March 2007
Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the February 27, 2007 Issue #388 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 step back in time to visit June 1992 and are reading "Eyes and Ears," the newspaper for Cast Members. The big announcement in this issue is that the All Star Resorts has scheduled groundbreaking ceremonies for late 1992.

The All Star Resort construction was the first time Disney developed land in Osceola County. Sports and music themes were to highlight the resort's 3,800 rooms. Disney's All Star Sports Resort opened on April 29, 1994. The final phase of the first value resort built on the WDW property was ready in August of that year. There are 1,920 rooms spread between 10 buildings and all feature larger-than-life sports icons. In November 1994, the All Star Sports' sister resort, All Star Music, began to open.

These value resorts were such a success that All Star Movies was added to the lineup. Reservations began being accepted in January 1998. The Mighty Ducks and 101 Dalmatians opened January 15, 1999, Fantasia and Herbie: The Love Bug opened in March, and the final section, Toy Story, opened in April 1999. Today, these resorts are bursting at the seams with families and large groups of youngsters ready to play at the Walt Disney World resort.

Fun Facts:

-- The 55 foot tall gold star in front of Stadium Hall (All Star Sports) weighs more than 55,000 pounds.
-- Each baseball bat at the Home Run Hotel is longer than a Walt Disney World motor coach.
-- It would take more than 20 million 12-ounce cans of soda to fill one of those huge Coca-Cola cups!
-- 9,474,609 tennis balls would be needed to fill one of the tennis ball cans at the Center Court.
-- The cowboy boots at Country Fair are big enough for a size 270 foot!
-- The Rock Inn jukeboxes could hold 4,000 CDs, which would play for 135 days without repeating!

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HIDDEN MICKEYS ALERT
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Steve Barrett, author of the Hidden Mickeys book and webmaster of www.HiddenMickeysGuide.com highlights a few cool Hidden Mickeys at the WDW Resorts:

1. On the outside of the '60s Building at Pop Century, a large, faint classic Mickey traced in the green paint is on the left side of the wall with green plants, behind the huge Mowgli statue, and about halfway up the wall. It is above a leaf and to the right of a brown tree. (Thanks to Alexis Cavileer.) http://allears.net/btp/hm145.jpg

2. Inside the Sand Bar behind the Contemporary Resort, one of the semaphore people in the upper left wall border decorations, near the middle, is wearing Mickey ears. (Thanks to Laura Dubberly.) http://allears.net/btp/hm146.jpg

3. Just inside the main entrance door to Spoodles at the BoardWalk, and on the wall to your right as you enter, a full body Mickey Mouse is painted on a small plate sitting upright on a shelf. (Thanks to Mike Sluss.) http://allears.net/btp/hm147.jpg

Check out past Hidden Mickey Alerts from Steve here: http://allears.net/btp/hiddenm2.htm

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SHIPS AHOY!
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ALL EARS® Columnist Jack Spence takes a break from restaurant reviews and talks about renting a pontoon boat at Walt Disney World:

When I used to vacation at Walt Disney World (before I moved to Orlando), I would become worn out trying to cram as many activities as possible into the precious few hours and days I had to spend here. After about my third trip, I realized that my marathon touring left me no time to relax and I would return home exhausted. I decided that on future trips I needed to slow down.

One of the first things I did to accomplish this was to leave whatever park I was visiting after lunch and head back to my hotel. I always stayed at a Disney resort so this didn't involve too much time or effort. Once back at my hotel, I would take a quick nap and then head to the pool for a refreshing dip. By 3 o'clock I was recharged and ready to return to the parks with a smile on my face.

One day, instead of taking my afternoon nap and swim, I decided to rent a pontoon boat. I headed down to the marina at the Contemporary Resort and after a couple of minutes of instructions of how to operate the boat, I was on my way.

As I left the marina, I observed the "No Wake Zone" until I passed the boundary marker, then I pushed the throttle forward and opened her up to an amazing snail's pace. OK, maybe it was a little faster than a snail's pace, but bottom line, you're not going to get anywhere quickly in a pontoon boat. Hey, if you want speed, rent a Sea Raycer. Pontoon boats are meant for relaxation.

I steered my boat toward the former Discovery Island and beyond to Fort Wilderness. Then I turned around and aimed back for the water bridge that separates Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon. Once past the Contemporary, I circled by the Polynesian and Grand Floridian Resorts and then onto the Magic Kingdom. When I looked at my watch I was amazed at how quickly the time had passed and I decided I should head back to the marina. The entire trip took almost an hour.

Read the rest of Jack's Pontoon Adventure, which includes all you need to know about renting pontoons at Walt Disney World. http://allears.net/btp/pontoon1.htm

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ALL EARS® Guest Columnist Rosanna Scott shares her take on Disney Cruise Line Shore Excursions in the Caribbean:

Part of the beauty of a Disney cruise is the ability to explore different islands. But because time is limited in the ports, it's important to use it wisely. A lack of planning can find you wandering just a few streets and not really experiencing what the island has to offer. Taking part in a shore excursion can be a great way to maximize your time.

If particular shore excursions are important to you and your family, research what's available before determining your itinerary -- different islands will naturally offer different choices. Disney Cruise Line has researched the excursions to ensure a great selection. I strongly recommend that you make shore excursions a part of your budget plans early on. Including them in your initial costs will save you surprise last-minute costs, and early planning will also ensure that you are signed up before the excursions sell out.

There are plenty of excursions to choose from -- from the adventurous to the laid-back. To help your family get the most out of your excursion, be sure to examine what each will entail so that you are prepared. Pay close attention to the ages and any requirements of the excursions. Once you have your budget and requirements narrowed down, you'll have a much easier time deciding which are best for your family.

Read Rosanna's full report that covers Castaway Cay, Nassau, St. Maarten, St. John/Thomas, and Key West. http://allears.net/cruise/cruiseEXcarb.htm

Rosanna also wrote "A Family's First Cruise with the Disney Cruise Line": http://allears.net/cruise/issue369.htm

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MONTHLY REMIND-EARS
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ESPN The Weekend - The fourth annual ESPN The Weekend will be held March 2-4, 2007, at Disney-MGM Studios. The weekend will feature on-site ESPN telecasts, star motorcades and Q&A sessions featuring athletes and ESPN personalities. There will also be sports shows in the ESPN Theater with ESPN commentators and athletes and interactive sports activities. Admission to the events is included with regular admission to the theme park. Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, Jim Palmer, Tony Dorsett, David Robinson, Michelle Kwan, Adam Vinatinieri, and Jerry Rice are among the sports notables who are tentatively scheduled to be on hand.

For more information: http://allears.net/tp/mgm/espn.htm

Reader Reviews: http://land.allears.net/reviewpost/showproduct.php?product=327&cat=65

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Disney's Pirate & Princess Party Continues -- On 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.

Photos at: http://allears.net/tp/mk/pp1.htm
Reader Reviews: http://land.allears.net/reviewpost/showproduct.php?product=347&cat=65

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National Kidney Foundation of Florida Gift of Life 5K Run/Walk for Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness at Epcot on March 3, 2007. Entrance fee is $25 and includes an event t-shirt, while supplies last. Sizes are not guaranteed for those who register on race day. Fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. The 5K Course takes you through Epcot, past icons such at Test Track, Spaceship Earth, and the Fountain of Nations, and all around World Showcase. For more info: http://www.disneysports.com

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Mickey's Pin Trading continues on Friday, March 16, 2007, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Disney's Contemporary Resort Convention Center.

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Pleasure Island hosts "Sham Rock 'n' Roll" from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. on March 15-17. There will be live music, videos by Irish artists, leprechauns, stilt walkers and more. There will be no admission charge to enjoy the activities taking place in the common areas of Pleasure Island.

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

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Rehabs and Closings continue around the parks and resorts during the slower winter months:

Disney's MGM Studios

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular will be closed for cheerleading events on March 10.

Epcot

El Rio del Tiempo closed for refurbishment January 2, and is scheduled to reopen Monday, April 2, 2007, as the "Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros!" http://allears.net/news/dd_plan10.htm

Rose and Crown in the UK Pavilion in Epcot is closed for refurbishment through March 14, 2007.

Lotus Blossom Cafe (counter service in China pavilion) is closed through March 25, 2007.

Magic Kingdom

Liberty Square Riverboat will be closed for refurbishment from February 27 through March 1.

Main Street Market House - closed on January 3 and will reopen in the spring of 2007. The space will become the new home for the Arribas Brothers Crystal Arts Shop. The move and renovation will provide additional seating for the Main Street Bakery.

Resort Hotels

The Riverside Mill Food Court at Port Orleans Riverside is closed until March 23, 2007 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 from noon until 3 p.m. daily. The food court at sister resort Port Orleans French Quarter (Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory) will be open as usual during this timeframe.

Wilderness Lodge's Silver Creek Springs pool and hot tub and the Wilderness Lodge Kiddie Pool will be closed through March 31, 2007.

Yacht and Beach Club Marina - 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. ALL EARS® has heard 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 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.

Typhoon Lagoon - is closed for its annual refurbishment now through March 17, 2007.

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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 reports of guests at Walt Disney World and Disneyland receiving "dreams" from the Dream Squad and some of these Magical Moments, as well.

Trish Ferrari: A few weeks ago, on our way into Epcot, we were greeted by a lovely woman named Becky. It turns out that she was a "super greeter" for the Million Dreams Squad. After chatting a bit, she gave us a magical moments pin and upon further discussion, she asked if she could escort us to Test Track. Little did we know that Becky had "adopted" us as a family. She ended up taking us to either the FastPass line or the Cast Member entrance of each ride in Epcot and getting us in the front row. The line for Soarin' was 60 minutes and we got on within 5, and front row! Becky escorted us to every ride and when it was time for dinner, she took me over to Guest Relations and arranged for us to have dinner at Coral Reef. It was amazing. She stayed with us right until we walked to the exit to get on our bus. It was indeed a magical memory.

Pat Jones: We just returned from Florida where we had a magical experience as the Epcot Family of the day. It was our 34th wedding anniversary and we were picked by the Dream Squad to have a day of magic. From meal reservations, to our backstage entrance to Test Track, to VIP seating at Illuminations, it was quite a day!

Kelly T.: Just wanted to let you all know the Dream Squad does really exist. On our last day at Epcot we were going to get on Test Track and it was having technical difficulties. As we were walking away, sad because we were leaving to go home, a man approached us and asked which ride we would like to go on next and we responded "Soarin'." He walked us all the way over to Soarin' and got us in the front of the line and then gave us a certificate to get on another ride with no wait. This may not sound like a lot but when you're leaving every minute counts.

Janice Dion: I was surprised to see our mailman come to the door recently with a certified envelope from Walt Disney Resort addressed to my 8-year-old daughter, Karin. When Karin came home from school and opened the envelope, inside was also a greeting from the Year of a Million Dreams and a lanyard with two Year of a Million Dreams pins! My 6-year-old daughter is jealous and wants me to keep sending postcards for her to win something, too!

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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 allearsnet@yahoo.com

For more Magical Moments: http://allears.net/tp/yomdmm.htm

For Dreams: http://allears.net/tp/yomd.htm


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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.