February 2012 Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the January 31, 2012 Issue #645 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 how the theme parks are spatially organized, and how the familiar "hub-and-spoke" layout came about.

Site Design
by Sam Gennawey

Make no mistake. The spaces within the park are not representative of reality but become a hyper-reality — stylized and tightly edited versions of the real thing. The buildings are shrunk and edited to meet the needs of the story that binds everything together. However, Disneyland is a legible urban environment.

As a result of the innovative site design plan for Disneyland, guests are provided with a comprehensible orientation and an environment that induces a change of mood. Key to this was Walt's decision to set his park within a strong boundary, with only a single entrance, and with a radial, or hub-and-spoke, circulation system.

Walt picked Marvin Davis to be the master planner for Disneyland. From the very beginning, Walt was clear about his intentions for Disneyland. He told Davis, "I just want it to look like nothing else in the world. And it should be surrounded by a train." He said he wanted the railroad tracks on the high ground so guests could preview all the wonderful things that would be inside the berm. Davis described the site design process for Disneyland, "I was working in what they call the Zorro building as the project designer for master planning of the Park at the time. This was before they even knew where the Park was going." Davis continues, "Before they bought the property—I guess I must have done, well I know I did 129 different schemes for the solution of the thing…different entryways…until finally it developed into the scheme that it is now with the single entrance and the walk for the avenue, which is Main Street, up to the center of the hub. Walt's idea was to have the whole thing as radials from that hub."

In August 1953, Walt walked into Marvin Davis' office with the map of the property he just purchased in Anaheim. Walt took out a pencil and drew the exact placement of where he wanted his train. The drawing showed the railroad tracks running around the perimeter forming a triangular boundary. That basic outline still represents the boundaries of the park. Understanding that constraint, Davis knew what to do next…

Read the rest of this excerpt in the AllEars® Guest blog: http://land.allears.net/blogs/guestblog/2012/01/walt_and_the_promise_of_progre.html

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

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The New Disney Survey Approach
by Mike Scopa
AllEars® Feature Writer

In their never-ending effort to understand what their guests want, the Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts from time to time will do an in-depth survey with a guest sometime after the guest returns home from a visit to one of the resorts. This survey effort has been taken to an even higher level and I was able to experience it first-hand this past week. I had visited the Disneyland Resort in early September, and just this past week I received an email from the resort. The email said: "Hello again! We hope you enjoyed your recent visit to the park! Our guests are very important to us and we'd like to hear how your trip was. We have commissioned iModerate Research Technology to conduct an online research study and would like to invite you to participate in this study. Your feedback will be used to make future improvements to the resort visiting experience! To participate in this study, simply click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser."

When I clicked on the link I was immediately brought into a private chat room and found myself chatting with Karen, who thanked me for participating in this survey. Karen began asking me about my dining experiences at the Disneyland Resort, with specific emphasis on character dining. We covered such areas as where I dined, what I enjoyed most, what I enjoyed least, and what ideas I would have to make the character dining experience even better for guests, especially me. I was careful in my answers and mentioned how I enjoyed how the characters interacted with the guests and how the characters sensed how much time to give each table as they roamed around the restaurant. When asked what I would do to improve the character dining experience I mentioned that character pairing has always struck me as being something lacking in a character meal. Sure you will see Chip & Dale quite a bit, but there are more pairings waiting in the wings. I specifically mentioned that there should be more face and fur pairings and that would make the interaction more memorable. For examples I gave Snow White and Dopey, Meeko and Pocahontas, and maybe even Tinker Bell and Captain Hook. All my suggestions were welcomed and I was very much convinced that regardless of how well character dining may be received right now, there is thought that there is room for improvement. The interview/chat lasted 45 minutes and for my time I was given a $10 Amazon gift card. I think that this type of survey results in more detailed answers from the guests and by several follow-up questions, allows the guests to truly understand what they want, regardless of the topic. The next time you are contacted by either the Disneyland or Walt Disney World resort and asked to take a survey, welcome that with open arms, as you will get a chance to give feedback that may make your next trip even more magical.

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Steven Barrett, author of the Hidden Mickeys books and webmaster of www.HiddenMickeyGuy.com, reminds you about a few cool classic Hidden Mickeys at Walt Disney World that have stood the test of time (so far!):

1. At the end of Journey Into Imagination With Figment at Epcot, find the letters that spell "Action" that stand in the middle of the last scene. Snow covers the top of the letter "A," and a classic Mickey in the snow sits at the bottom left of the snow cap. The Hidden Mickey image tilts to the left. (Thanks to Sharon Dale and Graffix.)


2. In the large central room of the World of Disney store at Downtown Disney Marketplace, a small classic Mickey hides in the clouds that encircle the base of the model of Cinderella Castle. (Thanks to David and Aubree Serkoch, Jordan Taylor, Shannon DeAraujo, and Erin Blackwell.)


3. Ropes coiled into classic Mickeys can often be spotted at the ferry loading docks at the Magic Kingdom and at the Transportation and Ticket Center. Look next to a large post on either side as you walk onto or leave the boat at either loading dock. Cast Members usually maintain these rope images. (Thanks to Tawny Peedin and Carlos Font.)


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 Raglan Road, located at Downtown Disney.

Raglan Road is a full-service pub serving lunch and dinner. It is recommended by 93% of reviewers and has an average rating of 8.3.

From recent reviews:

Food: "was excellent and very affordable"; "shepherd's pie…was just okay"; "was all very, very good"; "shepherd's pie is great"; "goat cheese salad is tasty"; "veggie oil that came with the bread was delicious"; "had the Shepherd's Pie and the Fish & Chips, both were very tasty and the price was right"; "we had short rib appetizer, Pie in the Sky and Bangers 'n Booze; everything was great"; "was excellent"; "vegetables were hard/woody"; "lamb shanks were extremely dry and lacking in sauce"; "food was excellent"; "brown bread served with the olive oil and Guinness dipping sauce is excellent"; "steak was cooked the exact way he liked".

Desserts: "creme brulee wasn't at all what I expected (it was served like a piece of cake) and was OK"; "son had the bread pudding which was very good"; "had the bread pudding for dessert, which was awesome"; "dessert was fantastic… Apple and Strawberry Crumble while my mom had the bread pudding"; "did not care for the dessert but loved the rest"; "had the famous bread pudding, it was so good and huge"; "the Danboury Kiss… was unusual but tasty".

Beverages: "did enjoy the Smithwick's on tap"; "Smithwick's on tap is good"; "specialty drinks from the bar are great".

Service: "Waiter couldn't have been better"; "server was very attentive"; "server was great"; "service was superb"; "waited 20 minutes past our ADR time of 5:45 despite the fact there were plenty of tables available"; "service was excellent"; "was busy but he answered all our questions and gave suggestions on what to order".

Atmosphere: "nice break from the theme parks"; "meal was eaten with Irish band playing and dancers performing, so the atmosphere was great"; "we love eating here especially on a beautiful sunny early fall day while sitting on the patio"; "were seated away from the entertainment area to the side of the main room, which had no atmosphere or ambiance"; "very noisy, especially when the Irish dancers were on stage".

Entertainment: "enjoyed listening to the music"; "If you like Irish folk music & dancing, this is a must-stop while visiting"; "sat in front of the band, they were excellent but loud"; "(dancers) were fun to watch but we couldn't see them from our table".

Overall: "I'll wait a while before I go back here again"; "will DEFINITELY be back"; "Loved it!"; "just a great dining experience"; "Always one of our favorite restaurants!"; "Always look forward to going to Raglan Road"; "Probably wouldn't go back, but it was a nice change of scenery"; "husband is from Northern Ireland and he felt like he was back home again"; "had an enjoyable time and will return".

If you have recently dined at Raglan Road, we'd love to have your review!

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Magic Kingdom

Leap Day! Get the most out of February 29 when Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California celebrate Leap Year by keeping a theme park on each coast open for 24 hours of nonstop memory-making fun. For the first time ever, both the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland will stay open for 24 hours straight as part of a bi-coastal salute called "One More Disney Day." From 6 a.m., February 29 to 6 a.m., March 1, 2012, local time, guests can fill the extra day of leap year with a marathon of Disney magic and fun.



The 2012 Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend will take place February 24-26, 2012 at Walt Disney World. Other events that weekend include the all-ages Disney Royal Family 5K, Disney Royal Family Kids' Races, and Disney's Fit for a Princess Expo. For more information:


ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

— The 2012 Disney STEP Classic, hosted by Disney Youth Programs, will be held February 18-19, 2012. This dance step competition will also add a new age group in 2012: 14 & Under. There will still be the traditional 18 & Up and 19 & Under age groups. Participating teams will have the opportunity to perform on stage in the Premier Theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios as well as attend Master STEP Workshops provided by the National Step Show Alliance (N.S.S.A.). These workshops will help improve technical proficiency and teach the fundamentals of stepping. You can read more about the STEP classic on the official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DisneySTEPClassic

–February 4-5, 2012: The 2012 UDA National Dance Team Championship. The best high school and junior high school dance teams from across the country participate in this weekend competition. The dance competition includes, jazz, hip hop and pom categories. For more information, visit www.uda.varsity.com.

— February 16-20, 2012: Twirl Mania, an international championship competition for soloist, teams, corps, High Schools, Universities, and recreational groups in the athletic arena of baton twirling, auxiliary units, pompon, and dance. For more information, visit twirlmania.com.

— The 2012 Disney Field Hockey Showcase will be held this February 8-12. This USA Field Hockey event is the ultimate place for top field hockey clubs to be seen by hundreds of college coaches looking for great field hockey talent, and features two girls' divisions (Under 16 and Under 19) in a number of tournament games. A schedule will be posted on the ESPN Wide World of Sports site on or around January 20.

Disney's President's Day Soccer Festival will be held February 18-20. New for 2012 — the Disney's Club Championships.

–The Atlanta Braves will again report to the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex for spring training in mid-February 2012. This year, some of Major League Baseball's marquee teams, including the reigning World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees, will take on the Braves during their spring training. In fact, the Cardinals and Yankees, as well as the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, make up the core of the Braves' 18-game home schedule at Champion Stadium. The Cardinals face the Braves on March 19. The Yankees visit twice, Saturday March 10 and Wednesday March 28, and the New York Mets come in three times, March 9 and 23 and the spring home finale April 2. More information on the Braves' spring training season, group tickets and mini-packs is available by calling 407-939-GAME (4263) or online at www.espnwwos.com/atlantabraves.


Every two years, Disney Youth Programs hosts a music festival at the Walt Disney World Resort that challenges performers to reach new musical heights. This festival, known as The Disney Honors, is a non-competitive experience for middle and high school choirs, concert bands and orchestras ensembles that focuses solely on education and artistic growth. The next Disney Honors will be held February 28 – March 3, 2013 at the Walt Disney World Resort.



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



Magic Kingdom

The New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom is well underway. For a current set of construction photos:


Dumbo the Flying Elephant will be closed January 9 until it opens in its new location in the New Fantasyland's Storybook Circus area on March 12 (it was previously expected to open on February 17).

For more details and an artist's renderings of the new Fantasyland, read the official press release here:

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad will be closed for an extensive refurbishment, January 9 until May 27, 2012.

Liberty Square Riverboat will be closed for refurbishment November 9, 2011 – May 20, 2012.

The Main Street Electrical Parade will not be performed January 20 – February 10, 2012.

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin in the Magic Kingdom's Adventureland will be closed for refurbishment February 26 until March 10, 2012.

Plaza Ice Cream Parlor (Magic Kingdom) is closed for refurbishment from January 4 – March 27.


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.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Fantasmic! at Disney's Hollywood Studios will close temporarily starting January 9, 2012. It is scheduled to resume performances on February 12, 2012. There are no new show elements planned.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure in Disney's Hollywood Studios will be closed February 13 through March 10, 2012.

The Studio Backlot Tour will also be closed for refurbishment February 13 through March 10.

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

Animal Kingdom

Kali River Rapids in Animal Kingdom will close for refurbishment January 23 through February 9, 2012.

Disney's Art of Animation Resort

The first wing of the Disney's Art of Animation Resort will open on May 31, 2012, as construction on the 25th resort hotel at Walt Disney World continues on schedule. 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." The current opening timetable has the "Finding Nemo" wing opening May 31, the "Cars" wing in late July, and "The Lion King" wing in late September. The final wing, themed after "The Little Mermaid," will debut in late 2012. Although the resort is still several months away from opening, it's already set to break records by planning the largest swimming pool at the Walt Disney World Resort (aside from our 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 Port Orleans-Riverside Resort

Royal Guest Rooms are now under construction in the Magnolia Bend section of the Port Orleans-Riverside resort. Opening in early spring 2012, the Royal Guest Rooms allow princes and princesses of all ages to stay where Disney royalty have stayed. Guests find regal touches left behind by some of their favorite Disney characters — fiber optics special effects above ornately decorated beds, gold and crystal accents, custom linens and drapes, and in-room art and details including Princely banners and Princess friends. The 512 Royal Guest Rooms start at $189 per night, and are booking now, for stays early in 2012.

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.


Downtown Disney

Construction is underway on Splitsville, a 50,000-square-foot upscale entertainment center that combines bowling with billiards, dining, music and nightlife. On Pleasure Island, some buildings have been removed, but plans for the site are being reevaluated, which means previously announced construction plans have been delayed.


Typhoon Lagoon water park will be closed December 4-March 17 for its annual refurbishment.


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

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Holly: Our son was celebrating his 5th birthday. He wore his birthday pin every day and was treated to some very nice surprises. Besides getting a balloon, a few free cupcakes and dozens of "Happy Birthdays", he got a phone call from Goofy, a private meeting with Chip and Dale, and we were selected as Family of the Day at the Fort Wilderness Campfire program. But his favorite memory happened when we were just walking to the parking lot in Downtown Disney. He was chatting with the couple behind us about their stroller (it was the same as ours) and they noticed his birthday button. Before I knew it, they had given him $5: "One for each year". I was amazed! Nowhere else other than Disney can the magic spread like that, not just the cast members, but to the other vacationers as well. (I did pay it forward and gave our arcade tokens to a family on the day we were leaving.) I don't know how I'll ever top my son's first trip to Disney — it really was an awesome time.

Joyce A. Deen: My husband and I had a magical experience while visiting the Magic Kingdom during Christmas season. It was unseasonably frigid that year, and by the time we decided to have our evening meal, we were cold and tired and slightly dispirited. While waiting in line at one of the counter service restaurants, a young man came out and asked for someone to 'taste test' his cocoa. Everyone standing in line just looked at him, so he asked again. Since I was standing right at the counter, I raised my hand and said, "Sure, I like cocoa!" I was expecting just a few sips in a small cup, but oh no! — he gave me a large cup of the most delicious cocoa I think I've ever had, and then, as a reward for 'helping' him out, he gave me two warm and chewy cookies! There's a special kind of generosity among some of Disney's cast members, and that young man had a stockingful!

Mickderb: My 5-year-old grandson, being small for his age, was not tall enough for Mission: Space. So while the others experienced that attraction, we headed over to Test Track to take his mind off the disappointment. When we reached Test Track, he excitedly ran up to a sign, saying, "Grandma, how much time to wait?" It not being the wait-time clock, I told him we had to check another, however, the wait time in the standby line was rather lengthy. Meanwhile, a cast member who witnessed the interaction asked if there were just two of us, which there were. He handed us two Fast Passes that allowed us to merely walk on the ride. My grandson was so excited because he was able to get an extra ride on one of his favorite rides.


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: Magic Kingdom 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.