If you have not yet heard, guests visiting Walt Disney World now have a wonderful opportunity to sample another classic Food and Wine Festival. In addition to EPCOT’s annual festival, the World renowned Swan and Dolphin hotel here at Disney also offers guests a chance to sample World-class cuisine, wines and attend hour long beverage seminars, taught by the Swan and Dolphin’s expert food and beverage managers. In addition, guests can meet and greet with world-renown celebrity chefs in a beautiful outdoor setting.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since EPOCT opened. I remember coming here a month after its bow and have been captivated with this vision of Walt’s utopian city ever since. And I cannot think of celebration the park’s 30th birthday with anyone else but the crew from WDWcelebrations.com. I first met this group of Disney enthusiast’s on April 22, 2008 when they hosted Animal Kingdoms 10thbirthday, an event they called “A Wild Decade”. And that is the main focus of the group, celebrating Disney milestones with like-minded fans at the parks, complete with fun activities, meets and a way for fans to connect and embellish their love of Disney with each other. I have been covering Disney press events and writing about Disney for the past seven years, and I cannot say enough about this group of personable and dedicated individuals. I wrote an article about the site in 2009 and before we review EPCOT’s festivities, let’s take a look again at WDWcelebrations.com.
I never realized that auto racing is the biggest spectator sport in America, and the number 2 rated regular season sport on TV. But savvy race fans know that they can experience that same visceral thrill of their favorite sport right here at the Walt Disney World Speedway’s “Richard Petty Driving Experience”, where they can drive or ride shotgun in an authentic racing stock car. But when I atteneded a press event here at the Walt Disney World Speedway, home of the Richard Petty Driving Experience, I came to realize why. The event was to showcase a brand-new driving experience for the kids…The “Junior Ride-Along” Now kids’ ages 6years thru 13years can experience the same thrill that their parents have experienced since the program started in 2000. But a quick history of the sport and the speedway is in order.
Please take a moment today to think of those who were affected by the tragic acts eleven years ago. While Disney doesn’t officially do anything in remembrance, here’s a video of the special flag ceremony they did last year.
Attention all Disneyana collectors! Located just 30 minutes from Walt Disney World is an amazing Honey-Hole of Disney collectables all under one roof. If it is Disney you want, Disney is what you will find. Virtually anything Disney can be found here, from one-of-a-kind items, retired items, signs, posters, figurines, etc. I would have to print a catalog to list everything available. But the story behind this remarkable store is a magical as the merchandise is sells.
Walt Disney has left us with some of the world’s most beloved characters. We all know Mickey Mouse, the character that started it all, but next to Mickey, one of the most beloved and recognized is Tinker Bell. Tink, as she is sometimes called, has become the symbol of “Disney Magic” ever since her debut in the 1953 Disney classic “Peter Pan” But like many stories and characters in Walt’s stable she was not a Disney creation. Walt was perhaps the world’s greatest storyteller, and used his creative genius along with artistic license to mold many non-Disney stories and characters into his idea of how they should be portrayed.
Tinker Bell was the notion of Scottish author Sir James Matthew Barrie. Author Barrie wrote the story “Peter Pan or The Boy who wouldn’t grow up.” Inspired by his neighbor’s sons, the Llewelyn Davis boys, he penned a tale of a boy and girl (Peter Pan and Wendy Darling) who had magical adventures in a fairy tale world of Neverland. This was a play first launched in December 27, 1904. From this play and story, Barrie wrote the novel “Peter and Wendy.” But it was the minor character of “Tinker Bell,” a small fairy living in Neverland who had a romantic interest in Peter and was extremely jealous of any girls around him, including Wendy that morphed into the Tinker Bell we know today.
Welcome to part two of my series on planning your first trip to Disney World. Fellow neurotics, I need your help, please comment on your favorite place to stay and why!
Let’s start with the first options you have:
Some people stay off-property, others choose to stay in one of the Disney Resorts. Yes, the Disney resorts are a little higher priced but you gain the free bus or boat transportation to all the Disney Parks, resorts, and Downtown Disney. You also will receive room charge privileges (your room key becomes your charge card in the parks), Disney hospitality and service, and during certain parts of the year-free Disney Dining Plan (discussed later in this continuing series). Don’t forget bonus hours at the parks for visitors staying on Disney property; that is right– each day one park will stay open later or open early for Disney resort guests. By staying off property you will no doubt save money, although you will have to drive yourself to the parks and have to find and pay for parking, carry cash or credit cards, and take your chances with your service.
On August 10, Disney opened its third section of the New “Art of Animation Resort, “The Lion King” Themed after the 1994 Disney blockbuster movie of the same name. This section is beautifully themed as its counterparts, Finding Nemo and Cars. The two buildings, located to the left of the Animation Hall is the only section without its own pool, however the Big Blue Pool, Cozy Cone pool and the soon to be opened, Flippin’ Fins pool are a short walk away.
The whole area is themed as an African Savannah and the Imagineers did a fantastic job. Both buildings sport beautiful murals on their sides, and sculptures of all major characters in the film are all about. There is an elephant graveyard display that is amazing, the detail is awesome and the kids (and adults!) are going to love this new section. The new resort section has 320 suites. (For full detail of the resort, see my article…Disney’s “Art of Animation Resort” officially opens…on this site)
Most people think of the Walt Disney Company as the World’s largest theme park operators and the home of Mickey Mouse. But the Company is so much more than that. Since its inception 1923, Walt Disney has always contributed to his community and helping out the less fortunate. And this trend continues today, and Walt would be very proud indeed to see this. For more than 20 years, the Walt Disney Company has been sponsoring an annual “Back to School Supply Drive” here in central Florida, donating millions of school supplies and backpacks to kids in need, thus giving them the tools they need to succeed in school. This year, the Disney Company purchased 13,000 school backpacks and Cast Members donated a record 3.1 million supplies for the five counties. Today, at a press event Disney was all set to donate backpacks and school supplies to the kids in need.
There is perhaps no part of Walt Disney’s legacy more ingrained into the American psyche, sans Mickey himself, than the Mickey Mouse Club. This ground-breaking children’s variety show was conceived by Walt and produced by Walt Disney Productions. The original series ran for four years on the ABC television network from 1955 until 1959. Millions of baby boomers (and their parents) were glued to their sets, with Mickey Mouse Ears on while the Mouseketeers (and in some cases, “Meeseketeers and one big “Mooseketeer”) entertained them with music, cartoons, comedy, newsreels and talent skits. And leading the Mouseketeers were the hosts, Head Mouseketeer Jimmy Dodd and his helper, big Mooseketeer Roy Williams.
We all love those Disney souvenirs. No matter where you look, you’ll find Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and every other character everywhere in the parks. In addition, there are treasures from Disney animated and live action movies and all items in between. Any article with the Disney moniker is fair game. And they are not just in the parks. Malls, shopping centers and even online, licensed Disney merchandise are everywhere. But this was not always the way it was. When Walt and Roy first started the Disney Brothers studios, they were a small Mom and Pop organization. Walt was a story man and animator. And the company was always short of monies. He and Roy did not think about the revenue that marketing Mickey and Minnie could bring.
The whole world was biting at the bit to experience Disney’s newest cruise ship the “Dream” when it launched on its inaugural cruise on January 19 of last year. This first of Disney’s two new ships was everything and more you could expect from Disney. And its sister ship, the Fantasy which made its first voyage on March 25 of this year had the same electrifying impact as well. The Fantasy, which weighs in about 130,000 gross tons, was completed in the Meyer Werft Shipyard in Papenburg, Germany.
Both ships take their design style from past classic liners as the Queen Elizabeth and the Normandie, both from the golden age of cruise ships. I was on the Disney Dream’s inaugural three day cruise last year as a member of the media. But three days is woefully short to take in these beautiful floating palaces. The amenities aboard both ships are too numerous to discuss on that short time span. This ship is just beautifully detailed and themed in the turn-of-the-century art nouveau style. There are stunning tile and mosaic murals all around, even on the elevator floors. Many guests in their scurrying around, miss out on some of these stunning details. The art work and attention to the smallest item are what makes these new ships amazing. My wife and I decided to take a week’s cruise on the Fantasy to enjoy and report on what you can expect when you cruise with Disney. My wife and I are very qualified in this area, this having been our 36th total cruise and the 7th with Disney. We have cruised most major lines and have been everywhere from Hawaii, Bahamas, Bermuda and points in-between. We know what makes a great cruise, and what does not. But this is a review of the Fantasy, not our vacation. Since there is so much offered here, I have decided to cover one subject at a time so you can appreciate just what a “Magical” adventure is in store…
The next phase of the Art of Animation resort – Cars – opened on June 18. I believe this will be the most popular of the four planned; the first one opened was “Finding Nemo.” All guests will check in at the Animation Hall, then from there they will go to their respective resort choices. For the guests choosing “Car,s” the Imagineers did not disappoint in their rendition of the town of “Radiator Springs.”
Much like “Cars Land” in Disneyland’s California Adventure, this whimsical resort will transport guests into the heart of Radiator Springs. After check-in you make you way to the three buildings that encompass the resort. Just as along a real highway, you’ll encounter billboards and road signs as you will walk along Route 66, right down the center of town. Scattered about are eleven of Radiator Springs most famous citizens, including Lighting McQueen, Sarge and Mater. In fact Sarge is parked right next to his own Quonset hut. These are beautiful detailed models, bright and colorful, it’s hard to not believe that at any moment they will start their engines and talk to you! Route 66 winds past the resort buildings and ends up at the “Cozy Cone Motel” This amazing nod to the movie is the entrance to the “Cozy Cone” Pool, but inside are bathrooms and changing rooms. This themed pool has “Cone Shaped” cabanas that are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
As I promised in the last update, I will keep all posted on the continuing phases of the Fantasyland Expansion as they are unveiled. The new water play area for the kids just recently opened, the “Casey Jones Jr. Splash N’ Soak area, next to the Fantasyland Train Station. Here are some pics of the new area and a couple of extras. As more opens, I will be there to report…
[To all fans of the Mickey Mouse Club, I apologize for parodying the lyrics of the closing song!]
A few weeks ago, The Walt Disney Company took a bold stand on a growing problem that’s plaguing our country: childhood obesity. For being the first major media outlet to create standards for advertisers of food products, Disney received waves of praise, as well as criticism.
If you haven’t heard about this yet, click here for a link to Disney’s official press release.
For those not in the know, William “Sully” Sullivan began his tenure with Disney on July 27, 1955. At the time he was employed by Northrop Aircraft Corporation, but after viewing the historic opening day ceremonies of Disneyland’s official opening on Sunday, July 17, he was hooked. After applying for a job the following Saturday, he quit Northrop and started his career as a ticket-taker on the Jungle Cruise, the first Tuesday after the park opened. He was just nineteen. Bill’s career at Disney lasted 38 years, and said… “If I had to do it all over,” he says, “I’d do it all again tomorrow.”
Sully worked as a “Jungle Bunny” the name given to Cast Members working on the Cruise for about three years. It was after this time his amazing career evolved from ticket-taker to operations supervisor at Disneyland. It was during this time that he learned every facet of Disneyland’s operation and management. With this knowledge, he advanced to management, where his forte became Parks and Resorts. He was part of the operational management team in 1960 at Squaw Valley where Disney hosted the first time opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympics. When the 1964-65 World’s Fair opened in Flushing Meadows in New York, Bill served as assistant Manager for Disney’s attractions at the fair.
The long wait is finally over. Disney’s newest and most visually stunning resort has opened its first phase, “Finding Nemo.” All the sections of the resort will be themed after classic Disney and Pixar animation films. The next phases to open are…”Cars” with 480 suites on June 18, “The Lion King, with 320 suites, August 10 and last, “The Little Mermaid” 864 suites on September 15.
The resort which caters to families on a budge, aka a “Value Resort” is more than just a resort. Walt Disney was the pioneer in the use of “Storyboards”, which in effect are pictures or scenes in various stages of completion placed in order on a pin up board so the animators and story men can visually see the plot in real time and make necessary corrections. The whole resort is themed upon storytelling and animation. When guests first enter the Animation Hall, where check in is located, all along the walls is model art in different forms of completion, just as a storyboard might have looked. The flow and feel of the resort gives guests the impression of an animator’s studio. Many of these sketches are directly from archives of the films, some never seen before. Check out the floor tiles, they actually resemble small brushstrokes.
Walt Disney World has a beautiful ¼ scale model of the Fantasyland Expansion project here at the Studios’ “One Man’s Dream” exhibit. The model is located next to the theater. I have taken some pics of this impressive piece of art. You can actually see what’s in store when all the lands are opened. It’s going to be an amazing addition to the Magic Kingdom. You will notice that there are several buildings and attractions in addition to the model for reference points, like the Teacups and Pinocchio Village Haus.
Try to identify the new attractions on the model with the Legend picture. As with everything that Disney does, even this model is a bit of Magic!