Disney-MGM, Disney’s Hollywood Studios…

DSCN3146May 1st, 1989 was a red letter day for Walt Disney World – Already an actual, working production studio, Disney-MGM Studios, the theme park, opened to the public.  I wasn’t there that day, but managed to make my very first visit to Walt Disney World just a few months later (as a newlywed) in early 1990.  Constantly changing, the studios bears little resemblance today to the park it was originally – and it’s about to change even more.  On this, the Studios’ 26th anniversary, I wanted to take a moment and reflect on some of my favorite things, past and present, about this unique corner of the World.

It was Disney-MGM Studios – then it was Disney’s Hollywood Studios – next it will be ????RM-Gertie

Dino Gertie and Min & Bills Dockside Diner – These fixtures, original to the park, are rumored to be on the chopping block to make room for the future Star Wars Land.  RM-Min&Bill'sIf the predictions are true, and Gertie and Min & Bill’s have to move on, I’ll live over it.  But I’ll miss them every time I visit the park.  I know I will…won’t you? Citizens of Hollywood at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Citizens of Hollywood – I wrote about them in this post, but I really can’t say enough about how much “Streetmosphere” adds to the Studios’ unique charm.  This is absolutely one of those things Disney doesn’t have to do, but we’re so glad they feel the need.  If there ever comes a day when we can no longer find these live, impromptu, amazing character actors roaming the park and treating guests to such a special form of entertainment, that will be a truly dark day for Walt Disney World indeed.  RM-Indiana-Jones

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular – Yes, I’ve heard that this attraction’s days may be numbered and the last time I saw the show, it left a lot to be desired (the giant “stone” ball was missing from the routine) – but it’s Indy!  I’ll save you from yet another rant.  You can catch the first one here.  IMG_6923

MuppetVision 3D – I was virtually raised by Muppets, so this area of the park will always be near and dear to my heart.  Oh, I hear the whining about the show needing an update, but at my age, nostalgia is an important component to my Disney vacation happiness and I’ll root for the Muppets to remain unchanged for as long as they can.RM-Maroon-Studios RM-Acme-Bricks

Roger Rabbit – Once so well-represented in the Studios, then virtually obliterated, Roger, Jessica, and the Toons and props from the movie were available for photo ops and tons of fun.  If you look carefully, you can still find evidence of their existence, but nowhere close to the extent that was once there.

Sure, I love Toy Story Midway Mania, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Rock’n’ Roller Coaster, but my earliest memories of the Studios – the ones I always look back on when I’m there – made up the list.  Honorable mentions to the Hunchback of Notre Dame (A Musical Adventure) stage show (1996-2002) and Four for a Dollar.  The Hunchback show was so much better than the movie and we found it wildly entertaining as we did the a capella singing group Four for a Dollar.

What memories are YOU celebrating today on Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ anniversary?




Walt Disney, Horses, & Tri-Circle-D

RM-Tri-Circle-D-Walt-Disney-and-HorsesAfter our recent exploration of Fort Wilderness via Segway (Wilderness Back Trail Adventure), we were elated to have discovered all the amazing treasures we never knew existed at Fort Wilderness.  We also felt sorry that we’d previously only considered Fort Wilderness “the place we go to see Hoop-Dee-Doo”.

One of the best tour stops was at the Tri-Circle-D stables where we had the pleasure to hear more about the amazing horses of Walt Disney World and see some incredible Disney memorabilia.  Our guide was knowledgeable and enthusiastic as he took the time to show us the wonderful treasures found there.  I can’t believe we’d never heard details about Walt Disney’s love of horses and how they shaped is life.RM-Tri-Circle-D-Stable-Display-Case RM-Tri-Circle-D-Stable-Photo-Alcove

Just inside the entrance to the stable, an alcove on the right displays a variety of objects and photos.  The pictures capture a very happy Walt Disney and clearly show his love for horses.  RM-Tri-Circle-D-Pic-Walt-and-Polo RM-Tri-Circle-D-Pic-Walt-and-Wagon RM-Tri-Circle-D-Pic-Western-WaltAn avid horseman, Walt suffered a serious polo injury in the late 1930’s that fractured vertebrae in his neck.  This injury prevented him from continuing to enjoy riding, caused him lifelong pain that worsened over the years, and culminated in Walt seeking medical attention to relieve the unbearable discomfort caused by a buildup of calcium deposits on the back of his neck.  Hospital x-rays led to the discovery of the lung cancer that brought about the end of Walt Disney’s life.  A sad story, true, but seeing Walt Disney’s beaming face in picture after picture with his beloved horses was unexpectedly moving.

On the left side of the stable, before the stalls begin, is an enclosed area that houses the Dragon Calliope.  RM-Tri-Circle-D-Disney-Calliope RM-Tri-Circle-D-Pic-Calliope-in-UseThis gorgeous “vehicle” is described on the Disney website as, “the horse-drawn musical instrument that Walt Disney purchased for the Mickey Mouse Club Circus Parade at Disneyland Park in the 1950s.” – It might not sound like much, but it was really beautiful in person with amazing details.RM-Tri-Circle-D-Stables

And, as you’d expect, the stables also house actual horses.  Again, from the Disney site, the horses of Disney World include, “Appaloosas, Arabians, Belgians, Clydesdales, paint horses, Percherons and quarter horses, plus Shetland ponies”.  RM-Tri-Circle-D-Name-Sign-RookieA sign on each stall displays the horse’s name and any special dietary needs they possess.  Guests are prohibited from petting or feeding the horses, but that didn’t keep those gorgeous animals from being friendly and curious enough to take a break from munching hay to stick their heads out and say hello.  RM-Tri-Circle-D-Horse-Black RM-Tri-Circle-D-HorseImpeccably clean and well-tended, both the stable and its residents are as perfect as they can be.RM-Tri-Circle-D-Horse-Care RM-Tri-Circle-D-Harness RM-Tri-Circle-D-Hidden-Mickey

If you’re planning a Walt Disney World vacation and find a free afternoon to spare, I can’t think of a better way to experience some very special Disney magic than by visiting Fort Wilderness and the Tri-Circle-D Ranch.  If you’re interested in horseback riding, wagon, or carriage rides, details are available here.

Have you seen the Tri-Circle-D at Fort Wilderness?  What do you remember most about it?

Disney World History – Out With the Old

RM-Mickey's-PhilharMagicI am so pleased to welcome back Andrew Carrieri as a guest today!  Andrew is passionate about history and can always be counted on to offer up some awesome tidbits of Disney history for our enjoyment.  I want to hear from you!  What do you think when Disney replaces a ride or attraction with the latest and most popular movie or character?  What attractions are at Walt Disney World now that you’d like to see replaced with a newer theme? (Andrew can be found as a contributing writer at The Mouse For Less and on Twitter @AndrewCfran)

Disney World History – Out With the Old

Throughout the history of Walt Disney World, numerous attractions have been shuttered and replaced by attractions that are more connected to current happenings. For example, in 1994, Disney replaced “Magic Journeys,” a 3D show in Fantasyland, with a stage show called “The Legend of The Lion King.” This show, a retelling of The Lion King, which was at the time Disney’s new hit movie, entertained guests until 2002, when it closed to be converted to “Mickey’s PhilharMagic.”

Below, I will discuss three other instances where Disney changed attractions based on current trends.

1) “Stitch’s Great Escape” replaces “ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter” (2004): Despite being the centerpiece of the 1995 Tomorrowland overhaul, “Alien Encounter,” a theater-in-the-round show, never caught on because many guests deemed it too scary, especially considering its location in the Magic Kingdom.RM-Stitch's-Great-Escape

“Alien Encounter” closed in late 2003 and was replaced by “Stitch’s Great Escape,” another theater-in-the-round show, which features the alien from Disney’s 2002 film Lilo and Stitch. The attraction’s Stitch animatronic is arguably the best animatronic ever created by Disney, but “Stitch’s Great Escape” has received consistently bad reviews since its debut. People say it stinks, and I would agree with this assessment because Stitch’s chili dog burp doesn’t smell that great. Still, I thought the show was funny and an upgrade over “Alien Encounter,” which I ironically found extremely boring the one time I experienced it; I didn’t get the hype. To each their own.

2) “Captain EO” replaces “Honey I Shrunk the Audience” (2010): What goes around comes around. Following Michael Jackson’s 2009 death, Disney brought “Captain EO,” the 3D show starring Jackson, back to its old stomping grounds at Epcot’s Magic Eye Theater, replacing the long-running “Honey I Shrunk the Audience.” Ironically, “Honey I Shrunk the Audience” had replaced “Captain EO” in 1994 following the latter show’s original eight-year run at the Magic Eye Theater.

“Honey I Shrunk the Audience” had aged, and “Captain EO” was a nice throwback for a tribute, but I think it has remained too long and should be replaced by a new attraction. On a side note, 2016 will mark Captain EO’s thirtieth birthday!Malestrom / Norway Pavilion / World Showcase

3) Frozen Attraction to replace “Maelstrom” (Scheduled for 2016): Frozen has seemingly been the biggest thing since sliced bread over the past two years, so in 2014, Disney closed “Maelstrom,” a boat ride at Epcot’s Norway Pavilion since 1988, to construct an attraction based on Frozen.Princess-Half-Mile-6-Sign

“Maelstrom” had a cult following, but it was far from a headliner or even a classic attraction that Walt Disney himself developed, such as “The Carousel of Progress.” The opposition to the change, therefore, seems to be based more on the idea that Epcot’s World Showcase should feature authentic content about the various countries, not attractions based on fantasy.

I am ambivalent to the change, but I think a Frozen attraction would be a better fit for the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland, which I think could use more dark rides to compete with the vast array of these attractions present in its Disneyland counterpart.

Guide Maps for Walt Disney World Circa1994

Once again, Nick brings us a blast-from-the-past for this week’s Saturday article.  How old were you in 1994?  I turned 30 that year and our daughter, Megan, was still an only child.  I was rockin’ enormous shoulder-pads with every outfit and didn’t have a single gray hair (yet).  What do you remember most about that time?

Guide Maps for Walt Disney World Circa1994

Guide maps are like a snapshot of a moment in time. A time machine if you will. These Walt Disney World Guide maps show a wide range of attractions that I dearly miss. I truly believe the Epcot of today doesn’t hold a candle to 1994’s version.

And don’t even get me started on Disney’s Hollywood Studios’, (then Disney-MGM Studios) current incarnations of the Backstage Studio Tour and the Magic of Disney Animation.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love Walt Disney World, but believe many of the best attractions were around in the early to mid 90’s.

The Magic Kingdom is better than the 1994 version due to the New Fantasyland expansion.

Epcot ’94.
My favorite ride, perhaps of all time, was Horizons. Test Track was a great ride, but I dislike the new version, and it makes me miss World of Motion. Then there was Journey Into Imagination, with Dreamfinder and Figment. I like today’s version, but only because of Figment, and nostalgia. It is a shadow of it’s former self.

Speaking of shadows, if you were fortunate to have gone to Walt Disney World during the new Golden Age of Disney Animation, you may have actually been able to see actual animated movies being produced at The  Magic of Disney Animation at Disney-MGM Studios.

Of course, one major thing Walt Disney World didn’t have in 1994, was Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which is an amazing park. Sometimes nostalgia gets the best of us. What was your favorite period of Walt Disney World’s history?