December 2008 Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the November 25, 2008 Issue #479 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. Let's journey back to December 1972:

Actor Cary Grant is to narrate the Candlelight Processional. In addition there will be more than 30 local school choirs, the Walt Disney Carolers and Guest Conductor Charles C. Hirt. The Candlelight program will be offered on two evenings, December 16 and 17.

Each evening at 6:30 p.m. a holiday concert will take place. At its conclusion a Candlelight Processional will walk down Main Street from Cinderella Castle into Town Square. They will form a living Christmas tree in front of the train station. Cary Grant will then narrate the story.

The Candlelight Procession tradition began in Disneyland in 1958, developed by Conductor Charles C. Hirt. Dennis Morgan narrated the first year and was followed by famous actors such as Gregory Peck, John Wayne, Rock Hudson, and Jimmy Stewart. The Disneyland Candlelight Procession and Ceremony moved in 1998 to the Fantasyland Theatre and returned to Main Street in 2003.

Once the Magic Kingdom opened in Florida, the Candlelight Processional tradition continued at Walt Disney World. In 1994 it was moved to Epcot. For more information on this year's Candlelight Processional visit:

If anyone has photographs of either the Disneyland or Disney World Candlelight Processional before 1994 please send them to

This information is taken from the December 9, 1972 issue of the cast member publication "Eyes and Ears" and Dave Smith's "Disney A to Z: The Official Encyclopedia."

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by Deb Wills AllEars® Editor-in-Chief

I recently had the honor of talking with one of the 2008 Walt Disney World Ambassadors, Kerri MacPherson, who hails from Massachusetts. (The other 2008 Walt Disney World Ambassador is TC Newman.) Kerri has been with the Disney Company for the last 8 years but began in the College Program in 1994. Her experience with Disney began with selling Mickey bars on Main Street. She was also chosen as one of eight Americans hosting 75 International Students from around the world. Kerri has sold Disney Cruise Line vacations and been involved in resort sales and services. The lessons learned from all of those positions, plus her experience as a preschool teacher, gave her many of the tools necessary to become a successful Disney Ambassador.

"Persistence is key with this company, " Kerri explained. As a finalist for the 2007 Ambassador position, she was disappointed when she wasn't selected. Who wouldn't be? But she assessed all the feedback she got along the way and decided to return and apply for the 2008 program… and she was selected.

Read the rest of the interview at:

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AllEars.Net is honored to announce that Lee Cockerell, former Executive Vice President, Operations at the Walt Disney World Resort will be at the AllEars.Net table during the 2008 Mousefest MegaMouse Meet.

Lee will be available from 10 a.m. to noon to meet and greet all guests and to sign his new book, "Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney."

Read Mike Scopa's interview with Lee Cockerell:

If you wish to purchase his book in advance visit:

Follow MouseFest on Twitter! MouseFest begins in less than two weeks. See what the AllEars® Team is up to during MouseFest Sea and Land at:

The Official MouseFest twitter page is:

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Steve Barrett, author of the Hidden Mickeys books and webmaster of website reminds you to be on the alert for seasonal Hidden Mickeys during the Christmas holidays at Walt Disney World!

1. During the holidays, a nutcracker has a blue classic Mickey-patterned snowflake on his hat. You can usually find him greeting folks around the Germany pavilion at Epcot.

2. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios is filled with new and repeat Hidden Mickeys. Note that Hidden Mickeys at the Osborne Lights change from year to year. Two of my favorites are a blue classic Mickey on the town hall tower ( and a white classic Mickey in the smoke from the train.

3. Study the floats in the various holiday parades for Hidden Mickeys. Here's a silver classic Mickey above the rear tire on this vehicle in the Hollywood Studios parade.

(Thanks to Sharon Dale for these holiday Hidden Mickey images).

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by Michelle Scribner-MacLean
AllEars® Feature Writer

Among my friends, I have a bit of a reputation for loving electronic gadgets. In fact, I have earned the nickname Gadget Gal because I really do enjoying playing with my technology toys. I was happy to find that there are many ways to connect my love of gadgets with my preparation for the Disney Half Marathon. In fact, I have found several things that have made my training more organized and my running more fun.

Web Gadget: Map My Run ( is a wonderful website that helps runners with journaling workouts, figuring out pace, and even number of calories burned. The most interesting tool on the website is the feature that allows you to find out how far you've run by "drawing" your route on a map. In addition to calculating your distance (I, for one, like to know if I've run 3.2 versus 3.5 miles!), it also allows you to save your runs and share them with friends. The best part is that MapMyRun is free (although you need to provide a user name and password). Because you have a free account, you can save your runs and view your progress.

Read the rest of Michelle's blog on Running Disney with Gadgets in the AllEars® Team blog at:

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MouseFest 2008 – 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! 4-Night MouseFest Wonder Cruise December 7-11; December 11-15 Land Events – for complete details and schedule of events visit:


Epcot's Holidays Around the World – November 28 – December 30, 2008, featuring a nightly tree-lighting ceremony, holiday storytellers in World Showcase and more.

Candlelight Processional – Celebrity narrators perform the annual retelling of the story of Christmas, which features a mass choir and a full orchestra.
December 1-3 Neil Patrick Harris
December 4-6 Brian Stokes Mitchell
December 7-9 Virginia Madsen
December 10-12 Marlee Matlin
December 13-15 Monique Coleman
December 16-18 Chita Rivera
December 19-21 Abigail Breslin
December 22-24 Steven Curtis Chapman
December 25-27 Edward James Olmos
December 28-30 Angela Bassett and Courtney Vance

Magic Kingdom

Special Castle Lighting Ceremony – ask on Main Street for time!

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party – Join Mickey and friends for a special "after hours" holiday party complete with a Christmas Parade, special edition of Wishes, shows and more: December 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 19

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights: November 28, 2008 – January 4, 2009.

Animal Kingdom

Mickey's Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade: November 28, 2008- January 4, 2009

Downtown Disney

Festival of the Seasons: November 28 – December 24, 2008. Santa Claus is coming to Downtown Disney daily between noon and 10 p.m. through December.

Dog owners can bring their pets to meet Santa at Downtown Disney and can pose for pictures at Santa's Christmas Chalet located near World of Disney now through December 24. You can take your own photos or use Disney's PhotoPass service. Hours are 5 to 10 p.m. until November 27; noon to 10 p.m. November 28-December 24. A doggie "comfort" area will be in the grassy section behind Once Upon a Toy and House of Blues. For more information, call 407-828-3150.

Attention Figment Lovers: Disney Artist Randy Noble will be on hand December 5-6, 2008, for the release of his new work "Figment Splash," as well as a new piece called "Oswald," at the Art of Disney at Downtown Disney Marketplace Noble will signing items from from 5 to 7 p.m.

Port Orleans Riverside

Campfire on de' Bayou, a special storytime and sing-along around a fire held seasonally behind Port Orleans Riverside's Ol' Man Island Fishin' Hole, runs now through March 2009. The program is only offered on Sunday and Thursday nights from 6:30 to 8 p.m., weather permitting. S'mores kits are sold for $7.00 (tax included). No reservations are necessary.


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



Magic Kingdom

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin will be closed December 14-20, 2008.

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

The Frontierland Fry Cart closed September 22, 2008, due to reopen January 11, 2009. The cart will be rebuilt into a larger building with seating next to it, with an expanded menu. When it reopens the spot will serve not only McDonald's fries and soda, but also wraps and chicken nuggets. While the Frontierland location is closed, McDonald's fries are still available at the Village Fry Shoppe in Fantasyland.

Typhoon Lagoon

Typhoon Lagoon closed for refurbishment October 26, 2008, through March 21, 2009.

Animal Kingdom Villas and Lodge

Disney Vacation Club has announced that Phase I of the Kidani Village will open on May 1, 2009. Members who call Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas "home" began making reservations as of August 10, 2008.

"As the development of Kidani Village continues at Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas, crews are preparing to complete the new savanna and acclimate the animals to their new habitat. To accommodate this important process, animals are not scheduled to be on Sunset Savanna January 15-April 15, 2009.

As development work continues on Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas, Disney's Animal Care team has reached a key milestone, welcoming okapi to the resort's animal population. The new animals are becoming acclimated to their new surroundings and will be visible to Members and Guests when the new Pembe Savanna opens as part of the second phase of Kidani Village (currently scheduled for September 2009).

Contemporary Resort

Construction Update: Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort continues toward a Fall 2009 opening date.

Saratoga Springs

The newly announced Treehouse Villas are scheduled to officially open on June 1, 2009.

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

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The Year of a Million Dreams runs through 2008, 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's Hollywood 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:


The Saxe Family: Upon riding "it's a small world" for the fourth time in four days, we noticed a little boy (3 years old) being ushered onto the ride (with his parents of course) by Becky, a Dream Squad member. He was just too cute, so we started talking with his parents. He had already ridden IASW once and was in Toontown when he wanted to go back. He was crying — somehow Becky came upon the scene and granted him a Fastpass to IASW. She escorted him to the ride and remained on the platform for the entire ride. The boy's eyes were so large — it was great to see a child enjoy the ride that much, even though we were bored with it by the fourth time! When we all got off the ride, we made mention to Becky of what a great thing she did for him. At this time, Becky pulled out seven Fastpasses to Peter Pan and handed three to the boy's family, and four to our family. She took the hands of my 3-year-old daughter and the 3-year-old boy and walked us all over to Peter Pan. Something so simple made two children so happy! A sincere thank you to Becky and the Dream Squad for making dreams come true!


Cathy Kittle: I was staying at Wilderness Lodge during September and met a couple on their honeymoon. They had made no advanced dining reservations and since it was during the free dining plan promotion there were none to be found. I had some reservations for the Beach Club's Cape May Cafe and I asked the concierge to switch them to this couple's name. I explained that my family and I could get a Quick Service meal somewhere else. The concierge smiled, asked me and my daughter to wait, and got her a colorful wildlife conservation pin. When my daughter politely asked if she could please get one for her big brother because he liked animals, the concierge returned not only with a pin for him but an extra special Tinker Bell pin for my daughter for being so thoughtful. So not only was the honeymoon couple thrilled to have a beautiful dinner out, my kids were so excited with their special pins and wore them every day the rest of the trip. Truly magical!


Laura Carnein: My magical moment occurred while I was celebrating my birthday "with the Mouse." I was at the Studios and waiting for Fantasmic! to start. Got to sit in the center Mickey section because, while I didn't arrive very early, I was traveling solo. The cast member working the section spotted my birthday button and asked me if I was alone. When told I was, he led me up to the roped off "VIP" section and let me have a seat there. A center section, unobstructed view would have been special enough, but when we began to exit, Carlos presented me with a Sorcerer Mickey, two pins which he said were not available for sale any more, and a certificate naming me princess for a day. It was a very special moment and I hope my report on his kindness reached his supervisors.


Chris Lavrich: We were awarded a very special prize on September 24, 2008 in the Magic Kingdom. As we were getting of the "it's a small world" ride, a cast member greeted us on the ramp and told us we had won a very special prize. We walked up the ramp and were greeted by two members of the Dream Squad. We were the lucky family in seat 10 at 9:47 a.m.! Our prize was a four-hour VIP tour of the park with no waiting in any lines! Talk about a dream come true! John Z., a 19-year Disney veteran, was our guide. He was very knowledgeable about all things Disney. For four hours we were treated like royalty. We would be escorted up the exit line and to the front row of any ride we requested. Needless to say we managed to hit almost every ride in the park. Our tour even ended with another fantastic memory — front row seats to the afternoon parade! The day was magical beyond any words and one I will never forget!


The Years of a Million Dreams may be ending, but the Magical Moments won't! We will continue this featurette (renamed Magical Moments) in 2009! Send your Magical Moments to:


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.