August 2007
Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the July 31, 2007 Issue #410 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. We travel now with author Lou Mongello, who is back with his latest edition of the Walt Disney World Wayback Machine. This month, he tells us about Communicore circa 1982.

We all know by now the story that EPCOT Center was originally going to be EPCOT the CITY. And although that didn't happen as Walt Disney originally had intended, EPCOT Center followed the idea of the city more closely than you might think.

So, since this year marks Epcot's (I mean EPCOT Center's) 25th Anniversary (happy birthday, big guy -- you still look great!), I thought we would take another trip aboard my Walt Disney World Wayback Machine for a detailed look at one of the park's original pavilions.

I transfer some money into the Wayback Machine (it now accepts PayPal, which is so darn convenient), and set the date to 1982.

OK, so I started off by talking about Epcot the theme park vs. Epcot the city, and how the city concept was more prevalent than one might think. In fact, Spaceship Earth's original "Earth Station" post show was meant to act as EPCOT Center's "City Hall." To that end, Communicore, the "Community Core" made up of the two buildings that comprised Communicore East and Communicore West, was designed to be the central hub, or "Main Street" of Epcot. Communicore opened with the park on October 1, 1982, and the two buildings that made up this pavilion would serve to surround EPCOT's "Town Square," or central plaza.

Communicore was described as "Future World's global Main Street of ideas and inventions." This came from original concepts for the pavilions that would require guests to travel through Communicore to enter the main area of the park, just as guests have to journey down Main Street, USA, in the Magic Kingdom. As part of the Town Square design, it would house Future World's main dining establishments, much like a downtown district.

As we travel back to October, 1982, it's easy to see how these buildings have changed through the years. Looking at it here in my parachute pants, Michael Jackson leather jacket and wraparound sunglasses (I know it's hot, but work with me here), and brand new Air Jordans, I see buildings that are much more open and bright than the current Innoventions.

Let's look first at the design and architecture of the buildings.

Back when Communicore first opened, there was a central corridor that ran though each of the buildings from end to end, with a number of entry/exit points to the outside and a breezeway to the other building. In fact, Communicore was originally designed to have a WEDWAY PeopleMover system installed on the second level; that is why the main corridors are so high -- to accommodate the track system

Read Lou's complete article here: http://allears.net/tp/ep/ccore.htm

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Lou Mongello is the author of the Walt Disney World Trivia Book and owner of DisneyWorldTrivia.com. You can purchase Lou's book through our Allears.net bookstore: http://allears.net/store.htm

Meet the Author: http://allears.net/ae/issue322.htm

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SOUVEN-EARS
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by Deb Koma, Senior Editor

Well, I can say one good thing about the summertime thunderstorms that pass through Walt Disney World nearly every afternoon -- they force me to check out shops that I wouldn't normally spend much time in. I'm really not much of a shopper, but one such recent thunderstorm caused me to browse for a half hour in Rock around the Shop, the gift stop located at the exit of the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster in the Disney-MGM Studios.

Sure the shop has the standard gifties -- pins, tee-shirts, snowglobes, caps... but when I buy a souvenir, I like to look for something a little more distinctive. Rock around the Shop had some offbeat items that I hadn't seen before that definitely fit my criteria.

Take, for example, the beaded coin purse, designed to look like black and white piano keys ($15). That's something you don't see just anywhere. And then there were the black and silver ladies' handbags shaped like guitars ($28), and the funky brown leather "hobo" bags ($60). There were also small purses, black with rivets and the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster logo ($24). Pretty cool, as far as fashion accessories go.

I thought the lenticular can "coolie" ($6) would make a nice gift to take home for Dad, but thought the green fur boa ($8) was an odd item to find in this shop.

My 15-year-old son instead was drawn to the assortment of wild hats that were featured. First he modeled a fuzzy "Purple Haze" Jimi Hendrix-style hat ($32), then tried a "Mad Hatter" type psychedelic, green tie-dyed hat (also fuzzy, also $32). His favorite, though, was the oversized nylon Rock 'n' Roller Coaster logo hat, complete with the familiar black and red flames ($22.95). (No, I didn't let him buy one!)

All in all, it was a fun, if frenetic, half hour, browsing through all this merchandise, along with the hundreds of tour groups held temporarily hostage in the shop as we were. Like I said, the thunderstorms are good for something.

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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 Epcot's World Showcase in Walt Disney World. Look for them while you're shopping, people watching, and enjoying the magic!

1. On the new Gran Fiesta Tour ride in the Mexico pavilion, you'll see three drums arranged to form a classic Hidden Mickey. The drums are at the lower right of the "Viva Donald" barge, which is on the left side of the boat as you enter the fireworks room. (Thanks to Jesse Kline and Rich DeTeresa)
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2. Along the promenade through the Morocco pavilion, a black classic Mickey is on the lower part of a red and green design on both sides of the fabric cover on top of the Souk-Al-Magreb "Gifts of Morocco" shop.
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3. At the rear of the Morocco pavilion and across from the entrance to Restaurant Marrakesh, a tiny black classic Mickey is in a doorway on the left middle aspect of a mural on a rear wall of the character meet and greet room. (Thanks to Jesse Kline)
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Read Steve's blog at AllEars® Blog Central: http://land.allears.net/blogs/stevebarrett/

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MONTHLY REMIND-EARS
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Disney-MGM Studios

Little Ones Travel Time, a program that started last year, returns this year slightly later in the season. From August 26 through October 28, Walt Disney World will host a variety of special activities for families vacationing with toddlers and preschoolers, including Playhouse Disney in Concert with Disney Channel favorites like The Doodlebops, Johnny and the Sprites and Dan Zanes. Admission is included with a valid theme park ticket.

Imagination Movers -- August 30 - September 2, 2007 - This New Orleans-based music group is a rising star in the kid's music category with their high-energy, interactive rock/hip-hop concerts. Their funky, catchy songs have produced new Imagination Movers fans, affectionately known as "Gearheads," across the country. http://allears.net/tp/mgm/pdic.htm

Epcot

The Sounds Like Summer Concert Series at America Gardens Theatre continues, featuring tribute bands that sound like well-known performers. Showtimes: 5:45, 7 and 8 p.m.

-- July 30-August 5 - Captain Fantastic (Elton John)
-- August 6-12 - Transit Authority (Chicago)

Magic Kingdom

Disney's Pirate and Princess Party returns August 11, 15, 18, 21, 24, 28, 31 and September 3! There are special characters around the park, unique entertainment, fantastic fireworks show and a cool parade.

Complete information and photos: http://allears.net/tp/mk/pp1.htm

Recommended by 94% of our reviewers: http://land.allears.net/reviewpost/showproduct.php?product=347&cat=65

Wide World of Sports

Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp continues through August 16 -- Watch as the Bucs prepare for the 2007 NFL season at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. All practices are free and open to the public. More info: www.disneysports.com/spectators

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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

Epcot

Teppanyaki Restaurant in Epcot's Japan pavilion is closed for a major rehab through August 20, 2007. NOTE: The restaurant is scheduled to open a few days earlier than previously announced.

Spaceship Earth, presented by Siemens, will be undergoing a number of changes over the coming months. The changes will combine the attraction's time-travel adventure into the past with a new finale that provides guests the opportunity to imagine their futures. Each of the ride scenes will be enhanced, and new show scenes will be added to the attraction's story along with new lighting effects, costumes, set decoration, narration and musical score. With phased renovations occurring through the year, Spaceship Earth's makeover is scheduled to be fully completed in early 2008. Currently, the announced closure for Spaceship Earth is July 9 - November 13. Read the full press release here: http://www.allears.net/news/hnews.htm#41107

Magic Kingdom

Haunted Mansion is closed through September 13, 2007.

The King's Gallery in Fantasyland is being converted to an additional location of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique through September 9, 2007.

All Star Sports

The Surfboard Pool and kiddie pool are closed for refurbishment from August 27 - October 4, 2007.

Contemporary Resort

The North Garden Wing has been demolished. The tennis courts and playground are also gone. Rumors persist about a Disney Vacation Club Resort being built; however, no official announcement has been made.

The Food and Fun Center will soon close and be converted to a new table service restaurant. A temporary quick service restaurant called Tempo Grab and Go will operate near the Outer Rim lounge on the 4th Floor. It will be open through August 14, 2008. The new table service location will be called The Wave, and is tentatively set to open in late March or April 2008. Once The Wave opens, the Concourse Steakhouse will close and a new, permanent quick service restaurant will be constructed in that space, set to debut in mid-August 2008.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Food and Fun Center was supposed to close this past weekend, but AllEars® Columnist Jack Spence reports: We ate lunch at Concourse Steakhouse today (7/31) so we could take pictures of the Tempo Grab and Go next to the Outer Rim. It isn't there yet. In fact, the Fun and Food Center is still open. We asked our server when it would open and all she knew was "very soon."

Coronado Springs Resort

Francisco's, the lounge at the resort, is in the process of being expanded and will be closed through October 12, 2007. It will reopen with a bar, lounge, and cafe. La Tienda, the convenience store, will be relocated.

Fort Wilderness

The Settlement Trading Post will be closed until August 10.

Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

1900 Park Fare is closed for rehab through October 1, 2007. During 1900 Park Fare's closure, the Grand Floridian Cafe will offer a pre-plated character breakfast and dinner, "Supercalifragilistic Breakfast" and "Cinderella's Gala Feast." Also, the Wonderland Tea Party will be held at the Grand Floridian Cafe during this time. Citricos, upstairs at the Grand Floridian, will be open for breakfast and lunch with a menu similar to the cafe's. Citricos will also resume dinner seven days a week.

Lake Buena Vista Golf Course closed May 21 and will be under refurbishment through September 28, 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.

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Donna W: My friend and I were on a "girls' trip" to Orlando when we had a magical moment in Animal Kingdom. As we were leaving, there was a Cast Member standing by the entrance to the tram. He nodded and we said good-bye, thinking he was there to make sure everything was going smoothly at the tram. Then he asked us if we would like to have a ride to our car. We were surprised and I thought he was kidding and being a smart aleck said, "What, in the tram? They're always free!" "No," he said, "This is a Magical Moment and I will personally give you a ride." So we climbed on a golf cart and he rode us to our parking row. He then presented us with buttons and a certificate with our names to commemorate the occasion. This was my friend's first day of her first trip to Disney. It was a very exciting moment!

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Charlotte: My two nephews (Stephen, 17, and Mark, 12) were in Walt Disney World staying at Port Orleans Riverside. Now I know it is the Year of Million Dreams, but we were waiting in front of the resort for the Magical Express to take us back to the Orlando Airport (and the real world) and we never received even one dream all week -- although we had a fabulous vacation even without a special dream. While we waited on the bench for the bus, we saw a white, stretch limousine pull into the driveway behind us and we were thinking it must be someone important because the windows were tinted very dark and you couldn't see inside the limousine. While we were looking at the limousine and talking, a Disney Cast Member walked up to me and asked if we were waiting for the bus, how long had we been there, did we have a good vacation, and whether we were waiting for the bus to the airport. After answering her questions, she asked me if we would like to take the limousine to the airport (she was part of the Dream Team). In a daze, we answered, "YES!" and that's what we did. This was the first trip for all of us in a limousine and we were very impressed with the eight seats, smooth ride and ice and beverages provided. They even took our picture so we would have a magical memory. And that is how we got our "dream" on our last day of vacation in Walt Disney World. Thank you, Dream Team and thank you, Walt Disney World.

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Belinda Morger: My cousin and I were taking friends to WDW for their very first time. Monday morning we were riding the Kilimanjaro Safari and, as we were getting off the ride, two Dream Squad members were there to greet us. We were sitting in the magical rows at the magical time. We won a VIP Pirates and Princesses Party package that night at the Magic Kingdom. Steve and Matt were the two nice Dream Squad members who explained that we were the top winners of the tier two prizes that day at the Animal Kingdom. We received $200 worth of gifts, and got five free professional pictures with Donald and Mickey dressed in their pirate gear. (It was just us with them in the back of Mickey's House in Toon Town.) We also got VIP seating for the special Pirates and Princesses Parade. We were on a street that was roped off so there was no one across the street and only 12 of us (two other winning groups) on our side. We got to meet and greet Capt. Jack Sparrow and got pictures with him. Cast Members were coming up and congratulating us all night and the big button we got that said Year of a Million Dreams was so unique even Dream Squad members were asking us what we had won. It was such a magical fun night. Then the next day we went back to the Magic Kingdom to ride Buzz Lightyear. As we were about to get into a car a Cast Member asked me what we had won as I had on my button from the night before. I told her about the party and she said, "Well you've won again!" They handed us pin trading lanyards with the special Year of a Million Dreams pins on them. Our friends were so jacked about the whole experience that they decided to go back to WDW with us in November. We told them that this was unbelievable and were so glad they could experience it with us. They are truly hooked on the magic of WDW.

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Laurie Boatman: My husband, my two daughters (ages 8 and 13) and I visited WDW. On the last day of our vacation (it had been a long week as my 13-year-old came down with the flu on our second day), we went to Epcot to ride Soarin', which we had looked forward to riding all week. By the time we got there, all of the Fastpasses were gone for the day and there was a two hour wait. While talking about whether we should wait in that long line or ride something else, a man came over and asked whether we had ever ridden on the ride before. When we replied that we hadn't, he then handed over four Dream Fastpasses with four rides left on each one -- including Soarin'! Someone had given them to him and he only used one ride off of it and he wanted to share them. We really felt blessed by his generosity.

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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.