In honor of Walt Disney World’s upcoming 40th anniversary, I thought I’d post a photo each week of me or my family from our past visits. I have posted in the past my earliest photo from around 1979 but here’s one from one of my favorite places ever – the Rainbow Corridor at Image Works upstairs from Journey into Imagination. That attraction, and the Image Works play-area hold my tiny, unicorn-filled childhood heart. I spent hours in there playing with the different colored tables full of ‘pins’, painting Figment on a touch screen, stomping on the colored lights to make music, and Dreamfinder’s School of Drama (green screen at its finest – AND, Dreamfinder was played by none other than Imagineer extraordinaire, Joe Rohde – thanks to Scott Otis [Disney expert and friend extraordinaire] for that tidbit!). I would give just about anything to go there again.
Last year at this time, I was able to visit the VIP lounge at the former Wonders of Life pavilion in Epcot’s Future World. The pavilion has been closed for quite some time now but functions as a special event space for things like the International Flower and Garden Festival and International Food & Wine Festival, along with wedding receptions held in the VIP lounge. The Tables in Wonderland program has held a preview for the Food & Wine Festival for the last two years and I was lucky enough to attend both events for the Disney Food Blog. (As always, click to enlarge photos)
While I shared photos of the Wonders Lounge and circus-themed restroom here on the blog, I wondered all night long what lay behind the two red doors in the main lounge area. The original lounge was entirely circus themed, but the main area has since been repainted in more muted tones, with the exception of some bold color choices like the bright red doors. In speaking to cast member friends, I was informed that there definitely was something behind those doors…but never told what. I put it from my mind, thinking I’d probably never get the chance to solve this mystery first-hand. Then suddenly, it was July again and the Tables in Wonderland preview gave me hope that maybe I’d get to find out.
I tweeted that I was so excited to be in the Wonders Lounge again since it was my favorite of the VIP lounges I’d seen so far. A back and forth on twitter brought up the question of whether I liked it even more than the lounge at the Seas and I said that yes, while the Seas was a very close second, I just loved the (clown-free) circus theme up here. It was then that I discovered that the space behind the red doors was actually called the Carousel Room. I wondered if I could try to sneak a peek but thought I’d probably chicken out (I am shy in-person after all!). I was encouraged to just ask a cast member, since I was up there I had to see it. I agreed that it was silly to sit by and not try to get in to see it. So we asked, and a very nice cast member said yes. She said the couches and chairs that were usually out in the lounge area were stuffed in the room, so if we waited till the event had cleared out a bit, they would move them out so we could get around.
By now, my head was swimming with possibilities. I pictured this giant ballroom with a full-sized carousel inside, or at the very least, carousel horses filling the room. I had been told by my helpful twitter friend to prepare myself, so I knew it must be something breathtaking.
At the end of the event, we patiently stood by the door and waited for our kind cast member to give us the okay. In the meantime two guests from the event strolled by the doors and said casually, “Oh, I wonder what’s in this room here…” and then just opened the doors and went in! I did hear them gasp before the doors closed behind them so the anticipation was killing me, but I wanted to do things right and not cause problems for anyone by just storming in myself. My husband went over to ask the cast member again but she was deep in conversation with the event hosts and the two other people had come out by the time he got the okay to go in. As it turns out, this room was mentioned in the third book in the popular Kingdom Keepers series: Disney in Shadow and was referred to as the Mary Poppins Lounge. The two people that went into the room said they had booked the Tables in Wonderland dinner just because it was in this lounge and they wanted to see this because of the Ridley Pearson series. Now there was a bit of buzz around the door and when we were given the official all clear, two other couples went in with us too.
To say I was shocked is an understatement. It isn’t so much that what’s in there is scary or unbelievable…it’s more that the space itself is very small – it’s actually a meeting room, not the grand ballroom I was envisioning. There is a huge oval-shaped table which takes up all of the room, with purple chairs that definitely looked like they arrived in the late 80’s. The few couches and chairs from the lounge were still stacked in there, but it didn’t detract too much from the main focus of the room, which was, in a word, overwhelming. Without further ado:
The walls of the room are painted – in amazing detail – as if you are in the very center of a beautiful carousel. The colorful and lifelike horses surround you as does the painted wooden floor of the carousel and the landscape beyond the horses. As in a real carousel, each horse is uniquely themed. The ceiling continues the painted theme with stripes, so that you feel like you are inside a tent. Another surprising feature of the room was the amazing acoustics. I was speaking at one end of the room in a normal voice and another guest on the other side said it sounded like I was right next to her. Perfect for business meetings where everyone needs to be heard clearly. The main wall ahead of you as you walk in slides apart and there is a white board behind it, again, perfect for brainstorming about the wonders…of life! Here’s a slideshow with more Carousel Room goodness:
Another curious detail is that one of the horses has what appears to be a marble or small ball in its teeth. I tried doing some research on what this could signify, but came up blank. I’m pretty sure, given what I do know about Walt Disney Imagineers that each horse depicted has specific meanings or nods to something either artist or Disney-related. Even if I’m wrong and they are just historically-accurate carousel horses, I would love to know more and truly be able to solve this mystery.
While I never got to experience the GE or Kodak VIP lounges while they existed, and I still have not seen the lounges of Spaceship Earth, The Land, Universe of Energy or Test Track, I stand by the Wonders Lounge as being my favorite. It is definitely the most unique so far. Although the HP lounge has all sorts of cool technology inside and the Seas lounge is just fun to sit in and look at the water views, the level of theming in the original design is, well, a wonder. I still continue to hope I’ll see the remaining Future World lounges (and any others hiding in the World too!). If anyone has any insight to the design stories behind the Carousel Room, please feel free to share.
Please do not use any of the photos here without permission, all photos are copyright Suzannah DiMarzio. Thank you!
If your childhood was anything like mine, then you spent a good deal of your allotted television time watching VHS of Walt Disney Home Videos. You know, the white plastic-cased movies sporting Sorcerer Mickey on the cover. My absolute favorite of these VHS tapes, the one I had memorized the spot of in the video rental store, was Yellowstone Cubs.
The feature followed around two bear cubs, Tuffy and Tubby, who had become separated from their mother, Necomas, after a family decides to feed the family of bears against the park’s warnings. Throughout the tale the cubs provide the comic relief, in the form of crashes, smorgasbord feedings and even a runaway motorboat. Meanwhile, the mama bear tugs on your heartstrings during her journey to find her cubs, a quest that leads her across the park and even labels her a dangerous bear. The feature also sought to inform viewers not just about the habits of bears, but also about the natural wonder that is Yellowstone. In the end, the family is reunited at Old Faithful Inn and sent on about their business.
In the incarnation of the video I watched so often, it was a double feature with the 1961 Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color segment, Flash the Teenage Otter. Flash is great in its own rights, but in my heart, it’s no Yellowstone Cubs. But the double feature concept was not new to the Yellowstone Cubs. Due to its short length, only 48 minutes, the film was paired up with Savage Sam for their June 1, 1963 debut.
Aside from the antics of the bears themselves, the narrator was one of the more memorable elements of Yellowstone Cubs. In all likelihood, that voice narrated a great deal of all of our childhoods, as it was none other than Rex Allen. Aside from narrating a selection of Walt Disney wildlife documentaries and films, he also narrated the Shaggy D.A. and Charlotte’s Web. He was well known as a singing cowboy, which came in handy for Yellowstone Cubs’ Easy Living, and often played a cowboy who may not have shared his profession, but definitely shared his name.
I hope you enjoyed wandering down the trail and reminiscing with me today, and I hope these photographs of Tubby sucking down a bottle, Necomas rummaging through a trailer, and Tuffy and Tubby stuffing themselves in the kitchen of Old Faithful Inn brought back some memories for you.
You’ll notice I didn’t say “Disney’s Hollywood Studios,” because I truly fell in love with the Disney-MGM Studios, which is no longer the proper name, as we all know. It will forever be “MGM” to me when I speak of it among family and friends, just as the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover will always be the “Wedway Peoplemover”. But I’m not here to talk about why I’m stuck in the past or yell at you kids to get off my lawn. Oh wait, I actually am going to talk about why I’m stuck in the past. Sorry about that. Hopefully you’ll bear with me and perhaps even agree with some of my thoughts.
I am pretty bad with dates and official names for things, so apologies up front if I remember something incorrectly. I used to be great with details, but then I had three kids. In any event, my first visit to the Disney-MGM Studios was some time in 1989, probably in June when I got out of school (a 14 year-old Sophomore). We were living in Lynchburg, VA at the time and would’ve driven down to Orlando. My trips sort of mesh together around this time, so I’m not sure where we stayed, it could’ve even been off-property. It’s hard to imagine that this was a time before Disney’s Port Orleans (either side), Beach Club, or Wilderness Lodge Resorts existed, but it was. I remember there being a lot of buzz surrounding the park, because it was supposed to be a Disney version of the Universal Studios lot in Hollywood, or Hollywood East. Sort of.
My late father was a huge old movie buff. He loved all the classic black and white films, the over-the-top musicals and everything in between. So to say he was excited for this new park was an understatement. As I’ve mentioned before, I spent from 1983-1986 visiting EPCOT Center and the bonds I’d formed there were unbreakable. We had so many memories as a family there, we all had high hopes for the Disney-MGM Studios. And we weren’t disappointed.
From the moment you walk into the Studios, you are greeted with tiny details giving a nod back to old Hollywood, or as their slogan goes, “The Hollywood that never was and always will be.” I remember how completely thrilling it was to walk into the 50’s Prime Time Cafe for the first time and see items I saw in my grandmother’s home as an even younger girl. It truly was another world, different from the Fantasy, Adventure or Tomorrowlands of the Magic Kingdom or the futuristic (it still was back then!) world of EPCOT. It was like reality, only better.
Back then there was no Sunset Boulevard but that didn’t mean anything felt lacking. The only Sorcerer’s hat was that seen atop Sorcerer Mickey’s head as he stood on top of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre to kick of the Sorcery in the Sky fireworks, which premiered the following year in 1990. Pixar Place did not exist and Lights, Motors, Action! was actually home to Residential Street, which I still miss to this day. What made Disney-MGM Studios so magical, to me, was not only the incredible attention given to each themed area, but also the amount of guest interaction and audience participation. It was, after all, the birthplace of Streetmosphere!
Who can forget their very first journey on the Great Movie Ride when your car is over-taken by either a gangster or a western bank robber and you are right in the middle of the show? I remember thinking it was the greatest ride ever, even if I did close my eyes in the Alien and Raiders of the Lost Ark scenes. During the finale with the movie clips, I’d listen to my dad name every movie that came on, and usually know all the lines too. As a result, I really can’t sit through that part of the ride today and not tear up, remembering him and his favorites.
Another attraction I loved was the Monster Sound Show. I am a huge Martin Short and Chevy Chase fan, and seeing this fun little movie was great, along with the chance for the audience to create their own sound effects to the film? Hysterical. And? Interactive. Super Star Television was an example of this as well. Housed where the American Idol Experience is now, the stage held several sets for different famous television scenes. Employing blue-screen technology, guests chosen from the audience can then act out the candy factory scene from I Love Lucy, or be a jilted lover in a soap opera, or appear on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. My dad was chosen during our visit and played that soap opera character, complete with long trench coat and fedora. It is such such a special memory and he loved getting to talk about it.
I think my favorite at that time was the Backstage Studios Tour (now the Backlot Tour). When the attraction first opened, you entered where the Animation tour is now and an actual cast member gave you the tour spiel on the tram. Driving through the costuming and set-building departments, something was always being worked on. You truly felt like you were a part of the backstage magic. The tour then went down Residential Street, which showed the front facades of houses used in opening shots of tv shows. The Golden Girls house was there and the house from its spin-off show, Empty Nest as well as the house from the Disney Channel Adventures in Wonderland series. It was just fun to look at these pristine houses from the front, then make a turn and see nothing but framing and no back to the houses at all. I never watched the Golden Girls the same way again! Later, the Bulldog Cafe from the wonderful Disney movie The Rocketeer was placed on the tour too. It was not a real cafe and really very small in person. It did not age well and was removed along with the other houses when Lights, Motors, Action was being built.
The Catastrophe Canyon section was the same and it was actually believable that we were stuck in the middle of a movie production. Now there is no pretense, and guests are told up front that we are just witnessing special effects. The tour ended where the Studio Catering Company now is, and guests could take a break before going on to the second part of the tour – Inside the Magic: Special Effects & Production Tour. This was always fun because you got to see things like blue-screen technology used to make the flying bee scene in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and miniatures used in the making of Dick Tracy. You then walked through a series of production studios, including a section on sound hosted by Pee Wee Herman and Mel Gibson. You were also able to see actual shows being produced, including the new Mickey Mouse Club. We then watched the short film, The Lottery, starring Bette Midler and filmed right on New York Street. The last part of the tour was walking through a room filled with the set pieces from The Lottery. This was later replaced with pieces from the 101 Dalmations live-action film.
The details are a but hazy as to when the changes to this part of the tour were made, but I know the bee room and the miniatures room were still in effect back in 1995, because that’s where my now-ex-husband (then-fiance) worked when we first moved to Orlando to work at Disney. He started out in Merchandise at the Little Mermaid shop, but then transferred to Attractions and worked at the special effects water tank, the two inside special effects rooms, and rotated to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set play area. I remember being so jealous that he was in Attractions! It was really fun to watch him perform his show. At that time there was a tv show on the Disney Channel also called Walt Disney World Inside Out. It started with Scott Herriott as host but changed in 1995 to J.D. Roth, Brianne Leary and George Foreman. J.D. Roth filmed a segment at the Inside the Magic tour and my ex-husband was the cast member responsible for (off-screen) setting off all the correct cues to make the bee and other parts of the attraction work. Fun fact! 😉
Needless to say, we enjoyed our first visit. My mom and I returned in 1991 with my high school class trip to Walt Disney World. At that time, Here Come the Muppets was where the Voyage of the Little Mermaid is and the Dick Tracy show was there (I may only be remembering the Dick Tracy show from the vacation planning video though – I seem to remember it being part of the Backlot Tour…maybe it was just a display of some sort?). EDIT: Confirmed by StudiosCentral.com – here’s a YouTube video of the Dick Tracy finale with some other great Backstage Studio Tour footage! Thanks, Matt!
Later when we moved to Orlando in 1995, we would enjoy the Aladdin parade and see the debut of the Toy Story Parade. I cannot hear “Strange Days” without remembering that time in my life – good memories of course! I haven’t even touched on Streetmosphere (see that link above, it’s worth a read!) or the wonderful Hunchback of Notre Dame and Pocahontas stage shows, which had incredible sets, actors and special effects. The park has of late received a lot of criticism and I will admit that I myself even thought less of it as the years went on. Things like Residential Street being destroyed, the Sorcerer’s Hat addition, and lots of Disney Channel synergy moving in have changed the feel of the place. However in recent times, I realized how much I really did fall in love with the Studios and what a special place it is.
One thing that brought this into view was taking part in the D23 Great Scavenger Hunt about a month ago. There were so many difficult questions that caused you to really stop and notice the impeccable detail and Hollywood spirit with which the park is imbued. Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards are brimming with nods to old Hollywood, little inside jokes and other Imagineering details you’d expect in any Disney park but may not have ever noticed here. While the scavenger hunt was frustrating, it definitely gave me a renewed appreciation for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
As with all Disney parks, things will change and corporate decisions will be made that may not feel right as a guest, but great decisions are made as well – Star Wars Weekends are one of my favorite times of the year and the all-new 3D Star Tours is probably my favorite ride right now. If I were to speak to the decision-makers at Disney I would implore them to remember what made the Studios so appealing: interaction. They are on the right track with Star Tours and the “Rebel Spy” aspect, which is now a goal for each guest as they ride. After all, don’t we all want to be a star?
The park history remains as well. Just as I regale my children with tales of Horizons and KELP and how Living with the Land was once LISTEN to the Land, I now tell them how there was a time when the 8×10 glossies hanging in Mama Melrose were relevant actors and how their daddy used to dump gallons of water on people every day. So during this Disney’s Hollywood Studios Awareness Week, I have become acutely aware of how important it is to capture and record these memories while they are fresh and appreciate the best laid plans of Mice and men.
There is something to be said for Disney, and that is that there is something for everyone, from film genres to theme park experiences. Even within a single park theater buffs can find an enjoyable show, while those who detest such theatrics can find an incredible rollercoaster. Expand that idea outward into Disney’s other enterprises, and animation lovers have a wide berth of movies to choose from, whereas macho men have sporting news and events 24/7 on ESPN. Mix in a variety of merchandise for each avenue of entertainment, and there is indeed something centered around any given interest for individuals to collect.
Take me for example. My love affairs with Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Expedition Everest, Disneynature, Frontierland, EPCOT Center, Zorro, Davy Crockett, etc. have all been well documented. Two other films I have long fancied have not been as readily recorded, not because I am ashamed of them, but merely because there is so little to really be gathered on the topics. I am of course speaking of The Rocketeer and Dick Tracy. It is treasures from these movies that really set my heart soaring while I scramble for my checkbook.
If there is a single item related to Dick Tracy that I have continually sought after it is a collection of Crimestopper game pieces tied to the 1990 release. The two stage scratch-offs were from McDonald’s and included a multiple choice scene and a mug shot.
In the multiple choice section, a painted backdrop is used to highlight a scene in which the customer, aka detective, is given an assignment, including finding the location of a robbery, a gangster cheating at cards, or the hiding place of key evidence. Three of the five rub off spots were GAME OVER boxes, while one led to a successful mission and prizes such as free food and drinks, coupons, and cash prizes. The remaining spot was always a tip to the winning location. This often took the form of telling customers which box (A, B, C, D, or E) to scratch, but in the best of cards it was a clue, for example to try the tallest gangster or search near the telephone. This game play made me love these pieces as a kid, and I was drawn to McDonald’s as often as I could convince my parents to drive me there.
The second stage of the game, detachable from the colorful movie scene, featured the name and mug shot of a wanted mobster. Throughout the contest, near mug shots would appear on a most wanted board at participating restaurants. Match a mug shot to your game piece and collect your rewards, up to $1,000,000!
After years of sifting through the evidence, I now have a completed set, well of the scenes at least, with several extras I’ve been able to scratch off. For those of you who enjoy all things tied to the yellow clad detective, I present a full set of scenes and assignments for you to enjoy!
From the refurbished “Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios –
Some readers may know that Song of the South has always been one of my favorite Disney films. Originally released in 1946, I remember seeing it at some point in my childhood and hearing about it often, as it was one of my Dad’s favorites as well. The lessons illustrated by Brer Rabbit and his pals are similar to what he grew up hearing . As a child, I never took on or felt any racist effects from the film, as many critics have stated could be an adverse effect of re-releasing the controversial movie. To a child, Uncle Remus is just a story teller. The tar baby is just that, a baby made out of tar. I realize I am speaking from a white girl raised in a white world perspective but I stand by the fact that most negative views of the film are based on adult connotations of innocent subject matter. Is Gone With the Wind banned due to its portrayal of African-Americans during civil war time? Critics fear the master-slave relationship is a little too optimistic in Song of the South but again, this is a children’s film and the purpose is to share the lessons taught by Uncle Remus, not make a social commentary. Further, I have always maintained the personal opinion that animated films like Peter Pan with its “What Made the Red Man Red” or The Aristocats portrayal of a Siamese cat brimming with Asian stereotypes are actually much worse as far as blatant racism go. Of course these are just my opinions, I am no film critic or historian.
Disney has seen the value of the content within the film, crafting its Splash Mountain storyline and characters around the Song of the South anthropomorphic animals we’ve come to know and love: Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear and Brer Fox among them. However Disney has shied away from making concrete plans to release the film simply because it is so controversial. Most likely any attempt to release it would meet with discord no matter how it was approached. So what’s the answer? Perhaps a prologue explaining that as with any history, time casts the proper light on lessons to learn and not repeat. I can’t in good conscience support a cut or censored version, so hopefully a way can be found to properly bring this film to a new generation, with the caveat that times change and hopefully so do people.
That said, I was just sent a link to an interview by Boston area movie reviewer and pod caster Steve Head. Steve recently interviewed Dave Bossert, the artistic supervisor for Disney’s restoration team as he was covering the D23 event – Fantasia: A 70th Anniversary Celebration at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Dave Bossert gave an encouraging quote regarding the potential for Song of the South’s re-release: “I can say there’s been a lot of internal discussion about [Song of the South]. And at some point we’re going to do something about it. I don’t know when, but we will. We know we want people to see Song of the South because we realize it’s a big piece of company history, and we want to do it the right way.”
Certainly that gives fans of preserving Disney classics some hope, yes? To read the rest of Steve’s wonderful article, head over to The Post-Movie Podcast. Many thanks to Steve for sending this link over and helping to build the excitement for the possible future of Disney’s past. It’s important to note that this is not a definite “yes” as far as a release and certainly no date has been mentioned, however as Steve comments in his article, the optimism comes from the fact that this quote is coming from the supervisor of the restoration team at Disney Animation, which is who should be making the decisions about the release and support of Song of the South.
Last month, most of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel joined together for an informal reunion, just because we love an excuse to get together and what better place to do that than the Walt Disney World Resort, right? Our Pink Princess was kind enough to have a luncheon put together for us by the allied partners responsible for the Innoventions attractions. We were lucky enough to be treated to that lunch inside the second story of the Seas pavilion, in the former VIP Lounge area from back when United Technologies sponsored The Living Seas.
Unfortunately, I did not have my real camera and my cell phone pics are not the best, but I wanted to share the inside with you just the same. Hopefully I’ll get another chance to visit. I know the D23 Sip and Stroll attendees were able to experience both this lounge and the one for Spaceship Earth, so who knows what future events may take place here.
I was recently reading on twitter about someone riding Universe of Energy at Epcot. It caused me to stop and realize that it’s probably been about 10 years since I’ve ridden that ride. Then I wondered how many other rides I personally avoid or just don’t bother wanting to ride, and how many others had a list too.
Now, I may be a bit biased on some things, because as I’ve mentioned before (many times), I first fell in love with Walt Disney World when visiting EPCOT Center in 1983. So as a rainbows & unicorn-lovin’ girl of 8 or 9, there were some rides that just plain scared me. Universe of Energy was one of them. I rode it, but was always scared during the dinosaur parts and then bored during the 40 minutes of fossil fuel movies (was anyone *not* bored then? Sorry fossil fuels!). Same with Haunted Mansion and even Pirates of the Caribbean…there were times when I had to be dragged on those rides because I was easily scared (the hallway and graveyard scenes in Haunted Mansion and the skeletons in Pirates). I’ve since outgrown those fears, but I’m just not a fan of dinosaurs, unless they are dispensing frozen ice cream treats of course.
Other rides, I’d just never been on because I thought I’d get sick or something. I didn’t ride the Mad Tea Party until I was about 22. Space Mountain? My first time was on my 33rd birthday. Shocking, I know. I’d actually ridden Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster before that! I just visited Tom Sawyer Island for the first time this past April! I *still* haven’t been on Expedition Everest, DINOSAUR, or Mission: Space. Not sure I’ll ever go on DINOSAUR or Mission:Space‘s green team, but I do want to conquer Expedition Everest at some point!
Anyway, back to my original point. There are some attractions that we just tend to avoid for whatever reason. I realize this may be more pronounced with our family, since we are Florida residents and can visit the parks any day just by driving for an hour. Sometimes we just take things, or attractions for granted either for time issues or wanting to visit our favorites all the time.
So here is my list of Top 5 Avoided Attractions in my family:
- Universe of Energy As mentioned above, I just never liked this as a child and with two kids not particularly fond of dinosaurs, we just haven’t been back. I do want to bring them on again though, now that they’re older and will remember it, and let them decide for themselves.
- The Enchanted Tiki Room – Under New Management I actually sat through this recently with my family when visiting with some friends. I know it is a much maligned attraction, and I really think that is for a reason. I don’t like to speak ill of my favorite place on earth, but the ‘updated’ show was already dated when it re-opened and now even moreso. It was such a classic attraction, full of corny but timeless jokes. A lot of that original magic is just gone now and it’s almost embarrassing to sit through. Sorry Michael, Pierre, Fritz and José – I still love you guys!
- The Jungle Cruise I know I’m going to take some flak for this one! Apologies to die-hard fans of the backside of water…but I’ve just never been fan enough to make this a regular stop. This is another of those that I will go on again soon and let the big kids form their own opinions.
- Stitch’s Great Escape Another much maligned attraction. I remember disctinctly when Alien Encounter opened. I was petrified and actually did not go on the Cast Member preview like my then fiance and mom, also Cast Members did. I wanted to know exactly what happened before I’d go on. I don’t do horror movies or scary things at all so I was worried this would freak me out. Once I got the okay from them, it became one of our favorite attractions in Magic Kingdom. Now, I really don’t mind the Stitch redux of the ride…I think it’s great for kids that might’ve been too scared to go on Alien Encounter. But it is a little lacking in the show department. I miss Skippy and Tim Curry voicing S.I.R. The story made much more sense when it was Alien Encounter but I don’t think the Stitch tie-in is too terrible. Still, we tend to avoid it since it’s not ever something we are dying to see.
Studio Backlot Tour This is another case of something that used to be a favorite that we just tend to pass over now. This attraction was so exciting when it first opened – you could see in working wardrobe warehouses, studios and sound stages, along with the super fun Residential Street and Catastrophe Canyon. Over the years, this morphed into a dated, unused, “pretend” backstage area. When the Water Effects Tank and Production Tour (where my husband used to work!) was combined with the Backlot Tour, it made it difficult to bring small children on with the amount of standing and walking needed. We used to love this attraction but it’s changed so much and a lot of its charm and “backstage” excitement is gone. I’d love to see this ride completely redone with current special effects technology and a whole new backlot area.
Okay, I confessed my most-avoided attractions – now what are yours? Don’t worry, I’ll post a most-loved attractions post soon!
In searching for ancient vintage photos from my childhood visits to Walt Disney World, I came across what may perhaps be my favorite. From the looks of my hair, I’m thinking this was around 1st grade, so 1978 or 1979. My Gramma Lucy (my dad’s mom) and I are both enjoying a wonderful Disney treat – a chocolate covered frozen banana. This was once one of my favorites, but I have to admit, I haven’t had one in years. Maybe I need to attempt to re-create this picture so my children can blog about it in 30 years??
In this photo, you not only get to see adorable 6-ish year old me, you get my mom next to me in a long sundress (which is I think back in style today?!) and Jackie O sunglasses, my brother on the other side of me in knee socks and short shorts, and to the far right, you can see part of my sister in a green one-piece tube-top/shorts-set situation. If my dad were in the picture, I can only imagine the fashion fabulousity he would’ve added, given his previous appearances with white pants and reaaaally short shorts.
I think my family is pretty tame compared to the other 1970’s theme-park couture going on, even from behind. Thanks, lady with the matching red pants and vest, lady with the super high plaid bell-bottoms with matching plaid jacket in your hand, and dude behind my brother with his shirt buttoned ALL the way down. You really made this picture worth posting. How did we survive as a species during this time?? Oh that’s right. Disco!