June 2008 Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the May 27, 2008 Issue #453 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 times gone by in Walt Disney World history. This month we take a look at some interesting openings and other milestones reached in the month of June over the years:

June 1972: Columbia Harbour House in the Magic Kingdom opened. (It was originally planned as a Disneyland restaurant.)
June 5, 1972: If You Had Wings opened. It became Dreamflight on June 26, 1989.
June 1, 1973: Swan Boats opened in the Magic Kingdom (now defunct).
June 1976: River Country water adventure park opened (now closed).
June 22, 1988: Mickey's Birthdayland opened. (Now known as Mickey's Toontown.)
June 28, 1988: Grand Floridian Resort and Spa opened.
June 1, 1989: Typhoon Lagoon and Pleasure Island opened.
June 1, 1990: Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel opened.
June 5, 1995: Michael Eisner announced Disney's Animal Kingdom.v June 6, 1995: Ground was broken on the Walt Disney World Speedway (opened in November 1995).v June 18, 1995: The first wedding at Disney's Wedding Pavilion was televised live on Lifetime Television as part of its "Weddings of a Lifetime" series.
June 1998: DisneyQuest opened.
June 24, 1998: Walt Disney World welcomed its 600-millionth guest.
June 2, 2002: Journey into Imagination with Figment opened.
June 2007: Major league baseball held its first-ever televised MLB First-Year Player Draft in The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports
June 1, 2007: All Disney Resort Hotels became nonsmoking.

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Steve Barrett, author of the Hidden Mickeys books and webmaster of HiddenMickeysGuide.com, points out a few cool Hidden Mickeys (and another interesting image) for you to find during your next visit to Walt Disney World:

1. Finally, my sister Donna McMurrey was able to get a decent photo of an amazing classic Mickey in the Great Movie Ride, Disney's Hollywood Studios. Jesse Kline told me about this image months ago, but it is really difficult to find and photograph. Indiana Jones and his helper are lifting the Ark out of its stone container. A small white classic Mickey is on a broken tablet or flat rock which leans against the foundation that the Ark container sits on. Two white men are painted on the side of the container, and the Mickey image is below and between them. It's just to the left of the head of an orange-brown snake. Hard to find, but worth the effort! http://allears.net/btp/hm210.jpg

2. Donna also found some classic Mickeys in the United Kingdom Pavilion at Epcot. On the right side of the inner street, two small Hidden Mickeys are inside the Crown & Crest Shoppe. One is inside a left rear cabinet post; you have to put your head inside the cabinet to see it. The other image is behind the cash register. Stand near the "Cast Members Only" door and look back behind the register. These Mickeys have stayed in place for a while, so I hope they don't disappear!

3. Sharon Dale let me know about Pooh's signature, not a Hidden Mickey, but a cool image anyway. Walk into the last room before the park at the rear of the UK Pavilion. This room is used for a character meet and greet. At the rear of the room, find Pooh's signature on an envelope at the right side of a lower cabinet shelf near an old typewriter. http://allears.net/btp/hm213.jpg

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Disney scrapbook expert Barbara Bennett and her husband Brian (who are also the owners of MouseMemories.com) are taking a short break. They'll continue their series of scrapbooking articles in the July "Bits and Bites" issue of AllEars®. In the meantime, catch up on articles in the series you may have missed:

The Introduction: http://allears.net/btp/scrapbook/intro.html
"What in the World IS All of This Stuff?": http://allears.net/btp/scrapbook/part1/part1.htm
"Sorting Your Photos": http://allears.net/btp/scrapbook/part2/part2.htm
"Organizing and Page Planning": http://allears.net/btp/scrapbook/part3/part3.htm

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It takes a village — 59,500 cast members to be exact — to keep the show going at Walt Disney World Resort. With more than 3,000 different job roles available, it's hard, if not impossible, to find a more diverse group anywhere. Here are some of the more unique role you'll find around the World:

* At Harmony Barbershop in Magic Kingdom, licensed cosmetologists perform basic haircuts with a sprinkle of pixie dust. The shop specialty is the first haircut — a ceremony commemorated with special "First Haircut" Mickey ears and a certificate with a placeholder for a lock of hair — which barbers perform about 300 times a month. Basic cuts are standard for the older set, but with giant-sized neon scissors and combs on-hand, the barbers guarantee that even a basic 'do is far from ordinary.

* Three times a week, two cast members from the animal programs team at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge transform into safari guides, leading club level resort guests on the Wanyama Safari, a three-hour tour and dinner experience that recreates a true African afternoon game drive. Guides receive in-depth training on the 200 animals housed at the lodge before leading the hour-and-a-half trek through the resort's three savannahs. While leading the tour, they dispense insider knowledge about the natural history and management of the animal collection, pointing out as many of the resort's 30 species as possible.

* Only at Walt Disney World Resort can you drive a 364-passenger monorail straight through the core of a deluxe resort hotel. In addition to gliding through Disney's Contemporary Resort, monorail pilots are trained to safely operate the twelve color-coded trains over three routes — express to Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney resorts. And with 14.7 lane-miles of elevated beamway and 30 million guests utilizing the transportation system each year, the 200 monorail pilots play an integral role in the day-to-day operation of Walt Disney World Resort.

* It's better down where it's wetter — or so say the Walt Disney World animal care aquarists, a team of marine scientists who monitor the day-to-day care of the resort's many species of fish, turtles and sea life. The main marine environment, found in the heart of The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion at Epcot, contains 5.7 million gallons of seawater and is home to sea turtles, sharks, stingrays and small fish such as neon gobies and peppermint shrimp. The aquarium team rotates between systems, also working with the leopard sharks, bonnethead sharks, parrotfish and southern stingrays who call Typhoon Lagoon Shark Reef home.

* At the fingertips of 180 Walt Disney World seamstresses are no less than 1,000 fabrics, 75 shades of thread and more than 800 kinds of buttons. Each day, these materials combine to create and maintain the 15,000 unique entertainment costumes and 15,000 operational garment pieces worn by members of the Walt Disney World cast. And every piece is built from scratch — one of the most impressive being the "parfait" hat worn in "Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage," which took more than 58 hours of handiwork to create.

* The 55 Fairy Godmothers-in-Training at Downtown Disney's Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique have one goal in mind: turn as many little girls as possible into princesses. The process involves providing head-to-toe makeovers for guests, including Disney-inspired up-do hairstyles, makeup, nails, and for some, full imperial regalia including princess dresses, crowns, wands and shoes. Fairy Godmothers-in-Training must also coach guests in the art of royal behavior, instructing proper technique in the princess wave, curtsy and walk.

* Cinderella once said, "A dream is a wish your heart makes, when you're fast asleep," but as part of Disney Parks "Year of a Million Dreams," cast members have come together to make dreams come true while guests are wide awake. Members of the Dream Squad receive in-depth training on company heritage and culture, then split their days creating personalized guest interactions — like setting up a coloring station for little ones near a height-restrictive attraction — or randomly awarding prizes — such as a return trip to Walt Disney World Resort or a Dream FASTPASS — as part of the Disney Dreams Giveaway. These high-energy cast members are empowered to create Magical Moments and share their passion for Walt Disney World Resort with guests of all ages.

For more information on employment opportunities, call the Walt Disney World Jobline at 407-828-1000. For more information on administrative, professional or technical roles, visit www.disneycareers.com.

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Say goodbye to Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival: This coming weekend, May 31 – June 1, the festival's theme is Farewell.

Jon Carloftis, author of First a Garden and Beyond the Windowsill, offers ideas for integrating plants and nature in every aspect of life, from interior spaces to urbanscapes. Great American Gardener series 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. at Garden Town.

Tony Orlando "ties a yellow ribbon" to wrap the Flower Power concert series. Shows at 5:45, 7 and 8:15 p.m. at America Gardens Theatre.

Surprise craft activities let kids enjoy end-of-festival fun. http://allears.net/tp/ep/flogar.htm

Sounds Like Summer concert series: The shows, performed by tribute or "sound-alike" bands, take place daily at America Gardens Theatre at 5:15, 6:30 and 7:45 p.m., and are included with regular Epcot admission. Scheduled for June (subject to change):

June 9-15: 2U — A Tribute to U2
June 16-22: Stayin' Alive — A Tribute to the Bee Gees
June 23-29: Hotel California — Eagles Tribute Band
June 30-July 10: Bjorn Again — ABBA Tribute Band

For more information about the Sounds Like Summer concert series, call 407-W-DISNEY or visit disneyworld.com.

Magic Kingdom

Mickey's Pirate and Princess Party: June 4 — Embark on a quest for beads and treasures immersed in a world of pirates and princesses during "Mickey's Pirate & Princess Party" at the Magic Kingdom. Pick up a treasure map and bag, then choose your course of Princess or Pirate. http://allears.net/tp/mk/pirateprincess.htm

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Star Wars Weekends will be held every weekend in June: June 6 – 8; June 13 – 15; June 20 – 22; and June 27 – 29.

In addition to actor Warwick Davis, who will host all four weekends, the following will be featured (subject to change):

June 6-8: Jeremy Bulloch ("Boba Fett") and Daniel Logan (young "Boba Fett")
June 13-15: Peter Mayhew ("Chewbacca") and David Prowse ("Darth Vader")
June 20-22: Amy Allen ("Aayla Secura") and Matthew Wood ("General Grievous")
June 27-29: Jake Lloyd ("Anakin Skywalker" in Episode I) and Dave Filoni (director of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars")


Disney's Wide World of Sports

Six N Sun Soccer Fun — June 13 -15, 2008.

The state-of-the-art Jostens Center is set to open this summer. The multi-sports field house is expected to host events such as basketball, volleyball, wrestling and martial arts, allowing Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex to double the number of indoor events that can be held at the facility. The venue will encompass more than 75,000 square feet. In addition, Jostens Center will offer personalized memory books and other memorabilia to recognize athletic achievements and preserve memories for the teams and athletes that compete at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.


UNofficial Gay Days in Orlando: The first weekend in June, this is NOT a Disney-sponsored event. It is an annual gathering in Orlando with designated park days. There are two websites with related information: http://www.gaydays.com/ and http://www.gayday.com/

NFFC, The Club For Disneyana Enthusiasts Orlando Chapter meeting June 21. Each meeting has a special speaker, live auction and more. Doors open at 6 p.m. at the Quality Inn and Suites, Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando. For more information, call the Club Phone Line: 407-ASK ARLO (407-275-2756).


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



Magic Kingdom

Pirates of the Caribbean will be closed for refurbishment June 5-18, 2008.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Journey into Narnia is closed and will reopen in mid- to late June 2008 as Prince Caspian.


Nine Dragons Restaurant in China will be closed from May 29 – November 30, 2008 for rehab. Look for major renovations, including an exhibition kitchen where diners will be able to interact with the chefs.

Animal Kingdom

PetriFries will be closed for refurbishment June 1-20, 2008.

Animal Kingdom Lodge

Phase I contruction is now completed. This was the renovation of existing rooms in the Animal Kingdom Lodge, called the Jambo House. Outside construction of a new animal barn and Disney Vacation Club Building, Kidani Village, continues and is expected to last until Spring 2009.

Caribbean Beach Resort

The themed pool, Old Port Royale, closed for refurbishment January 7, 2008 through September 15, 2008. Small, child-size, pool slides will be temporarily added to the pools at Villages of Jamaica and Barbados.

Contemporary Resort

The North Garden wing has been demolished. The tennis courts and playground are also gone. Although there has been no OFFICIAL announcement, the Orlando Sentinel has reported that the new construction at the resort will be a DVC site called Kingdom Tower.

The Concourse Steakhouse is scheduled to close for good as of May 31, 2008. The area will be rehabbed into a new permanent quick service restaurant, which will open soon after the Concourse closes.

Pop Century

Classic Concoctions, the bar/lounge area in the lobby of Pop Century, officially closed on May 6. It will be converted to the Package Pickup area for guests sending items from the parks and some of the hotels. It is set to open on July 26.


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:


Noelle Walter: I've read your site for years, so I wanted to share the Year of a Million Dreams "Dream" that I received… . My fiance and I booked a honeymoon with Disney, and decided to use the Disney Honeymoon Registry as one of our gift registries. One of the gifts we registered for was a rather pricey gift basket containing wine, cheese, and bride/groom Mickey and Minnie ears from the Disney Florist. (I didn't even know there WAS a Disney Florist prior to this.) My family chipped in and bought the basket for us. So this past Monday I called the Disney Florist to order the basket to be waiting for us when we check into the Port Orleans French Quarter. Apparently I was the first person to ever try to redeem a honeymoon registry item from the Disney Florist, and it turned out the order program would not accept the order. The woman at the florist called me back a few hours later to let me know they had contacted the IT department and would let me know the status of my order later in the week. Working in IT myself, a) I found this extremely funny, and b) I highly doubted they could get an issue like that resolved in time to handle my order. Thursday morning, three days before my wedding, I received a phone call from the Disney Florist. They told me that as part of their Year of a Million Dreams, they would be giving my fiance and me the gift basket for free, and that I could use the large sum of money my family had put on the honeymoon registry gift card for something else in the park. This was not only an example of good customer service, but it made us that much more excited to head off to Walt Disney World for our honeymoon!


Charlie and Joni from Clark, NJ: Our Magical Moment came on April 15. We had just spent a few hours at Animal Kingdom and were on our way back to Old Key West. When going to the parks now, my wife will usually rent an electric scooter to get around and I will struggle along walking. We both have bad backs and knees. Animal Kingdom to me is the hardest park to walk. The walk from the main entrance to the handicap parking is quite a way. As we were limping along, a Cast Member approached us in a golf cart-type vehicle. The CM, Ronda, asked if she could give us a lift to our car. These welcome words were never more appreciated than at that moment! After dropping us off at our car, Ronda presented us with a certificate stating we were now an Honorary Family and gave us each a large pin that made us an Honorary Citizen of Walt Disney World Resort. After coming to the World since 1972, this is one of the nicest things to happen to us. Many thanks go to Ronda and the Animal Kingdom Parking Cast.


Debbie Gash: We had two magical moments in one day! On walking into the Magic Kingdom, my daughter (18 years old) who is a big Robin Hood fan, saw Friar Tuck and ran screaming to him and making a big fuss. As my husband was taking pictures, a cast member, Brian, came to me asking if my daughter and family would like a personal meeting with Cinderella. Of course I said yes, and he commented on her response to Friar Tuck. He hadn't seen that much excitement for the character ever. I explained that she was a Robin Hood fan, that we knew he didn't have a meet and greet, but knew he was in the parade. I asked if he knew what side of the street he came down on so she could be closer to him.

We came back for the Cinderella meet, and Brian asked if we could come back to City Hall after the parade. Of course I said yes again. After the parade we made our way to meet him. Brian brought us to the back of the counter and had my daughter open the door to the room, and lo and behold Robin Hood was there. Brian had made arrangements to have a photographer there as well! The cast members said afterward that they had never seen such excitement or enthusiasm from a teenager and luckily it was all caught in pictures. As if that wasn't enough, Brian bought her a frame for her certificate!

She said that this was the most special thing that anyone outside of family had done for her and she would remember this forever!


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.