2004 - Edition Two
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Grab that favorite
beverage and get comfy. We have a lot to share with you in this issue. Whether
you want to catch the latest news at Walt Disney World or get current among the
INTERCOT forums - we have something for you. Mikki & Andrew Young are back to
fill us in on the Astronaut Hall of Fame. Emily offers money-savings tips when
booking accommodations for your next Disney vacation. Linda returns with details
on last months Disney Vacation Club's special Homecoming event. Ron tests our
knowledge on the Carousel of Progress and Melanie will bring us up-to-date with
the Movies, TV, Music & Musicals forum. Fluff those pillows and let's begin.
What's Going on in the "World" >>
Fireworks Show at Disney-MGM Studios?
According to our sources Disney is now offering a fireworks display when
Fantasmic! is rained out. "A Taste of Fantasmic" will be shown only on
those evenings when it's raining and the regular show cannot be performed.
"ASIMO," To Make Special Appearance at Epcot
ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility), the world's most advanced humanoid
robot, will be visiting Epcot in July.
July 1: 2:30 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 p.m.
Saturday, July 3-Monday, July 5: 2:30 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 p.m.
Sunday, July 4: 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m.
Monday, July 5-Thursday, July 8: 2:30 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 p.m.
Saturday, July 10-Sunday, July 11: 2:30 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 p.m.
A 25-minute demonstration will be given showcasing ASIMO's technical abilities.
Accommodation Money-Saving Tips with SteelyGirl >>
One of the more frequent questions we encounter on the boards is: how do people
afford to go to Walt Disney World (WDW) so often? We all know WDW is not cheap! With
a little work, though, you can certainly make it more affordable. There are
plenty of ways you can cut costs and we're going to give you some money-saving
tips on what can be one of the most expensive components of a WDW vacation:
When you're deciding where you want to stay on your WDW trip, one of your most
important decisions will most likely involve location – on property vs. off
property. Staying at one of the
properties tends to be more expensive, but for many folks the higher cost is
offset by the convenience and Disney ambiance. Additionally, if you're flying
into the Orlando area and do not plan to rent a car, the transportation options
offered with the WDW resorts can be a real benefit. So let's talk first about a
few ways to save some dough when booking a room at a Walt Disney World resort.
Members of the AAA Auto Club can often get discounts on rooms ranging from
10%-20%, depending on the season. These are general guidelines only, but here's
an idea of what you can expect:
Value Season – 15% discounts on Home Away From Home and Deluxe resorts; 20% off
Moderate and Value resorts and Ft. Wilderness campsites
Regular Season – 10% discounts on Home Away From Home and Deluxe resorts; 15%
off Moderate and Value resorts and Ft. Wilderness campsites
Peak Season – 10% discounts on Home Away From Home and Deluxe resorts; 15% off
Moderate and Value resorts
These discounts usually apply to "room only" reservations, not packages. You do
not have to book through AAA. You can call Central Reservations and book the
room through Disney directly, just ask for available AAA rates.
Annual Passholder (AP) Discount Rates
If you purchase an Annual Pass to WDW, you're eligible for many great benefits,
perhaps the greatest of which is fantastic rates at the WDW resorts. AP rates
usually offer the deepest discounts on rooms (anywhere from 20% to upwards of
45%), but they can also be tough to secure at times. Only one member of your
party needs to have an Annual Pass in order to book the discount; however, that
person must be able to book a room on their own, i.e., they need to be at least
18 years old. Even if you don't plan to return to WDW within the year, an AP can
pay for itself easily with the savings you'll receive. Check out INTERCOT's
Benefits section to take a gander at the potential savings.
Many specials are offered by Disney that require a certain code. Disney may send
out postcards to select guests with discounted rates on them (those rates are
available only to the guests who actually receive the postcard), or they may
offer codes by state, such as Georgia or Florida resident discount codes.
Additionally, codes are often made available to the general public and can be
booked by anyone. Watch the INTERCOT
Accommodations forum, and you'll be set!
Or better yet, you can do what many of our members have found is the best way to
get a great rate without all the hassle and worry… let our site sponsor
Magical Journeys (MJ)
do all the work for you! When you contact the wonderful staff at MJ, you let
them know up front all of your relevant info that may entitle you to a discount
(AAA member, AP holder, Disney Visa holder, etc.), and they will not only find
the best rate for you, but if a better rate comes along for which you're
eligible, they will do the legwork and try to snag that lower rate without you
even having to ask! How can you beat that?!
OFF PROPERTY RESORTS
OK so let's say you've decided that off-property is more of what you're looking
for… if you're flexible, the discounts can be even greater. Even without any
particular discount, off-site rooms can be cheaper in general. But if you really
want to save some bucks, here are a few tips.
Speaking from personal experience, Priceline
can be your best friend when it comes to getting ultra-cheap rates near the
World. Here's a brief overview of how Priceline works: You select a particular
region of a city you want to stay in (in the case of Orlando/WDW, the "Disney
World Vicinity" is where you want to be), you select a star level for the hotel
(1 star through 5 star, or what they call the "Resort" level), and you name a
price you're willing to pay. When you submit your request, Priceline will notify
you whether it was accepted by any resorts in your selected area. As such, you
cannot bid on a specific resort, so you have to be OK with whatever resort might
accept your bid. Priceline bids are nonrefundable, and yes they're very serious
WDW-owned resorts do not participate on Priceline. While there are resorts on
Priceline that are located on WDW property (namely many of the Downtown Disney
area hotels, and on very rare occasions the Swan & Dolphin), you have to accept
that you may end up off site. If transportation is going to be an issue,
consider that before bidding and figure it in your budget. While some off-site
resorts have a shuttle to the parks, they are often inconvenient and may charge
If you'd like to have a little more space or you have a larger group traveling
to the World, a vacation home, such as
Vacation Homes, can be a cheaper alternative. You can reserve a condo,
townhome or home for about the same price as a Moderate or Deluxe WDW resort
room, and if you're splitting the cost, it's even better. Some of the homes have
a pool and/or Jacuzzi, which is a really nice perk! Additionally, the full
kitchen and other amenities of a real home make it more affordable and
convenient, since meal preparation, laundry, etc., is easier and cheaper. All
Star Vacation Homes even has a deal for a free rental car with a vacation home
rental (see their site for details and restrictions), so transportation isn't a
Another of INTERCOT's sponsors, the
Resort Parkway, offers some great deals to INTERCOT members, including
discounted rates or an upgrade to a deluxe pool view. The Radisson is only 1.5
miles from Disney and offers a free shuttle.
So as you can see, with just a little bit of effort you can cut some of those
costs pretty significantly and have more money to spend in Walt Disney World! That, or more
money to go back again sooner… and who doesn't want that?! Happy planning!
<< Disney Vacation Club Member Homecoming BIG Event! with wendy*darling >>
This May I had a chance to experience a unique Disney Vacation Club (DVC) event
that culminated in the Grand Opening of the newest DVC resort- Saratoga Springs.
My husband and I made a spontaneous decision last December to purchase tickets
for this event since it coincided with our wedding anniversary. What could be
better than a great mini trip to Walt Disney World to celebrate?
The official events began on Tuesday May 25th with an Illuminations viewing and
dessert party for all 2000 of us! Special party bags were delivered to
everyone’s resort rooms containing a DVC party lanyard, event ticket and limited
edition pins for Tuesday’s event. Tuesday was entitled “Light Up the Sky” and we
all wore twinkling pins (along with our tickets) to gain entrance to the viewing
area. Our viewing area was the wide expanses between the 2 gift shops as you
enter the World Showcase from Future World.
I will say that Disney provided ample desserts (cookies, brownies, rice krispy
treats, etc) at this event, however in the crush of the crowd it was difficult
to know where the tables were until you literally fell upon them! Also, it had
been over 90 degrees all day, and even at 8:30pm it was still pretty warm and
sticky outside. Yet, all they had to serve for beverages was hot coffee and tea!
In our search for a cold drink, we encountered guest after guest on a similar
search, all in vain.
Illuminations went off at the usual time and although we were pretty crowded in
the space, we watched. I venture to guess that everyone in the crowd has seen it
at least a couple of times, veterans all! Following the show, we were treated to
a stage show. We met Jim Lewis, the VP of DVC who spoke of the event, the grand
opening and DVC member families. He drew 3 names out of a box containing all of
our names, and gave away a 7 nights stay at any Interval International location
in the world! We also met Dee Vee Cee, a squeaky voiced, bubbly character who
schmoozed with the audience and told cute jokes. A piano player (sorry, I forgot
her name!) played Disney tunes in a crowds sing along. All this was designed to
keep us occupied until they could get all the regular guests out of the park.
Then we began our private party in Epcot! We had unlimited access to
Mission:Space (M:S) and Test Track (TT) , plus a DJ and more desserts and cold
drinks (there they are!!!) until midnight. DH & I are not stay out late people,
so we were struggling to stay long enough to get a feel for the event. The line
for TT was huge! So we walked over to the DJ area hoping to catch the advertised
American Vybe act. Well, we never did see them, but we did manage to get on Test
Track a bit later. Neither of us wanted to ride M:S. The party was “OK,” not
great in my book. I felt that the choice of these 2 rides was poorly made and
did not take into account the youngest and oldest of DVC members. They were
really left with nothing to keep them amused. I was hoping the other events
would be better. We had just arrived this morning- so we were beat! We left at
11pm, tired and ready for bed. When we got back to our resort, we were pleased
to find our goodie bags for tomorrow’s event had been delivered. More pins and a
schedule of events in a pretty bag.
Wednesday was a day of firsts for us. DH and I did the Segway Tour at Epcot in
the morning and had lunch in France. Both were fantastic! But it was very hot
and humid and the heat was zapping all our energy. We ended up going back to the
room mid afternoon for a rest- we were looking forward to our Magic Kingdom
party this evening and didn’t want to be too tired! We had an early dinner at
Artist Point (another first) which was excellent, but didn’t stay for dessert as
we knew we would be eating more in the MK that night.
We entered the Magic Kingdom at about 8:00 and made our way toward the castle to
wait for Wishes to start. We sat on the porch of the Crystal Palace to wait. All
the diners had already been seated and we grabbed a bench with other fireworks
viewers. It’s actually a nice view from the porch here- I had never watched from
here before. Following the fireworks, we were admitted in the parks with our
special lanyards and tickets. Cast Members were stationed everywhere checking
for our passes to this “Night of Wishes Come True” event. Almost everything as
open for us! THIS was heaven. 2000 people watching fireworks in one tiny area at
Epcot is a tight squeeze, but put those same 2000 people in MK and they
virtually disappear. I felt like we had the park to ourselves! We walked onto
Splash and Big Thunder Mountains, Pirates, Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan, and the
Carousel! We never made it to Tomorrowland but Buzz and Space Mtn were open as
well. Also Mickey’s Philharmagic and a few other Fantasyland rides were open,
and the Country Bears. FREE FOOD! That’s a Disney first! Pecos Bill, Cosmic
Rays, and the Lunching Pad were all open and anything you wanted was FREE!! But,
we had a wonderful dinner not too long ago, so we didn’t take full advantage of
this great treat! LOTS of people did though, all understanding that this offer
may not come along again anytime soon! We did stop into Pecos Bill’s for
lemonade and chocolate cream pie.
At 11:00 we were all to gather in front of the castle. Again Jim Lewis came out
and gave away 4 more Interval International vacations (we still didn’t win).
Then Cinderella and Prince Charming came out and started to dance. But only for
a moment or two before they were interrupted. A voice suggested that maybe ALL
of us would like to dance as well. So a dozen or so costumed couples came out
and escorted all of us down Main Street to dance! They played music and we
danced for a short while. Then we were treated to our own private viewing of
Spectromagic! It was a beautiful end to a perfect evening. THIS was a special
event I will always remember. DH and I agreed that this alone might have been
worth the price of the tickets! We went home happy and tired. Again this night,
we returned to find a goodie bag for tomorrow. This time only one bag was
delivered for the 2 of us- we received a bottle of Saratoga Springs, NY water, a
carafe and water glass set, some chocolate, a Grand Opening pin and a schedule
of the events for the day.
Thursday was the day schedule for the official Grand Opening of Saratoga Springs
Resort (SSR). We all gathered in Downtown Disney next to Cirque du Soleil.
There’s a great big lawn there that they filled with folding chairs and set up a
stage. At about 10AM, in the blistering heat and sunshine, they started the
ceremonies. There was no shade except in the way back of the lawn near an
handful of small trees. About 50 or so like-minded and hot people pulled our
chairs back there to sit in a little shade. We were very far from the action,
but much more comfortable (relatively speaking). Again, I have to wonder what
the planners were thinking! May in Orlando is known to be a hot and humid time.
With lots of small children and older people, I don’t think this was the best
set-up. Anyway, Jim Lewis, Dee Vee Cee and Miss Sara Toga entertained us for a
bit. Jim chose 4 more people to give II vacations to- but we never did win. The
Dapper Dans sang a few period appropriate tunes and Jodi Benson sang some well
known Disney favorites. The mayor of Saratoga Springs, NY brought water from his
town, which was later poured into the swimming pool to christen the new resort.
Once the on stage festivities were over, we had the option of staying in DD for
a few sample shows by the Cirque Troupe and a few other activities.
Over at the resort, we watched the Founder’s Day parade, complete with horses,
marching bands, balloons and Mickey Mouse. The new DVC Preview Center was open
and doing a heavy business! You could tour the resort, see sample rooms, eat at
Artist Palette get a free chair massage and more. Everywhere you turned,
something was going on. We toured the resort for a while and took the launch
back to Downtown Disney (DD) for our free taste of DD lunch.
Many of the DD restaurants had booths set up in a strip near the dock. They were
serving sample sized foods for free. I had crab cakes from Fulton’s, pasta &
Sangria from Portobello’s, jambalaya from the House of Blues, and more. You
could sample as much or as little as you like from 11am until 2pm.
Overall, I think Disney did a nice job of making it a magical event. There were
a few things I would have planned differently (maybe they’ll hire me
someday???), but for the most part, everything went well. We enjoyed our short
visit “home” and were glad we had decided to go to this special occasion.
PS- We enjoyed ourselves so much- we called DVC when we got home and added on
100 points at SSR!
History & Trivia with WDWdriver >>
Many visitors to
Walt Disney World fondly remember the
Carousel of Progress, and hope to view the attraction again. Not everyone
can because the carousel is now open on a "seasonal" basis. Here are some bits
of trivia about the attraction that may be new to you.
Carousel of Progress began as an exhibit at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair.
It was called "Progressland" and was sponsored by General Electric. The exhibit,
which showed the impact of electricity on man’s living conditions, was
enormously popular. The musical theme, "There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow",
was written by Richard and Robert Sherman who also composed the music for many
Disney movies such as Mary Poppins. By the time the Fair closed more than 15
million visitors had seen the show.
In 1967 "Progressland" was relocated to Disneyland and renamed "Carousel of
Progress". During it’s six years at Disneyland park, more than 30 million people
viewed the scenes in the revolving theater. In January, 1975, the attraction
opened in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. At that time the final scene
had been updated, and there was a new song, "The Best Time of Your Life".
In 1994 the attraction was refurbished and renamed "Walt Disney’s Carousel of
Progress". The theme song was changed back to "There’s A Great Big Beautiful
Current Show Scenes:
Act 1: Turn of the Century - Valentine’s Day
Act 2: Roaring Twenties - Fourth of July
Act 3: Fabulous Forties - Halloween
Act 4: Nineties - Christmas Day
Number of theaters - 6
Theater capacity - 240 guests
Weight of Carousel - 375 tons
Audio-Animatronic figures - 32
Rover the dog has had other names during the history of the attraction. He has
been called Buster, Sport, Queenie and Rover. When the attraction came to the
Magic Kingdom he had a different name in each scene. Today the dog’s name is
Rover throughout the entire show.
There are four in the final scene. Mickey can be seen as a nutcracker on the
fireplace mantle, as a plush toy peeking from a present, as a white peppermill
on the kitchen counter, and as an abstract painting on the dining room wall.
Astronaut Hall of Fame with Mikki & Andrew Young >>
The point of a “Hall of Fame” is, of course, the individuals honored – in this
case astronauts with their individual places in the “Hall of Heroes”. In itself
this may not be particularly exciting or interactive but if (like Andrew) you
grew up with Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, then this is a place to just stand and
admire. There are separate sections for Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Shuttle. All
the original seven are here (Andrew thought he could still have named them all
but – apologies to Gordon Cooper).
Next is an illustrated history of space flight supported by lots of real
exhibits, including actual Mercury and Gemini capsules (How did they get into
such small things?). We spent lots of time reading this and were constantly
amazed how much was done in such a short time.
Finally, there is a room full of lots of “hands on” experiments and simulators.
Some are simple – but effective – demonstrations like a heavy weight that
demonstrates “weightlessness” when you turn on an air jet to provide a cushion
under it. At the opposite extreme are a centrifuge said to go up to 4G and a
simulator for a mission over the surface of Mars. We tried both of these.
The centrifuge takes only two people at a time – one each in cabins at opposite
ends of its arm. Inside the cabin is very simple compared to Disney’s “Mission
Space”. You strap in with a lap strap and watch a screen show of a video of an
aeroplane flight. The actions seemed well-coordinated with the video but the
sensations rarely seemed as intense as at Disney (was it really 4G?). There’s
certainly one warning we should give if our ride was typical. The video ended
(we landed safely), there was no sensation of pressure, the door opened.
Surprise – we were still moving. Having been fooled that motion was forward
towards the screen, seeing that we were going sideways made us a little dizzy.
The Mars expedition was a 12 seat simulator in which we were the only
passengers. It simulated an expedition over the ground of Mars with your vehicle
sometimes being picked up by an aeroplane. Andrew couldn’t help wondering if
there would really be winged aircraft on Mars if, like they say, the atmosphere
is 1/100th the density of Earth’s – but he can get “picky”. Disney could add
something like this to “Mission Space” and nobody would worry about that sort of
Across the INTERCOT Boards >>
Come check us out over in
TV, Music and Musicals
Got the blues because your next magical vacation to Walt Disney World is months,
or even years away? Excited because your next trip is just around the
corner? Then watch a Disney related TV show!! The easiest way to find that
show is to check out the Movies, TV, Music and Musicals forum at INTERCOT.
Every Sunday, you will find a new featured post listing all the Disney
shows for the upcoming week. It includes a variety of programming from the
great park shows featured on the Travel Channel, food shows on the Food Network,
old sitcoms on Nick at Night and even classic Disney movies on the Hallmark
Channel. Be sure to check it out...it’s a great taste of Walt Disney World
when you can’t get there!
The Movies, TV, Music and Musicals forum is also a great place to hang out
and discuss your favorite movie, TV show or musical group. We discuss it
all...Disney or not. Grab the remote, pop some popcorn, and pull up a
comfy chair for some fun discussions. See you there!
Whew! I told you we were a chatty bunch this issue.
A special thanks to all that contributed. We'll see you next month with more
topics and tidbits. Until then; Happy INTERCOTing.
<< INTERCOT Would Like To Thank. >>
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