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April 1, 2014

March Madness Quiz -- Answers

Jack Spence Masthead.jpg

Here are the answers to yesterday's quiz. Let me know if you got all 20 correct.

1. Since its opening on October 1, 1971, the Magic Kingdom has always been open seven days a week. Disney planners knew that their audience would be driving and flying in from great distances and they understood that the park needed to be open every day to accommodate visitors' vacation plans. But that wasn't the case with Disneyland when it first opened on July 17, 1955. Most guests would be making day trips as they lived in the Southern California area. Because of this, Disneyland was closed for two days each week during off season. What two days were they closed?

A. Monday & Tuesday
B. Tuesday & Wednesday
C. Wednesday & Thursday
D. Thursday & Friday
E. The above statement is untrue. Disneyland was always open seven days a week.

A. Disneyland was closed on Mondays & Tuesdays.

In the early years, attendance did not demand seven-day operation. Closing the park for two days each week helped keep costs down and allowed maintenance workers to complete many on-stage tasks out of sight from guests. In addition, nearby Knott's Berry Farm was closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays. This gave vacationers and day visitors a theme park to visit every day. Disneyland did not begin seven day operation until February 6, 1985.

Disneyland Marquee

2. Where would you find Devil's Elbow at Walt Disney World?

A. Haunted Mansion
B. Tower of Terror
C. Rivers of America
D. Rafiki's Planet Watch
E. None of the above

C. Rivers of America

Along the banks of the Rivers of America are a number of river markers such as Tree Snag Reef, Crawdad Shoals, and Howling Dog Bend. At the north end of Tom Sawyer Island is Devil's Elbow. This is the spot where the Lilly Belle Riverboat makes a sharp turn to return to Liberty Square.

Devil's Elbow

Devil's Elbow

3. Who narrates the Hall of Presidents attraction at the Magic Kingdom?

A. Maya Angelou
B. J.D. Hall
C. Morgan Freeman
D. An uncredited Disney Imagineer
E. None of the above

C. Morgan Freeman

When Bill Clinton was added to the presidential lineup, Maya Angelou narrated the presentation. When George W. Bush was added, J.D. Hall was called upon to tell the story of the chief executives. And when Barack Obama joined this elite club, Morgan Freeman took over the job of narrator.

Hall of Presidents

Hall of Presidents

Morgan Freeman

4. What company was the original sponsor of the Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain?

A. FedEx
C. General Electric
D. Monsanto
E. None of the above


RCA was the original sponsor of Space Mountain and helped fund the attraction's construction. Its logo could be seen on the marquee from January 15, 1975 until sponsorship ended in 1994. FedEx took over sponsorship in 1994 and ended its Disney alliance in 2004. Currently, Space Mountain has no corporate affiliation.

RCA Space Mountain Logo

Space Mountain Attraction Poster

5. Tower of Terror sits at the end of Sunset Boulevard at Disney's Hollywood Studios. What other idea did the Imagineers seriously consider for this spot?

A. Mary Poppin's Jolly Holliday
B. The Rocketeer's Flight
C. Cruella de Vil and the 101 Dalmatians
D. Dick Tracy's Crime Stoppers
E. None of the above

D. Dick Tracy's Crime Stoppers

Disney had very high expectations for their movie "Dick Tracy" starring Warren Beatty. So much so that they put their Imagineers to work planning a new attraction to be titled "Dick Tracy's Crime Stoppers." Designers envisioned guests riding in 1920-style vehicles that would use the same Enhanced Motion Vehicle technology that is now seen on the Indiana Jones Adventure and Dinosaur attractions. Each rider would be equipped with a Tommy gun that used the laser technology found in Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. As riders careened through the streets of Chicago, they would aim at a number of "bad guy" targets along the route. Unfortunately, the movie did not live up to expectations and the attraction was shelved.

Dick Tracy's Crime Stoppers

6. During the preshow of "Dinosaur" at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Dr. Marsh introduces the audience to the Time Rover, a vehicle that will take us to the early Cretaceous period. However, one of her colleagues has different ideas and reprograms the Time Rover to take us to the late Cretaceous period so we can bring back an iguanodon. What is the name of this second doctor?

A. Dr. Clarence P. Wilkerson
B. Dr. Harry F. Sinclair
C. Dr. Bernard Dunn
D. Dr. Grant Seeker
E. None of the above

D. Dr. Grant Seeker

Phylicia Rashad plays Dr. Helen Marsh and Wallace Langham plays Dr. Grant Seeker. Although neither character's first name is mentioned in the attraction, Dr. Marsh's first name can be found in newspaper clippings posted in Restaurantosaurus. The only first name reference I could find for Dr. Seeker was in Wallace Langham's IMDB webpage.

Grant Seeker" The name is a joke. Think about it.

Dinosaur Attraction

Doctors March and Seeker

7. Who created the voice of Madame Leota in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom?

A. Marni Nixon
B. Eleanor Audley
C. Barbara Billingsley
D. Natalie Schafer
E. None of the above

B. Eleanor Audley

Eleanor Audley voiced Madame Leota in the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom Haunted Mansions. However it is Imagineer Leota Toombs' face guests see floating in the crystal ball. Besides Ms. Audley's numerous television appearances, she also voiced Lady Tremaine in the Disney animated film "Cinderella" and Maleficent in "Sleeping Beauty."

Madame Leota

Eleanor Audley


Eleanor Audley

Lady Tremaine

Regarding option "A"" For those of you not familiar with Marni Nixon, she is known for her "behind-the-curtain" singing voice and has lent her talents to some of Hollywood's greatest stars. She dubbed for Audrey Hepburn in "My Fair Lady," Natalie Wood in "West Side Story," and Deborah Kerr in "The King and I." All of these accomplishments were uncredited and kept secret for many years.

Marni Nixon also has a Disney connection. She was the soloist in the opening sequence of "Cinderella." The singing flowers in "Alice in Wonderland" owe their vocal talents to her as well as the geese in "Mary Poppins." And finally, the singing voice of Grandmother Fa in "Mulan" was Marni. Of these, "Mulan" is the only movie in which she received on-screen credit.

Marni Nixon

8. Where in the Magic Kingdom is Mr. Dinglinger referenced?

A. Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland
B. The Chapeau shop on Main Street
C. Prairie Outpost & Supply in Frontierland
D. Big Top Souvenirs in Storybook Circus
E. None of the above

B. The Chapeau shop on Main Street

On the wall in The Chapeau, a small shop located across the street from Tony's Town Square Café, is an old-fashioned telephone. If you lift the receiver and listen, you can hear momma calling Dinglinger's Store to talk to her daughter Annie. This 3½ minute conversation is very amusing. If you haven't already done so, I highly recommend listening in on your next visit. I think you'll enjoy it.

This conversation was one of two originally recorded for the Market House at Disneyland and one version or another has been playing there since the park opened in 1955.

This was a difficult question. Give yourself a bonus point if you got it correct. That is, if you actually knew the answer and you weren't just guessing.

The Chapeau

old-fashioned telephone

9. Who dedicated the Disneyland monorail in June, 1959?

A. Actor Ronald Reagan and family
B. Television Personality Art Linkletter and family
C. California Governor Pat Brown and family
D. Walt's wife Lillian and his two daughters Diane and Sharon
E. None of the above

E. None of the above

Then Vice President Richard Nixon and his family dedicated Walt's newest toy, the Disneyland-Alweg monorail.

At the event, a large pair of scissors were handed to Nixon's two daughters Tricia and Julie to cut the ceremonial ribbon. However, the scissors were made out of wood and would not slice through the ribbon. After several attempts, Walt reached down and tore the ribbon in half by hand.

With the monorail now officially open, Walt and the Nixon family climbed into the monorail cab. At the same time, Art Linkletter, Fred MacMurray, Bob Cummings, and their families climbed into the passenger compartments. Once everyone was onboard, Walt throttled up and the monorail took off, leaving the horrified Secret Service on the boarding platform. After successfully circling Tomorrowland, the monorail returned to the station and was about to stop. The Secret Service took a collective sigh of relief, that is until Tricia and Julie yelled out "Again!" This excited Walt and he took everyone on another trip, leaving Nixon's protection on the station platform for a second time.

Monorail, Walt, and the Nixons

Monorail, Walt, and the Nixons

Below is a Disney created video showing the monorail dedication. Interestingly, the part of Walt ripping the ribbon in two has conveniently been edited out.

10. Who narrated the World of Motion attraction at Epcot?

A. Gary Owens
B. Dick Martin
C. Dan Rowan
D. Arte Johnson
E. None of the above

A. Gary Owens

Gary Owens' career included disc jockey, voice actor, comedian, performer, and writer. But he is probably best remembered as the announcer on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. He was also selected by the Imagineers to give a tongue-in-cheek narration of the World of Motion attraction at Epcot which ran from October 1, 1982 until the ride closed on January 2, 1996. The theme song for the ride was "It's Fun to be Free." This catchy number was written by X Atencio (also composed "Yo Ho" from Pirates of the Caribbean) and Buddy Baker, another legendary Disney composer.

World of Motion

Gary Owens

11. Who was the original voice of Figment, the iconic character found at the Imagination Pavilion in Epcot?

A. Mel Blanc
B. Tim Curry
C. Billy Barty
D. Kurt Russell
E. None of the above

C. Billy Barty

Film actor and television star Billy Barty had a long and successful career. Although much of his work consisted of bit parts, gag roles, and children's television shows, he was still a recognizable celebrity. People knew the name, Billy Barty. Barty's gravelly voice was perfect for Figment and he lent his talents to this beloved character from 1981 until 1998. Dave Goelz took over the role in 2002.

When EPCOT Center opened, it was Figment's role to be the "cute and lovable" character of the park. The Imagineers wanted to distance EPCOT Center from Mickey and the gang and did not include them in the park's roster of personalities. However, guests complained loudly and it wasn't long before the other Disney characters began appearing in the park.

In 1998, the original "Journey into Imagination" attraction was closed for a major reworking. In 1999, "Journey into YOUR Imagination" opened. However, Figment's role had been reduced to a few cameo appearances and Dreamfinder was absent altogether. Once again, guests complained loudly and the attraction was shuttered once more. In 2002, the ride reopened as "Journey into Imagination with Figment." This time, Figment is prominently featured, however Dreamfinder is still someplace in oblivion.

Billy Barty

Figment, Dreamfinder, and Eddie

12. What would you find inside the Metropolitan Department of Water and Power building found at Disney's Hollywood Studios?

A. Pizza Planet
B. Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano
C. Restrooms
D. Muppet*Vision 3D
E. None of the above

A. Pizza Planet

This restaurant's interior was inspired by its namesake as seen in the 1995 Disney/Pixar movie "Toy Story." Although the menu is limited, this counter service restaurant is a good child-pleaser as it has lots of arcade games to keep them entertained before, during, and after their meal. To see the full menu, click here.

Pizza Planet

Pizza Planet

Pizza Planet

13. Before Sunset Blvd was added to the Disney/MGM Studios, what could be found where the entrance to this street now begins?

A. A plywood wall with a plaque reading "DREAM BUILDERS 'There's enough land here to hold all the ideas and plans we can possibly imagine'"
B. The original entrance to the Backstage Studio Tour attraction before it was moved to Mickey Avenue
C. A Disney Vacation Club kiosk
D. A scaled down version of the Hollywood Bowl
E. None of the above

D. A scaled down version of the Hollywood Bowl

Original plans for the Disney/MGM Studios called for it to be a "half-day" park. It wasn't intended to be a real competitor to the Magic Kingdom or EPCOT Center. However, from day one, Disney charged the same one-day admission fee for the Studio as they did for their other parks and guests expected more than there was.

Since the Studio was envisioned to be a small park, the Imagineers did not create a grand stage for elaborate shows. Instead, a scaled down replica of the Hollywood Bowl was built were smaller productions could be performed. Notice, there is no overhead canopy to shield guests from the sun and rain.

Hollywood Bowl Replica

Regarding option "B"" When the Disney/MGM Studios opened on May 1, 1989, the original Backstage Studio Tour loaded from Animation Courtyard -- the same place that is now the beginning of the Animation Tour.

Animation Tour

Regarding option "C"" The first Disney Vacation Club did not open until December 20, 1991, over two years after the Studio. At that time, DVC informational kiosks did not appear in the theme parks.

14. What is the name of the fort on Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland?

A. Fort Sam Clemens
B. Fort Wilderness
C. Fort Langhorn
D. Fort Outpost
E. None of the above

B. Fort Wilderness

In an effort to capitalize on the success of the Pirate movies, Disney reimagined and renamed Tom Sawyer Island to Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island in 2007. This refurbishment added many new swashbuckling elements to this isolated section of Disneyland. As part of the effort, long-neglected Fort Wilderness was razed and rebuilt. However, it is no longer open to the public and now serves as a break area for cast members.

Fort Wilderness

Regarding answers "A" and "C""

When Tom Sawyer Island first opened in the Magic Kingdom, the fort was named Fort Sam Clemens (Mark Twain's real name). In later years, it was renamed Fort Langhorn, the middle name of Sam Clemens. It's interesting to note, his actual middle name is spelled with an "e" at the end Langhorne.

Fort Langhorn

15. What is the name of the clock tower that stands beside the Pirates of the Caribbean entrance in the Magic Kingdom?

A. Torre del Sol
B. Torre del Cielo
C. Torre de los Amigos
D. Torre del los Piratas
E. None of the above

B. Torre del Cielo

You should have all gotten this question correct since I gave you the answer in last week's article about Adventureland. Torre del Cielo means Tower of the Sky. It is fashioned after a Caribbean-style watchtower that guarded many island harbors.

Torre del Cielo

Torre del Cielo

16. Speaking of Pirates of the Caribbean" What is the name of the town that the pirates pillage and plunder and rifle and loot?

A. Castillo del Morro
B. Puerto Dorado
C. Puerto de Tesoro
D. Ciudad Tranquila
E. None of the above

B. Puerto Dorado

This was a very difficult question as the answer cannot be found within the attraction. It can only be found in books and archives. Puerto Dorado means Golden Port.

Puerto Dorado

Regarding answer "A"" Castillo del Morro is the name of the fortress that houses the attraction at the Magic Kingdom.

Castillo del Morro

17. What is the name of the backup group that accompanies Sonny Eclipse at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Café in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom?

A. The Astro Girls
B. The Space Angels
C. The Cosmic Gals
D. The Mars Maidens
E. None of the above

B. The Space Angels.

Although invisible, Sonny Eclipse references the Space Angels several times during his 25-minute routine.

Sonny Eclipse

18. Electric Umbrella is a counter service restaurant located in Innoventions East at Epcot. What was the original name of this dining establishment?

A. Stargate
B. Sunshine Terrace
C. Future World Foods (or FWF)
D. CommuniCore Verandah
E. It was always called Electric Umbrella

A. Stargate

Stargate was the original counter service restaurant in CommuniCore East. It closed on April 10, 1994 as part of the transition from CommuniCore to Innoventions. Electric Umbrella opened in this same location on June 24 of the same year.

Stargate Restaurant

Regarding option "B"" Sunshine Terrace was another EPCOT Center counter service restaurant and was located in CommuniCore West. It also changed its name and theming around this same time as Stargate and became Pasta Piazza Ristorante. However, this spot closed on April 22, 2001 and this space is now used as a character meet-&-greet area.

19. The California Grill is one of Disney World's most popular restaurants. What originally occupied this spot when the Contemporary Resort first opened?

A. Contemporary Grill
B. Restaurant 15
C. Top of the World
D. Gulf Coast Room
E. This spot has always been the California Grill

C. Top of the World

When the Contemporary Resort opened in 1971, the fifteenth floor of this A-frame building housed the Top of the World restaurant. For the first ten years of operation, named entertainers performed on a stage located in the southwest corner of the restaurant. A full orchestra backed them up and provided music for dancing. This arrangement continued until June 29, 1981 when it was replaced by a permanent show called "Broadway at the Top." This production featured two men and three women performing a medley of Broadway show tunes. The Top of the World restaurant closed on September 30, 1993 and officially opened as the California Grill on May 15, 1995. To pay tribute to this original name, the lounge at the top of Bay Lake Tower was named Top of the World.

Top of the World

Top of the World

Top of the World

Broadway at the Top

Regarding option "D"" The Gulf Coast Room was a restaurant located on the Contemporary's fourth floor. This establishment closed in 1988.

20. On what date did Roy E. Disney dedicate Walt Disney World?

A. October 1, 1971
B. October 2, 1971
C. October 25, 1971
D. November 1, 1971
E. None of the above

E. None of the above

Roy Edward Disney never dedicated any Disney park. However, his father Roy Oliver Disney dedicated Walt Disney World on October 25, 1971.

Roy Oliver Disney and Mickey Mouse

April 7, 2014

Disney Hodgepodge Four

Jack Spence Masthead

Pacific Electric Pictures

Today I'm going to discuss one of the stores found on Hollywood Boulevard at Disney's Hollywood Studios, L.A. Cinema Storage. Inside this building shoppers can find children's clothing, plush toys, character hats, and princess merchandise.

L.A. Cinema Storage

L.A. Cinema Storage

L.A. Cinema Storage

As you may know, many of the buildings on both Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards were modeled after real structures found in the Los Angeles area. L.A. Cinema Storage is one of these and its inspiration can be found at 9070 Venice Boulevard, Culver City, CA.


Years before Los Angeles was famous for its freeways, it boasted the largest mass transit system in the world, the Pacific Electric Railway. LA locals affectionately called the trolleys either the P.E. or the Red Car. The system spanned southern California with over 1,100 miles of track that ran between Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, and Los Angeles Counties. The system was begun by Henry Huntington as a way of opening up new land to developers. As freeways grew in popularity during the 1950's, P.E. ridership declined. The last Red Car ran in April, 1961.

The above building in Culver City was designed in the Mission Revival style of architecture and was used as a substation for the Red Car. Inside this structure, rectifiers converted AC power into DC power to run the Pacific Electric Railway. This substation was renovated in 1992 and today is used as a theater for live performances.

The backstory for the building at Disney's Hollywood Studios also suggests that this structure was used in connection with the Pacific Electric Railway. If you look near the building's peak you can see the P.E. logo. In addition, if you examine the side of this structure (before the addition of the large awning) you can see oversized doors. These doors suggests that this building was a car barn for the Red Cars. To further this backstory, the Imagineers placed a Red Car station directly across the street.

P.E. Building

P.E. Building

P.E. Station

You might also notice the address of this building 1928. This is the year Mickey Mouse made his debut in Steamboat Willie.

1928 Address

When the Studio first opened, this structure had a far more interesting function than "just another place to buy souvenirs." This stop along Hollywood Boulevard was called Pacific Electric Pictures. Although I have no still photos of this location, I did take a few videos using one of those gigantic on-the-shoulder cameras. What you see next are freeze-frame photos I captured from my cinematographic efforts.

A banner was draped above the doors facing Hollywood Boulevard, beckoning guests to come in for an audition and screen test.

Pacific Electric Pictures

Pacific Electric Pictures

Once inside, guests found themselves on a mini-sound stage. Several cameras and some sound equipment were positioned around the room and a number of backdrops were available. Also on hand were racks of costumes in various sizes.

Those who wandered in for a looksee were encouraged to participate, but when budding stars were scarce, cast members would recruit would-be actors from the street. Once a group was assembled, they would then be instructed how to play a particular scene by a comical director. After a short rehearsal, the scene was played out again, but this time it was videotaped. And guess what, guests could actually buy a copy of their Hollywood debut on video tape for a mere $24.95.

Pacific Electric Pictures

Researching Pacific Electric Pictures turns up almost no information. It is mentioned in the 1990 and 1991 "Steve Birmbaums' Guide to Walt Disney World," but it is not mentioned in the 1992 version. So obviously, this attraction did not garner enough attention (and money) to become a long-lived, must-do event.

A similar and also short-lived attraction could be found across the street in what is now the Keystone Building. At Sights and Sounds, guests could record their own music videos. But once again, lack of interest forced the closing of this attraction within its second year.

AMC Fork & Screen

In the late 1940's and 1950's, the owners of movie theaters were worried that the relatively new invention of television would cut into their business. They believed if folks opted to stay home and watch free TV, it would hurt profits. But for the most part, their fears were unwarranted. Going to the movies remained a special treat and people enjoyed the sound and picture quality that home entertainment could not offer.

However, things changed in the 2000's. Now it is possible to get the "theater" experience at home. Big screen high-definition televisions, surround sound, Blu-ray, Netflix, 3D, cable and satellite offer the film enthusiasts a real alternative to a night out at the movies.

To combat this new competition, theater chains have had to come up with creative ways to lure customers back into their establishments. One idea is to offer more than the traditional concession fare to their patrons. Hot dogs, nachos, and popcorn are good, but they don't really take the place of a real meal. So several theater chains have converted some of their multiplexes into combination dining room/movie houses. Now, patrons can enjoy a real meal in comfort while watching the latest blockbuster. The AMC Theater at Downtown Disney West side is one of these establishments. They call this new service Fork & Screen.

Fork & Screen Logo

Although you can enter the Downtown Disney AMC Theater at two locations, the main entrance for Fork & Screen is located across from Planet Hollywood.

Fork & Screen Entrance

You can purchase tickets at the theater, but I suggest buying them online for the best seat selection. Once you pay for your admission, a chart will appear that allows you to select the seats you want.

The theaters have two seating configurations, 4-4-4 and 2-4-2. Since the theater is relatively small, all of the seats are good. However, I would avoid the seats against the wall in the 4-4-4 configuration.

Seating Chart

Seating Chart

(Charts not to scale.)

The system does have intelligence built into it. For example, a party of two cannot pick the two middle seats in a row of four, leaving a single seat on either side. The system does this to avoid "stray" seats. However, this isn't a problem. The seats are so large and roomy that it really isn't an annoyance to have someone sitting next to you.

When you arrive at the theater, you present the box office personnel with the credit card you used to pay with online. You will then be given your tickets with your seat numbers printed on them.

The theater opens 30 minutes before the stated show time (when previews begin). Although you can arrive one minute before the movie, I would suggest at least 20 minutes before the previews start. This gives you time to get settled and read the menu with overhead lights. Shortly after getting seated, your waiter will arrive and take your drink order. When he returns, it's hoped that you'll be ready to place your meal order. Note, the food is charged separately from your admission ticket. About halfway through the movie, your waiter will bring you the bill. In addition, each set of seats has a "call button" to summon your waiter if you need refills, extra catsup, or whatever.

Here are a few pictures of the seats and tables.

Fork & Screen

Fork & Screen

Fork & Screen

For those of you who have eaten at the Sci Fi Dine In at Disney's Hollywood Studios, you might notice a similarity in table/chair configuration. However, at the Fork & Screen, the table is significantly further away from your chair - especially if you lean back. Because of this, most meals are served in large, square bowls. This allows you to lean back, hold the bowl in your lap, and forgo the table. If you opt for this style of eating, I have two suggestions. First, order finger food. It's easier to eat. For instance, their juicy hamburgers are good, but they are also messy. And with the overhead lights out, navigating a burger in the dark can be difficult. Second, tuck the provided cloth napkin into your shirt.

There is no minimum order. And in addition to full meals and desserts, your waiter can also bring you traditional snacks from the concession stand and cocktails from the bar.

The price of a seat is more at Fork and Screen than at the traditional theaters next door, but it's worth it. They're very comfortable and roomy. I don't even mind a stranger sitting directly next to me here as the seats are so big.

Fork & Screen is available to those 18 and over. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Mickey Transmission Tower

I'm sure many of you have viewed pictures of this Disney World oddity, but I'm guessing that most of you have never seen it in person - a high voltage transmission tower in the shape of Mickey Mouse. Located in Celebration just off of Interstate 4, this tower receives power from an adjacent substation.

Mickey Mouse Transmission Tower

I really can't tell you much about this tower other than it exists. After scouring the internet, I came up with nothing I could substantiate. One excerpt I found says the creation of this icon was a collaboration between Tampa Electric and Reedy Creek. Another says that the same company that created this tower also made the Olympic Rings for the Atlanta Olympics. I also read that normally a "Y" tower is called for in situations like this but the designers were able to use Mickey to get the job done. (I don't even know what a "Y" tower is.) I also read the tower is 80 feet tall. However, I can't corroborate any of this. So this Hodgepodge entry is here only to tell you a Mickey Mouse transmission tower exists. Shocking!

That's it for this week. Check back next Monday when I revisit Coronado Springs.

April 14, 2014

Coronado Springs -- A Relook

Jack Spence Masthead

Coronado Springs

The AllEars team strives to keep our webpages up-to-date. Trust me, this is no easy task. As you are probably aware, Disney is constantly changing things big and small and we're often playing catch-up.

As my longtime readers know, I have written reviews for all of the Disney resorts plus the Swan and Dolphin. These are available in the AllEars archives. To find a particular article, go to our search engine and type "Jack" plus the name of the resort. Chances are good that my blog will be the first or second listing.

I am now in the process of reexamining all of the Disney World resorts to see what has changed since my last overnight visit - and I decided to start with Coronado Springs. I last posted on this resort on August 17, 2010. To see this article,
click here. What follows is not another full description of the resort, but rather a listing of what's changed in the last three and a half years. Let's start with the room.

Coronado Springs is one of three moderately priced resorts located at Walt Disney World. The others are the Caribbean Beach Resort and the Port Orleans Resort. Coronado Springs opened on August 1, 1997, has 1,921 guest rooms and suites, and is the only resort in this price category to have a full-fledged convention center. The entrance to the complex is located off of West Buena Vista Drive.

The guest rooms at Coronado Springs measure approximately 314 square feet. Most rooms feature two queen beds. There are 224 rooms with king-size beds and 99 disabled-accessible rooms.

On both of my visits, I stayed in the "Cabanas" section of the resort. The theme here is that of a small tropical fishing village found along the Mexican coast. On my first visit I stayed in a "standard" room, on my recent outing, I was lodged in a corner room.

(Note, on my first visit, I stayed in building 9B. The rooms in this block are "business class" rooms. On my second visit, I was lodged in building 9A, a "regular" room. Some of the changes described below can be attributed to this.)

The first change you'll notice are the guest room door locks. These are now operated via a wristband rather than a cardkey. Guests simply "tap" the Mickey on their band to the receiver on the door and presto, the lock clicks open.

Wristband Door Locks

Wristband Door Locks

The overall décor of the rooms was the same then as it is now. I know this because I took extensive photos on each visit. The first picture below is from 2010 and the second from 2014.

Room Decor

Room Decor

The only décor change I could find has to do with seating. In 2010 the room had a chair. In 2014, the chair had been replaced by two hassocks. This can be attributed to the difference in categories. The "business" room has a chair, the "regular" room has hassocks.

Room Decor

Room Decor

In 2010 the room had a DVD player. It did not today. Once again, this can be attributed to room category.

Parents beware! At one time, Disney blocked adult content from the internet when connecting via their WiFi. This was not the case on my last visit.

The vanity and bath areas are identical except that the shower curtain now sports a colorful Mesoamerica design. It's a little change but a big impact.

Shower Curtain

Shower Curtain

I did not notice any changes in the exterior of the buildings, the main lobby, the registration area, and Panchito's, the resort's shop.

Café Rix, was added to Coronado Springs several years after the resort opened. This is a "grab-and-go" food mart where guests can purchase a quick bite to eat. In 2010, this spot featured a small counter-service window were you could order a hot breakfast, hamburgers, pizza, and other similar items cooked to order. Unfortunately, this counter has been removed and now all "meals" are prepackaged at Café Rix.

Cafe Rix Counter

The "kitchen" area in the Pepper Market has been slightly rearranged and the Asian food station removed.

Pepper Market

The menu for Maya Grill has changed significantly over the last three and a half years

Maya Grill

At the Explorer's Playground at The Dig, I noticed the swings were missing. I do not know if this is a permanent situation or temporary.

Swing Set

Missing Swings

All of the swimming pools now offer lifts that can lower and raise a mobility challenged person into and out of the water.

Swimming Pool Lift

The only other change I noticed were in the prices. Everything is more expensive today. Sigh.

I feel that Coronado Springs is the "forgotten" Disney World resort. When I ask people where they are staying, I rarely hear this resort mentioned - and I'm not sure why. I like this spot a lot. I think the architecture is wonderful and it boasts a magnificent pool and playground for the kids. In addition, the Pepper Market is a unique dining opportunity with nothing else like it at Walt Disney World. I know the resort is large, but it's not any larger than Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. And bus service is available to transport you to and from El Centro.

I'm a big proponent of trying everything Disney has to offer. To stay at the same resort year after year and to eat at the same restaurant time and time again is limiting. Disney has put a lot of effort and imagination into everything they do. When you try something new, it might not make it to your top-ten list. But then again, it just might. And it's rare that Disney will give you a bad experience so you really don't have anything to lose. So next time you're contemplating booking a moderate hotel, consider Coronado Springs. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

While visiting last week, I videotaped my guest room (2½ minutes) and the entire resort (12½ minutes). Take a look and see if you don't agree that this resort is worth your consideration.


** Coronado Springs Fact Sheet
** Reader Reviews
** Holiday Decorations Around Coronado Springs Video

April 21, 2014

Disney Policies -- Then and Now

Jack Spence Masthead

At a recent awards ceremony, Meryl Streep accused Walt Disney of being a sexist. To justify her claim she read from a 1938 rejection letter a female trainee program applicant received from him. It said, "Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that is performed entirely by young men."

Ms. Streep's comment that Walt was a sexist irritated me - a lot.

Come on Meryl. It was 1938. Women really didn't begin joining the workforce in any numbers until 1941 when World War II forced them out of the house. And when the war was over in 1945, most women returned home to take care of their families. You can't judge a man who lived in the first half of the 20th century by 21st century standards. That's just not reasonable.

For the most part, the women who did work in the early and mid-20th century held repetitive and non-decision-making jobs. They were telephone operators, secretaries, and sales clerks. Some even worked in the Ink & Paint Department of the Disney Studios - where Walt met Lillian.

Walt was a flawed man, just like the rest of us. He was a man of his generation and shared many of the same attitudes as his contemporaries. But Walt was always open to new ideas. If he hadn't been, he wouldn't have continually pushed himself and his team to think outside the box. And Walt grew and changed with the times. The Walt that sent that rejection letter in 1938 was not the same Walt that later included several women in his inner circle of Imagineers. These included Disney Legends Alice Davis, Harriet Burns, and Mary Blair. Were these women in the minority in a field dominated by men? Of course they were. But they were there nonetheless.

Television is often a good barometer of the country's current morals and principles. Walt Disney died in December 1966 so I thought I might look at a few of the sitcoms that were popular during the 1950's and 1960's to see how women were portrayed back then.

The Honeymooners (1955 - 1956) -- Alice Kramden was a housewife.

I Love Lucy (1951 - 1957) - Ricky wanted Lucy to stay home and take care of the house. And when Lucy and Ethel got jobs in the episode titled "Job Switching," they were failures and agreed that men were better suited for the workplace.

Father Knows Best (1954 - 1960) -- Margaret Anderson stayed home to take care of Betty, Bud, and Kathy.

Leave it to Beaver (1957 - 1963) - June stayed home (and wore pearls) to take care of Wally and the Beaver.

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1952 - 1966) - Harriet stayed home to take care of David and Ricky. (Ozzie also stayed home as he never had any recognizable job.)

The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961 - 1966) - Laura stayed home to take care of Richie. However, we did see Sally Rogers working with Rob and Buddy. But she was still assigned many of the traditional female duties within the writing team.

It wasn't until 1970 when the Mary Tyler Moore Show premiered that things began to change for women on TV. Mary was the first never-married, independent career woman as the central character. This was three years after Walt's death.

Walt wasn't a sexist. Walt was a product of his time.

Now that I have that off my chest, I thought I would look back at some of the out-of-date policies that were in place at Disneyland in the early years. Once again, by today's standards, some of them are horrifying. But Disney was a conservative company and tried to give the public what they thought the public wanted - just like most all businesses do. But in showing the negative, I also want to show the positive. I want to show you how working at the Disney parks has changed over the years. Today, Disney is often singled out as one of the top companies in the country to work for.

Disclaimer" Some of what I present here is from my own, personal observations from my employment at Disneyland from 1971 to 1980. But much of what I offer here is public record.


Show is everything in a Disney park. For example, it bothered Walt greatly that the cast members' locker room at Disneyland was located behind Tomorrowland. This forced cowboys and jungle explorers to walk through the Land of the Future in order to get to their jobs. This was an incongruity and created bad show.

What follows are some of the policies that were once in place to ensure that a guest never had to experience "bad show" during their visit.


Cast member grooming policies were extremely strict. A male cast member's hair could not extend over his shirt collar in the back or be long enough to get in his eyes in the front. Hair could not touch the ears and sideburns could only extend to the middle of the ear. Facial hair was strictly forbidden. Guys could not dye their hair in any manner.

Female workers could not add highlights or streak their hair. Clear nail polish was the only color allowed. Earrings could be no more than a quarter of an inch in diameter.

Cast members could only wear one ring - and it had to be on the ring or little finger. You certainly couldn't wear it on the thumb.

Sometime around 1976, the policy on sideburns was changed. Guys were now allowed to grow them to the bottom of the ear, but no flairs or mutton-chops. Interestingly, this policy was not changed at WDW until sometime later.

Over the years, a number of cast members took Disney to court over this grooming policy, but they always lost. Disney was able to produce thousands of letters from guests stating that they loved how neat and clean all of the cast members looked. You must remember, long hair and bushy facial hair was all the rage in the 70's with the hippie movement. Guests (and juries) found the "Disney look" refreshing.


Disney still maintains a grooming policy, but things have loosened up tremendously over the years. One of the biggest changes we have seen recently revolves around facial hair. First Disney started allowing mustaches and more recently, beards.

Although Florida cast members working in food service may not wear rings for hygienic reasons, others are now allowed to wear a ring on each hand and on any finger.

Women can wear hooped earrings.


If a woman got pregnant while working at Disneyland, she was allowed to work only as long as she could fit into a standard costume. Once she started showing, she had to take an unpaid leave of absence.


Today, pregnant cast members may work as long as they are able and desire. Special costumes have been designed to promote this practice.


Cast members with any visible impairment could not have an onstage job. For example, you would never see a wheelchair-bound cast member onstage in the 1970's. If you broke an arm and required a cast, or had an eye infection and required a patch, you would not be allowed to work onstage. If management could find you a backstage job while you mended, you might be placed in some other position, but even this was definitely the exception, not the rule.


Disney is a leader at hiring those with special needs - and often placing them in guest-facing positions. It is not uncommon at all to see a cast member in a wheelchair taking tickets, directing crowds, or in any number of roles.


One of my hostess friends at the Blue Bayou Restaurant had a slight deformity on her right hand. Several of her fingers were fused together, however it was hardly noticeable. After working a summer as a hostess, it was her turn to be advanced to the position of waitress, a much better paying job. However, she was denied the promotion. She was told that her deformed hand would offend guests as she served them their food. It didn't matter that she had been handing menus to guests for a year, serving food was considered a different matter. She ultimately threatened to take Disney to court. Disney eventually backed down and promoted her.


This would never happen at a Disney park today. All positions are open to everyone. The only requirement is that an individual must be capable of doing the job.


Although Disney would never admit to this (and it would be impossible to prove), those with good looks and good builds were hired into public-facing jobs - especially into Attractions (ride operators). Those with plain looks were assigned roles backstage. Of course, there were always exceptions to this unofficial policy, but it didn't take a genius to see it was true. All you had to do is look around. This was done in the name of "show."


Once again, this type of policy would never fly at a Disney park today.


Disney has always been proactive when it comes to safety. But as times change, so do policies.


I almost put this next entry under "Show" but decided it belonged under safety.

For a long time, cast members were forbidden to eat or drink while onstage. This was considered bad show. Even on the hottest days, cast members working out on the asphalt parking lot directing cars had to wait for their break to get a drink of water.


Today, cast members are still forbidden to eat while onstage. However, many positions now allow cast members to carry a company approved water bottle on their belt so they may remain hydrated while working.


Take a look at this old parking lot tram. These were still in use when I started working at Disneyland in 1971. It's amazing that people weren't falling out of these trams left and right.

Parking Log Tram


The basic tram design we see today came about sometime during my tenure at Disneyland. But recently, Disney management went a step further and added doors.

Parking Lot Tram



In the "old days" Disney parks made very few, if any, attempts at accommodating wheelchairs. Nobody did back then.

For example, in the Blue Bayou Restaurant, guests in wheelchairs had to be pulled up three stairs by their companions to gain access to the dining room.

Even today, we see signs of this lack of consideration. Take a look at the Liberty Tree Tavern in the Magic Kingdom. This restaurant was designed in the late sixties and opened in 1971 when mores were different. The restaurant portion of this eatery is located up two steps from the lobby. Even today, guests in wheelchairs must be brought into the restaurant through a side door or pulled up the steps.

Over at Columbia Harbour House, guests in wheelchairs wishing to eat upstairs are taken into the kitchen to use the restaurant's only elevator.


Today, Disney is a leader when it comes to ADA requirements. All new construction addresses the necessities of those with special needs and older structures are retrofitted whenever possible. Even rides that were strictly off limits to those with mobility issues have been modified to allow them to ride.


When Disney World opened, there were only two hotels, the Contemporary and Polynesian. However, there was no elevator to the monorail platform at the Contemporary. Disney management of the day didn't see a need. If someone used a wheelchair, they could stay at the Polynesian. Problem solved.


Disney added an elevator to the Contemporary monorail platform. Now, wheelchair-bound guests have the same choice when it comes to accommodations as everyone else.



When I started working at Disneyland in 1971, the park was run by men. Not as an official policy, but rather women hadn't yet begun to move into supervisory positions with any great numbers. Of the several hundred supervisors and managers attending to the day-to-day operation of Disneyland, only a handful were women - and most in entry level management positions.

In the earliest years of the park, African Americans could only work in backstage jobs or as a performer. It wasn't until 1968 that blacks were allowed into guest-facing jobs.


Women and minorities are seen at all levels in the Disney Corporation. Here are three examples out of many:

Meg Crofton is President of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations U.S. and France.

Meg Crofton

Aylwin B. Lewis is one of the members of the Disney Board of Directors.

Aylwin B. Lewis

George A. Kalogridis, an openly gay man, is President over the Walt Disney World Resort.

George A. Kalogridis,


In the 1970's, Disneyland had two ethnic restaurants, the Tahitian Terrace (full service) and Casa de Fritos (counter service). Almost all of the cast members working at the Tahitian Terrace were of Polynesian decent and almost all of the cast members working at Casa de Fritos were of Latin American decent. This hiring practice was defended in the name of theming. Disney management backed this policy by saying they were casting a role in a show. It would not be realistic to have a Mexican serving Polynesian food or a Hawaiian serving tacos.


Once again, all roles at Disney Parks are open to all cast members. The exception is Epcot's World Showcase. As these pavilions were set up to be cultural exchange areas, the majority of the cast members working here are either from the country represented or have spent a significant amount of time in that country and are extremely knowledgeable of that nation.

You might be asking yourself, "So what's the difference between World Showcase and the Tahitian Terrace and Casa de Fritos?"

The cast members working at the Tahitian Terrace and Casa de Fritos only looked Polynesian or Latin American. In most cases, they had well established American roots and knew little about the foreign lands they were supposedly representing.


In the 1970's, only women could wait on tables in the full-service restaurants (the Blue Bayou, Tahitian Terrace, and Club 33). Men were not allowed to fill this role. It took a Club 33 busboy to change this policy. He took Disneyland to court on a discrimination charge and won the right to become a server. Still, it was several more years before Disney opened up this position to males in the Blue Bayou and Tahitian Terrace.


As I keep saying, today, all roles are open to all cast members.


Another area of sex discrimination took place on the Jungle Cruise and the Storybook Land Canal Boats attractions. It was reasoned that only a man could skipper a boat up the Congo and only a woman ("girl" in those days) could tell guests all about the fairytale homes found in Fantasyland.

In addition, the Tour Guide position was exclusively female.


I really don't know exactly when these practices were abolished, but eventually both of these attractions and the Tour Guide position were opened to both sexes.


In the early 60's, demands on Walt's time were ever increasing and he needed someone "official" to represent him when he was unavailable. Thus, the Disneyland Ambassador Program began in 1965. The chosen ambassador would host dignitaries and oversee the opening of new attractions in Walt's absence - along with a hundred other duties.

A new ambassador was selected each year. Only unmarried females were eligible for the position and she had to sign a contract stating that she would not marry during her term. Applicants went through rigorous interviews and eventually the field was narrowed down to five contenders - usually all from the Tour Guide Department. These finalists would be listed in the company newspaper, The Disneyland Line. In the next week or so, the judges would make their final selection and a winner was announced.

While I was working at Disneyland, male cast members began grumbling about this female-only position. Eventually, Disneyland opened up the ambassador position to both sexes. For a number of years afterwards, a male would make it into the final five, but somehow was never selected. It wasn't until 1995, when three ambassadors were selected to represent Disneyland instead of just one that a male was finally chosen along with two females.


Sexism is no longer a problem. In fact, in 2007, two men were selected as ambassadors of the WDW Resort (Lowell A. Doringo and Michael Kelley). Women were left completely out in the cold that year. In addition, ambassadors can now be married.


Disney also discriminated when it came to a person's size. Although I don't have the actual statistics, people who were too tall, too short, or too big could not be hired into the day-to-day jobs at Disneyland as there were no costumes available for them.

My high school girlfriend and I applied for a job at Disneyland at the same time. I was hired (at 5'10"), but she was told she was too short (at 5'3") as Disney didn't make a costume in her size.


You guessed it; a person's size isn't a problem anymore.

By the way, twenty years later, my then girlfriend reapplied and received a nice part-time job in merchandising at Disneyland.


Although I wouldn't exactly call this next entry discrimination, it certainly falls into the sexist category.

When the Club 33 opened, the vast majority of the members were local businessmen. In the early years, the restaurant was frequented primarily by these gentlemen, their guests, and the male executives of the Disney Company. To appeal to the male libido, the waitress costume was that of a stereotypical French maid. Although not racy by today's standards, it was somewhat risqué in the 1970's - especially for Disneyland.

This costume's design also dictated that a rubenesque woman could not be a server at the Club 33. Not to mention, the older a woman grew, the more inappropriate the costume became.

When men began waiting tables at the Club 33, they were costumed in a tuxedo-type outfit. Still, the women remained in this sexist getup.

Club 33 French Maid Costume


Although I don't have a picture, the women servers at the Club 33 today are dressed in a far more dignified costume.


Since I worked in Food Service at Disneyland, these are the stories I can tell. I'm sure those working Attractions and Merchandising would have their own tales as well.


Disneyland had only one executive chef who oversaw all of the park's restaurants and was responsible for most of the menus.

New Orleans Square sits atop a giant basement. Within this basement is a large kitchen designed to serve five satellite kitchens and restaurants (Blue Bayou, French Market, Créole Café, Club 33, and an employee's cafeteria). Knowing that this new complex would be serving thousands of meals each day, Disney hired retired army cooks to man the "Main Kitchen." Management figured "who better" than a military man to feed the masses.

These army guys were great, hard-working souls that did a fantastic job, but none of them had any real, formal culinary training. They had all learned their craft from other army personnel while in the service. Most of these guys worked the day shift and would leave the premises in the late afternoon. In the evening, college kids took over.

In the early years, the New Orleans Square restaurants offered decent, somewhat authentic Southern food. Far above anything that had ever been seen in a theme park before. However, by the mid 1970's, the menus had changed significantly. Due to a lack of truly professional chefs and budget cuts, many of the once cooked-on-premises items had been replaced with off-the-shelf entrees that only required thawing and heating. By the time I transferred to the Club 33 in 1977, the Blue Bayou, the flagship restaurant of Disneyland, was serving instant mashed potatoes. The restaurant was no better than a coffee shop in the quality of food that it offered.


Today, all Disney restaurants have professionally trained chefs on hand or nearby. And although the topic of food is somewhat subjective, I can assure you, what is offered today at Disney's full-service restaurants is a far cry from what it was in the late 1970's.


If you had a food allergy in the mid 70's, you were pretty much out of luck. No chef was available to personally speak with you and cook you a special meal. There certainly were no recipes on hand for us to check ingredients. A vegetarian plate at the Blue Bayou consisted of a scoop of corn, green beans, rice, instant mashed potatoes, and a lettuce leaf with a scoop of cottage cheese. Hardly a healthy offering.


If you have a food allergy, the restaurant's chef will personally come to your table to discuss your needs. Even counter-service restaurants will work with you to see that your requirements are met. Just ask.

In addition, all restaurants offer healthy options.


I would like to say, that in spite of some of the practices that were in place while I worked at Disneyland, overall I had a wonderful experience working there. I wouldn't trade my time at the Blue Bayou and Club 33 for anything.

Once again, please remember, these eyebrow-raising policies and incidents were a reflection of the times and Disney's attempt to theme things accordingly. I think you can see from my examples, things have changed for the better.

Is the Disney Company perfect today? Nope. And neither is any other company. They are all run by imperfect humans. Does Disney still have out-of-date practices? Probably. I'm sure some cast members have their complaints. But in numerous surveys and studies, Disney is constantly ranked among the top U.S. employers.

So Meryl, you can call Walt a sexist if you want. But then you would also have to call "The Happiest Place on Earth" a den of inequity. Personally, I don't buy it.

April 28, 2014

Water at Walt Disney World -- Part One

Jack Spence Masthead

If you've ever flown over Florida, you can't help but notice we have a few lakes. If you've ever driven in Florida, you may have noticed that a great many of our major boulevards and avenues must twist and turn to avoid these bodies of water. In fact, Florida has over 30,000 lakes of which 7,700 are greater than ten acres. And that's not even counting all of the retention ponds communities are required to build to help send rain water back down into the aquifer.

All of this H2O got me to thinking how water has influenced Walt Disney World in ways both great and small. So my article today is going to give you an overview of how water shaped the land, then I'm going to look at the fun and entertaining ways water influences our experiences in the parks.

Disneyland was built in one year. But on the other side of the continent, it took five years to get the Magic Kingdom open. Much of this time was spent preparing the property before construction could even begin on the park and hotels. And one of the first tasks of this preparation was dealing with water.

When the Imagineers arrived in Florida, they discovered a number of swamps on the property. And some of these swamps were exactly where they wanted to build. They also discovered that Florida receives torrential downpours that can easily flood low-lying areas, yet at other times, rain can be scarce. Something needed to be done, but what? The Imagineers knew they wanted to manage this water, but they also knew it had to be done in a way that would not destroy the ecosystem. To that end, they constructed 47 miles of canals, 22 miles of levees, and 24 water-control structures and floodgates.

The first plans called for the canals to run in almost straight lines, but Roy Disney would have nothing to do with this idea. He wanted the Walt Disney World property to look natural and insisted the plans be redrawn. Because of his foresight, the canals today curve in a realistic manner and blend in with the surroundings.

WDW Canals

WDW Canals

WDW Canals

WDW Canals

WDW Canals

One of the interesting features found along these canals are the floodgates. These keep water levels under control by automatically floating open when the water reaches certain levels and closing when the water subsides. They require no electricity or human monitoring and greatly reduce the risk of flooding or water shortages.




Speaking of drought" In the early 2000's, Florida received far less rain than normal. Because of this, water levels in Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon dropped significantly. Since many of the docks were built at a fixed height to accommodate the normal, higher water levels, it made loading and unloading of the boats and ferries difficult. To remedy the situation, Disney retrofitted all of the docks with floating platforms so boat and dock levels would always be constant. If you look closely at this next picture, you can see a floating platform next to the stationary dock.

Floating Dock

No story of the water at Walt Disney World would be complete without mentioning the creation of Seven Seas Lagoon.

If you look at the early property map that Walt used to announce his latest endeavor, you can see the Magic Kingdom at the top left corner of the diagram. Notice that Bay Lake can be seen to the right of the Magic Kingdom, but no Seven Seas Lagoon to the south as this body of water wasn't in the initial plans. Instead, we see several hotels clustered closely around the park.

WDW Concept Design

WDW Concept Design

Of course, as we know, the land directly south of the Magic Kingdom turned out to be swampland and was unsuitable for building. So the Imagineers drained this mucky quagmire, cleared out tons of rotting debris, and created another Florida lake.

Draining Seven Seas Lagoon

Draining Seven Seas Lagoon

Draining Seven Seas Lagoon

The creation of Seven Seas Lagoon brought about two positive happenstances. First, much of the mud that was excavated was used to bury the utilidors which lie beneath the Magic Kingdom. This earth became the "ground level" of the park.

In case you've ever wondered where the utilidors are located, here is a map. Notice that they do not connect every corner of the park, but only go to key locations.


The other positive surprise came with the discovery of white sand buried beneath the muck. This sand would eventually be used to line the shores of the Polynesian and Contemporary Resorts.

White Sand Beach

White Sand Beach

Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon give Walt Disney World something that Disneyland will never have, water recreation. From the marinas of the resorts that line these bodies of water, a number of floating activities can be arranged. Fishing, mini-speed boats, and pontoon boats are all available when someone needs a break from the parks.

Speed Boat

Pontoon Boat

At the Contemporary, Sammy Duvall offers guests an opportunity to waterski and parasail.

Water Skiing



There are other large bodies of water at Walt Disney World worth mentioning such as Crescent and Village Lakes and Sassagoula River, but I think I'm going to table these for the time being.

Now let's take a look at the water found in the Magic Kingdom. Main Street would be a good place to start, except there really aren't any water features in this land - not unless you count drinking fountains and restrooms. So let's move onto the Hub.

The Magic Kingdom Hub is unique among the five Magic Kingdom-type parks around the world. It is the only one that is completely surrounded by a river. Although these other park's may have small ponds and lakes, their Hub's are not islands. In my opinion, this fact makes the Florida Hub the most beautiful. The water has a calming effect. This is especially welcome on busy days.

The Hub Waterway

The Hub Waterway

The Hub Waterway

The Hub Waterway

While scouring through my pictures of the Hub, I came across this next photo. It seems that at one time simple fountains added atmosphere near the Rose Garden Pavilion.

Swan Boat Fountain

As I'm sure you know, the waterway that circles the Hub was created for the Swan Boats that ran from May 1972 until August 1983. Did you also know that besides circling the Hub, the Swan Boats also circled Swiss Family Treehouse?

Swan Boat

The Imagineers were able to create the Swan Boat waterway for two reasons. First, they had the land to do so whereas Disneyland did not. But more than that, there is an abundance of water available that the non-Florida parks lack. Did you know that the Swan Boat waterway, the Jungle Cruise rivers, and the Rivers of America are all connected and are fed by Seven Seas Lagoon?

One of the most unassuming water features in the Magic Kingdom is found in front of First Aid. This simple fountain sports a pineapple on top, a sign of hospitality and welcome.

Pineapple Fountain

Because the Hub is an island, bridges are needed to transport guests to the various lands. These bridges help tell the story and prepare our minds for what is to come. Tomorrowland features a modern, concrete bridge. The Adventureland bridge has an elaborate, tropical feel whereas the Liberty Square bridge is a far more simple wooden structure. Then of course the castle bridge is made of stone and has an imposing look.

Tomorrowland Bridge

Liberty Square Bridge

Castle Bridge

Currently, the Hub is going through a major refurbishment to create more viewing opportunities for nighttime castle shows and fireworks. Because of this, the Swan Boat canal is drained of water. I think you'll agree after looking at these next two pictures, water adds a lot to the landscape.

Drained Hub River

Drained Hub River

At the northeast corner of the Hub is a lovely waterfall. It's fun to stand on the nearby bridge and watch the ducks take a refreshing drink.

Cosmic Ray Waterfall

Cosmic Ray Waterfall

Let's move next to Tomorrowland. When the Magic Kingdom first opened, the entrance to this land-of-the-future looked much different. Two tall towers flanked the entrance and water cascaded down from the top of the spires. When the wind was light, this was an impressive sight. Unfortunately, even the smallest breeze caused the water to spray those walking by. On cold days, park managers turned this feature off to help protect guests from getting wet. Tomorrowland was updated in 1994 and the entrance took on a new look - minus a water feature.

Old Tomorrowland Entrance

New Tomorrowland Entrance

The Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland was designed in the late 1960's. At that time, the Imagineers thought the future would be concrete, concrete, and more concrete. Because of this, no lakes or fountains were included in this land. The only water feature within the original Tomorrowland was the waterfall at the base of the Skyway Terminal.

Skyway Terminal

Because of this initial design, the reimagined Tomorrowland of the 1990's still lacks water as a design element. Today, the only attractions that are remotely related to water are the large stone sphere that floats on a thin layer of water and the mist that sprays from the Thirst Rangers Rocket Ship.

Floating Stone Sphere

Thirst Rangers Rocket Ship

Interestingly, the Tomorrowlands of Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland did include water in their designs with the inclusion of the Nautilus and a children's splash area. And of course, Disneyland had the Submarine Voyage.

Disneyland Paris

Hong Kong Disneyland


Let's move counterclockwise and take the pathway that leads from Tomorrowland to Storybook Circus.

Storybook Circus has perhaps the best water feature in the Magic Kingdom. Casey Jr. Splash 'N" Soak Station is a fantastic play area for kids. On hot days, the water jets offer a great cool-down area.

Casey Jr. Splash 'N

Casey Jr. Splash 'N

Casey Jr. Splash 'N

Casey Jr. Splash 'N

The Dumbo attraction at Disneyland has had a water feature ever since their Fantasyland was remodeled in 1984. However, the Dumbo attraction at the Magic Kingdom did not. This is because the Magic Kingdom's version was located on top of the Utilidors and the weight of the water would be too much for the underground structure. However, when Dumbo was moved to Storybook Circus, water was added to enhance the ride. Although guests do not get wet on this attraction, the water adds a nice bit of ambiance.



As we move into Fantasyland proper, we come to the Under the Sea - Journey of The Little Mermaid. The exterior of this attraction is modeled after Prince Eric's castle which is located on the seashore. The outside portion of this queue features a lagoon that suggests it's an offshoot from a nearby ocean or sea. As we venture further along the path, we come to several waterfalls cascading from nearby cliffs.

Prince Eric's Castle Home

nce Eric's Castle Home

nce Eric's Castle Home

Inside the attraction we see make-believe water featured in the Kiss the Girl vignette.

Kiss the Girl

Next door to the Little Mermaid attraction is Gaston's Tavern. Out front of this non-alcoholic pub is a statue a Gaston holding two kegs of ale, spilling into mugs held by LeFou. I find the irony here interesting.

Gaston's Fountain

Near Beast Castle, a rushing river flows from the mountains and under a bridge where it collects in a quiet pool. It appears that this pool will someday also connect with waterfalls flowing from the nearby Dwarf's mine.

Beast Castle

Beast Castle

Seven Dwarf's Mine

Before Ariel, Beauty, Beast, and Gaston came to this area of Fantasyland, there was the 20,000 Leagues under the Sea attraction. This was a huge water feature. So big in fact that it engulfed 25% of the real estate in Fantasyland and held 11.5 million gallons of water. But unlike the water found in the Swan Boat waterway and the Jungle Cruise, this was a self-contained system which filtered 3,000 gallons of water per hour, making it clearer than tap water.

20,000 Leagues under the Sea

At Disneyland, the submarines traveled beneath a full waterfall. But at the Magic Kingdom, the Imagineers could never get the boat's hatches to seal completely and they leaked. Eventually it was decided to part the waterfall so the subs were not directly hit with water as they sailed into the indoor portion of the attraction.

Disneyland Submarine

Magic Kingdom Submarine

In the original queue of "it's a small world," fountains were used in in the loading/unloading area. But after the remodel, these were eliminated.

Small World Fountain

The old Fantasyland Skyway Terminal had a small waterfall and pond to add interest to this Alpine structure.

Fantasyland Skyway Station

The Skyway Terminal was recently replaced with a new restroom and relaxation area themed around the Kingdom of Corona, home of Rapunzel. Near her tower is a small waterfall that spills into a stream that flows through the area.

Kingdom of Corona

One of the most sought after picture spots in Fantasyland also involves water. The Cinderella fountain that sits across from the castle is a favorite of many little princesses.

Cinderella Fountain

In Mickey's Philharmagic, guests are treated to a surprise splash of water in the Sorcerer's Apprentice sequence.

Mickey's Philharmagic

Liberty Square does not have any water features as I believe the Rivers of America is part of Frontierland - even though the Liberty Belle Riverboat (thematically incorrectly) loads and unloads from this land. On the other hand, Frontierland has a number of water features - like the Rivers of America.

The Rivers of America is the largest water feature in the Magic Kingdom. Although it has no fountains or waterfalls, it is still impressive and adds a tremendous amount of atmosphere to the area. The Liberty Belle is a beautiful sight as it sails by.

Rivers of America

Liberty Belle

And if you happen to time your voyage on the Lilly Belle Riverboat correctly, you just might get to see one of the steam locomotives reflecting in the water as it crosses the turntable bridge that traverses a small inlet.

Steam Train Reflection on Rivers of America

Thunder Mountain has a number of water features. The first is in the queue where we see a wooden trough funneling water away from the mountain. A second such device can be seen while riding the runaway train.

Big Thunder Mountain Trough

Big Thunder Mountain Trough

Once on the mine train, guests encounter water on several occasions. The first is when the locomotive makes its initial uphill climb. To the right is a phosphorescent pool. As droplets fall from stalactites, the ripple effect creates a rainbow of colors in the pool below. In its day, this was a state-of-the-art effect.

phosphorescent pool

Then of course, there is the raging water fall at the top of the hill that cascades to both sides of the train.

Thunder Mountain Waterfall

Further on, we come to the washed out town of Tumbleweed. Perhaps the two most interesting water related figures here are Cumulus Isobar who is frantically bailing water and Cousin Elrod who is taking advantage of the flood and relaxing in a bathtub.

Cumulus Isobar

Cousin Elrod

Near the end of the ride, the train skirts a mudpot. This acidic hot spring bubbles and gurgles as you whisk by.


At the exit of Big Thunder are several geysers that erupt without notice. On a hot day, the mist generated from these geysers can feel pretty nice.


Splash Mountain is one GIANT water feature. Just watching the hollowed out logs plummet down Chickapin Hill is fun.

Chickapin Hill

Deep inside Splash Mountain guests find an amusing water feature. Just before the ascent, leap fountains crisscross our path and frogs and turtles frolic in the mist.

Leap Fountain

If you hadn't already gotten soaked, the Imagineers wanted to give you one more chance to get wet. Toward the end of the ride, the logs pass by yet another waterfall. Although you don't get drenched, passengers sitting on the right side of the log do get splashed. Thankfully, the water flowing down this fall is cut back when the temperatures drop.

Second Splash Mountain Waterfall

Over in Adventureland, I really wouldn't say that Pirates of the Caribbean has a water feature as you can't actually see the waterfall that you plunge down as you head for the battle between the Wicked Wench and the fortress.

Probably the most famous Adventureland water feature are the tiki poles designed by Disney Legend Marc Davis. When originally installed, these humorous fellows were simply a show piece with no water feature. But a remodel gave these island gods the ability to spit on guests and blow steam from their nostrils.

Tiki Gods

Speaking of spitting" The two camels keeping watch at The Magic Carpets of Aladdin like to hit unsuspecting guests with their make-believe saliva.

Spitting Camel

The queue of the Tiki Room includes a parting waterfall that reveals Clyde & Claude, cousin toucans who host the pre-show.

Tiki Room Room Queue

Before the Tiki Room was remodeled to include Zazu and Iago in "Under New Management," it included the Enchanted Fountain. From a bed of tropical flowers, a column of water raised to a height of over five feet, astounding guests with its magical properties.

Tiki Room Water Column

"And now, we're approaching beautiful Schweitzer Falls, named after the famous African explorer, Dr. Albert Falls."

"You know, I've heard that more water comes over Schweitzer Falls in one minute than a man can drink in his entire lifetime. I don't know about you, but I find that a little hard to swallow."

Schweitzer Falls

Of course, the above quotes are just two of the hundreds that can be heard on the Jungle Cruise.

And down the river a bit, we come to the Elephant Wading Pool. But don't worry, they all have their trunks on.

Elephant Wading Pool

Earlier I mentioned that Main Street had no water feature. I was incorrect. While looking through my pictures I found this massive example of water on Main Street.

Raining on Main Street

Raining on Main Street

That's it for Part One. Check back Thursday when I'll discuss the water found at Epcot.

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About April 2014

This page contains all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in April 2014. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2014 is the previous archive.

May 2014 is the next archive.

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