2004 - Edition Two
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<< Introduction >>
Wow! Do we ever have a jammed packed
issue this month? For that reason I'll forgo any babbling and proceed. Not
only will we be informing you on the latest specials offered at Radisson
Resort Parkway - Orlando Maingate - but many INTERCOT staff members have
been touring Florida throughout the month of May.
Mikki & Andrew will take us all to Kennedy Space Center. Wendy*Darling
attended the grand opening of Saratoga Springs Resort and has a firsthand
report. Carol went on a journey looking for Ewoks & Wookies and thanks to
Ron we'll find out just what did happen to those Fort Wilderness trains.
Gary adds: Oh boy! It's an
almost all space issue!
Vacation Specials >>
Rates were just reduced at the Radisson Resort
Parkway - Orlando Disney Maingate for dates of 5/31/04
- 6/13/04 to $75.95. Free upgrade to Deluxe Pool view still applies with "UPGR"
promo code on reservation.
RADISSON RESORT PARKWAY - ORLANDO DISNEY MAINGATE – an Orlando hotel near
Disney, is located on 20 acres of beautiful tropically landscaped grounds and is
only 1.5 miles from WALT DISNEY WORLD. Our Orlando resort hotel offers
complimentary, scheduled attraction shuttle service for guests to the Disney
Ticket and Transportation Center, plus Universal Orlando and Sea World theme
parks (excludes group transfers). Our giant free form pool with waterfall and
waterslide offers fun and relaxation for those on family vacations and business
travel. There is also a second free form heated pool, two outdoor whirlpools and
a kiddies wading pool at the hotel. 718 stylish hotel guest rooms, two
restaurants offering a Kids Eat Free Program and extensive recreational
facilities make Radisson Resort Parkway - Orlando Disney Maingate one of
Orlando's Best Kept Secrets!
Wars Weekend with PolyGirl40 >>
My son and I made a trip to MGM to celebrate the opening
weekend of the Star Wars event and we had a BLAST! I thought I'd offer up some
tips for those of you considering making the trek in the future.
I must say it pays to be organized and prepared. We knew we had to head right to
the Millionaire attraction to get Fast Passes for the autograph signings. It is
imperative to obtain these passes first and foremost in the morning. You are
allowed one pass per park ticket. If you want the second celebrity you must go
to the end of the line and start again. Everyone must stand in line with their
ticket to get a pass.
There are 3 signing opportunities during the day. They are limited to 45 minute
sessions. Once the Fast Passes are gone – no more are issued. They do offer a
stand-by line. However, an autograph is not guaranteed. It is based on time
allowance after Fast Pass guests are finished.
The autograph sessions were very organized and the celebrities took a wee
portion of time to visit with each quest.
there is a motorcade that brings the celebrities into the event.
The line for merchandise was HUGE at Tatooine Traders. It was out the door and
around the corner. Since the store is small they were limiting the amount of
people allowed in.
The lines are much smaller in other locations. Items are available at the
Backlot Express Cart, Tatooine Traders, Golden Age Souvenirs, Top Hat Cart and
the Sorcerer's Hat has the Star Wars collectible pins. A lot of the merchandise
sells out quickly – so consider doing your shopping early and have it sent to
the front of the park to Package Pick-up. As luck would have it Cast Members
were just setting up the cart at the Backlot Express when we went by. We scored
almost all of the Star Wars Weekend exclusive merchandise in one hit.
Jedi Mickey & Characters:
Jedi Mickey is taking over for Sorcerer Mickey during Star Wars Weekends. You
can see him on
Jedi Mickey Avenue
from 9:00AM through 6:00PM. A professional photographer is there if you care to
purchase a picture. You read that correctly. They have renamed Mickey Avenue
for the festivities.
Star Wars Characters were plentiful. They can be found along Jedi Mickey Avenue
and by the Star Tours attractions. They were in true form. One morning we were
approached by 2 Jawas. One took Jeremy’s shopping bag and tried to trade it for
an old used photo pickup receipt. It was hysterical. The little scavengers went
through everything and ran off with Jer's goodies. They finally realized that he
was not going to bargain and returned the goods.
The theater hosts 2 shows during the Weekend; “The Stars of the Saga Talk Show”
and “Behind the Force”. Both were fantastic and not to be missed. During the
Stars of the Saga Talk Show the 2 visiting celebrities have a Q&A session with a
host. Each guest was brought out and asked individual questions. Then the floor
was opened up to the audience. (5x7 cards were offered at the entrance. Guests
could jot down a question and the staff would hand pick the “good ones”) It was
very interesting. We found out that Jeremy Bulloch did not get to keep his Boba
Fett suit and the strangest thing Jake Lloyd has ever been asked to autograph
was someone's baby! I have to add that the theater was being patrolled by
Stormtroopers and they did some pre-show antics. It was all great.
Behind the Force takes you behind the scenes with George Lucas and his crew
while during the production of the Star Wars films. You also see out-takes from
the movies and a few snippets of Episode III. It’s an excellent show for any
fan. In fact we saw it twice!
The Tatooine Trivia Trials starts at 6PM for participants’ ages 12+.
Registration begins at 9AM at the Information desk. The trials take place on the
Star Wars stage beside Star Tours. I wished my son registered. He thought the
questions would be obscure and difficult. As it turns out he never missed a
question until the very last one. Too bad he watched from the audience. He would
have loved the special pins sets given out as prizes.
There is another trivia contest held earlier in the day for younger fans. The
Padawan Mind Challenge is for ages 11 and under. Registration also begins at 9AM
and the challenge starts at noon.
Star Wars Weekends Hyperspace Hoopla:
The Hyperspace Hoopla tops off the evening at 6:30PM. Characters
are brought out onto the stage throughout the show. It lasts 30 minutes and was
a hoot. Many of the characters go into the audience. In fact midway through the
festivities I felt a tap on my shoulder and turn to find an Ewok. The Ewok took
a major liking to Jeremy. The critter nudged me aside and watched the remainder
of the show with my son. He’d put his arm around Jer, hugging him, and laughing
with him. The last dance of the evening was Y-O-D-A (to the tune of YMCA) Great
Who Wants to Be a
Millionaire - Play It! - Star Wars Edition:
The game is played the same as the regular show – except the questions are all
Star Wars related. Your life lines are Ask the Jedi Council, Phone a
Stormtrooper and 50/50. 2 shows are set aside for the special version. Friday &
Saturday at 11:25AM & 12:25 PM and Sunday at 10:30
& 11:30 AM. Additional Star Wars merchandise is added to the prize mix.
If you are going to MGM for this event do not consider it to be your MGM park
day. There is no way to do the park and see all of the Star Wars stuff. The
various shows and attractions offered will impede on the regular stuff. We took
an entirely separate day to enjoy the other sites and sounds of the Studios.
We had the time of
our lives and cannot wait to go back another year!
May the force be with you!
For more details
on the event, including the daily schedules and photos visit Info Central.
information & Photos
Astronaut Training Experience with Mikki and Andrew Young >>
We completed an Astronaut Training
Experience advertised by NASA. We enjoyed it so much we went back to spend a day
at Kennedy Space Centre and the Astronaut Hall of Fame three days later. We also
appreciated the 12 month passes that came as part of the day package.
Oh, and a first word of warning: NASA is all about abbreviations and acronyms so
from now on it’s ATX, KSC and whatever else we can confuse you with.
The ATX is held at the Astronaut Hall of Fame. Many people, including us, think
of this as a landmark you pass on the way to KSC. Many times, at the end of a
long day at the Cape, we drive back past it and say something like, “we really
should visit that some day” but never do. That was a mistake. It is well worth
The ATX started with introductions and coffee and we were all presented with
team shirts. They were smart black polo shirts and the sizes ordered fitted each
of us well.
We had an additional feature today. As astronaut trainees we were told about the
other new astronaut candidates (yes, AsCans to NASA) being announced the same
day. Later, during lunch, we see live coverage of interviews with the newly
Next came a chance to meet a real astronaut. He was Charlie Walker – who had
been a payload specialist on three Shuttle missions. There is an “Astronaut
Encounter” at the KSC Visitor Centre (and Charlie Walker was the “astronaut of
the day”). There you are in an outdoor arena that could seat hundreds. Here we
were just more than 10 of us finishing our coffee and chatting. We had a chance
to ask questions and have our pictures taken with him.
Then we were on to the physical experiences. There were the “1/6G chair” and the
“multi-access trainer”. The 1/6G chair was more like a harness on a long set of
springs designed to simulate gravity on the moon. We all practiced three ways of
walking the astronauts had trained with. The multi-access trainer was similar to
devices at fairgrounds with rings set in all directions that spin you round lots
of ways at once.
This took us to lunchtime and a fine cold buffet was served. After lunch, we
went on a bus tour of KSC. The highlights are a visit to the ISS Facility to see
actual pieces of the International Space Station waiting to go into orbit (quite
a long line of those at the moment as you may imagine) and a stop at the
entrance to a Shuttle launch pad (much closer than the normal visitor
observation platform). We also saw the Shuttle Landing Facility (NASA-speak for
a rather long and specially reinforced runway). It was special for us as the
runway was in use by jets used by astronauts for training. Our guide suggested
the pilot of one was probably Yvette Collins – the astronaut nominated to
command the first resumed Shuttle flight.
We had a cheerful tour guide whom told us lots about KSC, lots about the
wildlife and lots of anecdotes about space flight (we suspect the one abut the
training simulator for the 0G bathroom was his favourite).
Back at the Hall of Fame, we were assigned places for our simulated Shuttle
flight. There were 6 positions on board the orbiter and 6 in Mission Control. We
all had scripts although some (guess which – commander and pilot) were more
complex and more “mission critical”. By the end we had learned that provided the
instructors can re-set the software often enough it is possible to land an
orbiter with the payload bay doors open and that you can walk away from a
landing where the nose wheel is 4 feet deep in the runway. All we really learned
is that there are good reasons for all that training the astronauts do.
The day ended with presentation of certificates (signed by our astronaut) and
generous “goodie bags”) of KSC and NASA mementoes – including the 12 month pass.
The ATX ended in time for another look round the Hall of Fame.
& Trivia with WDWdriver >>
Last month I shared
some historical trivia with you about the railroad that carried campers
along three and a half miles of track at the Fort Wilderness resort. The
railroad was dismantled and replaced by trams in the late 1970s. So whatever
happened to the four steam engines and twenty coach cars that were so
popular at the campground?
The 4/5 scale engines, reproductions of a Baldwin locomotive built in
Philadelphia in 1882, were not scrapped. For about six years they were kept
in a warehouse while Disney considered possible plans for reintroducing the
trains on a rail line from Fort Wilderness to Wilderness Lodge. When those
plans were finally abandoned the engines were moved to an outdoor lot on
Walt Disney World property. At first they were covered by tarps, but over
the years the tarps developed holes and tears. The engines began to rust in
Florida's tropical humidity. They sat there for more than fifteen years.
Meanwhile, some of the passenger coaches were sold off to community parks or
zoos. Two others were repainted and became ticket booths at Pleasure Island.
Later they were replaced by permanent ticket booth structures.
Finally, an organization came to the rescue. A group of Disney train
enthusiasts led by Michael Broggie had formed an organization called the
Carolwood Pacific Historical Society. The Society's purpose is to preserve
the personal railroad legacy of Walt Disney. Carolwood Pacific was the name
of the miniature railroad that Walt built in his backyard at his house on
The Carolwood Pacific society acquired the engines and remaining coaches
from Disney. They are now being lovingly restored at member's homes in
California and Oregon. While the Fort Wilderness Railroad is long gone you
can still see remnants of the railroad near the campground. And there is one
last remaining piece of the railroad still in full view at Walt Disney
World. In the parking lot at Typhoon Lagoon, sitting forlornly on pontoons,
is one of the coach cars that had served briefly as a Pleasure Island ticket
booth. Take a look next time you visit.
Grand Opening of Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort with wendy*darling>>
Saratoga Springs Resort (SSR) is the newest in the Disney Vacation Club (DVC)
line of home away from home resorts at Walt Disney World. To celebrate their
Grand Opening, DVC members were invited to a Member Homecoming unlike any event
thus far. On Thursday, May 27, 2004, the 3rd and final event of the Homecoming
was the official grand opening of this new resort.
We gathered on the lawn in Downtown Disney’s West End- right next to Cirque du
Soleil at 9:30am. They had a stage set up and a huge number of lawn chairs. It
was blazing hot (high about 94 degrees) and sunny. A few small trees at the back
of the venue provided a tiny amount of shade and we chose to move our lawn chair
there. We joined about 50 or so other like minded DVC-ers in this spot.
Ms. DeeVeeCee and Ms. Sara Toga did a warm up with the audience, asking people
where they were from, providing jokes and light moments as we awaited the
opening. Three costumed trumpeters heralded us with the traditional race
opening. Jim Lewis, VP of DVC came out and welcomed everyone. The Dapper Dans
and Jodie Benson (Ariel) sang. Al Weiss and someone else (sorry, I forgot who!)
welcomed everyone and introduced Mickey Mouse and the mayor of Saratoga Springs,
NY. The mayor brought a pitcher of spring water from NY which was later poured
into the pool at SSR.
We were then invited to walk over to the resort and look around. Events were
planned throughout the day both at the resort and at West End. We joined the
masses and walked the path to SSR. It was a pleasant walk, and not too long. We
toured the main lobby where they had the kids playing Goofy Bingo. Artist’s
Palette, which is the only food source at the resort, is a take-out/counter
service place. Then we walked out by the pool, with plans to loop around and see
the rest of the building. The pool was very nice. There is a zero entry side,
rock walls surrounding it, slides for big kids and little ones too, 2 spas,
plenty of lounge chairs and an interactive fountain area.
Because of today’s events, the path all the way around the pool was blocked, so
we never did get back in the main building to see the Turf Club, etc. We did
check out the spa, where they were giving free chair massages (with many tired
bodies waiting for a turn!) We wandered over to the cinema where Don “Duckie”
Williams- senior character artist, was on stage drawing sketches of characters
and telling stories of his days with Disney. Then he raffled off 11 of his
sketches. We were not among the lucky winners, but it was fun to see.
The Founder’s Day Parade was about to start, so we stayed around Broadway to see
it. It was an old fashioned hometown parade, complete with bikes, horses,
marching bands, girl scouts and boy scouts and balloons. Mickey, Minnie and the
mayor of Saratoga Springs, NY completed the line-up. We briefly checked out the
new DVC Preview Center (sales office) and then took the boat back to the West
End for some food.
While we were at SSR, the West End had a couple of stage performances from
Cirque du Soleil and had opened the Taste of Downtown Disney for DVC members.
There were food booths from a wide variety of restaurants offering free
appetizer sized samples of their foods. I had Jambalaya from House of Blues,
crab cakes from Fulton’s, pasta primavera from Portobello’s, a sample of
sangria, Hagen Daas ice cream from Wetzel’s and lots of ice cold bottled water.
Just enough to satisfy me for lunch. You could sample as much or as little as
you wanted from 11am until 2pm. The celebration was officially over at 2pm.
We think SSR looks like a nice place to stay- with excellent access to Downtown
Disney for food and entertainment. The resort itself is massive- covering the
entire length of Downtown Disney. The spas, food and gift shop are all at the
West End end of the resort. You’ll put a lot of miles on your sneakers walking
the resort. Travel to all other areas of Walt Disney World is by bus. I would
imagine this would be a great place to have a car available.
<< Conclusion >>
Thanks to all of our contributors. We'll be back next month with more
topics, including details on the Disney Vacation Club Member Homecoming and the
Youngs will be back to take us to the Astronaut
Hall of Fame
(adds Gary: Yay! More space!).
Until then Happy INTERCOTing.
<< INTERCOT Would Like To Thank>>
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