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November 2009 Archives

November 8, 2009

Cinderella Wishing Well - Magic Kingdom

Like so many other articles I write, I can't talk about Disney World without first mentioning Disneyland. The first Disney wishing well appeared on March 27, 1961. As the story goes, Walt received an anonymous gift postmark from Italy. In the package were figurines of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, meticulously carved of Carrera marble. It is speculated that the artist modeled the characters from hand soaps licensed at the time.

The gift touched Walt greatly and he handed the bundle over to John Hench and told him to find a place for them in the park. However, Hench was dismayed. Snow White was the same height as the dwarfs, and this would create a challenge as to how to display the characters without the artist's oversight being obvious. In the end, he happened upon an ingenious idea. By placing Snow White high above the dwarfs, he used forced-perspective to achieve a sense of distance, thus making her appear taller than she actually is.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

However, a new story has emerged. After Hench's death (February 5, 2004), his secretary cleaned out his desk. In it, she came across paperwork and invoices showing that John actually commissioned the statues himself. And being the showman/prankster that he was, wove an elaborate tale of their origin.

Snow White and the dwarfs were placed to the right side of Sleeping Beauty Castle. At the same time, a wishing well was added, creating Snow White Grotto. Being true to the movie, you can hear our young heroine singing and her voice echoing from within the well.

Snow White Wishing Well

When the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World was being planned, it was a given that a wishing well would be part of Fantasyland. But unlike Disneyland, where Sleeping Beauty Castle and Snow White Grotto are from two different movies, the Florida park would have a wishing well themed appropriately to Cinderella Castle.

Positioned in an alcove along a pathway that leads from Tomorrowland to the right side of the castle, Cinderella Wishing Well is a wonderful retreat from the often hectic Magic Kingdom.

Cinderella Wishing Well

Cinderella Wishing Well

This area is rarely crowded and is the perfect spot to take a break and relax on one of the benches. It's also a great photo op for romantic couples. And while you're there, why not make a wish.


Like so many other things at Disney parks, the wishing well tells a story. If you look closely at the sides of the well, you can see the mice and birds, trying to make a dress for Cinderella while eluding the evil Lucifer. These characters were sculpted by Disney Legend Blaine Gibson.

Birds and Ribbon




Wishing wells originated in Europe. It was believed that deities lived in water and a spoken wish would be granted if a token gift was left for them. This tradition has lived on through the ages. Just take a look at almost any body of water in a Disney park and you'll see coins resting on the bottom. In most cases, it is time consuming and expensive to retrieve this money, so it usually sits here for long periods of time. When it is eventually collected, much of it has corroded so badly that the entire lot is sold as scrap metal. However, Cinderella Wishing Well is an exception. Collected at regular intervals, this money is donated to children's charities.

Children's Charities Plaque

So next time you're on a commando-style tour of the Magic Kingdom, why not wander over to the Cinderella Wishing Well and take a break. You'll be glad you did. And remember, Disney parks are where wishes come true.

November 11, 2009

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party - 2009

I know you're saying to yourself, "It's too early to be celebrating Christmas." And in most cases, I would agree with you. But partaking in this festive season at Disney World is something special. The parks and resorts take on a magical charm when decorated in anticipation of Ol' Saint Nick. Enchantment is everywhere. So the fact that Disney fudges a little on the date and hangs the holly early is okay by me.

And while they're at it, why not throw a party or two in anticipation of the big day. On selected nights during November and December, the Magic Kingdom becomes a holiday play place complete with snow, familiar songs, special treats, and overall holiday revelry as Disney presents Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP).

Christmas Party Entrance Sign

These parties are "hard ticket" events, meaning they require a separate admission ticket and are not part of any "regular" admission ticket you might have purchased. The prices are as follows (including tax):

Advance Purchase:

Adults: $55.38
Children: 3-9 $48.99

Advance Purchase discount is not available on Nov 29, Dec 4, 11, 17-18. The price is the same as Day of Event tickets.

Day of Event Purchase:

Adults: $62.84
Children: 3-9 $56.45

Passholder and Disney Vacation Club Discounts: Only available for the following dates: Nov 10, 12, 13, 17, 19; Dec 6, 8

Adults $52.19
Children 3-9 $45.80

Tickets may be purchased at any Guest Relations window at Disney World Resort, park ticket windows, and online.

Party Dates:

November 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 29
December 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 18


The official hours of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party are 7pm to midnight. However, guests attending the party are admitted as early as 4pm. At this time, the turnstiles on the right are used for party guests and the turnstiles on the left are used for day guests. Note, even though you may enter the park before the party starts, the special events do not begin until 7pm.

Entrance to the Right

On party dates, the Magic Kingdom closes promptly at 7pm. Numerous signs are posted at the Transportation and Ticket Center and the Main Gate stating this. Come 7pm, cast member scour the park and politely ask all those without a wrist band to leave (see below).

Park Closes at 7pm

Upon entering the Magic Kingdom, a cast member will place a plastic band on your wrist. This will identify you from the day guests and you will need it for identification. If somehow you do not get a wrist band at the Main Entrance, they are also handed out at the Rose Garden section of the Hub starting at 4pm. You will be required to present you MVMCP event ticket at this time. Note, Disney rotates the wrist bands from night to night.

Wrist Band

Rose Garden


Be sure to notice the grassy area in front of the Train Station. It's all decked out for the holidays. There is also a giant nutcracker positioned above the tunnels that lead to Main Street.

In Front of the Train Station


Entrance Banner

Once through these portals, the real spirit of the holidays is everywhere. Familiar Christmas tunes fill the air and the decorations are abundant. Even the popcorn wagon gets into the act.

Popcorn Wagon

Toy Soldiers

Main Street Day

Main Street Night

Lamp Post & Mickey Wreath

Christmas Tree on the Hub

Mickey's House

Mickey's House

MIckey's House

Minnie's House



To the left of City Hall is Candy Cane Garden. This lovely setting presents a perfect spot to capture a festive photo. You can even mail a letter to Santa from here.

Candy Cane Garden

Candy Cane Garden

Candy Cane Garden

Santa Mailbox

Check out some of the holiday windows.

Main Street Window

Main Street Window

Main Street Windows


PhotoPass is in full swing during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Just approach any Disney photographer stationed throughout the park and have your picture taken. At that time, you will receive a specialized MVMCP PhotoPass. Your photo will be electronically linked to this card and as you continue your merrymaking, additional photos can be added to your PhotoPass as the night progresses. At the end of the evening, stop by Exposition Hall on Main Street to review your pictures. There is no obligation to buy. Event guest will receive a 40% discount on 5x7 MVMCP photos purchased that night or online once you get back home. Note, the 40% discount will not be available on Special $29.95 Holiday Photo Packages.


Exhibition Hall

Cast Costumes

The cast also gets into the spirit by donning special Christmas attire. Red pants and skirts, Christmas tree shirts, and holly bow ties and candy cane ribbons complete the ensemble.

Balloon Sellers

Popcorn Vendors

Holiday Treats:

One of the best things about MVMCP is the holiday treats. At various locations around the park, cookies, hot chocolate, apple juice and apple slices are given out. Just look for the lighted signs to find your way to the goodies.

Holiday Treat Sign

Holiday Treat Sign

Cast Members with Cookies and Drinks

Here is a list of locations and hours:

Crystal Palace: 9pm - midnight
Tomorrowland Noodle Station: 7pm - 12:30am
Cosmic Ray's Starlight Café (Soup/Salad side): 7pm - 10:30pm
Pinocchio's Village Haus: 7pm - 10:30pm
Adventureland Veranda: 7pm - midnight
Columbia Harbour House: 7pm - 12:15am
Diamond Horseshow Saloon: 7pm - 12:15am

Food Locations:

Here is a list of the restaurants and food locations open for MVMCP:

Main Street:

Tony's Town Square Café (last seating at 7:30pm) -- reservations highly recommended
Casey's Corner
Main Street Sweets


Cosmic Ray's Starlight Café
The Lunching Pad at Rockettower Plaza


Mrs. Pots Cupboard
Friar's Nook
Cinderella's Royal Table (last seating at 7:15pm) -- reservations required

Liberty Square:

Liberty Tree Tavern (last seating at 8:50pm) -- reservations highly recommended
Sleepy Hollow


Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe
Westward Ho - Quick Bites
Turkey Leg Cart
Golden Oak Outpost


Aloha Isle


Here is a list of attractions open during MVMCP:

Astro Orbiter
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
Space Mountain (scheduled to open in late November)
Tomorrowland Speedway
Tomorrowland Transit Authority
Tomorrowland Arcade
Stitich's Great Escape
Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor (last showing at 9pm)
Peter Pan's Flight
Cinderella's Golden Carrousel
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Mad Tea Party
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Pooh's Playful Spot
Snow White's Scary Adventures
Mickey's PhilharMagic
'it's a small world"
The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm
Mickey's Country House
Minnie's Country House
The Haunted Mansion
Hall of Presidents
Splash Mountain
Frontierland Shootin' Arcade
Big Thunder Mountain
Country Bear Jamboree
Pirates of the Caribbean
Swiss Family Treehouse
Magic Carpets of Aladdin

Castle Lighting Ceremony

At 6:30 each evening, Cinderella Castle is transformed into a sparkling wonder. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Cinderella and her prince and fairy godmother work their magic to bring thousands of twinkling lights to life. This show is available to all guests, not just those attending MVMCP. The show is short, only about eight minutes long. I've captured the essence of this magic moment in the following short video.

Cinderella Castle


Character Meet and Greets take place around the park from 7pm to 11:30pm. Unfortunately, on the night I attended, it rained the first three hours of the event and I wasn't able to get many pictures. But don't worry. Rain is rare in Orlando during November and December. This storm was the remnant of hurricane Ida. Also, since I wasn't able to check out all of the character locations, I will not be able to answer your questions as to what other characters are appearing for this event. Sorry.

Minnie Mouse

Alice and the Queen of Hearts

Donald's Tree Farm




Beauty and Beast

Peter Pan and Wendy

Aladdin and Jasmine

Tigger and Piglet

Dance Parties

There are two dance parties held during MVMCP. The Fantasyland Pavilion Cotillion can be found at Ariel's Grotto and Cosmic Ray's Jingle Dance & Play at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Café in Tomorrowland. Both events are continuous throughout the evening.

Fantasyland Pavilion Cotillion

Fantasyland Pavilion Cotillion

Cosmic Ray's Jingle Dance & Play

Cosmic Ray's Jingle Dance & Play

Cosmic Ray's Jingle Dance & Play

Belle's Enchanted Christmas

For a quieter time, join Belle as she tells the story of her enchanted Christmas. This event can be found at Bell's Fairytale Gardens at 7:30, 8:50, 9:55, and 11:00. This venue is small and seating is limited. Be sure to arrive early if this is something you want to experience.

Belle's Enchanted Christmas

Belle's Enchanted Christmas

"Celebrate the Season" Show

This magical show plays at 7:45, 10:05, and 11:20 on the Castle Forecourt Stage. Mickey & Minnie are joined by Santa-Goofy, reindeer, elves and other assorted characters for a zany Christmas treat. Merriment is had by all.

Celebrate the Season

Celebrate the Season

Celebrate the Season

Celebrate the Season

"A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show"

If you'd like to put a comical "edge" on your holiday festivities, check out "A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show." Here, Stitch, Buzz Lightyear, Mike Wazowski, and a group of space-aged dancers and singers present an untraditional, yet totally enjoyable Christmas show.

A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show

A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show

A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show

A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show

A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show

A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show


At 9:30 each evening, the "Holiday Wishes - Celebrate the Spirit of the Season" fireworks show is presented. The best viewing can be found on The Hub with the castle as a backdrop. On most nights you should arrive about fifteen minutes before the show.

Holiday Wishes

Holiday Wishes

Holiday Wishes

Holiday Wishes

Holiday Wishes

Mickey's Once Upon A Christmas Parade

For many, the Christmas Parade is the highlight of the evening. Presented at 8:15 and 10:30, Mickey and Minnie lead the procession followed by an abundance of their friends and finally, Old Saint Nick himself. The melody is catchy and smiles contagious. If you want to good viewing location, you should arrive at least thirty minutes in advance of the first parade. The second procession is definitely less attended so you might want to sample the attractions during the first show and save this magical event for later in the night if your young ones can stay up that late.

Full Map of MVMCP
What's Open Map of MVMCP
Park Map MVMCP

I have created a video of this year's parade. Enjoy.

November 17, 2009

One Man's Dream

On October 1, 2001, the Disney Company kicked off a year-long celebration called 100 Years of Magic to honor Walt's birth a century earlier. The Disney/MGM Studio was selected to be the "official" park for this tribute and a Sorcerer's Hat was erected at the end of Hollywood Blvd in honor of the event.

Sorcerer's Hat

At that same time, a new attraction opened on Mickey Boulevard called "One Man's Dream." Here, the milestones and accomplishments of Walt Disney are displayed and discussed.

One Man's Dream

One Man's Dream

But this wasn't the first time Walt's life story had been presented at a theme park. On May 6, 1973, "The Walt Disney Story" officially opened in the Hospitality House (now Exhibition Hall) on Main Street and played until October 1992. This 23 minute film was shown in twin 300 seat theaters and told the life story of Walt, and to a much lesser extent, his brother Roy. Narrated by Walt, the movie was pieced together from numerous interviews he gave during his lifetime. The queue and waiting area for this movie was full of awards, models, and memorabilia pertaining to his accomplishments.

If you wander to the back portion of Exhibition Hall today, you can see the remnants of one of the theaters. This is a perfect spot to sit and relax and enjoy an old Disney cartoon on a hot day.

Walt Disney Story Theater

Housed in one of the soundstages of Disney's Hollywood Studios, One Man's Dream greets guests with classic and familiar pictures of Walt and Mickey. In many ways, this attraction is a reincarnation of "The Walt Disney Story" of earlier years.

Walt and Mickey

Walt and Mickey

Much of the first portion of this walking tour features old photographs of the Disney family. In this first picture we see Walt at ten months (born December 5, 1901) and his parents, Elias and Flora. The second picture is of Walt and his younger sister Ruth.

Walt, Elias, and Flora

Walt and his sister Ruth

As the tour continues, three-dimensional artifacts are added to the mix. Here we see Walt's second-grade school desk from Marceline, Missouri. In the photograph above the desk, his initials "WD" can be seen carved into the wood.

Walt's Second Grade Desk

Walt only lived in Marceline for four years. Yet, this small town had a large impact on his life. In this next exhibit we see a model of Disneyland's Main Street. Much of this thoroughfare was inspired by Walt's memories of his beloved childhood home.

Model of Disneyland's Main Street

This next exhibit is a reproduction of an early animator's desk. Cartoons like Plane Crazy, The Gallopin' Gaucho, and Steamboat Willie were created on tables similar to this.

Animator's Desk

When Walt began work on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," he knew he needed a new storytelling technique. So he and his team created the multiplane camera. This apparatus added depth-of-field to animated scenes and was first used on, "The Old Mill," one of the Silly Symphonies. "The Old Mill" went on to win an Academy Award for Best Short Subjects: Cartoons. This display and a nearby video provide an easy to understand explanation as to how this device works.

Multiplane Camera

One Man's Dream has several displays featuring vintage Disney toys. The plaques here describe the genius of Roy Disney, Walt's older brother.

"By the mid-1930's, Mickey Mouse had become the most popular entertainment figure in the world. Roy O. Disney negotiated dozens of agreements to produce Disney character merchandise of every imaginable sort, resulting in the creation of more than 10,000 depression-era jobs."

"A successful Disney film meant popular new characters, which almost invariably spawned new lines of themed merchandise. 'Three Little Pigs' made their way to such popular items as porcelain figurines, cups, mugs, and plates."

Early Disney Merchandise

Another storytelling technique rolling around in Walt's head was the idea of a mechanical figure that could reproduce the lifelike movements of a man. While on vacation in New Orleans, Walt found and purchased a mechanical bird that could sing while moving its beak, head, and wings. He took it home and gave it to a couple of his Imagineers so they could dissect it and discover what made it tick.

Soon after, Walt hired Buddy Ebsen to dance in front of a large grid and filmed the hoofer's movements. Walt himself directed the sequence. This footage was then studied and measurements were taken. With this information, combined with the knowledge gained from the mechanical bird, the Imagineers built a 1/8 scale model of Ebsen which perfectly reproduced his dance routine. Walt personally built a miniature stage to showcase his new figure.

These next two photographs show the mechanical man, stage, and the cams used to recreate the figure's lifelike movements.

Minature Dancing Man

Minature Dancing Man Cams

Behind a glass enclosure we see a recreation of the Studio office Walt used from 1940 to 1966. To the right side of the first picture you can see an aerial view of Disneyland and an early plot plan for Walt Disney World.

Walt's Office

Walt's Office

This next picture is a long shot looking down a corridor filled with fascinating bits of Disney trivia. For the most part, all of the displays are presented chronologically.

Mulitple Displays

If you love miniatures, you'll love "One Man's Dream." This attraction is filled with models the Imagineers created to help them plan and build the various Disney parks around the world.

This first model is of the loading dock at Disneyland's Jungle Cruise. The boats, patterned after the ones used in the movie "The African Queen," were made of fiberglass -- the first time this material was used for non-military purposes.

Disneyland's Jungle Cruise

In the foreground of this next picture we see a replica of the Moonliner rocket ship that stood in front of Disneyland's Rocket to the Moon attraction from 1955 to 1966. In the background are various drawings and photographs of Disneyland's original Tomorrowland.

Moonliner Rocket Ship

Here we see a recreation of Walt explaining to a TV audience his new project, Walt Disney World. If you listen closely, you can hear Walt misspeak when discussing EPCOT. The first time he expands the name, he says, "Experimental Prototype CITY of Tomorrow." The second time he says the name, he correctly uses the word COMMUNITY instead of CITY. This slip of the tongue caused the acronym to be incorrectly used many times in the future.

Walt Discribing Walt Disney World

In this next picture we see a model of Epcot's Spaceship Earth. At first glance, it might look like all the facets on the sphere are three-dimensional. But upon closer inspection you find that each triangle was painstakingly painted by hand.

Model of Spaceship Earth

Here we see an early Audio-Animatronics figure, minus its skin. There are several buttons attached to the lean-rail that when pushed, activate different movements.

Early Audio-Animatronics Figure

AA Activation Buttons

Architectural scale models allow Imagineers to see the "finished product" long before construction begins. Below are mock-ups of Cinderella Castle, Tower of Terror, and Typhoon Lagoon.

Cinderella Castle

Tower of Terror

Typhoon Lagoon

I have only presented a sampling of the items on display in the "museum" section of One Man's Dream. A person could easily spend thirty minutes or more looking at the material displayed here. And I urge you not to let the upcoming movie rush you along.

Located at the back of the attraction is the Walt Disney Theater. Approximately every twenty minutes, a wonderful film about Walt's life is shown. Although many of the same topics are discussed, the One Man's Dream film is completely different from its predecessor, The Walt Disney Story, although both use archival footage. When the movie debuted, Michael Eisner introduced the show. After he left the company, a voice-over by Julie Andrews replaced Michael's opening.

This is an engaging and interesting film. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Walt and how his company came into being. And I hate to admit it, but this is also a good place for a quick nap -- but it would be a shame to snooze through this biography.

Walt Disney Theater

One Man's Dream is often overlooked by guests in search of more exciting fare. If you haven't already experienced this attraction, I urge you to do so on your next trip to Disney's Hollywood Studios. You'll be glad you did.

November 22, 2009

Jungle Cruise

Jungle Cruise

The Jungle Cruise has been a perennial favorite ever since it opened at Disneyland in 1955. Even though many of us have ridden this attraction so many times that we could probably skipper the boat ourselves, we still laugh at the corny jokes we've heard dozens of times. Why? Because sometimes it's fun to be silly rather than sophisticated -- and the Jungle Cruise excels at being silly. But it wasn't always that way. In the early years at Disneyland, this was a serious attraction with little or no humor. What is to follow is a brief story of how this wonderful ride came into being and evolved into what it is today.

Between the years of 1948 and 1960, the Disney Company produced a series of short subject documentaries called the True-Life Adventures. These films dealt with nature and animals in an educational yet entertaining way. Over the run of the series, Disney won numerous Academy Awards for these films. One show in particular, "The African Lion," would serve as an inspiration for the Jungle Cruise.

The African Lion

Storyman Harper Goff had been instrumental in the designs used for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954). So when production completed, Walt recruited him to design the Jungle Cruise for his new park. Being a big fan of the movie "The African Queen," Goff expanded on the film's storyline and had the tramp steamer plying not only a river in Africa, but other continents as well. In fact, the Jungle Cruise boats were patterned after the vessel used in this picture and were made of fiberglass -- the first time this material was used for non-military purposes

The African Queen

Walt originally wanted live animals to line the banks of his rivers, but this just wasn't feasible. First, many of the creatures that he wanted to include were nocturnal and would be sleeping as the boats passed by. In addition, real animals require a tremendous amount of upkeep and space, something that just wasn't practical for a fledgling theme park. So it was decided that mechanical animals could tell a better story. However, for a short time, Disneyland featured live alligators for guests to view in the waiting area. It wouldn't be until the Animal Kingdom and Kilimanjaro Safaris opened in 1998 that Walt's dream would be completely realized.

The Jungle Cruise was to be an opening day attraction at Disneyland, and in fact, the only attraction in Adventureland to begin with. One of the first tasks was to landscape this small patch of arid Southern California to look tropical -- and to do this on a tight budget. In the early 1950's, Bill Evans had landscaped Walt's Holmby Hills home. Walt was so impressed with his work that he hired him to design the gardens of Disneyland.

The Santa Ana Freeway began construction in 1947 and was completed in 1956. In its path were enormous amounts of foliage that were being bulldozed under. In order to save money, Evans made arrangements to rescue many of these plants and palm trees and they eventually found their way to Disneyland and the Jungle Cruise. This allowed the new park to have some established growth come opening day.

The picture below shows Disneyland and the Santa Ana Freeway under construction.

Disneyland and Freeway Under Construction

Another inexpensive trick used to make the jungle look lush on opening day was to take some of the orange and walnut trees that had been removed during Disneyland's construction and plant them upside down. This allowed their gnarly roots to look like dead jungle branches.

But even with these free plants, Evans still needed a tremendous amount of greenery to populate not only Adventureland, but Frontierland, Main Street, and Fantasyland. Fortunately, Tomorrowland didn't require as much growth. Hedda Hopper complained in her column, "Walt Disney has depleted our nurseries from Santa Barbara to San Diego."

Most of the animals for the Jungle Cruise were built at the Studio in Burbank, but some of the larger creatures were constructed onsite to facilitate easy transportation. One 900 pound elephant was delivered to the Jungle Cruise the night before the park opened and was installed in the dark as a night-watchman had unwittingly turned off the work lights.

Jungle Cruise Attraction Poster

For much of Disneyland's first decade, the Jungle Cruise was a serious ride. Guests boarded the attraction from a dock located next to a small trader's village. Nearby shops sold shrunken heads, rubber snakes, and pith helmets. The trip through Africa, Asia, and South America was reminiscent of watching a "True Life Adventure" with facts and dangers brought to the guest's attention by the ever-watchful boat captain.

Jungle Cruise Loading Dock 1950's

One day, Walt overheard a guest say in reference to the Jungle Cruise, "We don't need to go on that ride, we've already seen it." Taken aback by this comment, Walt knew he needed to keep Disneyland fresh so the customers would return again and again. To that end, he asked Marc Davis, a longtime animator, to rethink the attraction. After much thought, Marc decided the attraction needed to evolve from a danger-filled adventure to a humorous journey and new scenes needed to be added. So in 1962 the Indian Elephant pool opened and in 1964 the African Veldt and Lost Safari scenes joined the tour. In addition, a bevy of corny jokes and puns replaced the once serious spiel.

Lost Safari

As is always the case, change never comes easy and there were those who complained loudly that the ride had been compromised. But in the end, the Jungle Cruise continued to be a crowd pleaser and is still one of the most beloved attractions at Disneyland.

Some of you might remember that the attacking hippopotamus was once shot at by the boat captain. But as times and sensibilities changed, this practice was retired. Now the skippers use less extreme, and more humorous methods of discouraging the beast.

Shooting a Hippopotamus

The popularity of Disneyland's Jungle Cruise prompted the Imagineers to slate this attraction to be an opening day ride at Walt Disney World. And from day one, the Florida version has been just as popular as it's California counterpart.

Magic Kingdom Jungle Cruise Sign

Jungle Cruise Entrance

Like so many attractions that were to be recreated in the Magic Kingdom, the Jungle Cruise would be improved upon. Although many of the scenes are direct copies of Disneyland's, the addition of the indoor Cambodian Temple gives the Magic Kingdom's version an edge.

Building the Magic Kingdom's Jungle Cruise presented some unique challenges. Much of Adventureland sits upon an extensive clay landfill. In order for the plants and trees to receive proper nutrients and drainage, large holes needed to be bored into unforgiving soil and filled with sand and potting mix. It took more than a year to landscape this attraction with more than 500 varieties of tropical foliage. The river(s) of the Jungle Cruise contains over 1,750,000 gallons of water, which has been died brown to hide the tracks and other mechanisms.

Like Disneyland, the Magic Kingdom's Jungle Cruise required an "E" ticket up until the time these coupons were retired.

E Ticket

Here is a list of names for the sixteen boats that ply the waters at the Jungle Cruise. Notice the alliteration.

Amazon Annie
Bomokandi Bertha
Congo Connie
Ganges Gertie
Irrawaddy Irma
Kwango Kate
Mongala Millie
Nile Nelly
Orinoco Ida
Rutshuru Ruby
Sankuru Sadie
Senegal Sal
Ucyali Lolly
Volta Val
Wamba Wanda
Zambesi Zelda

Located on the loading platform is one of my all time favorite Disney Worlds signs.

Jungle Cruise Sign

The airplane fuselage you pass by on the Jungle Cruise is actually the back half of the Lockheed Electra 12A airplane seen in the Casablanca sequence of the Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Airplane Fuselage

When exiting the Jungle Cruise, pay attention to some of the details. For instance, you better keep a watchful eye out for the escaped orangutan.

Orangutan Cage

Check out the names of some of the Missing Persons and Missing Boats on a nearby chalkboard.


And I pity the poor animal that was shipped in this crate, now a drinking fountain. If you look closely, the small prints says "FEEDING HOLE."

Animal Crate

Near the drinking fountain are several crated trees. If you look at the stenciled writing on the boxes you'll see "EVANS EXOTIC PLANT EXPORTERS LTD." This pays homage to Bill Evans who landscaped the original Jungle Cruise and went on to landscape the Magic Kingdom.

Bill Evans Crate

Tokyo Disneyland also was given a Jungle Cruise on its opening day (April 15, 1983). This attraction borrows elements from both U.S. parks, however, the entire attraction runs backwards to its stateside cousins.

Jungle Cruise at Tokyo Disneyland

It was decided to omit the Jungle Cruise from Disneyland Paris. Other European parks, having seen the success of the ride at Disneyland, had already built similar attractions. Disney felt that their version of the ride really wouldn't offer anything new to entice visitors to their park.

At Hong Kong Disneyland, the Imagineers completely reinvented the ride. Picture Tom Sawyer Island in the Magic Kingdom. Now picture the Jungle Cruise boats circling this island, except with a tropical theme. There you have it - a new Jungle Cruise ride.

Hong Kong Jungle Cruise

Language also plays a part in the Hong Kong attraction. There are three lines for boarding, one for speakers of Mandarin, one for Cantonese, and one for English. A sign states that one line may look longer than another, but they all move at the same speed. For the most part, this is true. If the queue for a particular language (say English) starts to get longer than the others, they simply assign an English speaking skipper to the next couple of boats until the lines even out.

The Hong Kong Jungle River Cruise has many of the same props and scenes as its American counterparts. The notable exception are the missing Switzer Falls and the indoor temple. But this attraction does have a finale that the other Jungle Cruises do not.

The boat navigates down a narrow passageway, when all of a sudden the route is blocked by an erupting geyser. Just in the nick of time, the vessel makes a sudden turn to the right and is confronted with another geyser blocking its path and an evil-looking, monster-like rock formation. Smoke and steam start to spew from the crevices and then flames explode from the rock's mouth. Just when it seems all is lost, the boat escapes in the nick of time. Whew.

Erupting Geyser

Rock Formation and Flames

Another difference with this Jungle Cruise is that you get wet. Those elephants that just miss you in the American versions are a little more devilish here and seem to hit their mark. Don't worry, it's only a sprinkle.

In closing, I give you a video of the Jungle Cruise and a few of the corny jokes.

November 24, 2009

Space Mountain Reopens

On Sunday, November 22, Space Mountain reopened after a seven-month rehab -- just in time for the holidays.

Space Mountain

One of the first things you might notice is the old, adjacent Tomorrowland Skyway Terminal has been razed, save the restrooms. In its place, the Imagineers added a nice plaza. This is a welcome change and adds an open feeling to this area. Other than that, the exterior and entrance is pretty much as it was.

Skyway Demolition

Space Mountain Plaza

Space Mountain Entrance

The queue area is where you'll find some of the most obvious changes. When you first enter the mountain, you come face-to-face with a large advertisement for space travel. The sign reads, "Welcome Space Travelers - STARPORT SEVEN-FIVE - Your Gateway to the Galaxy." The "SEVEN-FIVE" is in reference to the year Space Mountain opened, 1975. On the side panel you'll find references to all the Active Earth Stations, each with a nod to the five mountains around the world.

Starport Sign

Tomorrowland MK-1 (Magic Kingdom )
TL Space Station 77 (Disneyland)
Discovery Landing Station (Disneyland Paris)
Ashita Base (Tokyo Disneyland)
HK Spaceport (Hong Kong Disneyland)

As you venture deeper into the mountain, a number of space-maps line the wall referencing the various routes available for travel from the Starport.

Space Maps

The biggest change to the queue is the addition of 87 video-game stations along the path. These were added to help occupy your time while waiting in line. I rode Space Mountain first thing in the morning and none of the terminals were activated. I don't know if this is because at this time of day, there is no time to play, or if this is because these games are still being fine tuned and not ready yet. In any case, there are four games for guests to play and they will help further the story of interstellar vacation travel. This could include clearing a runway of asteroids or moving cargo from one location to another.

Video Games

The final queue areas have been covered with a dome. You can no longer see the overhead star fields while waiting in line. Blue neon lights illuminate the area.

Covered Queue

For months, rumors have been rampant that a sound system, similar to Rock 'N' Roller Coaster would be added to the ride vehicles. I'm sorry to report, this did not happen. For the most part, the rockets look pretty much as they did before the rehab except that they no longer have the glow-in-the-dark strip along the sides. Your ride through space is quiet except for the occasional scream.

The Imagineers darkened the ride so it is more difficult to see the track ahead. Also, your picture is taken at the beginning of the journey. The flashing strobe used to illuminate you also dilates your eyes, making it more difficult to see in the dark.

The track was recalibrated for a smoother and quieter experience, however the basic layout is identical to before. To be honest, I didn't notice any improvement in the ride. To me, it was as jerky and rough as always. But it did seem quieter.

At the end of the ride, you can view your on-board picture which can be purchased in the adjacent Tomorrowland Video Arcade.

On-board Pictures

The long exit through the mountain has seen a few minor changes. The first is a baggage claim area and a revamped Command Center.

Baggage Claim

Command Center

As you ride the moving sidewalk, you'll notice TV monitors have been added to the various space-age scenes. These display advertisements for the many far off and exotic places you can visit leaving from the Starports.

Space Advertisement

Space Home

The Tomorrowland Transit Authority still runs through the middle of Space Mountain. But since the queue areas have been covered by a dome, there is less to see. The Space Station remains the major sight during this portion of the ride.

Space Station as seen from TTA

Space Mountain does use FastPass and I strongly recommend using this tool. I arrived at opening today and made Space Mountain my first attraction. By the time I exited at 9:30, it already had a 45-minute line.

Line for Space Mountain

If you were expecting major changes to Space Mountain, you're going to be disappointed. But Disney has created a new storyline and tweaked several of the areas. Bottom line, if you liked Space Mountain before, you're going to like it now -- and the opposite is also true.

November 29, 2009

My Disney Story

Usually when I write a blog or newsletter article, I try to stay clear of my personal experiences. I like to focus on the facts and leave my encounters out of the mix. But today I'm going to depart from my usual formula and present you with a brief look at my life and how it was intertwined with Disney. Along the way I will try to sprinkle in some "facts" so you can still come away from this article with a few bits of Disney trivia. So here goes.

In order to plan and build Disneyland, Walt desperately needed capital. The two major television networks of the time, NBC and CBS, were interested in producing a Disney created TV show, but wanted nothing to do with his harebrained amusement park. However, fledgling network ABC saw potential and agreed to give Walt $500,000 and a number of guaranteed loans. In return, Walt would give ABC a weekly television show and one-third ownership in Disneyland.

The "Disneyland" TV show debuted on October 27, 1954. Walt hosted the show and each week he presented a story that highlighted a different "land" within the theme park he was building in Anaheim.

Disneyland TV Show

The early years of my life were spent in West Los Angeles. This is about an hour's drive north of Anaheim. I was only two when the "Disneyland" TV show debuted. I do have memories of watching this show, but they must be from reruns as I was much too young to remember the original series.

On July 17, 1955, Disneyland opened to the public. Alas, I wasn't there.

Disneyland Opening

On October 3, 1955, the Mickey Mouse Club debuted on ABC and I was one of the millions of kids that watched this show in the years that followed. For those of you not familiar with the program, it was a daily (M-F) variety show for children. Each day featured a different theme like "Fun with Music" or "Talent Roundup Day." The capable Mouseketeers sang, danced, and performed a number of skits. And of course, Disney cartoons were always available.

Mickey Mouse Club

The black mouse-ears (with your name embroidered on the back) debuted on this show and have been selling at Disney theme parks ever since.

Mickey Mouse Ears

My first trip to Disneyland occurred in 1957 when I was five years old. I have memories of this event, but unfortunately, they aren't particularly good. I was accompanied by my mother, older sister, and aunt and her rebellious teenage son.

One of my memories involves the Storybook Land Canal Boats. I remember being terrified as we approached the attraction and I saw boats sailing into Monstro's open mouth. I didn't want to be eaten! After my mother calmed me down, we got in line. When it came time for us to load, my rather large aunt boarded first. She was so bulky that the boat tipped precariously to one side, almost spilling the cast member into the water. After regaining her balance, the cast member politely seated the rest of us opposite my aunt to balance the load.

Monstro & Storybook Land Canal Boats

Here's an interesting side note, for many years, only women could be ride operators on the Storybook Land Canal Boats and only men could be skippers on the Jungle Cruise. The reason, theming. Everybody knew in the 1950's through the 1970's that only a big husky man could navigate a boat safely through the jungle and only a sweet young miss could play tour guide to the homes of Pinocchio, Cinderella, and Snow White.

My, how things have changed"

Later that day, my rebellious cousin ran off without permission. Since we didn't know where he had gone, it was decided we'd just wait for him at the spot where we had lost track of him, which was near Dumbo. (Remember, there were no cell phones in 1955 to keep track of one another.) So for the next hour we waited, and waited, and waited for him to return. This seemed like an eternity to me as I watched the nearby flying elephants but could not ride.

My final memory of my first visit to Disneyland involves the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train. For some reason, I got it into my head that this was a roller coaster and refused to board. Back home that evening, I was looking through the post cards we had purchased earlier in the day and I saw this beautiful picture of multicolored waterfalls cascading into luminous streams. I asked my mother why she hadn't taken me on this ride. She then informed me that I had had the opportunity but refused to go.

Rainbow Caverns

In the years that followed, I made numerous trips to Disneyland - with much better results.

For my tenth birthday, I asked my father for a share of Disney stock and he complied. I'm sure he was more interested in teaching me the value of investing than he was about Disney. But I didn't care what his reasons were, I got what I wanted. Each year after that, I received the Annual Stock Report sometime in January. I would pour over it like it was gold, reading about all the new and upcoming attractions and movies Disney was planning. You have to remember, this was long before the internet and long before we knew every move the company was making. By the way, I still have these stock reports. They must be worth something on EBay.

Disney Stock Report

Something that many people don't know is that Disneyland was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays until sometime in the 1980's. It was only open seven days a week during the summer, Easter and Christmas weeks, and a few other holidays. Attendance simply did not demand everyday operation and this allowed maintenance to do a lot of refurbishing out of sight of the guests on these days. However, the Disneyland Hotel, which was owned and operated by the Jack Wrather Corporation, advertised that the monorail was open everyday. So on Mondays and Tuesdays, guests could still board the monorail at the hotel station and take a round-trip ride through a deserted Disneyland. This would cost the equivalent price of an "E" ticket.

Monorail and Disneyland Hotel

During the winter months, attendance dropped off dramatically at Disneyland. In order to boost revenue, Disney created "Party" nights. This involved renting the park to a private group or company for the evening. Disneyland would close to regular guests at 6pm or 7pm then reopen to the private organization from 8pm to 1am. My stepfather was in the military and each year we attended "Navy Night." When you combine the fact that the crowds were relatively light and ticket books weren't required for these events, it allowed a boy of 11 and 12 to ride the Autopia over and over again.

Here's a killer for you. In the '50's and '60's, Disney considered the cels used to create their animated movies as useless rubbish. They sold them at the Art Corner in Tomorrowland for two to three dollars each. Today, these same cels sell for hundreds to thousands of dollars. But did I buy one? Nope. My parents told me they were worthless junk.

Art of Animation

Construction began on the Haunted Mansion in 1962 and the exterior was completed in 1963. For years, every time I visited Disneyland I would walk by this building with grand expectations that it might be open, only to be disappointed. It seems that Walt had become involved with the New York World's Fair and the Mansion was put on a back burner. Bummer. However, I did return on August 9, 1969, the day the Mansion opened to the public, and waited two hours in line to ride.

Haunted Mansion

I lived in Japan for two years (1966 to 1967). This was long before Tokyo Disneyland. During this time I was desperate for a Disney fix but had limited options. All I had were my stock reports, some unused tickets, and a large map of Disneyland. I would scour this map frequently and relive memories.

When I returned to the states, I was 15 and we moved to Anaheim. High on my agenda was a return trip to Disneyland. A few weeks after getting home, my cousin (a different cousin) and I were allowed to go - alone - no parents - no chaperones. How cool was this?

During my time in Japan, the new Tomorrowland had been completed and New Orleans Square and Pirates of the Caribbean had opened. There was so much new since my last visit that it seemed like a completely different park. My cousin and I were in heaven. And to top it off, we found an unused ticket book on the Mission to Mars attraction. Obviously, someone had dropped it. This new found treasure meant we could go on even more rides. It was a grand day.

Ticket Book

When we got home that evening, our mothers told us that we should have returned the ticket book to City Hall so Disney could find the rightful owner. My cousin and I just looked at each other. Yeah, right. Like 14 and 15 year old boys are going to do something so noble.

At this time, I lived in an apartment building on Katella Avenue about three miles from Disneyland. Also living in the same building was Roy Williams, the big guy from the original Mickey Mouse Club. One day his wife invited me in to meet him. I was thrilled. The aging Roy was very kind to me and even drew me one of his famous caricatures. But do I have that drawing today? Nope. I have no idea what happened to it.

Roy Willians

Shortly after I turned 18 I applied for a job at Disneyland. Like everyone who interviews for a position at a Disney theme park, I had dreams of driving the monorail or working on the Matterhorn.

When I arrived at the Casting building, I was handed some sort of a test and told to sit in a school-type chair/desk and complete it. I guess I got enough of the questions right because I was then told to sit someplace else until called to meet with an interviewer.

I was horribly shy when I was 18. My personality certainly did not exude the makings of an outgoing monorail driver. After a few questions and answers, the gentleman conducting the interview offered me a job as a Miscellaneous Kitchen Helper at the Blue Bayou Restaurant. I thought to myself, "What's a restaurant got to do with a monorail?" But I soon came to my senses and although disappointed, accepted the job. I was told to report back a week later to attend a two-day orientation class.

New Orleans Square at Disneyland was actually a testing ground for bigger plans Walt had for a project in Florida. You see, under New Orleans Square is a large basement. In this basement is a huge industrial kitchen. Here, food is prepared for five restaurants, the Creole Café (now Café Orleans), the French Market, the Blue Bayou, Club 33, and an employee cafeteria. The Imagineers wanted to see if a large "central" kitchen could support multiple restaurants. This idea was later expanded to become Central Foods behind the Magic Kingdom in Florida and used the Utilidors to transport the food around the park.

WDW Central Foods

The above picture of Central Foods was taken at Walt Disney World in January, 1972. This building is located behind the Magic Kingdom and is now used to house holiday decorations.

After completing Orientation, I reported to the Blue Bayou Restaurant. It was then that I learned the true nature of my job. A Miscellaneous Kitchen Helper was to transport food from the basement kitchen up to a secondary kitchen in the Blue Bayou where final preparation could take place. So instead of driving a monorail, I would be pushing a cart full of pots and pans. Great. Just great. I was also expected to do a lot of nasty clean-up work.

I remember my first weekend on the job, standing in the rain out back of New Orleans Square at 1am, steam cleaning a trash can. This was definitely not driving a monorail. I hated my job! I wanted to quit! But I stuck it out. And as I got to know my fellow cast members, the job became tolerable, then better, and eventually fun - okay, maybe not fun, but certainly okay.

This next picture was taken the following year when I had been promoted to "Fry Cook."

Jack in the Blue Bayou Kitchen

So the next time you're visiting a Disney park, remember, for every on-stage cast member you encounter, there is someone backstage doing less pleasant tasks to make your stay enjoyable.

Walt Disney World opened on October 1, 1971. Soon afterwards, Disney offered a special trip to the cast members of Disneyland and the employees of the Studio in Burbank. For $200 they would fly you to Orlando where you would stay for five nights at the Contemporary Resort tower. Also included were side trips to Kennedy Space Center, Cypress Gardens, and backstage tours of the Utilidors and other facilities behind the Magic Kingdom.


Mind you, I was only making $1.71 an hour, but I still lived at home and I had saved enough money that I could afford the trip. I signed up immediately and in January 1972, I made my first trip to Walt Disney World.

I have to admit, I was underwhelmed. Yes, the Contemporary and Polynesian were cool hotels, and Cinderella Castle was impressive, but the Magic Kingdom only had a fraction of the attractions that Disneyland had. Remember, in the beginning, there were no Space, Thunder, or Splash Mountains. There was no PeopleMover. There was no Pirates of the Caribbean. It only took a half-day to see everything. And nighttime was even worse. There was absolutely nothing to do after the Magic Kingdom closed. But I guess it captivated my imagination enough as I kept returning every two to three years.

On summer nights in the 1970's, cast members at Disneyland were allowed to use their cast ID's for entrance into the park. However, you were required to bring a member of the opposite sex. You see, Disney didn't want a bunch of hormone-charged males cruising for chicks in their family oriented park. By creating a "Date Night" they avoided this problem.

Date Night at Disneyland

Other efforts to keep Disneyland clean-cut were also in place at this time. Plain-clothed security guards would stand at the entrance of the park and watch for clothing violations. If your attire showed too much skin or displayed any picture or writing that was even slightly offensive, you were denied entrance. Believe me, a significant number of Disney guests today would have never been allowed access to Disneyland in my days of employment there.

Also in the early 70's, only women could be servers in the restaurants. It took a cast member from the Club 33 to challenge this policy in court to bring equality to the wait staff.

I was employed at the Blue Bayou for six years and worked myself up to the position of Lead. This was the highest non-management position and I was in charge of the day-to-day operation of the restaurant. I also served a six-month term as a University Leader and conducted the 2-day Orientation classes given to new hires. (Today, this class is called Traditions.) And finally, I was asked to transfer to the Club 33 as Lead/Maître d' where I worked for another three years.

Here is a picture of me greeting guests as they step off of the lift into the upper lobby of the Club 33.

Jack at Club 33

For various reasons, I decided it was time to leave Disneyland in 1980. I hired on with Pacific Bell/ATT where I worked for another 19 years before I was offered an early retirement.

Working for the phone company was the best thing that could have happened to me, but it was just a job. I really don't have any memories of significance of my time there. But my memories of working at Disneyland are abundant and overall, most pleasant. I wouldn't trade my time there for anything.

After quitting Disneyland, I still continued to visit regularly until 1985 when I was transferred to the San Francisco Bay area. It was only then that I realized that I had taken my close proximity to Disneyland for granted. When it was no longer "just down the street," I missed it terribly. I would make yearly trips to Anaheim, but it just wasn't enough.

Then, a Disney Store (the third) opened in late '87 at the end of Pier 39 on San Francisco Bay. I was saved. I could get my Disney fix without driving eight hours to Anaheim. I made regular trips to this store and developed a rapport with a number of the cast members. It was also at this time that I started to collect Disney art and decorate my house with my purchases - tastefully, of course.

Pier 39 Disney Store

My first real collectable was an animation cel of Donald Duck. I spent $250 for something I could have bought for $3 in my youth. At first I restricted my Disney memorabilia to the family room. But as my collection continued to grow, items started to creep into adjoining rooms - first a bathroom and then a bedroom. But I steadfastly refused to let my living and dining rooms become Disneyfied.

Donald Duck Cel

It was during my time at the phone company that I gained the means to travel, and other Disney parks were high on my list of destinations. Thus far I have been to the Tokyo Disney Resort three times, the Disneyland Paris Resort two times, and the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort one time. And I guess I better start saving for a trip to Shanghai.

When I took my early retirement from the phone company in 1999, I briefly thought about moving back to Southern California and Disneyland, but decided against this. A better choice would be Orlando and the flagship property, Walt Disney World. With this in mind, my next priority was to find a house no further than 30 minutes from the parks. Eventually I ended up in West Orlando next to the town of Windermere. I can now be in the parking lot of any of the parks within a half-hour. Cool.

When I was getting settled into my new house, it became obvious that I would need to relax my rule about no Disney artwork in the living and dining rooms. My collection had grown so great that I needed additional space. Now, every room in my house is designed with a Disney theme - tastefully, of course.

This next picture shows an upper wall in my family room. To the left are a number of animation cels. The main wall is covered with Haunted Mansion and Phantom Manor lithographs.

Art Collection

During my first years in Orlando, I visited Disney World five times a week. That didn't necessarily mean I went into a park everyday, but I was somewhere on property. Many times I'd drive to a resort just to have lunch or dinner. And of course, when you move to Orlando, all of your friends and relatives think this is cool because now they have a free place to stay while visiting Disney World - with a built-in expert tour guide.

In anticipation of my houseguests, I created the Mickey Mouse Suite. The bedroom and bath are all decorated in Mickey colors, black, red, yellow, and white.

Mickey Mouse Suite

One day, while surfing the internet, I came across this wonderful site called Allears. I was most impressed with what I saw and decided to attend a Meet-&-Greet that Deb Wills was holding with Bob Sehlinger, author of "The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World." After listening to them speak, I sought out Deb and introduced myself. She was most gracious and made me feel like a long lost friend.

A few months later, construction began on Saratoga Springs and I snapped a picture of the resort's signage. I sent it to Allears and to my amazement, Deb published it and thanked me for my efforts. As more time passed, I ran into Deb again and she suggested that I write a restaurant review. I was reluctant. I thought to myself, "Who would be interested in anything I had to say?" But after mulling it over, I sent her a review of the All Star Café located at Disney's Wide World of Sports - and to my amazement, she printed it in the weekly newsletter. Wow!

All Star Cafe

With one review under my belt, I decided to write another, then another. And Deb kept publishing them. Eventually, I became a full member of the team and joined the inner circle of Allears.

In an effort to keep the website as current as possible, Deb started the blog section. At first I was doubtful. I had read other blogs on other sites and was not impressed. Too many of them were negative and contained more myth than fact. But Deb assured me that this could work and persuaded me to give it a try. In the beginning, I was just a Guest blogger, but in no time at all I had my own column. Now I write one to two blogs a week - and when Deb sends me on assignment, even more.

Business Card

I realize that I have a dream job. What could be better than visiting Disney World any day I like and writing about my experiences? Yes, my blogs require real work, they don't just happen. But I'll never complain. There's no other job I'd rather be doing.

I'm still not driving a monorail, but I doubt that piloting one of these trains could be nearly as fulfilling as the career I had with Disney and writing for Allears.

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About November 2009

This page contains all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in November 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2009 is the previous archive.

December 2009 is the next archive.

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