April 2009
Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the March 31, 2009 Issue #497 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

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Ever wonder what Walt Disney World was like way back when? We rummage around in our archives for this monthly feature, which takes you back in history for a glimpse of Walt Disney World through the ages.

Happy Birthday, Animal Kingdom!

Yes, it was 11 years ago this month that Disney's Animal Kingdom open its gates. Editor-in-Chief Deb Wills was very fortunate to have visited Animal Kingdom during the Cast Previews of the park in March 1998. Over the last 11 years, some attractions have gone, new ones have emerged, sometimes they just get tweaked and some simply had name changes! It's safe to say the Kilmanjaro Safari ride will last as long as the park. Nothing quite says "Not A Zoo" like the safari ride. While you travel the same path, each ride is very different from the last. Animals and birds appear and disappear in the blink of an eye.

So what attractions have opened since April 1998? Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama, Tarzan Rocks! (which replaced the Jungle Book and has since been replaced by Finding Nemo: The Musical), Kali River Rapids, the Maharajah Jungle Trek, Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade and of course, Expedition Everest!

Here are a few fun facts:

Animal Kingdom has one million square feet of rockwork -- that's twice the volume of rockwork in the Mt. Rushmore sculptures or a volume that would create a monolith 10 feet by 10 feet by 2 miles high!

The largest tree replanted in the park is in Harambe Village and weighed over 90 tons. That equates to approximately 16 adult male elephants.

The first birth at Animal Kingdom? A Kudu (large African antelope).

Have you ever sensed the commonality of the animals that live in the Oasis? They were chosen because they are perceived to have a gentle disposition, which helps convey a sense of welcome to the land.

Early plans included the Tree of Life to be a guest overlook into Discovery Island and the rest of the park.

(Facts obtained from a variety of Disney Press materials, as well as The Imagineering Field Guide to Animal Kingdom.)

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Steve Barrett, author of the Hidden Mickeys books and webmaster of www.HiddenMickeysGuide.com, encourages Hidden Mickey hunters to search for the following cool images:

1. Joseph spotted a classic Mickey in the small play area (the Laughin' Place) outside along the Splash Mountain exit path. Inside the large log on the right, an upside-down Mickey is on the end of a small log in the wall. http://allears.net/btp/hm248.jpg

2. On the ground to the right near the end of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride, the "ears" of the gear Mickey image may change position from time to time. This classic Mickey isn't proportioned properly, but it's an old sentimental favorite. That's why I "grandfathered" it into my Hidden Mickeys Catalog. There may be another classic Mickey image in gears to the right of the sentimental Mickey, but it's usually covered by foliage and so isn't visible. http://allears.net/btp/hm249.jpg

3. At the end of the American Adventure show at Epcot, fireworks form a sideways classic Mickey on the right of the screen. I'm sure I've seen it, but I can't seem to get a decent photo. If someone can get a better photo, I'd be honored to post it on my website. http://allears.net/btp/hm250.jpg

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

And catch up with past Hidden Mickey Alerts here: http://allears.net/btp/hiddenm.htm

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Mary Poppins

by Alice McNutt Miller
Guest Blogger

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My husband, two pre-teen and teenage daughters and I recently planned to travel to New York City for the weekend to see one of my nieces play basketball for her college team. As with many of our vacations, we tried to work a little Disney magic into our itinerary. With three Disney musicals currently playing on Broadway, the question was not whether to go see one of the amazing Disney theatrical productions, but which one to choose. The Lion King, Mary Poppins or The Little Mermaid? We had seen The Lion King on stage in London last year during a spring break visit, so the decision came down to what the best deal would be for tickets for either Mary Poppins or The Little Mermaid.

For the rest of Alice's review: http://land.allears.net/blogs/guestblog/2009/03/finding_disney_magic_on_broadw.html

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This is the next segment in our series dedicated to Disney Scrapbooking written by Disney scrapbook expert Barbara Bennett and her husband Brian (who are also the owners of MouseMemories.com). This week's topic is Seeking Inspiration.

"If you've been sitting there staring at pictures you want to use for a project, and have no clue where to start you're NORMAL! One of the easiest ways to get started is to find someone's work you're drawn to and emulate it. I promise they won't be offended. Imitation is, after all, the best form of flattery. And as long as we're airing dirty laundry, I might as well tell you the rest. Many scrapbookers also have a pride problem and we're proud of it. We love to share our work and we often do so online. That means that with just a few clicks of the mouse you can find great page ideas and projects to get you started..."

Read the rest of this month's article at http://allears.net/btp/scrapbook/part10/part10.html

For an index of all the Scrapooking Magic articles visit: http://allears.net/btp/scrapbook/intro.html

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Epcot's Flower & Garden Festival - - Celebrate Floral Fun and 'Go Green' Now through May 31, 2009. New in 2009 will be the 'Cinderellabration' Topiary, Pirates Adventure Zone, and Pixie Hollow Playground. Flower Power Concerts will be held on weekends only:

4/3 - 4/5 -- The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie ("Happy Together")
4/10 - 4/12 -- Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone ("Henry the 8th")
4/17 - 4/19 -- The Ventures ("Hawaii Five-O")
4/24 - 4/26 -- Harold Melvin's Blue Notes (NEW) ("If You Don't Know Me By Now")

Mickey's Pin Trading Night - April 17, 2009: Guests of all ages are invited to make friends, trade pins and share Disney magic at Mickey's Pin Trading Night. This free activity is open to all ages and will be held at the Contemporary Resort's Convention Center, Fantasia G Ballroom from 6 to 9 p.m.


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



Magic Kingdom

Space Mountain will be closed from April 19, 2009 until November 21, 2009 for refurbishment.

Tomorrowland Transit Authority will be closed from April 19 through August 24, 2009.

The Hall of Presidents is closed for rehab through July 1, 2009.

The Heritage House Shop is closed until July 1, 2009.


Electric Umbrella is closed for refurbishment through April 6, 2009.

Refreshment Port is closed for refurbishment until April 4, 2009.

Animal Kingdom Villas and Lodge

Phase I contruction is now completed. This was the renovation of existing rooms in the Animal Kingdom Lodge, called the Jambo House. Outside construction of the new animal barn is also complete. Disney Vacation Club has announced that the Kidani Village will open on May 1, 2009.

Beach Club Resort

Stormalong Bay will be refurbished from January 5 - April 15, 2009. Sections of the feature pool will be closed. You may continue to use the three leisure pools located throughout the resort. Additionally, the feature pool at Disney's BoardWalk Resort will be available for Yacht and Beach Club guests.

Contemporary Resort

Construction Update: Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort will open on August 4, 2009. The Wave restaurant is open on the first floor and the Contempo Cafe opened on the 4th floor. The Outer Rim has reopened. The Tennis Courts and Playground at the Contemporary, which are currently closed, are scheduled to reopen on September 1, 2009.

Concourse Spirits & Sundries is closed for refurbishment through April 25, 2009.

Yacht Club Resort

Stormalong Bay will be refurbished from January 5 - April 15, 2009. Sections of the feature pool will be closed. You may continue to use the three leisure pools located throughout the resort. Additionally, the feature pool at Disney's BoardWalk Resort will be available for Yacht and Beach Club guests.


A complete list of rehabs can be found here: http://allears.net/tp/rehabs.htm

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Each month we share reports of guests at Walt Disney World and Disneyland experiencing special Magic, and also special celebrations as part of the "What Will You Celebrate?" program.

Jan A., from White Plains New York: Last July, our family had two celebrations at Disney World. My husband Frank and I decided to have dinner at The Coral Reef for our anniversary. When we arrived, the hostess wished us a Happy 18th Anniversary! I didn't even remember mentioning it when I made the reservation. We were given a wonderful table in front of the aquarium windows and our waitress brought us glasses of champagne on Disney! After a delicious dinner we ordered a piece of cake to share and were told it would be complimentary. It was brought to us with a candle while the staff sang Happy Anniversary to us. Most of the other guests sang to us too and we felt like celebrities! The next day was our daughter Alexis' 16th birthday and we spent it in the Magic Kingdom. We had gotten her a button that said "Alexis 16" plus she was wearing a (Disney) birthday cake hat complete with flashing lights! Everywhere we went, cast members and guests were wishing her Happy Birthday. We went to a counter service restaurant for lunch and while we were waiting for our food, one of the servers asked everyone on line for their attention and announced Alexis' birthday. Then she asked everyone to sing to her! After they sang, everyone clapped and cheered for her. Lexi was so embarrassed but was grinning from ear to ear! The same thing happened while we waited in line for Snow White's Scary Adventure. At dinner we celebrated at the Crystal Palace with a birthday cake with her name and the Pooh characters celebrating with us. She had a wonderful day that she will never forget!


Amanda McIntyre, New York: On our recent honeymoon, my husband and I were on the receiving end of several magical moments. On our very first day and on our very first ride -- Kilamanjaro Safari -- we were pulled out of line and led to our very own private honeymoon safari! I couldn't believe it -- what a way to kick off our trip! The guide went "off script" and told us tons of interesting facts and we were able to see dozens of different animals. For my husband, who's not quite the Disney fanatic I am, it was a perfectly timed piece of proof as to why I love that place so so much. I could just see him "get it." Later in our trip we received a special magical moment certificate at dinner and had Mickey call us on several occasions in different shops to wish us good luck and congratulations on our marriage. It was a week of total fun and it was the perfect note on which to start the rest of our life together!


The Sullivan Family, Massachusetts: One night my 3-year-old son was not happy that he was not big enough to go on Splash Mountain with his three sisters. I was trying everything to calm him down when a cast member came out of her way to talk to him. She told him that she had a gift for him and gave him a Mickey Mouse trading pin. She also walked us over and got us a great spot to watch the castle lighting. If all that wasn't enough, she came back with a bottle of water for him. In all the commotion I did not catch her name but I could not thank her enough for making my little guy feel so special. My 6-year-old daughter was also sent on a "mission" by the restaurant manager at All Star Music to get Pluto's autograph. She was so excited to bring the signed card back. When she did, they gave her a Tink trading pin.


Mike Pulaski: My wife, son and I were lucky enough to ride Soarin' in about 20 minutes, but we did get Fastpasses on the way out so we could ride it later in the day. Our return time ended up being around 4:30 p.m. But by that time, our son was napping and we would not have enough time for one of us to ride and then the other to ride after that, for we had dinner reservations at 5:30. So we went over to The Land to see how the lines were just in case we could squeeze it in. As I went to the queue area for Soarin', I could see that there were no more Fastpasses and that the wait was 70 minutes for stand-by. While I probably could have gone on it by myself, I noticed a dad and mom trying to console their young daughter over the fact they could not wait 70 minutes for the ride and that there were no more Fastpasses. For me it was a no-brainer and for once, I got to participate in a little Disney Magic! As they were turning to walk away and literally drag their distraught daughter, I got their attention and presented them with my three Soarin' Fastpasses. They were blown away! They even tried to give me money for them. I told them I overheard their situation and I'm so glad I can make them and their little daughter happy. I'm sure this will be the only time I will ever NOT ride Soarin' and come away with a smile on my face.


Some readers share their Magical Moments in the latest Wandering the World here: http://allears.net/tp/wander/wander.htm

Send your Magical Moments to: allearsnet@yahoo.com.


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.