December 2006
Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the November 28, 2006, Issue #375 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.

This month we step back to December 1978 -- nearly 30 years ago! We are sitting in our Walt Disney World resort, perhaps the Contemporary, and are reading a copy of the Walt Disney World News, which was available to all resort guests:

"Special Holiday Celebrations Set the Magic Kingdom Aglow -- special holiday celebrations and entertainment abound during December. A Christmas parade, traditional Candlelight Processional, live rock bands and fireworks displays are the main features of the celebration.

"There is a 65-foot-tall tree at the end of Main Street decorated with toys, ornaments and thousands of lights. Mickey and Minnie Mouse will lead the Very Merry Christmas Parade from December 16 - 31. There are 7-foot-tall wooden solders, giant gingerbread men, oversized rag dolls and Santa! Special scenes include Santa's Toy Shop, Mrs. Claus's Kitchen, Santa's Post Office and a toy train.

"The popular rock group, Mantra, will perform live from December 16 - 31 and the Crown Heights Affair group will also perform live December 25-31. The rock sounds of Musique will be heard on New Year's Eve.

"More than 1,100 candle-bearing singers set the Kingdom aglow as they proceed down a darkened Main Street on December 16 and 17. The singers will form a human Christmas tree and guest narrator Ross Martin (Wild Wild West) will tell the Christmas Story."

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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 Mickeys in the Festival of the Lion King:

The Animal Kingdom's Festival of the Lion King is one of the best shows in Walt Disney World. But did you know some subtle Mickeys are hiding in here? (You may need to look for these Hidden Mickeys after the show concludes. When guests are exiting, you can often walk down to the floor and study the stages.)

1. A classic Mickey impression is in the "rock," below the stage on the baseboard and near the steps, facing the Elephant section.

2. A white classic Mickey is at the middle front at the bottom baseboard of the float with the giraffe and Timon. Watch for it at the beginning of the show as the float appears.

3. An upside-down white classic Mickey symbol is below the giraffe's front leg at the bottom right side (baseboard) of the float with Timon.

Thanks to Karen Brown and Caleb Parry for informing me about the above Hidden Mickeys.

Special Note: In last month's Hidden Mickeys Alert, I failed to credit the submitters. Trent Sexton sent in the classic Mickey in the buildings in Mickey's PhilharMagic; Tawny L. Peedin the Hidden Mickey on the key in Mickey's Country House; Robert Keller the birdhouse classic Mickey in Mickey's garage; and Greg Conlin and Benoit Paquin both spotted the Hidden Mickey inside the fan support along the queue for The Barnstormer attraction.

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ALL EARS® columnist Jack Spence stopped in at the recently renovated Captain Cook's at the Polynesian Resort and offers this review:

The remodel of Captain Cook's (the counter service eatery at the Polynesian Resort) is now complete and the place is open for business. Located in its original location at the back of the Great Ceremonial House, the remodeled version is twice the size of its former self, having taken over the Polynesian Princess shop, too. The new restaurant feels bright, clean and open. A pairing of light and dark woods combined with large hibiscus flowers on tiled walls creates a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Upon entering the restaurant, the hot food station is located on the right. Walk up to one of three touch-sensitive monitors and place your order; there is no "person" to take your order. It's fairly easy to navigate and most guests shouldn't have a problem figuring out what to do. At the time of this writing, there were Cast Members on hand to answer any questions you might have. But this was only the second day of operation so who knows how long these "helpers" will be around.

After placing your order, a receipt is automatically generated. Take it to the cashier station located in the middle of the food-court area. All other food items (those items that do not need to be cooked to order) are located in and about this room. You can find chips, fruit, desserts and other goodies on various shelves and in nooks and crannies. Cold items are located in three refrigerators at the back of the room. If you want a fountain drink, tell the cashier when paying and you will be given an empty cup to use at the drink dispenser.

When you pay, the cashier will give you a pager and instruct you to find a table while your order is being completed. In my case, I ordered two hamburgers and fries and it took between 5-7 minutes for my order to be completed. The hamburgers come with chips, but I assumed that this was going to be a bag of Lay's tossed in with my burger -- that's why I ordered fries. But I was wrong. The accompanying chips were a generous portion of hot, multi-colored tortilla chips with a Polynesian seasoning. I didn't need the fries.

Captain Cook's now has two indoor seating areas, about twice as much seating as they used to have. One section is directly adjacent to the food court area. The drink dispensers are also located in this room. The other area is in what used to be the Polynesian Princess shop. Both areas have pleasant views of the outside. Between the two, I'd select the seating area that does not contain the drink dispensers. There is a little less hustle and bustle going on here. There are also 15 or so tables located directly outside of Captain Cook's and this would be a delightful place to eat on a nice day.

Located next door to Captain Cook's, in what used to be the Robin Crusoe Men's Shop, is Moana Mickey's, the new arcade. It is separated by a thick wall from the restaurant so no annoying noise can be heard while you're eating. This arcade seems to have a selection of video games that would keep most youngsters happy for hours. The walls in this room are painted with giant palm leaves and tiki gods. The room also has several windows that look outside into the lush foliage of the resort. These windows give the room a more open and lighter feel than many of the other arcades at Walt Disney World.

Photos of restaurant and arcade:

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MouseFest, an international Disney fan gathering that takes place every December, begins in just a few short days! Join us on land or on the Disney Wonder -- everyone is invited; there are no membership requirements.

More than 2000 people are now registered for MouseFest 2006, including 276 MouseFest Cruisers! Disney fans will be attending from eight countries: Australia, Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States (48 of the 50 states).

There are two special events Deb would like to call your attention to:

On the Disney Wonder: Wednesday, December 6 -- "Walk/Stroll/Roll the Plank" against Breast Cancer. We will walk/stroll/roll around Deck 10 a couple of times, weather permitting, in support of ALL EARS® founder and 20-year Breast Cancer Survivor, Deb Wills. Join Deb, Annette Owens and others for a walk/stroll/roll around the deck. MouseFanTravel will donate $5 for each walker (up to 30 walkers) to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Fund in support of Deb Wills. There is no cost to those who walk. Special gifts for attendees. Meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Deck 9 Aft Soda Station.

At the MegaMouseMeet: Saturday, December 9, at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort, Atlantic Room A -- Play Mouse Fan Bingo at the Mega Mouse Meet for a chance to win great prizes, including one complimentary Ride-Along Experience at the WDW Richard Petty Experience (use by May 2007). Just visit the Mouse Fan Travel booth for your game card!

MegaMouseMeet Attendees: If you'd like to make a donation to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Deb Wills's name, stop by and see her at the table. If you donate $10 or more, you'll receive a Pink Ribbon magnet for your car. All donations will receive an "I Donated to the Fight Against Breast Cancer" Sticker and Deb's undying gratitude!

For more details and updates visit:

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The Wonders of Life Pavilion attractions (Body Wars, Cranium Command, and The Making of Me) in Epcot's Future World opened November 26 and will be operating through January 1, 2007.

Walt Disney World kicked off its newest promotion, the Year of a Million Dreams, on Sunday, October 1, 2006. Look for lots of fun, prizes and surprises in the coming months.

Finding Nemo: The Musical comes to life daily during "soft openings." Daily at 10 and 11:30 a.m.; 12:45 and 3 p.m.

Remember, there will be special Passholder Previews from December 1-10. If you reserve a spot at least three days in advance, you will be able to attend the 10 a.m. performance of Finding Nemo - The Musical on one of these days. To reserve your spot, you must log in to the Disney Passholder site. Sign up for a time, print your confirmation and bring it, along with your Pass and your photo ID, to the show. Seating is limited, so only current Passholders will be able to attend these shows.

Pop Warner Superbowl - December 3-9; Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheer and Dance Championships.


Holiday celebrations at Walt Disney World continue in December!

Magic Kingdom:

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party -- December 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 18, 19, 21, and 22! The party includes a special parade and holiday fireworks spectacular.

For information and schedule of events, visit:

Party Photos:
Parade Photos:

For reader reviews and to post yours:

Holidays Around the World -- An Epcot tradition with storytellers, a character tree-lighting ceremony daily, a stunning display of snow-white lights, and the Candlelight Processional -- guest narrators accompanied by a massed choir and orchestra for a retelling of the Christmas story. The holiday fun is included with regular Epcot admission.

Candlelight Processional Guest Narrators:
Nov. 30-Dec. 2 -- Rita Moreno
Dec. 3 - Marie Osmond
Dec. 4-5 Mario Lopez
Dec. 6-8 Brian Dennehy
Dec. 9-11 Steven Curtis Chapman
Dec. 12-14 Maureen McGovern
Dec. 15-17 Kirk Cameron
Dec. 18-20 Neil Patrick Harris
Dec. 21-23 Cuba Gooding Jr.
Dec. 24-26 Gary Sinise
Dec. 27-30 Marlee Matlin

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at the Disney-MGM Studios -- The Streets of America backlot cityscape at Disney-MGM Studios comes alive with millions of sparkling lights each evening. This year, the spectacle has been enhanced to include choreographed "dancing" lights that swirl and soar to an exhilarating medley of holiday music every 15 minutes, thanks to electronic wizardry featuring more than 400 dimmers. Every building facade, all the trees, wreaths, bells and holiday figures dance to classic tunes among Florida "snow flurries." 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 nightly through January 7, 2007.

Read our interview with Jennings Osborne here:

Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade at Animal Kingdom is performed at 3:45 p.m. and continues daily through January 6, 2007 (dates subject to change).

Cirque du Soleil will present a special edition of La Nouba on New Year's Eve. Attendees at the 6 and 9 p.m. performances on December 31, 2006, will be treated to a champagne toast, a limited-edition full-color souvenir program and a special grand finale. Tickets can be purchased through the Disney Reservation Center, the Cirque du Soleil box office, or Ticketmaster. For more information: -

New Year's Eve at Pleasure Island will feature an island-wide party from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. with bands and DJs, music, comedy, food, special entertainment, traditional champagne toast, midnight fireworks and more. The food menu this year includes such items as petite steak sandwiches, lime-marinated chicken, barbecue-smoked pork and grilled mahi-mahi tacos. (Menu subject to change without notice.) Tickets to this year's event, open to ages 21 or older, cost $89 plus tax and are on sale now. NOTE: Passholders can receive $10 off the regular ticket price of $89 for themselves and one guest. Tickets must be purchased at least one day in advance to receive discount. Call 407-W-DISNEY (934-7639) to learn more.

Don't forget to check our Events page for periodic updates:


Rehabs and Closings:

Refurbishment of the West End Stage and the Hub Stage at Pleasure Island continues into late 2006.

Blizzard Beach is closed for its annual rehab and will reopen on January 7, 2007.

The Breathless, the 24-foot ChrisCraft reproduction of a 1930 runabout which gives IllumiNations and other cruises on Crescent Lake, has been undergoing a rehab since October 1, 2006. Some guests report being able to book the Breathless for December, but we have had no official word on its availability.

The Fantasia Pool at All Star Movies is closed for an extensive rehab through February 18, 2007. All-Star Movie guests can use the "quiet" pools as well as the main pools at the other All Star Resorts.

Be sure to check our Rehabs and Closings page for periodic updates:

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The Year of a Million Dreams officially began Sunday, October 1, and as part of that celebration Disney Cast Members are not just dispensing "dream" prizes, but are also creating an unprecedented number of "Magical Moments." These include guests being tapped to help with the pixie-dusted opening of Magic Kingdom, getting the star treatment at a celebrity-style handprint ceremony at Disney-MGM Studios, or being named Official Wildlife Spotters at Disney's Animal Kingdom. We have some early reports of guests at Walt Disney World and Disneyland receiving "dreams" from the Dream Squad and some of these Magical Moments, as well:

Kelly Cannizzo: I received two Magical Moment prizes on our trip. We received the special mouse ears as we got on the Expedition Everest ride; they were handed out to about 30 people or so. I also received the Tinker Bell pin, one for me and one to share while we were at the Studios. My most magical moment was not a prize, however. I lost my cell phone -- not sure if it fell out of my pocket on the monorail or the bus -- and when I called the lost and found they HAD IT! Coming from New Jersey, not one of us thought I would ever see my phone again -- I still can't believe I got it back.

Barbara Tepper: My husband and I had a magical moment in the Haunted Mansion. This is one of our very favorite attractions and we ride it often. This time we proceeded into the "stretching room" and had the usual presentation, but at the end they didn't let us out. The Cast Member with us said there was a special announcement from special people. There were two different Cast Members not connected to the ride who then took over. They said everyone in our room was selected to receive a special gift for the Year of a Million Dreams. We were all given a little package of a Limited Edition lanyard with pins as we exited into the ride. Needless to say everyone in there was so excited! I will never forget that feeling.

Amber: I took my boyfriend to his very first visit to Disney-MGM Studios on November 11 and we got lucky enough to be part of the Year of a Million Dreams! We got inside the library at the Tower of Terror and the Dream Squad walked in and told us we had been picked to be part of this fantastic celebration! Everybody in the room was given a Dream FastPass! What a first trip my boyfriend had! He's 24 years old and he was jumping around like a little kid! It just goes to show you that your first experience at Disney World will always be magical, no matter how old you are!


EDITOR'S NOTE: If the Dream Squad bestows a "dream" upon you, or if you receive an official "Magical Moment," please let us know! We'd love to hear what you won, how you were chosen, and don't forget to send any photos if you have them! Email us at

For more Magical Moments:
For Dreams:


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.