bigBrian, DisneyWorld, WDW, Walt

Theme parking - The Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom Parking lot and Tram lanes to the TTC The photo above shows the tram lanes as they pass beneath a viaduct under a road. The Road above that tramway takes guests headed to the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, or Polynesian Village resort . In the distance a monorail appears to be entering the station on the express loop, and this photo was taken FROM a monorail that was heading TO the Ticket and Transportation Center FROM Epcot. While a parking lot may seem to be the "plainest" scene in WDW ... Magic Kingdom parking from Monorail

Magic Kingdom parking from Monorail ...even in these wide open expanses of asphalt a few interesting details can be found, the very practical need to have row numbers gave the folks at Disney to use character names for parking lot sections, these make it easier to remember where you park, and by using the characters to name the sections at the Magic kingdom they were also able to use the characters on the signs for the various sections. MK parking from Monorail - Minnie 39

Magic Kingdom parking from Monorail

Magic Kingdom parking from Monorail
bigBrian, DisneyWorld, WDW, Walt

The Walk Around the World

Thereis SO MUCH information about Walt Disney World out there on the internet that sometimes it seems like mit must have all already been written about MANY times over, then i'll hear some questions from listerners on a couple of different podcasts and realize there is one subject or another that a lot of newer WDW fans might not know abot, lately I've heard a few questions about "The walk around the world" on various podcasts including WDW Today, so it occurs to me that this might be a good time for a review.

What is it?

If you have ever noticed on your way to the Magic Kingdom, either at the TTC or at the Kingdom itself that there are large numbers of hexagonal bricks with names and dates inscribed on them then you've had a glimpse of the walk around the world, starting sometime in the early 1990s these bricks were sold, and, similar to the images on the leave a legacy monument for a one time payment WDW would agree that for a set number of years they would allow you to sponsor a brick in this walkway. Early on I think that just the standard Pinkish-reddish bricks were sold, but around the time of WDW's 25th anniversary in 1996 they also sold granite ones for a while that were used in to form some patterns (both on the TTC and Magic Kingdom side if i recall correctly.

Where is it.

Monorail Coral at the TTC

Colors of the TTC, in flowers

One end of the Walk Around the World is at the TTC, part of it stretches through the Polynesian Village resort, but I don't think it necessarilly is paved continuously in those bricks the whole way, in some older parts of the Polynesian I think you simply walk on the Polkys own walkways to make the connection,

Polynesian Pathway meets "Walk around the World"

from the Polynesian though there is a LOOOOONG stretch out past Luaa cove, along the side of the Seven Seas Lagoon, around Disney's Wedding Pavilion, and extending to the Grand Floridian, much as at the Polynesian though, once it gets to the grounds of the GF I'm not sure if there are any portions of it that go through the grounds there.

Disney's Wedding Pavilion & Walk around the World

On the other side of the lagoon there is are a large amout of Walk around the world bricks in the giant transportation hub at the Magic Kingdom,

Monorail Red departing Magic Kingdom Station

They are used as a sidewalk to the Contemporary going along the side of the bus lanes nearest the monorail tracks (but not the other side of the bus area),again once it gets to the grounds of the resort hotel though I belive it ends.

Disney Transports

The oddest spur of this walkway though is the one that goes the OTHER way from the front of the Magic Kingdom this spur goes along the lakeside IN FRONT of the monorail station and wind its way to a Cul De Sac (Dead End) near the canal that is betwen the Magic Kingdom and Grand Floridian.

Motor Launch  Navigator & Monorail Red at the Magic Kingdom

Motor Launch on the Seven Seas Lagoon, with the Walk Around the World in the foreground

Motor Launches on the Seven Seas Lagoon

Kingdom View AND "Walk Around the World" from the Monorail

Why build it all the way out that far? you may wonder, well at the prices they were charging per brick it was quite profitable, and the little bit of money it cost to run the electric out there for lighting along the walk was small potatoes in comparison, in fact it was SO profitable that some folks speculated that it really WOULD become a walk aroungd the world after all it would not cost much to build a little footbridge across that canal right? well if you LOOK at the monorail tracks where they cross that canal they rise up QUITE high and there is a reason for that, that canal is used to get large watercraft to the Rivers of America in Frontierland, and it is also the home of the barges that perform th nightly electrical water pageant,

Electrical Water Pageant barge storage & more Backstage areas

so to a person who knew the profit on these bricks but who did not know the potential cost of the bridge it seemed obvious it WOULD get built, but to those who realized that no "cheap little footbridge" would do here it probably seemed obvious from the start that this probably would NOT happen.


bigBrian, DisneyWorld, WDW, Walt

It's A Jolly Holiday Inn LBV (Lake Buena Vista)

Recently several of the podcasts I listen to have mentioned the pending opening of the "First Holiday Inn" on Walt Disney World property, this announcement gave me that feeling that I think was best described by Yogi Berra when He said "It's deja vu all over again". You see there was a big announcement several years ago when Holiday Inn purchased with the transfer Courtyard by Marriot to Holiday inn took place effective Dec. 31, 2003, I don't think that it ever opened as a Holiday Inn though because it was very shortly thereafter that renovations began, and it is not hard to imagine that, later on that year, after three hurricanes affected central Florida in just a few months (Charley, Frances, and Ivan) the renovations became much more extensive, additionally at that time I would imagine that many construction companies probably had to re-prioritize their jobs, and that a business that was already closed may have taken a back burner to other jobs, for instance if Holiday Inn has any of their own "in house" construction crews, they would probably have been prioritized to fix up other OPEN Holiday Inns that had suffered damage. Still I'd love to hear some of the stories behind this.
This hotel will be one of a very small number of hotels that are actually ON Disney property but that are not ran by Disney four of those hotels opened in the early 1970's (Dutch Inn -- Howard Johnson's -- Royal Inn -- Travelodge)  on what is today known as "Hotel Plaza Boulevard" (though at the time they opened it was known as Motor Inn Plaza ), a few more opened around the time Epcot Center opened (Buena Vista Palace, Pickett Suites Hotel, and the Hilton), and then in 1990 on the new resort property developed between Epcots' then newly opened "International Gateway" and the Disney-MGM Studios the Swan and Dolphin Hotels opened The Swan was originally operated by Westin, the Dolphin by Sheraton, one additional lessee is a group that operates resorts for use by the folks in the United States Armed services, they converted the former "Disney's Golf Resort/ Disney Inn" into a resort called "Shades of Green".  These hotels have MUCH better bus service than "off-site" hotels, though still perhaps a bit below the level of service Disney offers to it's own resorts.

Here is a brief history of this particular property from my site:

Howard Johnsons Resort Hotel / Courtyard by Mariott / Holiday Inn

The view I have of this hotel is a bit unusual in that the view picked is one I think is an unflattering view of the hotel showing I-4 behind it,

 a better view might have been a view with the Walt Disney World Shopping Village in the background. I think this view is contemporary with the view of Americana's Dutch resort that has the Empress Lilly in the view, the reason I think this is that the number on the back of this card seems to be in the same series.

As I mentioned before, in 1991 many of these hotels had postcard strips produced the ones for this Howard Johnsons are shown Below. (NOTE: There are more photos on the site than the two below, but they are other scenes of WDW not the hotel, so I'll leave them out).

In 1995 this hotel became the Courtyard by Marriot. They issued the continental sized post card pictured below.

On Dec. 30, 2003 it became a Holiday Inn. ( information from Disney A to Z .pdf update available free from the Disney web site)

I don't think it ever opened as a Holiday Inn before the hurricanes damaged it and it began its LOOOOONG refurbishment.

Additionally here is a view that has not yet made it onto my site it's part of a series that came out in the early to mid 1990's that are actual WDW postcards complete with the WDW logo and Disney copyright on the back:

bigBrian, DisneyWorld, WDW, Walt

May 20, 1775 Independence Day? Maybe not

One day, when I was in Epcot in between sets of the Voices of Liberty I went over to the Counter service place in the American Adventure Pavilion to grab a bit to eat, and I took a good look at this placard on the wall done in the style of a colonial flag. Well this flag is a little odd in that these flags would seem to be ones the colonies might have used during their struggles for Independence, yet it is hard to imagine that this would have been around at that time, you see the date of May 20, 1775 refers to something known as "The Mecklenberg Decleration of Independence" Quoting from Dan Morrills Charlotte History site:

It was not until 1819, forty-four years after the alleged signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, when Virginia and Massachusetts were arguing over which of the two states had been first to break with Great Britain, that U.S. Senator Nathanial Macon and William Davidson , the latter representing the Mecklenburg County district in the U.S. House of Representatives, put forth the astounding claim that the Scots-Irish of North Carolina were the first to declare their independence.   Thomas Jefferson dismissed it as a hoax "until positive and solemn proof of its authenticity shall be produced."

      Even its staunchest defenders admitted that no copy of the actual document existed.    "Nearly all of my father's papers," declared a son of John McKnitt Alexander , "were burned in the spring of 1800."  A document was supplied, but it was John McKnitt Alexander's account of what transpired in May 1775, not the actual Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence itself.  To bolster their case, supporters of the so-called "Meck Dec" interviewed several signers, all of whom had attained advanced age by the time they were asked to search their memories.  These elderly gentlemen, mostly Presbyterians,  all agreed that they had attended a meeting in May 1775 but could not recall the exact date.  William Polk, son of Thomas Polk, published a pamphlet containing these testimonials and declared the matter settled.  In 1825, a large crowd gathered in Charlotte on the 50th anniversary of the alleged signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and heard it read by Reverend Humphrey Hunter of the Presbyterian Church.  What further proof could one want?

     Trouble for the backers of the "Meck Dec" surfaced in 1838.  An archivist uncovered an article in the July 12, 1775, issue of a Massachusetts newspaper that reproduced a series of resolutions that had reportedly been drawn up in Charlotte on May 31, 1775. Unlike the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, the Mecklenburg Resolves expressed the hope that the exercise of independent authority by officials of Mecklenburg County would end if Great Britain would "resign its unjust and arbitrary pretensions with respect to America."  This was a remarkable display of defiance, but it was not an unequivocal pronouncement that the people of Mecklenburg County were "free and independent."  Any doubt about the authenticity of the Mecklenburg Resolves disappeared in 1847, when scholars found the entire text published in the South Carolina Gazette of June 13, 1775.  No such contemporary verification of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence has ever come to light.  

     The fact that the leaders of Mecklenburg County backed a conditional separation from British rule just eleven days after they allegedly declared their independence seems oxymoronic.  Also, none of the participants who was interviewed years after the dramatic events of May 1775 made any mention of the Mecklenburg Resolves.  One cannot help but wonder whether these aged men remembered the meeting where the Mecklenburg Resolves was signed, not the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.

So being that the Meck Dec was not really known at the time of the American Revolution it would seem this flag is from a later time than that. The hornets nest design would seem to stem from October 1780 when after suffering a number of losses in this area Cornwallis was forced to retreat from this area and the British refed to the region as "A Hornets Nest of rebellion"
I did find another referance to this flag design near the bottom of this page:

North Carolina’s 1st Historical Flag: The “Hornet’s Nest Flag”

First North Carolina flagAfter being driven out by fierce opposition of Charlotte’s & Mecklenburg’s citizens to British occupation in 1780 during the American Revolutionary War British General Cornwallis wrote that “Charlotte Town was a hornet’s nest of rebellion.” The date “May 20, 1775” reflects the date that the citizens of Mecklenburg declared independence from Britain… more than a year before the Continental Congress in Philadelphia declared independence from Britain.

"The first flag of North Carolina… was white and bore a hornet’s nest and the date May 20, 1775…” (page 627: Preble, George Henry. Origin and History of the American Flag…Fourth Edition 1894, First Edition 1872 Boston.

Still this flag would seem to be pretty obscure and I bet the folks who brought these flag style plaques to this counter service restauraunt in Epcot certainly dug deep for some interesting details. You can hear a bit more about this, if you wish by listening to this weeks "Your Ear to The World" podcast Episode 37

bigBrian, DisneyWorld, WDW, Walt

The Trip without a Camera...but NOT without photos Part 2

Epcot's 25th Anniversary Celebration or Celebration 25 bears another nickname for me "The trip without a camera", and this is just the second in what I hope will be a series of posts with memories from this trip shared by others who let me use their Celebration 25 photos here with a special focus on those photos that have me in them.

here's a link to the previous post in this series

Celebration 25 Mousin It up! with Werner W. Weiss

While we were gathering and waiting to take the BIG group photo I got to talking to a few of the Disney fans nearby one of them took this photo and let me use it (thank you Brad Lewis!), as we talked I noted that the name tag on this fellow in the blue shirt said Werner, so I had to ask "Are you Werner Weiss of the Yesterland web site" or words to that effect he was and so I told him how much I liked his site complete with the whole "you're the reason I bought a computer" thing, as his site has always been the one I considered my "favorite". I would still claim that, though in the early days of the internet he really went a LONG time without having any real competition in providing fantastic Vintage Disneyland content, even now his site is so well put together with very consistent well themed and formatted pages (right down to the text fonts) and so not to be missed if you do like vintage Disney parks content.

bigBrian, DisneyWorld, WDW, Walt

Flags at Walt Disney World - part 2 Other Flags of Main Street U.S.A.

Walt Disney World - Flag of the Magic Kingdom

In addition to the American flags I mentioned yesterday there are other flags as well, in fact over the City Hall building (which serves as the Guest relations department of the Magic Kingdom) flys a flag which seems to best represent this park.

Main Street U.S.A. - City Hall

Also over near the train station there are a couple of flags that fly atop the Main Street buildings nearest either end of the station that are also icons of the Walt Disney World company, being at the entrance to the park and being that the Magic Kingdom is generally most folks first exposure to Walt Disney World these too seem quite appropriate, as these can be seen from the entrance turnstiles of the park.

Walt Disney World Railroad

Mickey Flag

Below: I see that I didn't take a photo of this flags context the way I did with the others above, but it too is near the train station and you can see it from the turnstiles, the flag was actually turned the "wrong" way when I took this so I "flipped" it (if you want to see the original orientation just scroll down a bit further.

The Disney "D" flag

The Disney "D" flag
bigBrian, DisneyWorld, WDW, Walt

Flags at Walt Disney World - part 1 American Flags of Main Street U.S.A.

The theme of Main Street U.S.A. in Walt Disney Worlds Magic Kingdom could possibly summed up in one word "Americana", there are many Red, White and Blue touches, for much of the year there is Red white and blue bunting in many places including at the train station (though nowadays it is replaced in the Fall with Autumnal colors). The folks who perform the Trolley show seem to have these as the dominant colors in their wardrobes as well, and all along Main Street U.S.A. (though around Christmas much of that blue seems to be replaced by red for a red and green Holiday feel).

Main Street - Trolley Show

Also, all along the tops of the many buildings on Main Street look at the tops of the buildings, they ALL have their own American flags as well.

Main Street U.S.A

Those flags along the building tops presented a bit of a challenge though, after all the American Flag as a symbol of our nation demands special treatment, and rightly so, typically an American flag is supposed to be taken down and carefully stored each day, or it must be lit at night, taking them down each day would not take all that long, but I doubt these places are built with easy access in mind, also since the upper floors of the Main Street buildings have a scale that diminishes with each floor so sending someone up there would break the illusion of that scale, similarly, lighting these flags at night would possibly pull you out of that Illusion of being on a street of the 1890s. Still the imagineers came up with a simple and ingenious solution, one that sort of fits into the theme in a way, they simply use flags with LESS than 50 stars, this works on a couple of levels, after all, at the turn of the 20th century (from the 19th) the USA did not yet have 50 states, also in dealing with flags of less than 50 stars these are not technically referred to as flags but rather pennants, and do not hold the same status as an official US flag, they don't need to be lit at night or taken down every day.

45 Star Flag
Above and below : on a typical American flag there are 5 rows of 6 stars each with 4 rows of 5 stars each between those rows, whereas you can see these 45 star flags there are 3 rows of 8 stars alternating with 3 rows of 7 stars.

45 star flag

Train Station Flag - 45 Star Pennant

That said one of the reasons I noticed this detail is that I have had lots of time to take zoom photos of those flags while I was standing near Town Square waiting for the daily flag retreat ceremony, where they take down the true 50 star flag that flies at the center of Town Square each day, they do this with a grand ceremony that often includes the Main Street Philharmonic Marching band, The Dapper Dans, a guest who is usually a retired member of the United States military, and many of the Main Street Cast Members, so they do really go all out in taking care of their true 50 star flag.

Main Street Philharmonic kicking off flag retreat ceremony

Main Street - Town Square - Flag retreat - Dapper Dans

bigBrian, DisneyWorld, WDW, Walt

Those Darn Cats - Episode 46 - Into every life Some Rain Must Fall

I listen to a LOT of Disney World related podcasts, sometimes I want to give them feedback, if that feedback gets sufficently long to warrent being it's own blog post it can end up here this is one of those times:

for the episode you can right click to open in a new tab or window, or save file as to listen.

I loved the Disneyland Rainy Day intro,classic and totally perfect for the subject matter.
As to Hong Kong the wheels of Government sometimes grind slowly and that is not unique to our country, so for the time scale it would be pointless for Disney to try to say, since what they are really waiting on is reaching an agreement with the HK government.

As for DCA, I'm not sure it is a "fail", it has ALWAYS suffered by comparison to the Disney Theme park with both the greatest number of and greatest density of attractions that stands across the Esplanade from it. DCA didn't bring in what was projected and what they need it to be capable of, so they have to fix it BUT, what I'd like to know is a comparison of Disneyland RESORT attendance statistics for the last 4-5 years before DCA opened and compare that with the most recent 4-5 year period, from that you could probably see what DL's rate of growth was before DCA, and how much they have been able to grow the audience WITH DCA, BUT, even if  DCA has not significantly increase the growth in turnstile clicks, you do have to keep in mind that at some point Disneyland would hit a ceiling where that one park just could not have continued to grow their audience each year, you can only squeeze so many people per day into a  60-70 acre theme park, at some point the HAD TO open a second gate to sustain growth AT ALL.

As to weather WDW is or is not more crowded, I've heard enough reports to believe that it is, BUT as Pete said on the DIS podcast with the buy 4 get 3 free special folks are paying a LOT less for those rooms, and as you guys pointed out people will be more conservative with other purchases like souvenirs and food, souvenirs can take an incredibly steep drop and many folks may downgrade from Table service to Counter service, or even bringing some sandwiches/snacks along to replace at least one meal.

Lisa, I  hope you don't  find the restrictions on your gift card to be all that oneous once you actually get there, you just need to get on vacation so you can relax! and if I'm wrong my apologies, but you just sounded like you really needed a little stress relief.

After above saying I do believe some of the anecdotal evidence about WDW crowding this spring I'm now going to turn around 180 degrees  and totally agree with Jenn about the fact that the buses seem to take longer mostly just being random chance is 100% right on the money, with the exception of the times there actually have been reasons for which they expected disruptions, like during the roll out of the new bus deployment system last year.

As to the pin codes and Lisa's frustration with them (I believe I heard her say "I Hate Everything"), there are some separate Room codes that are not PINs as I belive PIN is being used to stand for Personal  Identification Number, and the room rate codes she may have heard folks get excited about are probably NOT PINS, but the booking codes for various discounts like those available to AAA members Annual Pass Holders, or in some cases even the general public.

As for Jens specific PIN offer, you mentioned that you got it ON A POSTCARD!!! I'm the WDW postcard collecting guy! I'd love a scan of the card you got! If you can send me scans or photos of both sides to use for the web, I can make any personally identifying information unreadable if you are not sure of how to do that, or I can give you ideas on how to do that if it is something you would be willing to tackle (just putting text over the portion of the photo where your name and address were often works, doing a "cut" of a small box on those lines of ID information works too. Also for ANYONE reading this who has old ROOM RATE special/Pin code or  GUEST FEEDBACK/SURVEY postcards, please share scans or photos, these are the HARDEST types of postcards to collect so even any scans of photos are always appreciated!

As to the Sanrio land memories, it's always fun to hear Jen's interactions with the whatchamacalit, and the pug  putting in his 2 cents worth didn't hurt things either.
bigBrian, DisneyWorld, WDW, Walt

The Wheels on the Classical music bus go Rondo and Rondo

Not too long ago I featured some audio of Nova Era a group that used to perform in the World showcases Epcot pavilion at Epcot, on one of the podcasts I do.

listen here:

, but that wasn't the only group that ever performed classical music in the Italy pavilion, though some of the others that performed there used "traditional" instruments rather that the updated electronic counterparts that Nova Era uses, here is a photo of a group we saw perform there back on my first trip to WDW in 1996, though I swear I think the guy on the cello here MIGHT be the same guy that plays in Nova Era!

Looking at the history of Epcot live entertainment it looks like this group is Rondo Veneziano - which was an "Epcot Version" of a long time popular classical group of the same name.

quote Underlining added by ME
For a while, Rondo Veneziano had a group that performed at Walt Disney World in EPCOT Center at the Italy pavilion. The photo at left shows the group at Disney in front of the stage where they performed. Sadly, they no longer perform there, however, for a few years afterwards, a new group, Nova Era performed on the same stage and utilized some of the members who played for the Disney edition of Rondo Veneziano.

later after they dropped their affiliation with that organization (and I'm speculating also dropped perhaps some type of annual licensing fee, they may have paid the original group? ), and Disney made the group their own by simply changing the name to Rondo Masquerade:


When I wrote that post this morning it occurred to me that it might not hurt to use the email for the "Nova Era Fan Club" I found on their site
they emailed me back today in fact according to the header the groups founder Andres Roca is the one who replied and he confirmed my suspicion about the Cellist Daniele from Venice.

Hello Brian,

Thank you for your email and for enjoying our music. Our current Cellist was a member of a previous group in 1996.

Nova Era

How cool is that!

bigBrian, DisneyWorld, WDW, Walt

The Trip without a Camera...but NOT without photos Part 1

In October of 2007 hundreds of long-time Disney parks fans gather at Walt Disney World for the Celebration of Epcot's 25th Anniversary, for many of the internet fan groups this gathering will be remembered forever as "Celebration 25" but for me the short 2-day trip I took for this celebration has another nickname, "The Trip Without A Camera" as once I checked into my room at All Star Movies I proceeded to unpack from my bag, my batteries, cords, memory cards, and slowly came to the realization that I had left my camera at home!.

Still if I had to leave the camera at home for one trip I certainly picked the right one! As for most of the events of that trip I was surrounded by other members of the WDW internet fan community, at an event like the Epcot re-dedication I was surrounded by MANY fans who had their own cameras trained on the same sights I was seeing. Anyhow there are a quite a few photos that actually go with this trip but for this post I just want to concentrate on those taken of one set of the Voices of Liberty that I recorded on September 30th, not only did the photographer get a nice set of photos of the folks as I recorded them but you can even see me in some of the photos, I'm seated on the floor a few rows ahead of the photographer, and you can even see my ear microphones in a few of the photos (I'm in a lime green shirt). The photographer, Amanda, goes by Aeillill on Flickr:

Amanda has eclectic tastes and a look through her photo sets will show it, and she also clearly has a love of Disney as probably OVER half of her over 6000 photos are of her Disney trips.
and the photos below are part of her Disney 2007 set which itself has just a bit over 1000 photos in it!

If you'd like to hear the set recorded on that day here's a link:

Above: This is probably the best shot of the Ear mics

Below: This was the only shot of the group where she got the conductor (Dirk, far right, in the shot).