August 2009
Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the July 28, 2009 Issue #514 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? 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. This month we look at some of the major events that have occurred in the month of August!

In August 1989, Disney's Hollywood Studios (then called Disney-MGM Studios) welcomed the addition of the Star Tours Ewok Village, which would get guests excited about the December opening of the Star Tours attraction. Did you know that the Star Tours film was made by Lucas' special effects company, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM)? The work crews shown in the docking bays and control rooms of the film are supposedly members of the ILM model shop staff. Also in Star Tours, the boxes circulating over you in the second queue area are all stencilled with letters and numbers, such as "PAD 61257" and "KMS 81850". These stand for the initials and birthdates of Imagineers who worked on the attraction.

That same year, in August, premiered Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. Did you know that the small golden idol used in the first act of this show is an exact replica of the idol in Raiders of the Lost Ark? The giant rolling ball is 12 feet in diameter and weighs 440 pounds. The show's sets weigh as much as 100 tons each, which makes them the largest moving sets in history.

Both of these attractions have withstood the test of time and are still very popular attractions at the Studios. In fact, Star Tours and Star Wars are so popular that each year the Studios celebrates Star Wars Weekends. Since 1997, Walt Disney World has sponsored a series of special Star Wars Weekends in Disney's Hollywood Studios. Activities normally include celebrity appearances, as well as trivia contests and prize give-aways, Star Tours "ride-a-thons," and a Star Wars Cantina street party, complete with a live disc jockey.

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GOSPEL BRUNCH REVIEW
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by Michelle Scribner-MacLean

Even though I've been lucky enough to take frequent trips to Walt Disney World, I often still find myself walking by restaurants and attractions that I have yet to try. This was the case with the Sunday Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues at Downtown Disney. I've lost count of the number of times that I've ushered my two boys into DisneyQuest and looked longingly across the way at the House of Blues and at the sign advertising the Sunday Gospel Brunch. Given a choice of CyberSpace Mountain and Gospel music, my kids always chose the thrill rides (and I can't blame them), but when I found myself traveling with a friend recently, I knew that this brunch had to be on my agenda.

I have to admit, I'm not a particularly religious person, but I do enjoy the energy of Gospel music. At the end of the 2009 Half Marathon, one of the highlights for me was to see the group of gospel singers, clad in gold, who were helping to deliver runners to the finish line with their beautiful harmonies. I knew that great music plus brunch was a recipe for a lovely morning and I wasn't disappointed.

We arrived 30 minutes ahead of our 10:30 a.m. show to find the line already forming. I was happy that we got there early for a few reasons. First, we were able to take advantage of the pre-show $3 Mimosas that were being offered as we waited in line and second, we were able to settle at our table and be among the first to get into the queue for brunch.

Your time in the House of Blues is actually divided into two parts. The first 30 to 45 minutes are allotted to eating and the second 45 minutes are devoted to watching the show (you could, in theory, continue to eat during the show, but I found myself up and moving a lot, so I was glad I took time to eat beforehand).

Read the rest of Michelle's Review: http://allears.net/din/gospelbrunch.htm

Post your review and see what others have to say: http://land.allears.net/reviewpost/showproduct.php?product=140&cat=37

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HIDDEN MICKEYS ALERT
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Steve Barrett, author of the Hidden Mickeys books and webmaster of www.HiddenMickeysGuide.com, brings you a few new Hidden Mickeys from Kidani Village, the Disney Vacation Club complex next to Animal Kingdom Lodge.

1. Just inside the entrance to the Kidani Village main lobby, a classic Mickey is at the 6:30 position on a large gold clock on a table. http://allears.net/btp/hm260.jpg

2. At the entrance to the Sanaa restaurant downstairs from the lobby, a classic Mickey made of baskets is on the wall behind the check-in desk.  It's at the lower left in the photo. http://allears.net/btp/hm261.jpg

3. Outside Sanaa restaurant, a classic Mickey is on the rockwork at the bottom rear of the lobby stairs.http://allears.net/btp/hm262.jpg

See archived Hidden Mickey Alerts here: http://allears.net/btp/hiddenm2.htm

Read Steve's blog at AllEars® Blog Central: http://allearsnet.com/blogs/stevebarrett/

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MONTHLY REMIND-EARS
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EVENTS

Epcot

Sounds Like Summer concert series, which features tribute bands at America Gardens Theatre in Epcot, has revised its schedule somewhat. Concerts, which are included in regular Epcot admission, are nightly at 5:45, 7 and 8:15 p.m. July 27-August 2: 2U - A Tribute to U2; August 3-9: Petty Theft - A Tribute to Tom Petty.

July 31 - August 2, in the Norway Pavilion -- Sig Hansen, caption of the Northwestern and the star of The Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel, will be on hand daily for photos and autographs, along with deck boss Edgar Hansen and deck hand Matt Bradley. Times are: 1 - 4 p.m. and 5:30 - 8 p.m. Northwestern gear will also be available for purchase.

Mickey's Pin Trading Afternoon (formerly Mickey's Pin Trading Night) will be held Saturday, August 15, 2009, from 2 to 5 p.m. This free activity is open to all ages and will be held at Disney's Contemporary Resort - Convention Center, Fantasia G Ballroom. There will not be a pin trading activity in September, but the monthly event will resume in October.

Bay Lake Tower opens at the Contemporary Resort on August 4, 2009. AllEars.Net's Deb Wills and Jack Spence will be staying at the resort and reporting!

MagicMeets - Friday through Sunday, August 7 - 9, 2009; held in Camp Hill, PA. This event is SOLD OUT. Several members of the AllEars® team will be on hand to participate in the festivities! http://magicmeets.com

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

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REHABS AND CLOSINGS

Magic Kingdom

Space Mountain is closed until November 21, 2009 for refurbishment.

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

In July and August, Spoodles on the Boardwalk will undergo some minor kitchen renovations in anticipation of its conversion to Cat Cora's new restaurant, Kouzzina, which is due to open September 17:

-- July 1 through mid-August: Spoodles breakfast will not be offered. During this time, breakfast will be served daily at Flying Fish Cafe, 7:30 - 11 a.m.
-- July 6 through August 1: A buffet dinner menu will be served at Spoodles. A la carte offerings will NOT be available at this time.
-- August 2 through mid-August: The restaurant will be closed completely for dinner. For advanced reservations during the closure, try Captain's Grille at Disney's Yacht Club Resort or Flying Fish Cafe. Same-day walk-up dining also might be accommodated at ESPN Club or Big River Grille & Brewing Works.

All dates are subject to change.

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

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MAGICAL MOMENTS
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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.

Sheri Windham: On the second day of our trip, we were at Hollywood Studios. We were very hot and hungry and stopped for lunch at the Starring Rolls Cafe.  My sister went to get some food while I waited with my boys. They were hot and getting very irritable. A kind woman stopped by our table to chat and asked the boys if they had started pin trading yet, to which they responded that they had not. She offered to let each of them pick one of her pins to start their collection. They thoughtfully each picked one of her pins. This put an end to their crankiness and got them started with a new hobby -- pin trading!

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Laurie Seubert: My husband, 13-year-old son and I had a pair of Magical Moments in one day, thanks to Judith, a Cast Member at Animal Kingdom! We arrived at Camp Minnie-Mickey about 10 minutes before the characters were scheduled to start the day's meet-and-greets. We were among the first people on hand in the waiting area, and Judith happened to notice the "Happy Anniversary" pins my husband and I picked up at Guest Relations. When Judith found out that we were celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary, she said, "Follow me," led us to the leftmost queue, and asked us to wait there until she came back, as she had a surprise for us. While we were waiting for her to return, we noticed Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy gathering in the gazebo at the end of our queue. Judith returned, introduced our son to the guests in line behind us, and announced that since he'd "brought" us to Walt Disney World to celebrate our anniversary, she had a special surprise for us! All three of us were then escorted up the path for a personal meet-and-greet with all four characters! A PhotoPass photographer was on hand to capture the moment and took a few photos with my husband's camera as well. Just when we thought our day couldn't get any better, it suddenly did -- while our son was getting autographs from the characters, Judith asked me and my husband if we were spending the whole day at Animal Kingdom, and if so, would we be interested in participating in Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade later that day? Of course, we accepted, and successfully kept the news from our son... who finally figured out what was happening just before the parade, when we were backstage putting on our parade costumes (pith helmets and vests)!  We rode on a float in the parade, waving at the spectators. Another PhotoPass photographer took pictures during the parade, and handed each family in the parade their own PhotoPass Card after the parade was finished. Many thanks to Judith for making a very special celebration even more so!

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Michelle Watkins: My family just returned from the most magical Disney vacation! Our first day there, as we were walking down Main Street (in our matching Mickey Mouse Club T-shirts), we were stopped by Mandy (the coolest cast member at the Magic Kingdom!). She joked about not getting the memo about wearing matching shirts and then asked us to be Grand Marshals in the parade that afternoon! We were elated! We were celebrating a family reunion with my parents, and my 71-year old uncle from Florida, who actually worked at Disney World when it first opened. We were given the royal treatment that day! We were given Mickey ears with our names on them, rode in our own parade vehicle in the front of the parade, and then had VIP seating at the end of the parade route so that we could watch it all coming behind us. What a day! Thank you Mandy and Disney for making our dreams come true! 

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The Denison Family: Our family went to the American Adventure in Epcot one night during extra magic hours. It was pretty late for our daughter, but a cast member recommended we see the movie because it was "the best show in the park." We headed in for the 10:15 showing. About 20 minutes into the movie, the curtain fell. The cast member in charge told us there were technical difficulties, and the show could not go on. We were all sad, because we were really enjoying it! On the last day of our vacation, we decided to head back to Epcot and try the movie again. We arrived at the pavilion just minutes after the movie had started. So we took the opportunity to hang out in the beautiful (ice cold!) rotunda. About 10 minutes before the next show was to start, we were approached by a cast member. She told us she had a surprise for our family and led us to an elevator. We went up to the second floor. She informed us we were to be the "First Family" of the show! We were seated in the "First Family" viewing area at the top of the rotunda. Then we were led into the theater and were told we could choose any seats we wanted! After the other movie-goers were brought in, the cast member announced us as The First Family, The Denison Family from Arkansas! We also received a certificate with "American Adventure First Family" to commemorate our magical moment! 

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Send your Magical Moments to: allearsnet@yahoo.com


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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.