« April 2016 | Main | June 2016 »

May 2016 Archives

May 1, 2016

Background Sounds and Hidden Messages

Gary Cruise banner

Our friends and family know that Carol and I are avid Disney fans and they often ask us for advice before they visit the theme parks. One thing that we always tell them is, “Take time now and then to simply look around . . . examine your surroundings and notice the level of detail the Imagineers build into everything.”

Look at the architecture, look at the building materials, look at the landscaping and see how they have all been used to create a magical Disney experience.

You probably pass on similar advice to your friends . . . but do you ever tell them to stop and listen? Yes, just stop and listen!

There is a lot of detail in the background sounds that envelop you everywhere you go. Sounds that you may not even be aware of!

When you walk from The Hub and head toward Adventureland, listen to the music that you hear. The gardens are filled with speakers, and while the beat and tempo remains the same, the style of music and even the instruments being played subtly morphs into something completely different as you move from one land to another. Every area in the parks has a unique “loop” of background music and the transition from one to the other is so subtle that you really have to focus on it to notice it at all!

If you keep your ears open, every once in a while you will come upon some quite unexpected sounds. There are some hidden treasures, of an audio nature, tucked here and there around the parks!

Try to find a few of these the next time you’re at Walt Disney World:

• In Town Square at the Magic Kingdom look for the hat shop, Le Chapeau, and find the antique phone on the wall. Pick up the receiver and listen. Children, if you try this you will probably want to ask your parents what a “party line” was. No . . . don’t ask your parents . . . ask your grandparents!

Le Chapeau phone

• As you walk down Main Street USA heading toward Cinderella Castle, take a right turn onto the short lane known as Center Street. Listen carefully and you’ll hear a singing lesson from behind one of the second story windows and the sounds of tap dancing from another window.

Center Street Window

• Take a ride on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (we old codgers know it as the WEDway People Mover) and listen to the sound track – you will hear “Paging Mr. Morrow – Mr Tom Morrow”

There are hidden treasures at Disneyland too:

• On the right side of Main Street, go into the alley half way down the street, opposite the Carnation Café. Just past the flower cart, if you listen carefully, you can hear a dentist speaking with his patient as he drills a tooth.

• At Star Tours, while standing in the queue, you can hear a voice paging “Egroeg Sacul”. That’s George Lucas spelled backwards.

Star Tours sign

• As you walk through New Orleans Square on Royal Street heading toward the train station listen to the sounds from the windows above the rest rooms. Is that a voodoo queen?

• As you stand on the platform at the New Orleans train station you hear the dash-dot-dash of a Morse Code message. If you know your Morse Code you can interpret the opening lines from Walt Disney’s speech on the opening day at Disneyland. “To all who come to this happy place . . . “

• Just above the book of spells at the entry to Snow White’s Scary Adventures is a golden apple. Touch that apple and you will hear the Evil Queen laughing.

Disneyland - Snow White's Apple.jpg

These are just a few of the unique sounds that add to the immersive experience we all enjoy at Disney parks; you probably have some favourites that I haven’t mentioned.

As you rush through the parks, heading from one thrill ride to the next, be sure to pause once in a while to enjoy the subtle magic in the sounds that surround you!

May 2, 2016

You're Stronger Than You Seem

by Laura Schmitt
AllEars Guest Blogger

Laura Schmitt “Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. - AA Milne”

Christopher Robin says the above to Pooh Bear, as they sit side by side. This bear of little brain may not ever bounce high like Tigger, or soar like Owl, but he is always a source of love and strength for the entire Hundred Acre Wood family through his constant simplistic loving nature. Pooh, fluff protruding and stitches popping, manages to pull together an unlikely cast of characters and hold them with the most important strength of all... love and friendship.

If we look at Pooh Bear, we may only notice a worn stuffed toy, but if we focus on the heart of the character, we can find ourselves tumbling into a wealth of strength that bounces and soars. It is because of this bit of magic that we all learn to look deeper while we search for surprises in the world of Disney. Like Pooh Bear, my oldest child hides an extraordinary strength that others will not see by looking with their eyes, but anyone who knows her will experience and appreciate what that really looks like.

Ten years ago, a mom, dad, 6-year-old girl and her 4-year-old sister visited Walt Disney World for the first time. During that visit, the 6-year-old marveled with astonishment at how large Piglet was in person, and how lovely it was to run through the Hundred Acre Wood in real life. All smiles, gasps of astonishment, and laughter, we delighted to such an extreme during that first visit that we went back to Walt Disney World nine times in the decade that followed.

Life brought us many changes during that time. The most notable for my daughter was the introduction of her disease. Our daughter was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a disease of the connective tissue that affects the entire body. For her, this meant a deterioration of her joints and daily shoulder dislocations that have progressed to hip subluxations and fainting. Life turned upside-down for all of us as we tried to smooth all paths for a child who could no longer bounce her way through life.

As EDS has claimed more and more of our child, we found that in Disney World, the magic is "one size fits all." When she could no longer walk, or ride jarring rides, or stand for long periods, we found that in the parks, and with a wheelchair, she could still be that strong little bear who delighted at a towering Piglet and lit up at the sight of a real life castle. Disney offers its magic to everyone in the same loving and inclusive way that Pooh Bear embraces Piglet. He doesn’t look at his frightened little friend and think, "This won’t be for you." Instead, he stands by him and they travel each path together. Disney manages this by allowing access to disabled people through cleverly designed park spaces, handicapped entrances, and wonderfully trained cast members across the parks. The system for transferring to and from a wheelchair is as graceful and easy as stepping in and out of a ride when working with the incredible cast members.

Even the entertainment comes in bursts of spectacle geared for any body's ability. There are new amazements to enjoy, experience and encounter with every new trip to the parks.

Planning for a visit Magic Kingdom over a very busy spring break, we plan ahead and go into the park for an advanced dining reservation before park opening. This helps our daughter by letting her avoid that large and incredibly frightening crowd upon entering the park. We glide from a wonderful breakfast straight to the honeypots that tour us through Pooh’s magical storybook, and laugh the whole time. I don’t know if she remembers her early years of story time on my lap, as we read this very adventure day after day, or if her own readings of A.A. Milne are fresher in her mind, but I watch the words falling from the pages and marvel that we are back in the story, again.

Because the park is flat, and the lines allow the width of her chair, it is easy for us to navigate with her confined to her safe space. From that ride, we move on to other family favorites, all accommodating for her abilities, such as Haunted Mansion, Mickey's PhilHarmagic, Pirates of the Caribbean, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, and more. If she has enough energy to stay into the afternoon, we watch the parade from the safe wheelchair-designated space roped off by cast members, and maybe even enjoy some dairy-free root beer floats from Main Street.

It can be hard for a bear of little brain to "think, think, think," and in the stories we find Pooh frustrated that he can’t remember what he set out to do. For my daughter, it's hard to see eyes on her for being in a wheelchair. She feels like people are judging her, or wondering what is wrong with her, which from natural curiosity, they may be. You see, she can stand up and walk for a bit, and everything will look completely normal. She does not look like she has a disability.

What others can’t see is that as she freezes and grimaces, her shoulder has slid out of its socket, or her hip has subluxated partially out of its socket. She concentrates on putting it back where it belongs without further injury, and this happens so many times each day, we have given up keeping count. Another thing they cannot see is the blinding, burning, and sometimes numbing pain.

Because May is Ehlers Danlos Awareness month, I wanted to share this with our fellow Disney fans. Like us, you may embrace the parks, the movies, the magic, and we may even see some of you at Magic Kingdom on a day in the near future. I’d ask that you remember that not all disabilities are visible.

Despite the pain and struggle my little bear faces each day, she shows remarkable strength. She doesn’t know it. She meekly thinks of herself as a scared and timid little Piglet in many ways, but the fact that she perseveres through pain, dislocations, and fainting sessions and keeps moving forward is enough to make me cheer for her every day: “You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think!"

At Disney World, where she is included in all aspects of the magic, her laughter soars and her smile bounces throughout our time away. The magic in the air is almost healing in a way, because she seems lighter and happier where it is so easy to be immersed in good times with family and old storybook friends.

There is no cure for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, but we keep hoping that the marvels of medicine will come up with something in her lifetime. If Disney has taught us anything it’s that anything you can dream can come true, so we keep raising awareness, dreaming big, and savoring our magical moments together whenever and wherever we find them.

Ten years after their first visit to Walt Disney World, a mom, a dad, a 16-year-old and a 14-year-old girl are heading back to their favorite, inclusive and magical place. The very first thing they will do is stop in for breakfast and a hug from their favorite storybook friends at Crystal Palace. You may even see them as you go about your own magical sort of day. You can be certain that "wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place... they will always be playing." -- A. A. Milne

About the Author: Laura Schmitt and her husband Eric live in Illinois with their two daughters, Taylor and Ella. Laura is a freelance writer, an avid Disney World enthusiast and a nutrition educator who is helping her daughter raise awareness for EDS through http://ehlersdanlossyndromehere.blogspot.com/

May 8, 2016

Visiting Kennedy Space Center - Multi-Generational Family Visit

by Guest Blogger Kay Belin


For many visitors, central Florida means a vacation of theme parks and crowds. For the last 40 years that is exactly what my family has enjoyed but this year we dared to change and we ventured out beyond the limits of theme park attractions. On this family trip we were 2 grandparents, our son and his wife in their 30s, and 3 grandchildren 10, 8, and 6.

We chose to visit the Kennedy Space Center even risking to explore it on the Saturday of Easter weekend. It is a short and easy drive from Orlando taking only about an hour to an hour and a half. Signage is good to find the Space Center Visitor Complex and parking is $10 per car. It is very convenient to the entrance and just a short walk. You can purchase your tickets upon arrival but I suggest you do it on line, www.kennedyspacecenter.com, and that way you bypass the ticket queues. Simply scan your bar code on your printed receipt and you are on your way to a day full of fun.

Daily admission is $50 per adult and $40 per child.

The first site you will see is the enormous "rocket yard" exhibit with the life size rockets and space capsules on display. Many of these were used throughout the early phases of the US manned space flight program. You can even try out what it would have felt like orbiting earth by sitting in a mockup of the original Mercury capsule that Alan Shepherd piloted on his first space flight.


Our next stop was a quick visit to the Children's Play Dome where the grand-kids enjoyed climbing and exploring. Benches and tables are scattered around under the shade making this a great spot for the adults to rest and catch their breath. Also a great place for a quick snack for everyone.


As we headed to the IMAX theater we stopped in to see the Journey to Mars exhibit. This was certainly one of our favorites as it was full of interactive exhibits for everyone to enjoy as well as a wonderful 15 minute show about the ambition to land on Mars. It was well done and kept all ages mesmerized about our future in space with the development of a Mars space vehicle. They reminded the children in the audience that it is likely one who is between 10-14 right now could be the first person to land on Mars.

We literally had to drag the kids away from Mars to head to the IMAX theater for the show, Journey to Space 3D. The movie is approximately 40 minutes long and well worth the wait. It is suggested you be in line about 30 minutes ahead of time as the theater is small and it was full during our visit. You can purchase simple movie type foods and drinks to enjoy during the show too. We all enjoyed the summary of the US space shuttle program from beginning to end.

Even though we all gobbled up the popcorn during the IMAX movie, it was time for lunch and the Kennedy Space Center has plenty of places to choose from. There are three cafes and a grill offering burgers, sandwiches, barbecue, salads and many more options for adults and kids. You can find seating inside or out and all locations seemed clean and kept up well. Try to avoid heading there when the IMAX movie ends as everyone seems to have the same idea and the lines will be longer.

After lunch we walked the short distance to the Astronaut Memorial. It is well done and very moving and educational. Separate areas are dedicated to those who gave their lives so we could explore beyond our boundaries. Many adults will stand and remember where they were when some of the tragedies took place. We all felt it was a must see part of our day.




Probably the highlight of the day for us was the visit to see the actual space shuttle Atlantis. My husband and I were lucky enough to be there to watch the final journey into space of the Atlantis and to see this proud and grand shuttle displayed was overwhelming. You enter the building and go through a two stage pre show. At the end of the second show the back wall magically opens and there is the shuttle in all her glory. You can take as many photos as you wish and there are different levels to get different views. Again they have included many hands on exhibits so ultimately you could spend hours here if you wished.





We did not have time to visit the Astronaut Encounters where you can talk and ask questions to a legendary or new astronaut. They also offer lunch with an astronaut but this books up quickly and we were not able to get a reservation for this as well. Next time!

Our last stop was to hop on a bus for the KSC Up-Close Guided Tour. This was $25 per adult and $19 per child (in addition to your regular admission). They offer two tours with one concentrating on the control center and the other more of a backstage visit to the launching pads, space vehicle assembly buildings and much more. These are extra costs but again worth the time and expense. They also offer short bus tours that take you directly to the Apollo/Saturn V Visitor Center. All tours end at this Center where you can again spend hours exploring. Buses run every 15 minutes to get back to the main Tourist Center.


Our backstage tour was amazing and something most people never get a chance to do. We had several stops where we could get off the bus and take pictures and appreciate the magnitude of what we were seeing. Getting so close to a launch pad and learning what has to happen to get a rocket safely into space was amazing. And seeing the rocket vehicle that moves them to the launch pads was just as exciting. They move 1 mile and hour making this an all day event to go just 6 or 7 miles to the pad.






Another fascinating stop was the Vehicle Assembly Building. This is the massive building most see on tv that bears a large US flag down its side. In fact the stars are big enough for several people to stand in them and the stripes are large enough for a bus to fit inside the width. The kids (and adults) loved learning all these fun facts!



Our last stop was the Apollo/Saturn V center where you will see the Saturn V rocket lifted into the air on display. We did not have time for the pre show and instead headed to quickly see a few of the exhibits. This is where you will find moon rocks on display and also a moon rock you can touch although again we were not able to take the time. With that said this center is certainly on the itinerary for our next visit.




The NASA Kennedy Space Center proved to be an exciting day for all ages and a place we will return to again for another visit. The facility was clean and well kept and bathrooms were abundant and constantly being checked and supplied. The grounds are well appointed and other buildings are being refurbished so I am sure there will be new things for us to see and do the next time. The guides at the exhibits and tours were well informed and could answer all questions directed to them. They worked hard to not have levels above children's interest and patiently answered all of their questions.

I might also add that our day turned into a bit of a wildlife adventure as well. We saw many alligators and several massive ones along the sides of the roads we traveled. We had a bald eagle fly right in front of the bus at one point and the guide showed us a huge eagle nest. We saw many long legged birds and turtles and on the way there and back we had fun catching sight of dolphins and a wild boar.

Our journey away from the theme parks proved to be a thumbs up day from everyone and guaranteed to be on the repeat list in the future.

May 9, 2016

Jack Lindquist: A rich legacy and a fun-filled career with the Walt Disney Company

Jack Lindquist and Mickey Mouse appear at a function held at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., where Jack was a trustee. [Courtesy of Chapman University]

CHUCK SCHMIDT / Still Goofy About Disney
AllEars.Net Guest Blogger

In May of 2011, at Walt Disney World's 40th anniversary celebration, Jack Lindquist had this to say about fellow Disney Legend Marty Sklar:

"Marty was always a big troublemaker. He'd bring water guns to work and, right there in our offices above City Hall in Disneyland, we'd have shootouts! Either that, or he was always throwing footballs around the place."

Turns out, The Master of Fun was just getting started.

There followed another story, this one about Jack's used Cadillac, a series of blown head gaskets, an engine fire and Marty laughing so hard that he had to relieve himself in a nearby orange grove adjacent to Disneyland.

Long-time friends can do that -- poke fun at one another in a good-natured way and tell hilarious stories about each other without hesitation -- because they've experienced so much together and their bond is that strong, that enduring.

The friendship between Jack Lindquist and Marty Sklar began in 1955 when the two were members of Disneyland's first publicity department, and it lasted more than 60 years. Although the two followed different paths during their decades-long careers with the Walt Disney Company -- after first making his mark dreaming up unique ways to market Disneyland, Jack would go on to become the first president of the park, while Marty would head up Walt Disney Imagineering -- they remained close through it all.

"It's always fun to spend time with Marty," Jack told me last summer during a phone interview that Marty helped set up. "We've been good friends for 60 years. We had offices right next to each other above City Hall at Disneyland." It was in those offices where some of their most creative marketing strategies took root ... and where the two often engaged in those spirited water-gun battles.

"He was a Bruin [Marty graduated from UCLA] and I was a Trojan [that would be bitter rival USC], but despite that, we've remained the best of friends."

Disneyland's public relations team posed for this photo in 1957. Pictured are, front row, seated, left to right: Phil Bauer, graphic artist; Dorothy Manes, in charge of group sales and children's groups; Marty Sklar, in his early 20s; Eleanor Heldt, group sales manager, and Milt Albright, promotions. Second row, standing, left to right: Charlie Nichols, head photographer; Jack Lindquist; Eddie Meck, publicity; Ed Ettinger, Division Director; Carl Frith, photographer; Lee Cake, publicity writer, Frank Forsyth, Vacationland Magazine distributor. [The Walt Disney Company]

Indeed, having fun while still keeping his eye on the prize made Jack Lindquist such a special person among his colleagues. "Jack really was one-of-a-kind," Marty said recently.

When Marty Sklar retired in 2009, he was given a window in his honor in Disneyland. It was placed on City Hall, appropriately, on the opposite side of the building where Jack Lindquist's window was placed. Marty's window lauds him as "Dean, Main Street College of Arts and Sciences," while Jack's proclaims him "Honorary Mayor of Disneyland" and calls him "The Master of Fun."

"Jack and I worked together when he was advertising manager at Disneyland," Marty said. "He's got the only other window on City Hall, so the two of us are kind of bracketed" ... which is appropriate on so many levels. At Marty's window dedication on July 17, 2009, Jack kept the audience in stitches with several wonderful stories about experiences they both shared.

The placement of their windows insured that they will remain together, forever, at a place that was near and dear to both men.

Jack Lindquist passed away on Feb. 28 at the age of 88, leaving behind a legacy of accomplishments that few, if any, will match ... as well as a loving family, many dear friends and former colleagues, and countless people who were influenced by his innovative marketing strategies.

In those early days at Disneyland, the success of the park "wasn't a slam dunk," Marty recalled. That's why the work of the marketing department -- and Jack Lindquist in particular -- was so crucial.

Jack was an outsider looking in when Disneyland was under construction in 1954. He was working in marketing for Kelvinator, one of Disneyland's many corporate sponsors, and was given access to the park during construction. He was in attendance when the park opened on July 17, 1955, and was witness to the chaos of that first day. Still, he was quickly enamored with The Happiest Place on Earth.

Jack Lindquist, who topped off his long and distinguished career by being named Disneyland's first president, was honored as a Disney Legend in 1994. [The Walt Disney Company]

A few weeks after the park opened, Jack was approached by a Disneyland representative and was asked if he could recommend someone for the position of marketing manager at Disneyland. "The job looked pretty good, so I recommended myself," he said. "Since there was no one else in marketing at the time, I was the manager of nothing. So I guess I did an excellent job!"

All kidding aside, he did do an excellent job. Out of that fledgling department came ideas like The Magic Kingdom Club, Disney Dollars, Grad Nites and the Disneyland Ambassador Program. The department would quickly grow and add many key people, all of whom played important roles in the long-term success of Disneyland.

Jack was a proponent of celebrating anniversaries and turning them into huge park promotions. His first -- Disneyland's Tencennial -- helped spur highly successful marketing promos at the other Disney properties over the years. He also dreamed up the now-iconic "I'm going to Disney World!" post-Super Bowl promotion.

In early 1957, members of the department gathered for a group photo. I was given a copy of that photo by the folks at Walt Disney Imagineering and both Marty and Jack helped supply the IDs for "the cast of characters," as Marty called them, in the picture, which was taken in Frontierland.

They were Phil Bauer, a graphic artist; Dorothy Manes, who was in charge of group sales and children's groups; Marty Sklar; Eleanor Heldt, group sales manager; Milt Albright, promotions; Charlie Nichols, head photographer; Jack Lindquist; Eddie Meck, publicity; Ed Ettinger, public relations Division Director; Carl Frith, photographer; Lee Cake, publicity writer, and Frank Forsyth, magazine distributor.

In addition to Marty and Jack, Eddie Meck and Milt Albright would go on to achieve Disney's highest accolade -- Disney Legend status. Meck was a well-known figure in the movie industry before he came to work for Disneyland, while Albright worked in finance before being transferred to the PR department, where he made many significant contributions.

According to Marty, the people in the photo "were my close colleagues until 1961, when Walt moved me to WED [the forerunner of Walt Disney Imagineering] to work on the New York World's Fair. This was the group I worked with in the summer of 1955 and when I returned to Disneyland in September of 1956 after graduation from UCLA."

Although Marty was able to identify most of the people in the photo, it was Jack who provided me with the IDs of the two women seated to Marty's left and right. "Glad to help," Jack wrote in an email. "The women in the picture are Eleanor Heldt, group sales manager, and Dorothy Manes, group sales staff for youth programs. As for the other things you want to talk about, there's too much to write. Call me and we can talk."

I called Jack bright and early a week later and we chatted for about 45 minutes. He was an absolute pleasure to speak to, sharing warm memories and intricate details from his storied career.

During my interview with Jack, he expanded on women's roles in Disneyland. "Group sales probably had more women working in non-secretarial positions than any other jobs in the park," he said. "In the 1950s, that was rather unusual."

He went on the say that Dorothy Manes "worked at a kids' amusement park up in the Bay Area and Walt somehow happened to go to this park and met her and ended up hiring her to do youth programs at Disneyland."

Jack's accomplishments are legendary, not only within Disney's ranks, but in corporate America, as well.

Jack Lindquist rides with Walt Disney during a Christmas parade in Disneyland. [The Walt Disney Company]

It was Jack Lindquist who came up with the idea of selling tickets for special events in advance. In 1957, Disneyland decided to hold its first New Year's Eve celebration. Jack thought it would be a great idea to make the night a special ticketed event, but 5,000 tickets needed to be sold just to break even. Since there were no guarantees 5,000 people would show up that night, Jack directed that tickets be sold weeks ahead of time at a variety of businesses in Hollywood, Long Beach and Los Angeles.

The night was a big success and the idea of advance-sale tickets caught on throughout the entertainment industry. "In those days, nobody sold advanced tickets," Jack said. "If you wanted a ticket, you went to the venue the day of the event."

Vacationland Magazine was another of Jack's promotional gems that helped generate tremendous interest in Disneyland and, in turn, solidify the park's long-term success.

"When Marty and I created Vacationland Magazine, we wanted to use the theory of reaching people with something different," Jack said. "Most of the hotels and motels throughout California [in the mid- to late 1950s] used to have racks in their lobbies. On these racks, all of the attractions throughout the state were featured in pamphlets. We didn't want to do the same old thing. So Marty and I developed the magazine concept; Marty was the editor and I did the marketing."

Originally, the magazine was called Disneyland Holiday. "But the people at Holiday Magazine were not happy with us using that name," Jack said. Still, "the magazine was a tremendous tool for Disney, very unique. It had all the information on the park, but it also had all the things happening in the area, not just Disneyland ... Knott's Berry Farm, Catalina Island and so on. At its height, in California, Nevada and Arizona, I think we distributed 300,000 magazines, four times a year."

As far as getting the product to the public, "we hired two guys [Bill Schwenn and Frank Forsyth] who delivered all the magazines," Jack said. "They were on the road most of the time and they built a tremendous rapport throughout the area. Everyone got to know them and like them.

"It was one of those ideas that worked beyond our wildest dreams."

Ideas that worked. That was the hallmark of Jack Lindquist's distinguished career. "We were willing to try anything, because there were no precedents," he said.

It didn't matter how or why he came up with those ideas ... just as long as they got the desired result: Promoting Disney in a fun and imaginative way.

Case in point: The giant Mickey Mouse head crop circle carved out of cornfields in Iowa to celebrate Mickey's 60th birthday in 1988, visible to any and all aircraft flying overhead. His colleagues believed that Jack probably got the idea while flying cross-country in Walt's company plane.

Jack Lindquist proudly wears a pair of Mickey Mouse ears during Disneyland's 50th birthday celebration in 2005. [The Walt Disney Company]

Jack also played a key role in setting up the marketing strategies for Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. He had a hand in signing up several countries' companies to join the World Showcase lineup at Epcot. During those endeavors, Jack was reunited with his old buddy from their Disneyland PR days, Marty Sklar.

"When Jack autographed a copy of his memoir, In Service to the Mouse, for me he wrote: 'It's been quite a ride!' We were great friends and colleagues for almost 60 years – we both 'grew up' in marketing and publicity in the early days of Disneyland, when [as Jack liked to say], 'we didn't know what wouldn't work, so we tried anything!'

"Jack pioneered marketing in the theme park industry around the world. One of my proudest accomplishments, together with a few others in the industry, was finally getting Jack inducted last November into the Hall of Fame of IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions). He deserved it for many years!

"Jack was a mentor to countless marketing people in the theme park industry. Beyond that: other than Walt Disney himself, I think Jack Lindquist was 'Mr. Disneyland' in Orange County. He represented the values and highest standards that Walt Disney wanted Disneyland to stand for, and he did it with such dedication that it never felt as though he was selling – he believed 100 percent in the product."

After his retirement from Disney in 1993, Jack formed The Lindquist Group, a distinguished marketing consulting firm. He also became a trustee at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. Chapman's president, Jim Doti, spoke in glowing terms at a memorial service for Jack.

"Jack and I frequently had breakfast together, usually at Rockwells in Villa Park," Doti said. "He was my marketing guru, and I learned so much from him. Jack was also my friend, my mentor and my hero.

"In addition to becoming a Chapman trustee, Jack provided dedicated and exemplary leadership through his involvement with Orange County's professional sports teams and convention and visitor bureaus as well as organizations like the Boy Scouts and Bowers Museum."

Fittingly, Marty Sklar was a speaker at another memorial celebration held in Jack's honor. "A great event that Disney staged," Marty said. "I'm using what I said as the core of my column for the Disney Vacation Club's Fall Disney Files magazine."

To be sure, it's going to be a fun-filled tribute, chock-full of many great stories ... and plenty of love, from one dear friend to another.

May 12, 2016

MAKO - A New Species of Coaster!

By Guest Blogger Jeremiah Good
MAKO Shark - Isurus oxyrinchus
Found all over the world
Weighing up to 1000 pounds
Length ranging from 6 to 12 feet
Fastest shark with speeds up to 60 mph
MAKO™- B&W Hyper Coaster
Found only at SeaWorld in Orlando, Fl.
Highest point 200 feet
More than a mile in length
Top speed of 73 mph

Early morning May 10, a month prior to official opening date, a handful of brave souls gathered to take a first look behind the walls of SeaWorld Orlando's newest coaster - MAKO™.


With still a lot of work left to be done we were given a look at MAKO™ Plaza and our first glimpse of the queue entrance.


Once we all gathered, Brian Morrow - VP of Theme Park Experience and Design gave a short presentation of the work he and his team did on bringing MAKO™ to life.


Brian also gave us our first look at MAKO™ in action. As someone who loves coasters, this was very thrilling.

Now that you've had a chance to watch the coaster in action, I urge you to go back and take note of two things as it flew past us.

First, it is silent. For a ride of this size and speed, that is amazing. Second, listen to the music change in the plaza. As Brian pointed out to us, there are different lighting and music changes each time the car flies past to give those guests walking by a taste of the attraction.


Walking into the queue we experienced something that SeaWorld has become great at doing -- we felt almost as if we ourselves were a creature of the sea exploring a new environment. Even though the line is not complete and there was work still going on all around us, it was evident this area was not going to be just a lot of switchbacks, but a rich storytelling element for the attraction.


After a short climb we were at the load station, which continues that feeling created by the queue -- it puts you in the role of the MAKO™ shark.


Brian, showing his passion for the theme and story of the attraction, gave a short presentation on how technologically advanced the loading area will be. He claimed that no matter whether you are in the first row of the vehicle or the seventh, you will get a part of the story.

We were unable to ride MAKO™, but we did get to follow its path from the station out to the back area where we really got the sense of how massive this attraction is.


Standing in the shadow of the extreme 200-foot drop and right at the point where each car will achieve the maximum speed of 73 mph , Mike Denninger - VP Theme Park Development gave us a chance to lean more about MAKO™ standing just a few feet away from the track.

Not only is MAKO™ the tallest, fastest, and longest coaster in all Orlando, it also has a very unique feature -- 92 percent of the ride takes place over water, again adding to the theme that you are living the part of the Mako shark.

MAKO™ opens to the public on June 10, 2016, only at SeaWorld Orlando. I can guarantee this will be the attraction everyone will race to at park opening for a long time to come!

Official Press Release "MAKO Surfacing at SeaWorld Orlando June 10th"

About Jeremiah:

Born and raised in Southern California, Disneyland was always Jeremiah's home park. Walt Disney World was just a dream. After he relocated to Florida, the theme park capital of the world, his dream came true. With the opportunity to enjoy a different theme park every day of the week you never know where he will be.

Disclaimer: AllEars.Net was invited by SeaWorld Orlando to attend this media preview. Jeremiah's views are his own.

May 15, 2016

Disney’s Halloween Pet Parade

Gary Cruise banner

Every year our dogs Blue and Jake look forward to the costumed pet parade held at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground just before Halloween. It’s the high point on their social calendar!

Back in 2012 our boys Zak and Blue took third place honours with their costumes, Zak as the Headless Horseman and Blue as a canine aviator.

2012 Third Place Winners

The last few years the event has been held on October 30th, in the afternoon, and it always takes place in the off-leash dog park beside the 300 loop of campsites.

Dogs from across the continent . . . and the occasional very wary cat . . . put on their finest Halloween costumes and parade past the panel of judges from the nearby Best Friends Kennel. The nice folks at Best Friends provide all the prizes for the contest winners!

There is always a wide diversity of costumes . . .

Some are purchased.


Some are home made.

Home made costume

Some are formal.

Dog in a tuxedo

Some are just way cool!

Cool shades

Many are Disney themed.

Snow White


Toy Story

There are cute little pets.

A Maltese named Preston

A cute pair of dogs

There are giant beasts who outweigh their humans.

Great Danes

Some costumes are whimsical.

Tooth Fairy

Cowboy dog

A Packers fan

Some costumes are lavish.

Wicked Witch of the Weird

Here's one of those wary cats I mentioned earlier! Is that Cheshire Cat masquerading as White Rabbit?

Wary cat

Once everyone has paraded past the judging area . . .

Contestants on parade

. . . everyone waits, filled with anticipation . . .

Awaiting the results

. . . while the judges tally the scores!

The judges

Then the results are announced!

The winners in 2010 . . . Jack, Sally and Zero.

Jack, Sally and Zero

In 2015 it was a Star Wars family. The two dogs were dressed as R2D2 and C3PO.

Star Wars family

Our puppies have been shut out since that third place finish in 2012, but they're determined to get back into the limelight. They will parade in their brand new costumes in just under six months and they're already getting excited!

If you're looking for a change of pace at Walt Disney World you might want to drop by for the annual Halloween pet parade. Call the Bike Barn at Fort Wilderness (407-824-2742) to confirm the date and time.

If you can't wait until October, click on the white arrow in the image below to enjoy a ten-minute video of the 2015 event provided by our good friends at MouseSteps.com.

Note: Parking is very limited at Fort Wilderness. If you plan to come see the pet parade you should plan on using Disney transportation. Come by Disney bus, or catch a boat from the Magic Kingdom, Contemporary Resort or Wilderness Lodge.

Blue, Jake, Carol and I will be there to say hello!

May 23, 2016

Tom Nabbe, Disneyland's Tom Sawyer, had a big hand in bringing Walt Disney World's monorail system to life

Tom Nabbe poses for a photo in 1957 on Tom Sawyer Island. [Courtesy of Tom Nabbe]

CHUCK SCHMIDT / Still Goofy about Disney
AllEars.Net Guest Blogger

To many people, riding the monorail at Walt Disney World is one of those must-do experiences when they make it down to the Vacation Kingdom of the World.

For one thing, the monorails are free. For another, they're air-conditioned [a true blessing during the scorching summer months]. They offer panoramic views of the property, and let's face it: What tops actually riding through a hotel's Grand Concourse the way the monorails glide in and out of the Contemporary Resort? And, when compared to most of the popular attractions inside the four parks, there's usually not much of a wait.

When monorails were first introduced at Disneyland in 1959, they were truly a futuristic mode of transportation ... a glimpse at what moving large quantities of people in an efficient, timely manner might look like in the not-too-distant future.

Although they've never really caught on as was hoped, they remain an iconic presence at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Tom Nabbe, who was hired by Walt Disney in 1955 to play the roles of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn on Tom Sawyer Island, remembers seeing the monorails when they debuted in 1959, wanting very much to pilot one of those Buck Rogers-inspired vehicles.

By 1959, he had outgrown his role as Mark Twain's mischievous youngsters and had transitioned into a ride operator, primarily for the Jungle Cruise and Submarine Voyage attractions. But the monorails seemed to be calling his name. "At the time, the steam trains and monorails were run by Retlaw [a division in the Walt Disney Company which was owned by heirs within the Disney family; Retlaw is Walter spelled backwards] and you had to be at least six feet tall to operate them."

The vertically challenged Nabbe refused to let that stop him, however. He was persistent, to say the least. When he didn't have an assigned shift at the park, he'd show up anyway. "I'd sit in the operations office and hope for people to call in sick or that the park would get real busy. If that happened, the supervisor knew I was there, so he didn't have to call around to get somebody else to come in." If he wasn't needed on a particular day, "I'd head off to the beach and go surfing."

In the mid-1960s, when word began filtering through the Disney cast member ranks that the company was looking for experienced operators to help open a new Disney theme park in central Florida, Tom was well-positioned for the big career shift. "I couldn't think of many people more qualified than me, since I had been at Disneyland since opening day and it was Walt himself who hired me."

The Disneyland monorail, with just three cars, pulls into the station near Tomorrowland. [The Walt Disney Company]

He also had the respect of his immediate boss, Pete Crimmings, who encouraged him to take on more of a supervisory role at Disneyland, all with an eye to making the big move to Walt Disney World. After several years learning the management ropes under friend and mentor Crimmings, Tom was ready to head east and take on new challenges.

Tom and his wife Janice were part of a small army of Disneyland cast members who relocated from southern California to central Florida to help bring Walt's "latest and greatest dream" to life. The Nabbes moved in January of 1971.

Once they arrived and settled in the Orlando area, Tom finally got his chance to work on the monorails, overseeing the construction of the stations and the beamways that would service the Magic Kingdom and the two resorts [Contemporary and Polynesian] that bordered on the Seven Seas Lagoon.

"We built the whole system on swampland," he told me. "I was involved in the layout of the stations, as well as major decisions involving the beams for the monorails. The beams were built in Tacoma, Washington, and shipped here to Florida by rail."

Tom recounts how, as the beam-laden train was making its way through Georgia, it rounded a sharp curve. "Two 110-foot beams rolled off the train," he said. Those two beams were scheduled to be placed right outside the Contemporary Resort. Two new beams were quickly re-manufactured and sent to Florida, but "they never quite matched up with the originals. You can feel it today ... a little transition right as you roll over those two beams."

Tom became an expert on those monorail beams while helping to get the entire system up and running. "The beams are made up of stainless steel tubes and cables welded together, all pulled tight under stress."

He would routinely walk on the beams as a way to "check the loop, foot by foot," to get a "feel" for each of them. He'd walk from the Transportation and Ticket Center station up the gradual incline to the Contemporary, check the station there, then walk the beam down to the Magic Kingdom station. Then he'd make the long walk, over marshland and the Seven Seas Lagoon, to the Polynesian [the Grand Floridian was still years away from being built].

The monorail exits the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World. Yes, Tom Nabbe actually walked along those beams during the construction phase of the system. [The Walt Disney Company]

The beam is 60 feet off the ground at its highest point at the Contemporary. It also is about 30 inches wide, which didn't leave much room for error as Tom went on his regular jaunts. "It was the only way I could move through all the stations during times of heavy construction," he said. "It wasn't that bad being up there, as long as it wasn't windy."

There are several differences between the monorails in Disneyland and those in operation at Walt Disney World. For one, passengers on board a Disneyland monorails can cool off by opening a window. For another, the Disneyland monorails only operate in one direction, making their way through Disneyland Park, California Adventure and the Downtown Disney District in one continuous loop.

"To reverse the Disneyland monorails, you can only go 2 or 3 miles per hour," Tom said. "If they backed up any faster, connection shoes that operated off a bus bar would derail. The monorails at Disney World were designed to go in both directions."

During WDW's early days, the monorails went in both directions on a daily basis. "I learned real quick that everyone wanted to go through the Contemporary," he said. "If guests arrived in the morning, and didn't go through the Contemporary, they'd stay on the monorail for an extra trip. As soon as we figured this out, we adjusted. At about 4 in the afternoon, we'd switch the direction of the train" [so guests leaving the park would get to experience the trip through the Contemporary's still-spectacular Grand Concourse].

In the beginning, the WDW monorails consisted of five cars per train. The capacity was about 120 guests. "Improvements were made over the years with six-car trains, standing room and additional doors ... 22 doors on each side of the train," Tom said. "You'd push a button to open all 22 doors simultaneously. All the doors had to be closed together. Inevitably, we would pinch somebody's hand or arm." Disneyland's monorail doors only open on one side, while at WDW [at least at the Magic Kingdom station] guests board and exit using both sides of the cars.

The Magic Kingdom station at Walt Disney World, easily the busiest station on property, needed the most "tweaking" in the months after the park opened.

"It was because of the Florida rains," Tom said. "When it started to rain there was only enough room to unload maybe one train load of guests under cover on the outside of the Magic Kingdom station platform. Then we would have to shut down the operation until we could clear the station platform of guests. Sometimes we would just park a train in the station and let the guests sit there until the rain would let up.

"But we could unload five to six trains of guests onto the center of the station platform. We set up temporary holding areas and gates until the station could be redesigned and modified to fit the new S.O.P. [standard operating procedure]. The down ramps needed to be covered and all of the direction signage for the local and express monorails needed to be relocated to the bottom of the new entrance ramps.

"Every day was a new learning curve for us!"

I asked Tom if there ever was any thought given to expanding the monorail system beyond the Magic Kingdom/Epcot lines.

Tom Nabbe as he appeared on the cover of Parade Magazine in 1957. [Courtesy of Tom Nabbe]

"If you go back to the original drawings, the monorail system went to an industrial park off Route 192, then Epcot, then the Magic Kingdom and, finally, the hotels," Tom said. "Actually, there were three destinations, if you look at the original map that Walt is standing in front of [when he first introduced the world to Walt Disney World in the Florida Project film]. The Transportation and Ticket Center was in the north end of loop.

"The original monorail was very expensive, about two to three million dollars to build a mile of track" ... which goes a long way in explaining why the monorail system hasn't been expanded to, say, Animal Kingdom.

Once the monorails were up and running efficiently, Tom's career segued into more behind-the-scenes challenges: He took on supervisory roles in WDW's massive logistical warehouses, assisting in the openings of Epcot and Disneyland Paris. For a guy who was very much in the spotlight at a very early age, playing the roles of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn at Disneyland [he even had his photo on the cover of Parade Magazine in 1957], he made a smooth transition into those less visible, yet vitally important backstage roles.

For all of his efforts throughout his 48-year career with Disney, he received a window on Main Street in Walt Disney World in his honor [it's behind the Main Street Cinema marquee], as well as recognition as a Disney Legend.

For more on Tom Nabbe's fascinating career, get your hands on a copy of his book, From Disneyland's Tom Sawyer to Disney Legend: The Adventures of Tom Nabbe.

May 29, 2016

Disney’s Halloween Golf Cart Parade

Gary Cruise banner

One of the highlights of the Halloween celebration at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground is the amazing golf cart parade.

Imagine a slow moving procession of golf carts festooned with bunting, streamers, signs, banners, cobwebs, ghosts, skeletons, lights and all sorts of seasonal décor.

Last year there were about 140 carts in the parade which stepped off at 5:00 p.m. on Halloween day. Some of those carts were absolutely astounding. Many Disney campers display unbelievable creativity!

Woody and Jessie led the parade in 2014!

Woody and Jessie

Disney bus

No . . . that's not a Disney bus, it's a golf cart!

Fort Wilderness cabin

No . . . that's not a Fort Wilderness cabin, it's a golf cart!

Hitchhiking ghost

Is that a hitchhiking ghost driving a spooky golf cart?

Many carts are Disney themed!



Toy Story

Tow Mater

Haunted Mansion

Evil Queen

Some have non-Disney characters.

Hulk, Wonder Woman and Superman



Some are just cute!

Dunkin Donuts

Happy Halloweiner

Seven Dwarfs

Green Bay Packers fan

It takes imagination, ingenuity, money and time to convert a golf cart into a space ship or a hearse!

Star Wars ship

Haunted Mansion Hearse

Horse Drawn hearse

Horse Drawn hearse

You might think that all these fabulously decorated golf carts are privately owned by campers who bring them from home. Some of them are . . . but that is not always the case. Many of them, probably the majority of the decorated carts, are rentals! Yes, folks vacationing in Disney cabins, travel trailers and tents really enjoy renting golf carts from Disney and entering them in the parade. They use their wild imaginations together with materials they have brought along with them to convert the rental carts into rolling pieces of art!

It's just astounding what people can do with cardboard, duct tape, PVC pipe and paint!

There are usually a few pirate ships!

Pirate Ship

Pirate Ship

Here are a couple of Kilimanjaro Safari trucks.

Kilimanjaro Safari

Kilimanjaro Safari

These enterprising campers hooked two rented golf carts together to make the Slinky Dog from Toy Story. What a great idea!

Slinky Dog

Disney judges parade entrants and provides prizes for the best decorated ones. What does it take to win the top prize?

The house from Up

The house from Up

The winning cart in 2012 was a replica of Carl and Ellie's house from the movie Up!

Millennium Falcon

The winning cart in 2015 was a replica of Han Solo's Millennium Falcon.

If you want to see plenty more of those fabulous golf carts click on the white arrow below to watch a 22 minute video of the 2015 parade produced by our good friends at MouseSteps.com

If you find yourself at Walt Disney World on October 31st and you're looking for something really different . . . the Halloween Golf Cart Parade might be just what you're looking for. The last few years it has started at 5:00 p.m. but be sure to call the Bike Barn at Fort Wilderness (407-824-2742) to confirm the time.

Maybe Carol and I will see you there!

Note: Parking is very limited at Fort Wilderness. If you plan to come see the golf cart parade you should plan on using Disney transportation. Come by Disney bus, or catch a boat from the Magic Kingdom, Contemporary Resort or Wilderness Lodge.

Return to Blog Central

About May 2016

This page contains all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in May 2016. They are listed from oldest to newest.

April 2016 is the previous archive.

June 2016 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.