December 2003
WDW Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the December 2, 2003, Issue #219 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 feature, which takes you back in history for a glimpse of Walt Disney World through the ages.

In October 1989, the Wonders of Life Pavilion opened in Epcot's Future World. The theme of the pavilion was, and still is, fitness and health. Originally, Wonders of Life was sponsored by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. The 65-foot dome encompassed 50,000 square feet. Little has been updated in this pavilion, which opened with Body Wars, Cranium Command and the Fitness Fairground (Making of Me, Goofy About Health and the Sensory Funhouse). The DNA tower outside is 75 feet tall.

At that time, WDW had 31,500 employees. A one-day, one-park ticket cost $29 for adults and $12 for children 3-9. A Pleasure Island ticket was $14.95 and you go could to Typhoon Lagoon for just $16.50. An annual passport (for the three theme parks) was $180.

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MONTHLY REMIND-EARS
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Holiday celebrations are under way throughout the World! There are tree lighting ceremonies nightly at the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, Holiday Storytellers around the World in Epcot, Santa Goofy at Camp Minnie-Mickey in the Animal Kingdom, and much more! Be sure to visit our Holiday Happenings page for the latest info: http://allears.net/tp/holiday.htm

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MouseFest 2003 is in full swing! Meet Deb Wills, Jennifer Watson, Dave Marx, Bob Sehlinger, Mary Waring and many more special guests! Everyone's welcome at the MegaMouse Meet on Saturday, December 6, from 1-3 p.m. in the WDW Dolphin Resort's Copa Banana room. Many additional meets are scheduled, including those to be held at the Tower of Terror and Splash Mountain, Walt's Birthday Safari Treasure Hunt, Future World Marathon and much, much more! Read all about MouseFest:

http://allears.net/btp/mousefest.htm

http://allears.net/btp/meetandgreet.htm

Pocket Guidebook of MouseFest Events available at: http://www.passporterboards.com/gathering.htm

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Pop Century, Disney's newest resort, opens December 14! This value hotel features larger-than-life icons similar to those at the All-Star resorts, a new innovative food court area and much more. We hear that the cast members gather to dance the Twist each morning at 8 a.m., and the Hustle every evening at 8 p.m.

http://allears.net/acc/g_pop.htm

http://allears.net/acc/faq_pop.htm

Staying at Pop Century in December? Let us know what you think. Email us at: http://allears.net/forms/feedback.htm

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The Country Bear Jamboree in Magic Kingdom's Frontierland is performing its popular holiday show until January 11.

http://allears.net/tp/mk/mk_frland.htm

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Blizzard Beach will be closed for refurbishment through December 13, 2003. Typhoon Lagoon will be closed for refurbishment from December 14, 2003, through February 28, 2004.

http://allears.net/btp/bb.htm

http://allears.net/btp/faq_tl.htm

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Calendar of Events: http://allears.net/pl/events.htm

Rehabs: http://allears.net/tp/rehabs.htm

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FREEWHEELIN' DISNEY!
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by Chet McDoniel

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 from the final part of Chet's May WDW Trip Report, which included sailing on the Disney Cruise Line:

DAY SEVEN -- We met in the Promenade Lounge on Deck 3 at noon for our glass bottom boat tour in Freeport. (Because of the limitations of the glass bottom boat and the transportation to it, we had to take my manual wheelchair.) Sasha, one of the cruise staff members, explained the whole situation to me before he addressed the group. He had Mom and me lead the way off the ship and he arranged for us to ride in a van instead of the bus because the van would be easier for me to get into... To get down to the pier, there were several steep steps and beside them was a very steep ramp. Mom and I waited at the top of the ramp, but no one came by. So, being the independent people that we are, we decided to do it on our own. I told Mom to go at it backwards because there would be less of a chance of her losing her grip. Now, Mom does not have much experience pushing my manual chair (I'm rarely in it and when I am in it, Dad is usually pushing), so she didn't know to steady her footing before starting our descent. The next thing I knew, we were going backwards as fast as her feet would move. I remember her saying, "I can't stop! I can't stop!" Well, we somehow stopped -- about one foot from the edge of the pier! It could have been quite the disaster. The other passengers who were loading onto the boat saw us and several ran over to help, but by the time they made it, the incident was over. We are pretty easygoing, so we just laughed it off... I got out of my chair to load, but I found that the steps into the boat were too tall for me to climb. One of the deck-hands picked up my wheelchair, and another one of them picked me up, and on the boat we went. I was very grateful for their help, and they seemed genuinely sorry about the ramp incident. One of them helped us go back up that ramp when we returned. The excursion was nice, but the "glass bottom" part of the boat had a three foot opaque wall surrounding it and it was hard for me to see over the rail. Still, I liked being out on the water in a smaller boat than the Wonder, and I loved all the surprises that occurred while on the trip. No, I won't spoil them for those of you goingbut just be ready.

Chet adds: This concludes my trip report, "Around the World the Disney Way." Please email me with any questions/comments you have. I'll be continuing to write more articles for the Freewheelin' series, so stay tuned to AllEarsNetfor all the latest on wheelchair travel to Disney destinations!

Chet is organizing his first group trip for travelers with special needs, their families 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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OPERATION BOTTLE STRAP
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We've given away hundreds of black and white AllEarsNet&174;/Passporter/MouseEarVacations.com bottle straps over the last few months. Now, just by wearing your bottle strap, you could be a winner!

* MouseEarVacations.com staff will be on the lookout at Walt Disney World December 4-8 (during MouseFest 2003) for people wearing the black and white AllEarsNet&174;/Passporter/ MouseEarVacations.com strap.

* If an MEV agent spots you wearing a strap, he/she will give you a business card.

* When you return home, simply email the agent on the card with your name, address and phone number.

* Your info will be entered into a drawing, which will be held on December 22. Prizes awarded will include a $100 MouseEarVacations.com/Cruising Co. Etc. gift certificate good toward travel through 2005.

Each day there will also be several "Instant Prizes" available from the MouseEarVacations.com staff!

Be sure to wear your bottle strap during MouseFest 2003!

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POSTCARD FROM
MOUSEFEST 2003!
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Greetings from the MouseFest 2003 Cruise! As you read this, Allears.net&174; founder Deb Wills and Passporter Guidebook authors Jennifer Watson and Dave Marx are aboard the Disney Wonder for the official start of MouseFest 2003! Arriving at Port Canaveral on Sunday morning, the cruisers checked in, took part in the mandatory boat drill and headed to Deck 10. In the warm Florida sunshine, everyone on board enjoyed the Sail Away Celebration with hosts Mickey and Minnie, and at 5 p.m., the Wonder set sail for Nassau in the Bahamas. The spectacular Disney Dreams show was the entertainment on this first night. Later in the evening, the "mature" MouseFest folks gathered in WaveBands for '80s Night, hosted by PassPorter. As Jennifer and Dave report, "Some watched, most danced, and one of us (Nate/Aerobics) made it in the Battle of the Bands as a shirtless Bon Jovi. (Oh yeah, we've got photos!) Mr. Bon Jovi managed to get up at the crack of dawn to lead a sunrise walk around Deck 4 Monday."

The gang arrived in the Bahamas at 9:30 Monday morning and spent the entire day at port. At 2:30, Steve Barrett (author of the Hidden Mickeys guidebook) led a delightful tour of Hidden Mickeys onboard the Disney Wonder... they even found a new one! At 4:00, Joey Carioca hosted a "Celebrity" Basketball Game on Deck 10. And Jennifer and Dave add, "We just returned from the Dessert Buffet Meet during the Tropical Deck Party. The more energetic members of our group were dancing so well that the DCL crew members spotlighted them during the show! It just keeps getting better and better, and we're really enjoying the chance to get to know folks in a more relaxed setting than Walt Disney World."

Today, Tuesday, the ship is set to dock in Freeport. Dave and Jennifer will host a PassPorter Treasure Hunt, and at 5 p.m. the cruise sets sail for Disney's private island, Castaway Cay!

Wish you were here!

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MAGICAL MOMENTS
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Michelle Arena writes: My magical moment happened when my then-boyfriend of six years and I took my parents, his mother and our friends for a week to Disney. The weather was perfect on this trip, but there is one thing that I will never forget. We were walking about near the carousel, which was playing "When You Wish Upon a Star," when, all of a sudden, my boyfriend said that this was a place where dreams really do come true. I answered, "Yes, I love being here!" As I said that, I turned around and he was on his knee with a ring, asking me if I would marry him! To me this was the best feeling -- for us to become engaged at our favorite place in the world. We got married this past May and went to Disney for our honeymoon. I hope that you enjoy reading my magical moment, because to me it was the magic of Disney that made it even that much more special.

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Paul and Theresa Amico share: We recently returned from Disney with our 3 1/2-year-old daughter Michele. We were in the character tent in Toontown on line to see Cinderella, when Michele abruptly turned around and walked into the pole holding the line ropes. She whacked her nose pretty bad and started crying. As we entered Cinderella's room, she no longer had any interest in seeing any characters, not even her "best friend" Cinderella. Cinderella, upon hearing of what happened to Michele, bent down to Michele's level, and spoke to her in the sweetest, most caring voice possible to console her. She held Michele's hand, caressed her cheek and even kissed Michele's nose to make it feel better. This was the most precious scene, and of course it cured Michele's hurt nose instantly. Cinderella was so convincing that she even seemed real to the adults. It was a perfect Disney Magical Moment!

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Connie Z. writes: We had a Priority Seating at Restaurant Akershus for the Princess Breakfast. We had the first seating of the day (8:30 a.m.) and after checking in a Cast Member asked my daughter, Stephanie (age 6), if she would like to be "princess of the day." She was given a crown and cape to wear and a magic wand to help open the breakfast. At the start, the Cast Members sang an authentic Norwegian song, and then Stephanie was asked to wave her magic wand. The doors then opened with streamers flying, and Princess Aurora came out to escort Stephanie to her table where she sat upon a "throne." She received a certificate stating she was Princess of the Day at Epcot. This was such a wonderful experience for my daughter and our family -- she truly enjoyed her special time with Aurora! As each princess came to our table, they addressed her as Princess Stephanie. She was on Cloud 9 all day! She told everyone of her special title, even Mickey and Minnie later in the evening at Chef Mickey's! Thanks so much to all the Cast Members at Restaurant Akershus for giving my daughter a truly magical moment that will last a lifetime!!

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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 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.