November 2005
Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the October 25, 2005, Issue #318 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? Each month we visit a time gone by in Walt Disney World history. We went to Lou Mongello, author of the "Walt Disney World Trivia Book: Secrets, History & Fun Facts Behind the Magic," to help us out for this edition of Step Back in Time. This month, Lou takes us back on a trip to the summer of 1986. Do you remember where you were then?

It's the summer of 1986... and I'm back again to my favorite place on Earth -- Walt Disney World. Let me take you on a quick little tour and hit some of the highlights while we're all here.

My family and I checked in earlier today to the Polynesian Resort, and were lucky enough to get a room close to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC), in one of the newer rooms. Last year, Disney built two more "longhouses" as they're called -- one known as Moorea and the other, our building, Pago Pago. (I think I just like saying "Pago Pago.") These rooms are great! They're a bit larger than the rooms we stayed in last time we were here, and something tells me that these names won't stick for too long. If I was a betting man (and I am), I'd say that the Pago Pago longhouse will one day (say, 1999?), be called... umm... Rapa Nui? Yeah, that sounds good.

Well, I don't know about you, but I like to visit Walt Disney World "commando-style," so any time not spent in the parks is time not very well spent. We're walking to the TTC to ride the monorail (one of my favorite attractions, if you can call it that) to the Magic Kingdom. Let's get this party started -- I heard there's some pretty cool stuff going on over there!

Wow... there's still nothing like that feeling, that indescribable "thing" that happens when you step onto Main Street, USA. The sound of the WDW railroad train pulling into the station... the Dapper Dans singing in front of the House of Magic... watching people use the stereoscopes in the Penny Arcade... I'm heading over to the Refreshment Corner for a quick sugar high, and then on to Tomorrowland. No, not to Space Mountain... not yet, anyway. Instead, I'm riding one of my favorites at WDW -- If You Had Wings. "If you had wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiings... if yoooooooooooooooou had wiiiiiiiings..." I guess it doesn't have the same effect as actually hearing me sing it. I'm saving you a lot of pain, trust me.

Anyway, speaking of Space Mountain -- yeah, it's time. My dad and I head on over, while my mom watches my little brother. Hmm... something seems a little different here. RYCA-1? What's that? Dad? Any ideas? He does and says that "RYCA" has something to do with their "corporate sponsor." I guess that 150-foot tall spiraling track with the four helmeted riders, and topped by the big red letters, must have something to do with it. Anyway, there's this moving walkway called a "speedramp" with all kinds of stuff from the future -- people living on different planets and things like that -- on the way out. I really like the old "House of the Future" that they used to have. Oh well. There's more to see, and time's a-wastin'! Rather than walk, let's take the scenic route and take the Skyway to Fantasyland. Amazing how this thing makes that 90-degree turn. And oh, what a spectacular view... Look at all the people... Time to hit my favorites. Ah yes, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, then a quick trip across the way to 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. I admit it -- I always thought the submarines really went underwater. What? You did, too? Sorry if I ruined it for you. Boy, these two attractions are classics. Lines are always out the door (especially for 20,000 Leagues -- that sure is a slow-loading ride), but these are classics and I'm sure they'll be here forever.

...and that's just the start. You can read more about Lou's journey back to 1986 at: http://allears.net/tp/stepback1.htm

Interested in Lou's great trivia book? http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1887140492/debsunoffiwaltdi/102-4392088-0743309

LEND US AN EAR! We'll be interviewing Lou Mongello in an upcoming issue of ALL EARS® as part of our "Meet the Authors" series. Do you have a question for Lou about Disney trivia? Send it to us at: allearsnet@yahoo.com

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DINING NOTES
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Linda Mac recently experienced the new character breakfast format at 'Ohana:

Aloha, cousins! I was thrilled to read that Lilo and Stitch would be joining Mickey and Pluto for the 'Ohana Character Breakfast at the Polynesian Resort. I have recently found myself wearing Stitch T-shirts, collecting Stitch plushes and looking forward to watching Lilo and Stitch on Saturday mornings. I guess I am hooked on Stitch. With only a few days' notice, I was disappointed to hear 'Ohana was booked solid for the days I would be at WDW. But where there's a will there's a way, right? I was advised by a Disney Dining Cast Member that showing up for the first seating (7:30 a.m.) would be my best chance of being accommodated. Perfect! I can do that. So with a 5:30 a.m. wake-up call from Mickey and Stitch (another great Disney touch), I was out the door of the All Star Music resort by 6:30 a.m. Driving in the dark and being one of the only cars on the road was different, but I had a goal and this sacrifice would be well worth it, if it paid off. Pay off it did; I was the first to arrive and the hostess checked me in and took my request for a window table. With a little extra time to spare, I enjoyed a coffee from the Kona Island Cafe Bar and spent some time wandering around the pool and beach area. The top of the pool volcano has a glow that can only be seen before sunrise. I had the place to myself and loved it!

Upon check-in at the podium, you will be offered a photo opportunity for your family to have their picture taken with a bamboo background, tiki statues, and the 'Ohana sign in the foreground. There is no obligation to purchase the photos, which are brought to your table during breakfast. If you choose to purchase any of the photos, the prices start at $13.

As 7:30 a.m. rolled around, I gave up the serenity of the beach and headed upstairs. I was quickly seated by my server, Nati, who turned out to be attentive and friendly throughout my stay. That is always a huge plus when going solo.

Finish reading Linda's review at: http://allears.net/din/rev_ohanacb2.htm

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SOUVEN-EARS
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Aaaarrrggghhhh, Mateys! If it's a pirate yer wantin' to be, or maybe you just like the looks of that knave Captain Jack Sparrow, the shops around Walt Disney World have something "in store" for you! ALL EARS® Senior Editor Deb Koma and her son Alex did some Souven-EAR Shopping for Pirates of the Caribbean merchandise recently and found it just about everywhere they turned.

Start at the Emporium in the Magic Kingdom, which has a plethora of PotC swag. One of the first items to catch my eye was the jewel-encrusted mini-snowglobe, with a pirate-hatted, eye-patched skull sitting in the swirling sparklies ($12). Looking for other items that will tuck away easily in your suitcase? Perhaps instead you'd like the PotC medallions ($10) or the skeleton keys ($8) -- wear them with pride to show your pirate affiliation. Or you can carry your License to be a pirate in your wallet ($8) or sport a skull Pirates antenna topper ($4) on your automobile to let everyone know you're coming!

The array of other Pirates merchandise, which we found at many other shops scattered around the world, including, of course, the Bazaar outside of the PotC attraction, was truly amazing. There were Captain Jack hats that included a red and white striped bandanna and beaded braids ($20), kiddie pirate hats, and knitted skull caps bearing the famous mantra "Dead Men Tell No Tales" ($12). And as usual there was an assortment of t-shirts, ranging from those bearing images from the Curse of the Black Pearl movie, to those with a red-coated buccaneer with a pirate on his shoulder ($19 to $29). (http://allears.net/btp/souv_potc3.jpg)

Since we have it on good authority from a Cast Member that Disney DOESN'T sell shot glasses or glasses for alcoholic beverages, those frosted glasses we saw bearing the PotC skull and crossbones must have been "toothpick holders" ($8.50) -- my favorites were the tall ones with lines designating every two ounces: 2 oz. Swabbie, 4 oz. Deckhand, 6 oz. Swashbuckler, 8 oz. Pirate. There were other assorted sizes of the frosted glasses, too, ($10.50), as well as white frosted and black ceramic mugs. (http://allears.net/btp/souv_potc2.jpg)

By far my favorite Pirates of the Caribbean souven-EARS were the actual figures you could buy of the movie characters, Will Turner, Barbossa, a Cursed Pirate, and, of course, Captain Jack Sparrow ($20 each). The figures come with an assortment of knives, swords, pistols, plumed hats and even, in the case of Barbossa, with the cursed pirate monkey. If you have a Johnny Depp obsession, not to mention an extra big valise in which to carry lots of booty, you might even splurge for the 18" Captain Jack, with motion-activated sound! A mere $60, this talking doll really resembles Depp's swaggering buccaneer and will make a fine collectible, especially with the coming of the next two Pirates movies. (http://allears.net/btp/souv_potc1.jpg)

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MONTHLY REMIND-EARS
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As Mickey says, "Big doings going on, so let's get started!"

November at Walt Disney World used to be one of the slowest times to visit, but not any longer. With Epcot's Food and Wine Festival, Disney-MGM Studios' SuperSoap Weekend, Downtown Disney's Festival of the Masters and the start of the holiday celebration, there is plenty to do and see!

Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival runs until November 13. The festival features international tasting marketplaces and a line-up 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 $4.50. The Fest's nightly Eat to the Beat! concert series wraps up with shows by Three Dog Night. We have comprehensive information and reviews at: http://allears.net/tp/ep/foodwine.htm.

Over at the Studios, ABC Super Soap Weekend (November 12-13) is the 10th annual fan-fest, bringing out more than 30 ABC Daytime stars. There will be star-filled parades, autograph sessions, game shows, concerts and more. Stars from the three soap operas on the ABC Daytime schedule -- "All My Children," "One Life To Live" and "General Hospital" -- will highlight the two-day festival. The fun is included with regular Disney-MGM Studios admission. Be sure to send us your first-hand reports! http://allears.net/tp/mgm/m_supersoap.htm

At Downtown Disney, the Festival of the Masters (November 11-13) features sculptors, photographers and painters -- some 150 award-winning visual artists in all -- showing off their creations and transforming Downtown Disney into an outdoor gallery. Now in its 30th year, the juried art show also features children's activities and live entertainment. There is no charge for admission. http://allears.net/btp/festmast.htm

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights is back again this year, running from November 14, 2005, through January 8, 2006. As snow falls overhead, the Streets of America backlot cityscape at Disney-MGM Studios comes alive with millions of sparkling lights each evening. The light show is in collaboration with Arkansas businessman Jennings Osborne, who developed the display for his daughter. The dazzling spectacle is included with Disney-MGM Studios admission. http://allears.net/tp/h_osb.htm

Epcot's Holidays Around the World will keep you hopping between the World Showcase Holiday Storytellers, the Lights of Winter Arch, Mickey's Tree Lighting Ceremony (nightly at 6:00 p.m.), and the Candlelight Processional -- guest narrators accompanied by a massed choir and orchestra for a retelling of the Christmas story. November narrators are scheduled to be Rita Moreno (November 25-27) and Phil Donahue (November 28-30).

Over at the Magic Kingdom, 14 nights of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (November 27 and 29, December 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18 and 20) light up the lands with special holiday shows, fireworks and treats.

Pin fans will be on the Disney Wonder cruise ship for Stitch's High Seas Adventure, from November 13-17, 2005.

For detailed Holiday Happenings information visit: http://allears.net/tp/holiday.htm

To see our entire Calendar of Events, visit http://allears.net/pl/events.htm.

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Rehabs and Closures:

Liberty Square Riverboat is closed for rehab until mid-2006.

Donald's Boat in Mickey's Toontown Fair will be closed for refurbishment November 1 - 18, 2005, reopening Saturday, November 19, 2005.

The Haunted Mansion will be closed November 6 - 15, and is scheduled to reopen Wednesday, November 16, 2005.

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith will close for a short refurbishment November 2 - 4, 2005.

Ice Station Cool in Epcot is closed and will reopen with a bright new look in early 2006 as "Club Cool." Samples of Coca-Cola products will still be offered. http://www.allears.net/tp/ep/ice.htm

Epcot's Living Seas pavilion, including the popular Turtle Talk with Crush, closed August 21, 2005, for refurbishment. The work is set to be completed November 23, 2005. The Coral Reef Restaurant is open during this rehab. http://www.allears.net/tp/ep/e_seas.htm

Blizzard Beach is closed through December 2005 for its annual rehab. Typhoon Lagoon will close for its annual refresh once Blizzard Beach reopens.

Contemporary Resort Rehab: The South Garden Wing is undergoing refurbishment through October 31, 2006, but guests are staying in the wing while the work continues. Work will be ongoing in the Tower rooms through February 19, 2006, with one floor being blocked off at a time. For photos of what the new rooms will look like, visit http://allears.net/acc/g_contm.htm.

The Polynesian Resort Longhouses continue to be refurbished as well.

To see our list of Rehabs, visit http://allears.net/tp/rehabs.htm.

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MAGICAL MOMENTS
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Larry and Karen Betzelberger: Our daughter, Mary, was accepted into Disney's College Intern Program in May 2004. In September, she was successful in joining the Cast Members in Disney's Candlelight Processional Choir. We've seen the Candlelight Processional concert before, but seeing Mary up on stage in that beautiful and moving program -- I can only tell you that I nearly lost my shirt for busting the buttons in pride. Being at Disney at Christmastime is special. Having a member of the family be part of the Candlelight Choir is even more special. We'll remember this Christmas visit for a long time.

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Jen H.: A neat thing happened one morning last year when we were headed to the Magic Kingdom. We decided to take the ferryboat rather than the monorail to get to the Magic Kingdom from the transportation area. Well, we were pleasantly surprised because who appeared on our ferryboat but none other than the cast of Mary Poppins! This included Mary (of course) and Bert (the Dick Van Dyke character) dressed in their finest, as well as two funny penguins. We had a great picture taken. Because we were on a boat and had taken the less popular, slower moving transportation option, we had a great time and even wanted the boat to move slower! The moral of this story: Don't be in such a hurry to get to where you're going because you never know who you might meet along the way, especially at Disney!

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Jill Generazzo: I am always reading your newsletter to check out the magical moments, and I always wish something like that would happen to me. It did! My husband and I took a trip with my uncle and my 4-year-old cousin. We stayed for the Wishes fireworks and soon found out that there was a late SpectroMagic Parade. We decided to stay and, boy, was I glad we did! During the parade my 4-year-old cousin was in awe. He loved looking at all of the lights and hearing the music. Peter Pan was walking by and he got all excited and started waving. Peter Pan noticed him and came right over and gave him a big hug! You should have seen the look on Joshua's face! To this day, if you ask him his favorite thing in Disney, he will tell you, "Peter Pan hugged me!" I get tears in my eyes thinking about it!

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Don Speirs: This magical moment happened on the Disney Magic cruise ship. We had a formal night, and I rented a tuxedo to wear. My wife's dress, however, was to be a mystery to me. She insisted I get dressed first and wait for her in the main lobby. As I stood there by the statue of Mickey, I heard my name called -- and turned to find my wife descending the stairs, dressed in the same dress she was married in 21 years ago! There may have been a large crowd, there may have been a piano playing -- they faded into the background as all my attention went to the woman who I married all those years ago looking just as she did that day. For that one night, I was Prince Charming and I had my own Disney Princess.

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Each month in our WDW Bits and Bites issue we share subscribers' Magical Moments stories. Send your 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.