August 2017 Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the July 25, 2017 Issue #931 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)


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.


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STEP BACK IN TIME
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by Joan L. Feder
AllEars® Contributor

Happily Ever After Fireworks
We hunt through our archives for this monthly featurette, which looks at the history of Walt Disney World and The Walt Disney Company. This month we travel back more than 30 years, to trace the origins of Tinker Bell's Flight.

Have you had a chance to see the new Happily Ever After Fireworks show at Walt Disney World? If so, you know that one of the highlights is Tinker Bell's flight. But did you know that she's been flying over Disney Parks for more than 30 years?

Tinker Bell made her inaugural flight on August 1, 1958, at the Disneyland-sponsored Disney Night at the Hollywood Bowl. It was three years later, on June 9, 1961, that Tinker Bell first took to the skies over Disneyland. Originally, she flew from the Matterhorn, soaring past the castle while igniting the evening fireworks. Today, Tink flies not once but twice as part of the "Remember…Dreams come True" Fireworks Spectacular. Her first appearance is based on the weekly title sequence from The Wonderful World of Disney TV series. She then returns to enchant the entire park as part of the display's grand finale.

When Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, guests were disappointed that Tinker Bell was not a part of the fireworks. That changed on July 3, 1985, when more than 60,000 visitors watched her first flight. Tink was only expected to appear as a seasonal and holiday attraction, but guest response was so positive that it turned into a nightly event that continues to this day. In Florida, Tinker Bell's flight starts at Cinderella Castle and continues on toward Tomorrowland Terrace. Her flight speed can range anywhere from 20 to 35 miles per hour, and lasts for about 30 seconds overall. 

Tinker Bell has not flown over the Disney Parks outside of the United States. She has, however, made some special appearances beyond meet-and-greets. For Hong Kong Disneyland's fifth anniversary in 2011, Sleeping Beauty Castle temporarily became Tinker Bell Castle with the addition of pixie dust that glittered by day and sparkled at night. At Disneyland Paris, on March 25, 2017, Tink used her magic to kick off a new nighttime show that celebrates the 25th anniversary of that park, called Disney Illuminations. 

A word of caution: If you want to see Tinker Bell fly, be sure to check the weather. Even if the Happily Ever After Fireworks show goes on, her flight is NOT guaranteed. Tink sometimes has to cancel, usually due to high winds or stormy skies, but with a little bit of pixie dust she does appear on most nights.

RELATED LINKS:

VIDEO: "Happily Ever After" Finale (featuring Tinker Bell's Flight)

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HIDDEN MICKEYS ALERT
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Steve Barrett, author of the Hidden Mickeys books and webmaster of HiddenMickeyGuy.com, reminds you that Hidden Mickeys can be found on the Disney Cruise Ships as well as in the Disney parks and resorts. Here are a few Hidden Images in light fixtures on the Disney Wonder.

1. Deck 9 midship, Cove Cafe - Walk to middle of the upstairs seating area. A group of round lighting fixtures hangs from the ceiling, and three of them come together into a proportionate classic Mickey. Stand directly below them and look up. You'll see two "ears" that slightly overlap the outer edge of the larger "head." In the photo, the classic Hidden Mickey is upside-down. (Thanks to Kevin.)

Hidden Mickey

2. Deck 5 aft, Buena Vista Theatre - Before the movie starts, trivia questions appear on the screen. Small classic Mickeys encircle the small round portion at the lower middle of the lighting fixture at the top of the screen. (Thanks to Wizard, and Bill and Kari Middeke.)

Hidden Mickey

3. Deck 4 midship, D Lounge - Some of the large circular light fixtures on the ceiling of D Lounge form classic Mickeys. (Thanks to Bill and Kari Middeke.)

Hidden Mickey

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You can find an archive of past Hidden Mickey Alerts HERE.

And check out our latest Searching Disney with Steve blog.

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SOUVEN-EARS
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Mickey Pet Toys
Our occasional featurette on shopping around the World returns this week with an entry from our staff writer and "A Mom and the Magic" blogger Kristin B. Ford.

If you've ever wanted to share your love of Disney with your furry family members, you are now in luck! Earlier this summer, Disney Parks expanded its Disney Tails collection for canines, and the merchandise definitely is a treat for pets and owners alike.

First, there were the squeaky pet toys made to look like an iconic red Minnie Mouse bow, a yellow Mickey Mouse shoe, or a black Mickey Mouse Club ear hat. Along with those classic shapes came squeaky pet toys that resemble everyone's favorite treats: a Mickey waffle and a Mickey ice cream bar. All the squeaky toys are $12.99 plus tax each.

Recently, I spotted merchandise for dogs to wear. Your personal Pluto can don a Mickey or Minnie ear headband that stays in place with a chinstrap ($14.99 plus tax). To dress up your dog and add some functionality, choose a Disney Parks dog harness. These items are part costume, part comfortable restraint and come in Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse (love the bows and ruffles!) and black-and-white Mickey checkerboard print versions. Sizing is small, medium and large with a price tag of $39.99 plus tax regardless of size.

Owners also can choose collars in the same patterns above ($14.99 plus tax) and leashes ($17.99 plus tax). Collars are sized small, medium and large, while leashes are just two sizes -- small and medium/large. Again, the Minnie Mouse set features three-dimensional red polka-dot bows. That detail was what persuaded me to part with my money and purchase the leash and collar for my Golden Retriever. There also is a line of collars and leashes with a Mickey head and paw print design that is made of reflective material for nighttime walks. These come in red, blue and purple, and collars and leashes are $14.99 plus tax each. Guests also can choose a Minnie Mouse or Mickey checkerboard pattern waste bag and dispenser set ($17.99 plus tax).

Want to accessorize your dog a bit more? Check out the bow tie and tie set or the bandanna collection. Each comes with three different designs or patterns for $17.99 plus tax. The bandannas are one size fits most, and the bow tie and tie collar accessories are sizes extra small/small and medium/large.

Finally, guests can choose from a variety of pet bowls in the Disney Tails collection. Stainless steel bowls are decorated with either a black silicone surround with a die-cut Mickey Mouse head design or a glittering red silicone surround with alternating die-cut Minnie Mouse head and bow designs. The stainless steel bowls come in a variety of sizes and are priced from $19.99 to $22.99 plus tax. There also are ceramic bowls decorated in red-and-white polka dot and black-and-white checkerboard patterns for $12.99 to $14.99 plus tax depending on size.

Bring these souvenirs home from Walt Disney World or Disneyland or look for select pieces on the Shop Disney Parks app and on DisneyStore.com

Owners of cats or small dogs may be excited to see the Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse pet domes that debuted this spring at PetSmart are now available on DisneyStore.com for $59.95 plus tax and shipping. These are so adorable! The collection also includes honeycomb hut pet beds ($54.95 plus tax), cozy cuddler pet beds ($54.95 plus tax) and a reversible Mickey Mouse pet blanket ($29.95 plus tax).

Happy shopping!

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MONTHLY REMIND-EARS
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AUGUST EVENTS

August 25: Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party begins extra early this year! 2017 Dates are August 25, 29; September 1, 7, 10, 12, 15, 17, 19, 22, 24, 26, 29; October 1, 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27, 29, 31; and November 1.

August 31: Epcot International Food and Wine Festival will expand to 75 days for its 2017 season. It runs through November 13. In addition, the Eat to the Beat Concert Series will run the length of this year's Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. New acts coming this year include Kenny G, 10,000 Maniacs, Everclear, Blue October and Squeeze.

Check our Events page for a full schedule of upcoming events.

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AUGUST REHABS AND CLOSINGS

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Great Movie Ride will close permanently as of August 13, 2017, to make way for a new attraction, Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway. The attraction is inspired by the Mickey Shorts that you can see on the Disney Channel. There is no opening date for the new attraction as yet.

Epcot

Mission:SPACE, including the Advanced Training Lab, is closed for refurbishment. No official reopening date has been announced, however it was revealed at the D23 Expo that the attraction would be getting updated "missions." Guests will be able to enjoy an updated Orange Mission and a brand-new Green Mission. (Orange is the more intense training experience, while Green is less intense.) The Orange Mission will make a stunning trip to Mars, while the all-new Green adventure will allow guests to blast off for an orbital adventure around planet Earth.

Ellen's Energy Adventure in the Universe of Energy pavilion will close permanently as of August 13, 2017, to make room for a new attraction that will feature Guardians of the Galaxy. The announcement was made during the 2017 D23 Expo. No opening date was given, but the attraction will be open in time for Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary in 2021.

Coral Reef Restaurant in the Seas with Nemo & Friends will be closed for a short refurbishment August 27-30, 2017.

Magic Kingdom

Hall of Presidents in Liberty Square will not reopen until late 2017.

Liberty Square Riverboat will be closed for refurbishment August 1-10, 2017.

Splash Mountain will be closed for refurbishment from August 28 until November 16, 2017.

Art of Animation

Art of Animation Resort is currently undergoing some general refurbishment projects. During this time, the resort will be in full operation with all amenities available, including dining, merchandise and recreation locations. It is possible that construction may be seen or heard, but noise should not be heard from guest rooms between dusk and 9 a.m. No end date for these projects has been announced as yet.

Caribbean Beach

Through June 30, 2018, Old Port Royale Food Court, Shutters at Old Port Royale, Cabana Pool Bar and Calypso Trading Post will be undergoing refurbishment. A variety of dining options will be available for all meals. Centertown will serve breakfast and dinner. Grab 'n' Go options will be available in three island markets: Aruba, Jamaica, and Martinique. In addition, buildings in Barbados and Martinique islands are being demolished to make way for new construction.

Coronado Springs

The resort rooms are undergoing a "hard goods refurbishment" that will continue for some time into 2017.

Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

The resort's Fitness Center will be closed beginning June 12 while the flooring is being replaced. Some equipment will be moved to Salon 9 to accommodate guests who want to work out.

Old Key West

Disney's Old Key West Resort is undergoing a wholesale refurbishment, which is expected to be completed in 2019.

Pop Century

Pop Century resort rooms are currently undergoing refurbishment, with work expected to be completed by May 7, 2018. In addition there are a number of other refurbishment projects going on around the resort, but all amenities will be available.

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin

The resort is currently undergoing the largest renovation in its 25-year history. The Dolphin room renovations are currently scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017. In addition, the Dolphin lobby is undergoing a $12 million redesign. When finished in the fall of 2017, the new lobby will be completely transformed into a sleek, contemporary space and will feature new dining and beverage options. The lobby redesign is the final stage of the $140 million renovation project.

The Yacht and Beach Club Convention Center is undergoing expansion and renovation now through February 1, 2018.

Yacht Club

Resort room refurbishment is taking place through mid- to late 2017.

Captain's Grille is closed for refurbishment through September 30, 2017. During the refurbishment, the Captain's Grille is serving in Ariel's in the Beach Club.

Blizzard Beach Water Park

Run-off Rapids is closed for refurbishment.

Disney Springs

Portobello Country Italian Trattoria at the Disney Springs Landing will be closed for refurbishment until sometime in Fall 2017. When it reopens, it will be known as Terralina Crafted Italian.

Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe, including The Dining Room at Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe and The Express at Wolfgang Puck Grand Café, will close permanently on August 2, 2017.

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A complete list of known rehabs can be found HERE.

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MAGICAL MOMENTS
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Each month, we like to share a few heart-warming Magical Moments brought to us by the amazing Disney cast members!

Barbara Koenig: My sisters and I had a magical moment last November when we took our dad to a one-day trip to Disney World. He was in failing health at 93 years "young" and had requested a trip to Animal Kingdom, the one park he had not been to. He did well with us rolling him from one exhibit to the next on a fairly uncrowded day. As we prepared to leave, we hurried to the Adventurers Outpost to get pictures with Mickey and Minnie. We got there right at closing and it looked like we would not be able to see the duo. However, to our delight, a cast member named Teddy came to our rescue and ushered us in as the last in line. The pictures were wonderful and emotional. They are special to us as Dad died in January and are a reminder of a fun-filled day with him. I will never forget Teddy's kindness and how he helped three "girls" and their dad experience some real Disney magic!

Anne Husband: I'm sure you received lots of reports from visitors during Hurricane Matthew. Here's one more that tells of magic in the madness! We were staying at Port Orleans Riverside during Hurricane Matthew. The evening before everything closed due to the hurricane we went to "the hub" to pick up a few supplies to hunker down for the next day. Needless to say, it was crazy-chaotic with hundreds and hundreds of folks lined up at registration, in the gift shop and for food -- waaay more than we could have expected. We made our purchase in the shop and went to head back to the car in the front parking lot, when I discovered that the one set of rental car keys had fallen out of my pocket somewhere in that mass of people. Thinking we would only be a few minutes inside, and because of the torrential downpour at the time, my friend had left her backpack (with all her money and credentials) in the car, so I was more than usually distraught given the entire situation -- a "last straw" sort of scenario. I retraced all my steps, checked with every cashier to see if they had been turned in, to no avail. I headed to reception to check lost & found when an absolutely incredible lady (I believe from housekeeping) recognized my distress and took me under her wing. She brought me a supervisor, Neil, and between the two of them, helped to keep me calm and told me they would "make it right." In the midst of all that craziness, they dedicated at least an hour to us. She headed off to check on a set that had been found at another building and while she was gone, Neil and another supervisor connected with a set that had been turned into the gift shop. Relief and gratitude are an understatement, but I was beyond sad, that I was unable to personally thank my guardian angel. The next day, when given the all-clear, we went for a walk around the resort. My head was down, but I moved to get out of a mobile cart, looked up and there she was driving. We had a big hug, I could pass along my thanks AND learn her name -- Delfina. When I later went to registration to thank them as well, the supervisor on duty at that time told me "Delfina hadn't gone home yet." These are the type of people that Disney employs.

Vicky Oboy: On our recent visit to Walt Disney World we stayed at the All Star Music Resort. On the day that we visited Hollywood Studios and planned to attend Fantasmic! my 15-year-old son had gone back to the hotel in the afternoon to rest for a while. He was planning to come back to meet us in the park for the show that evening. He fell asleep in the room and was running late getting to the bus stop. As he came out of the lobby doors he saw the bus for Hollywood Studios closing its doors and pulling away. He ran to try to catch it but was too late. As he stood by the bus stop talking to my husband on his cell phone, (probably looking rather panicked because he was going to miss our meeting time and miss the show) another bus pulled up and opened the door. The bus driver asked him where he needed to be and my son told him the story and that according to the bus schedule another bus wasn't going to be there for another 20 minutes. The driver told him that he had just gotten off duty but to climb aboard and he would take him over to the park. My son said he was the only one on the bus and he and the driver chatted about our visit all the way over. He dropped my son off right at the front of the gate. He arrived in enough time to find us and to even grab a snack on the way into the show. He didn't get the driver's name, but he definitely made an impression on our family! What a great testimony to Disney customer service!

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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® via our Contact Us page. Thank you all for sharing!


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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.