January 2007
Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the January 2, 2007, Issue #380 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.

This month, we travel back more than two decades -- here are some tidbits pulled from the January 1985 Walt Disney World News:

-- A new parade marched down Main Street USA -- Mickey's Street Party! Forty Disney characters joined dancers who created the street party. The floats were in Day-Glo colors of pink, purple, red, orange and yellow. If you were looking for characters, you'd find them every day at 5:15 p.m., at the Cinderella Castle Forecourt.

-- And there was more live entertainment in the Magic Kingdom: At the Tomorrowland Theatre, Show Biz saluted vaudeville, Hollywood and Broadway; Tabasco played top 40 hits at the Tomorrowland Terrace Stage, the Dapper Dans strolled down Main Street, and Handpicked brought bluegrass to Frontierland! Also J.P. and the Silver Stars, from Trinidad, performed steel drum music in Adventureland.

-- Special resort packages were offered for Florida residents from January 4 - February 18. For just $99 per person (double occupancy, of course), you could get a two-night stay at either the Contemporary, Polynesian or the Golf Resort. The package included dinner for two at the Pueblo Room, Trophy Room or Papeete Bay Verandah restaurants. Also for $99, you can enjoy the same offer of dinner for two, and spend two nights in a Fort Wilderness Resort fully equipped Fleetwood trailer!

-- Florida residents could also purchase a Florida Resident Salute Ticket for just $15 for one park one day, or $28 for a two-day ticket good for one park each day.

-- Epcot's Les Chefs de France sold more than 219,000 napoleons in 1984!

-- The Walt Disney World Village celebrated the 4th Annual Village Wine Festival with more than 50 wineries represented. For $20 per person, you could sample a selection of wines and join in discussions with winemakers. You would also receive a complimentary glass.

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HIDDEN MICKEYS ALERT
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Steve Barrett, author of "Hidden Mickeys: a Field Guide to Disney's Best-Kept Secrets" and webmaster of www.hiddenmickeysguide.com, suggests looking for these Hidden Mickeys in Conservation Station and Mickey's Toontown Fair the next time you're in Walt Disney World:

1. Just inside the entrance to Conservation Station in Rafiki's Planet Watch, Disney's Animal Kingdom, spot this classic Mickey on a lizard's left ear. He's above the deer, at the top right corner of the border of the changing screen. (Submitted by James Baublitz and Jesse Kline.) http://allears.net/btp/hm142.jpg

2. Further inside Conservation Station, find a butterfly with a tiny, black classic Mickey. Look on the front of the tree with the cockroach display inside. The butterfly is on the left front of the tree, about 6-1/2 feet up from the floor, and the Hidden Mickey is on its lower back, between the wings. http://allears.net/btp/hm141.jpg

3. In Mickey's Toontown Fair, Magic Kingdom, search for the rooster DJ. He's on a "Wacky Radio" sign, on the shack in front of and to the right of The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm. The knot in his necktie is a classic Mickey. (Submitted by Mike Ireland.) http://allears.net/btp/hm140.jpg

4. The inside carpet along the entrance queue to Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, Disney-MGM Studios, has wavy, distorted (psychedelic?) classic Mickey shapes. Several folks have tuned me in to this Hidden Mickey, but let me know if you think it's too far-fetched to be counted. http://allears.net/btp/hm139.jpg

Past Hidden Mickeys Steve has shared with ALL EARS® can be found here: http://allears.net/btp/hiddenm.htm

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RESORT AND FOOD BITES
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It's been a year now since we introduced our Rate and Review section. Judging by your responses, it's been a resounding success! To give you an idea of the magnitude of the review area, we now have more than 7,500 reviews covering Disney Dining, Resorts, Special Events, Tours and the Disney Cruise Line. By taking the time to share your experiences, you help other readers fine-tune their vacation plans. Based on ratings acquired through mid-December, here are your "best and worst" of 2006. (A minimum of 10 reviews required for ratings -- ratings average in parentheses following selections.)

RESORTS

Values:

-- Highest Rated: POP Century (8.10)
-- Lowest Rated: All Star Music (7.46)

Moderates:

-- Highest Rated: Port Orleans French Quarter (8.8)
-- Lowest Rated: Caribbean Beach (7.8)

Deluxes:

-- Highest Rated: Polynesian Resort (8.97), followed closely by the Walt Disney World Swan (8.88)
-- Lowest Rated: Contemporary (7.69)

Disney Vacation Club Resorts:

-- Highest Rated: Villas at Wilderness Lodge (9.05), followed by Old Key West (8.88)
-- Lowest Rated: Saratoga Springs (8.44)

Concierge Resorts:

-- Highest Rated: Boardwalk Inn (9.11), followed closely by the Animal Kingdom Lodge (9.00)
-- Lowest Rated: Beach Club (7.50)

Both Shades of Green and the Walt Disney World Swan are recommended by 100 percent of all readers; Animal Kingdom Lodge is recommended by 99 percent of all readers.

DINING

Animal Kingdom:

-- Highest Rated: Tusker House (8.68)
-- Lowest Rated: Restaurantosaurus (6.43)

Disney-MGM Studios:

-- Highest Rated: Flatbread Grill (9.67), Playhouse Disney's Play 'N' Dine at Hollywood & Vine (8.62)
-- Lowest Rated: ABC Commissary (6.79) and Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater (6.80)

Epcot:

-- Highest Rated: Le Cellier (9.15)
-- Lowest Rated: Ristorante L'Originale Alfredo di Roma (6.29)

Magic Kingdom:

Highest Rated: Crystal Palace Breakfast (9.32)
Lowest Rated: Tony's Town Square (6.89)

Downtown Disney:

Highest Rated: Wolfgang Puck Express (9.18)
Lowest Rated: Cap'n Jack's (5.78) and Planet Hollywood (5.48)

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MONTHLY REMIND-EARS
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There are still a few days left to catch the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, on display through January 7! http://allears.net/tp/h_osb.htm

WDW Marathon Weekend runs January 4-7, 2007. The 2007 event consists of a split-day format with the Walt Disney World Half Marathon scheduled for January 6, 2007 and the Walt Disney World Marathon on January 7, 2007. There's also a Pirate and Princess 5K run on January 5. Registration for these main running events has long been closed to participants, but you can still attend Disney's Health and Fitness Expo at The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports, with celebrity runners, seminars on training, racing and nutrition, and the latest in running and fitness equipment (January 4-6). There will also be Pirate and Princess Kids' Races at 10 a.m. on January 5 and 6 for children under 8. For more information, and to register for the kids' races: http://disneyworldsports.disney.go.com/dwws/en_US/marathon/listing?name=MarathonEventListingPage2

Over the course of the weekend, marathon activities will cause some road closings or detours around the resort, since the course runs through all four theme parks and many of the resort areas. Drivers are reminded to use caution and plan routes accordingly.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Registration for the 2008 Walt Disney World Marathon, which will be its 15th year, begins January 8, 2007. Information is now online at: http://disneyworldsports.disney.go.com/dwws/en_US/marathon/events/detail?name=Marathon2008FullMarathonEventInfoDetailPage

Finding Nemo: The Musical comes to life daily during "soft openings." The show is performed this week at 11:30 a.m., and 12:45, 3 and 4:45 p.m. daily. http://allears.net/tp/ak/nemo.htm

Disney's Pirate & Princess Party -- On January 22, 26, 29; February 1, 5, 8, 12, 15, 23, 26; and March 2, 5, 8, from 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., you can embark on a quest for beads and chocolate treasures immersed in a world of pirates and princesses during the all-new "Pirate & Princess Party" at the Magic Kingdom. Pick up a treasure map and bag, then choose your course of Princess or Pirate. http://allears.net/tp/mk/pirateprincess.htm

EDITOR'S NOTE: Several ALL EARS® Team Members will be attending the first of these new parties. We'll be reporting on them soon!

Blizzard Beach reopens from its annual rehab on January 7! http://allears.net/btp/bb.htm

Pleasure Island dance clubs change to 21 and over: Beginning the evening of January 1, 2007, you must be 21 or older for admission to BET Soundstage Club, 8TRAX, Mannequins Dance Palace, Motion and Rock 'n' Roll Beach Club at Pleasure Island. The Adventurers Club and The Comedy Warehouse will continue to be open to all ages, although children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. http://allears.net/btp/faq_pi.htm

Don't forget to check our Events page for periodic updates: http://allears.net/pl/events.htm

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Rehabs and Closings:

Disney-MGM Studios

-- Rock 'n' Roller Coaster in Disney-MGM Studios will be closed for refurbishment January 2 - 21, and will reopen Monday, January 22, 2007.

-- Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show will be dark January 31 and February 1.

Animal Kingdom

-- Finding Nemo - The Musical will not be performed January 14 - 15.

-- Kali River Rapids will be closed for refurbishment February 5 - 9.

Epcot

-- El Rio del Tiempo will be closed for refurbishment January 2 through April 1, 2007.

-- Teppanyaki Restaurant in Epcot's Japan pavilion will be closed for a major rehab from January 15 - May 25, 2007. No further details are known.

Magic Kingdom

-- Splash Mountain will close for refurbishment from January 2 - 27.

-- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh will be closed for refurbishment from January 28 - February 11.

-- Ariel's Grotto is closed for refurbishment January 3 - 11.

-- Tomorrowland Indy Speedway - will be closed for refurbishment from January 31 - February 15.

Downtown Disney

-- Refurbishment of the West End Stage and the Hub Stage at Pleasure Island continues.

Resorts

-- The Breathless, the 24-foot ChrisCraft reproduction of a 1930s runabout that gives IllumiNations and other cruises on Crescent Lake, has been out of commission since October 1, 2006. No definite word on when or if it will return to service.

EDITOR'S NOTE: ALL EARS® has heard a rumor that the reason folks have spied the boat sitting at its dock at the Yacht Club marina is that it has not been sent out for rehab as yet. Apparently, according to the rumor, Disney has not decided whether to go ahead with the boat's needed repairs as the estimate for such repairs was very high. Disney is supposedly negotiating with another builder and may eventually end up replacing the Breathless with a different custom-made wood boat.

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

-- Boardwalk's Keister Coaster pool SLIDE only will be closed January 9 - 25

-- Grand Floridian Beach pool will be closed January 9 and 10.

-- Port Orleans' Riverside Mill Food Court will be closed from January 2 until mid-April for refurbishment. The food court will continue to offer a VERY limited menu for breakfast and dinner and a small number of "grab-and-go" items at lunch during the refurbishment. Boatwright's, the table service restaurant at Port Orleans, will continue regular breakfast and dinner service and will also offer a limited lunch menu. The food court at sister resort Port Orleans French Quarter (Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory) will be open as usual during this timeframe.

-- Port Orleans Ol' Man Island Pool SLIDE only will be closed January 23 through February 2.

-- Wilderness Lodge's Silver Creek Springs pool and hot tub will be closed January 29 through March 2.

-- The Walt Disney World Swan's Palio Restaurant is closed for a major renovation. It will reopen as "Il Mulino New York Trattoria" in early 2007.

Typhoon Lagoon closes for its annual rehab on January 7 and will reopen March 17.

Be sure to check our Rehabs and Closings page for periodic updates: http://allears.net/tp/rehabs.htm

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DREAM LOVERS WHERE ARE YOU?
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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:

Beth Marchese: Our eight-day visit to Walt Disney World netted us three dream prizes and many, many magical moments! It all started with the Dumbo ride, where everyone about to board, my family of four included, received the Dream Mouse Ears. The next day, a Cast Member approached my little Snow White and told her that the real Snow White asked the seven dwarfs to dig up some gems so she could give them to my daughter! (Those jewels were actually the highlight of her trip.) Within the hour, a Dream Squad member stopped us and asked my kids if they had a chance to ride the Winnie the Pooh ride yet that day. They hadn't so she led us to the front of the line to get right on the ride and met us at the exit with a certificate stating, "The Marchese Family are the newest residents in the 100 acre wood," signed by the Dream Squad 2006! These are just the highlights of everything the Cast Members did to make our stay memorable! I'm afraid to go back now, since nothing could live up to this visit!

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Sandi Hazel: While preparing to ride the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster on Saturday, December 9, we received a Magical Dream award. Everyone in line (approximately 2,000 people) received an extra hour and a half in the Studios on Saturday night. We all received a pin and a turquoise blue "hospital band" type bracelet to wear. We met again at 8 p.m. at Indiana Jones and then "Herbie," our Dream Captain, advised us that we could have the park all to ourselves until 9:30! Most major attractions were open -- including Tower of Terror, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, the Osborne Lights and the Great Movie Ride, as well as most, if not all, of the shops! It was truly magical to be able to go on the Tower and the coaster without a single person in line! Most of those who received the wish (older folks and those with younguns) left before the magic ended, giving those avid riders, such as myself, all the time in the World!

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Stephanie Bradley: We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge (a great place to stay) and the kids were getting a little sad because we were leaving. We went out front to wait for the Magical Express bus to take us to the airport and my 11-year-old son saw a nice white stretch limo waiting. He jokingly said, "Look, they sent a limo to pick us up." Just then a nice Cast Member, Adam, who is in charge of the Magical Express at Wilderness Lodge came up to us, asked us if we were waiting for the bus, and when we said yes he said, "How would you like to take that limo over there to the airport instead?" Well, of course we said, "Yes! That would be great!" He gave us a certificate to commemorate the moment, introduced us to the driver, and loaded our bags. We got in the 28-foot-long limo and off we went. We all loved it! It really made a great ending to what had been a wonderful vacation.

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Joanne B.: I never win at anything -- not at church bazaars, state lottery, zippo. So I went down to Disney World with absolutely no expectations of getting a prize. Boy, was I wrong! I was at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater for lunch on December 4. The front two car seats were occupied by another group, and I was in the back. At the end of the meal, the waitress announced that we were in a Magic Car, and we all received bags of Cracker Jack! That was fun, but the next day was even better. After a visit to Tom Sawyer Island, the Dream Team met my raft when it docked. Everyone on the raft received a Dream FastPass! It was so great! The lines were so short, I wound up not using just about all of my FastPasses, but just getting it gave me such a great feeling! Other guests and Cast Members commented on it. Even Woody made a big deal of it during a photo session. It was a high point of my vacation! So, if it happened to me, it can happen to you!


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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.