December 2007 Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the November 27, 2007 Issue #427 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. This month we travel with Lou Mongello in his Wayback Machine to the early 1970s.

You know, through the years (and on trips aboard my Walt Disney World Wayback Machine), I've seen some pretty interesting things: A waterskiing Goofy, gunfighters shooting it out in Frontierland, singing fruit, a rapping Mickey, and so much more. But when I think about some of those things, and some which may seem a bit odd or unbelievable, it's when I ask people if they remember the big orange character with the giant orange head, leaves for arms and a green stem sticking out of his head, that most people usually turn and run. Fast.

But seriously, do YOU remember this character? Know whom I'm talking about? If not (or even if you do), climb into my Wayback Machine (I just had it detailed) and let's go back… way back to the very early 1970s in Walt Disney World. Since the Magic Kingdom is still the only park that's there, this is a great place to start…

The Sunshine Pavilion in Adventureland, located between the Enchanted Tiki Room and the walkway to Frontierland, was at one time sponsored by the Florida Citrus Growers. It served, of course, citrus drinks, including the legendary Citrus Swirl, predecessor to the modern Dole Whip.

The "Florida Citrus Growers" was the name of the Florida Citrus Commission group that joined with Disney to create a $3 million tropical bird attraction in Walt Disney World. In October 1969, a deal was signed, and a year later, Disney created what would become the official mascot for the Florida Citrus Growers in the park, the Orange Bird. So as you can see, the Florida Citrus Growers had a huge presence in WDW, as they sponsored The Tropical Serenade show (which was inside the Enchanted Tiki Room), the Sunshine Tree Terrace snack stand next door, and basically the entire building, which was known as The Sunshine Pavilion.

Learn more about the history of the Orange Bird here:

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John P writes: I was at Magic Kingdom on Friday, September 28, 2007, with my wife, 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter. It was 2:45 p.m. and we were heading out of Tomorrowland and back to our Fort Wilderness Cabin when we were approached by a cast member who asked us if we wanted to be in a parade. We said that we would and they had us wait on the side of the circle in front of the castle near the Tomorrowland entrance.

They then asked others walking by until there were about 16 of us. They broke us up into two groups of eight and we were the "Tambourine Section." They gave us each a tambourine and instructions on how to use it. "Don't punch a hole in it like some people do." We had lessons — two taps with our arms down to the left, two taps with our arms up to the left, two taps with our arms down to the right, two taps with our arms up to the right, four taps overhead and then a four count of just walking and waving.

The two cast members with us were obviously professional entertainers and were delightful. They both had tons of personality and kept us laughing. When the parade got started we were nervous but one of the cast members was in front and we just had to copy her movements. The cast member behind us kept us going when we would lag behind. By the time we got down to the Main Street Town Square we had the routine perfected. The four count when we would stop and wave gave us a chance to look at the crowd. Some of the people were waving back and others were thinking, "What are they doing there?" We were wearing t-shirts and shorts and did not look very professional.

When we got to the square, they lined us each in our own concrete paved square surrounding the flag pole and gave us a US flag to wave. One of our leaders told us that we would be singing "Grand Old Flag" and "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy" and waving the flags. "I am sure you know all the lyrics. If you don't then just sing whatever you want to sing." The marching band broke into the music and the cast members kept encouraging us to sing loudly and to really wave the flags. My kids did not know any of the songs and my wife and I only knew bits and pieces but we really pumped the flags back and forth.

When the songs were over they collected the flags, the restraining ropes came down and the entire entourage just melted away. Within seconds the square was back to "normal" and we were wondering if we had really just been in a parade or if it had been a dream. We then floated out of the exit and back to Fort Wilderness.

For photos of this fun parade:

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Steve Barrett, author of the Hidden Mickeys book and webmaster of, highlights the following Hidden Mickeys for your next journey to Walt Disney World:

1. A few months ago, my son Steven and I were studying Hidden Mickey posts from my website to get photos and either verify the sightings as decent Hidden Mickeys or question them as "Wishful Thinking." Steven is a great Hidden Mickey spotter, as are many folks who write me. We were scrutinizing the horse and jockey statue outside the main lobby of Saratoga Springs Resort. After a few minutes, Steven shouted and pointed to a tiny classic Mickey hidden in the roses of the horse's winners blanket (it's actually on both sides of the blanket!). Check out the photo!

2. Bryan alerted me to several cool classic Mickeys at the Adventurers Club in Pleasure Island. The first one is a tiny green Hidden Mickey near the top of the design in the overhead outside banner. An inside banner near the rear stairs has a similar blue classic Mickey.

3. The second cool classic Mickey in the Adventurers Club (thanks Bryan!) is in the lower center of a framed parchment on an inside wall just to the left of the drink bar and to the right of the "Mask Room." My photo is a bit blurred, so I'll need to get another one!

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AllEars® Team Member LindaMac attended the preview of ICE! at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center. Each year Gaylord Palms invites artists from Harbin, China, to hand-carve nearly two million pounds of ice into larger-than-life, three-dimensional ice monuments and sculptures.

After the "pre-show" videos, you are given a long hooded winter parka and have your picture taken (which can later be purchased for $12.95 at the exit). The resort recommends you dress appropriately; closed toe shoes and long pants are required. The parka was great but I am also glad I brought along my scarf and gloves.

Be sure to pick up an Old Man Winter's Guide to Having an ICE! Day for a list of all the free holiday festivities! You can make a real afternoon or evening of it if in addition to ICE! you include the ice skating, shows in the hotel lobby and tree lighting. The overall experience is well worth the trip and cost.

Charity partner Give Kids the World Villages will receive a donation for every ICE! ticket sold. Gaylord Palms will make a minimum donation of $10,000.

ICE! is the featured holiday event at Gaylord Palms and runs through January 3, 2008. Adult tickets range from $16.99 – $21.99 and children 4-12 $9.99.

Gaylord Palm's Resort and Convention Center is located at 600 W. Osceola Parkway in Kissimmee.

For lots of photographs and LindaMac's full report visit:

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MouseFest 2007!

The 5th MouseFest Disney fan event begins on December 2 aboard the Disney Wonder. On December 6, MouseFest moves to land and Walt Disney World, with more than 80 meets scheduled. The MegaMouseMeet will be Saturday, December 8, at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort from 1 to 3:30 p.m. (or from noon if you're a registered attendee!). Join Deb Wills, Jennifer and Dave Marx (PassPorter) and many more special guests for fun times onboard the Disney Wonder and at Walt Disney World!

New Year's Eve! Lots of special events on December 31 around the World:

Epcot — A special version of "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth" laser-light spectacular will be presented at 7:30 and 11:40 p.m. at Epcot. Latin crossover band Papo's Groove and the energetic DJ Indio Davila will entertain partiers at America Gardens Theatre, while the big band swing music of the Tom Butler Orchestra will fill World Showplace. Rockers can boogie down at Scooter's dance party at the Fountain Stage, plus techno rock at the China pavilion and classic rock 'n' roll at the Italy pavilion in World Showcase. The park is open from 8 a.m.-1 a.m.

Disney-MGM Studios is aglow with the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights presented by SYLVANIA. Millions of sparkling lights adorn the Streets of America backlot through Jan. 6, 2008. Special New Year's Eve park hours: 9 a.m.-1 a.m. Special entertainment includes a trio of "Fantasmic!" fireworks shows — at 6:30, 8:30 and 10 p.m. — plus a special showering of fireworks at midnight.

Magic Kingdom — Party on until 1 a.m. at Magic Kingdom with double the parades and fireworks. Count down to the magical hour with the "SpectroMagic" parade at 7 and 10:30 p.m., plus "Holiday Wishes" fireworks at 8:30 p.m. and "Fantasy in the Sky" fireworks at 11:50 p.m. The park is open from 8 a.m.-1 a.m.

Animal Kingdom — "Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Expedition" parade, starring favorite Disney friends, winds through Disney's Animal Kingdom at 3:45 p.m. Park hours 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Pleasure Island: Walt Disney World guests can count down to midnight and ring in 2008 with a dazzling display of entertainment, parades, fireworks and extended hours throughout the Vacation Kingdom on New Year's Eve. The party will take place from 8 p.m.-2 a.m. and will include a countdown to 2008 and a special fireworks celebration only Disney can deliver. Each guest on New Year's Eve will welcome 2008 with festive hats and noisemakers, plus a delectable dinner buffet and a midnight champagne toast — all part of the admission price. Admission to this special-ticket New Year's Eve party is $99 plus tax and includes entry to all seven themed nightclubs at Pleasure Island. Annual passholders can purchase up to two tickets at $89 each plus tax. For more information or to order advance tickets, call 407-W-DISNEY.

Downtown Disney West Side: Cirque du Soleil fans can celebrate the New Year La Nouba style with two presentations of the theatrical production, at 6 and 9 p.m. A champagne toast celebration, souvenir program, glow sticks and gift are included in the special ticket price. Tickets are from $67 to $139, plus tax, depending on category.


Animal Kingdom

Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade is running now through January 6, 2008.

At Camp Minnie-Mickey, guests can meet Disney characters dressed in their holiday best or enjoy carolers performing seasonal classics at Santa Goofy's Holiday Village. The village is decorated with Christmas trees and features live entertainers and holiday photo opportunities.

Disney-MGM Studios

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights: Now through January 6, 2008 — The Streets of America backlot cityscape at Disney-MGM S tudios comes alive with millions of sparkling lights each evening. The lightshow is in collaboration with Arkansas businessman Jennings Osborne, who developed the display for his daughter. The dazzling spectacle is included with Disney-MGM Studios admission.

Harlem Gospel Choir brings soulful spirit to Disney-MGM Studios this holiday season with performances November 30-December 25. The inspirational choir presents the finest singers and musicians from Harlem's Black Churches with songs of joy and peace. The 12-member group will perform half-hour shows at Theater of the Stars at Disney-MGM Studios at 5, 6 and 7:30 p.m. nightly.

Hollywood Holly-Day Parade, decked with favorite Disney characters in their holiday best, marches down Hollywood Boulevard every afternoon at 3 p.m.


Holidays Around the World now through December 30, 2007. This Epcot tradition continues with storytellers, a character tree-lighting ceremony daily, a stunning display of snow-white lights, and the Candlelight Processional — guest narrators accompanied by a massed choir and orchestra for a retelling of the Christmas story. Included with regular Epcot admission.

Candlelight Processional: The updated list of Epcot's Candlelight Processional celebrity narrators for the upcoming 2007 holiday season includes (subject to change):

November 26-28: John O'Hurley
November 29-December 1: Neil Patrick Harris
December 2-4 : Dennis Franz (Note: December 2 Community Relations Night event at 5:00 p.m.– no Candlelight Processional Dinner Packages available.)
December 5-7: Monique Coleman
December 8-10: Steven Curtis Chapman
December 11-13: Chita Rivera
December 14-16: Andie MacDowell
December 17-19: Kirk Cameron
December 20-22: Edward James Olmos
December 23-25: Gary Sinise
December 26-28: Rita Morenov December 29-30: Marlee Matlin

Lights of Winter — World Showcase Plaza. Enjoy this dazzling lighted canopy that dances to holiday music over the walkway that links Future World and World Showcase, each night starting at sunset.

Mickey's Tree Lighting Treat (nightly tree lighting ceremony): At nightfall, Mickey Mouse and his friends host a gala tree-lighting ceremony complete with music and storytelling, in World Showcase Plaza.

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, complete with a holiday finale, caps the evening celebration.

Magic Kingdom

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party continues — December 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 2007 Holiday merriment fills Magic Kingdom. There are special holiday shows, fireworks ("Holiday Wishes–Celebrate the Spirit of the Season") and treats. For ticket information, guests can contact 407-W-DISNEY.

Castle Light Show (nightly): Cinderella Castle is adorned with thousands of shimmering white lights, covering the turrets and towers like a glistening blanket of ice. The twinkling lights create an elegant wintry effect perfect for the seasonal celebration.

Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade celebrates the many festive moods of the holiday season, showcasing a series of holiday themes including a Friends and Family Christmastime Party, a sleigh ride through a Winter Wonderland, a romantic Fairy Tale Christmastime, a scrumptious display of Christmastime sweets, and of course Santa and Mrs. Claus in a grand finale. And for longtime Disney Christmas parade fans: soldiers, snowflakes and dancing deer are all still in the parade. The parade features original music as well as both classic and current holiday tunes.

Downtown Disney

Festival of the Season (through December 24, 2007), transforms Downtown Disney into a holiday shopper's delight. Holiday-themed decor, colorful light displays, plus photo opportunities with old St. Nick himself offer yuletide cheer.


Don't forget to check our Events page for current updates:



Disney-MGM Studios

Voyage of the Little Mermaid – will be closed from December 10 – 14, 2007.


Spaceship Earth, presented by Siemens, is undergoing a number of changes which 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. The reopening of Spaceship Earth is now scheduled for February 18. Read the full press release here:

Magic Kingdom

Magic Carpets of Aladdin will be closed for refurbishment from December 2 – 8, 2007.

Typhoon Lagoon began its annual refurbishment on October 28, 2007, and is scheduled to reopen on January 6, 2008.

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.

Beach Club

The Beach Club's "Quiet" Pool will be closed December 3-21, 2007. As an alternative, use the Dunes Cove pool at the Beach Club Villas, or Stormalong Bay.


The Atlantic Dance Hall will be closed December 1 – 8.

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

The Jaguar Slide at Coronado Springs Resort's Dig Site will be closed until December 14, 2007. Only the slide will be closed; the pool will remain open.

POP Century

The pools at Pop Century will stagger the days their decks are cleaned. During these dates, decks will partially close, but the pools will remain open:
— Bowling Pin Pool: December 3 and 4
— Computer Pool: December 5 and 6
— Hippy Dippy Pool December 10 and 11

Port Orleans Riverside

Port Orleans Riverside's "Quiet" Pool at Alligator Bayou will be closed on December 17 and 18; all other pools at the resort will remain open.

Sand Trap Bar and Grill will be closed for lunch and dinner on Saturday, December 1 and Sunday, December 2 due to a Special Event. The restaurant will be open for breakfast both days from 6:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.


Be sure to check our Rehabs and Closings page for periodic updates:

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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.


Amy J: On November 1, my family and I had just gotten off the Haunted Mansion ride, and were looking at the villains towels at the Haunted Mansion cart. A cast member asked me if I was a villains fan. I said I was a huge fan. She said that since most people do not know their villains, and I said I did, she was going to ask me some of the harder questions. She asked me who dueled with Merlin, and I responded, "Mad Madam Mim." She asked who would be considered the bad guy in the Jungle Book, and I replied, "Shere Kahn." She said she was then going to ask me two questions that she has yet to find a guest answer correctly. Who was the evil woman in the Rescuers, and I answered, "Madame Medusa." The last question was what is Ursula's name while she is in human form. I admit that one took a minute to think about, but then I answered, "Vanessa." She said I am an official Villain Fan, sprinkled confetti on me, and gave me a certificate and a complimentary bucket of popcorn.


Shan Haase: We were at the Magic Kingdom on Saturday, October 27. My 4-year-old daughter and I were getting off Big Thunder Mountain Railroad when 6-7 members of the Dream Squad were waiting and gave everyone getting off the ride a blue armband that allowed us to stay in the park an extra hour after closing. We were able to get armbands for everyone in our party who wasn't on the ride at that time. When the park closed at 10 p.m., we all gathered in a roped off area in Tomorrowland and were given a brochure with a listing of attractions that would be open (all the main rides, a few food stands and shops). There was a stage in the roped off area with lights and music playing. The President (or head of the Dream Squad) came out to congratulate us and told us how it worked. From 10:30-11:30 we had the parks to ourselves. A cast member told us they only gave out 3,000 armbands and only did this once a quarter (January, April, July and October). My family, consisting of my husband and three kids (ages 6, 4 and 1 1/2 ) were able to hit eight rides in that hour. We walked right on to every ride, which never happens. When we closed down it's a small world at 11:30, we took our time walking through the empty streets of the Magic Kingdom on our way out, which was very cool. It's going to be tough to top that on our next trip.


E: As a current cast member at Walt Disney World, we get the opportunity every day to help out a guest. The best part is when we find out that the little Magic we were able to supply to a guest was able to turn their vacation around. Unfortunately, guests and the cast member never get the opportunity to meet up again. One day, while I was working at Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom, I saw a young couple with their daughter sitting on one of the benches in Pangani Forest just waiting for their Fastpass time to come up. They stopped me and asked me to explain to them what kind of animals they would be seeing on safari as well as what exactly the Pangani Forest was. Even though I was on my way to lunch I explained to them all the attractions we had to offer in the Harambe Village. After I gave it some thought, I asked them if they were ready for their safari at that moment. The mom replied that they had another hour until their Fastpass time came up. I told them, "It's OK… I know people here," and I whisked them down to the load dock directly. I didn't see the family for the rest of the day until it was time for the parade. As I was walking down the path I heard the family I talked to earlier yell out my name. They told me that they managed to get on my friend's safari and that he was awesome. They mentioned that they had an amazing view of all the animals and that everyone treated them so well all day and that they had me to thank for it. It felt great to hear from the family that I was able to ensure that they had an amazing experience. As cast members, nothing makes us happier than seeing the guests happy!


EDITOR'S NOTE: If the Dream Squad bestows a "dream" upon you, or if you receive a "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

For more Magical Moments:

For Dreams:


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.