September 2003
Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the September 2, 2003, Issue #206 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

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STEP BACK IN TIME
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Ever wonder what Walt Disney World was like way back when? We rummage around in our archives for this monthly feature, which takes you back in history for a glimpse of Walt Disney World through the ages.

This month we consulted Birnbaum's Walt Disney World 1995 -- The Official Guide and found some interesting tidbits:

PARK HOURS: Epcot was usually open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., the Magic Kingdom from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the Disney-MGM Studios from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (EDITOR'S NOTE: I didn't realize the parks all opened later back then!)

RESTAURANTS: Open in 1995, but now closed or with changed names and themes: Empress Lilly Riverboat, Chef Mickey's at the Disney Village Marketplace, Papeete Bay Verandah at the Polynesian, Flagler's at the Grand Floridian, Ariel's at the Beach Club, Minnie's Menehune Character Breakfast at the Polynesian, and the Aladdin Character Breakfast at the Studios Soundstage Restaurant.

TOURS: A three- to four-hour guided tour of the Magic Kingdom was available for $5/adults and $3.50/children.

ADMISSION: One day/one park ticket was $38 for adults, $30.60 for children. The cost of an Annual Passport was $209.90 for adults and $183.60 for children. The animal park Discovery Island, located near Fort Wilderness, was still open and cost $10.07 for adults and $5.57 for children.

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FREEWHEELIN' DISNEY!
by Chet McDoniel
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Editor's Note: AllEarsNet® presents another in its series, Freewheelin' Disney, written with wheelchair travelers in mind. Author Chet McDoniel is a vacation travel specialist for MouseEarVacations.com and its parent company, CruisingCo.com, and is himself a wheelchair user. The following is an excerpt of Chet's May WDW Trip Report, which included a cruise on the Disney Cruise Line.

Around the World the Disney Way, Part One

DAY ONE: No matter how badly you want to get to Disney World, I just can't see how getting up at 4 o'clock in the morning is worth it. We rolled out of bed when the sun wasn't shining, and made our way to the airport. After a pretty uneventful flight, we arrived in Orlando. We waited 20 minutes for Mears transportation to pick us up, and then we were off to Port Orleans Riverside... [after checking in] Epcot was the first destination on our list because of our lunch reservations. We arrived and headed straight for Italy, for lunch at L'Originale Alfredo Di Roma. Now, to set up expectations for you for the rest of this trip report, my mom and I are very light eaters. We tend to share meals no matter where we go. So, there was no exception for this meal either... especially since it was 2 p.m. already. Due to multiple recommendations from message boards, we split Le Originali Fettuccine Alfredo. We agreed that it was the best Fettuccine Alfredo either of us had ever tasted. The service was great and I'll have no trouble recommending this in the future. After the filling meal, we started back toward Future World.

After retrieving the coveted Test Track FastPass, we headed to one of our favorites -- Spaceship Earth. As we headed for the wheelchair entrance, we ran into a Cast Member who I met on the February Agent Education Program. He obviously remembered me because he met me with a big hug. After Spaceship Earth, we did the Wonders Of Life pavilion. I still think that Cranium Command is the sleeper attraction of Epcot. We went to Innoventions East, because there was an exhibit there called "House of the Future" that showed off a wheelchair built with the new Segway technology (in other words, the computer balances the chair on two wheels instead of four). After that exhibit, we watched as a Cast Member dictated to a computer and it typed what she said. The program amazed me so much that I bought it when I got home. In fact, I am using it now to write this trip report. It just goes to show that sponsors do make money off of things in Disney World!

...We had dinner reservations at the Coral Reef so we headed back toward Future World, stopping along the way for a quick trip to see Figment in the Imagination pavilion. I must pause here to tell you how they loaded my wheelchair onto the ride. There's a special train on the track that has an accessible car at the end of it. When that train entered the station, a Cast Member opened the door to the back car and out came a ramp. I drove right up the ramp, the Cast Member closed the door, and then with the turn of a lever, the floor of the car turned so that my chair would be facing forward. The whole process took about 10 seconds. It blew my mind.

Be sure to watch for other articles in the Freewheelin' Disney series!

Chet is organizing his first group trip for travelers with special needs, their family, and friends, starting with four nights at the Walt Disney World Resort on May 12, 2004. On May 16, the group sets sail for four nights to the Bahamas aboard the Disney Wonder. In addition, ALL EARS® Editor-in-Chief Deb Wills will join the group in Orlando. If you would like to learn more, email Chet at chetm@cruisingco.com or call him toll-free at 1-866-939-4968.

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Souven-EARS
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You may recall a few weeks ago when our savvy Souven-EARS Shopper was looking for a very special, one-of-a-kind gift and found beautiful personalized watches and original character art at Uptown Jewelers in the Magic Kingdom. But since the $200 to $450+ price range is probably out of the question for most souvenir budgets -- fun to look at, fun to contemplate, just not realistic -- we wondered what's available that's very special and classy that will fit most guests' budgets?

How about Disney character sketches, drawn to your specifications and personalized by a Disney artist? Sketches with one character are priced $35; two characters, $65. Black mats are available for $15, frames range from $22 to $30. Sketches, mats, frames and engraving are all available at Uptown Jewelers. Of course, you can just purchase the sketch and frame it when you get back home. Uptown Jewelers will also engrave wood and metal picture frames purchased in the shop or at other locations throughout Disney World. The cost is between $6 and $7 for the first two lines and $1 for each additional line.

The Souven-EARS Shopper also struck gold, so to speak, at another Main Street shop, Crystal Arts. This shop features all sorts of crystal and many blown-glass figurines, animals, flowers, bells and even Disney characters. There is a wide selection of items just waiting to be personalized. (See a pattern here, folks?) Crystal Arts offers items with various themes: sports, hearts, flowers and Disney characters to name a few. You can choose from mugs, glasses, shot glasses, bells, pitchers and various picture frames. Prices start at $6, with the average in the $10 to $15 range. The engraving of one name is included in the price of the item. Additional words and/or names are $2/word. Each of these items is hand-etched by a Disney artisan, and you can often watch the engraving while you wait. During busier times, you will have to pick your order up later in the day.

Instead of purchasing a number of inexpensive souvenirs that will end up "junked" in a few weeks, the Souven-EARS Shopper recommends that you consider purchasing one of the beautiful items offered by either Uptown Jewelers or Crystal Arts. These items will become a cherished and permanent remembrance of your Magical visit to Walt Disney World.

Have a great trip and have fun shopping!

Look for the Souven-EARS featurette in the monthly ALL EARS® "Bits and Bites" issue. To read Gloria from Miami's other Souven-EARS articles, visit: http://allears.net/btp/gloria.htm

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MOUSEFEST 2003
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What do Deb Wills, Jennifer Watson and Dave Marx, Bob Sehlinger, and Mary Waring have in common? These are just a few of the special guests who will be at WDW for the Mega Mouse Meet on Saturday December 6, 2003! Everyone is invited to join in the fun! Check out the website and see all the folks planning to attend! http://allears.net/btp/meetandgreet.htm

Still looking for great rates at the resorts during Mousefest? visit: http://www.mouseearvacations.com/mousefest.php

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MAGICAL MOMENTS
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Elana Whyte shares: It was late and we decided to avoid the fireworks crowds at the Magic Kingdom and try to see one more princess for my 5-year-old daughter. When we got to Mickey's Toontown Fair, we waited only a minute to find that we did not have to head for a particular room where one or two characters were standing for photos, but rather Cinderella, Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, and Goofy waved us into the main hallway where they took whatever pictures we wanted. At the time my 5-year-old was scared of Tigger, but by the end of that evening, he was her best friend. My 8-year-old was whisked away (literally picked up and taken around the corner) by Goofy, teasing that he was running away with her. She is also our Piglet fan and she was in heaven when she was hugged and teased by Piglet himself. Pooh got into the act when he took her Piglet ears and put them on his nose. The best, though, was when Cinderella picked up my younger daughter and danced with her. Tears still come to my eyes when I think of it. Although he won't admit it, I saw a tear in my husband's eyes that night, too. That was two years ago and we still remember it as the best and most Magical night of any of our trips. Dreams really do come true.

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Frances Marsh writes: My Magical Moment happened on our honeymoon. I had been to Disneyland and Walt Disney World many times as a child, but my husband had never been. We decided to go there for our honeymoon (March 9 of this year will be our 12th anniversary). I had told my husband that when I was a child we had to go on a very strict budget. My parents steered us clear of the shops and souvenirs. We would never buy food in the park, but would bring a lunch, get our hands stamped, leave the park to eat in the picnic area (Disneyland). And of course, we never, ever got a Mickey Mouse balloon. (We were extremely elated to just be there. This was the way we could afford to bring the family.)

Well, when we were leaving the Magic Kingdom after the first day my husband had ever been there, he stopped and impulsively bought me a whole bouquet of balloons. We took a few pictures, and then we passed them out to little children as they left the park. (Who says you don't get anything free at Disney?) Looking at the joy on the children's faces was to be remembered forever. I always imagined one of them might be like me, not expecting to get a balloon because of the family budget, but receiving just a little boost of extra fun before leaving the park.

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Each month in our WDW Bits and Bites issue we share ALL EARS® subscribers' Magical Moments stories. Send your Magical Moment story to allearsnet@yahoo.com


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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.