June 2007 Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the
May 29, 2007 Issue #401 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. We travel now with author Lou Mongello, who is back with his latest edition of the Walt Disney World Wayback Machine. This month, he tells us about Epcot's Horizons!

As part of a personal tribute to Epcot's upcoming 25th Anniversary this October 1, I wanted to celebrate by looking back at EPCOT Center's history and original attractions through discussions on my WDW Radio Show podcast, and in a series of Step Back in Time articles here on Allears.net as well.

I want to start with what I and many others believe is one of the most beloved and missed attractions in all of Walt Disney World — Horizons. When I started preparing for this piece, I wasn't really sure if it was just sentimentality and a sense of nostalgia that made me think I missed and enjoyed it so much. But watching videos and going through old documents and books during research really made me remember why I miss this attraction so much and am sad that it is no longer a part of Walt Disney World. To be honest, I could talk about this for hours (I know — shocker that I could talk for hours!), because there is SO much about this — including the attraction's history, themes, technology and message. So I wanted to invite you to journey on my Walt Disney World Wayback Machine with me to visit this amazing attraction and pavilion.

In this article, I am going to go through the origins and history of the attraction, as well as some of the pervasive themes that ran through it. I'm also going to take you with me on a trip through the ride itself while pointing out some of the fun facts and trivia, the music, when and why it closed and more — so let's get started!

Read Lou's complete article here: http://allears.net/tp/ep/horizons.htm


Lou Mongello is the author of the Walt Disney World Trivia Book and owner of DisneyWorldTrivia.com. You can purchase Lou's book through our Allears.net bookstore: http://allears.net/store.htm

Meet the Author: http://allears.net/ae/issue322.htm

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Steve Barrett, author of the Hidden Mickeys book and webmaster of www.HiddenMickeysGuide.com highlights a few cool Hidden Mickeys around Walt Disney World. Look for them while you're enjoying the magic!

1. Once you enter the gates of Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, look at the huge Aerosmith painting. This mural is on the wall outside facing you as you enter the front courtyard from Sunset Boulevard. The young boy in the front seat of the car is wearing Mickey ears, and singer Steven Tyler's shirt is covered in little Mickeys. (Thanks to Michael Nemeroff, Caitlyn, and Sam Dinan.) In the same mural, there is a gold "bling" Mickey on the necklace of guitarist Joe Perry, (the man in black on the right). (Thanks to Kyle Lighting.)

2. Inside the gift shop at Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, a classic Mickey formed by black discs is in a "shadow box" display on the wall near the exit walkway. (Thanks to Greg Mazzella.) http://allears.net/btp/hm161.jpg

3. In the Rock 'n' Roll Beach Club at Pleasure Island, you'll find a HM made out of three CDs. It's on a wall above a post to the right of the stage. (Thanks to Emma.) http://allears.net/btp/hm158.jpg

For past Hidden Mickey Alerts featured here visit: http://allears.net/btp/hiddenm2.htm

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Heather from Boston, who recently returned from a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise on the Disney Magic with three young children (ages 5, 2 1/2 and an infant), shares these helpful travel tips:

Strollers are available at Guest Services on the ship. This was invaluable as we only brought one and my 5- and 2 1/2-year-old shared it throughout the week. DCL charges you $200 for the stroller, but it is completely refundable once the stroller is returned. They are very sturdy jogging strollers, great for excursions to the beach. Beware, they are heavy and do take up a a bit of your room when you're not using it.

If you have an infant (prior to the sitting up stage), bring the infant bucket seat, the kind that snaps into the base, onto the ship. It is priceless during dinner as the high chairs can be flipped and the infant seat set in it.

Graco Pack 'n Plays act as the crib. They even provide Mickey Mouse sheets.

For the slightly older children, characters are everywhere! Multiple times they appear during the week so there's no need to rush to every time slot.

At Castaway Cay, Disney provides strollers, wagons and sand wheelchairs on a first come, first served basis. This is very helpful when you are lugging three kids and their toys!

Also, for those first-timers, there is plenty of shade at Castaway Cay. Umbrellas are set up waiting for you, and the strategically placed palm trees provide shade as well. This was wonderful when traveling with a baby.

Finally, pack lots of spray-on sunscreen. It's fast and does a great job when applied properly.

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14th International Flower and Garden Festival concludes on June 3, 2007.

Festival Farewell Weekend June 1-3 – Georgia Tasker, author of "Wild Things – the Return of Native Plants" and "Florida Gardeners Guide," caps the Great American Gardeners series with sage gardening advice. Tasker holds the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tropical Audubon Society and writes for the Miami Herald.

Flower Power Concerts — America Gardens Theatre 5:45, 7, and 8:15 p.m. Tentatively scheduled:

5/31 – 6/3 — Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone

Disney-MGM Studios

Star Wars Weekends – Celebrate the 30th anniversary of Star Wars every weekend in June! Celebrity host for all four weekends will be actor Jay Laga'aia ("Captain Typho"). Celebrity attendees, subject to change of course, include:

June 1-3 — Warwick Davis (the Ewok Wicket in Return of the Jedi and Wald in The Phantom Menace) and Kenny Baker (R2-D2)

June 8-10 — Ray Park (the Sith apprentice Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace) and Daniel Logan (young Boba Fett in Attack of the Clones)

June 15-17 — Jeremy Bulloch (bounty hunter Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) and Peter Mayhew (Wookiee Chewbacca in the original trilogy, and again in Revenge of the Sith)

June 22-24 — Anthony Daniels (protocol droid C-3PO throughout the Star Wars saga) and Bonnie Piesse (Beru in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith) http://allears.net/tp/mgm/m_starwars.htm

Wide World of Sports

Major League Baseball will hold its 2007 First-Year Player Draft at The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex on Thursday, June 7. In its first year at Disney, the Draft will be carried live on ESPN2 from 2-6 p.m. (EDT), marking the first time that the Draft will be telecast. The two-day event will be open to the public.

UNOfficial Gay Days in Orlando — May 31 – June 3. Expect crowds in the Magic Kingdom on Saturday June 2. NOTE: This is NOT a Disney-sponsored event. It is an annual gathering in Orlando with designated park days. There are two websites to find information: http://www.gaydays.com/ and http://www.gayday.com/


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


Rehabs and Closings


Teppanyaki Restaurant in Epcot's Japan pavilion is closed for a major rehab through August 20, 2007. NOTE: Restaurant is scheduled to open a few days earlier than previously announced.

Spaceship Earth, presented by Siemens, will be undergoing a number of changes over the coming months. The changes 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 through the year, Spaceship Earth's makeover is scheduled to be fully completed in early 2008. Current announced closures for Spaceship Earth are June 22-23 and July 9 – November 1. Read the full press release here: http://allears.net/news/hnews.htm#41107

Magic Kingdom

Haunted Mansion will be closed June 6 through Sept 13.

Main Street Bakery is closed now until June 3 for a short rehab.

Contemporary Resort

The North Garden wing is being demolished. The tennis courts and playground are also gone. Rumors swirl of a Disney Vacation Club Resort; however, no official announcement has been made.

All-Star Movies

Duck Pond Pool is closed for refurbishment now through June 12. The Fantasia Pool is still open, however. All-Star guests can also swim at the four other pools at All-Star Sports or All-Star Music Resorts.

Coronado Springs Resort

Francisco's, the lounge at the resort, is in the process of being expanded now through October 12, 2007. It will reopen with a bar, lounge, and cafe. La Tienda, the convenience store, will be relocated.

Walt Disney World Swan Resort

Gulliver's Grill Character Dinner is closed for refurbishment through June 7, 2007. During this time, Fresh (in the Dolphin) will host the character buffet dinner.


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 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.


Anne M.: We were very excited to have our granddaughter, who is 4 years old, chosen to be a "tour guide" on the Great Movie Ride. My daughter-in-law and I were standing outside the ride debating whether we could do the ride because we had a time to meet up with the rest of the family. A cast member approached us and asked if Norah would like to be a tour guide! We got to go in the back way and get right on the ride in the front row! It was a very special moment, especially for the adults! Also, my grandson who is 6 was chosen to be in a show on the Boardwalk, which he was very excited about!


Jay, Shelli & Tanner Sweede: At dinnertime one night, we tried to find a sit-down restaurant to no avail, so we ended up at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe. After ordering our meal, someone tapped me on the shoulder and said that we were the "Magical Family" at the Starlight Cafe that day. She proceeded to take us to a special table, a booth in the corner covered with a tarp. She took off the tarp to reveal a table covered with Mickey Mouse confetti. She then "waited" on us by getting our tray of food, all the condiments that we needed and a free dessert for each of us. We also received a "Magical Family Certificate" and a signed picture of Ray. It made our great day extra special!


Shirley Bingham: My family and I visited WDW late January into February 2007. It was my son and his family's first visit, and our third (yes, we have become Disney fans for life!). My husband and I were sitting with our two grandchildren, Caleb, 3 months old and Samuel, who was 3 years old, at the Studios. We were tucked away in a quiet corner when one of the cast members, a very nice young man from New York City, came over to empty the trash bin. He noticed my grandson's Mickey Mouse hat and jokingly asked him if he could have it. Samuel, accommodating as usual, said yes, and began to take it off! The cast member laughed saying no, he couldn't really take Samuel's hat. And then he leaned down, put Samuel's hat back on his head, and took off one of his pins and handed it to Samuel. And let me tell you, it made his day!


Tonya Currier: Recently, my daughter (age 9) came home from school very upset. She explained that kids at school were picking on her about Disney and the characters. She explained that they laughed when she told them that Tinker Bell was a real person and she flew from the top of the castle. She then asked, "Mom, are they right?" Carefully choosing my words, I told her that the magic and secrets were no different than that of Santa or God. You have never seen them either so how do you know they are real? She answered by saying, "They are in my heart!" I told her to recall what we hear at the end of Wishes… that is where the magic lives! She wrote a letter later that night to Peter Pan and asked him for some pixie dust to make her fly. She enclosed her photo and then proceeded to address the envelope to WDW Travel Company (where most of our packages are made). For six LONG WEEKS she would check that mailbox and with sad eyes and a broken heart… NOTHING! Then on Saturday, May 5, it came! A small padded envelope from Disney addressed to her. Inside, we found an autographed picture from Peter Pan and Captain Hook that read, "To Charley Katherine… NEVER GROW UP!" There were stickers and a letter from Darnel (a Guest Relations cast member) who wrote that pixie dust is to be used only by Peter himself. He was in the parks that day but he received her letter and photo and he wanted her to have his special autographed picture and stickers. It read that he was honored to have such a wonderful friend like her. When people ask me why I continue to visit WDW instead of other places and ask what makes it so special, I tell them why. So, although the Dream Squad may not have actually given us a night in the castle or a free trip, they gave my daughter so much more than that. They gave her a childhood memory to live on forever in her heart thanks to Darnel!


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.