May 17, 2013
Location: Fantasyland, Magic Kingdom
This week we are celebrating all things Pap, our
Gamer Tuesday writer on the site. It just happens that two of Pap's
favorite things, Fantasyland and Sword in the Stone, mesh up
together to create one amazing Fun Find! I know what you're
thinking, "We already know about the sword in the stone in front of
the carousel!" True, but that isn't the only connection to the
classic 1963 film found throughout Fantasyland.
Back in January of 2012 test runs for the new
interactive game Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom debuted with
interactive portals found throughout the park. While some parts of
the park remained practically unchanged, other sections were
drastically changed and rethemed to allow these portals to blend in
with the rest of the area. Let's head over to Sir Mickey's to see
how one window has changed.
Previous to Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom moving
into the Magic Kingdom, the window in the back of Sir Mickey's
featured Minnie Mouse's lady in waiting, Daisy Duck preparing for
the day as seen below:
Unfortunately when Sorcerers came into the park,
Daisy had to go to make way for a Disney character that had up to
this point been forgotten by most: Archimedes, Merlin's loyal owl!
So next time while at Sir Mickey's, make sure you stop by this
window to take a look at Archimedes' bird house!
May 10, 2013
Location: Fantasyland, Magic Kingdom
For over one hundred weeks I've been coming on here
and talking about how everything throughout the Disney parks and
resorts has some sort of meaning. Each painting, scratch, and plant
has a story behind it and a reason for being where it is. Today we
are going to talk about a restroom.
As many of you may know, back in 2004 I was on the
Walt Disney World College Program working in Fantasyland in one of
the greatest roles ever: custodial. The one downside of this role
was bathroom duty, which was far and few between for me, but
disgusting none the less. One of the restrooms I was often in charge
of was adjacent to Peter Pan's Flight and the Columbia Harbour
House. While inside I would often notice the yodeling song which was
played overhead and found it odd that this song wasn't found in any
Disney film, much like the rest of the music in Fantasyland.
What was even more odd to me was the fact that just
outside the restroom was a painting that just seemed out of place
with the rest of the land:
I know: what's up with the deer? The most obvious
thing to go to is Bambi, but how does Bambi tie in with the idea of
Fantasyland? Well, he doesn't. In fact, this is just a random
painting of a deer. So what's the story behind it? That's where
things get more confusing. Prior to the Tangled area joining
Fantasyland earlier this year, the area that sat across from this
painting was themed around the old Skyway building.
The Skyway load building in Fantasyland was set up
to be reminiscent of ski lift one may find in the Alps. While this
doesn't exactly explain the deer it does help make the connection to
the Matterhorn in Disneyland's own Fantasyland. While guests wander
through the area near the Matterhorn in Disneyland they may notice a
few things. One, the music which plays in the Fantasyland restrooms
in Magic Kingdom (yodeling and all) can be found throughout this
area. And even more importantly, the picture of the deer can also be
found on a building just across from the entrance to the Matterhorn.
Random? Definitely, but it just goes to show that
the original park and the Magic Kingdom are connected in some not so
obvious ways. So next time you're in the parks, keep your eyes
peeled for items that just don't seem to fit. You may just be
looking at a connection to Disneyland!
May 3, 2013
Location: Frontierland, Magic Kingdom
For over three years I've spent countless hours
dedicating my time to this website and my book. The basis of that
research and work has revolved around a simple idea: where can you
find Disney characters in Walt Disney World? Today, we are ignoring
that and talking about where you can't find a character!
In 1963, Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room became
the first attraction to feature audio-animatronics. The attraction
was a huge hit and has become a Disney classic, but a mystery was
born. While the carousel of "girls" comes down, Jose and the other
hosts acknowledge most of them by name and then one of the birds
offers the question, "I wonder what happened to Rosita?" Today we
are going to get a little closer to finding out the answer to that
Recently, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad's queue went
through a massive refurb which included several new interactive
items. Shortly before merging with the Fastpass line, guests pass
underneath several bird cages that come in many different shapes and
sizes. While most aren't too detailed, one cage has an interesting
detail that should be noted:
As you can see, Rosita isn't here, but we at least
know where she's been hiding at all these years. Sadly, the search for
April 26, 2013
Location: Africa, Disney's Animal Kingdom
This week Disney's Animal Kingdom celebrated it's
15th anniversary! In honor of this event, we will be traveling over
to the Animal Kingdom that embodies the spirit of the park more than
any other: Africa!
Most guests are often eager to get from one
attraction to the next in the park without exploring some of the
true treasures of the park: the walking trails. We've briefly
touched on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in the past, but
today we will be taking a look at not the storyline that goes with
it, but the rockwork. Rockwork? That's right! The rockwork found
throughout Disney's Animal Kingdom is extremely detailed to the
point that most guests can't tell what is real and what isn't.
In fact, we've taken a look both in my book, From
Screen To Theme, and on this site about how the rockwork in Disney's
Animal Kingdom has been so detailed it shapes different Disney
characters (In the past we've looked at Baloo from The Jungle Book
and Mrs. Potts and Chip from Beauty and the Beast). While in the
gorilla section of Pangani Forest you will cross a bridge from the
inside viewing area to the exterior viewing area. Just after passing
the bridge, turn to your right and look towards the entrance to the
bridge to find the following rock formation:
What is that? The real question is who is it? Well,
with a little imagination you will see that that, my friends, is
Jafar from 1992's Aladdin!
April 19, 2013
Location: Tomorrowland, Magic Kingdom
If you are like most Disney fans you have seen the
1964 classic film, Mary Poppins. According to Walt they used every
trick they had in the book to make the film possible. That included
special effects, animation, live action, and as we can see in the
picture below, Audio-Animatronics:
Audio-Animatronics made their debut the previous
year in Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room and to make Julie Andrews'
character seem practically perfect in every way, they had a robin
land upon her finger which she sang "A Spoonful of Sugar" with. To
make this effect possible, Julie had to wear special clothing filled
with wires galore to make the robin work properly.
So how does this connect with Tomorrowland? Well,
1964 was a very big year for the Disney Company. With Mary Poppins
being a huge hit in theaters, Disney also had a huge hit in New York
in the 1964 World's Fair. Using every trick he had to make popular
shows like It's a Small World and Carousel of Progress possible by
borrowing ideas and unused items around the studio. One of those
unused items? A robin that was used in the filming of Mary Poppins
the year before.
As the Carousel of Progress eventually made its way
to Disneyland and eventually Walt Disney World several parts of the
set were changed, but our dear friend the robin remained. So next
time you hear John point out that it "looks like the robins are
getting ready to celebrate Valentine's Day" take a look out the
window on your left. Here you will find the robin he is referring to
which is the same that once sat on Mary Poppins finger while singing
about A Spoonful of Sugar!
April 12, 2013
Location: Muppet Vision 3-D, Disney's Hollywood
This past Monday Disney lost one of its most beloved
Disney Legends, Annette Funicello. Annette was one of the original
stars of the Mickey Mouse Club, handpicked by Walt himself, who
would eventually go on to a successful singing and acting career.
From singing Tall Paul to starring in The Monkey's Uncle, Annette
had a truly memorable career with Disney.
To show their love for Annette, Imagineers added a
detail to the preshow area of Muppet Vision 3-D when the attraction
first opened. While we've gone into a lot of detail about this
amazingly detailed area, I think it'd only be appropriate to focus
on this object right here in Annette's memory:
Just after passing through the hallway and entering
the room, this net can be found almost immediately to your left. So
what is it exactly? Well, those orange and green cubes are blocks of
Jello. I know, pretty random, but this is the Muppets we are talking
about here. So what on earth does this mean? Well, since it is the
Muppets it's a clever play on words. This is indeed a net full of
Jello, a very close name to Annette Funicello!
April 5, 2013
Location: Storybook Circus, Magic Kingdom
It's always when Disney gives nods to their past
throughout the parks. In the past we have discussed obscure
connections between Epcot and Disneyland park and taken a look
hidden fire hydrants in Fantasyland. Today, we are brining those
two topics together by taking a look at this Fun Find in Big Top
Souvenirs. While inside the shop you can find a few different spots
that hold fire extinguishers that look like this:
I know what you are thinking: What's so special
about this? It's just simply a nicely designed cover for a Fire
Extinguisher. You are partly right. While several of the items found
here are obvious: Storybook Circus (the land we are in), FD (stands
for Fire Department), and Fire Extinguisher (I don't need to explain
this one), one item has a special meaning: Firehouse Five.
So what exactly is Firehouse Five? Back when
Disneyland first opened, Walt was recruiting several people who
worked at the Studio to help him out in some way, shape, or form.
While several of these people were Imagineers, others helped out in
the entertainment department. One of the entertainment groups that
were established consisted of Disney animators including Nine Old
Men members Ward Kimball (leader of the group) and Frank Thomas (on
The name of the group? Firehouse Five Plus Two. The
group, which consisted of several different members throughout the
years, performed for over twenty years in Disneyland. In addition to
that, the group made appearances on the Mickey Mouse Club, the Goofy
short, How to Dance, and even got a nod in The Princess and the Frog
with the band, The Firehouse Five Plus Lou! Not a bad meaning for a
March 29, 2013
Location: Fantasyland, Magic Kingdom
Today we will be taking a look at a Fun Find that is
literally being walked all over. I know! Right off the bat you are
thinking, what on earth are you talking about? This picture will
I mean, look at these people! Just walking right
over these stones as if they have no importance to Disney history
whatsoever. Wait, they have importance to Disney history? You better
believe they do! It's time to travel back in time to discover what
on earth these circular rock formations found throughout Fantasyland
are for. And no, they aren't just drains.
This picture, as taken by my mother back in 1974, is
of the old Skyway building. The Skyway, which transported guests
from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland, and vice versa, was open from 1971
through 1999 and gave guests an unbelievable view of Fantasyland
while inside the loading station. Want an example?
The above picture was taken by yours truly while on
the Walt Disney World College Program back in 2004. With the five
years passing between the attractions closing and this picture being
taken, you can already tell that one major part of the attraction is
missing. Actually, I should say THE attraction is missing. While
looking out there's not a trace of anything signifying what this
building once was. Or is there?
If you take a look at our first picture once again
you will notice the circular stone pattern found in the groundwork.
This is just one of several found throughout Fantasyland and it
actually served a major purpose for the Skyway. This is where the
giant poles which held up the Skyway buckets would be placed into
the ground. When the Skyway disappeared in 1999, the rock
formations, which still reflect the architecture of the land,
remained in place along with the drains that sat at the foundation
of the poles.
So next time you are walking through Fantasyland and
feeling reminiscent about attractions that no longer exist in this
wondrous land (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Snow White's Scary
Adventures, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, etc.), take a look at the ground
and smile. While the Skyway may not still soar over Fantasyland like
Dumbo, the attraction still lives on. Even if people do just walk
right over it without realizing they are stepping on history.
March 22, 2013
Location: Port Orleans Riverside
One thing Disney has always been known for is
remembering their roots. Sure, you can trace the history of the
Disney Company back to 1923, but as Walt always pointed out, "it was
all started by a mouse." It's actually quite amazing realizing that
Walt's big turning point in his career didn't occur until five years
into his company. What's even more impressive is how one simple
cartoon, Steamboat Willie, would change not just the course of a
company, but American Culture!
Steamboat Willie, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse's
big screen debut, focuses on Mickey piloting a steamboat down the
river until he is caught by Pete. Pete puts him through different
tasks, each which Mickey has fun doing, but ultimately gets him into
trouble. Over at Port Orleans, Disney celebrates a time when "going
down the bayou" was just simply a way of life. Within the majority
of the rooms, guests can find giant crates (which would be found on
steamboats like the one Mickey drives). While the crates actually
have several fun finds upon them, the one that we are taking a look
at today is the name of the crate company:
Willie Inc. is a nice little reference to Steamboat
Willie, which much like the establishment date of Willie Inc., was
released in 1928!
March 15, 2013
Location: Once Upon A Toy, Downtown Disney
For over two years we've been taking a look at
different video game experiences Disney has to offer with our Fun
Find Friday articles, and with good reason too. Disney and gaming
have gone hand in hand for quite some time. In fact, long before
Ralph wrecked it, or Mickey made appearances on Nintendo, Disney
board games were a huge hit with Disney fans. Some of these board
games focused on the themed parks, while others focused on Mickey,
and there were even some dealing with the Mickey Mouse Club!
So where are we going with all this? Well, in
Downtown Disney there's a store that is devoted to Disney and its
relationship with toys: Once Upon a Toy! Even more importantly,
after entering through the main entrance, guests are treated by
entering a room devoted to showcasing Disney's love of Board Games!
The walls consist of giant monopoly boards, while the walls appear
to have giant board game boxes emerging from them! Some of these
board game boxes are based off of very real games, while others are
games that would delight any Disney fan if they existed. Let's take
a look and see what types of games Disney could have given us!
The games scattered around the room are Magic Skyway
(a monorail game), Flying Elephants on Parade (Dumbo), Band of Bears
(Country Bear Jamboree), Tropical Serenade (The Enchanted Tiki
Room), You Can Fly (Peter Pan), The Happiest Cruise (it's a small
world), The Laughing Place (Song of the South/Splash Mountain), and
Grim Grinning Ghosts (The Haunted Mansion).
I know what you're thinking. How do we get a hold of
these games? Well, while these games are fictitious, you're in luck!
The bottom of the boxes are shown which have the game rules exposed!
Naturally, due to these games not actually existing, the Imagineers
went wild with the rules of the games due to them knowing that these
games don't actually exist. For instance, one of the instructions on
The Laughing Place game reads, "Players take off their shoes and set
them aside while the host of the party silently prays that he or she
has well-groomed friends."
So next time you are in Once Upon a Toy take a few
extra minutes to read the rules of the game for some good laughs.
But as always in life, keep in mind Rule #5 of Grim Grinning Ghosts:
"If you get all four of your pegs across the FINISH LINE first, you
win! Ah. How sweet it is! Who needs a weekend home in the country,
anyway? Did you ever think you would enjoy this kind of success? If
you play again, the loser goes first - just our way of helping the
little guy stick it to the big shots, we guess."
March 8, 2013
Location: Echo Lake, Disney's Hollywood Studios
In our everyday lives (outside of Walt Disney World)
we seem to come into contact with warning signs on an almost
minutely basis. "Caution: Contents may be hot." "Open away from
Face." "Do not feed the animals." You get the point.
The amazing thing is, while in the Disney parks you
don't come across as many warning signs. Sure, they are there, but
they mostly come in the shape of Cast Members making sure you stay
safe instead of ruining the theme of the parks by plastering DO NOT
signs on every inch of the park. Every now and then, however, you'll
come in contact with a warning sign and it'll make you scratch your
head on why it's so blatantly obviously. For example:
Theming goes a long way inside the Disney parks, and
the above picture is one of my favorite finds of them all. Here we
have a very straightforward message: Warning! Do Not Pull Rope!
However, the word Not is crossed off which makes the sign read,
Warning! Do Pull Rope! I know what you're thinking, "This is just
confusing! What do you want me to do Disney!?!?"
The answer is simple. Disney does a great job of
enforcing the rules without throwing the rules at your face. It's
almost like entering a museum at times where you see these priceless
artifacts and you know you aren't suppose to touch them so, in fear
of being tossed out, you don't. Same thing occurs at Disney. The
rules are set and they really don't need to remind you not to touch
things, so why make a big deal out of not pulling the rope?
Well, if you pull the rope, you'll find out. Below,
at the archeological dig occurring, a British man is actually
handling some of those priceless artifacts you may find in a museum,
but the only way you can know that is by pulling the rope. So next
time you are walking past this dig site, pull the rope and just wait
to listen to the trouble that comes with you simply reading a sign
which insists that you do, in fact, pull the rope!
March 1, 2013
Location: Asia, Disney's Animal Kingdom
It's time to talk Disney history and how it connects
to the parks today! When Disney's Animal Kingdom first opened, the
Asia section of the park was still in the construction phase and
wouldn't open up until early in 1999 with the signature attraction
which was to be known as Tiger Rapids Run!
I know what you're thinking, "Tiger Rapids Run!?!?"
That's right, Tiger Rapids Run was originally the planned name for
Kali River Rapids (and it was continued to be known as Tiger Rapids
Run until shortly before Asia opened). So why did Tiger Rapids Run
switch their name over to Kali River Rapids?
The answer is quite simple: Although guests could
see tigers while trekking through the woods on the Maharajah Jungle
Trek next door, no tigers could be seen while white water rafting.
Due to this, Disney opted for a name change so they would not
confuse guests and give them false hope of seeing tigers on the
attraction when in reality there were none to be seen.
So how does this history lesson connect us to
current day Kali River Rapids? Well, despite the lack of real tigers
seen throughout the attraction, there is one visible tiger guests
can find, which is located at the top of the first lift of the
As soon as you reach the top you'll find one of the details that
never disappeared from the original theme: a tiger. Once at the top
of the lift you will find a rock formation, along with waterfall,
directly in front of your path. If you pay close attention to the
rock formation you will realize that the rockwork actually forms the
face of a tiger!
So there you have it, while Tiger Rapids Run never came into being,
you can still find one tiger on Kali River Rapids just waiting to be