April 2012 Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the March 27, 2012 Issue #653 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Over the next few months, AllEars.Net will be highlighting exclusive excerpts from Sam Gennawey's book, Walt and the Promise of Progress City. The book explores the process through which meaningful and functional spaces were created by Walt Disney and his artists, as well as how guests understand and experience those spaces. It also takes a look at how Walt wanted to change the public's expectations about city life in the same way his earlier work had redefined what it meant to watch an animated film or visit an amusement park. In this month's excerpt, we learn about the way the Imagineers play with your expectations about what you are seeing as you wander through the parks.

Spatial Manipulation
by Sam Gennawey

In many respects, Disneyland is the world's largest toy train set. Of the locomotives that circle the park to the buildings along Main Street, Walt said, "It's not apparent at a casual glance that this street is only a scale model." He added, "This cost more, but made the street a toy and the imagination can play more freely with a toy."

To achieve this effect, the Imagineers adapted a film technique called forced perspective and applied it to three-dimensional design. John Hench defined forced perspective as "a form of one-point linear perspective in which receding space is compressed by exaggerating the proximity of the implied vanishing point to the viewer." In film, the process adds depth to the image. In three-dimensional design, the illusion adds height. The perspective is "forced" because the first floor of a building is full scale, the second floor is smaller in scale, and the third level is even smaller. As the structure continues to rise, the materials continue to get smaller in scale.

Forced perspective is used to adjust the scale of the architecture to meet the storytelling need. These are not full-scale reproductions of historic structures. The size of the buildings has been manipulated, and the unfolding of the spaces is purposefully staged to reinforce the overall narrative. Forced perspective also provided the Imagineers maximum flexibility in the design process. Forced perspective is the quality that makes buildings feel taller than they really are while making the environment more comfortable and intimate. The physical space that the guest passes through is compressed, which aids in the storytelling process. This is why Disneyland seems cozy and friendly, particularly to children.

Read the rest of this excerpt in the AllEars® Guest blog:

Interested in Walt and the Promise of Progress City? Order it through the AllEars.Net Amazon store:

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by Emily Woesthoff
General Manager for BabyCakes NYC at Downtown Disney

Since the restaurant was announced, I had been eager to dine at The Wave at the Contemporary Resort.  Sorry, "The Wave... of American Flavors" (the restaurant's full, formal name). Originally (and still kind of) billed as a restaurant with sustainable and organic options, I had always thought of The Wave as having great potential to be this vegan/vegetarian Mecca within Walt Disney World. Though it is by no means a Mecca, it does boast some vegetarian options that can all easily be made vegan. The vegetarian menu has four entree options, a Vegetarian Cuban Sandwich (served with roasted potatoes or fries), a Multigrain Vegetarian Pasta, Sauteed Tofu (with edamame, corn, green beans, and tomato), and the meal I opted for, the Curry Vegetable Stew. Word of vegan dining advice: when in doubt, go with the curry. The Curry Vegetable Stew was an excellent vegan option, in theory. The yellow curry is delicious, made with coconut milk and served with Jade Rice. The featured vegetables included butternut squash, asparagus, and heirloom apples. Wait. What? Heirloom apples? Yeah, I thought the same thing while I was eating this dish. I was thoroughly enjoying every bite, until an apple would get all caught up on my fork. The worst part was, they kind of resembled russet potatoes and kept fooling me as I tried my best to eat around them. Without the apples, this entree is a great option for anyone dining at The Contemporary for dinner.  

Missed previous Vegan Tips from Emily? We're compiling them here:

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Steven Barrett, author of the Hidden Mickeys books and webmaster of www.HiddenMickeyGuy.com, alerts you to three cool classic (three-circle) Hidden Mickeys at Walt Disney World. Stay focused, or you may overlook these images of Mickey!

1. On Epcot's Spaceship Earth ride, after the fall of Rome, scan the bookshelves to your left as you pass through the room with Jewish and Islamic scholars seated on the floor. On the second shelf, in the right lower corner of the second cubicle from the right wall, the round ends of three scrolls lying flat form a classic Mickey. (Thanks to Patrick Broaddus, Stephen Harris, and The McCully Family.)


2. Inside the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant, walk to the left side hallway just past the check-in counter. A classic Hidden Mickey is drawn on the right wall at the beginning of this hallway. (Thanks to Jeffrey Lipack.)


3. To the left of the entrance doors to the Wilderness Lodge Villas, in a hallway on the left past the elevators, a dark classic Mickey appears on the baseboard near the hall carpet. It's down the hallway on your right, about 8-10 feet before you reach Room 1507. (Thanks to Jessica Trentacosta.)


You can find a selection of past Hidden Mickeys Alerts here:

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Compiled by AllEars® Team Member Cathy Bock

In this monthly featurette, we take a look at recent comments made in the AllEars.Net Rate & Review section about a particular restaurant, resort, event, etc. This month, we examine what AllEars® readers are saying about the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue, performed at Pioneer Hall, located at Fort Wilderness Campground.

Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue is described as "foot-stompin' hoedown fun" and is performed up to three times per night with three tiers of pricing. The Hoop Dee Doo is one of the longest running shows at Walt Disney World, featuring entertainment along with food delivered to your table. AllEars® reviewers give it an average rating of 9.1 and it is recommended by 98% of reviewers. From recent reviews:

Food: "food was pretty good"; "salad and corn bread were delicious, and the mashed potatoes were quite good"; "big complaint was the bucket of chicken. Ours was overflowing with thighs, no breast the first go around, and only one leg for six people"; "food is amazing"; "food was basic down-home comfort food and except for some pretty watery mashed potatoes, we enjoyed everything that was served"; "loved the food"; "chicken and cornbread are yummy"; "food was very good, nothing fancy, but well done comfort food like fried chicken, ribs, beans, corn and potatoes"; "food is wonderful"; "food, as always, is very tasty". Desserts: "strawberry shortcake was the best part of the meal"; "shortcake was quite good"; "dessert was really good".

Entertainment: "show was great, very funny and loved how they include the audience"; "show was great"; "kids loved the show and the performers were incredible"; "show is so funny"; "My husband and I were invited to dance while they sang "Let Me Call You Sweetheart". It was wonderful."; "kids just have a fantastic time and the adults laugh right along side of them"; "entertainment was hilarious for our tween, teens, and Mom and Dad"; "show is awesome"; "entertainment was fun, silly and old fashioned"; "kids have a great time laughing at the slap stick comedy".

Service: "waiter was great"; "server could not have been nicer or more attentive"; "service is good"; "our server was great". Atmosphere: "had great seats in Category 2"; "bathroom is outside of the restaurant... but it was large and clean"; "seats, though on the balcony and right in front of the railing made us feel like second class citizens"; "great seats (Category 1) and we were able to have some interaction with the performers"; "had Category 1 seating and were one row back from the front. I felt it was worth it to sit that close".

Transportation: "We wasted so much time getting lost to get there. And then getting "home" you are stuck commuting from one bus to a park then one bus to your resort."; "getting to Pioneer Hall was quite a task, and we even had a rental car"; "Make sure you really plan ahead for this one!".

Overall: "would go again, but with a different schedule & transportation"; "glad we finally went to this show, but I would not rush back"; "will go back!"; "great way to celebrate our 25th Anniversary trip to the World!"; "Yes it's a bit hokey. Yes, it's a great time."; "love the silly jokes, singing, and food"; "had a great time here and would definitely go again"; "was really fun!".

If you have recently attended the Hoop Dee Doo, we'd love to have your review!

For more information, go to http://allears.net/din/hddcom.htm

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Epcot's 19th Annual Flower & Garden Festival continues through May 20 with its largest-ever front-entrance topiary, an illuminated Haiti produce garden with marketplace and HGTV design celebrities. Along with brilliant horticulture displays, the 75-day festival includes gardening demonstrations, hands-on workshops and the Flower Power concert series (see below). The festival is included in regular Epcot admission. See NEWS BITES below for details on what's happening at the festival this week.


--The VISION House in Innoventions at Epcot, an experiential exhibit created by Walt Disney Imagineering in collaboration with Green Builder Media, is set to open this spring in honor of Earth Day 2012. The exhibit highlights the major themes of whole-home automation, energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor environmental quality, security, multi-generational design and durability. Throughout the exhibit, children and adults will be encouraged to consider how they can reduce their personal impact on the planet, as well as changes they can implement in their own homes to help make them more sustainable, healthier, safer and more durable.


--Precious Moments Doll Maker Linda Rick will be on hand later this month to debut her latest Peter Pan-inspired dolls at Heritage Manor in Epcot's American Adventure pavilion. Rick will be available for signings from noon to 9 p.m. March 30 - April 1 and again April 13 - 15. The shop will also feature some of her previous releases.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Earth Day 2012 will be celebrated TWO days this year at Disney's Animal Kingdom with a Party for the Planet. On April 13 and again on April 22, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the park will feature four stations that provide information and hands-on activities relating to wildlife and nature.

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

USA Gymnastics and the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) announced that the 2012 World Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships, along with the World Age-Group Competition, will be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex's HP Field House. More than 600 gymnasts total are expected to participate in the World Championships, scheduled for April 16-18, and the World Age-Group Competition, set for April 20-22, 2012. Acrobatic gymnastics combines the beauty of dance with the strength and agility of acrobatics. Routines are choreographed to music and consist of dance, tumbling, and partner skills.

Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney Marketplace's Disney's Pin Traders will be hosting monthly events with Disney Design Group artists over the next several months. The artists, who are behind the creation of select Walt Disney World pins, will be meeting with fans and signing pins from 5 to 7 p.m. on the following dates:

-- April 13: Alex Maher
-- May 25: Adrianne Draude
-- July 27: Adrianne Draude

Author and television writer Fred Bronson will make a special appearance and sign his latest book, The Sound of Music Family Scrapbook, on Friday, April 6 at The Writer's Stop at Disney's Hollywood Studios, from noon to 2 p.m. Bronson will also appear at the Art of Disney at Downtown Disney Marketplace on Saturday, April 7, from 5 to 7 p.m. The book tells the behind-the-scenes story of the film The Sound of Music from the perspective of the seven young actors who starred as the von Trapp children. Not only does the book cover the making of the film, but also the lives (before and after the movie) of these seven adults, still referred to as "the kids."


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



Magic Kingdom

Storybook Circus in the New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom soft-opened on March 12, 2012. Other areas of Fantasyland will open in phases throughout this year and next.


Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is closed for an extensive refurbishment until May 27, 2012.


Tutto Italia in the Italy pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase is currently closed for a refurbishment. Its reopening has been postponed until April 28, 2012. Later this year, the Italy pavilion will also introduce the Gusto Wine Bar. An Italian food kiosk serving to-go eats and wine in Epcot's Italy has been set up temporarily during the refurbishment of Tutto Italia. You can get Food and Wine Festival-inspired items like baked cheese ravioli, spicy shrimp with angel hair pasta, panini, and soup; prices range from $7-$10 for savory entrees. Italian beer and wine are also available.


Disney and General Motors have entered into a new multi-year "strategic alliance agreement" that includes a partnership to develop a re-imagined, design-centric Test Track experience. The current GM Test Track at Epcot will close for refurbishment in April 2012, with an anticipated opening of Test Track Presented by Chevrolet scheduled for fall 2012. The re-imagined Future World attraction will transform into the "Chevrolet Design Center at Epcot" with interactive design and styling workstations at which you will be able to create custom concept vehicles. Also included will be a "SimCar" ride vehicle experience where you can put your design through its paces on the Test Track circuit. The post-show area will feature the latest Chevrolet vehicles in an all-new, state-of-the-art showroom.


Habit Heroes, an attraction dedicated to conveying a positive message about healthy lifestyles in a fun and empowering way, opened in Innoventions a few weeks ago. Disney says the exhibit was just in a "soft opening" phase, during which they collected feedback from visitors. The exhibit has now been closed indefinitely while refinements to the experience are implemented.

The Nature-Inspired by Design Segway Tour at Epcot will be discontinued as of July 3. Until then, you can continue to book the tour by contacting 407-WDW-TOUR (407-939-8687). The remaining dates for the tour are: April 10 and 24; May 5 and 15; June 5 and 19; and July 3 (final day).

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show will be closed for refurbishment from April 29 - May 2.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Beginning this spring, Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney's Animal Kingdom will undergo some wild changes, aimed at giving guests the opportunity to see more of their favorite animals, specifically zebras, during the 20-minute open-air ride. Though zebras have long been part of Kilimanjaro Safaris, they are often overlooked because of their location on the savanna. By creating a new habitat for the zebras, Guests will have more of an opportunity to see them. The audio-animatronics "Little Red" elephant and related "poacher" set pieces will be removed as the theme park adds a new savanna space, including a watering hole for live animals. Work will begin in March and construction is scheduled to be complete in fall 2012. Kilimanjaro Safaris will remain open during the construction.


Disney's Art of Animation Resort

The first wing of the Disney's Art of Animation Resort will open on May 31, 2012. Located near Pop Century Resort, the new resort will offer 1,120 family suites (including a bedroom and living room) themed after "The Lion King," "Cars" and "Finding Nemo" animated films, as well as 864 guest rooms inspired by "The Little Mermaid." Construction on these other sections is ahead of scheduled, and new opening dates were recently announced: the Cars wing is now set to open June 18; Lion King wing now opens August 10; Little Mermaid wing is now slated to open September 15.

The resort will be home to the largest swimming pool at the Walt Disney World Resort (aside from the water parks). This pool will be located in the "Finding Nemo" wing, and will measure 11,859 square feet. The resort also will feature two other pools and a children's water play area. Disney's Art of Animation Resort will be a "value" category of lodging, with nightly rates similar to Disney's All-Star Resort and Disney's Pop Century Resort.


Disney's Grand Floridian Resort

The spa at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa closed on September 19, 2011, for 18 months as part of a planned renovation at the resort, and the addition of Disney Vacation Club units. During this downtime, enhancements are also being planned for the spa. As an alternative, you can purchase spa services at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. If you are staying at the Grand Floridian or the Polynesian Resort and you book a spa treatment at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, complimentary transportation will be provided for you. Note that the health club at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is still open. In addition, the Ivy Trellis Beauty and Barber Shop remain open in the main building of the Grand Floridian.


Disney's Polynesian Resort

The Nanea Volcano Pool slide at Disney's Polynesian Resort is under refurbishment through April 1, 2012. Guests wanting access to a pool slide can visit Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.

Disney's Old Key West Resort

Disney's Old Key West Resort has a number of refurbishment projects planned around the resort in the winter and spring of 2012. Several buildings at Old Key West's Hospitality House are scheduled for roof repairs. This project encompasses the main lobby and Olivia's. The roof repairs are scheduled to last though May 16, 2012. Note that all refurbishment dates are approximate. Exact start and end dates may vary.

Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

As Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa approaches its 8th anniversary, a number of painting projects aim to keep the resort looking fresh for guests. From February 9 through April 24, 2012, the rockwork at the High Rock Spring pool will be painted. The pool and slide are expected to remain open throughout the painting project. Meanwhile, from February 21 to April 12, the Carriage House lobby will be repainted. In addition, each of the 18 resort building exteriors is being repainted -- a project that began in Fall 2010. The building repainting is expected to conclude in August 2012. Note that all refurbishment dates are estimates only and exact project dates may vary.

The "soft goods" room refurbishment at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa has begun. Accessories and linens will be replaced. The project is expected to last through spring 2013.


Downtown Disney

Splitsville at Downtown Disney West Side is expected to open this fall, combining bowling with billiards, dining, music and nightlife. Splitsville will include 45,000 square feet with 30 lanes on two floors. Bowlers can feast on hand-tossed pizza, fresh-rolled sushi, hand-cut filet sliders and other menu items served right at the lane, all while enjoying an entertaining atmosphere. The all-new day-and-nighttime venue also will be available for birthday parties and corporate events. Splitsville will join other new offerings at Downtown Disney, such as BLINK by Wet Seal, Apricot Lane, a completely redesigned Sunglass Icon by Sunglass Hut, an extensive renovation of Basin and an exterior remodel at Rainforest Cafe (see below).


Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney Orlando is undergoing refurbishment. During the renovation, the restaurant will remain open. Upon completion in October 2012, a new lounge area, exterior updates and an updated volcano will be unveiled.


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

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Missy Tonkin: My family and I were wrapping up a day at Hollywood Studios. It was still warm out and we were about to head out back to our home in Jacksonville. We decided to stop and get an ice cream to eat first. I placed my order with the ice cream cart, and just as I was doing this, this older gentleman walked up and stood next to the counter. As soon as the cashier gave me the total price, the man reached out his room key and said "it's on me". Yes, he used his last snack credits to buy my family ice cream. It wrapped up an already great day at Disney.

Larry and Tammy Thigpen: My daughter was singing Disney songs as we strolled through Epcot. A cast member from Scotland came up to us and introduced herself. She told us about being there to work for the Millennium celebration and that the singing really touched her. She asked my daughter what her favorite song was, to which she replied "Jesus Loves Me." The young lady asked my daughter to sing it, since her own mother used to sing that to her as a child. My daughter sang the song to the cast member who was a bit homesick and to several other cast members who gathered to listen. Then the young woman gave my daughter a pin from Scotland and a Magical Moment certificate for her song. Now that 6-year-old little girl is 17 and she still remembers that special moment (and still has that certificate on her wall). She has often said she wished she knew what had become of that young Scottish woman. Disney moments really leave a lasting impression!

Jenna: I have read so many submissions from others about "magical moments," that my heart was warmed just knowing that they happened. We were on the first day of our first trip, having just moved from Fantasyland to Adventureland. We walked over to the Jungle Cruise and were looking for the entrance when a cast member came up to us and asked how long our Princesses had been there, and why hadn't anyone told her? She said we had to hurry, and that our presence there was of utmost royal importance. She then led us to a boat that had just emptied and put us in it! The cast member running the ride made us the center of a few friendly jokes and my girls actually wondered if they had made a mistake and thought they were princesses for real! I know it isn't the most fabulous tale of Disney Magic, but it sure meant something special to our family that we will never forget!


We just bet you have a story to tell about an unforgettable moment during your Disney vacation! Please send your favorite memory for inclusion in a future AllEars® to: allearsnet@yahoo.com

Thank you all for sharing!

We've also compiled a collection of photos from readers sharing their Magical Moments via digital images in the latest Wandering the World: Kids and Characters edition.



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.