Where is MY Disney

I first set foot on Disney property, carried by my parents at 18 months old. At the time only Magic Kingdom, Epcot and MGM (Now Hollywood Studios) existed, the resort looks nothing like it does today. I’m sure my mother at the time who was about the same age I am now felt the same way, being that her first trip was in 1976.

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Spunky 18 month old me chilling outside of Daisy’s Cafe at Mickey’s Starland in the Magic Kingdom March 1991-ish? 

I grew up with the mouse, from films, music, books, toys, games and most importantly Disney trips. Unlike many other kids I am lucky, I live 3 and half hours from property and trips to Disney were like trips to the beach for me.

When I was 19 I worked in the College Program and got to make the same magic I grew up with. I’ll be 26 this year and all the changes that have happened and continue to happen leave me in awe. It has left me wondering what has happened to MY Disney, and Disney has come a long way since Mickey’s house.

Though Mickey’s house no longer exists, and Starland which became Birthdayland and then Toontown fair is no longer there. It has since been replaced by Storybook Circus during the expansion of Fantasyland in 2012.

While I miss the Old Fantasyland having worked much of it during my time on College Program, I realized change is amazing. Disney has newer and newer technology every year and to see where they are taking their parks and resorts proves that they are keeping Uncle Walt’s dream alive, though many would argue otherwise.

But it makes people like me miss what was and what has been, MY Disney is a thing of the past. Below are 10 of my favorite rides and attractions of the past and a few of my own memories.

10. MGM Studios Backlot Tour and Catastrophe Canyon 
Opened May 1, 1989
Closed September 27, 2014

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Back when MGM opened on May 1, 1989 it was a race to the finish line, with Universal Studios Orlando erecting a park not even 10 miles down the road Disney had to step up their game. While the park was largely unfinished on opening day, it still had a great look into the movies and TV shows produced by Disney and up until very recently it still did.

The original version included a ride through the now pedestrian only New York Streets/Streets of America and a tour of the working studio. While I don’t recall the original version from the early 90’s at the time it was a real working studio and had both live action and animation happening on property.

Though as a kid I remember Catastrophe Canyon and being scared out of my wits as it caught fire and the tanker dropped. For me this was as real as it got, and I honestly believed we were in danger. The few memories I do have of the tour include the walking tour through the now closed Sound Stage 3 and seeing the exterior facade of the Golden Girls house.

All of the backlot is now closed, though some of the props still exist like Walt’s Plane and a few other film vehicles and will hopefully eventually be moved to make room for Star Wars.

Adam the Woo who creates videos about abandoned locations, as well fun Disney videos recently talked about his MGM studios and what the changes mean to him. Check him out below and check out some of his videos, he’s very informative.

9. Wonders of Life Pavilion 
Opened October 19, 1989
Closed January 1, 2007

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Wonders of Life back in it’s heyday and when it still had Body Wars my personal favorite PHOTO FROM WALT DATED VIS WDW MAGIC FORUMS

Epcot is my favorite Disney park, I love travel and learning so it is the perfect combination for me. While the World Showcase is my favorite, Future World had a lot of stuff I also loved. In Future World the idea is that you visit pavilions to learn about things, from how food goes from farm to table, how energy is made and even how your imagination works.

My favorite was Wonders of Life, I absolutely loved Body Wars, riding the bikes through the virtual town, playing with the sensory poles and so forth. To me Wonders of Life was the coolest place in all of Epcot, and Body Wars was my favorite ride in there.

After 2007 the building fell into disuse and like many Disney landmarks was reused for something that was unrelated, and if you have visited for Food and Wine OR Flower and Garden you know this wonder is now home to cooking demonstrations, gardening demonstrations, as well as items you can purchase commemorating the event.

It’s interesting to walk through the building and see the original carpet, watching Robert Irvine cooking inside the Cranium Command theater and just a ways off the eerie shadows from where the virtual bikes stood and the sensory poles mean nothing now. To me this was the real hit I took, because I loved the beautiful golden dome tucked behind a wall of trees and even as a teenager I made it a priority to ride Body Wars.

8. Food Rocks aka Kitchen Kabarat 
Opened October 19, 1982; March 26, 1994
Closed January 3, 2004

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Food Rocks as seen in the 90s at the Land, note the awesome original Land logo and that stunning carpet. PHOTO FROM FLICKR

Before Soarin came to Florida all the way from Sunny California, there was a pantry rocking in the space. I don’t actually remember Kitchen Kabarat but I remember Food Rocks and remember the silly little nutrition show from the tough guy bad for you metal band, the fun little candy bar gal singers, and so forth.

While I didn’t go to Food Rocks often, I did make a trip to see it once in my teens prior to it closing in 2004. Food Rocks was quirky and part of the original Epcot that many recall, but I am not too torn up about this one because Soarin is pretty awesome.

Currently Soarin is down for it’s own work up and a change to the film shown during the ride as well as the addition of another theater to accommodate the large crowds it draws.

7. Snow White’s Scary Adventures 
Opening October 1, 1971
Closed May 31, 2012

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The queue as it was for many years during the 90s and 2000s. PHOTO FROM DISNEY PAL

One of the original Magic Kingdom rides, and it was probably one of the rides that terrified my mother the most in 1976 during her first visit to the park. While the ride had an overhaul by the time I rode it as a child, it is one of those classics that will always remain with you.

While I am not hurt that the ride closed, because I love Mine Train, I miss it because of the kitsch factor. Snow White was a staple in Fantasyland and was a bit terrifying, granted by the time I rode it for the last time at 21 it was just bad day-glow paint and outdated audio animatronics.

The reason it makes my list? It reminds me being a kid and going to the park with my family and taking my abuela to show her all the things I thought were cool.

6. Tarzan Rocks!
Opening July 9, 1999
Closed January 21, 2006

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The monkeys totally shredding during Tarzan Rocks! PHOTO FROM SCREAM MACHINE

Like Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom was still missing things when it opened in 1998. Camp Minnie Mickey was placed as a holder when the park opened and the original concept of Beastly Kingdom never was. Along with Camp Minnie Mickey came Tarzan Rocks! which was the epitome of 90’s cool (Anyone remember Brink?).

The show which told the story of the movie, set to the original soundtrack brought the jungle to life with X-Games style tricks. The show was fairly popular with kids and adults and brought the movie to life in a way many could appreciate.

I remember always seeing Tarzan when we were there, sitting with an ice cream watching these guys on skates performing tricks and watching in awe as Jane and Tarzan swung across the stage and he skated and did tricks.

Looking back on it now, it was kind of strange but for 9 year old me, it was amazing. The show was replaced by Finding Nemo the Musical which according to my mom is kind of boring and I kind of have to agree.

5. River Country
Opened June 20, 1976
Closed November 2, 2001

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River Country in the 70s, it’s hard to find any shots from the 90s but it really was an old swimmin’ hole. PHOTO FROM GROWN UP DISNEY KID TUMBLR

Before you could conquer Summit Plummet at Blizzard Beach or ride the water coaster at Typhoon Lagoon, there was River Country. River Country was opened as the first water park on property and part of the expanding Walt Disney World Resort. The water park which used water from the man made Bay Lake located feet away.

River Country was supposed to mimic an old time Southern swimming hole, and had not only slides but also a swinging pole and a zip line into the water. I only visited River Country once in 1997 and never set foot in the water, due to a thunder storm that swept the area.

I recall trying to wait it out but it never stopped raining, my mom and I eventually packed it up and went back to our hotel. River Country isn’t significant because of that event, to me is the mythos of the abandoned park. Unlike many structures like the drained and later filled 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea lagoon in Fantasyland that was destroyed, River Country has been left to rot in the Florida sun. The park is still in it’s original location, but unlike in 1997 it has become an eerie site of forgotten memories and gross green water.

But along with the eerie abandoned park, there is the fact that no one ever got a straight answer as to why the park closed. Many assume it was due to the rise in amoebas in Florida lakes and a few incidents with said amoebas, but Disney said it was about the cost along with their 2 other water parks, in the end it doesn’t matter because River Country closed and was never opened again.

Many folks have gone behind the gate and trespassed through the park to photograph or take videos of the long forgotten park, and Google Earth for those of us who aren’t as brave provides a great view of the park in it’s current state.

4. Hunchback of Notre Dame: A Festival of Fools
Opened June 21, 1996 (film opening day)
Closed September 28, 2002

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The show once adorned the vintage park maps, back when Star Wars wasn’t king. PHOTO FROM FLICKR RIVER 

 

I grew up during the height of the Disney Renaissance, I have a large collection of VHS and toys from that era. During the Renaissance Disney released what many would consider some of their best animated films, which was reflected in the parks in their stage shows and parades. A Festival of Fools was one of these shows, to the point that the large carnival scene with confetti was part of the promotions for the vacation kingdom.

Like many young kids in the 90s, Disney films were everything and my parents would take me to the movies to see them, buy me the VHS and usually my costume along with my school supplies was whatever movie was playing that year. Hunchback was one of those films, I loved the colors and Esmeralda was so cool. Besides Pocahontas she was the only Disney girl who looked like, tan skin and dark hair so I was hooked. I will say this I am still waiting for a Latina princess, it would be nice to see the representation but that’s a story for another day.

When I went to Disney that year and Festival of Fools was playing I couldn’t be more excited, here was a live version with the actual characters on stage. This was a large production with many players, toe tapping music and of course bright colors. It brought the movie to life in the most amazing way and to any 6-year-old the colors alone were enough to keep me glued, but seeing my hero Esmeralda was the icing on the cake.

Disney hasn’t quite produced a show like this in years, and unfortunately they seem to be a thing of the past. With kids more connected than ever, many of these stage shows I grew up with are slowly disappearing or being adapted to be more for the kids of New Disney.

3. Doug Live!
Opened March 15, 1999
Closed May 12, 2001

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Doug LIVE! Marquee outside of the ABC Theater during its run. PHOTO FROM TV TROPES

Sometime in the mid-90s Disney acquired Doug from Nickelodeon and the cartoon came to life on stage at Disney’s MGM Studios. The ABC Theater which up until recently held The American Idol Experience, has played host to plenty in it’s time in the park but Doug Live! was one of my favorites.

Doug was a huge part of my childhood and like Hunchback it was my favorite characters brought to life even down to Doug’s white shirt. The show featured a segment with The Beets Doug’s favorite band, and they would select an audience member to come up and play a part in the band my mom was one of the people selected. I remember thinking it was so cool that my mom got to be in the show that she was up on stage with Doug.

Oddly this show while short-lived served as one of my better childhood memories because of that little thing and thats the beauty of Disney magic.

2. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Opened October 14, 1971
Closed September 5, 1994

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Probably the coolest thing I never got to see the Nautilus at 20k, still wish I got to ride or see one in person growing up. PHOTO FROM ORLANDO PARK NEWS

I will preface this by saying, I never set foot on this ride, I was probably too small to ride before it closed and from what my family tells me this ride was always down. Like River Country it has become an obsession with the Mythos of the ride and the vastness of it, the ride area has disappeared today because let’s face it who needs a giant lagoon and show building taking up space?

I can remember that the ride had shut down and during the 90s it became home of the Character Festival which used the queue and the show building as a photo backdrop. Eventually the building was torn down and it was used to meet Ariel in her grotto. I spent a lot of my College Program with Ariel and I remember walking the catwalk to her grotto and  for me it was a major nerd fest knowing that the catwalk was once apart of the ride I never got to enjoy as a kid. The obsession is so bad that back in 1999 I wrote a letter to the Walt Disney Company asking for them to remake the ride because of my obsession with this ride.

Why was I so obsessed? My dad used to tell the story about how the squid at the end scared him to the point of tears, and I as a very imaginative youngster thought it was real and was wondering how a squid could be kept in a cave at Disney World.

Obviously as  I got older I began to realize that wasn’t the case, but a case of a realistic audio animatronics that had a scaled down Nautilus in it’s grips. I never saw the actual ride, but thanks to YouTube I have gotten to watch old family videos and have gotten to enjoy what was once.

While Walt Disney World does not plan to make another 20,000 Leagues, Disneyland currently has a Finding Nemo version that is the same concept and Japan has a water free one that is filled with new technology, so maybe one day?

1. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Opened October 1, 1971
Closed September 7, 1998

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Mr. Toad’s Marquee, I remember it had purple and Fantasyland was still a crazy pastel nightmare. I think in the 90s it was changed from this Marquee but this one I have seen in my mother’s photos. PHOTO FROM JIM HILL MEDIA

Mr. Toad’s still exists, just not on my side of the country unfortunately. I LOVED this ride and when I say I LOVED I mean I would make my family stand in line for hours just to ride it.

For me Mr. Toad’s was so cool and when you’re little and aren’t tall enough for Space Mountain this is just the thing to do it for you, it had bursts of speed, darkness, loud noises I mean it was just a fun ride.

I also loved this ride because my Abuela would go on it with me, she was always more than willing to stand in line for however long and enjoy the ride with me. I think it was such a hard blow because I was 8 and I was just starting to get into thrill rides, I think when I was 11 I rode my first upside down coaster at Sea World.

I can’t say I recall too many details, save for the part where the train tries to run you off the road and the light blinding you but I remember it had a steering wheel and I loved to pretend to drive recklessly and making my Abuela laugh at me.

Apparently the ride ended in like a hell scene? I can’t say I recall that but hey why not, can’t be all sunshine and rainbows right?

So for me this was the hardest blow, it was also around the same year I started realizing so much stuff was changing and I was so upset it was happening.

I guess I’ll have to go to Disneyland to enjoy Mr. Toad, and I hope to have the chance eventually. Mr. Toad’s today is Winnie the Pooh’s and I can’t say I hate it but it’s not something I am too crazy about, I still ride it though just to see the small homage to Mr. Toad. You can also catch a glimpse of Mr. Toad over in the cemetery at Haunted Mansion, he’s all the way in the back and to the left, say hi to him before you go!

That’s it, that’s my list of things that have changed and now with the continued changes coming in the next 5 or so years, I am starting to realize the parks I knew are no longer those parks but something else.

I will say this, I have a huge issue with the lack of an off season and Disney is getting a bit out of control with some of these races, festivals and what nots because it is making it hard for guests who are loyal and dedicated passholders to come when they can’t even get an on property room.

So with that said, sound off tell me what you miss, what you wish wasn’t the way it was or the things you are excited for!

If you have any suggestions, comments or concerns let me know, I’ll gladly share what  I can!

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Dapper Day Survival Guide

Photo Copyright Dapper Day, no copyright infringement intended.

Photo Copyright Dapper Day, no copyright infringement intended.

This is the official last entry in the Dapper Day series, and this is probably the most important post because we’re only a few weeks out from all the events.

Every event is different, and being prepared is the most important thing you can do before heading out for a fun night. So where do we begin in this Survival Guide?

  1. Plan for Weather

Last Spring Disneyland saw a chilly rainy event, last fall Hollywood Studios saw a rainy steamy event and no one knew what kind of weather they’d be having till that week.
Now if you’re in Florida, you know the weather here is temperamental we go from rain to sunshine in under 10 mins. So bringing a good umbrella or having a rain plan is a great idea, if there is lightning certain things will shut down in the park so plan for that as well.
California weather is warm during the day, but temperatures do seem to dip down a bit in the evening so its smart to plan for that. Same can be said about Paris which tends to have temps around 60 in mid-september.
Despite what park you plan to attend at, make sure to have the proper clothing as well.
You don’t want to show up in a long sleeve wool dress in Orlando because you’ll probably pass out, but you don’t want to under dress in case the weather does take a turn.
Simply put? Check the weather, and make sure to pack what you think you may not need.

2. Speaking of packing…

My first Dapper Day, I wore heels that were not comfortable. While many gals will wear them, make sure they are comfortable and you can stand to be in them for a few hours. While trying on shoes, consider this “Can I stand in a 60 minute line and then walk?” that’s usually how I pick my shoes.
If you’re like me and you’re an orthopedic’s dream, make sure you do have an extra pair of shoes or insoles in case the shoes you chose turned out to be less than. While ruining a Dapper Day dress or outfits with a shoe change, consider the long term effect on your feet.
What about my actual outfit?
Well always consider what you would need to pull it together, do you need a hat/fascinator? Or flowers? Or maybe a bow tie? Whatever the case may be always bring a few options you would match with that outfit. I wear panty hose usually so I bring an extra pair just in case for the day.
I have learned it’s smart to make a mini kit in your bag in case you need to redo your lipstick or add an extra pin or maybe just put some hairspray in your hair to keep it from falling apart.
All these little things will help make your day just a bit better

3. Water you doing?
Yes water, either bring your own or ask at any quick service location in the park for a cup with ice water. No matter the temperature or what you’re doing staying hydrated is important, especially those of us who plan to drink at the after events.
Spending a whole day without water could spell disaster later on in the evening for you.
So make sure to drink plenty of fluid throughout the day, especially in Orlando.

4. Eat, Obviously
Spending the whole day out, it’s important to make sure you eat and keep yourself from going hungry. Between the walking and the heat, it’s smart to eat something as you roam the park. While park food can be expensive, Disney does not prohibit outside food, so don’t be afraid to pack a few granola bars into your bag before heading out.
If you do choose to eat, stay away from too many sweets and try to eat something that will hold you over. While that churro and ice cream may seem like a good idea in the moment, you’ll probably wish you had gotten a burger later on.

5. Sunscreen
I probably can’t express this one enough, always wear it. Even if you’re wearing make up put some on under your foundation, because the sun can ruin any vacation.

6. HAVE FUN
That’s it. Thank you for joining me and I hope to see you at the park, this fall and next spring.

Dapper Day Inside Out 3

Apparently it is 4 weeks till Disneyland opens it’s doors for Fall Dapper Day, meaning it’s about 5 weeks till Paris does their event and 6 weeks till Orlando kicks off their event.

While I can’t talk too much about Dapper Day in California, since I have never been to the park there I wanted to take today’s post to talk about the little perks you get when you buy through Dapper Day’s official site.

Dapper Day is technically billed as a convention due to their use of the convention space at Disneyland’s Grand Californian Hotel, so they offer things like convention rate tickets and rooms.

This year’s event at Disney World will offer convention rate rooms, and again will provide tickets as well.

So how does this all work?

Through your designated event page on Dapper Day’s website, you will find links how to obtain both rooms and tickets at convention rate prices.

This Fall Walt Disney World is offering rooms at Port Orleans French Quarter and rooms at Wilderness Lodge. While tickets can be purchased online, the rooms must be purchased via phone and calling the reservation line at Walt Disney World and following the prompts.

Though all the information for rooms and hotels can be found online, one of the things I learned this spring was how to use the convention rate tickets.

While my boyfriend and I purchased our passes online, we went with the one park, after 4 option since Magic Kingdom was having Extra Magic Hours and we had an on property room it didn’t matter.

The convention rate tickets are actually pretty fairly priced, and you have a lot of options to pick from for your trip. It’s also cheaper than one day pass through the ticket booth at Disney, this is due to the raised prices at the park as of the start of 2015.

But in order to pick up your tickets you do need to stand at Will Call and wait to speak with a guest relations cast member. It helps if you have the card used to purchase in hand, as well as an ID for them. The good thing about the passes at Walt Disney World is that you can have your passes put on your magic band making it easier for everyone in the party. So that was a nice little perk, since your room and everything else can be done through the bands.

Another thing to remember going in with the tickets is knowing all the policies before purchase and making sure that if you have any questions to contact Disney ahead of the event to ensure no hiccups.

The after events for Walt Disney World at least are normally free, though last fall we met at Atlantic Dance Hall which had a cover charge. This year the event is being held at The Boathouse in Downtown Disney which shouldn’t have a cover charge. While we skipped out on the Spring event for more rides, there are people who meet for other activities throughout property so you aren’t forced into joining any official events.

For Walt Disney World Guests it should be noted that about half of Hollywood Studios is closed currently, due to the expansions being done at the park to accommodate for the new rides and attractions the park has few rides.

The above map from Theme Park insider shows the amount of closures at Hollywood Studios, everything in Green is closed, while the non-highlighted areas are open. 

Though the closures shouldn’t stop anyone from going, many folks will be meeting up and just bringing a group can change the whole experience.

Tomorrow we look at surviving your first Dapper Day what to bring and what to do.