The Unheralded Treasures of Walt Disney World

by Mike Scopa, Feature Writer

This article appeared in the February 19, 2008, Issue #439 of
ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

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About 18 years ago while visiting Walt Disney World with my family something caught my eye. This happened one night in the then Disney-MGM Studios theme park. It was a warm summer evening and I remember walking near The Great Movie Ride. It was dusk and as I got closer to the attraction I could hear a very soft and melancholy musical rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

I can't tell you how soothing and relaxing that music sounded that evening.

I remember thinking to myself, "Wow, you'll never see that in a brochure or in a vacation video."
That night ended with us enjoying the park's signature fireworks display "Sorcery in the Sky," but all I could think about was that little gem of a moment earlier in the evening.

As I drove back to our room I started thinking about a few other things I experienced on that trip. Each one fell into the same category… a nameless category filled with memorable moments that I had never expected or anticipated for the trip.

I kept thinking that perhaps other guests also had these unexpected special experiences and I kept on reaching for something, some word or combination of words to describe them.

Finally it came to me.

Since these were unexpected yet special moments to me they can be best described "Unheralded Treasures."

If I were to give a proper definition the words would say, "An Unheralded Treasure of Walt Disney World is a non-marketed place, a sound, a sight, or a combination of any of these three elements that makes for a special guest experience."

It's unheralded because it is not at the forefront of Disney marketing. We do not see or read about it on the official Walt Disney World Website, or in promotional brochures or park guides, and certainly do not see it on those promotional vacation DVDs.

It's a treasure because it will be a special moment that you will never forget a lingering gem of a memory of your time at Walt Disney World.

I'd like to share a couple of these with you and perhaps trigger a thought or two as to what treasures you may have discovered on one of your own recent trips.

Remember an unheralded treasure is not heavily marketed or advertised and does not receive the marketing push such as the drop sensation of Splash Mountain, the weightlessness of Mission:SPACE, the rush of the Rock 'N' Roller Coaster launch, or the fear factor of Dinosaur.

Its value lies in the enrichment value to the guest who takes the time to add this treasure to their itinerary.

So here are a few of my favorite Walt Disney World Unheralded Treasures.

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The Magic Kingdom

Treasure: Roy Disney Statue
Location: Magic Kingdom Town Square

You may have walked past it many times without realizing it's there. In the center of the Town Square, near the flagpole is a statue of Roy Disney. Roy is sitting on a bench. There is room for a guest or two, especially if you want to have your picture taken with Roy. Many guests are unfortunately unaware of this tribute to Walt's brother. They may not even be aware of his contribution to the development and success of Walt Disney World. This lesser-known Disney is quite unheralded. What I like most about this treasure is that it recognizes the other Disney responsible for WDW.

Treasure: The Talking Trashcan
Location: Tomorrowland (just outside Mickey's Star Traders)

Like Animal Kingdom's Talking Palm Tree, who you will meet later in this article, this unheralded treasure brings delight to the children who are fortunate to be in this area of Tomorrowland when Mr. Trashcan is out and about. This talkative refuse container sometimes wanders into stores but mostly he stays outside and talks and sometimes follows guests, especially children, as they wander through Tomorrowland.

Personally I find it more entertaining for adults to watch as this mobile chattering trashcan amazes the children as he interacts and chats with them.

The next time you are in Tomorrowland and especially just outside Mickey's Star Traders, look for a crowd of children talking to a very mobile trashcan. You will be entertained.

How does he work? Look around.

Treasure: Crystal Maker
Location: Crystal Arts Building on Main Street USA

There are many artisans throughout Walt Disney World… some would best call them craftsmen. I remember the first time I took my family to Walt Disney World and my son could not take his eyes off the cast member creating a crystal masterpiece from behind a glass barrier. My son's eyes were glued as he watched a clump of glass slowly transform into a flying elephant.

To this day I make at least one trip to the Crystal Arts Building not just to see crystal being made but to imagine my 10 year old son standing next to me with his eyes wide in amazement at the craft being displayed.

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Treasure: Leapfrog Fountains
Location: Future World's Imagination Pavilion