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September 2007 Archives

September 3, 2007

Lawn Mower Tree

For those of you not familiar with the "Lawnmower Tree" it's an interesting oddity located at the Fort Wilderness Campground. It seems that years before Walt Disney World opened, someone leaned an old, push-style lawnmower against a tree and left it there. Over the years, the tree slowly grew around it. When the campground was being developed, the Disney Imagineers noticed this lawnmower half encased in a tree, thought it was interesting, and eventually put up a small sign to highlight this curiosity.

Lawn mowertree at Fort Wilderness


I've been visiting Walt Disney World since 1972 and on each visit have watched the slow disappearance of the lawnmower as the bark continues to incase it. Currently, only a very small part of the blades are still visible at the base of the tree. But I have sad news" For reason I do not know, most of the upper half of the tree has been cut off. Now, only about twelve feet of the trunk remains. Since the tree is now dead, the lawnmower's slow disappearance has been halted.

Haunted Mansion Update

I visited the Magic Kingdom today and took a couple of pictures of the Haunted Mansion. As you can see, it is encased in scaffolding.

Haunted Mansion.jpg


Haunted Mansion

September 9, 2007

Spaceship Earth Rehab Update

All of the trees flanking each side of Spacehip Earth have been removed as refurbishment continues on this attraction. The approximate reopening of Spaceship Earth is November 14th of this year.

Spaceship Earth

September 11, 2007

Japan Pavilion Update

The full service restaurant within the Japan Pavilion is currently being refurbished and enlarged. Guests with a careful eye can see a small portion of the expansion as the walk along the promenade looking behind the Mitsukoshi Department Store. This aerial view of the Japan Pavilion shows approximately where the expansion is taking place.

Aerial View of Japan Pavilion

Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights

I visited the Disney/MGM Studios today. While walking along the Streets of America, I noticed that approximately one third of the the buildings have already been outfitted for the coming holiday Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights. Anywhere the lights have been added, rope cordons separate the building from the sidewalk.


Reader Reviews!

Putting up Osborne Lights

September 12, 2007

Patriot's Day Flag Retreat

A special Flag Retreat was held at Town Square in the Magic Kingdom Tuesday in honor of Patriots Day (9/11).

The Voices of Liberty were on hand as well as the Disney Philharmonic. Several of the numbers performed were, Proud To Be An American, This Land Is Your Land, and an audience participation of God Bless America.

A Marine Chaplin was the Veteran of the Day and a special Navy Color Guard was also in attendance.

A moment of silence was observed in honor of the victims and families of the 9/11 tragedy.

Magic Kingdom Flag Retreat

Magic Kingdom Flag Retreat

Voices of Liberty

Guest of Honer

Guest Speaker

Small Flag

September 13, 2007

Contemporary Resort Updates

Jack Spence Reports....

The Food & Fun Center on the first floor of the Contemporary Resort has been completely closed.

Contemporary old Food and Fun Center

Contemporary Old Food and Fun Center

A new, temporary, counter service restaurant is now open on the fourth floor of the resort. This new eatery is called the Tempo Grab And Go. Much to my delight, this short-term establishment looks more permanent than temporary so resort guests won't feel like they're being short-changed when paying deluxe prices.


GrabAndGo1.jpg

GrabAndGo2.jpg

GrabAndGo3.jpg

GrabAndGo4.jpg

GrabAndGo5.jpg

GrabAndGo6.jpg

GrabAndGo7.jpg

GrabAndGo8.jpg

GrabAndGo9.jpg

GrabAndGo10.jpg

GrabAndGoSeating1.jpg

GrabAndGoSeating2.jpg



A new shop on the fourth floor is also taking shape as actual structures are now visible. In addition, the new floor tile in this area is coming along and looks quite nice.

NewShop1.jpg

NewShop2.jpg

NewTile.jpg

On the first floor, artist renderings now display what the redesigned check-in area will look like.

ContemporaryLobby1.jpg

ContemporaryLobby2.jpg


Construction continues on the rumored DVC just to the north of the Contemporary. The building is definitely taking on a horse-shoe shape that matches artist renderings that circulated on the internet for a short time.


NewConstruction1.jpg

NewConstruction2.jpg

NewConstruction3.jpg

September 14, 2007

Magic Kingdom Decks out for Halloween

Jack Spence Reports.....

Town Square in the Magic Kingdom is all decked out for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.

Here are a few of the scarecrows that welcome guests.
Pumpkin Scarecrows in Magic Kingdom

Pumpkin Scarecrows in Magic Kingdom

Pumpkin Scarecrows in Magic Kingdom

Pumpkin Scarecrows in Magic Kingdom

Pumpkin Scarecrows in Magic Kingdom

September 15, 2007

Haunted Mansion Comes Alive

All Ears® Team Member Jack Spence (accompanied by Anita Answer and friends) files this report:

The good news: it's still the Haunted Mansion. It has been improved. Some changes are obvious, others would hardly be noticed. They come together to update a wonderful attraction. Somebody who had never been on the attraction wouldn't have a clue of which effects are new, and which are the originals from 1969 / 1971. Even people familiar with the attraction might have trouble.

First, what hasn't changed:

It's still the Haunted Mansion.

The feeling of the attraction is the same.

The entire graveyard scene is the same.

The busts that turn to watch you pass are the same.

The hitchhiking ghosts still join you on the way out.

The ballroom dancers are still backwards.


Rumors that weren't true:

There are no live bats

There is no new shop at the exit.

What is different outside:

Outside, the queue begins near the old fastpass structure. The line has a couple of switchbacks in this area before proceeding under the "13 minute" sign. (The line was long this morning, so all the queue was in use.) The awning over the queue area next to the Rivers of America is wider than it used to be. This provides enough space that they can divide it into thirds - so one line goes in front of the mansion toward the attraction entrance, then it switches back toward the 13-minute sign, then switches back toward the attraction entrance again. The line is narrower than it used to be, so people more naturally fill the available space without worrying about passing (or being passed by) somebody else.

The color of the building is subtly different.

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT AHEAD. DO NOT LOOK/READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED AT THE HAUNTED MANSION CHANGES. DETAILS OF THE CHANGES INSIDE OF THE ATTRACTION ARE BELOW THIS WARNING.


WARNING: SPOILER ALERT AHEAD. DO NOT LOOK/READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED AT THE HAUNTED MANSION CHANGES. DETAILS OF THE CHANGES INSIDE OF THE ATTRACTION ARE BELOW THIS WARNING.


WARNING: SPOILER ALERT AHEAD. DO NOT LOOK/READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED AT THE HAUNTED MANSION CHANGES. DETAILS OF THE CHANGES INSIDE OF THE ATTRACTION ARE BELOW THIS WARNING.


WARNING: SPOILER ALERT AHEAD. DO NOT LOOK/READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED AT THE HAUNTED MANSION CHANGES. DETAILS OF THE CHANGES INSIDE OF THE ATTRACTION ARE BELOW THIS WARNING.


WARNING: SPOILER ALERT AHEAD. DO NOT LOOK/READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED AT THE HAUNTED MANSION CHANGES. DETAILS OF THE CHANGES INSIDE OF THE ATTRACTION ARE BELOW THIS WARNING.


WARNING: SPOILER ALERT AHEAD. DO NOT LOOK/READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED AT THE HAUNTED MANSION CHANGES. DETAILS OF THE CHANGES INSIDE OF THE ATTRACTION ARE BELOW THIS WARNING.


What is different inside

The first improvement I noticed was the sound. In the stretch room, the ghost host doesn't bounce from one location to another. Rather the voice moves smoothly around the room. Also, some new sounds have been added to improve effects - when the room stretches, it creaks.

The interior of the attraction has been spruced up. For example, the wallpaper in the stretch room is new. The old was looking rather shabby. The frames on the stretch pictures look better.

The lighting throughout has been improved. While the ambient lighting isn't brighter, most anything of interest is better lit. The hanging body above the ceiling is more visible; the ballroom characters are brighter.

Some of the pictures with the eyes that follow you have been moved to the loading area. The hallway where these pictures used to be now has windows on the left side, with lightning outside and the appropriate thunder. On the other side, there are still pictures, some with the eyes that follow you, and some not. But all of the pictures change appearance with the flashes of lightning.

One of the most obvious changes is the area where giant spiders used to be on giant webs. Those are completely gone, replaced by stairways going up, down, and around at odd angles. Some room décor around the area (such as candelabra and small rugs) are also at odd angles, even upside down. You can even see the foot falls as a ghost is walking on the steps. I always thought the spider webs were put in because there just wasn't enough space in this area for anything more. The Imagineers certainly overcame that limitation.

The séance room has more items floating around the outer edges (or are they just better lit?) Madame Leota's crystal ball floats and moves above the table.

The other most obvious changes are in the attic room. The pop-up heads are gone. Similar to the Disneyland HM, there are several pictures, each with the same bride, but each with a different groom. At Disneyland, the faces of the grooms fade out. I believe the effect is supposed to be the same here, but it wasn't working. Finally, you see the bride, holding an ax which appears and disappears.

One of the best effects is that there are eyes (bats' eyes, I think) which watch you from the darkness. Some of the eyes even move. As you move along, the eyes transform into the wallpaper - the same wallpaper with eyes that has been on the walls since opening day.

If you're looking for more information on the Haunted Mansion, Jason Surrell has written a great book on this attraction. The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies fleshes out how the Mansion's 999 grim grinning ghosts were brought to life. Rare early sketches and story concepts, and stunning architectural drawings illustrate the Mansion's evolution as it was constructed at each Magic Kingdom Park around the globe.
The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies

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About September 2007

This page contains all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in September 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

August 2007 is the previous archive.

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