. The reality of politics, voting rights for residents, as well as technical and logistical dilemmas, plagued the folks over in California. So the "new" EPCOT was born.

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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Steve Barrett, author of "Hidden Mickeys: a Field Guide to Disney's Best-Kept Secrets"and webmaster of , suggests looking for these tiny, classic (three-circle) Hidden Mickeys:

1. Find some hidden characters in the gift shop at the exit of Pirates of the Caribbean. As you walk from the ride exit, look on the left wall for a small "pirate's map," which has continents shaped like Goofy, Donald, Pluto and of course, Mickey. (Thanks to Jesse Kline for this hidden character sighting. Our MouseFest 2005 Hidden Mickey Hunt group liked this one).

2. Some really decent Hidden Mickeys are popping up at Typhoon Lagoon. At Crush 'n' Gusher, ride up the elevator and look left as you get off to spot the paint circles on the floor: a perfect classic Hidden Mickey. (Thanks to Brad and Courtney for writing me about this Hidden Mickey).


For other Hidden Mickey alerts visit:

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Shannon Thompson writes: Both my daughters (ages 8 and 5) had appointments at the new Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique on grand opening day, Wednesday, 4/5/06. When you check in they give you a pager so you can be looking around the World of Disney store while waiting. We were the second set of appointments for that day and had about a 40-minute wait due to, I'm assuming, the opening day festivities. There were many Disney Cast Members present and it looked chaotic, but once we got inside all had settled down and we were quite comfortable. (It looked crazy while we were waiting!) We counted 10 chairs inside and I'm sure they are going to have to expand soon because my girls LOVED this!

We had chosen the Crown package when we booked, but for some reason they had us down as a Coach package without the nails; however, they were able to accommodate us. A tip -- avoid the fake fingernails. I never quite heard the choices so I don't know if they could have gotten their nails painted instead, but the fake fingernails bothered both my girls later and my youngest had lost three before we had even left Downtown Disney. (They do give you a second set to take home.) Another tip -- choose the Pop Princess style! I looked over the other styles being done and neither the Fairytale Princess nor the Disney Diva looked nearly as fun! My oldest got blue hair extensions and my youngest got pink hair extensions, both with fun rhinestone Mickey head clips. They looked really cool! (Make sure you comb their hair well beforehand. We noticed none of the stylists were using combs! They went through my daughters' hair with their fingers.)

It was great fun and Disney has a huge hit on their hands. I foresee this as being another very hard to get reservation! They get to take their makeup with them in a cute bag and they also have trading pins available for purchase. A PhotoPass photographer was also on hand and got some wonderful pictures of the girls' expressions when they turned them around to see themselves in the mirror. Make sure to do this early in the day -- we later went to the Studios and everyone was stopping my girls and asking about their hair. They both love attention so this was right up their alley! The Boutique gives the girls banners to wear across their chest that say Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, too! After your girls are done they can go over to the Wonderful World of Memories store and get more pictures taken with the PhotoPass card with a professional looking backdrop. The photographer must have taken about 30 photos of my girls. You can purchase them then or wait and view them online once you get home. I saw this photo setup prior to their appointment and I'm glad I asked the PhotoPass photographer about it while in the Boutique because it was never mentioned to us. In summary, this was a great time!

For more information on the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique:

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Goofy's Liberate Your Appetite Character Dinner -- each night you can dine Colonial style in the Magic Kingdom's Liberty Tree Tavern. This All-You-Can-Eat dinner is served family style at your table. While feasting on your Declaration Salad (toss mixed greens) and the Patriot's Platter (turkey, beef, ham and the fixin's) you are visited by Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and friends. Adults $27.99; Little Patriots (ages 3-9) $12.99 readers rate Liberty Tree Tavern their favorite place to eat in the Magic Kingdom -- with an overall rating of 9.1, it's recommended by 96 percent of reviewers. Here are snippets of their comments:

Colleen: We tried it as an alternative to the Crystal Palace buffet. We were pleasantly surprised. We went for the characters but the meal was wonderful. The characters were great. We got great photos. Apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream for dessert -- YUM. We will definitely make this a regular stop.

RAJAH: I am from Virginia and we have taverns in Williamsburg and this really had the feel of an old tavern. We will definitely be returning here in August.

Tacey noted that the restaurant is not very "size" friendly: I took someone that was of very large size and this restaurant's seating is not really set up well for that. Tables are very close together and the seats on the chairs are very small.

Punky: The food (apparently cooked by Chip and Dale, judging by their aprons) is really good and filling -- don't have lunch that day! Our 4-year-old princess loves mac and cheese so that was perfect.

Tinalala provides the lone "not recommended" rating: We go here all the time; however, the last two visits were awful. We received little amounts of meat on our tray and it took forever to receive a refill. We had to ask other servers for refills of our drinks. Our food arrived cold -- when it finally did arrive. Thank goodness we brought crayons and a coloring book for the kids or they would have been climbing up the walls with how long we had to wait for the food.

Other tips from our reviewers -- several noted they had to wait 15-20 minutes to be seated, even with an Advance Reservation and the service was hit or miss. It can get quite noisy, not at all a quiet place for dinner. Restrooms are small and are located up a flight of stairs. The entrance ramp is located to the far left side as you face the outside of the restaurant.

Sugarcandiezz concludes: Everything tasted like a home cooked meal. My fiance' and I loved the character dining here, meeting characters dressed in Colonial outfits. It was a one-of-a-kind experience that you won't see at other character meeting locations.

The Liberty Tree Tavern also serves lunch.

Lunch Menu:
Dinner Menu:

Rate your favorites, or read others' opinions, in our Rate and Review section:

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The 13th International Flower and Garden Festival began April 21 and runs through June 11! Themed weekends, guest seminars, Flower Power Concerts (America Gardens Theatre 5:45, 7, and 8:15 p.m.), and more.

Minnie Marathon Weekend: To promote women's wellness, Walt Disney World will present a weekend event benefiting the American Heart Association. On May 5, Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex will host an expo from noon to 7 p.m. featuring educational opportunities and products for women. The expo continues May 6 from 10 a.m. 5 p.m. Races of varying lengths will take place May 6-7. To register, visit or call 407-938-3398.

The Muddy Buddy, a new trail-running and bike-racing event for two-person teams of both beginning athletes and experienced racers will be held on May 13 at Disney's Wide World of Sports. Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex is the only location for this event in the southeastern United States. To register, or to get more information, visit

Two more 2006 Grad Nites in the Magic Kingdom - May 5-6, 2006: High school senior classes will gather for an exclusive, all-night party in the Magic Kingdom, featuring live performances.

Star Wars Weekends! Warwick Davis will be the first-ever celebrity host for all four Star Wars Weekends. Davis was only 11 years old when he played Wicket the Ewok in the film Return of the Jedi. In addition, in The Phantom Menace (Episode I), he played multiple roles, including that of Anakin's young friend Wald. Guests he will host include:

May 19-21 -- Producer Rick McCallum and Peter Mayhew, best-known as the Wookiee Chewbacca.
May 26-28 -- Jake Lloyd (young Anakin from Episode I) and Matthew Wood (Episode III's Supervising Sound Editor and the voice of the evil General Grievous).

The 2006 Teddy Bear and Doll Weekend will take place May 19-21 during the 13th Annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival at the World ShowPlace (in World Showcase). This special event requires pre-registration and payment for most activities; however, Sunday, May 21, World ShowPlace is open to the public and you will have the opportunity to meet more than 40 artists as they showcase their beautiful teddy bears and dolls.


Rehabs and Closings:

Ellen's Energy Adventure in Epcot's Future World will be closed for refurbishment May 1 - 14.

The Viking Ship play area in World Showcase's Norway pavilion is closed for refurbishment. No reopening date has been given.

Theater in the Wild is now closed and under renovation. It will reopen late this year as Finding Nemo: The Musical.

Pirates of the Caribbean in the Magic Kingdom will close for the second phase of its refurbishment from May 1 through June 30, reopening on Saturday, July 1, 2006.The revamped attraction will feature the addition Captain Jack Sparrow and his nemesis Barbossa from the popular film, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl." Also making a guest appearance is the ghostly Davy Jones from the second movie in the series, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Resort in California is also undergoing a similar rehab and will reopen on June 24. and

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

Keystone Clothiers in the Disney-MGM Studios is closed until June 16, 2006.

The West End Stage and the Hub Stage at Pleasure Island are under refurbishment, continuing into late 2006.

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

Caribbean Beach Resort's Martinique pool will be closed for rehab April 30 - May 6, 2006.

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Karen Weinrich: At Epcot, we always plan to start visiting the countries around 11 a.m. when they open -- they are much less crowded at that time. In the United Kingdom, we went to the toy store, where they have a Thomas the Tank Engine display set up. My 3-year-old son immediately began playing. A few minutes later, who should sit down next to him but Mary Poppins! She played trains with him for five minutes! You just never know who will show up at Disney!

Mary Hogan: My magical moment was spring break 2005, when my Irish dance school was asked to dance at Walt Disney World. I was so nervous, but before we got on the bus, Mickey came on and wished all of us good luck, and gave me and a bunch of other dancers good luck kisses! Another Magic Moment was that my grandparents were unable to come, so after I danced I got to my room to find a bouquet of flowers, a balloon, and a card which read, "You are Cinderella today; may all your dreams come true."

Tracy Discher: We took our 4-year-old son for a five-day trip to Disney. We had a truly wonderful time and he still talks about it a year later. The highlight of the trip for him (and me) was the parade at Magic Kingdom. We happened to be right at the start of the parade and got to see everything up close. At the end of the parade my son, Jordan, was one of about three kids asked to carry the rope at the end of the parade. He got to carry it all the way to the crossing of Main Street. He was waving to everyone just like he was part of the parade. It was a truly magical experience for me as well because it brought back my childhood memories and thrilled me to know he was making some of his own! We now have a 3-month-old baby and are already planning to return when he is 3.

Erika A.: I just wanted to share a Magical Moment. This one came in the least likely of places... the hospital! We had originally planned a trip to WDW for February, but had to postpone because our youngest daughter, age 3, had to have major surgery. While at the hospital, we were visited by some VoluntEARS on behalf of Disney! March 9 kicked off Disney s "Season of Compassion," and these VoluntEARS delivered care packages to patients in all of the Children's Hospitals across the country. Our daughter received a princess nightgown, princess fleece robe, and a Tink doll. And the VoluntEARS didn't leave out big brother and sister... he received a fleece Dash throw and she was given an Aurora doll! We were all so stunned and overwhelmed! Our little one said, "Mickey knew I was in the hospital!" It made her stay so much easier. So, thanks Disney! And now that she is on the road to recovery, we are re-planning our trip for May!


Relive your Magical Moment with the ALL EARS(R) Family!Send your Magical Moment in to Although we can't publish all the Magical Moments we receive, we do read each one. Thank you all for sharing!


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.