Katharine's Disney Institute Adventures

Feature Article

This article appeared in the March 15, 2000, Issue #22 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

My name is Katharine. I am 7 years old. I have taken three classes at the Disney Institute in Walt Disney World. It is one of the Disney Resorts. I think I was 5 when I heard about these classes. I couldn't wait till I turned 7.You have to be 7 and up to be in one of the Institute classes. When I did turn 7, I asked if I could take a class. My mom said I could so she made a reservation for me.

In October 1999 I took my first class. Turns out, I was taking a full day. This means you take 2 classes in a row but have lunch in between. The two classes I took were Broadway Bound and Art Surround. In Broadway Bound I had a teacher named Bart. He was very nice. The first thing my class and I did was a dance. Bart taught us the dance. It was cool.

Then my class and I went out of Youth Central, (that is the place where you check in and wait for your teacher) got in the special Disney van and went to the costuming department. When we got there, we went inside. Bart started to get funny. He went behind the counter and said, "May I help you?" My class and I laughed. There were three other kids in my class. They were all girls. Their names were Tory, Samantha H., and Emily. Then Bart said "Come on over!" So we did. It was really cool in the costuming department. In the back of it, we saw the hats for the chefs in Beauty and the Beast at the Disney M-G-M Studios. Bart said we were looking for someone named Pat. She was in the back near the chef's hats. We had special hats on and we got her to autograph them. When she did, she put a stamp on it that said COSTUMING DEPARTMENT. NOT CLEARED. Then she signed her name. Then we went to the wig department in the way back of it. We got to try on alien wigs from some goofy show.

Then we left the costuming department and went to the Magic Kingdom. Instead of going to the regular parking lot in front of it, we went to the special one in back of it for cast only. While my class, Bart, and I were going in to the Magic Kingdom, Bart taught us about back stage, and on stage. He said, " If guests can see you, you're on stage. If guests can't see you, you're back stage." When we got to the giant doors that led into the Magic Kingdom, we went in. When we got in, we discovered that they led to Frontier Land.

We went into Frontier Land, walked over to Adventure Land and went to Pirates. Before we went in, Bart said, "Look for people that might be filling in for broken machines". While we were heading toward the entrance, we saw a man. Bart said "Hi Richard! Long time no see!" Then Richard said, "Same to you Bart!" We all went over to Richard and he gave us a Pirate coin. We all said thank you. Then we got him to autograph our hats. We all said thank you again.

Then we went into Pirates. Emily and I were Buddies so we asked Bart if we could sit together. He said yes. When we got to where you are seated, the person asked "How many"? Emily said "Two". The person smiled and said "Front row please ". Emily and I smiled at each other. We went up just in time to hear that Bart, Tory, and Samantha were right behind us. When the skull said rough waters ahead, Emily and I screamed! When we came out, Bart asked us if we saw any real people. I said "No. I didn't Bart. Did any one else"? Emily said no and so did Tory. But Samantha said, "I thought I saw one."

Then we headed over to Disney M-G-M studios and went to see the Hunchback show. When the show was over, we went back stage and got three of the Gypsy's autographs.

We started to head back to Youth central. When we got there, we signed each other's hats. Then my lunch was ready. I was the only one staying for the afternoon class so I said good-bye to my friends and started to eat. If you stay a whole day you have lunch in between classes. I had a PB+J sandwich, a bag of Potato Chips, a Chocolate Chip Cookie, and some Milk. While I was eating, one of the teachers came and sat down next to me. She was a very nice teacher. Her name was Sharon. When I asked her who my teacher for Art Surround would be she said "Why me of course".

When I was done with lunch, someone else for my class got there. Her name was Ally. At first she was to shy to play Twister with me. Then she decided that maybe making a new friend would be nice. We had a great time. I was first to be on the mat and the first to fall. Then the same happened to Allie. Then two more people came in. They were for the same class as Allie and me. One was a boy and one was a girl. The girl's name was Dayna and the boy's name was Anthony. Dayna asked if she could play with us. We played for a little while longer. Then another boy came in. His name was Kevin. The whole class was here.

We played with some cloud (special modeling foam). I made a pie, Sharon made a butterfly, Dayna made a heart, and Allie made a Mickey. I can't remember what the boys made. After that, we went to the Magic Kingdom. When we got there, Sharon asked, "How many bricks are in the castle?" We sat down and started guessing. We all guessed wrong. Someone guessed 1,000, but they were wrong. I guessed somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000,000, but I still wasn't wrigt. Finally Sharon gave us the answer. "None. Its all Fiber Glass." We were amazed.

Then we went on Peter Pan to see all the hard work put into the art. This time I rode with Tory P. We kept pointing out beautiful art to each other. When we got off, Sharon asked us what kind of art we saw. We all said something different. Then we went on Snow Whites Scary Adventure. When we went on, I kept my eyes open the whole time!

After our ride we went to Cosmic Ray's cafe to decorate the special bags we get to hold our art supplies. Then we went over to the teacups. The girls got to ride in their own cup. So did the boys. When we came off it was time to head back to the Institute. When we got back, Mama waiting for me. Then she took me back to the Hotel and that was the end of my classes.

In February 2000, I took another class. It was called Critter Trek. There were only three people in it. Their names were Zachary, my friend Holly, and me. This time Bart was my teacher again. The first thing we did was go out side and look to see if we could see any birds. He spotted a crow and I did to! When we got back inside we got our Critter kits. We got to have a snack in our kits. I chose a bag of Ritz Bits mini PB sandwiches, a Rice Krispie treat, and some fruit punch.

Then we went to the special van and went to the " WILD LIFE CONSERVATION AREA. PRIVATE PROPERTY." When we got there, there was a gate blocking it off. Bart had to get out of the van to open it. After he did he got back in the van and we drove in. We drove along the dirt path and we spied a lot of birds and reptiles. We saw a couple of mammals too.

For birds we saw 18 Anhingas, 2 Bald Eagles, 26 Black Vultures, 1 Cattle Egret, 3 Coots, 2 Cormorants, 2 Crows, 1 Grackle, 1 Great Blue Heron, 2 Great Egrets, 1 Jay, 3 Killdeers, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Limpkin, 9 Little Blue Herons, 5 Mallards, 1 Mocking Bird, 2 Moorhens, 3 Mourning Dove, 1 Night Heron, 10 Osprey, 6 Snowy Egret, 1 Turkey Vulture, 217 White Ibises, 4 Wood Storks, 12 Starling, 1 Gull, and 10 Wrens. For Mammals we saw 5 Squirrels. For Reptiles we saw 22 Alligators and 10 Turtles.

Then we drove a little longer and we got out of the van. It was time to make our Animal tracks. We each got our own track. We didn't get to keep our tracks because we were going to make some of our own. Bart spread out an old tablecloth so we could sit on it. I had a Raccoon print, Holly had a Deer print, and Zachary had a Red Fox print. What Bart said to do is take our print and press it into the dirt. So that is what we did.

Then he said to take a cup of Plaster Powder and mix it with water. That is what we did. Then he gave us the top of a plastic cup. He said to put it around the top of the Animal track. Then he said to pour the plaster into the cup. Finally we were done. Then Bart said to leave the tracks there. He said that on our way back we would get them.

We drove along a little longer and then we got out of the van and went into the woods. We saw a plant Bart called Hitch-hikers. We saw the front and back door of a gofer hole. Then we saw poison ivy. I was scared to death! Then we went back up the hill to a nice little sunny patch of grass on the edge of the hill.

Bart said to start drawing on certain page of the special notebook we got. Bart put a hoop on the ground. We had to draw anything we could see that was in the hoop. I drew flowers and tall blades of grass. Then we started heading back to the van. On our way back to our Animal tracks, we took the air temperature in the shade and sun and found out that it was hotter in the sun than in the shade. We then got back in the van and went back to get our animal tracks. When we got there the tracks were just fine. We brushed them of and got back in the van. It was time to go back.

When we got back, my Mom was waiting for me. She signed me out and she took me to Animal Kingdom so I could continue a Critter Trek of my own.

So, if there are any kids out there thinking about taking a Disney Institute Class I would definitely recommend it. I think it's the best thing you can do at Walt Disney World!

Please Note there will be no ALL EARS® next week.


-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-

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.