December 2010
Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the November 23, 2010 Issue #584 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 indulges in a bit of nostalgia and takes you back in history for a glimpse of Walt Disney World through the ages. This month we go back 10 years to December 2000 to see how much the Holiday Happenings have changed (or haven't!) in the parks over the past decade:

-- Pleasure Island featured Jingle Ball 2000 on December 9, which benefitted local families in need.

-- Candlelight Processional speakers included John Secada, James Avery, Joe Mantegna, Ben Vereen, Ed Begley Jr., Phylicia Rashad, Robby Benson, Leeza Gibbons, Gary Sinise and LeVar Burton .

-- The nightly Epcot Tree Lighting Ceremony took place at 5:55 p.m., with the impressive Cast in Bronze carillon performing, and the lighting of the Lights of Winter arch.

-- Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party didn't start until November 30, then ran for only seven additional dates: December 1, 4, 7, 8, 11, 14, 15. Tickets cost a mere $38.16 (including tax) for adults, $27.56 for children.

-- The Magic Kingdom Club, a discount program that offered savings on selected Disneyland and Disney World vacations, ceased at the end of December 31, 2000 and gave way to a new program called the Disney Club. The membership fee for the new program was $39.95 a year, with renewals at $29.95 a year.

-- Disney's 39th animated film The Emperor's New Groove was released December 15, 2000.

New Year's Eve 2000 events included:

-- Epcot had Tito Puente Junior at the Fountain Stage; and performances by Native American superstar Jana; and Grand Derangement, a fusion of traditional Arcadian music, rock, jazz, and Louisiana and Irish rhythms, was at America Gardens Theatre.

-- At Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney's Hollywood Studios), Florida's own Sister Hazel and Vertical Horizon performed two shows each, plus there were three "Fantasmic!" shows at 6:30, 8:30 and 10:30 p.m., and a midnight fireworks display.

-- The Magic Kingdom featured the Main Street Electrical Parade at 7 and 10 p.m. and "Fantasy in the Sky" fireworks at 8:30 p.m. and midnight.

-- At midnight on December 31 at Downtown Disney Pleasure Island, Duran Duran, Foreigner and Chic headlined the entertainment for a rousing street party. The countdown to the new year featured a food buffet, champagne toast, eight clubs with a myriad of entertainment, plus fireworks, all for $150 per person.

-- The Atlantic Dance at Disney's BoardWalk hosted a romantic New Year's Eve with the Dave Stephens Swing Orchestra, plus a live DJ, gourmet dinner and open bar for $300 per person.

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CHRISTMAS BY THE NUMBERS
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Miles of garland, ribbon, twinkling lights and glitter transform Walt Disney World Resort into a winter wonderland during the holiday season. Here's a sample of what guests will experience throughout the Vacation Kingdom:
  • 1,300 decorated trees throughout property
  • A wreath 25 feet in diameter adorning the Cirque du Soleil building at Downtown Disney West Side
  • 10 miles of twinkling rope lights in the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • 150 tractor-trailer truckloads of decorations for 24 resorts, four theme parks, Downtown Disney and other locations
  • 15 miles of garland strung and 1,314 wreaths hung throughout the Vacation Kingdom
  • 300,000 yards of ribbon and bows draping over Christmas trees across property
  • 8.5 million lights strung throughout Walt Disney World Resort
  • 98 percent of the lighting used for holiday decor is LED
  • 11 countries dressed for Holidays Around the World at Epcot World Showcase
  • More than 800 performers each night during Candlelight Processional at Epcot
  • More than 200 guest choirs during the entire run of Candlelight Processional
  • A Christmas tree in Magic Kingdom with a base 25 feet wide
  • One 70-foot-tall tree takes center stage in Disney's Contemporary Resort exterior entrance lobby featuring nearly 35,800 white LED lights
  • 6 life-sized creations cooked up by Walt Disney World pastry chefs, including:

    -- One 16-foot-tall gingerbread house at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa baked with 1,050 pounds of honey and involving more than 160 hours of decorating
    -- One life-size gingerbread carousel at Disney's Beach Club Resort featuring ponies made of chocolate and fondant, giant candy cane poles, handcrafted poinsettias and hand-painted portraits of famous Disney characters
     
  • 100 percent chance of snow flurries during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, taking place on select holiday evenings in Magic Kingdom
  • 365 days of the year that guests can shop for holiday merchandise at the Disney's Days of Christmas shop in Downtown Disney Marketplac

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RATE & REVIEW
SPOTLIGHT

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Compiled by AllEars® Team Member Cathy Bock

In this monthly featurette, we take a look at recent comments made in the AllEars.Net Rate & Review section about a particular restaurant, resort, event, etc. This month, we examine what AllEars® readers are saying about dinner at Boma, the buffet restaurant located at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Boma's dinner is quite popular with AllEars® readers -- 92% recommend dinner there, and the average rating is 8.5.

Recent reviews said:

-- about the soups: "enjoyed the peanut soup"; "she-crab soup was awesome!"; "enjoyed the carrot ginger soup"; "butternut squash soup was as good as dessert"; "soups are very flavorful and different."
-- about the hummus and salads – "hummus dips were all great"; "enjoyed the variety of salad dressings"; "particularly like the selection of hummus"; "fruit salad was so delicious."
-- about the hot foods – "carved meats and corn pudding were wonderful"; "bobotie, peanut rice and couscous were our favorites"; "mealie bread was just plain old cornbread"; "bobotie was good but not exotic as expected"; "durian chicken was a bit spicy but very moist and had a wonderful flavor"; "hand-carved meat is good and the African dipping sauces and mustards are excellent accompaniments"; "could be happy if we only ate the vegetarian items."
-- about the desserts – "desserts are definitely the highlight -- especially the zebra domes, caramel cheesecake, peanut butter mousse and the cinnamon chocolate mousse"; "dessert bar was wonderful!"; "surprise of the dessert bar was the passion fruit panna cotta"; "everyone liked the zebra domes and I loved the fruit panna cotta."

Even though some of the food is African-influenced, reviewers are quick to note that "this is American food with some African spicing"; "traditional meals, however they were definitely Americanized -- very little spice and seasoning"; and "lot of very different foods for adventurous eaters, but enough 'safe' foods for not-so-adventurous ones or kids."

Recent service reviews are mixed: "server was courteous and friendly"; "chef took us on a 'tour' of the buffet due to food allergies"; "we rarely saw our server as it was so busy"; "server seemed rushed and put out that we ordered beverages from the bar."

Most reviewers call this buffet a "not to be missed!" experience, however one reviewer said "it was quite pricey and worth it once, but not worth doing it again."

Boma Dinner menu: http://allears.net/menu/menu_bomadin.htm

If you have recently dined at Boma, or any Disney restaurant, we'd love to have your reviews, too! You can find Rate & Review here: http://land.allears.net/reviewpost/

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HIDDEN MICKEYS ALERT
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This month, Steven Barrett, author of the Hidden Mickeys books and webmaster of www.HiddenMickeysGuide.com brings you a few Hidden Images from around DISNEYLAND Resort, Walt's original place of magic!

1. The logo tree for Disney's Grand Californian Hotel is recreated many times inside and outside the hotel. Wherever you encounter this logo, look for the classic (three-circle) Mickey in the lower branches of the lower part of the tree. In this image on the left side of the front of the side counter at the far left of the registration area (as you face the main entrance doors to the lobby), the classic Mickey is formed by round glass circles. (Thanks to Sharon Gee.)

http://allears.net/btp/hm309.jpg

2. Find this red Mickey balloon in a "Splash Mountain" painting on a wall near the Magic Kingdom Ballroom on the second floor of the Disneyland Hotel Convention Center, not far from Goofy's Kitchen restaurant. (Thanks to Sharon Gee.)

http://allears.net/btp/hm310.jpg

3. In Fantasyland, "it's a small world" is chock full of Disney and Pixar characters. Stay alert for Nemo and Dory along the left side of your boat, about halfway through the ride. (Thanks to Katie Rogers and Mari.)

http://allears.net/btp/hm311.jpg

You can find past Hidden Mickeys Alerts here:
http://allears.net/btp/hiddenm2.htm

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MONTHLY REMIND-EARS
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EVENTS

Magic Kingdom

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is a special night of holiday entertainment in the Magic Kingdom that includes: Castle Dream Lights; Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade featuring Santa Claus; special Holiday Wishes - Celebrate the Spirit of the Season Fireworks; Celebrate the Season Castle Stage Show; snow on Main Street, U.S.A.; complimentary hot cocoa and cookies. Remaining 2010 party dates and times: November 30; December 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, and 19. NOTE: December 19 is SOLD OUT! The party runs from 7 p.m. to midnight; Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade is at 8:15 and 10:30 p.m.; Holiday Wishes fireworks is at 9:30 p.m. Prices for the party are as follows (all prices listed include tax):

Advance Purchase: $57.46 for adults 10 and older / $51.07 for ages 3-9 (Not available December 7, 10, 12, 17 or 19)
Passholder and DVC Member Discounts: $53.20 / $46.81 (Not available December 7, 10 through 19)
Day of Event (if still available): $63.85 /$57.46

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

Epcot

Holidays Around the World in Epcot through December 30.

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

Epcot's Candlelight Processional continues, as do Epcot's Holiday Storytellers, through December 30. Celebrity narrators for Epcot's annual reading of the Nativity, performed with a choir, (subject to change) includes:

-- December 1: John O'Hurley
-- December 2-4: Corbin Bernsen
-- December 5-6: Susan Lucci
-- December 7-9: Jodi Benson
-- December 10-11: Whoopi Goldberg
-- December 12-15 : Steven Curtis Chapman
-- December 16-18 : Thomas Gibson
-- December 19-21: Trace Adkins
-- December 22-23: Brad Garrett
-- December 24-27: Edward James Olmos
-- December 28-30: Marlee Matlin (Jack Jason)

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

JOYFUL! A Gospel Celebration of the Season – D'Vine Voices returns to Epcot Fountain Stage with a joyful and uplifting choral performance that blends Gospel with the sounds of R&B, jazz and urban-inspired music. The inspirational celebration of the season takes place daily now through December 26 at 1:15, 2:15, 3:15 and 4:15 p.m. Read l ast year's review of D'Vine Voices, with some video clips:

http://land.allears.net/blogs/debwills/2009/12/joyful_a_gospel_celebration_of.html

Disney's Hollywood Studios

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights continues through January 3, 2011.

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

Animal Kingdom

Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade continues through January 3, 2011.

http://allears.net/tp/ak/ak_mjjhol.htm

Downtown Disney

The Festival of the Seasons -- Santa Claus will meet with children and pose for pictures daily at the Marketplace through December 24 at Santa's Chalet.

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort

The 2010 holiday activities schedule includes a wide range of events for the entire family. At 6 p.m. on designated nights, Mrs. Claus will choose one family to help her light the Dolphin's poinsettia Christmas tree. In addition, Santa and Mrs. Claus will appear from 6:15 - 8:30 p.m. on certain nights in their special Florida tiki hut on the causeway between the Swan and Dolphin. On select nights between 6 and 8 p.m., carolers, choirs and musicians will perform in the hotel lobbies or other public areas of the resort. NOTE: You do not have to be a guest at the Swan/Dolphin to participate in their holiday activities. For the complete list of holiday activities:

http://land.allears.net/blogs/dnews/2010/11/santa_has_voted_the_walt_disne.html

Contemporary Resort

The next Disney Trading Night at Walt Disney World will be December 17, 2010, from 6 to 9:00 p.m. at Disney's Contemporary Resort - Fantasia G Ballroom. Guests of all ages are invited to trade pins and more at this free event.

The seasonal tours Yuletide Fantasy and Holiday D-Lights, both led by seasoned Disney Institute facilitators, are again being offered this year. Both tours offer guests a special look at holiday attractions and events, including a peak behind the curtain, where production of Disney's holiday season takes place.

-- Yuletide Fantasy is a three-and-a-half hour tour that takes place in the morning and afternoon and costs $84 per person.
-- Holiday D-Lights is a five-hour tour that takes place in the evening and costs $199 per person.

The tours are open to anyone ages 16 years or older. All participants must present a valid government-issued photo ID. For more information or to book a Disney Institute holiday tour please call, (407) WDW-TOUR or (407) 939-8687, or visit http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/tours-and-experiences/

http://land.allears.net/blogs/dnews/2010/11/enjoy_a_dlightful_yuletide_sea.html

Disney Artist Jim Shore will be making several appearances at Walt Disney World in early December. He will be signing December 3 at 3 -7 p.m. at Art of Disney - Downtown Disney Marketplace; December 4 at noon to 2 p.m. and 3 -5 p.m. at Heritage Manor-The American Adventure Pavillion in Epcot; and December 5 at 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. at Art of Disney - Downtown Disney Marketplace.

Upcoming AllEars® Meets: See below AllEars® Team News.

Don't forget to check our Events page for current updates: http://allears.net/pl/events.htm

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REHABS AND CLOSINGS

Magic Kingdom

Astro Orbiter will be closed for refurbishment December 5-9.

Fantasyland expansion is under way, necessitating the closing of several existing Magic Kingdom areas. Pooh's Playful Spot playground, Ariel's Grotto Character meet-and-greet and Scuttle's Landing have closed. Pooh and Tigger now appear in Town Square on Main Street, U.S.A. Enchanted Grove is now open in Fantasyland for Extra Magic Hour mornings offering coffee and muffins. The Fantasyland pretzel cart is located near Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Frozen Coca-Cola products will continue to be available at The Lunching Pad in Tomorrowland. During this expansion, classic Fantasyland attractions, including "it's a small world," Peter Pan's Flight, Mickey's PhilharMagic, Snow White's Scary Adventures, Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Mad Tea Party, will remain open, except during any rehabs that may be scheduled.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Star Tours is closed for rehab. The attraction will be updated and reopen around the middle of May 2011. The new experience will be in 3-D, an all-new ride that includes many of the new worlds and elements from the more recent Star Wars movies.

Animal Kingdom

As of December 19, the Wildlife Discovery Excursion in Animal Kingdom, a program for guests staying in Club Level accommodations at Disney resorts, will no longer be offered.

The Breathless II is unavailable until further notice due to unforeseen maintenance issues.

Typhoon Lagoon is closed for its yearly refurbishment now through January 8, 2010.

Kouzzina by Cat Cora on the BoardWalk is closed for refurbishment now through December 14. When the restaurant reopens on December 15, it will have themed exterior signage and new outdoor seating. Inside the lobby there will be a special area telling Cat Cora's story, along with a new merchandise area. The interior of the restaurant will showcase an olive oil display. While the restaurant is closed, Flying Fish will serve a la carte breakfast 7:30 - 11 a.m., as well as its regular dinner offerings, and the pizza window will remain open during.

RESORTS

Saratoga Springs -- Work is to be done soon on the new feature pool in the Paddock area of Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, building on the resort's turn-of-the-20th-century, upstate New York theme. The timetable for the new pool, which will replace the Paddock area's 1,100-square-foot quiet pool with a 3,300-square-foot zero-depth-entry pool, a 146-foot water slide, a 1,600-square-foot wet-play area, and an expanded pool deck spanning more than 11,000 square feet, has been modified somewhat. The new pool area, which will include an on-site, quick-service-dining location, is now scheduled to reopen in the fall of 2011.

http://land.allears.net/blogs/dnews/2010/03/new_feature_pool_at_disneys_sa.html

A complete list of rehabs can be found here: http://allears.net/tp/rehabs.htm

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MAGICAL MOMENTS
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Each month we share reports of guests at Walt Disney World and Disneyland experiencing special Magic, which we call "Magical Moments":

K. Hines: We had two magical moments. In the Magic Kingdom, we were noticed by a cast member (about 10 minutes before park opening) while waiting at the rope to go into Tomorrowland. He escorted us to Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, where we got to ride by ourselves. We got a nice certificate saying we were the family that opened the park that day and he also gave us all Fastpasses to use on any ride that day! The second magical moment was at Disney's Hollywood Studios. My 5-year-old son LOVES the Lights, Motors, Action show. He's talked about it for a year and couldn't wait to go see it. Well, weren't we surprised when he was chosen out of the 5,000-person audience to be the one to use the big remote control for the real car! He was so excited! He told us afterwards that as he was walking down the steps he thought to himself, "Wow, it's like I'm in a dream!"

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Tammy Caudle: We went to WDW to celebrate our youngest daughter's 5th birthday. And like a good little Disney visitor, she had on her "First-Time" button and her birthday button with her name. As we were watching the afternoon parade in the Magic Kingdom, Ariel looked down from her float and said, "Happy Birthday, Beth!"  It was truly a magical moment for her and luckily my oldest daughter was videotaping and we caught that moment on tape.

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Liz from Michigan: Both of my sons have Down syndrome. We had just gotten to the Magic Kingdom in time for the parade. As my sons are dancing and watching the parade, one of the cast members who was dancing in the parade took my boys and brought them to dance with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck! Even more special was when we were in one of the stores in the Magic Kingdom. The boys were looking at a Toy Story book they wanted to buy with their Disney gift cards. We get to the checkout counter and the cast member offered to have the book autographed if we could come back in 45 minutes. So off we went. Came back and the book had been signed by all the Toy Story characters: Buzz, Woody, Jessie, Green Army Man, Lotso AND Bullseye! It was SO special! She even commented that Bullseye doesn't often get to autograph things! And then she gave each of my boys a stuffed Mickey Mouse for their birthdays! I couldn't believe what a wonderful CM she was. It was such a magical trip, and these things even made it more so!

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Some readers share their Magical Moments in photographs. We've assembled a group of reader photos spotlighting Holidays around the Disney Parks in the latest Wandering the World here:
http://allears.net/tp/wander/wander.htm

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We just bet you have a story to tell about an unforgettable moment during your Disney vacation! Please send your favorite memory for inclusion in a future AllEars® to: allearsnet@yahoo.com Thank you all for sharing!


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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.