July 2015 Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the June 30, 2015 Issue #823 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

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.

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by Debra Martin Koma
AllEars® Editor

Elton John's Mickey InspearationEach month, we rummage around in our archives for this featurette, which indulges in a bit of nostalgia, taking you back in history for a glimpse of Walt Disney World and The Walt Disney Company through the ages. This month, we don't reach back too far — just 12 years, back to 2003, the year we celebrated the 75th birthday of a certain Mickey Mouse.

I usually like to try to choose a "Step Back in Time" topic that coincides somewhat with the time of year or an event that's happening or about to happen, but this month I decided to vary from the norm just a bit. I ran across this photo (at left) while researching something else and thought it might be of interest here.

On November 18, 1928, Mickey Mouse appeared in "Steamboat Willie," the first cartoon with fully synchronized sound. To commemorate the "birth" of that celebrity 75 years later, Disney announced "Celebrate Mickey: 75 InspEARations" on November 18, 2003.

Seventy-five life-sized statues of Mickey Mouse were created, designed by a variety of prominent artists, athletes, performers and other notables, including several Disney Legends. The statues, which stood approximately 6 feet tall and weighed more than 700 pounds each, were constructed of polyurethane over steel frames. Each design conveyed the unique personality of its creator.

The statues were displayed for a time in front of the Magic Kingdom, at and around the entrance. They were removed in February 2004 to attend that year's stockholder's meeting, after which time they toured cities around the U.S., including a stop at Disneyland in California.

Among some of the familiar names who created Mickey "InspEARations": #17 Jet Setter by John Travolta; #24 FrontEAR Tales by Disney Legend Fess Parker; #27 Ellenland by Ellen DeGeneres; #28 Always My Angel, Mickey by Disney Legend Annette Funicello; #74 I Speak for Mickey and Mickey Speaks for Me by the voice of Mickey Mouse Wayne Allwine and Russi Taylor; #75 Space Mouse by Tom Hanks; and my personal favorite, pictured here, #36 Music Royalty by Sir Elton John.

You may have heard of these statues at the time, but what you may not have known is that there were actually a few extra statues created, just in case one had to be pulled out of the exhibit for maintenance or some reason. As it happened, singer Janet Jackson's infamous "wardrobe malfunction" at the Super Bowl in early 2004 caused Disney to replace the Mickey she had designed with one of the back-ups.

In September 2005, the statues were auctioned off by Sotheby's, with proceeds going to charities designated by each artist. More than $600,000 was raised from these auctions, benefiting charities ranging from Make-A-Wish Foundation and Children's Miracle Network to Elton John's AIDS Foundation and The V Foundation for Cancer Research.

Pins and 6-inch figurines based on the InspEARations statues were also created and sold by Disney Consumer Products. Many can still be found on auction sites like eBay today, but the original statues themselves are now owned by private collectors.

After all, who wouldn't want a 6-foot-tall Mickey welcoming guests to their home? I know I would!



— "Celebrate Mickey: 75 InspEARations" (with more statue photos)

TRON Mickey

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Think you know Disney inside and out? This AllEars® feature is designed to stump Disney enthusiasts of all kinds and ages. Put on your thinking cap!

Our friend James Dezern (known as "dzneynut" around several Disney discussion forums) is Guest Mindboggler this week, supplying a puzzle of his own design.

James writes: Here's the answer key from the last puzzle. I was very happy to receive 105 correct responses. Most of you figured out the new wide-screen process that was used for the first time in "Lady and The Tramp" was indeed Cinemascope. Can you think of something else that is unique to this animated feature? (Answer below.)

The winner of a Mickey collectible pin was Jodie S. of Williamsburg, VA. My daughter lives and works close to Williamsburg. It is a small world, after all! Congrats and thanks for playing!

This month we continue with the animated feature series by taking a look at 1959's "Sleeping Beauty." ;This film marked the end of what is now considered to be the "Golden Age of Disney Animation." The films during this period, other than the compilation films during the war, were marked by high production costs and storylines that were primarily based on traditional fairytales. This film introduced us to the quintessential villain, the evil fairy Maleficent, animated exquisitely by Marc Davis. She has become one of the most popular and recognizable Disney characters of all time, except for perhaps Tinker Bell.

Here's the new puzzle.

The purpose of this puzzle is just to have a little fun, but if you want to take it a step further, arrange the letters that are circled in the puzzle to come up with the answer to the bonus, which relates to the puzzle theme. Send your resulting answer IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF AN EMAIL addressed to [email protected] Send the bonus term or phrase by email no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on July 25, 2015.

All correct answers will be entered into a random drawing, and the winner will be awarded a Disney pin. The answers and drawing winner will be posted in next month's Bits and Bites newsletter, along with a new puzzle.

Comments/suggestions? Drop me a line at [email protected]!

Oh, and the answer to the question above: It is the only animated feature that begins and ends during the same time of year, the holiday season.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Want to be a Guest Mindboggler? Send your ideas in to [email protected]

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Steve Barrett, author of the Hidden Mickeys books and webmaster of HiddenMickeyGuy.com, highlights for you a few hidden images at Epcot and Disneyland in California. Enjoy the search!

1. On the Test Track ride, before the long fast drive outside, look for the words "Scan Complete" on the wall to the left of the vehicle. A small, red upright classic Mickey is on the wall below the "C" and "O" in "Complete." (Thanks to Rich Miller, and Kevin Yee.)

Hidden Mickey

2. Switch to the other coast, to Adventureland in Disneyland. Inside the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost shop, a classic Hidden Mickey is traced in the middle of an archeological pan sifter stuck high on the left wall. (Thanks to Tamera.)

Hidden Mickey

3. Look for these cool references to Walt and Roy Disney in Disneyland's New Orleans Square. Their stylized initials (WD and RD) are woven into the design of upper story balcony railings. This photo is from above the Royal Street Veranda counter-service restaurant. (Thanks to Sharon Dale.)

Hidden Mickey


You can find a selection of past Hidden Mickey Alerts HERE.

And check out our latest Searching Disney with Steve blog.

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Walt Disney World Resort will celebrate Independence Day on July 3 and July 4 with themed souvenirs, characters in patriotic attire and fireworks. See details in our "NEWS BITES" section below.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Frozen Summer Fun LIVE runs through September 7. See details in our "NEWS BITES" section below.


"Sounds Like Summer" Concert Series continues through July 25, 2015. Tribute bands perform on the America Gardens Theatre stage nightly at 5:30, 6:45 & 8 p.m. Included with Epcot admission.

  • Don't Look Back – A Tribute to Boston June 27-July 4
  • Fire & Ice – A Tribute to Pat Benatar July 5-11
  • Stayin' Alive – A Tribute to the Bee Gees July 12-18
  • Hotel California – A Salute to the Eagles July 19-25


Check our Events page for a full schedule of upcoming events.



Disney's Hollywood Studios

The Magic of Disney Animation at Hollywood Studios is closing as of July 13; the last day for guests is July 12. Read more in the "NEWS BITES" section below.


Innoventions in Future World West is closed except for the Visa Character Photo Location.

The Vision House exhibit in Innoventions East has closed permanently.

Captain EO is closed temporarily. It had been showing a preview of the film, "Inside Out," but it is due to reopen on July 19.

The Maelstrom attraction and Spirit of Norway movie have closed to make way for "Frozen Ever After," based on the animated film, "Frozen." The new attraction will take guests to the film's land of Arendelle and is expected to open in early 2016. The Norway pavilion will also again host a royal greeting location where the characters Anna and Elsa can meet guests.

Magic Kingdom

Liberty Tree Tavern in Liberty Square will be closed for renovations July 6 through November 19, 2015.

Dream Along with Mickey, the Castle Forecourt show, will not be performed July 19 through August 22, 2015.

Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland is closed through September 25, 2015.

Several enhancements to the Central Plaza area between the end of Main Street and Cinderella Castle in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom are coming over the next few months. Parts of the project have already been unveiled; the project is scheduled to be completed this year.


The Walt Disney World Resort Monorail System is undergoing refurbishment that affects the Express monorail beam, which runs between the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) and the Magic Kingdom. Now and throughout the summer, Express beam shutdowns will occur between the hours of 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The Resort beam will continue to run during downtimes. Guests arriving at the TTC during downtimes will be directed to the ferry boats.

Beach Club

Guest Rooms are being refurbished with new hard and soft goods. Some noise could travel. Work takes place between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily, now through August 22, 2015.

Villa rooms at Disney's Beach Club are also currently undergoing renovations. Small blocks of rooms will be renovated at one time. Major in-room modifications include new furniture, carpet, flooring, curtains, linens and stainless steel appliances. Upgrades to the electrical system will add USB charging stations and additional electrical outlets to the villas. Deluxe Studio villas are being expanded to accommodate five guests with the addition of a fold-down sleeper.

Polynesian Resort

Polynesian East Pool is closed for enhancement through early 2016. Expect noise and construction; some pathways may be blocked.

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin is currently undergoing the largest renovation in its 25-year history. The Swan rooms will be completed in 2015. The first phase of the Dolphin Hotel room renovations will not begin until 2016, with the entire room project currently scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017.

Downtown Disney/Disney Springs

The multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs will treat guests to more shopping, dining and entertainment amid open-air promenades, springs and waterfront charm. Disney Springs will feature an eclectic and contemporary mix from Disney and other noteworthy brands, from boutique shops to unique flagship anchor stores. The Landing section of Disney Springs will open and be rededicated in 2015.

Roadwork on Buena Vista Drive – Through March 2016. Due to heavy roadwork, expect delays on Buena Vista Drive. It is recommended that guests use complimentary Walt Disney World Resort transportation from Parks and Resorts to Downtown Disney and plan to arrive early for reserved dining and entertainment experiences.

Parking Lots – Entrance 2 – Lots A-G – closed through August 2016, in preparation for the construction of Town Center and the East Garage.

Paradiso 37 on Pleasure Island is set to nearly double its seating. It will add more terrace dining and a new outdoor performance stage. The menu will continue to offer a culinary tour of North, Central and South America. Paradiso 37 will remain open while undergoing renovations, which are expected to be finished by this summer.

Read HERE for more on Disney Springs.


A complete list of rehabs can be found HERE.

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Mary S.: We have experienced many magical moments at Disney. On our last trip over Valentine's Day my husband and our boys, 8 and 4, were waiting for our last Fastpass to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. It was February 13, but technically Valentine's Day as it was past midnight. Two cast members walked up to me with a frozen drink and a huge cinnamon bun and said they were from Gaston, who wanted to know if I'd be his valentine. Of course I chose my husband. They expressed disappointment on Gaston's behalf, and were even more disappointed when I accepted the gift from "Gaston" and handed it to my hubby and kids for them to eat! Haha. We have been to Walt Disney World five times and have always experienced tons of magic! I can't vacation anywhere else!

Beth Wesesky: I wanted to share a "Magical Moment" from our last Disney vacation in late May. My family and I were waiting in the bus line from Pop Century to the Magic Kingdom. There were two adorable little girls in front of us, all decked out in their Princess finery. The older of the two pulled out a penny from her purse and was looking at it like it was the most precious object in the universe. Her mother asked her if it was her penny or her sister's. The girl said it was hers, and that her sister must have lost hers. Of course, the younger girl, upon hearing this, burst into tears. Her parents tried consoling her, but to no avail. The bus pulled up, and as we all started boarding, I fished in my wallet and found a bright, shiny new penny (the kind with the shield on the back). Once we got on the bus, I made sure that I sat across from her. I said, "I heard that you lost your penny! Well, I was in Magic Kingdom yesterday, and Prince Charming came up to me and said, 'A very special Princess will be needing this tomorrow! Please make sure that she gets it! You will know her when you see her. She is a beautiful Princess!'" I handed her the penny, and the look on her face was absolutely priceless. I explained that only a Prince would have a penny with a shield on the back, and her eyes just lit up! Her father smiled at me and said, "Thank you, that was definitely a magical moment!" I was on Cloud 9 the rest of the day! It was so wonderful that something as simple as a penny could turn tears into smiles!

Anne Husband: In 1997 my husband's company transferred us from Ontario, Canada to Ohio — a long way from all our family and friends. However, it turned into a good experience in many, many ways. One in particular is that I was lucky enough to make connection with a very special lady, and during our 11 years there, we became very special friends. Good friends obviously have lots of things in common and we did — a passion for our families and on a smaller scale, movies, popcorn, lattes and a love of all things Disney. When the day came that I had to tell her we had been transferred home again, we were both beside ourselves with sadness and I said to her through my tears, "We should go to Disney together." And so we did. That fall, the two of us went to Disney World and had a blast. But here's the real magic in the story. This September we will meet there again for our eighth consecutive "gals only trip to Disney." While we are there, we know we will book next year's reunion, number 9. We stay on-site, have a day in each park, eat too many wonderful meals, soak up the sunshine and most importantly, laugh and laugh and laugh, enjoying each other's missed company in what we call, our "happy place." She puts up with my obsession to minutely plan every detail and I put up with her laughter as I scream my lungs out on her favourite attraction! It's all good. We know we are so lucky to have this incredibly special time together and somehow the distance between us seems less when we have the next magical adventure to look forward to. We also are both very aware how blessed we are to have two such accommodating hubbies and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts.


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: [email protected] Thank you all for sharing!


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.