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July 6, 2016

Animal Kingdom Date Night

By Guest Blogger Kay Belin

Over the years I have been asked many times about where can parents, grandparents, and couples go at Walt Disney World for a fun "date night". Disney has many superb dining options and lounges throughout the property but I think I found something that will offer you more then just a good meal.

The Animal Kingdom park has evolved to offer evening hours, new dining options, special shows and entertainment. My husband and I had a quick trip to Disney this past week and we decided to visit the Animal Kingdom to check out all the new offerings. It ended up being one of the most enjoyable, relaxing evenings ever spent.


We started the evening with dinner reservations and we opted for a dining package for the new restaurant, Tiffins. The dining package includes a three course dinner and reserved seating for the 9:00pm Jungle Book Show. This park has needed another table service option for a long time and Tiffins fits this need. It is a place where you will want to walk around and see the decor and all the details that were used to make it very authentic. There are three dining rooms with different themes and decorations but all three share the same menu.


One of the highlights is the big and beautiful Nomad lounge available to all guests whether you are there for dinner or not. There is comfortable seating inside and out and a fun and extensive drink menu.


Dinner was very relaxing and service was superb. Portion sizes for the most part were adequate and the flavors and uniqueness of the choices were excellent. Although our dining room was full we never felt crowded and the noise level was low making conversation easy which is always nice when out on a date.


After dinner it was time to stroll the park. This was probably my favorite time of the evening as we were drawn by the music being played in different locations. African dancing and songs were being enjoyed by many guests. It was easy to add a smile and move your own body to keep in time with the rhythm. The shops were open and it was an excellent time to browse or purchase as the crowd levels were lower in the evening.


You can simply walk and enjoy the atmosphere or head to some of the many attractions that are open in the evening. One of the most popular will be the evening Safari adventures. Watching the animals as the sun begins to set is exciting and many of them will be waking up from their day long naps and moving about. If you are looking for something more exciting then head to Everest where you will truly get the best view of a sunset in the park as you climb the mountain.

We were not interested in hitting the attractions but did notice that wait times were very short so it didn't seem to be necessary to have FastPasses at this time.

We gave ourselves plenty of time to head to the seating area for the Jungle Book show. For the dining package guests it is directly across from the Finding Nemo show entrance. For the FastPass guests the seating is across from Everest. We were told to be sure and get there by 8:30pm as at 8:45pm they will open all sections up for standby guests to fill. There were cast members who were interacting with the guests which made the time go by quickly. There are handicap areas in the first rows for wheelchairs and ECV's and they will direct you to that area when you arrive. I will share a word of caution about the seating. The benches are hard and quite hot. It will be like sitting on a rock that is out in the open sun all day. So come prepared and have something to sit on and it will make it much more enjoyable.


The Jungle Book show is something that was pulled together when there was a delay to their premiere show, Rivers of Light. I watched with little expectation but we thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of it. Every guest will have a good view, the sound was not too loud, and the entertainment was fun. This show is not necessarily the best Disney has produced but it certainly was a fun way to enjoy an evening. The water images were not clear and if you had not seen the Jungle Book the images would be hard to understand. But whether you have seen the movie or not the entertainment was fun. My favorite part of the show were the three fire twirlers....what an amazing group of talented cast members. And I don't want to forget the incredible dancers and singers who participated.


As we exited the show area we again felt the draw of music and found an entertainer playing near the Flame Tree Barbecue. In a matter of minutes the Tree of Life came to life with its own new story of projections and lights. It was magical and a perfect way to end our evening in the Animal Kingdom Park.

We found this a perfect "date night" opportunity but it doesn't have to exclude the families. There are so many different things to do in this park to fill an evening between signature dining at Tiffins to authentic street entertainment to an exciting show. The crowd numbers were well handled so it didn't feel like you were among the masses. And it was interesting but all the guests seemed to be in a more relaxed mood then at many of the other parks in the evening. You can add excitement by enjoying attraction rides or you can just walk and enjoy the ambiance and sunsets. I am confident we will be heading back to an evening in the Animal Kingdom park on our next visit.

July 10, 2016

What Do You Do When The Planning Is Done?

Gary Cruise banner

One of the Facebook pages I read on a regular basis is “You May Be a Canadian Disney Addict If . . . “ The page is populated by dedicated Disney fans from across Canada and describes itself as “Where everything Disney meets the Great White North.”

I was fascinated by a post I saw there just a few days ago.

Christine M. from Hamilton, Ontario wrote: “Do you ever feel sad when your trip is all planned and there is nothing left to do but wait? Sometimes I make up imaginary things to keep me busy, like making itineraries I won't actually look at, just to have something vacation related to do. I am at 96 days - ADR's are done and it’s too early for FastPasses. What else can I do to feel the Disney magic while I wait?

I’m sure we’ve all felt Christine’s frustration. While you plan your Disney vacation there are spurts of activity as you hit those important time thresholds; you can make your hotel reservations as much as 499 days in advance, book your dining reservations 180 before your trip and make those FastPass+ bookings at the 60 day mark. (By the way, do you need a handy tool to help you determine those important booking dates? Try the Planning Strategy Calculator. It’s easy and it’s free. Give it a try by clicking the link HERE.)

For many of us, the planning is almost as much fun as the trip! So how do we keep the magic alive during the lulls, between those key dates, those brief flurries of activity? As you read above, Christine makes up imaginary itineraries. They are quite detailed, and even colour-coded. It sounds like she puts a lot of effort into schedules she will never use!

Some of the other readers offered some interesting comments and suggestions.

1. Cheryl S. from Uxbridge, Ontario, Charissa T. from Jordan Station, Ontario, Allainna S. and Tara K. all watch Disney related YouTube videos and vlogs.

2. Jen L. from Georgetown, Ontario makes Mickey ears and door decorations to pass the time.

3. Laura M. from Hamilton, Ontario suggests: “Watch YouTube videos of where you will be staying and rides you like. Read Disney trivia. Watch movies related to particular rides.”

4. Michelle G. keeps checking her airline for cheaper flights, earlier in the day.

5. Jennie B. makes Disney activity books to keep her kids busy on the plane.

6. Tara H. shops for Disney themed outfits. (Tara must be a “Disney-bounder”)

7. Michelle B. reads Disney Food Blogs and plans all of her family’s meals.

8. I chuckled when I read Lisa C.’s comment. She wrote, “Thank God it's not just me!

No Lisa, you can be absolutely certain that it’s not just you! I could visualize my wife Carol and a lot of our “Disney friends” as I read the comments and activities listed above. I think most Disney fans enjoy the planning almost as much as they enjoy the trip itself!

There are plenty of tools to help plan your Disney vacation. The shelves in your local book store probably contain a number of different books dedicated to planning your Disney trip, but it’s also nice to have first-hand tips from other travellers. Don’t forget to check out the AllEars Reader’s Tips Archive; it’s just packed full of good ideas. You can find it by clicking the link HERE. In fact, that’s something you can do between those key booking dates, read some helpful tips from AllEars fans.

Of course, there have to be many other ways to keep your entire family excited and enthused about your upcoming trip. Why don’t you share some of your ideas with us!

How do you keep the Disney magic alive during those planning lulls?

July 11, 2016

Wayne Hunt and Hunt Design: As Disney as a non-Disney company can be


New signage at the San Diego Zoo was designed by Hunt Design of Pasadena, Calif. [Courtesy of Hunt Design]

For most of his working life, Wayne Hunt has made a name for himself by telling people where to go.


Hunt, the principal founder of Hunt Design, a California-based graphic design company that specializes in creating signage of all shapes and sizes, has a strong connection to the Walt Disney Company even though, as he puts it, "I've never taken a payroll check" from Disney.

"Hunt Design has been a near continuous signage and graphics consultant to Disney since the late 1970s," Wayne said recently. "We've played minor roles in eight or so of the parks, multiple hotels, RD&E, D23 shows, etc."

Wayne Hunt [Courtesy of Hunt Design]

Established in 1977, Hunt Design specializing in wayfinding design, signage systems, environmental graphics and exhibit design for public spaces, parks, museums, attractions, retail projects, entertainment centers, hospitality and multi-use developments. Wayne also has authored three books on signage and related graphics design.

Hunt Design's services include identity development, signage master planning, site evaluation reports, concept consultation, programming, schematic design, design development, documentation and implementation supervision. Hunt Design has a staff of 14 and has been located in Pasadena, Calif., since 1983.

Most recently, Hunt Design made contributions to the new Shanghai Disneyland Resort.

"We had a couple nice pieces in Shanghai, especially a lot of the Tomorrowland signage," Wayne said. "We think we are about as Disney as a non-Disney company can be."

Wayne Hunt has had a long and fruitful relationship with former Walt Disney Imagineering creative leader Marty Sklar, spanning 40-plus years.

"I go back with Marty to 1974!" Wayne said. "I was a young designer working on the first two hotels at Walt Disney World and Marty was a WED Enterprises writer tasked with naming the stores, restaurants — even the food items.

"Even then he was a tough critic and keeper of the creative flame. I've probably worked with him or eventually had to make presentations to him on dozens of occasions — a few each year."

Signage created by Hunt Design for the city of Burbank, Calif. {Courtesy of Hunt Design]

Marty, who has always had a sharp eye for talent, saw something special in Wayne above and beyond his design skills and asked him to become involved with one of his pet projects — Ryman Arts.

"In 2007 or so, he talked me into joining the board of Ryman Arts [of which Marty was one of the founders] and a few calendar pages in the wind later, I replaced him as president of Ryman in 2014. Big shoes to fill.

"He remains a beloved and iconic figure in my life."

The feeling is mutual.

"Wayne became one of — if not THE best — graphic designers and firms in Southern California. He has done a ton of work for Disney over the years — especially in the hotels.

"We were fortunate to get him on our Ryman Arts board about 10 years ago and started 'grooming' him to succeed me as president," Marty said.

Disney Legend Herb Ryman [The Walt Disney Company]

"He also teaches graphics at the Art Center in Pasadena. He's a great guy to work with and Wayne and Carla are a wonderful couple to know!"

Imagine that. Making a name for yourself telling people where to go.

"Helping people access, enjoy and understand complex places is both an art and a science," Wayne says. "We're really in the place-making business."

Ryman Arts was founded in 1990, a year after legendary artist Herb Ryman passed away. Ryman was arguably Walt Disney's favorite artist, according to Marty Sklar, and the free, fine arts education program he helped inspire, based in Los Angeles, gives young students an opportunity to learn from some of the finest artists in the country.

According to Marty, "Herb introduced the public to many new Disney projects: The Matterhorn and New Orleans Square, Cinderella's Castle at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, the entrance and major pavilions in Epcot, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. His body of work is unequaled in the Disney Park vernacular."

Some examples of artwork created by Ryman Arts students. [Courtesy of Ryman Arts]

Marty and his wife Leah were among the six founding members of Ryman Arts, a non-profit organization. Joining them were Lucille Ryman Carroll [Herb's sister, who wanted her brother's legacy to be known far and wide]; Sharon Disney Lund [Walt Disney's youngest daughter, "who was always there, quietly, without fanfare, buying supplies, paying a bill without telling anyone," according to Marty] and Buzz and Anne Price ["the glue" for Ryman Arts, according to Marty]. The Prices' son, David, is currently on Ryman Arts' Board of Directors, carrying on the family tradition.

And, of course, there's current Ryman Arts president Wayne Hunt, who, as is his wont, has helped keep the program pointed in the right direction.

"Wayne has done a great job," Marty says enthusiastically. "He's a terrific spokesman for the program, and the arts in general."

July 17, 2016

UPDATE: How to Volunteer for a runDisney Event


Rebecca Foreman
AllEars® Guest Blogger


A few months ago, I wrote an article for the AllEars® newsletter explaining how to volunteer for a runDisney event. Almost all of that information has now changed! Therefore, I wanted to give as much updated information as I can.

Volunteering for a Disney race is now as popular as running in one. Registration can fill in a day. To make registration go quicker, I recommend that you already have an account on the registration website, so that when you sign up for a race, you don’t have to go through full registration process. Note that runDisney no longer uses Active.com for volunteer sign up. The new website address is: https://volunteerambassadorwdw.my-trs.com/

You can no longer register other volunteers on the same account. Each volunteer, including children, must have his or her own account attached to an individual email. That means only one person per email address. Teams are welcome to work races, and you can now register a team on this site. Creating an account is simple and straightforward.

The first page you will see is the Welcome page. At the top is the new symbol, stylized people of different colors creating a star, with the words “VOLUNTEER AMBASSADOR TEAM” at the top of the page. Below will be a general description of volunteering. On the right, you will see LOGIN and CREATE A NEW ACCOUNT buttons. New registrants will click on the CREATE button.


The next page will show a single blue box with the words VOLUNTEER AMBASSADOR TEAM. Click SELECT.


A list will appear that explains the VOLUNTEER AMBASSADOR TEAM CODE OF CONDUCT. When you have read this, click CLOSE.


In the grey box beneath the explanation of contact information, you will tick the white box, stating you are interested in Volunteer Ambassador Team events.

A new list will be added to the right side of the page. At the bottom right of the page, Click NEXT.



Finish creating your account by providing your email address, first and last name, and your password. Once you are registered, you can return to this page and log in to adjust your profile data. Again, to make signing up for runs quicker, complete your profile BEFORE the race registration date.

There are a few ways of getting to your account on the day of sign up.

The easiest way is to sign into your Volunteer Ambassador Team Account. This will take you to your EVENT dashboard where you will see EVENTS YOU HAVE SIGNED UP FOR, either as an individual or as a team leader; AVAILABLE EVENTS, to register for specific runs or events that are open; and CONTINUE REGISTRATION, which lists future events that are not yet open. These events include volunteer chances for other than runDisney races. Once you see your event under AVAILABLE EVENTS, click on it. Since this is a brand new system, I have not seen the rest of the registration process. However, if it is anything like how it used to be, you will be given the choice of date, shift time and race.



Another way is to start on the runDisney website. First, go to http://www.rundisney.com/volunteer/. You can also get to this page from www.rundisney.com at the bottom under OTHER LINKS. This is the official page for runDisney events and you can check for information and the status of events by clicking the down arrow where is says VOLUNTEER FOR SELECT AN EVENT, which is located UNDER the pictures. (The EVENTS button at the top of the page next to the runDisney title is for runner information) On the day of sign up, choose the race, click on REGISTRATION. When it’s time, the words REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN will appear. Click on this and it will take you to your volunteer account page. Once you log in, go down to AVAILABLE EVENTS and choose the race you are signing up for.

There are many other opportunities to volunteer for. If you are interested in volunteering for other sports events, go to https://espnwwos.com and click on VOLUNTEER. This will take you to a list of events at Disney ESPN Wide World of Sports, which include runDisney races. These all count toward Disney points awards. You can use this page to navigate to registration. When the race registration opens, click on it, it will take you to the runDisney page. Click on REGISTRATION NOW OPEN to take you to your Log in. This is the most roundabout way and better used for ESPN events.

Now that you know how to register, your next question is probably "When?" For runDisney events, volunteer registration is 3 to 4 months before the event. Sign up dates for 2016-17 are as follows:

Disneyland Half Marathon, Sept 1-4, 2016 Closed
Disneyland Paris, Sept 23-25, 2016 Closed
WDW Disney Wine & Dine, Nov 3-6, 2016 July 26, 2016, Noon (ET)
DL Super Heroes, Nov 10-13, 2016 July 19, 2016, 9am (PDT)
WDW Marathon, Jan 4-8, 2017 Sept 13, 2016 Noon (ET)
DL Star Wars- Light Side, Jan 12-15, 2017 Sept 27, 2016 9am (PDT)
WDW Disney Princess, Feb 23-26, 2017 Nov 15, 2016 Noon (ET)
WDW Star Wars- Dark Side, Apr 20-23, 2017 Not yet announced
DL Tinker Bell, May 11-14, 2017 February

These times and dates may change, so be sure to sign up for emails on the runDisney site at the bottom under OTHER LINKS and check the site occasionally.

Then you have to decide which events you want to volunteer for. (I have only volunteered at WDW, so can only speak of these races) Your choices will include the race Expo, which is indoors; the kids’ races; Race Retreat; the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon or Full Marathon (Marathon weekend only). ALL races are now very early morning races. You choose a shift for the Expo, Half Marathon and Marathon (you will also choose an assignment at this time) and do a general sign-up for the rest of the races (You will choose your assignment when you arrive for your shift). (Again, this information may change with the new system.)

Those of you who have volunteered before know that Disney compensates their volunteers with points and park tickets. The ESPN events, race Expo and kids' races are all on the point system. You receive 1 point for each hour you volunteer. When you reach 16 points, you are mailed a 1-Day 1-Park ticket, good for any of the Walt Disney World theme parks. (Be aware that your points will be erased at the end of the year, they will not carry over.) For each shift completed for the 5K, 10K, Half and Full Marathons, a 1-Day 1-Park ticket will be mailed to you within 60 days. (They will no longer hand you a ticket at the end of a half or full marathon shift.)

Another change is that for the 5K, 10K, Half and Full marathon you MUST pick up special credentials BEFORE the race. When you sign up for a race, you will receive a packet (envelope) about 30 days before race weekend that will include your scheduled shifts, directions and paper name tag. For the longer races, you must pick up a different name tag (credentials) in order to volunteer. You can pick these up at an early pick-up or at the Expo. You will also need to bring a signed waiver, found on the runDisney race page. Volunteers must be 14 years old and up, younger than 16 must be accompanied by an adult registered for the same shift. Those 18 and younger must have a parent waiver when signing in.

If you have specific questions, do not hesitate to contact them. For Walt Disney World runs, call 407-938-3880, or email wdw.sportsenthusiast@disneysports.com. For Disneyland runs, email DLrunDisney.Volunteers@disneysports.com. For those with a medical background who would like to volunteer, call the Medical Volunteer Hotline at 407-303-4053.

Volunteering for runDisney events means you will start very early, you will be standing for up to 8 hours, and you will be outside in the weather (rain or shine), but those hours go by quicker than you expect. So, when you decide to volunteer, expect to show up well-rested, wearing comfortable closed-toed shoes, prepared for the weather, and most of all, with a smile on your face and encouragement for the runners. It is definitely rewarding.

During the first of her two runDisney races, Rebecca Foreman decided that it looked like the volunteers were having so much fun, she had to try it for herself. She was right, and is now hooked! Walt Disney World holds a special place in her heart as the best family trip taken when she was a child, and it still gives her that nostalgic, magical feeling every time she is lucky enough to get there.

July 25, 2016

Guide Maps: A Roadmap Through Disney Parks History


In a recent AllEars.Net blog, I alluded to my odd quirk of getting my hands on guide maps each and every time I enter a Disney theme park. I will usually grab three -- one for actual use during the visit, another to save for posterity and a third one just in case something happens to the other two. I've been doing this since we first visited Walt Disney World in the early 1970s. If nothing else, they make for some nice keepsakes.

Needless to say, I've built up quite a collection over the years. When I return home, I usually put the new additions to my collection in an envelope and mark it with the date of the trip.

I have some pretty diverse maps in my collection. I have maps from our visit last year to Disneyland Paris [unlike WDW and Disneyland, which offer maps for each individual park, Disneyland Paris maps are all-inclusive, with maps and details for Disneyland Park and the Walt Disney Studios]. I even have one from Tokyo Disneyland [thanks to our son, who visited there during a business trip a few years ago] ... in both English and Japanese, no less!

The cover of a Walt Disney World guide map from 1974. [Chuck Schmidt collection]

I have a map from opening day at Animal Kingdom (April 22, 1998) as well as a Disneyland guide map with [gasp!] a typographical error: On the back of the guide map, from 1998, is a headline asking you to Make a name for yourself in Disneyand Park! That typo sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb.

I also have maps for Disney's two water parks, the Disney Springs [formerly Downtown Disney] shopping and entertainment district and the special events Disney throws during the year at the Magic Kingdom, including the Not So Scary Halloween and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas parties.

Often, I refer to these maps when I'm writing a blog, particularly when I want to get the exact name or the correct spelling of a show or attraction.

Admittedly, it's a pretty strange quirk of mine, collecting Disney guide maps, but considering they hand out these maps for free, why not save them? Besides, looking back at these guides is like leafing through the pages of a Disney history book; it allows me to get a historical perspective -- and, indeed, an accurate record -- of the way things were in Disney's ever-changing world.

The WDW guide map in 1996 featured a photo of the pink "castle cake," celebrating the resort's 25th anniversary. [Chuck Schmidt collection]

Who could forget Cinderella Castle decorated as a birthday cake during WDW's 25th anniversary? The bright pink "castle cake" was featured on guide maps in 1996. Or how about the bizarre [to me, anyway] Nahtazu promotion plastered on Animal Kingdom's maps a year or two after it opened? [After about a year of being clueless on the subject, it dawned on me exactly what they were talking about -- that Nahtazu meant Animal Kingdom was NOT A ZOO].

I mention all of this because during a recent visit to WDW, I noticed that the maps were a lot smaller than they used to be. For instance, the Magic Kingdom guide map back in 1998 was 16 x 18 inches in size, or 288 square inches. By comparison, a Magic Kingdom guide obtained in April measures 9¼ x 20, or 185 square inches. That's a size differential of 103 square inches per map. A savings for the environment, to be sure ... and a lot more room to expand my collection!

In 1986, during Walt Disney World's 15th anniversary, Epcot handed out a guide map that was 18 pages. [Chuck Schmidt collection]

By far the biggest map in my collection was distributed at Epcot in 1986. It was actually called a Guide BOOK. It came with 18 pages, stapled in the middle, and featured detailed descriptions of every attraction and food option in World Showcase and Future World. It's so big, they probably should have considered giving guests a free tote bag to lug the thing around the park.

Also in my collection is a guide map from 1974, with a cover featuring the Main Street parade, with two very different-looking Goofy and Mickey characters, a marching band and a lot of balloons. There are no elaborate floats visible. Pretty basic stuff for a Disney parade, especially when you consider what comes marching down Main Street these days.

The guide is titled: Tips On Your Visit. In the bottom right corner is the admonition: Please Read Now: This folder contains time-saving hints and a map for enjoying all of Walt Disney World. Inside, under the heading Making the Most of The Magic Kingdom, suggestions are made on how to plan your day. They even tell you when the shortest wait times are for certain attractions. Of course, if everyone entering the park had followed that tip and headed to the suggested rides, those short wait times would have quickly become ... very long.

The guide map from 1972, a year after Walt Disney World opened. [Chuck Schmidt collection]

But my prize possession is a guide map from the Magic Kingdom in 1972. That's the earliest one in my collection. I obtained the map during our first visit to WDW in November of 1972, a little over a year after the Magic Kingdom opened. The '72 map is strange, to be sure, and has an almost alternate universe quality to it. By that, I mean the photo on the cover only vaguely looks like today's Magic Kingdom. And the information inside never would cut it today as a viable tool to lead you around the park.

For one thing, the spots where Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain currently occupy space were just gray areas back then; Space Mountain, the WEDway PeopleMover [now the Tomorrowland Transit Authority] and Carousel of Progress were still on the drawing boards. Some of the now-departed attractions include the Mickey Mouse Revue, Flight to the Moon, If You Had Wings, Snow White's Scary Adventures, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, the Mike Fink Keel Boats and Davy Crockett's Canoes.

In Fantasyland, in the space where the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid now attract long lines, the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Submarine Voyage was the featured attraction.

The cover of the 1972 guide map features a beautiful color photo of Cinderella Castle, with the original Walt Disney World logo above it, with trees, green grass and a canal also visible. A number of flags can be seen flying in the castle forecourt. The map, compliments of GAF, is subtitled "Information Guide." It totals 34 pages and includes colorful maps of each themed land and numerous black-and-white photos of attractions in the park and on the property.

The book gives you detailed information on each land within the Magic Kingdom. For instance, in Adventureland, the attractions included the Swiss Family Island Treehouse, the Tropical Serenade and the Jungle Cruise. Dining options included the Adventureland Veranda, the Veranda Juice Bar and the Sunshine Tree Terrace. The book lists shops and stores, as well as entertainment specific to that land ... in this case, the Adventureland Steel Drum Band and the Safari Band.

They even made note of where the nearest ticket and information kiosk is located within each land.

Speaking of which, the guide map offered three pages of detailed information on the WDW coupon book policy of the time. Back then, you paid a general admission price to get into the park, then used a coupon to gain access to each attraction. Those attractions were broken down into thrill level, with an A coupon attraction being the mildest, B a little more thrilling, all the way up to E, which was considered the most exciting.

On April 22, 1998, Animal Kingdom opened and this was the guide map they handed out. [Chuck Schmidt collection]

The attractions requiring E coupons, which cost 90 cents each, included the Jungle Cruise, Country Bear Jamboree, The Hall of Presidents, The Haunted Mansion, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and It's a Small World [imagine that: Small World ... a thrill ride]. For frugal guests, there were three free attractions in the Magic Kingdom: The Diamond Horseshoe Revue, If You Had Wings and America the Beautiful.

There are also hints on where and when to dine (before noon and after 2 p.m.) as well as a reference to Blackbeard's Island -- "a tropical paradise of colorful island flowers and birds." Blackbeard's Island, located in Bay Lake near the Contemporary Hotel, went on to become Treasure Island, then Discovery Island in 1976. It received many zoological awards over the years before returning to its original calling before WDW opened -- a lush, unoccupied island in the middle of Bay Lake.

There are four full pages devoted to photo tips. Things like checking your equipment, composing your pictures, holding your camera steady and watching your focus. GAF also offers pointers for folks with movie cameras: Pan slowly, zoom sparingly and vary your scene length. There also is An Important Word About Flashbulbs ... which were prohibited in most indoor attractions.

And ticket prices? General admission, which included use of the Walt Disney World transportation system and seven coupons for rides, was $4.95 for adults, $4.50 for juniors [12-17 years old] and $3.95 for a child [3-11]. There was complimentary same-day readmission with hand stamp [remember doing that?] and -- for your safety -- shoes had to be worn at all times aboard WDW transportation [I guess it was OK to walk around barefoot on the blazing hot pavement during a mid-July day].

Ticket books [remember, back then, you needed a ticket to get on each ride] were recommended for "maximum thrift and enjoyment."

Some of the other little tidbits, many long outdated, featured in the 1972 guidebook included:

PET CARE: The Kal Kan Kennel Club was located in the Main Entrance Complex if you wanted to board your pet. The cost was 50 cents a day or $1 for an overnight stay.

FIRST AID: Registered nurses were on duty at all times in the first aid station next to the Crystal Palace. There also was a first aid station in Fantasyland near It's A Small World.

SECURITY: In most areas of the park, Walt Disney World security could be recognized by their "themed" attire.

PUBLIC TELEPHONES: Located throughout the Magic Kingdom.

CAMERA AND FILM SERVICE: Rental, service and film processing was available in the GAF Camera Center on Main Street.

And my personal favorite ...

REST ROOMS: Located throughout the Magic Kingdom. Ask any host or hostess for directions.

July 26, 2016

The Mousy Mindboggler - July 2016



If you subscribe to the AllEars® Weekly Newsletter, you'll know that we run a little game called the Mousy Mindboggler. Sometimes it's a word game, sometimes it's a riddle, sometimes it's some other brain-teasing challenge -- but it's always fun!

Once each month, in the AllEars® newsletter, our friend James Dezern (known as "dzneynut" around several Disney discussion forums) supplies us with a puzzle of his own design.

Every month, James also Shares the Magic in another way -- by posting an all-new puzzle here in this AllEars.Net Guest Blog. The subject of the puzzle will vary, and James will award the winner of the challenge a collectible Disney pin!

This month, James writes:

Here is the solution to the last crossword puzzle:


We received 37 correct responses, all of you knowing that the country music label founded on June 1, 1997, was indeed Lyric Street Records. It was so-named after the street in California where Walt and Roy Disney lived. It always amazes me that almost every person, building, street, characters, attractions, roads, bridges, paths, props, etc., have some of sort of name attached, and usually derive from something else in Disney lore. I believe that is the main reason for the popularity of anything Disney.

As an example, the pathway at Walt Disney World between the Boardwalk Resort and the entrance to Disney's Hollywood Studios has a name, which I dare you to try to find on any map or sign! Its name is the Judson Green Walkway, so named for Judson Green, who served as an upper level manager at WDW from 1981 to 1987. He also served as CFO of the Walt Disney Company from 1989 to 1991, was named president of Walt Disney Attractions in 1991 and chairman in 1998.

The winner of a Walt Disney World pin, randomly drawn from the correct responses, was Tracy H. of Birmingham, AL.

If you missed it, that’s OK, because here’s another chance.


This month we continue with the special crossword puzzle series, concentrating on Disney History. The subject of this month’s puzzle is “This Month in Disney History - July.” All of these events happened sometime during the month of July. Please note, for this puzzle ALL of the clues are used.

The object is, as always, to have fun, but if you'd like a chance to win a Disney collectible pin, send me the answer IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF AN EMAIL addressed to dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com.

Send your entries no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on August 24, 2016. All correct answers will be entered into a random drawing, and the winner will be awarded a Disney pin. The answers and drawing winner will be posted in this Guest Blog in mid- to late August.

As always, any feedback on the puzzle format or topics would be appreciated! Drop me a line at dzneynut.puzzle@gmail.com.


July 31, 2016

Dayton Disneyana 2016

Gary Cruise banner

Carol and I always look forward to our trip to Dayton, Ohio for the Disneyana Show and Sale hosted by the Dayton Plane Crazy Chapter of the Disneyana Fan Club. Carol and Rob love scouring the vendor tables looking for new items for their growing Disneyana collections while I enjoy the seminars and speakers.

Dayton Disneyana Guest Speakers

There’s something for everyone at Dayton Disneyana!

We normally travel through Ontario, across the north side of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, but this time we decided that we would try the southerly route to Dayton via New York and Pennsylvania, and on Sunday return home through Ontario.


We got away from our home in Eastern Ontario just after 6 a.m. Our 657-mile journey took us into New York, through Syracuse and Buffalo, then into Pennsylvania.

The south shore of Lake Erie is a very pleasant drive; vineyards along both sides of the highway reminded me of Ontario's foremost wine region, The Niagara Peninsula, about 25 miles away on the north shore of that same lake.

We stopped in Erie, PA for a quick bite of lunch and then crossed the Ohio State Line.

Ohio State Line

At Cleveland we left Interstate 90 behind and took a south-westerly tack to Dayton. We arrived at the Holiday Inn at Fairborn, a suburb of Dayton at 5:30.

I rested for a few minutes after the long drive while Carol got us all unpacked and settled for the weekend! Then it was time to go and meet some of our playmates.

The event chair, Anita, was outside the ballroom, busy with the usual flurry last minute arrangements, but she took a minute to invite the three of us to join them for dinner and meet the panel of guest speakers.

Margaret Kerry
Margaret Kerry with Anita Schaengold the background

Tom and Janice Nabbe
Tom Nabbe and his wife Janice

Wow, it was great. After dinner Jim Hill moderated as Terri Hardin, a former Disney Imagineer, dazzled us with her stories. She started her career as a puppeteer and worked with Jim Henson and the Muppets, worked with Michael Jackson in Captain EO, then as an Imagineer she worked on a variety of rides and attractions in the Disney Parks.

Jim and Terri

Terri's message was similar to Walt Disney’s “If you can dream it, you can do it!” but Terri added that you have to have passion for your dream and you have to fight for it.

Jim and Terri

Terri certainly displayed passion in her presentation and held us all spellbound for over an hour. She was so vibrant and so animated that it was tough to get a clear photograph. She just wouldn't keep still long enough!

What a great night!

Carol went pin trading until 11:00 - I crashed much earlier.

The Dayton event is very affordable; a one-day pass is $10.00, a two-day pass is $15.00 and the passes include admission to all of the seminars. The Friday and Saturday night dinners, featuring some outstanding guest speakers, are optional and are also very reasonably priced. The hotel offers very attractive group rates for rooms ($99/night this year) and 52 individuals or families took advantage of those rates.

Welcome Sign

Carol was signed up as an "Early Bird" so we had to get a quick start Saturday morning! The collectible sale opens to the public at 10:00 a.m. but Carol and Rob were two of the fifty people who paid $25.00 to get in 90 minutes early.

I wanted to get a few pictures before the eager shoppers got started so we made sure we got to the ballroom by 8:00 a.m.

Carol and Mickey

Carol picked up a collector plate that friends Bob and Latosha had found for her a few days earlier while I roamed the room snapping pictures.

Bob and Latosha

An eager vendor

There is always a fantastic variety of quality merchandise for sale and the vendors come from far and wide! This year there were 28 vendors who had 72 tables loaded with merchandise!

Disneyana treasures

Orange Bird collectibles

Hitchhiking Ghosts

Classic Board Games

Collector Plates

Erin Morehouse doesn't look all that eager to greet the shoppers . . . but she wasn't really as frightened as she appeared to be.

Erin Morehouse

Each year Erin and her husband Robby travel all the way from California to sell at Dayton Disneyana.

Packing the goody bags
Each early-bird was given a "goodie bag" packed full of little Disney treasures!

Early birds

While the Early Birds waited patiently outside the ballroom they were entertained by Dayton Plane Crazy chapter member Mary who pole-danced with the Mickey lamp post I donated for the charity auction!

Mary and Mickey

Finally it was 8:30 and the doors opened. The shoppers rushed in and took full advantage of their 90 minute pre-sale. Carol and Rob had their buying pretty much finished by 10:00 a.m.

Rush hour in Dayton

Rob with his goody bag

Happy shoppers

Tom Nabbe and his wife Janice were on hand all day meeting fans, answering questions and autographing books and photos.

Tom and Janice Nabbe

The first seminar speaker, at noon, was well-known Disney insider Jim Hill who spoke about the new live action version of the Jungle Book movie. His fascinating story began by describing how Disney acquired and produced the original animated version and then contrasted that process with the newer live action version.

Jim Hill

This is what I enjoy at sessions like Dayton Disneyana. I thrive on the “insider knowledge”, the Disney trivia. I like to hear the history behind the successes and failures, the triumphs and the duds.

Jim Hill has some amazing contacts in the Disney organization and he brings a wealth of knowledge and a keen insight to the table when he speaks.

Between seminars I joined Carol for a few minutes in the pin trading room. Things were hopping, there were plenty of traders this year!

Pin trading

The next speaker was a genuine Disney Legend . . . and being a Disney Legend is a big deal!

Tom Nabbe

The Disney Legend Award is a hall of fame program that recognizes individuals who have made an extraordinary and integral contribution to The Walt Disney Company. They have been chosen since 1987 by a select committee of senior Disney executives. There are fewer than 300 Disney Legends and our speaker Tom Nabbe is one of them! It's an exclusive group indeed!

Tom Nabbe's Powerpoint Slides
Click on the image above to see a larger version

He told the story of his varied career at Disney . . . and it was fascinating. Tom began selling newspapers outside the Harbor Gate to Disneyland in 1955, when the park was still under construction. The image above is a montage of slides from Tom's PowerPoint presentation. In the upper left slide you see newsboy Tom standing outside that Harbor Gate, flanked by Milton Berle and Jerry Lewis. By 1957 young Tom had persuaded Walt Disney to hire him to portray Tom Sawyer on the newly opened Tom Sawyer Island. The lower left slide shows Tom, in his Tom Sawyer persona, sitting with Walt and the final slide shows scenes from his Disney Legends presentation in 2005.

Tom Nabbe

The final seminar of the day featured Margaret Kerry and Terri Hardin. Margaret was a dancer and actress who was the live action model for Tinker Bell. Terri began as a puppeteer and later worked as a Disney Imagineer. Their panel discussion was moderated by Jim Hill.

Margaret and Terri

Margaret Kerry talked extensively about her career before and after Disney. She has worked with an astounding number of stars. She described meeting Walt, auditioning for him and winning the role! Margaret is an amazingly bright, charming and witty 87 year-old dynamo.

Margaret Kerry

In her Friday night presentation Terri Hardin focused on fighting for your dream with passion and Saturday afternoon she told us how she fought for her dream. As a young woman she had a passion for puppeteering and her drive took her to Jim Henson Studios where, at about 20 years of age, she landed a job in the Muppets show. She had us in stitches as she described working puppets from under a couch, under the floor, in some of the dustiest and dirtiest spots you can imagine.

Terri Hardin

She spoke about Michael Jackson who became her good friend on the set of Captain EO.

It was Terri's other passion, sculpting, that eventually took her to Disney where she worked as an Imagineer.

The seminars wrapped up at 4 p.m. - just in time for the costume contest.

Cheryl as Mary Poppins

More costumes

The contestants paraded through the ballroom, between the vendors tables and then assembled in the seminar theatre where they were judged by an expert panel. The happy winners are pictured below.

Costume winners

Carol, Rob and I had pre-booked for the special Saturday night dinner. We arrived in time for a cold beverage before dinner and then enjoyed a nice meal served buffet style.

After dinner Jim Hill acted as moderator once again as Tom Nabbe and Margaret Kerry spoke to the assembled group.

After dinner speakers

Tom grew too old for the Tom Sawyer role within a few years and moved on to other areas in the corporation. As soon as he turned 18 he moved to the Jungle Cruise but that was just the beginning. He spent many years working in the Parks and Attractions Division before moving into Distribution Services. His career spanned 48 years, beginning as a newsboy, hired by Walt Disney himself, and he retired as a senior executive.

Margaret spoke of her film career and we were all simple amazed. She began as a 4-year-old child actress in the "Our Gang" comedies. You might also remember them as "The Little Rascals".

Margaret Kerry

She worked with Bobby Driscoll, Andy Griffith, Eddie Cantor, the Three Stooges and so many others . . . what an amazing career. I can't wait to read her book, Tinker Bell Talks: Tales of a Pixie Dusted Life, which will be released August 7, 2016.

Terri Hardin won a Tsum-Tsum in the raffle draw and it brought out the puppeteer in her once again. You simply wouldn't believe what a talented puppeteer can do with a Tsum-Tsum. It was hilarious!

Terri and the Tsum-Tsum

Then it was time for the final event of the evening, the charity auction. There were some great items, including a Star Wars print signed by the artist, Shag. It sold for $200. The Mickey lamp was sold last and the bidding was intense. It finally sold for $215 and the auction raised a grand total of $710 for Ronald McDonald House and Give Kids The World!

The auction

After the auction Rob took a minute to have Margaret Kerry autograph the Tinker Bell print he won in a draw and I had a chat with Tom Nabbe.

Margaret and Rob

Tom Nabbe and Gary Cruise

We decided that there was no better way to end a perfect day than with a cold adult beverage.

Some quiet time with Tom Nabbe

Just Rob and I, hoisting a cold one with a real Disney Legend. How cool is that?

This legend even has a window on Main Street!

We enjoyed a more leisurely start on Sunday morning.

The ballroom full of vendors didn't open until 10 a.m. so we slept a bit later and then had breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Soon after Carol and I settled in the restaurant Tom and Janice Nabbe were seated at the table right beside us and we chatted with them throughout our meal.

We left the restaurant just before 10; it was time for Tom and Janice to get to work, for Carol to get some more browsing done and for me to snap a few more pictures. Along the way I bumped into Margaret Kerry and had a shot taken with her.

Gary with Margaret Kerry

The vendors were busy again on Sunday morning. That's when a lot of bargain hunters come out looking for deals . . . and there are usually some deals to be found. Many of the vendors would rather discount the collectibles a bit and sell them than pack them up and take them home again.

Sunday morning shoppers

I spotted Carol in front of the Theme Park Connection display; she waved me over, handed me a "Piece of Disney Movies" pin she's been trying to find for years and said, "Buy this right now and wish me Happy Birthday." So I did. Birthday shopping is now all done! Bonus!

Nicole Newport with her book
Author Nicole Newport with her book "Disney Magic From A to Z"

I bought a copy of Tom Nabbe's book and he autographed a picture of himself sitting with Walt Disney as part of the deal. My Disney collection isn't quite as extensive as Carol's but it's growing!

Tom Nabbe with his book

Tom Nabbe with Walt

Just after 11 a.m. Carol said, "I'm ready to go!" That caught me by surprise; we had planned to get away between noon and 1 p.m. But, she and Rob had both done enough shopping and pin trading, so we did a quick walk around the auditorium saying some goodbyes, hopped in the car and pulled away at 11:30 to begin the 650 mile drive home.

I always feel a bit conflicted when we leave on Sunday; there is another full afternoon of seminars that I miss out on because of the length of our journey home. Maybe one of these years we'll stay for the afternoon sessions and drive home on Monday!

Our original plan had been to follow I-75 north to Detroit and cross the border there but we had heard so much from others about all the construction and delays on I-75 that we decided to return home the same way we came. It turned out to be a wise choice. There was very little traffic and we made excellent time.

We made a couple of stops along the way to stretch our legs, had a quick lunch at Wendy's, fueled the car twice and skipped dinner altogether. We crossed the Canadian border at 9:30, picked up the dogs at Carol's mother's house and were back home just after 10:00 p.m. - more than an hour sooner than my best estimate.

At one point during our north-easterly trip home I asked Rob, "Are you familiar with the theory of Six Degrees of Separation?"

"Yes," he replied, "Like in that old movie, we are all connected to each other by a maximum of six steps."

According to Wikipedia, "Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of "a friend of a friend" statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps." Like Rob, you probably remember the 1993 movie starring Stockard Channing, Will Smith and Donald Sutherland.

"Exactly," I replied to Rob, "So that means when we sat and had a cold one with Tom Nabbe last night we were only one degree removed from Walt Disney."

He mulled that over for a few seconds then said, "When we spoke with Terri Hardin we were one degree away from Jim Henson and Michael Jackson . . . and when we chatted with Margaret Kerry we were one degree removed from Andy Griffin and The Three Stooges. It really is a small world isn't it?"

I think that's the best thing I'm taking home from Dayton Disneyana!

What did the two collectors bring home?

Everything you see pictured below was free. It came in a goody bag, was a gift from a vendor or it was a door prize.

Free Stuff
Click on the image to see a larger version

Rob's purchases are next. His favourite item? The Tinker Bell print signed by Margaret Kerry, pictured above.

Purchased by Rob
Click on the image to see a larger version

Carol was delighted with the pins, plate, figurines, coin, buttons and Vinylmations she brought home. Also included in her goodies are the two books I picked up, Tom Nabbe's new book "From Disneyland's Tom Sawyer to Disney Legend" and "Disney Magic From A to Z" by Nicole Newport.

Purchased by Carol
Click on the image to see a larger version

It was a wonderful weekend, I’m quite sure that every one of the 475 attendees had a terrific time! The organizers, all volunteers, should be congratulated; Anita Schaengold and her committee always do an excellent job.

They have already begun work on next year’s event. It will be in the same location, The Holiday Inn, Fairborn, Ohio, June 9 – 11, 2017. Mark it on your calendar right now and then follow their web site (HERE) and Facebook page (HERE) for further details.

For more on Tom Nabbe's career, read his book, From Disneyland's Tom Sawyer to Disney Legend: The Adventures of Tom Nabbe.

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About July 2016

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

June 2016 is the previous archive.

August 2016 is the next archive.

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