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INTERCOT > Interactive > INTERCOT Insider Archive > November 2004

Intercot.com INTERCOT Insider
 November 2004 - Edition Two

Brought to you by INTERCOT's network of sites:
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This newsletter and other past issues can also be read online at; http://www.intercot.com/interactive/insider/archive

<< Introduction >>

Well ... Have you managed to use up all of those Thanksgiving leftovers yet? Everyone on the INTERCOT staff hopes you and yours had a very Happy Thanksgiving holiday. It's hard to believe we are now scurrying to prepare for the Christmas season. Where does the time go? We suggest you take a break from untangling those twinkling lights and read this jam-packed edition of the Insider! We have an unbelievably informative newsletter for you today, with topics ranging from holiday planning tips with Jeff, the Osborne Lights with Casey, a Walt Disney World Internet connection guide, Ron tells us about an animal-less Animal Kingdom, and we have even squeezed in some feedback from our members. Whew! Try saying that ten-times fast! Or rather, let’s just get started…

<< Enjoying the Holidays with Jeff>>

There are many of us, as is obvious by attendance numbers, who do not have an option to travel to Walt Disney World (WDW) during the “off season.” Due to work schedules or due to our children’s school vacations we brave WDW during Peak or Holiday seasons. Additionally there are some who travel to Disney during the Christmas/New Years week because they actually enjoy the excitement of being with so many people who are in a festive mood. My family does not claim to know it all when it comes to Walt Disney World during the busy Christmas/New Years week but we have visited during this period the last three years and will be there again this year. Our other visits have come several times during the summer in June, Spring Breaks in April, and once during the Labor Day weekend. Believe me; we have seen “crowds” and long lines. However, Christmas week has actually become our favorite times to visit. We love the decorations and the mood of WDW during this very busy week. While it is true that we might miss a few things due to crowds we find that with a good plan, a good family mood, and the essential ability to adapt on the fly, a Disney vacation at Christmas can be a time when fantastic family memories are created.

Our family has been to Disney World many times so we do not feel we need to “ride every ride and see every attraction.” This relaxed attitude is essential to enjoying the Christmas week. However, it is possible to “do everything” if you so desire. To do so you must be willing to be at the parks early and you must be willing to do a lot of backtracking to hit the big attractions at the right times. You must also figure out how to make good use of the Fast Pass system. A big plus in going during the holiday season is that the parks will be open late giving you time to enjoy some attractions late at night. Keep in mind that some December evenings can get down right cold. We were at the Magic Kingdom a couple of years back on an “E Ride Night” when the temperature got down to the low 30’s. Be prepared: take some warm clothes.

Absolutely crucial to seeing as many attractions as you can is to have a plan. There are several good planning books/tools available. Our family uses the “Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.” The touring plans available in this book are very useful and work surprisingly well. As with most things in life, it is your attitude that will make or break your vacation. It’s not the attitude of others; it’s yours that counts. Believe me, you will run into a few grumpy folks during your visit over Christmas week – don’t let their poor attitude spoil yours. If some rude, self-centered buffoon cuts in line a few feet in front of you don’t get bent out of shape. You’ll still get on the ride. If someone is being rude to a cast member, when you get to the cast member say something nice to him or her. Brightening their day may go a long way to making your day better. Always keep in mind: it’s Christmas. You are spending the most magical time of the year in the most magical place in the world. Forearmed with that knowledge, how can you feel grumpy?

Christmas day itself is crazy fun in the parks. We have spent Christmas day at the Magic Kingdom and at Epcot in the past. The Magic Kingdom becomes absolutely packed by 11:00 am and there is no plan that is going to get you to see everything. Christmas is the day to relax, enjoy the atmosphere, take in some shows but don’t even think about riding everything – you will only be frustrated and grumpy by day’s end. Epcot, due to its sheer size, takes the crowds of Christmas better and offers some fun things to see and do. Besides the decorations, which are awesome, there are special performances to see. For example: the World Showcase Players in the United Kingdom perform “A Christmas Carol” which is hilarious. The ghost of “Marley” (Bob Marley that is) is not to be missed. There are also Santas telling the traditions of Christmas in each country around the World Showcase. It is possible to enjoy Epcot on Christmas Day and never ride an attraction. Watch the tree lighting ceremony; take in the beauty of the lights along the walkway leading from Future World to the World Showcase; get Priority Seating at one of Epcot’s fine restaurants; better yet, if any are still available, get a Candlelight Processional Dinner Package. What better way to spend Christmas Evening than attending a presentation of the Processional?

However you choose to spend the Christmas week make sure you plan something great for Christmas day so next year, when at home, your family can reminisce about where you were and what you did the year before. My family remembers Christmas morning when we had breakfast from the Main Street Bakery, sat at the tables on the corner by Casey’s, and watched the Main Street Singers perform. Make some memories that will outlast a lifetime. Make some memories that your kids will tell their Grandchildren some day. Create some family lore. I am sure my daughter will tell her Grandkids someday that “one year during Christmas week Grandma lounged in a hammock at the Polynesian in her swimsuit, read a book and got a tan”. These are the kinds of things folks from Northern climates never forget. She will also show them pictures of the Christmas Day she spent with the “Cheshire Cat” face paint from Toontown, got her picture taken wearing a Minnie Santa Hat on Main Street, and later that evening saw the Candlelight Processional.

A short list of my family’s favorite things to do and see at Christmas:
1. Enjoy the Holiday parades. The Magic Kingdom parade is awesome. There is a new Holiday parade at the Animal Kingdom and the Studios has a fun Christmas themed parade as well.
2. Schedule some special Holiday meals at Walt Disney World’s fine restaurants.
3. Sit on a bench in each park; take in the decorations while enjoying the Holiday music playing in the background.
4. Make sure to see the special Holiday shows. “Mickey’s Twas the Night Before Christmas” in the Galaxy Palace Theaters in the Magic Kingdom is a classic.
5. Stop in the United Kingdom in Epcot to watch the “World Showcase Players” present their unique version of “A Christmas Carol”.
6. Shop at Downtown Disney and enjoy the decorations and the music.
7. No Holiday visit would be complete without seeing the Country Bears special Christmas Show. The “best” part of this show is no Big Al singing, “Blood on the Saddle”.
8. Take time to tour several of the resorts. The decorations at the Wilderness Lodge and the Grand Floridian are fantastic. If you are at the Grand Floridian at the right time you can even hear a live orchestra playing in the lobby while you check out the awesome Christmas tree.
9. See the Osborne Lights at the Studios. Use the funny looking glasses – the effect is amazing.
10. Get your family picture taken with Mickey and Minnie “Santa” hats on Main Street with the castle in the background. This picture makes for a great family Christmas card the following year. Tip: get to the Magic Kingdom VERY EARLY to do this so you have a fairly empty Main Street to work with.
11. Get some pictures taken with the characters in their Holiday outfits. A great place to do this is at Camp Minnie Mickey in the Animal Kingdom. Just don’t try it right after a Festival of the Lion King show gets out – it sends hundreds of people to the area.

In conclusion, let me repeat, take a good attitude and don’t lose it in the crowds. Don’t let some Grinch steal it from you. Christmas week at Disney World is absolutely amazing but go with the idea that you and your family or friends will make it even better. Be nice to people and Cast Members. Say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” to those around you every now and then. Spread some Christmas cheer yourself. It’s the one time of year you can be sappy and people don’t think you’re a raving loon. The secret is not to ride every ride and enjoy every major attraction. Rather, the secret is to enjoy the spirit of WDW at Christmas. It’s there! You’ll find it if you only let yourself. Finally, if you cannot find the spirit I’ll tell you where it is hidden: it’s inside a Santa hat with Mickey ears on the side. Buy one of these, put it on and wear it around! It just may prove to be the best $15 you’ll spend on your vacation. There is absolutely no way you or those around you can be grumpy when you are wearing a Santa/Mickey hat.

Hope to see you at Disney World this Christmas week. Happy Holidays!
Christmas Celebrations

<< Disney World Events with DisneyWizard >>

While I normally don’t add a Disney World Events section in the second edition of the Insider, there is a special event already taking place that I just can’t avoid: the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights!

Using 12 miles of extension cords, over five million Christmas lights are lit in Walt Disney World every year. After taking a short sabbatical the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights is back in Disney-MGM Studios, brighter than ever. Draping on, over, and all around New York Street, this new location for the spectacle gives guests a reason to come back to witness the attraction. Be sure to check out the link below for fun facts, a short history, videos, and photos of this year’s presentation.

“I love the Osborne lights - and we'll get to see them this year.” –smcd
“Excellent!” –Pixie Power
“I will be looking forward to seeing the lights for the first time this year.” –goofy for pluto
Read Details, View Video and Photos

One More Christmas related update:
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party has sold out for December 10th. The December 17th party sold out earlier this month. If you are planning to attend this event time is quickly running out for ticket purchases.
Event Information

<< Disney Trivia with WDWdriver >>

No Animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

Can you imagine Animal Kingdom without the animals? That was the original concept. In the early 1990s at a planning meeting, Michael Eisner and his deputy, Frank Wells, put forth the idea that the project would have an animal theme, and there would be rides based on animals (Dumbo like), but real animals were not necessary. Eisner believed that no one would come to Florida to see animals when there were plenty of zoos around the country. And animals were expensive to acquire, house and feed.

Joe Rhode, The Disney Imagineer in charge of developing the theme park, had a different view. He believed that real animals were essential to the success of the project. He argued that the park should be designed so that guests would be in close proximity to a variety of wild animals. But as the meeting ended Eisner prevailed, saying that being in close proximity to animals really wasn’t all that exciting.

One thing I should mention here is that Joe Rhode is an eccentric character. He has wild bushy hair, an outrageous mustache, wears bead necklaces and sports a huge earring - not exactly the Disney look. But Joe is also a genius. He conferred with his team, and after a few weeks he called for another meeting with the boss.

At the next planning meeting, all the top brass were gathered around a conference table as Joe Rhode stood with a pointer in front of a screen and began to describe the proposed layout of the new park. Half way through his presentation a door at the rear of the conference room opened, and a 450 pound tiger walked into the room! The tiger stalked around the table, passing within inches of Eisner, and curled up in a corner staring back at the astonished faces around the table. There wasn't a sound in the room, except for Joe’s voice continuing his presentation. He ended with another plea for live animals at the park, and pointed out that being in close proximity to a wild animal can indeed be exciting. The matter was settled. On that day it was decided that Disney’s Animal Kingdom was to be a theme park with real animals.

Joe Rhode is seen occasionally in the park he created. He is currently monitoring the construction of Expedition: Everest. Whenever I see him I am reminded of that day in the conference room, and his unique way of making a point.

<< High Speed Internet in Disney  >>

We often field questions on the message boards in reference to Computing at Disney. Our very own Chairman & Chief Imagination Officer, JohnY, recently returned from a trip and offers this advice;

If you are traveling to Disney and need Internet access (and the dial-up just doesn’t cut it for you), you have the option of getting High Speed Internet from right inside your room! The rooms at the Boardwalk Villas, and many Disney resorts, have a jack labeled HSIA. You simply plug one end of a cat 5 cable (bring your own or you can borrow one from housekeeping) into the jack, and the other end into your NIC card. If you use a static IP address set it to obtain the address automatically.

Launch your browser. You should then get the Disney welcome page where you agree to pay the fee (just a note – Internet access is included at the Swan and Dolphin resorts). After you agree, you are set to go. Now, keep in mind, unless you are using web-based mail you will be able to receive incoming mail but may not be able to send outgoing mail. This is because your mail server will recognize you as trying to relay mail from another ISP. The way around this is if your ISP uses outbound authentication to send mail…you will have to ask them.

The speed is technically broadband but sometimes slows to ISDN speeds. On the wireless front, WIFI is shaky at best throughout the resorts. The signals, if even available, seem to fade in and out randomly depending on where you are. You are much better off hooking up to a hard wire line if you can.

Once you log-on you are charged $9.95 for the following 24 hours; you can log on again as many times as you want in that 24 hour period at no additional charge. However, after that 24-hour window logging on starts a new window and another $9.95 charge. They also have 24-hour technical support.
Where and How to Connect

<< INTERCOT Member Feedback>>

It’s always great to find member feedback in the Insider's email inbox, and this month we had a particularly great review of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Mary, aka Darbylew, writes:

“We went to the MNSSHP on Sunday, October 3rd. We had a great time. The weather was perfect the entire time. We liked all the decorations, getting on the rides without a line, free photos, the costume contests, the parade with the headless horseman, the Riverboat ride, and being able to trick or treat in the Magic Kingdom. We really liked Alice and the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. Needless to say we had a spooky fun time at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and we will be there again next year.”

If you have a special memory or tip you would like to share, e-mail it to us at newsletter@intercot.com.

<< Conclusion >>

Anyone ready to plan another vacation? Hopefully you’ve received some new ideas! Be sure to send in any other tidbits, holiday planning suggestions, or general feedback to newsletter@intercot.com. OK - your break is over. Go finish that Christmas decorating and shopping. See you next month. Until then, Happy INTERCOTing!

<< INTERCOT Would Like To Thank>>

The INTERCOT Insider and INTERCOT.com are supported by the following sponsors who in turn, help us bring the Magic to you!

Magical Journeys
Magical Journeys is your Disney Vacation specialist. Start planning your Vacation Discount Dreams today!
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Website:
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Comments or questions may be sent to newsletter@intercot.com

 

 
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