The Unheralded Treasures of Walt Disney World

by Mike Scopa, AllEars® Feature Writer

Feature Article

This article appeared in the February 19, 2008 Issue #439 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

About 18 years ago, while visiting Walt Disney World with my family, something caught my eye. This happened one night in the then Disney-MGM Studios theme park. It was a warm summer evening and I remember walking near The Great Movie Ride. It was dusk and as I got closer to the attraction I could hear a very soft and melancholy musical rendition of "Somewhere over the Rainbow."

I can't tell you how soothing and relaxing that music sounded that evening. I remember thinking to myself, "Wow, you'll never see that in a brochure or in a vacation video."

That night ended with us enjoying the park's signature fireworks display, "Sorcery in the Sky," but all I could think about was that little gem of a moment earlier in the evening.

As I drove back to our room I started thinking about a few other things I experienced on that trip. Each one fell into the same category... a nameless category filled with memorable moments that I had never expected or anticipated for the trip.

I kept thinking that perhaps other guests also had these unexpected special experiences, and I kept on reaching for something, some word or combination of words to describe them.

Finally it came to me.

Since these were unexpected yet special moments to me they can be best described as "Unheralded Treasures."

If I were to give a proper definition, the words would say, "An Unheralded Treasure of Walt Disney World is a non-marketed place, a sound, a sight, or a combination of any of these three elements, which makes for a special guest experience."

It's unheralded because it is not at the forefront of Disney marketing. We do not see or read about it on the official Walt Disney World website, or in promotional brochures or park guides, and we certainly do not see it on those promotional vacation DVDs.

It's a treasure because it will be a special moment that you will never forget -- a lingering gem of a memory of your time at Walt Disney World.

I'd like to share a couple of these with you and perhaps trigger a thought or two as to what treasures you may have discovered on one of your own recent trips.

Remember -- an unheralded treasure is not heavily marketed or advertised and does not receive the marketing push, such as the drop sensation of Splash Mountain, the weightlessness of Mission: SPACE, the rush of the Rock 'N' Roller Coaster launch, or the fear factor of Dinosaur. Its value lies in the enrichment value to the guest who takes the time to add this treasure to their itinerary.

So here are a few of my favorite Walt Disney World Unheralded Treasures.

The Magic Kingdom

Treasure: The Talking Trashcan
Location: Tomorrowland (just outside Mickey's Star Traders)

Like Animal Kingdom's Talking Palm Tree, who you will meet later in this article, this unheralded treasure brings delight to the children who are fortunate to be in this area of Tomorrowland when Mr. Trashcan is out and about. This talkative refuse container sometimes wanders into stores but mostly he stays outside and talks and sometimes follows guests, especially children, as they wander through Tomorrowland. Personally I find it more entertaining for adults to watch this mobile chattering trashcan amaze the children as he interacts and chats with them. The next time you are in Tomorrowland, and especially just outside Mickey's Star Traders, look for a crowd of children talking to a very mobile trashcan. You will be entertained.

How does he work? Look around.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Treasure: Indiana Jones Set
Location: To the right of the Indiana Jones Outpost

As you walk past the Prime Time Cafe and the Indiana Jones Outpost you will see, tucked away in a corner, a display of props used in the "Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade" movie. You will recognize the vehicles and especially that famous tank. Unless you happen to attend the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and exit to the left you may never even know this exhibit is there. It has been there for a long time and the overgrowth may hide some of the vehicles... but they are there. This is also a quiet area tucked away in a corner of the Hollywood Studios theme park. Enjoy it.

Epcot

Treasure: Epcot Tribute Museum
Location: Behind Club Cool

Unfortunately this may be a temporary treasure. Behind Club Cool there is an area devoted to the history of Epcot. In this area you can see models of many of the original Epcot pavilions, a promotion video for the opening of Epcot, and some exhibits of pavilions past and present. It is an extremely pleasant and nostalgic look at the beginning of Epcot and my fear is that this treasure will not be around for long. If you are a fan of Epcot and especially a former Epcot attraction known as Horizons, this treasure is for you.

Animal Kingdom

Treasure: Talking Palm Tree
Location: Between bag check and the turnstiles

Just after bag check and before you approach the Animal Kingdom turnstile area you may notice a very mobile palm tree conversing with guests, especially children. This unheralded treasure introduces young guests into the environment upon which they are about to enter. The fascination on the faces of the children as this tree (commonly known as Wes Palm) converses with them is priceless. The adults can have fun trying to figure out how the tree works. If you look very carefully around you the answer will appear. Of course, if you've already seen his cousin the talking trashcan in Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland, then you may already know how this tree interacts with everyone.

Resorts

Treasure: Sunset Point
Location: Polynesian Resort

This area is found behind the Tokelau Longhouse. It is marked by a long walkway out to a point surrounded by several palm trees. This is an outstanding location from which to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks or just to enjoy a quiet moment and watch the ferry boats travel across the seven Seas Lagoon. It's one of the most romantic spots in Walt Disney World.

Treasure: Generation Gap Bridge
Location: Pop Century Resort

This is one of my favorite places to just sit and think. It is most comforting either very late at night or in the pre-dawn hours when there is nary another person around. The bridge is lit in part by signs depicting the decades in fonts associated with each decade. If you walk to the end of the bridge and sit down and listen, you can hear the water softly lapping against the bridge footings or hear the ducks out for a swim.

Want to read more? Mike's entire feature, which includes more theme park and resort treasures, can be found at: http://allears.net/tp/treasures.htm

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mike Scopa has been a huge Disney fan for as long as he can remember. He first visited Walt Disney World in 1975 and has returned many times (how many? he's lost count!) since. Mike is a contributor to the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and Cara Goldsbury's Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World, and has served as keynote speaker for the 2006 and 2007 MagicMeets. He is also co-host of the WDWTODAY Podcast.

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Related links:

Overlooked Attractions Animal Kingdom: http://allears.net/tp/ak/issue183.htm
Overlooked Attractions Epcot: http://allears.net/tp/ep/issue099.htm
Overlooked Attractions Magic Kingdom: http://allears.net/tp/mk/issue140.htm
Overlooked Attractions Disney's Hollywood Studios: http://allears.net/tp/mgm/issue085.htm
Overlooked Attractions Resorts: http://allears.net/tp/ola.htm#res

Other articles by Mike Scopa: http://allears.net/btp/mikescopa.htm

Mike's AllEars.Net Blog -- The View from Scopa Towers: http://land.allears.net/blogs/mikescopa/


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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.