January 2005
Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the January 4, 2005, Issue #276 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.

This month we go back once again to 1991. Last month, we found a WDW Press Release that was issued as part of the 20th Anniversary Celebration. It listed 20 reasons to visit the WDW Resort. Last month we listed the first 10 -- here are the rest:

Disney Vacation Club - the innovative concept for family vacations. Old Key West was the first resort built. (Disney Vacation Club Fact Sheet: http://www.allears.net/acc/dvc.htm)

Jim Henson's Muppet Vision 4D - a fun attraction that puts you in the midst of a typical Muppet misadventure! New special effects and 3D -- rather 4D -- filming make this one full of laughs for everyone! http://www.allears.net/tp/mgm/m_muppets.htm

Sci-Fi Dine-in Theatre - set on a studio soundstage, the 250-seat restaurant recreates the 1950s drive-in theaters, complete with black-and-white sci-fi film clips and tables made to look like old-fashioned cars. http://www.allears.net/menu/menu_scid.htm

Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure - a new playground for kids based on the Wayne Szalinki movies, gives kids a chance to let off some steam. http://www.allears.net/tp/mgm/m_histk.htm

Disney's Dixie Landings Resort (now known as Port Orleans-Riverside) - step back to the beauty and romance of Mississippi with plantation-style mansions and rustic bayou buildings. http://www.allears.net/acc/faq_dxl.htm

Disney's Port Orleans Resort (now known as Port Orleans-French Quarter) - buildings inspired by the ornate row houses of the New Orleans French Quarter. http://www.allears.net/acc/faq_po.htm

Minnie Moo at Grandma Duck's Farm - The mouse's black ear trademark on the barnyard star of Mickey's Starland in the Magic Kingdom (today's Mickey's Toontown Fair). (Editor's Note: Sadly, Minnie Moo is no longer around.)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Cowabunga, dudes! Every day this foursome puts on a show at the Disney-MGM Studios.

Hollywood's Pretty Woman - golden girl glamour lights up the stage and hilarious backstage intrigue waits in the wings at the Theatre of the Stars in the Disney-MGM Studios. Disney characters team with actresses to portray Hollywood legends! (If anyone has photos of this show, please let us know! http://allears.net/forms/feedback.htm)

and finally,

Pleasure Island - It's New Year's Eve every night at this nightclub themed park. Nightclubs, shows, restaurants and shops are open every night. http://allears.net/btp/pleasure-island.htm

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Souven-EARS
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ALL EARS® Souven-EAR shopper Glo from Miami accompanied Senior Editor Deb Koma on a recent foray into the Magic Kingdom, so you know that a stop to shop was part of the agenda! Here's what the duo found:

OK, we've heard the public outcry over the debacle known as "Stitch's Great Escape" in the Magic Kingdom. Still, we had to see it for ourselves. Our impression? A resounding, "Eh." Don't need to do THAT again. However, even though we weren't thrilled with his new attraction, we can't help but love that mischievous little blue alien! And, would you believe it? There's a whole line of nifty Stitch merchandise in the gift shop the attraction dumps you into when you exit! And some of it is even Walt Disney World-specific, not just generic Stitch merchandise.

We found lots of Stitch to love -- plenty of items perfect to take back for the Stitch-lover you had to leave at home. Of course there were the usual t-shirts and sweatshirts (plain gray with Stitch logo, $17-$24), but there were also some out-of-this-world versions. We especially liked the tie-dyed shirts that went for $22-$26, and the green glow-in-the-darks for the same price. Other easily transportable items: a Stitch window cling ($8), a small porcelain Stitch figurine ($8); an embroidered Stitch visor ($14/youth size); a small plush Stitch in a silvery Elvis Presley get-up ($12) (I want one!); and a really neat, park-specific plush Stitch wearing a "Stitch's Great Escape" t-shirt and holding a melting Mickey ice cream bar ($8).

There was quite a variety of Stitch-themed photo frames, starting with the tiny magnetic frame for fridge mounting ($6). Other frames sporting the saucy space-dude were $9, and there was a cute note/photo holder of Lilo kissing a grimacing Stitch ($12), but our favorite was the Stitch head, which holds a photo in its gaping mouth ($18). There were also a number of Stitch mugs ($12), and a whole range of other Stitch plush, including a cute medium-sized Santa Stitch ($25).

Other fun stuff: a little Stitch magnet set ($10); a Stitch slime gusher ($5) (you know, the kind of thing you squeeze and a gel-like substance oozes out? bleah!); or a Lilo & Stitch playset, complete with seven small figures of the movie characters ($12). There was even a Stitch's Great Escape playset of "Galactic Experimentation Alien Lifeforms" ($8).

And, here's something you probably won't see at Toys R Us: a Stitch-themed version of the old Milton Bradley board game "Trouble" ($16)! It's a perfect fit for the "trouble"-some Stitch!

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ECHOES OF AFRICA
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Senior Editor Deb Koma checks in with a first-hand look at the American Heritage Gallery that recently opened in the American Adventure pavilion's lobby:

Although it opened a few months ago, I didn't have a chance to visit the new art gallery, which is located to the right after you enter the pavilion, until just a few weeks ago. I'm certainly glad I made the time for it.

The American Heritage Gallery is the sixth such World Showcase Gallery (the others are located in the Mexico, Norway, China, Japan and Morocco pavilions). It opened in the fall with a three-year exhibit called "Echoes of Africa," which features about 20 important pieces from the Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection, as well as the works of approximately a dozen contemporary artists. (http://allears.net/tp/ep/ahg1.jpg)

The collection, amassed over 20 years by businessman Paul Tishman and his wife Ruth, was acquired by the Walt Disney Company in 1984. Pieces in the collection represent the entire region of Africa, from Baule "spirit spouse" figures to small carved statues of the Ekoi, to an intricately carved tusk "hunting horn" that dates as far back as the 15th or 16th Century. Among the more striking pieces currently on display is a headdress from the West Atlantic Coast of Africa. Created by the Ekoi people c. 1875-1925, it was carved from a single piece of wood and covered with antelope skin. Imposing hair-like extensions, similar to a hairstyle of women in Nigeria at the time, are carved from wood and curl around the two-sided Janus mask of the headdress. The mask itself represents both male and female faces. (http://allears.net/tp/ep/ahg2.jpg)

Of the contemporary artists represented, works by Oliver Jackson and Willie Cole, juxtaposed against pieces of tribal art, caught my eye. Jackson's untitled mixed media piece, for example, was clearly inspired by the traditional African power objects, such as the carved tusk and smaller carved statuettes, next to which it is positioned. (http://allears.net/tp/ep/ahg3.jpg) Also of interest were the ornate ceramic plates (c. 1993) by well-known African-American photographer and visual artist Carrie Mae Weems.

The Echoes of Africa exhibit is worth a stop the next time you're making your way around World Showcase. And, if you time your visit right, you'll be serenaded by the Voices of Liberty, performing under the rotunda, as you contemplate this compelling collection.

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A TASTE OF PARIS
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Kerry Ward from England recently shared a brief review of her quick trip Disneyland Paris -- we thought a few excerpts from it might make for an interesting counterpoint to all our Orlando theme park coverage:

My sister Vicki and I were looking for a bite-sized Disney dose; something to tide us over until we could next afford a trip to Walt Disney World... so we elected to try Disneyland Paris...

...The Sequoia Lodge was a truly beautiful resort. Actually, the Sequoia reminded me a little of the Overlook Hotel from 'The Shining,' in the nicest possible way: cherry wood walls, stone fireplaces, and tapestry rugs, with endless firs and pines outside. It boasted a spa-like pool ('avec' Jacuzzi), a rustic bar (The Redwood Lounge) and two restaurants (The Hunter's Grill and the Beaver Creek Tavern)... When I am struggling to get up for work, I often think about nibbling on a pain au chocolat in the warm tavern, and gazing across the tree-lined, misty lake to the Disneyland Park; knowing a wonderful day lay ahead...

In Fantasyland, there's Pinocchio (look out for the whale! I nearly shot out of my seat; thought it was Jaws...) and Alice's Curious Maze, a walk-through warren of hedges, nestled in the middle of which is the Queen of Hearts castle and a medley of other characters from the tale... Space Mountain, which looks and rides better than its ancestors, has a speedier take-off, more props within and a really twisty, turny track. And in the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction, the sub itself pokes up, rather menacingly, from the lagoon outside Space Mountain... Being a big fan of the movie I loved the dark, spooky set. I half expected Captain Nemo to be lurking round the next bend... Adventureland has Pirates of the Caribbean, which is darker, and has really up-to-date animatronics, steeper drops and a stronger narrative... Frontierland -- for the time that we were there this was changed to Hallowe'en Town, overrun with mischievous pumpkin characters and ghoulish decorations. Year-round, though, this land is home to the most sinister looking of all the Disney Haunted Mansions; it's a cross between the Norman Bates and Addams Family residences! Vincent Price, the macabre master himself, was brought in to do the Ghost Host narrative. However, not long after opening, operators requested a French version so he was replaced! His infamous, chilling laughter can still be heard throughout, though... Oh, by the way, everything IS pretty much in French, but also has English 'subtitles'; you certainly don't feel lost if you can't speak French...

Conclusion? It's the same, but also different, to Orlando's Magic Kingdom. What my sister noticed most was that the natural American friendliness and exuberance was missing, but also that the rides are newer, shinier and, in some cases, better. My Tip? If you're going, then go during a 'season,' i.e., Hallowe'en or Christmas, and get the benefit of the extra decorations and events. The Park doesn't get as busy as Magic Kingdom, so you won't be crowded. Travelling through Europe? Then swing by for a couple of days (Paris is only 20 miles away). You'll have a great time.

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BROWN DERBY BITES
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Members of the ALL EARS® team recently dined at Brown Derby in the Disney-MGM Studios for dinner. After taking our drink orders, our server brought out hot rolls and butter... yummm! For appetizers ("introductions" if you follow the menu) we had the Potato Lump Crab Cake with Country Slaw and a Classic Tartar Sauce for $8.29, which got high marks! The crab cake was crispy and full of crabmeat (not fillers), and the country slaw was creamy and tasty. For $5.79 we also had the Tossed Field Greens with Fresh Orange Segments, spicy pecans, feta cheese, and cabernet vinaigrette. While the greens were fresh and the feta cheese a nice complement, there was only one pecan on the salad, and the orange slices and dressing were tasteless.

Our entrees did not disappoint, though. The Roasted Pork Tenderloin with tomato Napoleon, butter-bean succotash and madeira-sage pan juices at $21.99 was excellent aside from the weak tomato Napoleon. The pork was very tender and the juices had just the right touch of sage, complementing the dish perfectly. Brown Derby has consistently served us wonderful roasted pork tenderloin. Our second entree was the Sesame-seared Ahi Tuna with wasabi whipped potatoes, sugar peas, ginger soy reduction and coriander lime essence for $21.99. The tuna was done to perfection, warm in the middle and ah so rare. The wasabi mashed potatoes were a great accompaniment.

For dessert we had the Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Cake with black pepper roasted micro pear, manchego cheese and Bonny Doon Muscat ice cream for $8.29. While the Muscat ice cream and the chocolate cake went well together, the other items consisted of too many different textures and tastes to work for our taste buds. We also had the Grapefruit Cake -- a Brown Derby original, with light layers of yellow cake and fresh grapefruit cream cheese icing ($5.99). A favorite fixture on the Brown Derby's menu for years, it is a sure-to-please dessert with soft, moist cake and light icing, perfect with a cup of coffee!

The presentation on all the dishes was excellent and our server above average. All in all, another wonderful dinner at the Brown Derby, consistently one of our favorites!

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NUTS ABOUT NUTS?
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You're strolling along the World Showcase Plaza in Epcot, when suddenly it hits you -- that tantalizing aroma of cinnamon! Where is it coming from? You follow your nose, which leads you to a cart selling a delectable delight that sets your salivary glands to, well, salivating! It's the cart that sells fresh, warm, cinnamon-glazed nuts! The smell is too much -- you know you just HAVE to have them! And so you shell out (get it?) a couple bucks and start to savor the sweet little treats, until you look up to see the rest of the family with hands outstretched for their share. Sigh. Reluctantly you part with a few of the little treasures. Or is that just me?

Well, thanks to ALL EARS® reader Bob Wilson, we've discovered a few of the secrets of these little gems -- including how you can make them at home!

According to Bob, "The stand at Walt Disney World is associated with a company called 'The Nutty Bavarian.' They have a website at http://www.nuttyb.com/. There are lots of these stands scattered throughout the country where you can get the same nuts, fresh and hot like at WDW (there is one about 30 minutes from where I live). You can buy pre-made cinnamon pecans directly from the company. Also, for those who don't have a cart close by and want hot, fresh nuts, they will sell you nuts and a bag of glaze mix directly from the company for you to make them at home on the stove. As they said in an email they sent me, 'You simply add the ingredients to a kettle on your stove top with one cup of water and stir, stir, stir.' "

Next time you're looking for a little bit of Disney at home, you might want to visit the site, on which you can purchase pre-made bags of cinnamon coated pecans, almonds, cashews or peanuts. (Even though they're not listed on the site's mail order page, Bob says he's also ordered bags of nuts with the special mix. He says that a 2.25 pound batch of almonds costs $8.50; a 2-pound batch of glazed pecans costs $10, plus shipping.)

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MONTHLY REMIND-EARS
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Lots of changes became effective January 2, 2005! Not only did the NEW Magic Your Way Ticket program go into effect, but also the new Extra Magic Hours schedules started. To keep abreast of all the changes, be sure you read our Ticket FAQ and Ticket Comparison Chart:

http://allears.net/pl/ticket.htm
http://allears.net/pl/ticketchart.htm

Also, WDW managed to sneak in a price increase for Annual Passes! You'll find info on the new pricing on our ticket pages.

Don't forget to check out the new Extra Magic Hours schedules -- they're not as predictable as they used to be. In addition, the attractions open in the early mornings are different from those open during the late evenings. Get the details here:

http://allears.net/tp/emhour.htm

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The WDW Marathon is January 9, 2005. Good luck to all those participating in the event, including ALL EARS® readers Laura G. and Len T.!

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El Rio del Tiempo will be closed for refurbishment January 10 through January 12, 2005. http://allears.net/tp/ep/e_mex.htm

Country Bear Jamboree will be closed to change-out the show from the "Country Bear Christmas Special" to the standard show today through January 8, 2005. http://allears.net/tp/mk/mk_bears.htm

Dumbo the Flying Elephant in Fantasyland will be closed for refurbishment January 10 through February 12, 2005. http://allears.net/tp/mk/mk_dumbo.htm

Astro Orbiter in Tomorrowland will be closed for refurbishment January 25 through March 12, 2005. http://allears.net/tp/mk/astro.htm

The Caribbean Beach's Trinidad North quiet pool will be closed today through February 28, 2005. http://www.allears.net/acc/faq_cbr.htm

Cinderella's Royal Table will be closed for rehab beginning January 17. Lunch and dinner will return on January 27, and breakfast will begin again on January 28. http://allears.net/dining/menu/cinderellas-royal-table/breakfast

The Old Key West Resort's main pool is under refurbishment, and is scheduled to reopen sometime this month. http://www.allears.net/acc/faq_okw.htm

Areas still closed for rehab include: Typhoon Lagoon (until March 12), the Land Pavilion (until April 1), and It's a Small World (until spring).

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On January 1, 2005, the Sandcastle Club Children's Activity Center at Disney's Beach Club Resort temporarily closed due to a three-month refurbishment of the Atlantic Wear & Wardrobe Emporium. As a result, the Harbor Club at Disney's BoardWalk Resort resumed operating on January 1 and will be open through March 31, 2005. http://allears.net/pl/childfaq.htm

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MAGICAL MOMENTS
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Carol O'Shea: Last year at this time, 13 family members, two friends and I had the most magical of Magical Moments at Walt Disney World. I had booked the "Magical Fireworks Voyage" as a Christmas gift for each member of my family. One week later I was contacted by Disney and asked if my family would be willing to be filmed while watching the Christmas Parade. Of course we would! Well, that wasn't the end of it, and it turned out to be much more than us just watching the parade. For the next two months I communicated by phone and email with a Cast Member from Walt Disney World and two people from LightshipTV, which Disney had hired to do the filming of the Christmas Parade. After submitting pictures of everyone and having background checks done, my family was chosen from among several other families to be the "Magical Gatherings" family featured on the ABC Disney Christmas Parade Special that aired on Christmas Day 2004! We were filmed on rides, walking through the parks, experiencing some of the things the BoardWalk area has to offer, and one of my friends and I were interviewed about the Magical Gatherings and why we chose Walt Disney World for our family vacation. We filmed for 9 1/2 hours on one day and for another 1/2-day for a segment that lasted five minutes. We were introduced by Miss America, and Regis Philbin commented on our shirts. Disney had special T-shirts made up for us. It was all very exciting -- a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Walt Disney World assigned two V.I.P. guides to escort us and also two vans to drive us where we needed to go. We got on the rides without waiting and we were treated like celebrities. On top of all this they gave me $1,000 Disney Dollars. This was a real Disney Dream Come True!

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Brian Gerken: When opening my ALL EARS® Newsletter this week I was pleased to see mention of 1991, the year of the 20 reasons to visit WDW. That was the year, through the Chicago Tribune, that my family was one of three to win a trip to Walt Disney World for five days. I had come home from summer school that afternoon and my mom told me that we weren't able to go to Kentucky that year for our family vacation. Needless to say, I was quite dejected. As you can probably guess, this was my mother's way of setting my brother and me up for a surprise. When the time came to leave on the trip, we flew on a plane with Mickey on the tail. In fact, current riders of the Backlot Tour at the Studios can see this very plane in the "graveyard," though no one believes us when we pass by and yell, "Hey, we rode on that!" Disney hospitality was at its finest from the minute we got to the airport. In fact the pilot came and took our luggage himself! On the plane (which felt like a motor home on the inside), we had more food than we could imagine, and of course we watched Disney films. When we arrived in Orlando it was doing what Orlando does best in the afternoon... it was raining. Disney had the Mears shuttle come onto the tarmac, laid out a red carpet and had people with umbrellas usher us to the van. Our driver had to ask us who we were to get such special treatment. We stayed in one of the wings of the Contemporary Resort. They had given us a four-day park hopper pass and plenty of vouchers to do everything from water sprites to water parks, so we had tons to do. One of the other prize winners commented offhand to her family, "Hmm, here five days and only a four-day pass. I guess we'll have to figure out what to do for that last day." But true to Disney form, that night we had a one-day pass waiting for us at the front desk. That was definitely one of my favorite times at Disney ever!

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Send your magical moments 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.