October 2007
Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the September 25, 2007 Issue #418 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 is back with his latest edition of the Walt Disney World Wayback Machine. This month, he talks about the Journey into Imagination ride.

I've been having some problems with my Wayback Machine lately, which is causing me some problems in writing this piece. You see, I keep trying to set the machine for the late 1970s so I can cover something in the Magic Kingdom, but the date just won't stick. Then I set it for the mid-'90s for something really interesting at the Disney-MGM Studios. I then try and head somewhere outside the parks, but no luck. For some reason, the date keeps automatically locking itself on to October 1, 1982, and for the life of me, I can't figure out why...

Oh, hey... wait a second! I got it! This year marks Epcot's 25th Anniversary and I almost forgot (yeah, right)! So maybe the Wayback Machine is right after all, and we should go back and look at one of my favorite pavilions and attractions in all of Walt Disney World.

So here we are, 25 years ago... so much going on. From all of those people pouring water into the Fountain of Nations for some odd reason, to something called the Centorium, an odd-looking robot roaming around with an EPCOT Center baseball hat, a bit of construction going on here and there, and just lots of activity all over the place. I've also been looking for Mickey Mouse, but so far, no luck. My quest continues...

But enough lollygagging... time to hit one of my favorite pavilions and attractions -- Journey into Imagination. Ah yes, to see my old friends the Dreamfinder and Figment, to hear the familiar chorus of "One Little Spark," to pick up one more purple PVC Figment figure, and to... hey... wait a minute... what's this? Where's the ride? Where's that little purple dragon?

Alas, I may have set my Machine to head back just a little bit too far, as Journey into Imagination isn't quite ready. For, although the pavilion itself may have opened with the park earlier today, and sure, Magic Journeys is a great show, it's not why I'm here. I'm here to see a little dragon with horns of a steer, eyes big and yellow, yada yada yada.

But here's the problem -- it's just not quite ready yet. You see, this pavilion was one of the last to be designed for EPCOT Center. Why? Well, at various points throughout the development of EPCOT Center, this location was going to be the possible home of a pavilion based on forests, ecology, or nature. Sound familiar? It should, as some of these concepts eventually became the Land pavilion, and you can find evidence of some of the forest ideas in the "Forests for Our Future" exhibit in Innoventions.

Since I want to talk about one of EPCOT Center's most beloved attractions and pavilions, we're going to fast forward just a few months to March 6, 1983, when the Journey into Imagination attraction finally opened.

So let's talk about the pavilion and attraction as a whole first. It sounds great on paper, right? (Sounds on paper? Never mind... go with me here.). But here's the problem -- how do you quantify and present an abstract concept like "imagination" in 3D form? Some parts were relatively simple. Imagineers would create a film (Magic Journeys) about looking at the world through the eyes of a child, and create an interactive play area (Image Works) where people could use their imagination to create music, art, and so much more using new technologies. But a ride?

The journey with Lou into the world of Imagination continues here: http://allears.net/tp/ep/jyi_archive.htm

Deb Wills shares her postcard collection on this attraction here: http://land.allears.net/blogs/debwills/2007/09/journey_into_imagination_epcot.html

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Steve Barrett, author of the Hidden Mickeys book and webmaster of www.HiddenMickeysGuide.com, describes a few fun Mickey images at Walt Disney World:

1. The Pop Century Resort Food Court is brimming with Hidden Mickeys! Look up to one of the round light covers in the middle of the food service area for a tiny classic Mickey, then look down at the tile floor for a classic Mickey near the merchandise stand and another in front of the middle cash register. (Thanks to Samantha and Mikayla Tewksbury, Donna McMurrey, AJ, Melissa P, and Ann)

2. In the lobby of the Wilderness Lodge Villas, find Mickey peeking out of a hole in the overhead beam with the rattlesnake on top. Then turn to a wall to the right (as you enter the lobby) to spot a side profile Mickey between two moons. (Thanks to Mark McCurry, Colleen Costello, and Kendra Trahan)

3. Maybe you can verify this one for me? In the far right elevator of the Tower of Terror, stars converge to form a classic Mickey for a split second on the doors to the drop shaft, just before the doors open. It's very difficult to get a photo of this Hidden Mickey! (Thanks to Allie, Seth Edward and Lynne Reilly)

Read Steve's blog at AllEars® Blog Central: http://land.allears.net/blogs/stevebarrett/

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The Wanyama Safari began several years ago as a unique add-on experiece for concierge guests at Animal Kingdom Lodge. A small group of guests ride in an open air van and explore the Animal Kingdom Lodge savannas. In addition to your driver, an animal keeper provides information and answers questions during the ride. This is a very unique adventure that is worth considering.

The great news is, the Wanyama Safari is now open to any guests (ages 8 and older) staying at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge or Villas (although expect to pay a higher price than the concierge guests). Be sure to have your cameras, extra batteries and extra memory cards with you. Upon the conclusion of the savanna portion of the safari, you then dine at Jiko, where a wonderful three-course meal (with wine pairings) is yours to enjoy. Contact the Resort Concierge Itinerary Planning Office in advance of your stay at 407-938-4755. http://allears.net/acc/faq_aklsunset.htm

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October 2007 marks the 25th anniversary of Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort. In observance of that milestone, here are 25 facts about Epcot:

-- It took nearly 3,000 designers and 4,000 construction workers to build the first phase of Epcot.
-- 54 million cubic feet of dirt was excavated to build the park.
-- Epcot had its soft opening Sept. 28, 1982, at 4 p.m
-- Spaceship Earth, weighs 16 million pounds, measures 165 feet in diameter and encompasses 2.2 million cubic feet of space. The outer "skin" of Spaceship Earth is made up of 11,324 aluminum and plastic-alloy triangles.
-- At Spaceship Earth, Mickey Mouse is hidden in his own constellation just beyond the attraction's loading area.
-- The fountain at Epcot Innoventions Plaza can shoot water 150 feet in the air -- within 30 feet of the top of Spaceship Earth. If all of the shooters were fired at once, there would be 2,000 gallons of water in the air.
-- The ride technology for the Soarin' attraction was based on an erector set model created by Walt Disney Imagineer Mark Sumner. One million pounds of steel provides the ride structure and 37 tons are lifted during each ride cycle.
-- It took more than 650 Walt Disney Imagineers more than 350,000 hours (the equivalent of 40 years of time) to develop Mission: SPACE. The Imagineers' efforts took place over a five-year period.
-- At Mission: SPACE, there are 13 quotes by space explorers and visionaries on the attraction's wall of honor. The most recent was added in September 2007 by teacher-turned-astronaut Barbara Morgan, reading "Reach for your dreams . . . the sky is no limit."
-- At nearly a mile long and reaching a top speed of 65 mph, Test Track is the longest and fastest ride at a Walt Disney World theme park.
-- The body of water at The Seas with Nemo & Friends provides a home to 3,000 fish and other sea creatures and contains 5.7 million gallons of water, one of the largest man-made ocean environments in the world.
-- More than 30 tons of fruits and vegetables grown at The Land pavilion each year are served in Walt Disney World restaurants.
-- The Land has a "tomato tree" that is the only one of its kind in the United States. The massive plant has produced a world-record harvest of more than 32,000 tomatoes from a single vine.
-- World Showcase promenade stretches 1.2 miles and World Showcase Lagoon spans 40 acres.
-- The gardens of Epcot are among the most extensive at Walt Disney World Resort. The themed landscapes are maintained year-round by a horticulture staff of more than 50.
-- At United Kingdom's Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room in World Showcase, a specially designed ale warmer can heat your Guinness to 55 degrees, the temperature favored by Brits.
-- 26.2 miles of bratwurst are served every 60 days at the Biergarten restaurant in the Germany pavilion. That, by the way, is the length of a marathon.
-- The Eiffel Tower replica in the France pavilion is 103 feet tall.
-- The castle in Japan is a replica of the Shirasagi-Jo, a 17th century fortress overlooking the city of Himeji, known as one of the most well-preserved castles in Japan.
-- A Disney crew carried a 300-pound camera up 4,500 steps of the Huangshan Mountain in the Annui Province to film the Circle-Vision 360 film seen in the China pavilion.
-- From bonsai to roses, there's something for every gardening guru at the annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Disney horticulturists rotate the crops twice during the festival to keep the 30 million blossoms colorful and fresh.
-- Each year at the annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, more than 33,000 bottles of wine and champagne are uncorked, 1.2 million hors d'oeuvre plates are served and 100,000 miniature desserts are dished up.
-- More than 26,000 feet of lights outline the World Showcase pavilions for the "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth" nightly fireworks show -- a string long enough to stretch across the Golden Gate Bridge more than six times.
-- Earth Globe is a 28-foot-diameter sphere on World Showcase Lagoon and the centerpiece of "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth." The globe weighs 350,000 pounds and is wrapped in more than 180,000 Light Emitting Diodes arranged in the shape of Earth's continents.
-- Some 2,800 firework shells are used during each "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth" show.

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Disney-MGM Studios

Little Ones Travel Time runs through October 28. Walt Disney World hosts 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.

Choo-Choo Soul -- September 27 - 30; October 4 - 7, 2007

Ralph's World -- October 11 - 14, 2007

Johnny & the Sprites -- October 18 - 21, 2007
Little Ones will delight in learning about music, making friends, and finding the magic within themselves.

Dan Zanes and Friends -- October 25 - 28, 2007
Dan Zanes' folksy rock songs are sure to get the little ones singing and dancing, and the grownups will have just as much fun as their toddlers!


The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13K -- a new running event that debuts October 27, 2007. (There is also a 6.5K race for those who don't want to run the entire 13K course.) The event, the first night race in the Endurance Series at Walt Disney World, is part of the celebration of the 13th anniversary of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction. To celebrate this event, there is also a party that will last from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., with a live band and the chance to ride the following attractions: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith, and The Great Movie Ride. Registration for the 13K and 6.5K runs are both closed. Tickets for the party are still available, though. For details, visit www.disneysports.com.


Epcot's 25th anniversary is October 1, 2007. It will be observed with a variety of official and unofficial events. ALL EARS® Editors Deb Wills and Deb Koma plan to attend several of the activities and will report back on them next week.


Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival - September 28 - November 11, 2007. Full details: http://www.allears.net/tp/ep/foodwine.htm

In addition, the fest's nightly Eat to the Beat! concert series will feature an even more varied lineup this year, including classic rock, oldies and country performers. At World Showcase, America Gardens Theatre. Show Times: 5:45 p.m., 7:00 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.

Otis Day and the Knights Sept. 30 - Oct. 1
The Beach Boys Oct. 2 - 3
The Original Family Stone Oct. 4 - 6
Sheena Easton Oct. 7 - 9
Starship starring Mickey Thomas Oct. 10 - 13
David Cassidy Oct. 14 - 16
Little Richard Oct. 17-18
Juice Newton Oct. 19 - 21
The Four Tops Oct. 22 - 25
The Village People Oct. 26 - 27
The Outlaws Oct. 28 - 30
Jon Secada Oct. 31 - Nov. 3

Magic Kingdom

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party continues - October 4, 8, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30, 31; and November 2, 2007

Guests are invited to dress in costumes and trick-or-treat through the park from 7 p.m. to midnight on select evenings (after regular park closing). The party includes a parade and a bewitching fireworks spectacular.

Information: http://allears.net/tp/mk/mnssh.htm
Reader Reviews: http://land.allears.net/reviewpost/showproduct.php?product=222&cat=65


The PGA TOUR's final stop of the fall season at the Walt Disney World Resort will now be known as the Children's Miracle Network Classic. A milestone multi-year agreement between the PGA TOUR, Walt Disney World Resort and Children's Miracle Network was recently signed, and runs through 2012. This year's event is scheduled for October 29 - November 4, and will be held on the Magnolia and Palm courses at Walt Disney World Resort. GOLF CHANNEL will televise all four rounds of competition.


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


Rehabs and Closings

Animal Kingdom

Tusker House remains closed until November 17 while being converted to a buffet service restaurant.
Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery remains closed while Tusker House is rehabbed.

Disney-MGM Studios

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith will be closed for refurbishment September 4 - October 4, 2007. http://allears.net/tp/mgm/m_rocknroller.htm


Revised opening for Teppan Edo and Tokyo Dining (former home of the Teppanyaki Restaurant, Matsu No Ma Lounge and Tempura Kiku) in Epcot's Japan pavilion is now October 15, 2007.

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 throughout 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

Main Street Cinema will be closed for refurbishment from October 8 - November 20, 2007 Big Thunder Mountain Railroad will be closed for refurbishment October 1 - 24, 2007.

All Star Sports

The Surfboard Pool and kiddie pool are closed for refurbishment through October 4, 2007.

Animal Kingdom Lodge

There is ongoing construction in the Lodge for the conversion of deluxe rooms to Disney Vacation Club Villas. Also, there is outside construction of a new animal barn and Disney Vacation Club buildings. Construction is scheduled to last through April 2009.

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.

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

Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue will be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from September 4 through October 24, 2007. The show will be performed Thursday through Mondays during this period.

The Official All Star Cafe at Disney's Wide World of Sports will be closed for refurbishment from September 23 through November 19, 2007.


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

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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.

This month we have an extra special Dream to share with you. AllEars® reader Stacie was awarded, well... you'll have to read on to find out:

On Sunday, August 26, my husband, daughter and I rode Expedition Everest for the second time that morning. My daughter is 7 and loves roller coasters! As we were getting off the ride, I was approached by two Dream Squad members who walked with us out of the attraction, asking me questions like, "Where are you from?" and "Are you (or are you related to any) cast members?" They led us around a corner where about 10 people were standing and asked us if we had ever heard of "The Year of a Million Dreams." At the sight of all these people, some of whom were taking our pictures, I knew this was big! A woman opened up a DVD player and played a short clip explaining that we had won a night in Cinderella Castle! We were beyond excited!

After a while of official paperwork we were whisked out of the park and driven to our car so we could go back to the All Stars and pack our bags! We were instructed to meet back at the Grand Floridian. We did and were greeted by another Dream Squad member who whisked us away to a back entrance of the Magic Kingdom where we met with our guides for the afternoon. We were told that we were going to be in the afternoon parade! Earlier in the day the cast members asked my daughter who her favorite character was and she replied "Daisy Duck." As we were getting into the parade car (which had a banner on the side reading "Cinderella Castle Suite winners") out comes Daisy Duck to ride in the car with us! The parade was so fun and I think this is when the reality of this hit me. People were waving and screaming congratulations to us -- we felt like royalty!

Since we were in the beginning of the parade, we were then given VIP places to stay and watch the rest of the parade. After that the Dream Squad asked my daughter what her favorite Fantasyland attraction was and she responded, "it's a small world," and we were off. We went to the front of the line and they had her go into the control booth to help with the boats for a few minutes. Then we rode the ride. After that it was time to go to our suite.

We entered through a hidden door inside the castle and entered a beautiful foyer -- with a grandfather clock that never strikes midnight! We then entered the most beautiful elevator you ever saw and went up to the suite level. Walking out of the elevator you enter another little foyer with a mosaic Cinderella coach tiled on the floor. We each were presented with room keys for the suite. We then entered to the most elegant room I ever saw. The first thing that caught my eye was the tile floor that had specks of crystal tile that made everywhere you stepped look magical. The bathroom is beyond words -- a jacuzzi tub with a starry ceiling and mosaic Cinderella-themed artwork surrounding it. The sinks were copper basins and the shower was luxurious.

There was also a parlor with a couch, and a fridge filled with beverages. There was a plasma TV in both the parlor and sleeping area that looked like a mirror when the TV was off. There was a fireplace that had lights in the background simulating fireworks and a huge bowl of fresh fruit waiting for us. At the foot of each bed was a trunk and in it were robes for the three of us to use. They were heavy chenille -- so soft!

We were told to be ready for dinner at 6 p.m. as we were dining at Cinderella's Royal Table. I spoke with the Castle Concierge and they sent up a Cinderella ball gown and crown for my daughter to wear! She was so excited and it was beautiful! We were escorted to dinner and met with Cinderella and then were seated at a table sprinkled with pixie dust. The Fairy Godmother made an announcement that we would be sleeping in the castle that night and we were wished well by many guests.

After dinner our Castle Concierge led us to the park and we were able to go on all the attractions without waiting in any line. It was truly magical! Finally we made our way back to the suite. Upon entering we noticed the bed had been turned down with little chocolates on the bed and slippers laid out for the three of us. There was also a beautiful platter with a Cinderella's coach and horses made out of white chocolate. When you lifted up the top of the coach you found huge chocolate covered strawberries inside! They were delicious! Also, the Cinderella movie was playing on both TVs! It was all so beautiful!

We were sadly told that "check-out" was at 9 a.m. and that we were going to have breakfast at the Crystal Palace. We fell asleep on the softest bed and were awoken by Cinderella's wakeup call in the morning. We were escorted to the Crystal Palace and were told that our bags would be waiting for us at the Grand Floridian whenever we were ready to leave the Magic Kingdom. Later in the day, when we retrieved our bags, we found that they had sent along the robe that my daughter had used as well as a Minnie Mouse stuffed animal!

The experience was like no other I will ever have in my life. It was truly surreal -- and it still feels like it was just a dream! My family and I will remember this for the rest of our lives. I get chills when I think of the memories my little girl will have now of her childhood. Disney truly is magical and THE happiest place on Earth!

Photos of the special night: http://allears.net/tp/wander/wander.htm


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


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.