January 2008 Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the January 8, 2008 Issue #433 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 take a look more than 30 years back, all the way back to January 15, 1975.

"In what was the greatest spectacular event Central Florida has seen since the Grand Opening of Walt Disney World, Tomorrowland was dedicated and Space Mountain officially opened in a colorful extravaganza Wednesday afternoon. Just moments after Mickey Mouse took a bow and said, 'Ladies and Gentlemen, we proudly present… Space Mountain,' hundreds of red, white and blue fireworks exploded in the sky over Tomorrowland with 50,000 balloons soaring upwards to the tune of a 2,000 piece marching band…"

Robert Sarnoff, Chairman of the Board of RCA, and Donn Tatum, Chairman of the Board of Walt Disney Productions, unveiled the dedication plaque for Space Mountain. Along with the official opening of Space Mountain was the official opening of the Carousel of Progress and the Star Jets.

Space Mountain was the first computer-controlled thrill ride. In addition, the side-by-side tracks had one of the first computer-aided designs. Space Mountain actually originated in the early 1960s when Walt Disney conceived the idea of a high-speed thrill attraction based on the excitement of the Space Age.

Did you know that Space Mountain is more than 180 feet high, 300 feet in diameter and took more than two years to build? RCA was the first official sponsor of Space Mountain from 1975 until 1993, at which time Federal Express became the official sponsor. During the 2.5-minute ride your space rocket travels up to 28 miles per hour!

Did you know Space Mountain was "flight-tested" by U.S. astronauts and Russian cosmonauts?

Related Links:

Walt Disney World's Space Mountain: http://allears.net/tp/mk/mk_space.htm
Disneyland's Space Mountain: http://allears.net/dlr/tp/dl/space.htm

Lend us a photo or two:

Do you have photographs of Space Mountain during its early days? If so, we'd love to see them. Please send them to allearsnet@yahoo.com

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

1. Several folks clued me in on a classic Mickey made of rocks at the bottom right side of the manatee tank in The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion. I've waited a while, as Hidden Mickeys made of loose rocks have a tendency to disappear over time. Hopefully, this one will stick around! (Thanks to Marty Murray, Gilbert, Penny Beam, Mary Newell, Matt Freeman, and Michael Steele) http://allears.net/btp/hm197.jpg

2. Stop by The American Adventure pavilion and listen to the Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps. As they march by, look for the classic Mickeys on their drums. (Thanks to Sharon Dale and Donna McMurrey) http://allears.net/btp/hm196.jpg

3. Another cool rock Mickey is hidden in bushes in the Japan pavilion. Search for an opening in the bushes along the far right sidewalk, next to the Mitsukoshi store. These rocks have actually changed appearance over the last few months, so I hope the wonderful cast members keep this Mickey intact! (Thanks to Sharon Dale, I & Y Sakurada, and Michele Moody) http://allears.net/btp/hm195.jpg

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MouseFest 2007 is now history but the memories of this incredible week will remain with us for a long, long time. Starting December 2, 2007, nearly 200 MouseFest cruisers boarded the Disney Wonder for four days of great fun and relaxation. From a walking tour of Nassau, to meeting in the Cove Cafe, to dressing like pirates, to decorating cabin doors — a great time was had by all!

On Thursday, December 6, 2007, the land portion of MouseFest officially began with 780 voluntarily registering for the events! Most meets were maxed to capacity as over 300 folks attended MouseFest 101, over 260 safaried in Harambe, and over 800 attended the MegaMouseMeet.

Relive MouseFest memories with the AllEars team blogs:

Reporting on Land and Sea:
Deb Wills: http://land.allears.net/blogs/debwills/special_disney_events/mousefest/
Linda Mac: http://land.allears.net/blogs/lindamac/walt_disney_world/special_events/mousefest/

Reporting on Land:
Mike Scopa: http://land.allears.net/blogs/mikescopa/special_disney_events/mousefest/
Barrie Brewer: http://land.allears.net/blogs/photoblog/walt_disney_world/mousefest/
Steve Barrett: http://land.allears.net/blogs/stevebarrett/special_events/mousefest/

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WDW Marathon Weekend – January 10-13, 2008 — Visit www.disneyworldmarathon.com for details. The 2008 event will again consist of a split-day format with the Walt Disney World Half Marathon scheduled for January 12, 2008, and the Walt Disney World Marathon on January 13, 2008. The marathons are SOLD OUT!

Disney's Dreamers Academy January 17-20, 2008 — with Steve Harvey, an enrichment event with a special appeal for African American high-schoolers, brings 100 teens from across the U.S. to Walt Disney World Resort from January 17-20 for interactive workshops, motivational talks with sports and entertainment celebrities, and discussions led by Disney cast members and executives sharing their blueprint for success.

Disney's Pirate and Princess Party returns to the Magic Kingdom on select nights beginning January 21 through March 14! http://allears.net/tp/mk/pirateprincess.htm


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


Rehabs and Closings

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Playhouse Disney Live on Stage is closed January 3 – 27, 2008. An updated show featuring Mickey Mouse and Clubhouse friends will debut on January 28, 2008.

Journey into Narnia is closed January 2 – May 23, 2008.

Fantasmic! will be closed January 28 – February 1, 2008.


The American Adventure is closed January 7 – February 3, 2008. (Earlier reports set the reopening as February 18.) The American Heritage Gallery, shops, and food and beverage areas will remain open.

Spaceship Earth, presented by Siemens, has been undergoing a number of changes over the last several months. The changes 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 is being 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. Spaceship Earth's makeover is scheduled to be fully completed in early 2008. The official reopening of Spaceship Earth has been changed to February 18. Some folks have ridden as part of the soft opening testing. http://allears.net/tp/ep/e_spe1.htm

International Dinner and IllumiNations Dessert Reception, offered as part of the Grand Gathering Experience, will not be offered from January 28 – February 10. The Odyssey complex will be refurbished during this time.

Magic Kingdom

Minnie's Country House is closed for refurbishment January 1 – February 1, 2008.

Tony's Town Square Restaurant is closed for refurbishment January 5 – 27, 2008.

Snow White's Scary Adventures will be closed for refurbishment January 28 – February 15, 2008.

Splash Mountain will be closed from January 1 to February 15, 2008.

Tinker Bell's Treasures is closed for refurbishment from January 6 – March 16, 2008.

Animal Kingdom Lodge

There is ongoing construction in the Lodge for 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.

Boardwalk Resort

Boardwalk Resort Luna Park (themed pool area) rehab began January 7, 2008. The pool area will be resurfaced and will reopen February 16. While it is closed, guests of the Boardwalk may use the Yacht and Beach Club's Stormalong Bay pool. In addition, both non-themed pools at the Boardwalk will remain open.

Caribbean Beach Resort

The themed pool, Old Port Royale, will be closed for refurbishment between January 7, 2008, and mid-September 2008. Small, child-sized pool slides will be temporarily added to the pools in the villages of Jamaica and Barbados.

Contemporary Resort

The North Garden wing has been demolished. The tennis courts and playground are also gone. Rumors persist about either family suites or a Disney Vacation Club resort; however, no official announcement has been made.

Fort Wilderness

There will be no 9:30 p.m. show of the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue on January 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29 and 30.

Grand Floridian

The Courtyard Pool will be closed from January 14 – mid-February, 2008. The Beach Pool will remain open. Grand Floridian guests may also use the Nanea Volcano Pool at the Polynesian during this time.

Old Key West

Turtle Pond Pool and the Turtle Shack Poolside Snacks will be closed for refurbishment January 14 – February 10, 2008

Port Orleans French Quarter

The Doubloon Lagoon pool will be closed January 28 – mid-March, 2008. Riverside's Ol' Man Island Pool will be open. Guests may also use Riverside's Alligator Bayou and Magnolia Bend Pools.

Blizzard Beach is closed for annual refurbishment January 6 – March 8, 2008.

Downtown Disney

Wolfgang Puck Express at Downtown Disney Marketplace is closed for refurbishment now through Thursday, March 6, 2008. When it reopens, it will offer a new new menu, a faster service and an expanded indoor dining area. The West Side Puck location will remain open during this time.

Pleasure Island Hess Station will not sell gas from 9 a.m. Monday, January 7, until 5 p.m. Wednesday, January 9, due to the installation of new gas pumps. The store at this location will operate 24 hours a day as usual, uninterrupted.


Be sure to check our Rehabs and Closings page for periodic updates: http://allears.net/tp/rehabs.htm

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The Year of a Million Dreams, which began Sunday, October 1, 2006, has been extended 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:


Susan G.: On our first full day at Walt Disney World with our then 4-1/2-year-old daughter (her first visit), we went to the Animal Kingdom where my husband insisted on taking the train to the conservation station. I told him it was a major diversion and I didn't want to embark on the train. I lost, and to my surprise we actually saw two characters and got their autographs. Rafiki and Jiminy Cricket both posed with our daughter. "Not a total bust," I thought. Then we went back outside to see a "talking trashcan." The operator of the can was about five feet away with a microphone. He got my daughter's attention and started asking a million questions. Everyone was laughing so hard. The trashcan asked her if she ever saw a talking recycling bin (we were corrected) and she told him that at the Smithsonian in D.C. she had put her trash in a can that said "thank you," but had never had an entire conversation with one. It went on for about 10 minutes. Finally, after the conversation with the recycling bin had finished, two cast members at a refreshment stand asked for our daughter to come over. They washed her hands with antibacterial soap and gave her a free Mickey Ice Cream and said that she was chosen for part of the Million Dreams Celebration. We got a lovely certificate. I'm glad to say that if my husband had not convinced me to go on that train ride, she never would have been picked. However, my child's favorite memory of WDW is talking to a trash can… I mean recycling bin.


The Litt Family: We dropped our two dogs, Belle and Jasmine, off at the Animal Kingdom Kennel for the day. We were told that if we came after park hours, security would let us in and check out our dogs for us. We arrived at 8:30 p.m. and when the security officer let us in where the animals are kept, there was a gift bag with a Magical Moments tag on it sitting by the cage. Our dogs were named Pet of the Day and in the gift bag was a certificate and dog toys. What a great surprise to know even the pets are included in the magical moments!


Amy Mitrenga: My 4.5-year-old daughter and I got on The Magic Carpets of Aladdin ride in Adventureland. No sooner did we get ourselves strapped into the carpet to wait for the ride to start, do we see Jasmine waving at us. Next thing you know, Jasmine is walking over to our carpet. Jasmine walks up to our carpet and says to my daughter, "Hi, Princess! Can I share this carpet ride with you?" My daughter Paige was so excited! Jasmine got in the back seat of the carpet and the ride began. While on the ride she asked my daughter her name and what "kingdom" we were from. I think the cutest moment was when Jasmine asked Paige how she got to the Magic Kingdom… camel or magic carpet ride. Paige replied, "I came by the monorail." After the ride concluded, Jasmine took my daughter's hand and led her over to the photo area and introduced her as Princess Paige. It was an AMAZING moment for my daughter! The PhotoPass photographer was there taking pictures from the moment Jasmine walked over to the carpet until the moment my daughter left the photo area. Truly AMAZING!


Andrea DeYoung: On the last day of our trip, we were getting ready to leave the Magic Kingdom. I had stopped to look at some items at a cart by the entrance of the train station. A cast member walked up to us, started to ask us some questions, and then asked if we would like to meet someone. Boy, did we ever! She took our names down and then we went inside a building. We stood there for a few minutes and then we were allowed to walk behind the curtains. It was Cinderella! We had a personal meeting with Cinderella. What a treat that was! I hadn't gotten to meet with her since I was 4 years old. She was as beautiful and gracious as I remembered her to be. I think that was the best prize of them all. I was walking on air for the rest of the day.


EDITOR'S NOTE: If the Dream Squad bestows a "dream" upon you, or if you receive an official "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 allearsnet@yahoo.com

For more Magical Moments: http://allears.net/tp/yomdmm.htm
For Dreams: http://allears.net/tp/yomd.htm


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.