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October 2007 Archives

October 9, 2007

Haunted Mansion Update

I rode the Haunted Mansion today and I'm happy to report that the Attic Room is now working properly.

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When the HM reopened, the Attic Room had been completely redesigned. Instead of the carnival-like "pop-up" heads, various portraits of a bride and her numerous, headless husbands were scattered around the attic. However, the pictures were stagnant and contained no special effects. Now, as you pass by each portrait, the husbands' faces fade in and out as guests pass by while the bride's face remains constant.

Now that the effect is working properly it is consistent with its Disneyland, California counterpart.

October 19, 2007

Contemporary Resort

Construction continues on the new shop being built on the Grand Canyon Concourse of the Contemporary Resort. The layout and shape of the facility is easy to make out as most of the walls/shelves are in place. I asked a Cast Member when the project is scheduled to be completed and she told me that Disney hopes to open the shop the day after Thanksgiving.




Another change to the area is the elevator that takes guest from the fourth floor to the monorail loading area. The structure has been re-colored from a deep purple to light beige. Also, the new tile floor appears to be completely installed.


The yet to be announced construction project north of the Contemporary is continuing to make progress. More pylons have been installed and a "second" floor is clearly visible in one section. Also, a second crane was added to the project site a couple of weeks ago.




October 20, 2007

Bus Transportation

Yesterday (10/19/07), I ate lunch at Olivia's at Old Key West. After I ate, I needed to run a quick errand at Epcot. Since I live in Orlando, I usually drive to all my Disney World locations, but today I decided to take the bus. The weather was pleasant and I thought it would be a nice change of pace.

Disney Bus

After the bus arrived and I took my seat, I noticed that the music being played was "Legacy," an Epcot background piece that everyone's heard but doesn't know its name. After a few moments, the song ended and "One Little Spark" from the Imagination Pavilion began to play. I started to wonder if all of the music was now themed to the bus's destination.

A moment later, a recorded voice (Matt Hanson ) could be heard. It welcomed everyone aboard and provided us with some tips about our upcoming visit to Epcot. At the same time, the speech was displayed on an electronic message board for all to read. The recording was loud enough to be heard but not overpowering.

When his remarks were finished, the music switched back on and continued to play another selection from Epcot. Shortly before arriving, Matt Hanson could again be heard, informing us that we were about to reach our destination and to please gather up our belongings.

Unfortunately, my return bus had not been fitted out with this new system and I had to listen to a bus driver's inaudible comments as he didn't have a clue of how to properly use a microphone.

Since I don't ride the buses often, this new system may be old news to many of you. But for me it was a pleasant surprise and I'm looking forward to the rest of the fleet being retrofitted.

Now onto the downside of bus transportation"¦ When you catch a bus at the Hospitality House (check-in) of Old Key West, you are at the last bus stop in the resort. From here, you go directly to you destination. On the return trip, Hospitality House the last stop.

Turtle Pond Bus Depot at Old Key West

Unlike other Disney resorts that have multiple bus stops, Old Key West has a very convoluted layout. The bus must make numerous twists and turns as it snakes its way through the resort. So much so that by the time I returned to Hospitality House I was actually starting to get motion sickness.

The other large resorts, like Port Orleans and the Caribbean Beach are laid out in a more circular pattern. The bus just makes one large circle to reach all of the bus stops.

Because of this, I would seriously think twice before staying at Old Key West if I didn't have my own car.

October 22, 2007

Book Review – The Disney Mountains: Imagineering at Its Peak

I recently purchased and read "The Disney Mountains - Imagineering at Its Peak" by Jason Surrell. I had read two of his other books, "Pirates of the Caribbean: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies and "The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies.

I thoroughly enjoyed both of these books as they were packed with a collection of stories and information that I had never heard before. Both of these books offered an in-depth look at the planning and imagination that goes into creating an "E" ticket Disney attraction. It was because of these two books that I pre-ordered and eagerly awaited my copy of Mr. Surrell's latest book "The Disney Mountains: Imagineering at Its Peak." Note: All three of these books are printed in paper-back form and measure 8Β½ x 11 inches.

The Disney Mountains Book Cover

"The Disney Mountains: Imagineering at Its Peak" describes the creation and building of the many man-made mountains that Disney has built around the world. Starting with the world's first steel-tube rollercoaster, the Matterhorn at Disneyland and ending with their latest creation, Expedition: Everest, each mountain (or mountain genre, like Space Mountain) is given its own chapter. The forward by Marty Sklar is especially entertaining. This book is an easy read as it is only 128 pages and is chock full of illustrations.

I have to say that I was a little disappointed when I had finished reading this book. The first chapter, which is all about the Matterhorn, was informative and provided me with new information that I wasn't already aware of. Also, the chapter about the various Space Mountains was good as was the story behind the never-built Western River Expedition. In all three cases, I knew much of the information presented beforehand but I also learned some new facts from reading this book.

But other chapters, like the ones that described Mount Prometheus at Tokyo DisneySea and Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach in Florida were lacking in content. In fact I felt the information about Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach was little more than a rewording of the Disney press releases that circulated at their openings.

In Mr. Surrell's own words, Mount Prometheus is "The Jewel of Tokyo DisneySea." This mountain contains two "E" ticket attractions, a restaurant, a magnificent playground, a full-sized model of the Nautilus, and a third attraction (a boat ride) passes beneath it. Yet, Mr. Surrell only allots four pages to this mountain - half of which are illustrations. On the other hand, he devoted twenty pages to Expedition: Everest - which as good as it is, it's just one attraction. I can only guess that he felt American audiences wouldn't be that interested in Disney's foreign parks. If this is the case, he's wrong.

Would I recommend this book? Probably. If you're a "beginner" Disneyphile you will definitely find the information presented here of interest. If you're and "intermediate" or "advanced" Disneyphile, you will probably be disappointed in the lack of depth this book offers - especially if you enjoyed his previous books about Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. However this book does contain a wonderful collection of illustrations and artist concept drawings that make the price of the book worth it.

This book is published by Disney Editions sells for $13.57 on Amazon.

October 25, 2007

Yak & Yeti Restaurant

Construction continues on the Yak & Yeti Restaurant in the Animal Kingdom. Instead of bricks, mortar, and plywood, Asian themeing is starting to become apparent. Windows on the second floor are clearly visible and I'm hoping this will be seating for either the full service or the counter service restaurants. The building site is starting to have a completed feel about it and looks good!

Yak & Yeti Restaurant Construction

Yak & Yeti Restaurant Construction

Yak & Yeti Restaurant Construction

Yak & Yeti Restaurant Construction

October 26, 2007

Studio Bits & Pieces

Disney has constructed three billboards in the planters/dividers that separate the roadway that the parking lot tram uses to shuttle people to and from the main entrance. These billboards are two sided and advertise various Disney movies and television shows.



Construction walls have gone up around the A.B.C. Theater located alongside Echo Lake. A clapboard-sign says that the theater is gearing up for an all new production.



A temporary tent-theater has been erected out beyond the Rock-N-Roller Coaster. A banner across the theater sports the name Playhouse Disney In Concert. On the day I was there, a group called Dan Zanes was performing four shows during the day.







October 27, 2007

Book Review: Realityland

Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World by David Koenig

Realityland Book Cover

It's easy to find information about Disneyland's inception and design. We've all seen the film clip of Walt telling the story about sitting on a park bench as his two daughters rode the merry-go-round and he thought to himself that there should be a place where parents and their children could enjoy an afternoon together. I've read a number of books about Disneyland, its construction and early years. But when it comes to the history of Walt Disney World, they're really isn't all that much information out there.

Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World helps fill that gap. For the most part, the book starts after Disneyland has already been built. It describes the search for the perfect location to build "Disneyland East." It goes into detail about how the company was able to secretly buy forty-three square miles of land in Central Florida. The nightmares of constructing such are vast complex are explored. And the frustrations Disney experienced during the first few years of operation are presented.

Ever wonder why Walt's vision of EPCOT was never brought to fruition? Ever wonder why Disney only built three hotels until Michael Eisner came along? Ever wonder why the Swan and Dolphin hotels are located where they are? Ever wonder why all the shops now carry the same merchandise? This book answers these and many other questions.

But to tell a "complete" story of Walt Disney World, tales of its darker side must also be told. This book explores some unpleasantries that I'm sure the Disney marketing team would prefer not be brought to light. Many of the injuries and deaths that have occurred here are chronicled. The imperfect personalities of a number of the company's executives are put under a magnifying glass. Decisions to sacrifice "show" for money are presented.

Did I like this book? Yes. I enjoyed it very much - especially the sections that followed the history of Walt Disney World - good and bad. However, I felt the author sometimes went to great lengths to put Disney in a bad light. Take for instance, Chapter 8: Crash Mountain. This chapter describes many of the accidents and deaths that have occurred at Walt Disney World. After reading several pages I thought to myself, "All right. I get it. People can and do get hurt at Disney World. Enough already."

I suspect that Mr. Koenig feels he presented a fair balance between those accidents that were Disney's fault with those that were brought on by the guest's own carelessness. I'm not so sure it was all that balanced. Overall, Disney was made to look bad. A similar chapter, later in the book, goes into detail of why security is needed in the parks. Although not as heavy handed as Chapter 8, once again I felt the scales were purposely tipped away from Disney.

I would be the last person to think Disney perfect. Often in the book I thought to myself, "That can't be true." But then I remembered back to the nine years I worked at Disneyland and thought, "Well, maybe it can be." But I don't think Disney is as bad as the book makes them out to be.

Should you read this book? If you're like me, and want to know everything you can about Walt Disney World, then by all means pick up a copy. I know a lot about the "World", but I found this book packed with fresh information. I kept saying to myself, "I didn't know that."

However, if you're a person that believes all of the stories that the Disney marketing people spin, (and you want to continue believing them) then you might want to steer clear of this book. Often, when I'm waiting in line for an attraction, I can't help eavesdrop on other people's conversations. When I hear them wax poetic about how everything here is perfect, I roll my eyes and think, "If you only knew." It's these people who shouldn't pick up a copy.

Disney's single greatest asset is their fantastic reputation. And it's well deserved. But the Disney organization is made up of flawed people, just like the rest of the world. This book explores the good and the bad, albeit tipped to the dark side - thus the title Realityland. If you can accept that Disney has some blemishes and can get over a slightly biased take, then you'll enjoy this book. I did.

Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World by David Koenig is published by Bonaventure Press and sells on Amazon for $18.45.

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About October 2007

This page contains all entries posted to The β€œWorld” According to Jack in October 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

September 2007 is the previous archive.

November 2007 is the next archive.

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