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.


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 It has since been replaced by Storybook Circus during the expansion of Fantasyland in 2012.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


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


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


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


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

Minolta DSC

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


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


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


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


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


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!

Where “My Disney Experience” Fails

I live in one of those weird Disney families you think aren’t real, my mother’s first visit was in 1973 and my father’s not too long after that in the late 70s.

Here I am at 1-year-old hanging at Mickey's Starland at Magic Kingdom.

Here I am at a year old hanging at Mickey’s Starland at Magic Kingdom.

Myself? I have been going to Disney since I was 18 months old, I just turned 25 two weeks ago. I was also part of Disney’s College Program at age 19, working at the Magic Kingdom doing photos. I have in the last 25 years of my life experienced many different phases of the Disney experience.

Original 1993 tickets from my New Years Trip.

Original 1993 tickets from my New Years Trip.

Back in 1993 during one of my first trips, $125 got you 4 days and unlimited entrances to all 3 parks. $125 is one day, into one park with no options. I have in the last 25 years of living in Florida watched the prices soar at the park and the options becoming less and less.

But aside from that I have witnessed everything from punch tickets with stamps, to the newest and greatest technology the My Disney Experience. When I first heard they were doing away with the original fastpass system and forcing everyone to plan months in advance I was so upset.

Granted, I’d been in the park in 2014 after the change over happened but during those trips I was using main gate tickets since my friend worked there so I had never had to deal with the Magic Bands or any of the hassle.

While I am not big on changes, this was a huge blow for me because I was so used to the original system, I was so used to using the paper tickets as I walked in and keeping them in my wallet this whole new system freaked me out.

My Magic Bands arrived in the cutest box though, and yes my band is pink.

My Magic Bands arrived in the cutest box though, and yes my band is pink.

I know I sound like the grandma who isn’t used to smartphones, and I realize that but after this most recent trip I realize why. From the beginning I had to link my reservation over onto the My Disney Experience website, I had purchased Florida Resident Seasonal Passes (Known now as Silver Level) and I had to figure out how to use this system. While I had used a Magic Band during my last trip to get into my room, this was a whole new ballpark for me.

As I set up the account, I had no idea how to customize the bands which were confusing to me anyway. As time went on and multiple calls to ticketing as well as getting a nice Vacation Club representative to help me, the box arrived and I was “set” for my trip.

Well I got a follow up email telling me to download the My Disney Experience, which also allowed me to customize Fastpass+, and also sent me into trip anxiety.

Yes, trip anxiety I had multiple dreams where I forgot our bands and also my phone making my trip experience more complicated than it needed to be.

My Disney Experience Planning Page for my Trip.

My Disney Experience Planning Page for my Trip.

While the App for the phone is awesome, because it lets you access restaurant menus, it also lets you access wait times for rides. Previously you needed to download a third party application in order to see wait times, which were usually not very accurate. It also gives you maps and shows you where bathrooms are, which makes it easier if you aren’t too familiar with the parks.

The app also lets you see your room reservation and Fastpas+ reservations. Originally my trip looked as above and I got all the good fastpasses, but as we arrived and life took hold my plans changed dramatically. While I do consider myself a planner and I keep myself fairly organized, this was just disastrous for me.

To begin I noticed the app and the system don’t allow you to book multiple fastpasses for the same day. My Magic Kingdom experience had to be moved to Friday due to our driving schedule and arriving much later than anticipated, and when I did I lost all my Epcot fastpasses for that evening.

Which sucked, because I had managed to snag Soarin’. That’s another issue I encountered at Epcot you have to pick from certain groups for certain experiences, which means I have to pick either Test Track OR Soarin’ I can’t have both. Back when you used the machines, you could pull as many passes as you wanted but had to abide by the 2 hour rule between accessing more passes.

But as the trip went on and my mom accompanied myself and my boyfriend we found that the plans we had just kind of disappeared. I also kept forgetting to cancel my passes, which I am sure ticked people off who wanted them if they weren’t released back into the system.

I also hate that you have to angle the bands in such a way, so that they will read. I had a lot of trouble getting into my rooms and worse yet I am left handed so trying to wedge my hand sometimes into the door frame was harder than I would like to admit. Most of the time I found it easier to just pull the band off all together and just tap it like that because of the awkward angle.

As for the bands themselves, I didn’t know about the activation of the tickets so I had to go stand in line over at Will Call and have the tickets activated. From there I had to proceed back to main gate to enter again, in the same day I had an issue at Epcot and for some odd reason had to have my photo taken?

I felt oddly like a criminal because the passes are mine, they are paid for and the woman who helped me fix my pass was just not too nice about the whole thing. Theme Park Insider 2 years ago wrote a great experience article about when the system was still really buggy, and I find that some of these things still are true today.

While many people will scoff at me and say “Oh you’re just being grumpy” or “You just need to get with the times” I just unfortunately can’t. The bands cause me more stress and in the end ignored all the planning I had done and just enjoyed the park haphazardly.

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.

Luck of the Irish… Airline that is.

We’ve all dreamed of that moment, strolling along the Seine in Paris, looking up and seeing the beautiful Eiffel tower in front of you.

For many this will always be a dream, the price of transatlantic flying has gone up in recent years.

While many of us can afford a domestic flight or even swing a flight down to Mexico or the Caribbean, Europe and other parts of the world are unattainable.

Though in a statement released Monday, Irish airline Ryanair which has been operating as a low cost carrier in the EU is considering transatlantic flights for as low as 15 USD. But that is not feasible for another 5 years or so and that is permitting that they get the long haul aircraft needed for this.

There is a catch to all this right? Of course there is, because low-cost flying is no frills flying. Florida based Spirit Airlines has perfected the Ryanair model here in the states and offers fares as low as 5 dollars but what is the catch?

Well you have to pay for luggage, carry on, seat fee and even on board snacks so by the end of it you have amassed a 200 dollar tickets without realizing it. Ryanair follows the same principle in their EU market but like Spirit they have become successful in their business and continue to fly routes daily through Europe.

So that leads to the question of would 500 dollars be a steal to jump from the US to the EU? Compared to the usual 2,000+ dollars in roundtrip tickets the business model could be successful for the low cost traveller and even the study abroad student.

According to CNN Money the route has been seen by many other low cost carriers and has failed, such as Eos Airlines, MAXJet and Silverjet which saw Silverjet absorbed into British Airways in the end.

But Ryanair would have to learn from the mistake of others in order to become successful in such a tough market, the question here is would you travel with Ryanair to fulfill your Paris dream or will you keep dreaming?