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WNT April, 2011

A CLOSER LOOK @ DISNEY & TECHNOLOGY WDWNT: The Magazine 1


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FF sight of one e s lo er ev n e w t ha t “ I only hope as all started by a mouse.” thing – that it w

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editor// Josh Stern proofreading// Jason Diffendal, David Smith, Josh Stern

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web// www.wdwntthemagazine.com phone// 206.666.2982 email// wdwntthemagazine@wdwnt.com

twitter// twitter.com/wdwnt facebook// facebook.com/wdwnt

WDWNT: The The Magazine Magazine 22 WDWNT:

© WDWNT Network 2011. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited. You may print or download a single copy for your personal and non-commercial use only; and you may transmit the content to individual third parties for their personal use, only if you acknowledge WDWNT The Magazine as the source of the material. You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content, or transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.

e m a g a z i n

t h e

CT A T N

writers// Tom Corless, Jason Diffendal, Sarah Holodick, Taylor Martina, Brian Shapiro, Jenni Simon, David Smith, Marci Smith, Jackie Steele, Josh Stern, Michael Truskowski

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art&design// Patty Granger, Sarah Holodick, Jenni Simon

WNT

photography// Robert Ashburn, Patty Granger, Sarah Holodick, Josh Stern

y rring to Micke fe re , e rs u o c f as, o y empire Walt Disney w e entire Disne th t o g s n o o rt a c ject Mouse, whose fer to every pro re o ls a ld u o c y, this ow started. Toda t, this is also h c fa In . rk a p ny Disney st that starts in a ach month. Ju e d e rt a st ts e zine g r this very maga rtant role in ou o p im re o m a has taken ore as technology e more and m m o c e b to s e ontinu logy is the daily lives, it c parks. Techno y e n is D e th bout pronounced in find articles a ill w u yo d n a issue being theme for this ew technology n e th , rk a p e th n, and cell phones in g your vacatio n ri u d d n a re r befo . put in place fo over the years d e lv vo e s a h chnology ’s how Disney te The Magazine T: N W D W e m nd so ing You will also fi Evac 101, Din , d ie Tr u o Y ve ns like Ha feature colum he Time I. Review, and T at azine hope th g a m e h T T: N W We here at WD es of this rough the pag th g in p ip fl g n . Do you are enjoyi hear from you to ve lo ld u o w we magazine and like to see in a ld u o w u yo s a story ide s with you have any can contact u u o Y . w o kn s Let u e@ future issue? NTthemagazin W D W t a ts n e or comm any questions wdwnt.com Sincerely,

Josh Stern Josh Stern

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c o nt ents

18 F EATU R E S 18 Disney's Culture of Innovation

29 Rantings of a Disney Fan

40 6 Highlights

a look back at this months highlights

23

9 Ask Dave Smith reader’s questions are answered

44

11 Delving into the D.O.R.K discovering the world of Disney books, documents, and ephemera

30 The Time I... was Sir Galahad

36 Dining with Kids La Hacienda

WDWNT: The Magazine 4

52

DEPARTMENTS

26 Get in Line! 23 Can You Hear Me Now?

32

32 Have You Tried? Disney’s golf courses

40 Eating WDW

best food to eat on the go

44 Vinylmation Variation a look at the latest in Vinylmation

50 Evac 101

a story of a Splash Mountain evac

52 Arts & Crafts of Disney

take your pins out of your pin books and put them up on the wall

57 Where in the World? a photo hunt

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//MARCH

highlights

Renamed HP Field House Opens at ESPN Wide World of Sports 3.3.11

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Begins ©D isne y

3.2.11

Dates for Mickey's Soundsational Parade, The Little Mermaid, and Star Tours Announced 2.25.11

3.9.11

is ne y D

Di sn ey

©

Wondering What Ursula Will Look Like “Under the Sea”?

©

Disney Junior: Live on Stage Debuts 3.2.11

Interactive Queue Debuts at the Haunted Mansion 3.14.11

An Exclusive Look At Buena Vista Street

3.15.11

©

"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" Sneak Peak Inside Disneyland Park

ey Disn

3.4.11


A SK DAVE SMITH (No, Not That Dave Smith)

Meet and Greets at Town Square Theater “Soft Open” To Guests 3.31.11

When Disney’s Chief Archivist Dave Smith retired recently, WDWNT thought he would make an excellent addition to the team. However, he didn’t return our calls, so we decided to just go out and find someone with the same name. After going through an extensive screening process, we finally found someone who knew the difference between the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland. So each issue, our very own Dave Smith will answer your submitted questions. No, not that Dave Smith… Dave Smith…

HINT: If you click on the titles to any of the above news stories you visit the full article! (pdf verison only)

butterfly in the cage on Journey Into Imagination disappear?” – Cameron W, Iowa

a wdwntube original program

featuring

Herbert M. Fillibuster

only at wdwntube.com

WDWNT: The Magazine 8

Question: “How do they make the

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Dave’s Answer:

For some people, this answer is obvious, but I have heard this question a number of times, so I’ll go ahead and tackle it. A word of warning though – if you don’t like to have effects on attractions ruined or explained, it might be better to skip to the next question. Still here? OK, let’s go… The highly complicated and technical answer is… it’s a mirror. When you approach the cage, you are actually seeing half a butterfly reflected on a large mirror down the center of the cube-shaped cage. From the rider’s viewpoint, it looks like a whole butterfly inside the cage. As you pass the mirror to the back side of the cage, the butterfly disappears because there is nothing behind the mirror.

When the mirror is kept clean, this is a very effective, but simple effect. Now, if they could just make the attraction disappear. (Just kidding, stop writing those complaint emails!)

Question: “Is it true that the actual

plane used in the film Casablanca is part of The Great Movie Ride?” – Amber W, Colorado

Dave’s Answer:

It is certainly one of the most famous scenes in cinema history. With the departing plane in the background, Humphrey Bogart as Rick and Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa say their final goodbyes on the foggy runway. It’s an iconic scene and certainly a no-brainer to include it in The Great Movie Ride. In building the scene, Disney Imagineers, with their usual attention to detail, began searching for the exact model of plane that WDWNT: The Magazine 9


was used in the movie – a Lockheed Electra 12A. When they finally found a Lockheed Electra 12A available for purchase, rumors began circulating that not only was it the same model of plane; it was actually the exact same plane that was used when filming the shot. In fact, some promotional material for the attraction even implied this, but used the always slippery phrases, “may have been,” or, “probably was,” and many cast members will confirm this piece of trivia as fact. So yes, the plane in The Great Movie ride is the actual front half of a Lockheed Electra 12A. Here’s the kicker though: an actual Lockheed Electra 12A was never actually used in the film Casablanca! When the movie was made, that scene was filmed on a soundstage, and it was too small to use a full-size Electra 12A. Therefore, the film crew created a set of half- and quarter-size

models of the Electra that were used in the shot. It was because of these models that machine-generated fog was introduced in the scene in the first place, as foggy nights are very rare in Casablanca and probably would have grounded the flight anyway. To complete the illusion, MGM hired little people dressed in jumpsuits to make the scale appear correct. Therefore, to answer your question, the plane in The Great Movie Ride is definitely not the same plane that was used in filming Casablanca because a real plane was never used in filming of Casablanca. On the other hand, Clint Eastwood is the actual… I’ve said too much… Never mind.

Discovering the world of Disney books, documents, and ephemera

To submit your questions, please email AskDaveSmith@wdwnt.com...

B

D: L R HY O P O W S Y O E IL N S H I P D D T N L A A D W N OU R KG C A

By Jackie Steele WDWNT: The Magazine 10


It could have been the death knell for Project Florida. For that matter, it could have been the death

knell for the entire company. How would Walt Disney Productions, much less Project Florida, continue without the very man for whom it was named? Walt’s death on December 15, 1966 threatened the very core of the plans for Project Florida. At the very least, the project now ran the risk of being a “rudderless ship.” There was a need for guidance on just what Walt was thinking in regards to certain elements of the plan.

Of course Roy O. Disney was a great source of information and guidance, taking over Project Florida and the rest of the company after Walt’s passing. But obviously he couldn’t be accessible to every employee at every stage of planning, development, and construction. Disney Legend Marty Sklar stepped in to fill the gap with a compilation document known as “Walt Disney World: Background and Philosophy.” It was designed to guide those working on Project Florida, and in particular the new Magic Kingdom theme park that was the centerpiece. The compilation is a 115-page assemblage of many previous internal memos, event transcripts, and newspaper and magazine articles. There are virtually no photos or concept art; the documents are really nothing more than black and white photocopies of the type-written originals on regular copy paper. They are separated by card stock sheets which describe each of the individual documents, and the front and back cover are also card stock. The compilation is bound with plastic comb binding. The result is a hefty document that sadly can’t stand up to too much repeated use. The first ten pages of this particular copy have already torn loose from the binding and can’t be reattached due to the nature of the binding process. Nonetheless, the content remains a treasure trove of insight into the planning process for Project Florida and the climate in which it was designed. The compilation begins with a short memo from Sklar, which tells those working on the project that “the intent here is to provide, as a foundation, Walt’s thinking and philosophy as it was applied to Disneyland, and additionally Walt’s thoughts about Walt Disney World as they apply to what we are now beginning.”

This compilation is remarkable in that it not only provides great insight into the early planning for the Walt Disney World resort, but also provides a delightful glimpse into the planning of Walt’s first theme park, Disneyland. The first document in the compilation is the text of one of the first concepts for Disneyland from a 1953 presentation. Not surprisingly, one of the first attractions mentioned is what would later become the Disneyland Railroad. “THE RAILROAD TRAIN, with its beautifully appointed coaches, takes you on a skyline tour around DISNEYLAND, where you will see from your window MAIN STREET, TRUE LIFE ADVENTURELAND, The WORLD OF TOMORROW, LILLIPUTIAN LAND, FANTASY LAND, RECREATION PARK, FRONTIER COUNTRY, TREASURE ISLAND, the home of the MICKEY MOUSE CLUB, and HOLIDAYLAND and back to CIVIC CENTER.” Obviously the original plans for Disneyland would evolve before becoming reality. In fact, it’s interesting to see just how different Disneyland would have been had the plans come to fruition. This six-page overview, called “Inside Disneyland,” shows us everything from early plans for merchandise at the Emporium… “Clothes, cowboy boots, toys, records, books, ceramics, old fashioned candies, jaw-breakers and licorice whips. Toys from all over the world. Gifts for the person who has „everything‟. Or you can get the big mail-order catalogue and purchase by mail. The MAIL-ORDER CATALOGUE will picture everything for sale in the Emporium or at any place in DISNEYLAND. If you want a real pony and cart or a miniature donkey thirty inches high you‟ll find it in the catalogue.” … to early plans for the Jungle Cruise… “A river borders the edge of TRUE-LIFE ADVENTURELAND, where you embark in a colorful Explorer‟s Boat with a native guide for a cruise down the River of Romance. As you glide through the Everglades, past birds and animals living in their natural habitat… alligators lurk along the banks, and otters and turtles play in the water about you. Monkeys chatter in the orchid-flowered trees.” … to entire lands that were never built. “A Land of Little Things… A miniature Americana village inhabited by mechanical people nine inches high who sing and dance and talk to you as you peek through the windows of their tiny shops and homes.” “And for the little people who have little appetites, you can get miniature ice-cream cones, or the world‟s smallest hot-dog on a tiny bun in LILLIPUTIAN LAND.”

“Memo from Marty Sklar. Copyright 1967 Walt Disney Productions”

We get our first glimpse into the planning for Project Florida with a transcript of Walt Disney’s “Florida Press Conference,” which took place on September 15 th, 1965. Sklar notes that this was a full year before the EPCOT film was made, but Walt’s ideas for Florida were already set. This transcript is interesting for the insight it gives into the mood and climate of central Florida around the time of the Disney announcement. Then-Governor Haydon Burns introduces Walt to reporters as “The Man of the Decade… who will bring a new world of entertainment, pleasure, and economic development to the state of Florida.” Walt describes Roy’s apparent early support for Project Florida… “He‟s my big brother, and he‟s the one that when I was a little fellow I used to go to with some of my wild ideas and he‟d either straighten me out and put me out the right path or something, or if he didn‟t agree with me I‟d work on it for years until I got him to agree with me. … In this project though, I‟d just like to say that, I didn‟t have to work very hard with him on this project, he was with me from the start.”

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He also describes what the Florida project will be, and more importantly, what it won’t be… “But… this concept here will have to be something that is unique and… so there is a Distinction between Disneyland in California and what ever Disney does… you notice I didn‟t say “Disneyland” in Florida (laughter)… what Disney does in Florida. And… we have many ideas.” “I‟m very excited about it because I‟ve been storing these things up over the years and, certain attractions at Disneyland that have a basic appeal I might move here; Then again, I would like to create new things… you hate to repeat yourself… I, I don‟t like to make sequels to my pictures. I like to take a new thing and develop something… a new concept.” A reporter asks Disney if a “city of tomorrow” might be part of the plans, as had been rumored during the famous “Land Grab.” Walt’s response… “Well, that‟s been the thing that‟s been going around in our mind for a long time and there‟s a lot of industrial concerns that would like to work on a project of that sort. The only problem with anything of tomorrow is that at the pace we‟re going right now, tomorrow would catch up with us before we got it built.” Later in the press conference, in response to a different question…

Burns also notes that he would offer the “fullest degree” of support to the Disney organization, including calling a special session of the legislature if necessary. When asked how he chose Central Florida for his new development, Walt mentions that he had been making a survey of potential sites for about ten years (which would have been a time period starting just after Disneyland itself had opened). He also notes that he had received offers of free land in other states, and had turned them down. We also get the first glimpse into the process behind naming the development in a lighthearted exchange between Walt, Governor Burns, and a member of the press… Press: “Have you entertained the idea of calling the Florida attraction “Disney World…” Walt: “The Disney World… that term has been used in many ways in our business. We have a publication called “The Disney World” which brings… encompasses all our activities for our employees and our offices all over the world. The Disney World is something we‟ve been using. Now whether…” Burns: “Disney‟s „World of Color?‟” Walt: “Well, „Wonderful World of Color.‟” Burns: “‟Wonderful World of Color.” Walt: “On NBC… (laughter)… It‟s Sunday nights. (more laughter)… But we‟ve been using the term “Disney World” to encompass all of our activities. Now what we‟ll call this here… we haven‟t got into that. That takes a little study.” Another document in this compilation which provides valuable insight into the planning of the Walt Disney World resort is the notes from a June 14, 1965 meeting of Walt Disney Productions board members and legal staff. The meeting included not only Disney personnel, but also lawyers and consultants from the state of Florida. The purpose of the meeting was to lay the various legal groundwork for legislation that would later be presented to the state of Florida. But beyond all of the legal talk lies Walt’s description of the early planning that went into the resort. The company started with a “need to know what kind of project would do well in Florida.” This included…

“And we have done a lot of thinking about a model community and… I would like to be a part of building a model community, a city of tomorrow as you might say, because I don‟t believe in going out to this extreme blue sky stuff that some of the architects do. I believe people still want… want to live like human beings. But there‟s a lot of things that could be done. I‟m not against the automobile but I feel that the automobile has moved into communities too… too much and I feel that you can design so that the automobile is there but still put people back as pedestrians again, you see.” Or maybe there would be two communities… “I‟ve had in mind a… one community called „Yesterday‟ and another one, „Tomorrow‟… because the… a nostalgia. I hope we never lose some of the things of the past. And I found at Disneyland we… another reason too. They come here… they might come one time and they stayed in „Tomorrow‟ and their friends will say, “But have you stayed in „Yesterday?‟” And they‟ll have to come back. (laughter and applause) I love the nostalgic myself.”

“(1) What kind of facilities are required … (2) Who we will cater to … (3) How we can get the tourist to stop for an extended period, and … (4) How big Project Future need be to start.”

Walt also mentions that there will be certain legislative concerns that need to be addressed. The press further questions him on them, and Governor Burns steps in with an overview of some of the issues that must be considered in order to allow the project to proceed… “… the problems of the type of complex that‟s proposed here between Osceola and Orange County requires the solution to such items as zoning, drainage, fire protection, police protection, sewage disposal… consideration as to the classification of land as to whether it remains agriculture in its classification until its characteristics are changed to be commercial… these are questions at the state level. We do not have in this state protective statutes for trade names and trade marks like the Disney products. This, of course, we must have in order to protect the Disney Mark. There are questions of the type of amusements that they create themselves as to what portion of the cost of the development of any one of these rides or attractions… what portion of it should be subject to sales tax…”

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This document is perhaps the most intriguing of the collection to me personally, because it goes past the PR and gives a bit of internal insight into the thoughts of the company at the time. There would be new challenges to overcome…

“Notes from a meeting to discuss Project Florida. Copyright 1965 Walt Disney Productions”

“Walt expressed concern over the lack of permanent residents in the Orlando area, pointing out that other areas of the country are much better in this regard. Thus, the Florida market poses a different set of circumstances from Disneyland, which draws most heavily on the local-California audience.” … and there would be new ways to overcome those challenges…

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“Walt emphasized the basic requirement to hold the visitor… to keep them in the area for an extended period. While the theme park would be the catalyst, reasonable prices and complete facilities (from trailers to sleeping bag areas) must be provided. He pointed to the skiers as an analogy; they don’t want to spend money for lodging, but they don’t hesitate to spend money for the skiing facilities per se (ski lift, equipment, etc.).” “Walt talked in terms of making everything its own attraction and tourist draw… the lake, the motels/hotels, fishing or whatever other facilities. These would each feed the theme park… and by offering diverse recreation activities, we could keep people in the area for a longer period of time.” There would also be concern over the weather… and that concern wasn’t just about guest comfort. There were business reasons behind it, as well. “A major consideration, Walt emphasized, would be to plan for more rain (we can enclose big enough areas so people can keep spending money even if it rains). Recalling the Houston Dome, Walt commented about how big an area could be enclosed, and suggested there would be far less maintenance under a roof. The basic point Walt made here is that enclosing means this concept could be built anywhere… even closer to the prime population markets of the East and Midwest. And, therefore, there could even be more than two Disneylands.” The remainder of the compilation is mostly a series of newspaper and magazine clippings, but there is one final standout document. Marty Sklar took notes of a meeting with Walt to discuss the EPCOT Film. The notes are dated only “October 10th” (presumably 1966, as Walt’s appearance in the EPCOT film was filmed on October 27th of that year). They show Project Florida and EPCOT as “Walt’s extension of Disneyland.” Among the highlights of these notes… “American industry will make [EPCOT] come to life… it will be a “think project”, not a think factory. Not only think – here these things will actually work.” “Two endings [for the EPCOT film]… For Florida: whether we get this off the ground is whether you can project with us… it’s up to you in the State to play your part – go along with us – give us a chance; Industry Tag: it’s up to you how innovative this EPCOT will be – what you can come up with that will keep it always new and changing.” “[EPCOT] will be based on employment for all employables. The family unit is key. Will be a living, breathing community (not a retirement village). A working community. EPCOT will worry about pre-school education… home environment… parents… teen-age employment… education.”

Jackie Steele is a bit of an anomaly in the Disney fan universe, in that his love of the parks came later in life. With the exception of a half-day visit to the Magic Kingdom in high school, he didn't set foot in a Disney theme park until 2003. But the love was instant and soon evolved into a quest to know more about where the Disney parks came from and what made them work. He has amassed a collection of more than 450 (and growing) Disney and World’s Fair books, documents, and ephemera, which he lovingly refers to as the D.O.R.K. (Disney Origins Research Knowledgebase). You can browse through the titles in his collection online at http://brkgne.ws/dork

It’s hard to place an exact date on when this entire compilation of documents and guidance was produced. Our best clue is the original memo from Sklar, dated September 21, 1967. Virtually all of the documents inside the compilation range from 1953-1967. There is one anomaly, though… the final document in the collection is dated March, 1971; it’s unclear if this was an addendum after the original compilation was produced (the most likely scenario), or if the compilation was mostly assembled in the late 60s but not released to those planning the project until March of 1971 (which would probably be a bit too close to the October, 1971 opening for it to have been an effective planning and guidance tool). Regardless of the date of issue, this compilation provides a rare chance for us to peel back the curtains of WED and WDP during one of the most exciting periods of growth the company had ever experienced.

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Disney’s Culture of Innovation The first cartoon with fully synchronized sound, the first full-color cartoon, the first animated feature film, the first modern theme park, the multi-plane camera, Audio-Animatronics, Circle-Vision 360°, and Fantasound. The list could go on for pages and pages. From its inception in 1923, The Walt Disney Company has been a leader in the development of technology and that heritage continues in the present. Since 1979, The Walt Disney Company has applied for over 124 individual United States Patents, along with another 126 patent applications coming from Pixar.

©D is

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y

There is no doubt that as a company, Walt Disney fosters a culture of innovation. However, what sets Walt Disney apart from many other companies is that Walt Disney focuses on technology as a means to improve the story and the guest experience, not simply as a method of market segmentation or consumer analytics (although Disney certainly is active in these areas as well). Nowhere is this more true than in the theme parks. When Disney remembers that technology serves the story, classic attractions are created that are remembered for their emotional weight, not their level of innovation. When story becomes subservient to technology, Alien Encounter happens. It is little wonder that Pixar has integrated so well with the company and with the theme parks. Pixar is a powerhouse in the technology market, but like Walt Disney, the focus is clearly on telling good stories. Watching Monsters, Inc, a person doesn’t think about the astronomical amount of coding required to realistically portray Sully’s fur. In Finding Nemo, it wasn’t the staggeringly complex lighting effects being simulated that had critics and the public gushing with praise. In both cases though, the emotional impact of the story being told would have been significantly dampened if Sully’s fur looked painted on or the underwater scenes felt flat. It was the perfect meld of technology with story so that the audience was never reminded that they were watching a computer generated world. Walt Disney himself had a keen sense of knowing how technology could WDWNT: The Magazine 18

be used to improve the telling of a story. It was his desire for increasing realism in animation that led to the development of synchronized sound and color cartoons in the early years. It was this same desire that Walt impressed upon the culture of WED Enterprises when building Disneyland- define the story, and then engineer how to present it. In that spirit, let’s look at some of the important innovations that Disney has used in the theme parks and review the impact of those innovations on story-telling and guest experience.

Steel-tubed Coasters (Matterhorn) By today’s theme-park standards, the Matterhorn Bobsleds in Disneyland seems downright quaint. A mellow, if somewhat bumpy, ride through the alpine landscape hardly gives the impression of what a game-changing attraction it really was in 1959. Until then, roller coasters were either of the mammoth wooden variety, or the cheap wild-mouse style coasters popular in traveling carnivals. In both cases, the track was flat, jarring, and almost impossible to theme (for example, Primeval Whirl). When Walt decided that his theme park needed a more thrilling attraction that recreated the Matterhorn, it was obvious that a completely new concept was required. A wooden coaster could certainly provide thrills, but the massive support structure and space required made wood ill-suited for the new attraction. Wild-mouse coasters were certainly smaller, but were incapable of providing the thrilling experience required to simulate a bobsled ride down a mountain. So, as was so often the case, Walt turned to his Imagineers to turn his vision into reality. Realizing the unique requirements presented, WED partnered with Arrow Development Engineering to create an entirely new ride system that would revolutionize the theme park and amusement park industry. The tubular steel track concept is simple enough- instead of a flat steel track, the track would be tube-shaped allowing the train to connect to each track via three separate wheel points (top, bottom, and inside). This freed the track designers to create a layout that WDWNT: The Magazine 19


was no longer solely focused on keeping the train

In the early 1950’s, Walt purchased a mechanical bird. This small, toy-like bird As was typical, Walt’s vision far exceeded the technology available to execute

curves and hills that were previously impossible.

it. It took years of development starting in 1951 to reach the earliest performing

The concept also allowed a coaster to be built with

Audio-Animatronic figures found in the 1963 attraction, The Enchanted Tiki

a steel support structure that could be engineered

Room. During those 12 years, Imagineers had to overcome a mountain of obstacles and

and sized to fit into a structure, or scale mountain,

basically created a new field from scratch. The burgeoning field of robotics was more concerned

as needed.

with function and precision. Imagineers had to think about creating realistic movement within a defined amount of space, and at a reliability level that could handle the rigors of a theme park

In one single leap forward, the

schedule- challenges that most robotic engineers never had to contemplate.

Matterhorn became the first in a long and continuing line of larger and faster roller coasters. The record breaking

The creation of Audio-Animatronic characters required Disney to do more than just engineer

coasters being designed today are direct descendants of the

the motors and hydraulics to create motion. They also needed to develop a means to program

Matterhorn Bobsleds and provide riders with experiences that are

that movement, store the movement, and recall the movement on demand over and over. It’s little

becoming more and more intense.

wonder that the earliest animated figures, such as the birds in the Tiki Room, were restricted to almost binary movements- the beak was either open or closed. However, as the technology has evolved and been refined, the characters are becoming more realistic and believable. Even now,

Audio-Animatronics

at times the concept outpaces the technology (paging Mr. Yeti). This just proves that Walt Disney

In the process of building a logical bridge from film animation

Imagineering is far from reaching the point of saturation with Audio-Animatronics. As we look

to theme park design, the discussion starts and ends with Audio-

forward towards self-contained characters building upon Lucky the Dinosaur and Wall-E, it’s

Animatronics. Audio-Animatronics are clearly the next reasonable

impossible not to be excited about what Disney is going to come up with next.

step in character animation, and so it is not surprising that Walt Disney would lead the way in bringing animation off the screen and into the physical world. When it was time to build Disneyland, Walt understood as well as anyone that guests would emotionally

FASTPASS Service © Disney

Some innovations in the park are not necessarily part of the story-telling, but have a definite impact on guest experience. One notable example of this was the implementation of

connect to realistic characters, not pictures or wax figures. This desire for realism drove much of

the FASTPASS service in the parks. While ride reservation

Walt’s film animation projects, and the desire carried over into the park.

and virtual queuing systems have been used at world fairs, and front-of-line options are available at other parks, Disney’s

To understand the impact of Audio-Animatronic technology, imagine a ride through Pirates of

implementation of FASTPASS in 1999 was completely unique.

the Caribbean with only static figures. Would the Haunted Mansion be even 1/10th as good with posed wax figures? You think Hall of Presidents is boring now? Disney parks are so inundated

Prior to 1999, one the main guest complaints at a Disney park

with Audio-Animatronic characters that it is inconceivable to envision many attractions without

was too much time waiting in lines for attractions. FASTPASS

them.

provided an answer to that complaint without introducing a

If the Disney Company started with a mouse, then Audio-Animatronics started with a bird.

WDWNT: The Magazine 20

hierarchy of guests, those willing to pay for an express ticket

y

to each track meant that the train could go through

ne

started Walt thinking about being able to animate three-dimensional figures.

© D is

connected to the track. The three connection points


receiving an improved experience. FASTPASS provides an equal opportunity for all guests to spend more time enjoying the other aspects of the park while also being able to enjoy the more popular attractions. Disney has made the FASTPASS system so simple, it’s easy to forget the technology required to support the system. FASTPASS

© Disney

needs to connect all the various distribution points and the front-gate ticket machines into a central database to track when a guest enters the park, when the guest requests a FASTPASS, and when that guest can request a new FASTPASS. Add to that the complexity of calculating the number of FASTPASS tickets to distribute for each attraction per time period, and it becomes more astonishing that the system operates as reliably and effectively as it does. After 12 years in operation, it makes sense that Disney is looking for ways to expand the system. A patent filed in 2007 indicated that FASTPASS tickets could be distributed via SMS messaging. And of course, more recent news items have suggested distributing ride-times via the web. Whatever the future holds for FASTPASS, the impact of the system will be continue to be felt in every park as guests spend more of their time enjoying the park instead of standing in lines waiting to enjoy the attractions.

Conclusion These three innovations are good examples of the culture of innovation that is encourages within Disney. At its best, new technology can be seamlessly integrated into the story or improve the experience of guests in the park. However, the true excitement of technology and innovation comes, not from looking at the past, but from freeing the imagination to dream about what future technology will bring.

David Smith dreams of becoming an Imagineer when he grows up. Until then, he enjoys visiting the Disney parks as often as possible with his wife and two children. He can be reached at david@wdwnt.com.

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Where are yo u n o w ? WRITTEN BY: MICHAEL TRUSKOWSKI

Do you remember what a big deal it was to have a meeting location when your group split up? With a resort the size and scope of Walt Disney World, traveling with a large group usually requires meticulous advanced planning if you hope to have any chance of staying together on your vacation. It was vitally important to know where and when you would meet up. There was always angst if someone didn’t arrive at the proper time (perhaps they were stuck on a broken down Splash Mountain for 45 minutes, with the music shut off, listening to the Audio-Animatronics click and move, and the announcement every 5 minutes that it “Looks like Brer Fox and Brer Bear are causing some kind of commotion downstream.” Not that this has ever happened to me!). Should you stay there until they show up, or move on, hoping to meet up by chance later. This is all a thing of the past, thanks to the now-ubiquitous cell phone. It’s cliche to say that cell phones have changed our world. Walt and the imagineers realized that advances in communication technology had that kind of potential. In a theme park dedicated to technological advances, it was no mistake that Spaceship Earth, the central icon of EPCOT Center, was an attraction about the history and advancement of communication through time (at least until its most recent version). Nearly 30 years later, communication has indeed changed the way we experience our WDW vacations. Perhaps no aspect of our vacation planning has been affected more than the ability for us

Nearly 30 years later, communication has indeed changed the way we experience our W D W v a c a t io n s . WDWNT: The Magazine 23


to break apart and go off on our own, without needing rigid plans on how to meet up later in the day. A simple text message (“Where are you?”) is all we need to reunite. And for those more savvy with social networking, we can follow our fellow travelers as they check in to every attraction, restaurant, restroom, and snack cart in real time (and once again, apologies to my Facebook friends who had to endure this on my last trip.) In addition to social network apps, smartphone users have dozens of Disney-related apps to choose from. Can’t decide what you want to eat? Don’t waste time walking to individual restaurants to see what is on the menu. You can access that information in seconds on your cell phone. And for those who are new to the world, the GPS in your pocket has supplanted the trusty park map for when you need to knowexactly how far away Space Mountain is. Of course, we die-hard fans will still pick up park maps for our collection.) If you are the one who is responsible for all the planning and budgeting for the trip (and if you are reading this magazine there is a good chance that you are), you can use your phone as your organization tool. Cell phones allow us to keep confirmation numbers and schedules in one easy to access place (alleviating the need to carry an actual notebook throughout the parks). I personally use financial software on my iPhone to keep to my budget (as best as I can). Many people never even take cameras to the park now. Why deal with the hassle of taking your camera case through the bag check when you can use the camera built into your phone to not only take the photos, but instantly share them as well. On trips in the past, we would often take 50 - 100 photos. On my last trip I took over 1000. The utilization of technology can be a huge advantage in the parks, as I had discovered. A few years ago, I wanted to dine at the San Angel Inn. The hostess said they were not currently taking walk ups, only reservations. The restaurant was mostly empty, so it seemed strange that so many people were missing their ADRs. I stepped outside, made a quick call to WDW Dining, and let them know I wanted a reservation for “now”, and that I was standing on the steps of the pavilion. I had a table within minutes, but not before the hostess and I shared a laugh at the fact that the dining CM on the phone was

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required to inform me that theme park admission was required, even though I told him I was at the restaurant already. Of course, like all technology, there is a dark side. How many of us can’t go a day without checking email, whether we are on vacation or not? Allow me to say this: please use your email out-of-office auto responder! Unless your job is critical to the survival of the human species, please be on vacation during your vacation! Far worse are those who overuse the phone part of their cell phones. Yes, apparently these things can make phone calls too! Who knew? On the last three occasions I have ridden Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, I was treated not only to a phone ringing, but it’s owner actually answering and carrying on a conversation during the show. Walt loved the theater metaphor for the parks, so let’s all make an effort to set our phones to vibrate on attractions and in shows. Otherwise we will find ourselves inundated with “a flood of electronic babble,” as Jeremy Irons so eloquently put it. On my first trip to EPCOT Center in 1986, one of the most amazing pieces of technology on display was touchscreens. WorldKey Information kiosks not only allowed us the opportunity to control a computer with our own fingers, but also allowed for real time video chat with Cast Members located in what we imagined to be a far-off data center. The fact that this technology now exists in my pocket is a testament to the brilliance of EPCOT Center. But this is all something we take for granted now. The younger among us probably do not ever remember a time in their lives when they did not have their friends and family a button press away. It is now an assumed part of our everyday lives, including on vacation at Walt Disney World. From official apps and mobile websites that gives us park ours and wait times, to text messages from the resort when our rooms are ready, Disney is preparing a whole new place for technology in the guest experience.Mobile technology that was a thing of science fiction when the parks were built will certainly play a central role.

Michael Truskowski has been a Walt Disney World fan for over 25 years. He lives in New York City.

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Get In Line!

The Wait is Over for the Queue of the Future

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ince the dawn of the amusement park industry, queues have been a necessary function. Long before the creation of Disneyland in 1955, guests have had to wait in line to be loaded onto rides. This is especially true at the more heavily attended parks thanks to factors like ride and park capacity. At the Disney Parks, these lines have been an incredible problem for decades. Disney strives to construct attractions that can handle large crowds, but the everincreasing number of guests that have descended on the parks means that lines are inevitable at even the best-designed attractions. Wait times are such a important factor that many guests decide when to visit Disney World based on crowd levels- basically taking a vacation based on the length of lines. Disney began battling to distract guests attention from extended wait times in the early 1960’s by building intricately themed queue areas. The garden found at the entrance to Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland in 1963 was the first time an intricately themed waiting area had been created, even at Walt’s park. Before this, queues were generally outdoors, and if they were covered at all, it was fairly plain. Even the most heavily themed attractions like Matterhorn and the Submarine Voyage had queues that were only slightly nicer than anything you would find at other parks of the time. This would, however, soon change. Disneyland’s New Tomorrowland of 1967 featured two important innovations in queue area entertainment. Adventure Thru Inner Space featured what many would consider the first intricately themed queue. Small exhibits, spectacular lighting effects, and the added kinetic energy of the Peoplemover passing through the building gave guests something to look at as they waited to board an “Atommobile.” Beyond that, as the ride vehicles passed into “The Mighty Microscope” to enter the attraction, guests in the queue watched miniatures of the vehicles “with guests” pass through a smaller part of the device as if they were shrinking. This is perhaps the most memorable part of the attraction, and it took place before anyone even boarded a vehicle. During the very same overhaul of Tomorrowland, Rocket to the Moon was replaced with Flight to the Moon. One of the most significant additions to the attraction was what might be considered the very first pre-show. Guests would enter “Mission Control” and listen to a spiel from audio-animatronic flight director Mr. Johnson. This provided entertainment to the guests as they waited to load into the next available theater. Disney continued to develop pre-show ideas. The next and perhaps most famous was offered at Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion when it opened in 1969. Due to the design

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of the attraction, guests had to board an elevator to get down to the loading area of the ride. Disney Imagineers maintained the theming of the attraction by disguising the elevator as a stretching portrait gallery, of course. This ingenious idea transported guests to the load area while providing a memorable experience, once again before the guests even boarded the vehicles. With the development of Walt Disney World, Disney would continue to create impressive entertainment for guests waiting in line. In the 1970’s, Florida opened a version of the Enchanted Tiki Room with a preshow featuring audio-animatronic birds. In the 1980’s, EPCOT Center and Disneyland continued to offer innovative and entertaining queues with attractions such as Horizons, The Living Seas, Universe of Energy, Star Tours, and Splash Mountain. Perhaps the greatest leap forward was showcased by two elements built in 1995. The Indiana Jones Adventure was built with a huge well-themed queue area, but the biggest innovation was two interactive elements where guests’ actions would trigger effects. Guests could release a ceiling full of spikes that would lower or pull a rope and cause an explorer to fall down a shaft. These effects were always popular and nearly everyone who passes by feels the urge to participate. Why would you not want to? It’s fun, and diverts your attention from the wait in line. Over the next decade and a half, attractions such as Soarin’ at Epcot offered some interactivity to keep guests amused. But it was not until 2010 that the first fully-interactive queue area would debut. In late 2010, the facade and queue of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh at the Magic Kingdom was reworked to fit the theme of the Fantasyland Forest expansion area that was under construction across the corridor. Rather than just re-theme the medieval fair look that had stood since 1971, Disney took this opportunity to test the waters with the very first interactive queue. While guests were in line, they had the opportunity to partake in the fun of several highly themed areas with interactive elements. The Hundred Acre Woods offered endless opportunities for fun and games. Guests could play tug of war with a gopher, play with virtual Hunny, or bounce with Tigger (although only occasionally at this time since this particular area seems to be problematic). This concept proved so popular with families that kids were requesting that they go through the normal standby queue rather than utilize FASTPASS for the attraction. Kids love to play games and be a part of the experience, rather than just wind through the queue and onto the ride. I have to admit that I personally would never wait in the standby line for this attraction previously, but gladly do so now simply because there is something fun to do while I wait. The latest interactive creations have debuted within the last month at the Magic Kingdom. First is a new queue area at the beloved Haunted Mansion. I was lucky enough to catch this experience while it was in a soft-opening phase and I have to say I was more than impressed. Just off to the left side of the queue, in some of the space formerly occupied by a hillside and a few of the recognizable tombstones, Imagineers have placed a winding queue area with interactive elements disguised as tombs. The area is WDWNT: The Magazine 27


full of incredible references to Imagineers who worked on the attraction and even elements that never made it into the final design of the attraction back in the 1960’s. One of these elements is the cat with one eye on the back side of the musical tomb. Taken separately, the interactive elements are nothing extraordinary , but taken together, they provide a ton of fun. I emitted childish laughter every time I magically played a graveyard instrument, felt air hit my fingers on the haunted organ, or finished a rhyme from Prudence Pock. The area is beautifully themed and well executed. The Imagineers even kept the old tombstones guests would find on the hill by moving them to places where they are far more visible: in the queue switchbacks, on the hill beside you, and in the smaller graveyard area that still stands next to the foyer entrance doors. When this upgraded queue was first rumored, I wondered why the Haunted Mansion would need an interactive queue. I had never waited more than 5-10 minutes for the attraction in my life, with the exception of a very short period after the attraction was refreshed in 2007. However, the day I got to experience the queue, the wait time was posted at 60 minutes. Under any other circumstances, this is a line I would have skipped, but I really wanted to experience the queue. Even though the wait was much less than the posted time, the queue made the last 5 minutes of the wait fantastically enjoyable. If guests are already having fun before they even step on the attraction, it is a very good thing. If the quality is this good and the interactive elements remain this fun and inventive, I excitedly await the addition of several more of these interactive areas at the parks. Most recently, Town Square Theater at the Magic Kingdom opened with a highly entertaining (though somewhat less interactive) concept. The queue area is lined with “living artwork,” posters of Magician Mickey Mouse and his various acts that appear to come to life. While they may not fit the definition of interactive, they do offer guests a new form of entertainment while they wait in what could be a long line to meet either Mickey or the Disney Princesses. While I have not been able to see this queue yet in person, it again fits the bill in my book. It’s fun, it fits the theme of the area, and it’s well-executed. At this rate of development, it won’t be long until the queues are as much of an attraction as the rides themselves. As only Disney can, Imagineers are creating new experiences, making guests finally willing to look up from their cell phones and enjoy the park in an entirely new way. Interactive queues are here to stay, and they represent the beginning of the next great generation in theme park entertainment.

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he counts over 100 visits in the last 22 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since founded the entire WDWNT Network and become a published author on the subject.

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Rantings of a Disney Fan by Jamie Nakagiri

No, I am not an angry Disney fan. Let’s get that out there immediately. This is merely my opinion and I call things the way I see them. I apologize in advance if anything offends anyone, but I will try to keep things civil. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and here is mine:

“I don’t want to alarm you, but I’m a Disney fan…” For my first article for this magazine, I felt it appropriate to start at the beginning. Why are we fans? When it comes to fandom, you are generally marked as “crazy” or “obsessive” regardless of what your passion may be. I’m sure we’ve all experienced the blank stares and the awkward moments where you go on an hour-long rant about WestCOT. It’s just tough for non-Disney fans to really get us and it can be a lonely existence. So what do we do? Do we crawl into our little Disney havens and huddle up with our Figment stuffed animals? When you go on a first date, how long do you wait until you drop the bombshell? “By the way, I don’t want to alarm you, but I’m a Disney fan.” When people come over, do you try to hide your massive pin collection? As Disney fans, I’m sure we’ve all had our share of criticisms, but why should we be ashamed of who we are? I was inspired to write this article after I was told that I should probably keep the whole “Disney thing” under wraps. Okay, out of all things that people can be obsessed with, Disney really isn’t that big of a deal. Seriously. We’re not hurting anyone. What’s really wrong with being passionate about something? People shouldn’t judge others just because they’re different. There are probably thousands of closet Disney fans out there who are afraid of admitting it for fear of getting labeled. Who cares? You are who you are and you shouldn’t have to change for anyone. If someone wants you to sell your Vinylmation collection or else she’s gone, just leave. That’s crap and you know it. There are people out there who will accept your Disney regardless of whether they themselves are Disney fans. Moral of the story: Be proud of who you are. Forget the criticisms of the world and be yourself. What is “normal” anyway? It’s all relative. In medicine, the definition of illness is merely being outside of the normal range. Well who’s to say what normal really is? I say that being outside the normal range makes life interesting. And the important thing to remember is that this community will always be there to support you. When nobody else gets you, we do. When you feel like you will never be able to find someone in this world who will accept you the way you are, just check out this community and you can find plenty of success stories. It’s nothing anyone should ever have to hide or be ashamed of. Be Disney crazy and be proud! WDWNT: The Magazine 29


My wife, Amy, and I were on a trip to Walt Disney World to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary while our kids were away at camp for the week. We were spending some much needed quality time together and enjoying the World without children. We spent time by the pool, ate at some high quality restaurants, and even played a full eighteen holes at the Magnolia golf course. On one of our days, we used our “Give a Day, Get a Day” passes and went to EPCOT. We had decided that we would be at the park at rope drop and go directly to Soarin’. Following that, we would ride Mission: Space and Test Track. Once World Showcase opened; we would spend the rest of the day perusing the countries in a manner that we had not been able to in years since our children were not willing to look at every little detail and explore every area. The day was moving along nicely. We were among the first group to ride Soarin’, walked on to Mission: Space and then had a very short wait for Test Track. We then moved toward the Imagination pavilion and tried to see Captain EO, but the next show conflicted with our lunch at San Angel Inn. After lunch, we started moving clockwise through the countries. It was a beautiful day, and we got to see many things that we had never seen before, as well as re-acquaint ourselves with how wonderful a slow paced day in World Showcase could be. As we made our way around to England, we sat down to watch and listen to the British Invasion. It was a great show and a welcomed break from being on our feet for most of the day. When the show was over, I check the time and noticed that the World Showcase Players were about to begin a show. We walked over to the front of the pavilion and took a seat on the curb. Within a minute, out came the performers and dropped their cart directly in front of us. We would have great seats for the show!

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The Time I… was Sir Galahad

Having never seen this show before, I was eagerly anticipating some good comedy. The actors were going to perform King Arthur and the Holy Grail. Of course, Monty Python immediately popped into my head and a big smile crossed my face. The smile soon faded as one actor came directly over to me and stuck a finger in my face and told me that I would need to be Sir Galahad. My wife was excited, but I was not. Somewhat apprehensively, I walked to the center of the road and had a crest with a large “G” slapped on me. I was now Sir Galahad. As the show went on I was to ride an invisible horse, which I did, but was told at one point to get on my own horse because I should not be riding double with Lancelot. I was asked to dance a jig, which I did rather well, if I do say so. In order to finally acquire the grail though, there was one more task to - the very dangerous limbo! The actors were very funny and once I got over the initial shock of being selected, I had a very good time with it. I was laughing so hard that by the time the show had ended the back of my head hurt. My wife loved that fact that I had been chosen, and for the first time on the trip, we talked about how much the kids would have loved to see that show. It really was a lot of fun and I hope to see the show again on my next trip, but if they decide to choose someone else for the role of Galahad, I would be okay with that.

Josh Stern lives with his wife and three children in Michigan because they do not yet have enough DVC points to stay in Bay Lake Tower for a full year.

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HAVE YOU TRIED? …Disney Golf

Written By: Josh Stern

O

ne of my favorite things to do in my spare time is golf. After many trips to Walt Disney World and riding past Disney’s golf courses in boats, busses, and monorails, I finally got the opportunity to play in late July 2010. The courses at Walt Disney World are world-class. The Magnolia and Palm course are home to the final PGA event of the season, the Children’s Miracle Network Classic. Osprey Ridge has been recognized as one of the best courses in Florida by Golf Digest’s Places to Play. The Lake Buena Vista course is one of the few courses to have hosted a PGA, LPGA, and USGA event. When you stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you get free transportation to the course. All that needs to be done is to take a simple stroll to the valet booth at your resort. Let the valet know that you are playing golf at whichever course you have made a tee time at and they will hail you a cab and give you a voucher for your free ride to the course. Once you arrive at the course, a friendly cast member immediately greets you and guides you into the clubhouse in order to begin your day of golf. I was lucky enough to play at the Magnolia course. The clubhouse is a marvelous building stocked full of many wonderful items for the golfer. As a huge fan of golf and Disney, it took WDWNT: The Magazine 32

every ounce of selfcontrol I had to not purchase one of everything on sale. After checking in, I was directed to the rental club pick up area. Rental clubs are available for all to rent. At this time, as a resort guest, rental clubs were free with fully paid green fees. These rental clubs are top of the line, Lady Cobras for women and your choice of Cobras or Titleist AP1s for men. The clubs were placed on your cart along with a large bucket of range balls that are complimentary with your round of eighteen. Shoes are also available for rental if needed, but you are required to bring your own golf balls.

Once reaching the course to tee off you will find a plaque at each hole that explains some significant event that has taken place on that hole during the Children’s Miracle Network Classic. The course was in perfect condition even during the hot July of Florida. Many of the courses that I play in Michigan during July cannot keep everything green, but Disney does. Each cart contains a large screen that gives you tips for each hole. The screen also displays the distances to the front, center, and back of the green. One of the major emphases of the course is that you keep pace of play. The screen also reminds you of your pace for each hole and your round. Each cart is also monitored and if you stray too close to a green, you will be warned to move your cart away from the green and closer to the cart path. The Magnolia golf course is eighteen holes in the middle of the Walt Disney World Resort, but you would never know it. You are immersed in a very natural setting. During my round, my group saw wild turkeys and deer. You will also see sights like the Polynesian resort and the monorail. The Magnolia is also home to the famous Mickey bunker. Whether a seasoned golfer or someone that only occasionally “picks up the sticks,” the experience is thoroughly enjoyable. The course is immaculate and challenging, yet fair. Ever since my first experience golfing at Disney, I have had the constant desire to try the other courses at the resort. The only problem

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that I have with Disney golf is that it can be quite expensive. If you do not have your own clubs or get free club rental, it will cost you $55. The rates on the course are cheapest during the summer but are still over $85 on most summer days. There are discounts for twilight rounds. Disney occasionally does have special discounts such as play all day for $59. On these day, usually around a holiday weekend such as Labor Day, Easter, or Memorial Day players can book a tee time for $59 and after completing their first round, they can play again at the same course, or a different one, subject to availability. If you can take advantage of such an offer, then Disney golf becomes a bargain. The next weekend that this special is available is April 22-25, the weekend of Easter. Tee times can be made online by visiting http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/golf/

Josh Stern lives with his wife and three children in Michigan because they do not yet have enough DVC points to stay in Bay Lake Tower for a full year. WDWNT: The Magazine 34

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! W

hen I first heard that there were going to be two new restaurants coming to World Showcase I was ecstatic. Especially since they were both going to be featuring cuisines that my family loves to eat. Dave is a huge fan of Mexican food having grown up in Southern California, and I have fond memories of my Italian grandmother serving us delicious homemade meatballs and marinara. It was perfect! Of course, having two small children who make extremely large messes at mealtimes I was a little apprehensive. I had visions of reliving that horrible trip to PF Chang’s when we left the table looking like a rice bomb had exploded. I was looking forward to enjoying the experience of these new venues and hoped to high heaven that they would not include piles of angel hair under the table or crushed tortilla chips ground into brand new chairs. Thank goodness WDW is a place that is designed with children in mind, so even if my kids did start World War III with pepperoni, at least I knew the cast members would be prepared.

,

Being the planner that I am, I made sure to make reservations as soon as I knew they were being accepted. The first new restaurant we visited was La Hacienda de San Angel. I wanted to try this restaurant during Illuminations so that we could compare the view with one of our other favorite sit down spots, Rose & Crown. Unfortunately, that would mean a very late dinner for the kids which is ‘iffy’ at best. Still, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to watch one of my favorite night time shows from a brand new location with prime viewing space.

© Disney

distorted everything and the experience was a huge letdown since we know how much better the view can be. Honestly, it seemed like the best viewing spot from this side of the lagoon actually belongs to the counter service portion of this venue in a large, circular seating area outside. In spite of our foliage faux pas I was very thankful to have a table near the window no matter how obstructed our view was because it kept our four year old busy the entire time. Our son had already passed out and was sleeping soundly in the stroller next to our table.

We started the evening off with the Queso Fundido, which is Melted Cheese with poblano peppers, chorizo and flour tortillas for $12.50. I was expecting something much creamier than what we received. The cheese was extremely thick and stringy, not at all easy to scoop with a flour tortilla. I thought this would be more of a sauce than it was and surprisingly the flavor was not there. I thought for sure that the chorizo would add some kick to it, but we were disappointed. I definitely would not order this again.

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When we entered La Hacienda, I immediately noticed the large floor to ceiling windows gazing out onto the World Showcase Lagoon. Carved wooden booths, colorful artwork, and beautiful hanging stars illuminated the large rooms. We were seated next to one of the massive windows; unfortunately our view was blocked by a tree. As far as viewing goes for Illuminations, I’m going to stick with Rose & Crown. I did get up during the show to see if the view was better without the tree, but the glass

Above: Tacos de Camarones Below: Parrillada “La Hacienda”

© Sarah Holodick

© Disney

For my entrée, I chose the Tacos de Camarones featuring Fried Shrimp, chipotle lime aioli, cabbage, lime and salsa verde, all served over flour tortilla for $22.95. (Basically a fancy description for fried shrimp tacos) You receive three medium sized tacos and although I enjoyed them more than the Queso, I still didn’t think this dish was great. It was very appealing to look at…the contrasting colors of purple

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come back to try them again is the thought that perhaps since it was the end of the night the churros weren’t as fresh as they normally are. We can only hope.

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The children’s menu did offer a nice variety of options different than the usual fare. Starting at $7.75 choices include Beef Tacos, Chicken Tacos, Nachos and Chicken Tenders. Dessert selections were either a fruit cup or vanilla ice cream with a churro. Unfortunately, since it was so late that our daughter was not interested in trying anything new so she opted for the chicken tenders.

cabbage and the green salsa verde was very nice. Ultimately though, the fried shrimp was soggy and under seasoned. Dessert failed to impress as well. We ordered the Chocolate con Churros which consisted of two very small churros drizzled with cajeta sauce, sprinkled with powdered sugar and accompanied by a cup of traditional Mexican hot chocolate for $7.95. Believe it or not, the churros in the cart outside tasted fresher than these. They were as hard as a rock and had very little cinnamon on them. Dessert is the one part of the meal that I always look forward to and always get whether I’m still hungry or not! I was hoping that when the menu read ‘fresh churros’ that is what we would have gotten, but sadly, it didn’t happen. The only reason I would

Another Dessert Option:

WDWNT: The Empanada Magazinede38Manzana

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© Disney

© Disney

I have to say that we went into La Hacienda de San Angel with high hopes. We have never enjoyed the food at San Angel Inn and really wanted to love Hacienda. In all honesty, I thought the prices were very high for what we received and the food was sub-par. Later that week we dined outside at the venue’s quick service counterpart and had some surprisingly good food. I think from now on we’ll opt for the cheaper, tastier option with easier kid clean up. (Have you seen those birds? They don’t even give the cast members a chance to get there and clean up first!) Next up…Via Napoli!

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EATING WDW go ahead. eat the world. Food on the Go by Sarah Holodick

When traversing the parks, I do not always make ADRs. There are times I even avoid counter service meals in lieu of food I can easily eat while getting from point A to point B. Disney offers some quick, substantial items that provide the energy needed while exploring the parks. If your goal is to pack as much fun into your day without spending a lot of time in food lines or at a table, this is definitely a different way to see the World.

© Sarah Holodick

The Ubiquitous Turkey Leg Ask people who have tried a turkey leg, and you will quickly find there is a love-hate relationship with this monstrous piece of poultry. For the record, it is not emu as I still hear people claim it is. According to Disney: “It’s estimated that guests consume more than 1.6 million turkey drumsticks every year at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort – that’s 2.5 million pounds of turkey.” - Thomas WDWNT: The Magazine 40Smith, Disney Parks Blog

At just under $8 each, guests purchase © Sarah Holod around $12 MILLION ick worth of these beasts each year! Now I wonder if the t-shirts featuring this culinary wonder will be as well received… In my 28 years, I had yet to try one of these icons of the Disney parks. Yet. In the past several years, I have wanted to try one. They can be found in every park, with two locations in Animal Kingdom. And hey, if they are good enough for Andrew Zimmern, then I am going to have to take to heart his mantra: “If it looks good, eat it!” With that thought in mind, I © Disney decided to try my Curse you, Andrew! first turkey leg. I ventured to Hollywood Studios and walked down Sunset over to Toluca Legs Turkey Company and placed my order. I received the gargantuan leg, grabbed several napkins, and headed to a table to tackle the turkey. My initial thought on the leg was, “Wow. These things look a LOT better at a distance.” I took my first bite, and it was terrible. It was incredibly greasy. I peeled the skin away and cut off some of the actual meat, and it was only slightly more edible. Two bites © Sarah Holodick and I had eaten What have I done... enough. I could

not wait to get something else to eat to get rid of taste of the monstrosity that is the turkey leg. My final thoughts were, “How the heck do people walk around eating these things?! They must end up dripping with grease up to their elbows! I will NEVER eat one of these again. The sacrifices © Sarah Holodick I make for research…” I am glad that I did give the turkey leg a chance and am able to draw my own conclusion regarding it. Unfortunately, I will shudder each time I see someone gnawing on one. The turkey leg will haunt me forever.

that WDW uses frozen corn dogs makes me want to kick myself for not ordering a freshly dipped one on my visit to Disneyland last year. I guess I will have to go back! © Sarah Holodick

While you will not find corn dogs or their nugget counterpart in Epcot, you can find them a short walk away at BoardWalk To Go at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. While in Hollywood Studios, you can find corn dogs at Herbie’s DriveIn, but the park does not offer nuggets. My guess was “Classic” variety

© Sarah Holodick

Braver than I am!

© Sarah Holodick

Boardwalk To Go

Corn Dogs and Corn Dog Nuggets Corn dogs are the quintessential on-the-go food in the parks. They are simple, offer minimal fuss, and are fairly filling for around $4. About a year and a half ago, hot dogs on Disney property switched from all beef to a beef and chicken blend. No information was really given regarding the corn dogs or corn dog nuggets. In January while at Animal Kingdom, I ordered a corn dog from a kiosk for a quick snack. I saw the boxes of corn dogs and the brand was State Fair*. The fact

© Sarah Holodick

© Sarah Holodick

Herbie’s Drive-In

I am a fan of ordering a corn dog or corn dog nuggets on occasion. They are snacks that seem to have the ability to transcend ages. Even though I can buy WDW’s variety at the local grocery store, I enjoy the nostalgia of walking around the parks with a corn dog in hand. And do they not taste so much better while strolling around Disney World? WDWNT: The Magazine 41


Chicken, Fish, and Shrimp Baskets (served with fries, apple slices, or – on occasion – carrot sticks)

Chicken breast nuggets can easily be found at each park. Although this may not seem to be the most portable of the foods, it is not exactly cumbersome, as it is served in a high-sided tray. Once you add your desired dipping sauces, it is quite easy to maneuver crowds while partaking in these bites of chicken. One of the best aspects of these nuggets is that they are a far cry from the processed patty-esque nuggets of my youth. The coating is crunchy with a little bit of peppery spice and the interior is as advertised.

pieces of mild, flaky fish in a light, crunchy batter, along with “chips” cut a little thicker than the fries served on property. Fish baskets elsewhere, such as Columbia Harbour House in the Magic Kingdom, come with three pieces of fish which are shaped into strips, and the batter is crunchy but not airy, adhering more to the fish. I greatly prefer the fish from Yorkshire, although I am not opposed to what is served elsewhere. Egg Rolls

© Sarah Holodick

© Sarah Holodick

Yak & Yeti Local Foods Café

Yak & Yeti Local Foods Café

© Sarah Holodick

© Sarah Holodick

© Sarah Holodick

At some resturants, there is some assembly required.

If you are looking to venture away from chicken, but are still in the mood for something fried, try the fried fish or shrimp baskets. Served in the same high-sided tray as the chicken, they become a filling, portable meal as well. I was unable to spot either at Animal Kingdom’s counter service restaurants, and shrimp seems to be missing in Hollywood Studios. I do know from experience that the fish baskets are a nice deviation from my park go-to meals. While I have yet to try the fried shrimp, I have dined with others who have, and they found them to be quite good. The fish from Yorkshire County Fish Shop in the United Kingdom in Epcot is different than what you will find from the other counter service restaurants in the parks. There you receive two

WDWNT: The Magazine 42

Hot, crispy egg rolls are a favorite even on the more humid days in the parks. Whether I order one for a light snack or two as more of a meal, they always hit the spot. There are three different varieties found at the kiosks and counter service restaurants in the parks: pork & shrimp, pork & vegetable, and vegetable (Nine Dragons in China at Epcot, a table-service eatery, has chicken & shrimp egg rolls on their menu). Hollywood Studios is the one park where I could not locate these addictive treats. Of all the varieties, I seek out the vegetable egg roll. My favorite place to purchase one is at the Egg Roll Cart in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom. The cart also sells pork & shrimp egg rolls © Sarah Holodick and, conveniently, corn dogs, too! Egg Roll Filling

Yak & Yeti Local Foods Café (Anandapur Local Food Cafes) in Animal Kingdom offers Asianinspired entrées, chicken fried rice, and pork egg rolls. Their entrées and fried rice are served in Chinese take-out boxes, allowing them to fit the bill as a portable meal. With options including honey chicken, sweet and sour chicken, and orange beef, all served with vegetables and white rice, these meals seem to be the most well-rounded. Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner Sandwiches Docked on Echo Lake is a ship, aptly named S.S. Down the Hatch, which houses Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner. In late summer of 2009, the “diner” revamped their menu and removed their shakes and stuffed pretzels. They currently offer a frankfurter in a pretzel roll (with dijon mustard), a chicken Caesar sandwich (mixed greens, Parmesan cheese, and Caesar dressing), and an Italian sausage sandwich (with peppers and onions). The Caesar sandwich replaced a bratwurst with sauerkraut which was originally offered when the menu first changed.

These “sandwiches” are made more portable than the sliced bread variety through their assembly. The center of each roll is hollowed out and replaced with your chosen filling. Each sandwich also comes with a bag of chips. I first tried the Italian sausage baguette shortly after the change was made, and I have been a fan ever since. It is very easy to walk around the park while eating one of these sandwiches, and not a bad deal for around $8. I hope these do not go the way of the Handwich!

© Sarah Holodick

*I do not recall whether the boxes stated if they were their classic or beef varieties. I also do not know if Disney uses State Fair Mini Corn Dogs for their corn dog nuggets. I am simply relaying what I saw in case you dare to look up the ingredient list.

When spending a long day in the parks, do you ever forgo more formal meals in order to experience more attractions? If so, which park treats do you seek out? Do you tend to eat the heartier foods mentioned in the article, or do you prefer snacking on items like Dole Whips, pretzels, and funnel cake? Please let me know by sending me an email: sarah@wdwnt.com WDWNT: The Magazine 43


n o i t a m l y n i V Q & A with , r e n g i s e D d Lea t t o c S s a m o h T

I recently submitted some questions to Lead Vinylmation Designer, Thomas Scott, of the Disney Design Group. Thomas was very forthcoming and gracious to provide answers for this interesting Q & A about Vinylmation: Q: What was the first figure you designed? A: When Disney Design Group began gathering designs for what became Vinylmation, I submitted a number of ideas. Three of my early submissions were eventually produced: Oopsy Mickey in Urban Series 1, the squid in Urban Series 5 and the drippy green 9″ in Urban Series 5.

Q: What was the most challenging design to adapt to the topography of the Vinylmation figure?

By Brian S

hapiro

WDWNT: The Magazine 44

A: I spent a lot of time on the Dia de Los Muertos 9″. I designed it for the Trade City event last year. While the elements were not complex, it was challenging to get everything to fit correctly. It required a re-design after the first factory sample. The Urban 4 limited edition 9″ Memphis-style design used vertical stripes, which has proven very difficult (as we ran into again with the USA flag 3″ in the Flags series). You may have seen preview images for the upcoming Tron Series. I designed the two Kevin Flynn figures. Getting that old school Tron helmet right was difficult.

WDWNT: The Magazine 45


Q: What are your responsibilities as lead designer for Vinylmation? A: It has changed, but currently I oversee all creative for blind box

series, limited edition items, Vinylmation Jr. and a few other things. I assign the work to and art direct, our artists. I also review all packaging for the Vinylmation brand. I review the Vinylmation designs created by our partners at the Disney Store and other Disney Theme Parks. Of course I design many figures and a lot of the packaging. I’d like to add that I think the effort into packaging has really been paying off. I’m very proud how our products, Animation Series and Cutesters Too, for example, look in the stores. And wait till you see what we have coming later this year. For our “core” series which use multiple artists (Park, Urban, Animation, and Holiday), I curate the series, which means I determine the mix of designs so each series will have different artists, art styles, and creative ideas. Also we want each series to have some figures that would be widely popular and some that will appeal to a specific kind of guest. We hope you like them all, but I think we have something for everyone in these series. I usually propose the series layout to our product developer, Donald Ferro, and recommend chaser figures and variant ideas. This includes which designs will go into the blind box series and which will become limited editions. Then Donald and I together finalize the series. Also, I am always working to bring new ideas into the product line. The goal is to excite collectors and our Theme Park guests who may be seeing Vinylmation or maybe even designer vinyl toys for the first time.

WDWNT: The Magazine 46

Q: The Urban 5 Chaser is probably my favorite chaser design. The inclusion of the glasses was inspired! Are you a fan of 3D? What was your inspiration for the Urban 5 chaser? A: That design was inspired by how the printing looks in 3D comic books. It happened to be designed around the time we began adding accessories. So the 3D glasses were a natural add-on and more recognizable to most people than the printing look I copied.

Q: The Toy Story series was a tremendous success. Was this the first time you did a complete series? What were some of the challenges in adapting these iconic characters to Vinylmation? A: I designed all of the figures in the Big Eyes series before Toy Story. The Toy Story characters were a joy to work with, and Disney Design Group has a great partner at Pixar, Ben Brown. He reviews our work and was very helpful. I worked on those designs in the summer of 2009, before many images of the new Toy Story 3 characters were available to us. The only challenge I can think of is that we could not use some characters that would have been fun to include in the series.

WDWNT: The Magazine 47


Q: Do you prefer designing for 3″ figures or 9″ figures?

A: You’re forgetting about Vinylmation Jr.!

I created that platform. I also developed the strategy of including blind Jrs. with some of the open edition 3″ series. After we decided to create a blind box series with Vinylmation Jr., I created the direction that each series would have a different connecting theme. I have “concepted” all of the series so far, designing most of the figures myself and art directing the rest (Lisa Badeen worked on series 1 and Maria Clapsis helped on Series 2). I also art directed all of the packaging, designing Series 3 packaging myself. I’m really looking forward to the Juniors Series 3 release, the Good Luck Bad Luck series. I designed all of the figures and the factory execution is even better. And wait till you see the Occupations and Celebrations Jrs.! There are some really unexpected designs (although I did not personally design them, many were my concepts). I like designing both 3″ and 9″, but the decoration is more difficult on the 9″ form, so it make the job a little trickier. We can draw anything, but the art has to translate into printing pads and spray masks, so there are limitations. And since we are not right there at the factories, we can’t always predict how they will choose to execute our designs.

Thank you very much, Thomas, for answering these questions! They really provide a lot of insight into Vinylmation and many of your innovative ideas and concepts. We look forward to seeing many great new designs from you and the rest of the Disney Design Group!

WDWNT: The Magazine 48 WDWNT: The Magazine 49


EVACUATIONS 101 Splash Mountain

BY JASON DIFFENDAL

Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to have been evac’ed from several attractions. Many were not so exciting. For example one time I was in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion queue (after the Stretching Rooms) and we had to leave via the “chicken exit.” However, one in particular was very exciting, not only for the path we took to leave the attraction, but also because of where our ride vehicle was located within the attraction. On a bright, sunny, late-summer day several years ago, during one of my family trips to WDW, I found myself in Frontierland with Splash Mountain Fastpasses. In addition to my wife and children, my parents had joined us on this trip as they often do. Due to a child being asleep in the stroller, we all couldn’t ride together, so my dad and wife stayed behind while I rode Splash Mountain with my mother. It was a relatively short Fastpass line, so the rest of my family was waiting on the bridge overlooking the Briar Patch (i.e. the big drop) to watch for us. Little did they know at that moment, but they’d be waiting a long time! After an uneventful boarding, we proceeded through the attraction without the slightest hint of what was to come. Through the first lift hill and drop, to the second lift hill as we waved to our onlooking family, down the second drop and into the laughing place, and finally up the final lift hill. Our log proceeded up the lengthy lift hill, and we braced ourselves for the big drop as the log in front of ours crested the hill and was out of sight. We were next! Or so we thought. Our log stopped only 15 feet from the crest of the final lift hill. At this point the memorable spiel began, “Looks like Brer Fox and Brer Bear are causing some kind of commotion downstream.” I didn’t get my hopes up for an evac, as I have heard that announcement numerous times when the ride temporarily stops, and resumes after a minute or so. Apparently, this time Brer Fox and Brer Bear were causing quite a lot of commotion.Five minutes passed, and we went nowhere. I started getting excited now for a potential evac, but my excitement was tempered by the fact that I was currently sitting in a rather uncomfortable ride vehicle on a lift hill with a fairly steep angle. As another five minutes passed, we heard the announcement that every Disney geek longs to hear: they were evacuating the attraction. Apparently several attempts were made to restart the attraction, but none were successful.

WDWNT: The Magazine 50

I am not sure of the entire process of evacuation for Splash Mountain, but I assume that logs closest to the load and unload areas are probably evacuated first, as the Cast Members are physically closest to those passengers. Using this theory, the log to be evacuated last would be the one farthest from the CMs running the attraction. Where would that be? Yup, you guessed it – the top of the final lift hill. Exactly where I was stuck! After what seemed like an eternity, we saw glimpses of CMs helping guests exit the logs at the base of the lift hill. The CMs then proceeded up the lift hill, helping guests exit the logs on the hill, which was considerably more challenging. Not only did we have to climb out of the log onto a set of stairs, but the actual climbing out of the log wasn’t easy itself. Loading into a log in a horizontal position allows one to step on the side of the log, then onto the seat, and finally onto the floor. None of these areas were horizontal in our predicament, so getting a foothold to climb out wasn’t easy. Combine this with the fact that everything is slippery, and this ends up being quite a dangerous situation. The Cast Members performed admirably, with two of them assisting each passenger out of the log and onto the stairs adjacent to the lift hill. We then proceeded down to the laughing place and followed a path between the jumping water fountains to a hidden door. This led us to an exterior landing on the back of the building, facing the parade storage warehouse. We walked down the stairs and along the back of the building, and were then directed through a doorway. This doorway is well hidden from guest view; it is located along the exit walkway just before the Splashdown Photos shop. On the left side of this walkway is a wooden wall. There is one part of the wall which can open – this is the doorway to backstage. So almost an hour after we embarked, we were finally at the exit of Splash Mountain to meet the rest of our family. They had learned that the ride was down, but little did they know the rather unfortunate place where our log was stopped!

Jason Diffendal is Chief Operating Officer of the WDWNT Network, overseeing operations across the network as well as keeping Tom in check. A Disney fan since his first WDW visit at age 2, his introduction into the Disney online community came with his involvement in Celebration 25, the unofficial fan event marking the 25th anniversary of Epcot. The success of this event led to the creation of WDWCelebrations, which he co-founded with Adam Roth. WDWNT: The Magazine 51


The Art (and Crafts) of Disney

Step 2. Apply a base coat of paint around the frame of the bulletin board. The first coat may separate as it dries, but just try to apply the paint as thick as you can. It will dry much nicer by the second coat. You may even want to apply a third coat of paint.

By Jenni Simon

So you’ve just returned from the parks after trading with every cast member in sight trying to

perfect your already massive pin collection. But what do you do with the pins once you get them home? You might hide them away in pin collecting books or store them in the back of a drawer, but where is the fun in that? This month, we’re turning boring old cork boards into beautiful backdrops as unique as the pins you’ve collected.

Step 3. You can add some decorative jewels to the border of your bulletin board. They can create a neat magic mirror look on a villain board or add a bit of sparkle to a princess themed board. I recommend buying the craft glue with glitter. It adds an extra sparkle finish to

What you’ll need: Acrylic craft paint Sponge paint brush Cork bulletin board with wood frame (not plastic) Photographs or Printed Pictures (Optional) Jewels or Scrapbooking Supplies (Optional) Glitter Craft Glue (Optional)

Step 4 Cut out some of your favorite pictures from the parks or find some neat pictures of Disney characters and print them out. Cut neatly around the edges and glue them to the board.

Step 1 Paint the cork part of the bulletin board using your sponge paint brush. Apply the paint as thick as you can. Wait for the paint to dry, and then apply a second coat.

WDWNT: The Magazine 52 © Disney

WDWNT: The Magazine 53 © Disney


You can be very creative with different themes. Try painting the background blue and adding some white puffy clouds. Paste on some pictures of the castle and you’ve re-created one of your favorite memories from the parks!

Step 5. Add your Disney pins!

WDWNT: The Magazine 54 © Disney

WDWNT: The Magazine 55 © Disney


Or visit the scrapbook section of your local craft store. Disney has an extensive collection of scrapbooking supplies available, so the possibilities are endless.

R E E IN T H W • HE ? D

TH

E WO RLD? • W

HE

RE

IN THE W

O R L So there you have it – a fun and easy way to display your pins. Now get them out of your pin books and hang them on your walls! Enjoy!

I

N

W

? • WHE D L RE OR

Catch the answers to this month's Where in the World? In our next issue coming May, 2011. WDWNT: The Magazine 57

© Disney


catch our next issue early may

WDWNT: The Magazine 58

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WDWNT The Magazine Issue 2  

A disney fan magazine