October 2006 Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the October 3, 2006, Issue #367 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 to June 1988. (The following information is from the Walt Disney World publication known as "Eyes and Ears," dated June 2, 1988).

The Norway Pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase is having its Grand Opening Ceremony on June 3, and the Crown Prince of Norway and the royal party have arrived for the opening. The showcase is 58,000 square feet, and the shops (with names that may be familiar), the Puffin's Roost and the Fjording, will offer authentic Norwegian arts, crafts, traditional and contemporary gifts and collectibles.

The Stave Church, modeled after the Gol Church of Hallingdal in Norway houses "One Thousand Years of Discovery: The Legacy of the Vikings" exhibit. The centerpiece is the six-foot Kuli Stone, a reproduction of the rune stone found on Kuloy Island, and dates to around 1000 A.D. This stone is significant as it is Norway's oldest written record of the words Christianity and Norway.

Restaurant Akershus, the 220-seat restaurant, opened for traditional lunch and dinners. And the Kringla Bakeri og Kafe offered open-faced sandwiches on traditional Norwegian bread, as well as some wonderful baked goods.

"The Norseman" (boat) is moored at the shore by the Norway showcase.

But what about the Maelstrom you ask? Well, this attraction did not open with the rest of the Norway pavilion. We'll have more on that another time!

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Steve Barrett, author of "Hidden Mickeys: a Field Guide to Disney's Best-Kept Secrets" and webmaster of www.hiddenmickeysguide.com, suggests looking for these Hidden Mickeys the next time you're in Walt Disney World:

When you're at Mission: SPACE, search for these classic Hidden Mickeys:

1. Along the Mission: SPACE entrance queue, look for the Mission Control room behind windows. Three classic Hidden Mickeys appear on the overhead monitors from time to time during the video loops. One shows up on the far right monitor, on the lower part of the surface of Mars, which is on the left side of the screen. A second one, also on the rightmost monitor, is formed by three "status lights" at the lower right side of the screen. http://allears.net/btp/hm128.jpg

Count two monitors to the left to find three small waveform images that come together as a third classic Mickey on the lower left of the screen. Because of the glare from the monitors, my photos are suboptimal, but you can still make out the classic Mickeys on the screens. http://allears.net/btp/hm132.jpg

2. The outdoor cement walkways in front of Mission: SPACE contain several decent and some questionable classic Hidden Mickeys in the mosaic design. One is already posted on my website: the head is a black stone and the ears blue stones. This tiny classic Mickey is located in the middle of a blue tile area, to the left (as you face the attraction) and near a gold stripe. A second set of white stones forms an imperfect (but close enough?) classic Mickey. This one is toward the bottom of a blue tile stripe, four feet toward the Mars planet from a black disc, which is near the lowest part of the blue tile stripe. Two other stone classic Mickeys are near a drain, which is in a circle of tiles to the left of the Mission: SPACE sign outside. Good luck!


For other Hidden Mickey alerts visit: http://allears.net/btp/hiddenm.htm

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Allears.net's Linda Mac was at the first Halloween Party of the season in September and sent in this report:

Trick or Treat, give me something fun to eat! OK, if you think it's too early to don your Halloween costume, grab a pillowcase or pumpkin head bucket and hit the houses in your neighborhood that are known for giving out the best Halloween candy — you're right. But, if you are holding a ticket to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party it is never too early to start celebrating the ghoulish holiday. While the sun may still be shining at 7 p.m. and it is close to 85 degrees, those minor details don't seem to matter once you pass through the turnstiles at Magic Kingdom. I was lucky enough to attend Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party on opening night. The magical transformation began as I walked up Main Street USA to the beat of Disney's special Halloween Party music.

Mickey's "Boo to You" Halloween Parade, along with the Happy HalloWishes Fireworks Show, are the premier events of the party. I was determined to get a picture of the Headless Horseman who rides the parade route a few minutes prior to the parade starting. Two parades later and no pictures of the Headless Horseman — let me say that horse sure does run fast and I will leave it at that!

Mickey's "Boo to You" Halloween Parade was without a doubt my favorite event of the entire party. Many of the floats were changed this year, if memory serves me correctly. The Pirates of the Caribbean with Captain Jack Sparrow came in a close second to the classic Haunted Mansion float with the Grinning Ghosts as my favorite. The Grave Diggers outdid themselves this year as they worked their shovels against the streets of the parade route causing sparks to fly as part of their show. Goofy's Candy Machine, complete with bubbles, was a terrific ending to the parade but the "The End" sign appeared to be made out of candy dots or buttons, which I grew up with. Nice touch!

Read all of Linda's report as well as reader comments on the annual event at: http://land.allears.net/reviewpost/showproduct.php?product=222&sort=8&cat=65&page=1

Let us know about your experience, too!

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With the success of the film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, it's no surprise that Pirate Mania continues to dominate many of the shops at Walt Disney World. No area is so overwhelmingly "arrrrgh"-ful, though, than the Caribbean Plaza at the exit of the Magic Kingdom's Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. It was there that I spotted the perfect spot for taking home an abundance of "souven-ears" for the little buccaneer or swashbuckler in your life.

Anyone who has ever ventured into the Once Upon a Toy store at Downtown Disney is probably familiar with filling a Mr. Potato Head figure with all the parts that it can hold, all for one price. The concept has been transported to the pirate world, only here it's called "Fill-A-Skull." (http://allears.net/tp/mk/skull1.jpg) For $18.00 (plus tax), you can cram a bandanna'ed plastic skull (http://allears.net/tp/mk/skull2.jpg) with all the loot it will hold when the lid is closed completely. Treasure chests overflowing with eligible buccaneer booty contain such treats as rubber snakes and bugs; gaudy baubles, gems and jewels (http://allears.net/tp/mk/skull3.jpg); skull rings and small spyglasses and compasses (http://allears.net/tp/mk/skull4.jpg).

Of course, there is a lot of other pirate merchandise on hand, but we thought "Fill-A-Skull" was a bargain, when you consider the number of trinkets you'd be able to purchase — probably enough to satisfy two, or maybe even three young Captain Jack Sparrows.

While I found this "Fill-A-Skull" location in the Magic Kingdom, there may be others around the parks and at Downtown Disney — just ask a Cast Member.

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We've heard a lot of concerns about how dining around the World has slipped in quality lately, with a share of blame placed on the Disney Dining Plan. So we've been sending out members of the Allears.net Team to sample a variety of the restaurants, particularly the ones we've had the most complaints about, just to see what the state of the restaurants is. Here are a few tastes of some of latest team reviews. For the full reviews, follow the links at the end of the snippets.

San Angel Inn/Chefs de France
by Debra Martin Koma, Senior Editor

Occasionally, I have to revisit Walt Disney World restaurants that I haven't been to in a while. Yes, I have to force myself to go out to eat — it's all part of the job, ma'am.

So on a recent trip to Walt Disney World, I decided to stop in at two World Showcase restaurants that I hadn't dined at in a long time — the San Angel Inn in the Mexico pavilion, and Chefs de France, in the France pavilion.

I had in fact only dined at San Angel once before, and that was for lunch. My 14-year-old son, companion for the trip, has recently become a typical teenager, willing to eat anything and everything in sight, so he was keen to try a Mexican dining experience, even though he's never been a fan of the South-of-the-Border cuisine before.

The night that we ventured to the restaurant, in its very romantic setting inside the Mexican pyramid, was during the very busy end of summer and the free Dining Plan that you've probably been hearing so much about. We, however, were cash-paying customers – not on the Dining Plan, which we let our server know right up front.

We'd been hearing things about decline in quality and service since the inception of the Free Dining program, so we were a bit wary as to what we would experience. Our server, however, soon put our fears to rest. She greeted us cheerfully, although it was clear she was waiting on a number of crowded tables around us, and brought us our drinks quickly. We ordered the Nachos (tortilla chips topped with red sauce, melted cheese, chorizo, jalapenos, tomatoes and sour cream) for $8.25 as an appetizer and then sat back to watch the smoldering volcano and the hubbub around us. We waited, and waited, and waited some more, beginning to worry that perhaps our service wasn't going to be so great after all, but then the nachos arrived, all hot and gooey cheese and crunchy corn tortillas with a generous sprinkling of spicy jalapeno peppers and tomatoes.

For the rest of the review, including photos: http://allears.net/din/rev_mexfran.htm


Tony's Town Square Cafe
by Jack Spence, ALL EARS® Columnist

EDITOR'S NOTE: This review was written September 29, 2006. As of October 1, we learned that Tony's changed their menus. There is now a separate dinner and lunch menu. In addition, a number of individual desserts are now served.

I have eaten at Tony's Town Square Cafe at the Magic Kingdom twice in the last month. Both times I have been disappointed. First, Tony's menu for both lunch and dinner is identical (including the prices) and only two entrees cost under $15. Most hover around $20 and above. (Note: As of October 1, 2006, there is a separate lunch menu.) This is a lot of money to spend for lunch. It's also a lot of money to spend for dinner when the food isn't very good.

The atmosphere is typical of what you'd expect from a theme park restaurant — loud with lots of hustle and bustle. Tony's is neither a place for quiet or romantic (which one sometimes thinks of with an Italian bistro).

On my first visit, I had the spaghetti with meatballs in Tony's own tomato sauce for $18.99. Even though the meatballs were big, the sauce tasted like it came right out of a can. My dining companion had the Chicken Caesar Salad and he said that the chicken tasted like the pre-cooked, pre-packaged chicken you buy in the grocery store when you're not in the mood to cook.


Tony's Town Square Lunch: http://allears.net/dining/menu/tonys-town-square-restaurant/lunch
Tony's Town Square Dinner: http://allears.net/dining/menu/tonys-town-square-restaurant/dinner
Tony's Town Square Children's: http://allears.net/dining/menu/tonys-town-square-restaurant/child-lunch-dinner

San Angel Inn Lunch: http://allears.net/dining/menu/san-angel-restaurante/lunch
San Angel Inn Dinner: http://allears.net/dining/menu/san-angel-restaurante/dinner
San Angel Inn Children's: http://allears.net/dining/menu/san-angel-restaurante/child-lunch-dinner

Chefs de France Lunch: http://allears.net/dining/menu/chefs-de-france/lunch
Chefs de France Dinner: http://allears.net/dining/menu/chefs-de-france/dinner
Chefs de France Children's: http://allears.net/dining/menu/chefs-de-france/child-lunch-dinner

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Have you heard about MouseFest? It's an international Disney fan gathering that takes place every December at Walt Disney World and on the Disney Wonder cruise ship. Beginning with the MouseFest Cruise, December 3-7, 2006, fans from around the world will take part in a variety of meets to share their mutual enjoyment of Disney. Sixteen Disney online communities/websites, seven Disney Podcast networks, and eight authors have already committed to participating in the weeklong event.

We are excited to announce that over 1350 persons are now registered for MouseFest 2006. Disney fans will be attending from 7 countries: Australia, Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States (47 of the 50 states – where are you, North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana?).

Meet the Allears.net team at MouseFest at the following land events: 3rd Annual MVMCP Fireworks Meet (12/7), 6th Annual Kilimanjaro Safari Meet (12/8), MegaMouseMeet (12/9), and the Tonga Toast Breakfast (12/10). Members of the team will also be on the MouseFest Disney Wonder Cruise.

MouseFest is open to anyone who wishes to attend any of the events. Most events have no charge (other than your theme park admission) and all have hosts to help you feel welcome.

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Walt Disney World kicked off its newest promotion, the Year of a Million Dreams, on Sunday, October 1, 2006. Look for lots of fun, prizes and surprises during the next 15 months. http://allears.net/tp/yomd.htm

Magic Kingdom:

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party continues — October 5-6, 10, 12, 16-17, 19-20, 23-24, 26-27, 30-31. Dress in costumes and trick-or-treat through the park from 7 p.m. to midnight each party evening (after regular park closing). The party includes a parade and a bewitching fireworks spectacular.

For information visit: http://allears.net/tp/mk/mnssh.htm
For reader reviews (and to post yours): http://land.allears.net/reviewpost/showproduct.php?product=222&sort=8&cat=65&page=1


Sneak Preview for Nemo's Undersea Adventure at The Seas with Nemo & Friends — Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members will be able to sneak preview the new show at Epcot October 13 – 15, 2006. Please let us know if you experience the new attraction by sending an email to: [email protected]

The Epcot Food and Wine Festival runs through November 12, 2006. The Festival features international tasting marketplaces and a lineup of winemakers and guest chefs, elegant dinners, wine schools, tastings and pairings. More than 100 wineries offer tastings, and guests can sample the marketplace cuisine in tasting portions ranging from $1 to $6.50. In addition, the fest's nightly Eat to the Beat! concert series will feature an even more varied lineup this year, including classic rock, oldies and country performers. For more information: http://allears.net/tp/ep/foodwine.htm

Wide World of Sports

Central Florida Race for the Cure5K — The 10th Anniversary Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Central Florida Race for the Cure will be held October 7, 2006, this year at Disney's Animal Kingdom. It's not too late to register. For more information: http://www.komencentralflorida.com/komen-central-florida/events/race-for-the-cure

Disney's Race for the Taste 10K — October 8, 2006. Disney's Race for the Taste 10K is the opportunity to experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival as you run through the Resort. The Race for the Taste 10K begins at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, then moves on to Disney-MGM Studios to the "Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show" attraction. Runners continue along Disney's BoardWalk before finishing in World Showcase at Epcot — the center of the Food and Wine Festival. Athletes will enjoy hors d'oeuvres before a ceremonial toast, complete with live music and entertainment, which starts the race at 7 a.m. Additionally, Disney's Race for the Taste 10K is sponsoring a food drive to assist the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Donations of non-perishable food items can be dropped off at the race's Packet Pickup location on Friday, October 6, and at The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex on Saturday, October 7. Second Harvest will also collect non-perishable food items on Sunday, October 8, at the Start Line at the Wide World of Sports Complex. Register online for the 10K by visiting disneyworldsports.com or by calling 407-938-3398. All runners must be at least 12 years old and must maintain a 15-minute mile pace. Registration is $40. Kid's races are free and registration will take place race morning only.

Disney's Martial Arts Festival — October 27-29, 2006. The seventh annual Disney's Martial Arts Festival returns to Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, featuring martial arts competitors from all disciplines, including American Kenpo, Japanese and Okinawan classical karate, Chinese martial arts, continuous point sparring, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo, karate and self defense. Clinics, such as the American Kenpo Camp and the Tae Kwon do Clinic of Champions, will also be available for participants. This event is open to children and adults at skill levels ranging from White Belt/White Sash to Black Belt/Black Sash. Admission for adult spectators is $18.50 for one day and $28.50 for a three-day pass. Admission for children ages 3-9 is $12.50 for one day and $22.50 for a three-day pass. The event is free for children under age 3. Registration is available online at disneyworldsports.com.

Funai Classic at Walt Disney World Resort — October 19-22, 2006. A field of 144 top PGA TOUR players will be in a quest for shares of a Classic-record $4.4 million purse. The 72-hole event is played on Disney's Magnolia and Palm courses. The winner earns $828,000 and takes part in a 36-year Classic tradition: a winner's-circle pose with Mickey Mouse.

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


Rehabs and Closings:

Blizzard Beach will close for its annual rehab on October 29, 2006, and reopen on January 7, 2007.

The Breathless, the 24-foot ChrisCraft reproduction of a 1930 runabout which gives IllumiNations and other cruises on Crescent Lake, will be undergoing rehab beginning October 1, 2006. There is no word on when it will return to service.

Theater in the Wild in Animal Kingdom is now closed and under renovation. It will reopen late this year with the new show, Finding Nemo: The Musical. http://allears.net/tp/ak/nemo.htm

Polynesian Resort — Captain Cook's 24-hour counter service in the Great Ceremonial House closed June 19 for refurbishment. In the meantime, a counter service location with a limited menu is operating in Tangaroa Terrace. No refillable mugs will be sold or refilled here during this time. In addition, Polynesian Resort longhouses are still undergoing rehab, with minimal effect on guests.

The Fantasia Pool at All Star Movies will be closed for rehab through December 11, 2006. All-Star Movies guests can use the "quiet" pools as well as the main pools at the other All Star Resorts.

Hess Gas Station at the Disney Car Care Center (Magic Kingdom Toll Plaza area) closed August 21 for an extensive refurbishment to last approximately three months. Once it reopens, a brand-new structure will house 4000 square feet of merchandise, as well as food and beverage space enhanced by a unique theme approved by Walt Disney Imagineering. During the construction period, the Disney Car Care Center and Alamo Car Rental will continue to operate. The station is tentatively scheduled to reopen by Thanksgiving.

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 Official Wildlife Spotter at Disney's Animal Kingdom. We have some early reports of guests at Walt Disney World and Disneyland receiving "dreams" from the Dream Squad and some of these Magical Moments, as well:

Lisa Buleha: Yesterday morning while at the Magic Kingdom, our group was lucky enough to receive the DREAM FASTPASS! The park had just opened and we were off toward Adventureland. As we were boarding the Magic Carpets of Aladdin attraction, a few "official looking" Disney personnel announced to us that this was the first day of the Year of a Million Dreams promotion and that we were all receiving the DREAM FASTPASS. The badges are worn around your neck and have nine tabs around it (one tab for each Fastpass attraction). We felt like rock stars as we flashed our badges at each attraction! It was the perfect ending to a great weekend at the World with friends and family.

ALL EARS® Disneyland Correspondent Laura Gilbreath: I went to Disneyland yesterday (10/1)… in addition to seeing the new Jedi Training Academy and Golden Screams shows, I also got to be a "Year of a Million Dreams" recipient! When I went into the waiting area for Golden Screams (the Golden Dreams theater) there was a Cast Member handing out "Million Dreams" lanyards, with two "Million Dreams" pins on them. They gave out about 50 and then left, so I was one of the lucky recipients! I saw a fair number of CMs in the parks carrying the "Million Dreams" black bags, but that was the only time I saw anything actually happening.

Jenny Keenan: We just returned from our trip to Disney World and were chosen twice. We were eating and a crowd of workers developed. They appeared to scan the room and discuss possible choices. They came over with a certificate that said "Family of the Hour." We were given a Golden FastPass to one ride that day in only the Magic Kingdom. Later, in front of Liberty Tree Tavern, my cousin's son was chosen "Chef of the Day." He also received a certificate and got to paint a Mickey-shaped sugar cookie with colored icing. They appeared to be training staff in how to present awards at the same time.

Carrie Radatz: We were walking up Main Street past Cinderella Castle on Tuesday, 9/19, when two Cast Members approached my three young daughters (ages 5, 7 and 10). They were told Fairy Godmother had just called them and needed to make sure the popcorn was good for Cinderella's ball that night. The Cast Members asked if my daughters would be willing to test the popcorn to make sure it was OK. Of course they said yes and each was given a free box of popcorn to "test." I later saw these two Cast Members in Future World scouting out more people for something. My girls felt so special that they helped to make Cinderella's ball a success by making sure the popcorn was good! A very small dream fulfilled perhaps, but it made their day!

Meg Brancato: My family just returned from this year's Disney vacation and my 3-year-old daughter received two rewards. We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside and decided to spend the day at the French Quarter pool. The lifeguards officially open the pool at 10 a.m. and my daughter was chosen as the "Jester of the Day" and everyone around the pool was introduced to her. She was given a Mardi Gras clacker and brought to the area under the clam shell. She had to make a lot of noise with her clacker and everyone was asked to say "Wake up, Scales" with her (Scales is the name of the sea serpent slide). When Isabella woke up Scales, the water started streaming out of the clamshell and the water slide started for the day! That was about a week ago and she still says it was one of her favorite things that happened during our vacation. Also, at Muppet Vision 3D in Disney-MGM Studios. I read the "key is under the mat" sign to my daughter and suggested she look under the mat (I knew the key would be under there). Along with the key was another rewards certificate. So Isabella has two certificates from our last trip! I do have to say that she was much more excited about opening the pool, though.

Becky Holmes: On Thursday, September 28 we were at Magic Kingdom. My husband had the day off so we went down for a few hours while the kids were in school. As we were getting ready to leave, we saw they were getting ready to have a small parade called the "Family Fun Day Parade." It started in front of the castle and went down Main Street to Town Square where they were going to have a "patriotic ceremony." I was at the beverage cart getting my souvenir cup of soda for the ride home… Of course, today is the ONE day I did NOT bring my camera. I was very disappointed I wouldn't be able to share pictures with your readers. Disney photographers were there documenting everything. Pluto was the Grand Marshall. Behind him was the old-fashioned car with a family in it. They had American flags to wave. Behind them were about 30 guests waving American flags. Behind them, was what looked like a big bass drum that said "Family Fun Day Parade" on it. Behind that was Chip and Dale with several guests. They were showing those people how to play with hula hoops while they were marching. At the end of this parade was the Walt Disney World Marching Band. They made an announcement over the speakers on Main Street about the parade getting ready to start and asked everyone to join in clapping along for the parade. The song they played to start the parade was "76 Trombones" from the Music Man. Unfortunately for me, I didn't get to see the whole thing because we had to leave to get home in time to pick up my daughter from school. The CM said that they had picked the guests at random to be in this parade as part of the Year of a Million Dreams. It started just after 2 p.m. I told my husband next time we go we will try to be in that area around that time and see if maybe we can be picked.

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 [email protected]


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.